Dib watched the bird through the camera viewer, waiting patiently for it stand still. It was midafternoon in Gravity Falls, and with the sun was coming out, the brisk morning air would soon give way to more typical summer temperatures.
The weather had been something Dib appreciated when he had came up here with his family. Gravity Falls currently had perfect trenchcoat weather: cold enough to require it in the morning, but never so hot for so long that wearing it would be torturous. Summers in his home city always felt terrible, a result of the urban environment coupled with the high humidity. His trenchcoat made those days feel especially unbearable, but he could never go the day without it. An investigator without his trenchcoat is like a photographer without his camera. It just didn’t happen.
And the trees! Gravity Falls was nestled within a vast forest, and so far Dib had seen more trees in just a few hours than he had seen his entire life back in the city. Currently he was deep in the woods, hearing sounds that would’ve been impossible to get back in the city. While he was still a little annoyed that his father had dragged him and his sister all this way for a “summer getaway”, he had to admit that this was actually pretty nice. He had almost forgotten that there was a psychotic alien back home that was bent on world domination, and was currently running around unchecked.
His eyes twitched and he gritted his teeth, but after a few moments he calmed down, and looked to see that the bird had actually decided to stand still as well. Perfect, now all he had to do was take a picture, if only to show his dad that he could be “normal” for a little while, and—
Dib stiffened, deciding not to say anything. He positioned the camera, got the bird in his sights—
“Dib, look over here!”
He lowered the camera, growling under his breath. “No, Dipper! I am not going to look! I am going to take a picture of this normal, boring bird!”
“But I thought you wanted to take pictures of the weird and supernatural?”
“I do,” he said. “Too bad there isn’t anything ‘supernatural’ about this place!”
“Come on, don’t be like that. I showed you a bigfoot, didn’t I?”
“Oh, yeah,” he said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “Who would’ve thought real bigfoots had natural zippers on their backs?”
“Like I said, it was a bigfoot in a fur suit! He had a skin condition. Bigfoots are really sensitive about not having hair.”
Dipper had been one of the first kids he had run into when his family came up. Like Dib, Dipper and his sister were staying in Gravity Falls for the summer at the behest of their parents. And, like Dib, Dipper said he had an interest in the weird and supernatural. The brown-haired boy had even offered to show him all the oddities of Gravity Falls. The “real” stuff, unlike the manufactured offerings of the Mystery Shack.
So far, it’s been one disappointment after another.
He raised the camera. The bird was lazily pecking at the ground, even though there was nothing there. There was something unusual about the bird, but Dib couldn’t place what it was.
Dipper spoke again. “I promise, Dib. If you turn around, right now, you’re going to see something amazing.”
He sighed, lowering the camera again. “And what ‘amazing’ thing would that be?”
There was a dramatic pause, and then Dipper said, “A gnome.”
Dib felt his hackles rise. Whenever he heard ‘gnome’, he could only think of the robotic sentries that had guarded Zim’s base. He could no longer look at any garden gnome without suspecting that it was yet another of Zim’s drones, carrying out his fiendish, alien will.
“There isn’t a gnome behind me, Dipper.”
“Yes there is! He’s got the beard, the pointy hat, and—get this—they puke rainbows!”
Dib’s face scrunched up. “Was that Mabel’s idea, or yours?”
“Ergh, none of ours! It’s how gnomes work!”
A small, gruff voice suddenly spoke. “Hey, can we hurry this up? Us gnomes don’t like being in the open this long.”
“I know, I know,” Dipper said. “Give me a little time, the guy’s just a little skeptical at the moment.”
Dib rolled his eyes. “Give me some credit, Dipper. It’s going to take more than you lowering your voice to make me believe there’s a gnome back there.”
“Pfft, as if this boy could ever hope to sound as manly as me.”
“Hey, I didn’t take that from the manotaurs, and I’m not going to take it from you, either,” Dipper said.
There was the urge to turn around, but… no, if Dib did that there’d just be nothing there. He was excited at first to hear that Gravity Falls was somehow the supernatural capital of the world, but everything Dipper had shown him had turned out to be a big pile of nothing. ‘Bigfoots’ that had zippers, ‘jackalopes’ without antlers (that Dipper claimed had just fallen off for the upcoming winter), and now gnomes.
No, he was going to put his foot down. If he kept looking whenever Dipper said to, he was only going to encourage this. The preteen was clearly taking advantage of his interests just to play a joke on him, and probably get a laugh from his real friends later on.
Dib looked again at the bird, which was now looking straight at him. Maybe once he actually got around to taking a picture, he should pass it along to his dad, and make sure it wasn’t some rare species. He was sure there was something funny about it. He raised the camera, readying his finger over the clicker...
Dipper sighed behind him. “Look, Dib, I know how you’re feeling, okay? You work so hard trying to tell people something, to do everything you can to make them see something obvious, but no matter what you do they either don’t believe you, or all your evidence gets lost or destroyed. Like life’s pulling some twisted joke on you.”
Dib’s finger hovered over the clicker. The bird was tilting its head, as if expecting something.
“Uh, Dipper?” The gruff voice was back. “Could we hurry this along, because—”
“Shh, shh. Dib, weird stuff happens here all the time. I try to tell Stan, but he just blows me off. And when we try to tell other people about this stuff, or about Gideon, they act like we’re speaking some kind of funny language! I know how frustrating that is, which is why I wanted to show you all that stuff. To let you know it’s not all pointless!”
The bird was flexing its wings, ready to take off, but Dib barely noticed. Was it possible that Dipper had a point? How many times had he tried to show everyone that Zim was an alien, only for something to happen to destroy his evidence? Time and time again he tried to expose Zim’s lies, and time and time again, the universe conspired to stop him. It was like some kind of… “mysterious force” thing.
Maybe he and Dipper were more alike than he thought. And what he sometimes wanted, more than anything, was just an opportunity to be listened to.
Dib was so lost in thought that the bird finally flew away, spoiling the shot. Dib sighed, just as a shadow passed over him. Well, what was stopping him now? “Fine, Dipper, I’m turning around—”
And he did. He stared at Dipper, then the tree stump, then at Dipper again. He slowly approached, raising his camera.
Dipper gulped. “Uh, okay, I can explain—”
“Oh, no need,” Dib said, his voice dripping with mock cheerfulness. “Apparently, not only do gnomes puke rainbows, but they can turn invisible as well!”
He took a picture of the empty stump. The photo came out a moment later, one which he waved in Dipper’s direction.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “This is definitely going in my files!” He suddenly dropped the facade glared at Dipper. “I’m going home.”
Fuming silently, he turned on his feet and marched out of the clearing, never once turning to look back.
Dipper watched him go, then looked up behind him. The gnome flew through the air, dangling from the talons of a bald eagle.
“Remember me!” the gnome cried out, quickly becoming nothing more than a dot in the sky.
“I will! Um, whoever you are…”
Dipper sighed morosely, and sat himself down on the tree stump, resting his chin in his palms. He glanced to his right, and saw the bird that Dib had come close to snapping a picture of.
The bird looked up at him. “Wow, did you get a look at that kid?” the bird said. “What was up with that hair?”
Dipper could only facepalm.