Upon arriving home on that quiet, eerie night, Dib was relieved to find that no insane Irken had followed him. He was alone now, and he had the feeling he would have a peaceful night in contrast to the others he had experienced.
As Dib had made his way into the house and up to his room, the lingering smell of day old blood hit him. It wasn’t quite as harsh and foul as the pile of junk found in Zim’s closet. However, it was enough to make the boy groan in both agony and nausea, but the smell didn’t seem to stop him from hobbling to his bed and allowing himself to collapse upon it.
At least he was safe for now, and tonight would be one of the only nights open for him to sleep without much worry. Zim was still too weak to come for him, and the computer was keeping him indoors for tonight.
As Dib lay on his bed with his eyes pealed wide open, he felt himself almost grow drowsy as time proceeded. He even fell into a deep and much needed sleep within fifteen minutes or so. Thankfully, he wasn't disturbed at all through the night by visits or near-death experiences. Just calm sleep—maybe ridden with nightmares and uncertainty—but sleep nonetheless.
Dib had fallen into such a deep sleep that it felt like only minutes went by before his alarm clock was heard blaring in his ears from the nightstand beside him. He jumped awake, grumbling a bit as he reached over to slam the ‘off’ button on the top of his clock.
Dib’s eyes took a moment to adjust to the light that was filtering into his room from the window. After he was able to fully open his eyes, he looked back to his nightstand to see that there was a message flashing on the message machine, alerting him to a missed and probably important call.
The boy squinted at the blinking light for a moment before reaching for his glasses, which were still smeared with blood, and placing them on his face. He sat up now and pressed the blinking light, then waited for the message to play.
"This is Doctor Gaul's office, calling to confirm Dib Membrane's appointment with us at two forty this afternoon. We hope to see you with us today!" A cheery woman's voice spoke through the recording.
Dib let out a tired yawn, letting himself fall back lazily on the bed. He had decided that he wasn’t going to school since the appointment would cut into class anyway, and he didn’t want to risk encountering the alien today. Though, something told him Zim wouldn’t be there either that day...
It wasn't even certain if Zim would have gone to school after last night. It was a miracle he even got himself to the door of his own base every morning the way it was.All there was to do now was wait nervously until the time came around for his appointment.
Dib found himself wondering about Zim now as he lay staring blankly at the ceiling. He wondered what the Irken was doing now, or how well he was doing for that matter. The thought of losing him still created some discomfort in the boy’s already disturbed mind which caused him to let out a small whimper.
Any day the Irken could simply collapse and never move again, at least at the rate his body was deteriorating at. He was becoming ill, choking on his blood, and even harming himself out of this insanity.
Dib was able to force himself out of bed now and stretched before heading lazily towards the bathroom. Once he pushed through the cracked door and flicked on the lights, his reflection in the large mirror over the sink caught his eye and he took this time to fully examine himself for the first time since this all began.
The boy’s once clear, pale cheeks were now red and scarred from where the Irken’s sharp claws had run deep into his flesh. His hair was quite the mess; his once perfectly formed ‘scythe’ lock atop his head now a matted mess. Despite the deep sleep he had the night before, his eyes were plagued with dark circles under them; they had to be from the constant stress and paranoia though. Finally, he examined his clothes. His shirt had practically been torn to shreds at the hands of Zim and large spots of blood stained the fabric.
Of course if he were to show up at the psychiatrist office like this, they would probably instantly commit him. It would probably be in best interest to at least clean himself up and look a bit tidy.
After taking a long look at himself and breathing a heavy sigh, Dib turned to the shower and turned the water until it was nearly at a boiling point. He stripped his clothes off and hopped in rather eagerly since he often took hot showers when he was under much stress. It was definitely much needed and appreciated today.
No one was there to disturb him either while he showered. Gaz was at school, Professor Membrane at work always, and Zim wherever he decided to go.
For once in the last few days, Dib wasn’t thinking or worrying about Zim. In fact, he wasn’t thinking of anything at all really. He allowed his mind to go blank as the warm shower and the sound of the running water relaxed him greatly.
After about twenty minutes, he finally emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist and he headed back to his bedroom. He headed to his closet first to pick out some clothes before a small box hit his forehead before plopping onto the floor. He bent down to grab it before realizing this was the box that held all of the pictures of Zim he had collected over the years. He quickly dressed himself before sitting cross legged on the floor with the box in front of him, taking a deep breath and opening the box and sifting through the years of history within the photos.
The alien looked so different in his photos compared to how he looked now. He was bright eyed and loud, eyes a blazing crimson filled with fierce determination and persistence. His skin was an almost pretty jade color with his demeanor always proud and tall. It was shockingly horrible how different he looked now...
