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A Simple Request

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The mug makes a soft clunking sound on the table. It is round and perfectly white except for that stain that won't come out. It is useful and untiring. Like me.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any honey at the store that wasn't in one of these stupid little bear bottles. The thing looks like it's mocking me. I know humans are stupid and ugly, but even so I don't understand why they would want to look at this thing.

Oh well. It still has honey in it.

I carefully fill the mug from about halfway to very nearly to the brim and then stop squeezing the bottle. But the oozing honey continues to ooze. Wait- no- but- oh, great. There it goes. On the table.

I'll get it later.

Stirring the contents of the mug yields a thick, dark-gold substance that is half tea, half honey. It looks exquisite. I'm so good at making things.

And how resourceful of me, to stumble upon something on this filthy and disgusting planet that is not only edible, but very edible! Why, I'm glad I-

What is that? What's that sound? A motor? So close to the base?

Wait a second, that's a motorcycle. I know what that is.

"GIR!"

My voice is piercing. He must have heard. Unless he's out. I hope he's not.

"Yes?" I hear from some distant room.

"Your filthy pig friend is here! Do not let him into the base this time!"

I hear his clattering little legs as he goes past. He was downstairs, I believe. Good. He should be in the base, not... out wherever he goes.

The tea is warm and very sweet...

"-for you."

"Eh?"

"It's for you," he repeats from the living room. Me! How could it be for me? I don't know anyone with a motorcycle. Dib certainly doesn't have one.

The mug is warm against my hands. I push it away and stand up as GIR vanishes into the toilet portal.

There's a sour sugar-aftertaste in my mouth. The wig is flat and damp and itchy and it's starting to collect old head sweat.

Throwing open the front door, I'm rewarded with a blast of wet, prickly, hot, choking, stinky air. "Ugh!"

I set up the gnomes to prevent this. I specifically programmed the defenses to not let anyone on the sidewalk outside my house. Why can't anything do what I worked for it to do for once? And who dares?

"Who dares approach the home of Invader Zim without invitation?"

There's something at the end of the walkway. It looks like a dark pit. Oh, it's- ah, no.

I take note of one of my boots skidding back and forth on the floor just inside my doorway and running over the seam between two tiles back and forth. I stop the boot in its tracks.

She's still there. Waiting.

"Gaz." She could still be here for GIR...

"Yeah. Hi," she says from atop that primitive collection of tubes and noise and stink they call a vehicle here. "You're an alien, right?"

What does she think I'm going to say to that? In broad daylight? In my own home? "Of course not. That's nonsense. Keep away from your brother, little Gaz. I fear he's corrupting your brains."

"Yeah, whatever. You can do stuff, right?"

My fingertips drum against my thigh. Stuff?

"Stuff people can't. Duh." She widens one eye at me. I've never understood what seems to be wrong with her face. "How bad at being an alien are you?"

What is she trying to do?

A quick look reveals that my nosy neighbors are safely inside with their television sets. As it should be, they're never outside this time of day.

Drawing closer to Gaz, she does not even get off her stupid bike. I've seen that motorcycle somewhere before. I don't know where but I know this motorcycle.

"I have powers your kind can only dream of," I say, low, so only she will hear. "What is your business here?" I have business elsewhere. My hot drink is getting cold.

She motions with her head. "Get on the bike."

Uh no. Not that. No.

"Get on the bike," she repeats, but more so.

But my... I had... snack... wait! This human dares order me? Does she not know who I am? "No!"

She makes noises that I assume are threat noises. It occurs to me that I should investigate whatever it is she wants. Maybe it's something I should be aware of.

"Zim, get on the bike right... now... or you will wish you had gotten on the bike as you writhe in torment on the pavement. Forever."

I wasn't expecting her to address me by name, somehow. In any case, it's certainly a clumsy threat, but she seems earnest.

She's making her threatening noises louder, and I see her hands make fists.

Okay. Why not? I'm not afraid of Gaz. I could totally force her to leave but that would be... somehow more annoying than going with her, I assume!

What could she possibly want from me anyway? She's never asked me for anything. She's never come to my house without her brother before. I mean, either without him in tow or without a mission to rescue him from my base. He's definitely not here, right?

