“I’m not crazy!!” Dib screamed, desperately trying to plead his case. “Let me go!!” The boy struggled to get free but to no avail.
The two nurses held firmly to the distressed and thrashing child. Another man wrapped the corpse of the dog in a blanket. "We'll have him buried in the pet cemetery." He stated to the boy, hoping it would ease his mind a bit.
The mention of the pet cemetery hardly calmed Dib, making him flail and scream more loudly. “NO! Don’t bury him there! Just give him back!” He looked to the doctor now in pure distress and agony. “I didn’t kill him I swear… Just let me go!”
"Okay, okay! Take it easy!" The man frowned with a guarded demeanor, not wanting to upset him further. "I'm sorry Dib, we'll just keep you overnight and study you. We aren’t saying that you killed the dog, we just want to make sure everything is working right in your brain." Dr.Gaul explained to him as slow and calmly as he could.
Dib closed his eyes, tears streaming from the corner of each of them. “Put him.. In my backyard.. Please.” He choked out between sobs.
The man nodded as he looked to him, trying to appear less threatening. "We'll have him put in a small coffin.." He assured. Dr.Gaul nodded to the two men and let them drag the boy away. Dib still continued to struggle in protest a bit as they dragged him, but eventually he submitted and allowed them to take them wherever it was they were taking him.
They brought him deeper into the building that was not as small as it looked apparently. He was brought to a room full of equipment and various monitors, which gave it the illusion that it were straight out of a mad scientist’s lab. "We're just going to run some tests first..." One of the nurses informed him, noticing his stares.
Just the sight of the room was enough to add more stress to the already frantic human as he began shaking and examining the room wildly for an escape route. He turned his attention back to the nurse, biting his lip nervously at the mention of these ‘tests’.
“Tests? What kind of tests?” Dib questioned.
He was sat in a chair and strapped by his wrists down, another restraint fastening around his head as the nurse patting his cheek a bit hard. “Juuust some simple tests.”
Dib gritted his teeth in annoyance, turning his head away from the man and pulling at the restraint. “Is it really necessary to strap me to the fucking chair?”
The man turned something up that gave a whine like a defibrillator being charged up. "Yes, it is." He assured him as he held the tools out to the side a bit as they sparked.
Dib's heart jumped and sank to his stomach at the electric sound. He bit his lip almost hard enough to draw blood as he tried tirelessly to figure out what they were about to do to him. “W-what are you doing?” He began to struggle against the restraint once again.
"Oh don't worry... we're just going to give you a wee bit of electricity through the brain.. that's all." The nurse replied. “These just help conduct it through your neural passages.”
Dib flinched, closing his eyes tightly and balling his hands into fists as he knew this would be painful. There was no escape, so the only thing he could do was sit there and take whatever they were planning to throw at him.
The nurse then approached him with the rod-like instruments, keeping them held out as he did. He rested the ends on either one of his temples. "Clear." Was the last thing he heard before everything turned black.
Dib woke up in a haze, his head throbbing slightly. He didn’t remember much other than the image of the two rods coming towards him. He groaned, slowly sitting up as he held his head and rubbed his temples before looking at where he was through squinted eyes. He found that he was in a small room. He had little circle sensors on his bare torso and his forehead as well, and he was settled down on a starch, white bed. There seemed to be no one else in the room with him.
After observing the room, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and looked down to the two sensors attached to his skin. He raised a brow, hovering a hand above one of them with an outstretched finger.
"Don't touch those." A voice spoke from a speaker above. "We're simply observing you over night to see how you act. There's a bathroom on your left without any cameras for privacy. Please only take ten minutes at a time in there though, or you will be shocked out of it."
Dib gave a mocking glare upwards as he knew a camera had to be up there somewhere and he wanted to make sure they had seen it. He moved from the bed after a moment and paced around the room for about 10 minutes before becoming bored and irritated. Finally, he took a seat against the wall and sighed. The entire time, he was certainly being watched. Every little movement and every hitched breath he made was recorded and documented. He was a little test subject now.