Eventually, after hours of just sitting there and doing nothing, 2:15 came around. Dib decided to head out at this time so not to risk showing up late. He gave the photos one last glance where they sat on the floor before making his way out of his house to face the stares from people he was sure he would receive as he made his way to the office.
The office wasn’t too hard to find, in fact it was along the route he took on his way to school. He hesitated to go inside though, staring up at the door as if it were judging him as well now. After much disputation, he pushed through the doors and crept inside almost like a frightened child might do.
There were a couple of people sitting on seats, some looking more disturbed than others. The nurse behind the counter was taking patients and new patient's information with a large practiced smile.
Dib remained quite upon observing this and slowly made his way to an empty seat in the corner of the room. He wrapped his trench coat around his body defensively now as he stared at the others in the room.
The patients all kept to themselves, looking about as nervous as Dib did. Some rocked back in forth in their seats, while others cried quietly to themselves. The nurse called his name with a sweet smile, seeing he was quite young.
Dib jumped slightly at his name, quickly standing and heading towards the front desk with a weak smile as he tried to appear friendly. He wasn’t sure why he was so nervous here, but he hated the fact that he was acting so much like a three-year-old.
The nurse smiled sympathetically. "I just need you to fill out a small clipboard really quick before you go back to Doctor Gaul, okay hun?" She spoke, hoping to soothe his nerves.
“Yeah.” Dib replied quietly as he took the clipboard and retreated to his corner, avidly filling out the papers. After five minutes or so, he returned to the desk and waited for the woman’s acknowledgement before doing anything more.
She smiled and took it from him with a soft 'thank you' in reply. After he went back to his seat, it only took another ten minutes before they called him back to see the doctor.
Dib stood, again, and walked hesitantly towards the doctor’s office towards the back of the room. He paused in the doorway of the doctor’s office though, again waiting for some kind of acknowledgement.
A slightly grayed man sat at a desk, sifting through papers. He looked up and nodded his head a bit to him. "You must be the Membrane kid.."
Dib scowled a bit at this before speaking. “Yep.. I’m Dib.” He asserted as he wasn’t quite fond of being called ‘the Membrane kid’.
"Please, come take a seat." Dr.Gaul spoke, motioning to a couch across from his desk. "We've been yearning to get you here for years now."
Dib walked inside and sat stiffly on the couch that was being motioned to. “Of course. I’m sure my father has told you all about how ‘insane’ I am.”
"Yes yes... but from what your father told me, you think there's an alien after you?" Dr.Gaul questioned, raising a brow. "Tell me... does this sound rational in your mind?"
Dib crossed his arms over his chest and sighed deeply before replying again. “Of course it doesn’t sound right to you people. But why would I lie about an alien? Something I have been studying my whole life! And you think I would actually lie about my life being in danger? I’m not that desperate for attention.” After a quick pause, his eyes flicked back up the doctor as his hands uncrossed and pointed up to his scarred cheeks. “These scars are from that damned alien!”
The balding man held his hands up innocently, not wanting to rile the insane child up. "Now now, I never called you a liar. We have a thing for this called schizophrenia where you see things that others don't. This 'alien' that you're seeing may just be a manifestation of your fears and anger that has taken life to you." He replied. "The scars? Marks your skin has made as a result of your brain convincing you so hard that there was damage inflicted by this figment, that it actually caused the skin to become wounded. That, or you do them yourself without being aware of it during these attacks as a way of also showing that your mind is controlling this figment, and therefore controlling the pain."
Dib shook his head in a silent denial of everything Dr. Gual had just told him. “This.. This isn’t schizophrenia.. This is real, doctor. Just.. no one is around when he attacks. He waits until I am alone. But he attacked my teacher!” Dib’s ramblings slowly came to a pause again as he looked almost desperately at the doctor. “Do.. do you really think it’s in my head?”
Dr.Gaul sighed and leaned back a bit in his seat. "Dib, I've dealt with many cases like these. All of them sound almost identical to yours, with the details tweaked of course. My point is, I do believe that this is nothing more than a mere delusion you are having. There is no alien Dib, there isn't anyone out to get you, this is just in your head. And I'm here to help you smooth that out, and make this projection your brain is making go away."
Dib leaned back in his own seat as well, looking down almost in devastation at the thought that this could actually just be in his head. Everything the doctor had suggested seemed plausible.. But the thought that Zim might have actually just been an illusion through all of these years was horrible to think about. “But... My class.. They saw him attack my teacher.. They saw me stop him.”