I neither see nor smell any sign of him...

I climb onto the motorcycle behind Gaz. It is large and covered in human stink. I remember now. I was on this machine and my Pak had been stolen and I was dying. A clammy left-over death shudder runs through my body. It's not pleasant.

"What does the Dib think of you meeting with his greatest enemy behind his back, hmmm, little Gaz?" I ask. I didn't die, clearly. I'm not going to die. That would be ridiculous. I'm perfectly fine.

"We're not talking about Dib. He's boring."

That doesn't answer my question or my secret hidden question of 'is Dib secretly here' whatsoever. I begin to tell her something, something that I'm sure will get her to reveal what I need to know but my words are lost in the hideous roar that begins when she starts the engine.

And the speed of the thing! The Voot cruiser is a zillion times faster but I do not sit on top of the Voot when I drive it. Gaz is driving. The human child! Is piloting this monstrosity! I'll survive an impact. Barely. But I won't like it! And we're going to crash! She's how many years old? I know it's at least less than three decades. We're gonna crash any second. A human! A tiny little-

"Shut up!" she cries over the sound of the engine. I... suppose I'm screaming. I've been screaming for some time. My throat is beginning to fray.

Of course I usually assume the humans know how to control their own simple devices, but she was going so fast, and still is going fast, and... everything is fast. At this speed, I- my skull would cave in! I would be in recovery for days and what if a human came by-

I feel the vibrations from her noises of disgust and realize that I am holding onto her.

I need to let... no, why should I let go? There's nothing else to hold on to. She's not trying to dislodge me. She doesn't even smell bad. She smells like cold stone and damp earth... um... is that normal for a human? Usually they either apply some hideous fakely-floral chemical, or they smell of disgusting human.

I guess I don't really care. "Where are we going?" I ask, to no reply. "Gaz! Where are we going?"

"Be quiet!" She revs the engine. We turn the corner.

I have no guidance chip and currently no map but I believe... yes. "We're going the wrong way. The city's back that way!"

"We're not going to the city!"

But what else is there to go to? The beach is past the city, the park is in the city... Perhaps there is something to be learned from this hideous expedition.

The wind is whipping into my face. Is this what Gaz does all day? This is awful. I'm lucky my wig isn't splattered on the road.

We're passing houses and cars. I see gray clouds on the horizon. My paste coating is fresh and should keep me from damage but I hate the rain. I hate it. It better not rain. Smells like rain.

I notice the houses are farther part from each other now. "How far are we going? How long is this going to take?"

There's no reply.


The shaking devil machine finally comes to a stop. I dismount, finding my knees to be trembly and weakened from clinging onto the vehicle. I'm going to have to ride it back home too, I think. Ugh.

Gaz is next to leave the vehicle. Her face is without anything that tells me any information whatsoever.

We're at the foot of a hill. I see a dirt path winding up it, and grass, and trees. Nothing of import. "All right, we're here. Now do whatever it is we're here to do and take me back to my base!"

She makes a noise of rudeness and begins to travel up the path. I guess I'll follow. There's nothing else to do around here anyway.

Halfway up the hill, she leaves the path. Okay, then, I'll leave the path too and go after her. I guess. It's not like she's told me where we are going or anything.

Gaz leads through scraggly and scrapy underbrush to a rock slab embedded in the ground. There's something engraved into it...

Peg

Wife and mother

The dates are scraped away, as is what I assume to have once been her last name.

Why, this is a memorial to a deceased human. It's unusual for one to be out on its own like this, isn't it? Aren't they usually in clustered parks? Yes, called cemetaries, they're really quite convenient.

Gaz is just standing there. Her hands are on her hips and her face is frozen.

I used to believe she was just stupid. Even more so than the others. Simply so blindingly, unbelivably stupid that she felt nothing and did nothing. Now I believe otherwise. Gaz is still human but she is not more stupid than the others. Maybe there's something else wrong with her...

She's not saying anything to me. If I was supposed to receive some kind of message from this rock, it's not working.

"Was that all?" I ask, having tired of waiting.

She leans forward. "Can you bring her back?" She seems to finally be taking an interest, at least.

Wait, what did she ask?

"Can you bring her back?" she repeats, maybe noticing that I have no idea what she is talking about. "Like, from the dead."