Dib found himself glaring at the cameras, shooting several offensive gestures and angry expressions. But nothing seemed to change. Nothing happened, and the day continued slowly and tediously. Hours passed by and Dib could feel himself getting tired but he couldn't sleep. Just the idea of every little movement he made being watched and documented made him feel uneasy and vulnerable. He knew that if he didn’t sleep, though, they would take it as some kind of oddity and only keep him in this horrible place even longer. If he wanted to get out anytime soon, he would need to behave somewhat normally, like a sane person might.
The boy shot one more glare towards the camera before getting up from his spot and heading to the bathroom, careful not to spend too much time in there in fear of being shocked. Once he was out, he walked sluggishly towards the bed and collapsed on it, sighing heavily in obvious annoyance. He lay with his eyes open for quite some time before he finally drifted into a rather uncomfortable and forced sleep.
However, he woke only an hour later after several nightmares and horrifying images played unmercifully in his head. He shot upwards, breathing rather heavily before remembering where he was and collected himself. Dib took several deep breaths as he tried to remind himself of happier things, like bigfoot and yetis. Finally, he calmed himself enough to lay back down and close his eyes to make it look like he was sleeping, but in fact he wasn’t. His mind continued to race with horrible thoughts even though he already reassured himself that everything would be alright. Eventually, he worried himself to exhaustion and actually fell into a much deeper sleep.
There was complete silence in the room. Morning came in one big blur, a nurse getting him while he was still drowsy and injecting something into him so he couldn’t fight her. "Your father authorized us to do whatever we needed, or in this case, wanted to for your health." She informed, the female offering him a slightly kind smile.
Dib opened his eyes wearily and sat up, stretching his arms and looking at her hopefully. “So I can go home now, right?”
"Sadly not." She replied as she put a bandage on his arm. "Just enjoy the medicine, it'll make you feel nice and calm. You can do that for me, right?”
Dib tensed up and was tempted to pull away and put up a fight, but the much nicer nurse made him feel more at ease and trusting. He nodded his head slowly, allowing her to do her job. In mere minutes, Dib felt completely numb and thoughtless. He lay calmly on the bed, staring at the wall as if something interesting were playing out on it. Nothing ran through his mind. Nothing worried or startled him. He just lay there, almost appearing somewhat brain-dead.
The doctors though, seemed to find this better than his paranoid state. To them, this was a cure and not just a fake reality; a step in the right direction.
Even though Dib could hardly create a coherent thought, he knew he hated this. He hated what these doctors and this medicine did to him, but he had no choice. He had to do what they wanted just for the sake of getting out of this place as soon as possible.
It was an illogical conclusion to believe they were simply toying with him like a guinea pig rather than truly benefiting his own health. Nothing more really supported the health issue, however, and made the negative seem more likely. His pulse was steady, his blood pressure normal, and his brain activity stopped spiking with paranoia. This was the only medical advantage to it, but they knew this would cease with the medication.
Finally, the same female nurse came in and took his vitals, humming a bit. "We plan to keep you a little longer to adjust your medication hun." She informed him. “Not too much longer.”
Dib looked to her with a just as emotionless stare, sighing at the idea of staying longer. “When can I go home? I’m tired of this place..”
"Don't you worry about that honey." The nurse spoke as she patted his hand.
Dib closed his eyes, sighing and rubbing his head in frustration of this numb feeling. “When does this shit wear off?” He groaned.
"Oh in about a day." The woman smiled as she stroked his hair back gently. "I know it makes you feel really artificial.." She soothed faintly. “It’s an icky, heavy feeling, but like all feelings of discomfort and pain, it will fade.”
Dib lowered his gaze down to the floor and said nothing. He wondered why making him a mindless sack of flesh helped him, but he was too out of it to say anything against it.
The nurse smiled and stroked head again before turning to leave the room. After the door was shut, the silent observations continued as normal.