"Are you sure Dib?" The doctor questioned. "Are you sure they didn't see you attack her? Perhaps you saw this alien... but if you are controlling him with your mind.. then perhaps it was actually you."
Dib’s head sprung back up now to stare Dr. Gual in the eye now. “No! I would never just attack someone!” Still, Dib paused some more as he thought through everything that was going on in his head now. “Well... What do you suggest we do then?” he mumbled.
The doctor smiled when he saw he was willing to work with him. "Well, there is some medication that should stop your brain from producing this fake image." He explained. "It should calm your nerves as well."
“I see.” Dib replied shortly at the much dreaded thought of medication.
The doctor nodded his head a bit. "Just give it a try..." He convinced. "They will help your mind get better... you can be part of society."
Dib simply nodded as he brought his knees up to his chest, much like he did when the terrifying shadows of Zim had haunted him a couple nights ago. “So, when do I get it then?”
"As soon as I write the prescription and send it to the nurse. She'll get it all there for you." He replied. "Now tell me... how long have you seen this alien?"
Dib closed his eyes for a moment as if struggling to remember this information. “Five years I think. But he wasn’t insane until a month ago.. He started attacking me a couple days ago though when I approached him at lunch.”
The doctor hummed as he began scribbling on a notepad as he listened. "So... you've seen him for five years?" He concluded. "Has anything particularly tragic or upsetting happened within the last month or so that might have triggered this change?"
“Uh.. He was sent here to ‘conquer Earth’, but it turned out that his mission lied and his leaders actually banished him here. He blamed it on me since I was the only one who knew about his plans and stopped all of them.”
The doctor was quiet for a moment as he continued to write. He finally set his pen down and looked up at him. "So, what I'm hearing is you feel that the world has robbed you of something, and you feel that your 'mission' here in life is a big waste and you feel like the world is cheating you of something. And you blame yourself subconsciously because of your differences."
Dib cocked his head a little at this. The doctor seemed to have an explanation to shut him down about everything and he found this to be quite annoying. But, he kept his opinions to himself. “I guess so..”
The doctor hummed and nodded a bit. "How are you liked in school? Do you have any friends? Are you bullied?"
Dib sighed as he stared out of the window behind Dr. Gual, replying in a rather monotone voice. “I stay quiet and I have no friends. Yes, I’m bullied sometimes, but not nearly as bad as it was in the past.”
"Are you physically bullied ever?" The doctor questioned. "How's your home life? Is it happy? Have both your parents? Any siblings?"
“I’ve been beaten up a couple times in the locker room by this one kid...” Dib paused as he considered the other question, the let out a sarcastic laugh as if the answer should’ve been obvious. “My home life? I never see my father, my mother is dead and my little sister hates me.”
He frowned a bit as he wrote this down. "Are you depressed then? Do you feel sad a lot?" He questioned, as if sympathetic for him.
Dib nodded slowly, letting out another sigh. “Yeah.. I guess so. I am lonely and quite sad most of the time..”
"Do you think maybe your mind created this alien as a way to keep your mind and time occupied so you wouldn't feel so lonely? And the more you believed it and sought after him, the more real and more personality he began to have?" The doctor questioned, almost putting a challenge to what he thought.
Dib’s eyes wandered back to the doctor now, raising an eyebrow slightly. “I guess. And I’m scared that I’m losing him, even if he is trying to kill me..”
The doctor handed over a box of tissues to him. "I think you're worried of losing yourself... I will do my best to help make you better..." He assured him.
“Thanks then..” Dib replied, though he sounded quite resentful. “So can I go then?”
"That's up to you. I'm paid for the full hour, but you're free to leave and consult the nurse if you please." He replied as he handed him a prescription pad. "Just hand this to her. You'll need to take three at a time twice daily."
Dib frowned as he found this to be quite a heavy dose, but he didn’t argue or say anything against it as he reached for the paper. “If you don’t have anymore questions for me I guess I’ll go..”
"Well, unless you want to tell me a little about your history and where things started going bad, I really don't think just asking you questions will suffice." Dr.Gaul replied.
Dib shrugged and relaxed back into the seat, looking back towards the window as he drew a deep breath. “Everything was fine before Zim lost his mind. In a way, he gave me something to live for since I have waited my whole life to meet an alien..”
He hummed softly at that and frowned. "So you've named him?" The doctor commented. "Zim?"
Dib perked up a little almost surprised himself that he had mentioned the Irken’s name. He opened his mouth a little and let out a small breath, carrying with it a couple words. “Yeah... Zim..”