Light golden rays from the morning sun shone into the living room window the next morning. Dib woke up peacefully, taking in a deep breath and slowly opening his eyes and blinking a few times as they adjusted to the bright light. After a few minutes or so, he looked down to his little companion who was still sleeping peacefully on his chest, making him smile. He eventually made the decision to wake Einstein, shaking him lightly. The puppy, however, refused to wake up just yet and covered his face with his paw.
Dib chuckled, then took this time to observe the messy environment around him. The night had been peaceful… Almost a little too peaceful, which made the boy suspicious. Some things seemed to be misplaced, however the thing that stood out most to the human were the long, deep claw marks in the walls around him. He knew they hadn’t been there before he fell asleep, and they were far too long and high for Einstein to had made them. It was obvious then that someone else had been in the house.
Dib whimpered "Einstein.. Wake up.." he whispered, followed by another small shake.
Einstein blinked his eyes open as he was shaken into an alert state, stretching a bit with a yawn. He turned his head upward to his master, almost seeming to smile as he panted. He let out a low whine and ducked his head down a bit though at the fear radiating from the other, and tried to press his head up under his arm for comfort. From up above their heads, scraping and the sound of wood being carved by sharp claws radiated down.
Dib’s head snapped towards the stairs at the loud sounds coming from the floor above them. He shivered where he sat, slowly sitting up and catching his dog in his arms. He remained completely frozen where he sat as he knew exactly who was up there waiting for him. After a few moments of hesitation and with no end to the constant thumping and scrapes, Dib placed Einstein on the couch beside him and stood, slowly walking towards the base of the stairs and commanding his small puppy to accompany him.
Einstein immediately went by his side however, flanking his master on his left side to show he would not leave him. He wished now to only please him, and not to disappoint him again. It was simple logic to anyone else, but it was the little puppy’s entire world that he had come to know.
With a reassuring glance at the puppy following him, he proceeded forward until he reached the base of the stairs. He looked towards the dark upper floor, the sounds growing louder now. He sighed, almost making a whining sound as he reached down to pick up the dog for both his sake and the puppy’s before making the climb up the stairs. Once at the top, Dib placed him back down again but this time he put Einstein behind him to make sure he could fend off anything that tried to hurt either him or the dog.
There was a familiar hissing and screeching sound coming from his room, one that had filled his nightmares and fueled his fears for the past days and nights.
Shivering, Dib closed his eyes as the images of the horrifying events replayed in his mind as he knew exactly who was inside the room. He clenched at his hair, breathing shallowly for a moment before finally collecting himself and looking towards Einstein.
"C-come on, buddy." he whispered quietly to Einstein as he walked towards his room.
Einstein whimpered and huddled at his feet in fear, obviously just as disturbed at the idea of entering the room. The scratching immediately halted, as if alerted by the sounds just outside the door.
The puppy’s cries seemed to startle Dib just as any other sound in the house now. He looked down at Einstein, quickly reaching down and grabbing a hold of the dog’s muzzle to keep him from making anymore sounds. After holding the dog’s maw shut for a few seconds, he slowly let go and creeped towards the door frame, peeking around the corner and into the blackened room.
The silence lasted only a split second before an agonizing wail pierced through it, leaving even the dog recoiling with a yelp. A second later, the figure of the deranged Irken exploded from the room, tackling the human down to the floor. He hunched his back to bare his teeth to him and raked his claws sharply across his cheek, seeming enraged with the other for unknown reasons. Einstein's puppy fur prickled in anger at this person hurting his master, barking and bounding forward before biting into Zim's arm. Zim hissed and glared at the dog as he shook him loose from his arm. Einstein landed clumsily back on his feet before he leaped again, but this time Zim was prepared. He moved his arm to swipe his claws forward, catching the dog on its side. Einstein cried out in pain as it flew back at the force and yelped as it went tumbling down the stairs.
The pain in Dib’s face seemed to dissolve after witnessing his small puppy being thrown so violently. Rushed with adrenaline now, Dib used all of his strength and rage to shove the Irken off of him, kicking and screaming violently. After some struggle and adjustment, Dib was able to get his legs under Zim’s abdomen and launch him off from on top of him. This gave him a short window to get up and run as quickly as he could down the stairs, desperate to save the only friend he had.
The little dog lay at mangled at the bottom of the stairs. Dib rushed to his side and kneeled next to him, hands shaking as they hovered over him in fear of touching him and causing more damage. Tears filled his eyes as he examined his damaged dog.
“E-Einstein.. Little buddy.. Don’t leave me.. P-please don’t leave me.. Not like this.” Dib stuttered.
The little puppy gave a weak whine as he nudged him, hemorrhaging from his side and his front legs bent back in a horrifying angle. He had tried to protect his master from this attacker, and he had failed. He licked the boy’s hand once, and then he died, knowing he had been a bad dog to his master.
The tears finally began to roll down Dib’s cheeks as his trembling hands finally made contact with Einstein’s corpse, rubbing him affectionately almost as if he were still alive to feel it. “No…” He muttered to himself. “Not you.. Not you too.. Why?...” He paused, then looked towards the top of the stairs where Zim stood. “YOU FUCKING BASTARD!!!” He screamed in rage. “JUST GO AWAY!!!”
Zim loomed down from the steps, that manic grin splitting all the way up his face as he screamed down at him, almost like a victory screech. It was as if he were mocking him at this point, holding the fact that he had taken the last thing from him.
Dib scooped his puppy lightly in his arms and stood, gritting his teeth and breathing heavily now. That smile was tormenting him. He knew Zim was pleased with what he had done and that only fueled his growing anger and mental instability. “GET OUT!! GET THE FUCK OUT!!!”