After laying for even longer amounts of time on the bed, he finally got himself up and began to pace the room in an attempt to jog some kind of thought. He tried to think of something. Even the horrifying thought of Zim’s terrible grin and blank eyes would have been welcome. He was just over the numbness and thoughtlessness.
Perhaps this is what they had meant by making him better; reducing his thoughts of Zim. If Zim was just in his mind, then reducing the thoughts would reduce his appearances. Were there actions just though? How can they judge this case by their perceived thoughts without even investigating Zim as he had constantly said? Who’s to say this was a case of insanity and not one of murder?
After a 45 minute session of walking in circles, Dib finally came to rest against the wall, staring mindlessly at the white walls around him. Eventually, he had fallen asleep on the floor rather peacefully.
He was later awoken by the kinder woman, who gently helped him into a sitting position. "Come on sweetie, let's get you checked out of here and on your way."
Dib woke quietly with a yawn, slowly sitting up to look at the nurse beside him. His only response being “Can I use the restroom first?”
The nurse smiled and laughed softly at the request. "Of course sugar." She replied sweetly, stepping back to assure him his privacy.
Dib stood up slowly and walked towards the bathroom with a few stumbles along the way as he was still finding it difficult to wake up. He closed the door and relieved himself but before he left, he washed his hands and threw some water on his face which helped him wake up more quickly. The boy paused there for a moment, then opened the door and smiled at the nurse "Okay, get me out of here please.”
The nurse smiled and took Dib's hand gently. "Alright honey, let me help you walk. You probably feel a little woozy." She spoke calmly as she carefully guided him.
Dib was a little hesitant about the touch as he hadn’t had very kind human contact in a very long time, but in seconds he felt settled and comfortable and he allowed her to take him where she wished.
She smiled as she walked with him, seeming to be there to reassure him kindness rather than his own insanity. "Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?" It seemed like a pretty typical question, preloaded and probably required for them to say. Still, there was some genuine care in her tone.
“Oh,” Dib replied simply at the unexpected question. “Well, I wanted to be a Paranormal Investigator, but I’m kind of having second thoughts.”
"Why are you having second thoughts?" She questioned, appearing truly curious. She wasn't interrogating him or trying to prod at him like Dr.Gaul did to twist his words around.
Dib sighed before answering as if he had given this speech before. “My dad wants me to be a scientist like him so he doesn’t support me and says that everything I think is real is actually fake. And I guess everything that’s going on now kind of pushed me away….” His voice drifted a bit.
"Well, that makes sense to me." She spoke after a moment as she walked with him. "I think it'd be enough to make anyone else think twice about it too."
Dib smiled, feeling more comfortable with the nurse as she had yet to call him crazy or insane the whole time they were talking. “Ah, I’ll figure it out.”
"Well, maybe you should think a little harder about it. Maybe you're interested in paranormal, but would rather be something like.. a ghost tour guide, or even just working in a place like Area 51." She hummed. “Or, maybe you’re thinking too hard on it, and that might be the problem.”
Dib shrugged a little at the idea. “I guess Area 51 would be pretty interesting. Aliens have always been a favourite of mine…” He paused at the idea of aliens, which brought him back to his own little deranged Irken who was out for his blood. “Do… Do you think this is all in my head like everyone says?”
She smiled as she squeezed his hand gently to reassure him. "Well, I say if you're interested in it, keep chasing that dream." She paused a moment before she stopped walking with him to really consider his question. "I.. don't know what to say about that. It does sound a little absurd, you must admit. And the whole thing with the dog..."
“I know it sounds crazy and the thing with my dog looked bad, but you have to believe me. I would never make all of this up.” Dib assured her, getting more passion in his tone now. “I just need someone to believe me and I can prove that all of this is real.”
"...Why did you bring the dead puppy in?" She questioned, looking to him. She looked as if she really wanted to believe him; just wanting to believe a child like him couldn't be that disturbed.
Dib sighed, looking off to the side before replying. “Zim.. was looking to make a meal of Einstein. I had to bring him with me to make sure Zim didn’t ruin him..” He muttered, knowing how crazy that sounded to the nurse.