"Excuse me?" Well, I suppose I've never tried- but that's ridiculous. "I can't do that. No one can do that." Was- is this a test? Was that the wrong answer? Maybe I should have lied. "Silly human!" Gotta cover. "That question only shows how stupid you humans are. Bring her back. Why would I even bother with one of your filthy kind? I'm here to destroy all of you, not un-destroy you!" I throw out my chest, hoping to impress upon her just who she is dealing with. "Ridiculous!"

Gaz grunts. "Yeah, figures."

"Then why are we here?" I hope she knows I'm not letting this go. How dare she tear me away from my important work back at the base? I'll have to make a new cup of tea... the other one's cold by now...

"I wanted to know if you can bring her back. You can't. So we can go now." She starts heading back towards the bike.

Excuse me? "What? That's it? You took me out here for that?"

"Yeah." She won't even turn to look me in the eye. "If you want a ride, get on now, because I'm leaving with or without you."

Seriously? "Why did you want her back? Who was that human? What is this?"

She's hopping on the bike. I don't know the way home from here.

I feel her tense up when I grab the back of her jacket. (It's smooth and slick and the fabric is stiff. It smells like clean shoes.) Too bad, there's still nothing else to hang on to. "I have ways of learning what I want to know, Gaz. Ways less pleasant than conversation."

"Nah, you don't." She starts the engine.

"I assure you-" She takes off without warning, driving my guts up against my spine. "Waah!"

It is at least two miles away when she deigns to speak to me. "I don't know who she was."

"Um, what?"

"Some people think she's my mother."

When I open my mouth to speak, something gets sucked into it and gets kinda stuck in my throat. I hope it's not poisonous! It's probably some filthy rock. I can't get it out.

"Stop making those noises or I will throw you off the bike," says Gaz.

I can breathe but not speak.

Again, a long time passes before she speaks again. "I don't think we ever had one."

One what? Oh. Oh!

"One mother?" My voice sounds even more painful than it is.

"Yeah."

I clear away some particles of whatever filthy debris this is in my throat. A mother. A female parent. Yes, most humans do have two. I think. I've only been able to uncover any evidence of Dib being connected to one adult human. Professor Membrane.

"I wanted to meet her," Gaz said. "And see why people think she's my mother."

"Mm." I suppose that might be relevant. There might be something useful about a second parent to the Dib.

"She's out in the middle of nowhere. I wonder why she's out there. Maybe we should dig her up anyway. See what's under there. Maybe it's not even human."

I don't think I've ever heard Gaz talk so long before. I don't like it. I don't like 'we'. I am not happy to hear her say 'we'. There will be no 'we'. There will be no Zim accompanying her future trips. No.

"Yes, yes," I say, "that's fascinating." How close are we to the base?

"I could meet her if you weren't so bad at being an alien."

What does she think I am? I'm an Irken, not a wish granter thingy. Hey, even those don't bring back the dead.

"Ask Dib for some horrible spell that doesn't work," I say.

She laughs.

Wait, did she- did I hear right? Or did some other road specks lodge themselves in my head when I was preoccupied? She laughed at my joke? Well, she should. I mean, it was funny. It was very funny. I am hilarious.

She's not speaking, however. I don't have anything to say to her...

Oh, hey, she's talking now. "He brought home some zombies once."

"Okay."

"They broke our toilet."

"Okay."

If she asks me to fix her stupid human toilet next I will instead pulverise her face.

She seems to be done speaking to me. For good, this time. Or at least for long enough for me to notice how very... very... quickly everything is rushing past us.

I can see houses on the horizon now. Good.


It was pale and early when Gaz came for me but now the sun is beating down on my skin. I've had about enough of it. At least it didn't rain.

She has nothing to say to me until we reach the yard. She still has nothing to say to me as she drives away.

Good riddance!

Inside, I find that GIR apparently drank my tea. Wretched animal. Er, robot. I'll just have to make a new cup.

As it steeps I watch the shadows moving on the floor... cast by that plant that's starting to grow in the yard, despite my best attempts to destroy anything alive in there.

So there is a place in the forest where Dib's mother may or may not be buried, mmm? I wonder if I could find it again.