Zim barred his teeth at him with a screech. He reached a hand out, head tilted a bit to give the illusion that he were looking down Dib's arms. Following his gaze downwards, his line of sight ended on the puppy; he wanted it.
Dib made the connection almost immediately and clutched the corpse more securely in his arms. “You’re not taking him… Not a fucking chance..”
Zim screeched at this indignation, twitching in anger as he crouched on all fours to clear the stairs. He sprang over the railing of the stairs, aiming straight for the human below with claws unsheathed and murder in those vacant eyes.
Dib had just barely evaded Zim’s attack, stumbling a bit and falling on his side causing his grip on Einstein to loosen.
Zim skidded himself to a stop on the floor, turning his body around and baring his teeth at the boy. “MINE!!” He screeched in rage, all too similar to how he had treated Gaz as he mauled her.
Dib sat up and pushed himself back towards the door with his legs, regaining the tight grip on the corpse. He shivered where he sat as he was more intimidated now that the Irken was so close to him.
"IB!!!" Zim finally hissed with bloodlust on his tongue. He bunched his muscles up before lunging at him threateningly. His arms extended, as if ready to snatch the dog from his hands and devour him right in front of him.
Dib rolled out of the way of Zim’s second attempt to snatch the dog, putting him closer towards the door. He finally staggered to his feet, moving back ever so slowly as not to trigger another attack before he could reach the door.
Zim screeched at him, nails digging into the wooden floors as he tracked him with the slow movements of his head. He looked pretty hungry from the way his teeth glistened from salivation, and the way he eyed that dog with his blank eyes.
Dib bit his lip, muffling a whine of distress as his back finally hit the door. He caught a glimpse of the light outside which indicated it was about noon. From what he remembered, he had an appointment with Dr. Gaul sometime soon, however he wasn’t sure how he was going to get there without being mauled by the raging Irken before him.
The boy considered something that most people would never have even thought of. He thought that if he sacrificed his loyal dog’s body, it would distract Zim long enough for him to get out and run to Gaul’s office. Maybe he could even convince the doctor to come home with him to see that Zim wasn’t just a delusion, but was indeed real.
The simple thought of it made Dib sob again where he stood, but his survival instinct was growing stronger now that his dog was deceased and he knew what he had to do to survive. He shakily held the puppy by the back leg, holding it outwards toward Zim. “Y-you want this?” He choked out in between sobs.
Zim stared at the carcass with a low growl rumbling through his chest. His claws further sank into the floor as he watched, transfixed by it. The answer was an obvious yes; he wanted that dog for himself, to greedily tear at and pull apart for his own satisfaction.
The longer Dib stood staring at both his loyal friend and the insane alien before him, the more he became aware of the fact that he couldn’t sacrifice the only thing that had ever really loved him unconditionally to the end. He reeled his dog back into his arms, opening the door behind him quickly and sprinting down the street crying and screaming in agony. “I’m sorry!” He shouted several times as he ran madly towards the doctor’s office.
The puppy laid dead in his arms, it’s mangled form lying across his arms and partially dangling. People he passed were mortified by the overall appearance of the boy, some gasping and some screaming as they believed the deranged boy had brutally murdered the dog.
Dib finally reached his destination and mindlessly burst through the doors, still crying and hyperventilating. He looked towards the lobby clerk, holding his puppy closer to his chest. “Dr. Gaul… I need..” He paused, choking a bit on his own sobs. “I need to see him.. Now…”
The nurse stared at him, her hands held up in defensive reaction to his hysteria. "A-Alright little boy... I..I'll send you straight back.." She assured, getting out of her chair and leading him back. She intruded on an already ongoing session, but after a quick explanation the other patient was shown out for a bit. She had insisted to Dr. Gaul that this was very, very crucial and could not wait.
Dib stood shaking violently in the hallway, caressing the cold cheek of his dead dog as he waited for the doctor, muttering strange things to himself that weren’t quite clear.
The Secretary opened the door for Dib after a few moments, leading him to Dr. Gaul where he sat at his desk. He raised a brow as he saw Dib, looking very solemnly as always. "Dib... Sit down and tell me what happened. What is in your arms?"
Dib walked in almost mindlessly, sitting slowly on the couch. He looked straight ahead, but seemed to look right through the doctor rather than make eye contact. He remained quiet for a couple moments as he continued to stroke the soft, blood stained coat of Einstein.
“This..” He started after a long silence, “This is Einstein. My… Dog. I got him two days ago. And Zim.. He just killed him. He just killed the only thing that’s ever cared for me…” Dib stammered, continuing to caress the corpse.
The doctor frowned sharply in alarm and made a motion to the secretary before she hurried off. "You got a dog, that's good... but you say Zim killed him?" He spoke, jotting this down on a notepad. "Dib... Zim is you... there is no Zim..." He sighed, seeming almost bored with their conversation already.
Dib closed his eyes in frustration, speaking through gritted teeth as his hand paused on the dog. “You’re wrong, Doctor. Zim.. Zim is real.” He opened his eyes, finally making eye contact with the man. “He was in my house this morning. He killed my dog…” He paused, his gaze growing distant now. “And.. He killed my sister too.”
Dr.Gaul had tight lines formed on his forehead as he stared at him, silently evaluating his responses and his current state of being. His eyes trailed up as two larger males grabbed both of Dib's arms while another forced the dog from his arms. Dr. Gaul gave the boy a small, obviously faked smile as they restrained the confused and struggling patient.
"I think we should take a closer look at you..."