The nurse frowned softly as he told his depressing story. "Well... however it happened, I'm very sorry about your dog..."
“I am too.” Dib agreed without another word.
She frowned and got to her knees after a moment, hugging him all of a sudden. She held it for a little while before pulling away. "I'm sorry... that's... completely unprofessional..."
Dib blinked, staring quietly for a moment before smiling up at her. “No.. I liked it. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a hug like that.”
The nurse smiled sadly as she hugged him again after a moment. "Oh... you're just so sweet and sad I just want to cry." She spoke as she held him.
Dib hesitated for a moment, then wrapped his arms around her as well. He sighed and closed his eyes in comfort. "I'm just glad someone doesn't think I am completely insane."
"Oh.. I just think you're very sad, and lonely.." She replied softly as she held him.
Dib’s body tensed as that statement only concluded that no one would ever believe him. Not even the lady who actually listened to him and felt better. However, he enjoyed the kind human contact and gripped tightly to her white coat.
The nurse sighed as she held him, seeming to truly feel terrible about his situation. It was the first person who showed powerful empathy toward his situation.
Dib pulled away from the hug after a few more moments and looked down at his feet, then looked back at her with a weary smile "Thanks..”
The nurse nodded softly as she stood again. "Come on... I'm sure they're getting impatient with us.."
Dib walked along with her without hesitation, squeezing her hand unconsciously as they neared their destination.
She smiled down at him and squeezed his hand. "Now... you be careful, you hear me?" She spoke as she let him go.
Dib actually felt hesitant about leaving her. Even though she believed he was insane just like everyone else, she still made him feel safe. Those minutes with her had been some of the least stressful times since Einstein was alive to look after him. “I’ll try.” He replied.
She smiled sadly as she watched him go, her heart going out for the little boy. Dr.Gaul stood on the other side of the room, handing him a new pill bottle. "Take only one once a day."
Dib grabbed the bottle and examined it for a moment, then turned his attention back to Dr. Gaul "What will these do? They won't make me go all brainless like the medicine you gave me in the room will they?" He snapped, obviously unhappy with what they did to him while he was here.
The Doctor avoided around the question smoothly though, as most doctors tended to do when posed with a question as such. "I can't say, everyone has different side effects."
Dib rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Whatever you say, doctor. Can I go now?”
"Of course. Just... try to stay sane... don't kill small animals.." The Doctor sighed back to him boredly.
Dib gave Dr. Gaul one last glare before turning towards the door and exiting, slamming it harshly behind him as he stormed down the street.
Everyone continued to stare at him as he left the office. Everyone thought he was homicidal insane at this point. However, Dib didn’t concern himself with the odd stares and whispers that he received from these people around him. He already knew his image was too far destroyed to ever have a chance at restoring it. He accepted their insults now.
Once he had made it home, he was instantly reminded of the absence of his friend by all of the things he had bought for him. The bed lay vacant, the bowls still had food and water in them, and there was a small spot of blood in front of the stairs where he had fallen and taken his last breaths. All of the horrible emotions Dib had before he had gotten home all flood back to him in a matter of seconds upon looking at everything Einstein left.
To distract himself, Dib began to pick things up off the floor and shove them in a vacant closet, but he was sure to avoid all of Einstein’s things. He was getting angry with himself, swearing and shouting at himself every now and then. He knew he should have killed Zim when he had the chance and just end everything before it got even worse. That opportunity was now long gone though. Zim had taken everything from him, and he did so without a hint of remorse to be seen in that strained grin of his.
But... he had tried to reach out to him at the same time. He pleaded him for help, showed that he was still there somewhere... just unreachable.
There was less than likely any way Dib could reach out to the Irken, but there was still a chance if anything. If Dib were going to communicate with Zim to figure out how to reverse this mental state he was stuck in, then he would need to do it fast. It was impossible to know when the other would sink so far into his black void that he could never be retrieved.