Portal: Close Your Eyes (Pompeii)


Characters: Caroline

Setting: Pre-Portal

Synopsis: Caroline reflects on the doings of Aperture and what is about to happen to her, and in the end does the only thing she can

It all comes down to this.

The finality of this place has caught up with her at last. Everything that comes out of this place or steps into it dies here, and so shall she. This is her last, her final day, and she knows it; this is not going to work. She has denied it for so long, has denied the fact that, in the end, for all the effort expended in this place, all it generates is futility. That is all it has ever generated, and all it ever will generate, and yet in some perverse circle of life it continues to do so. She must fall to the cycle as everyone eventually does, and so she resigns herself to it. It was not always like this. It used to be different, many grey years ago. She knows not where the vision fell.

She knows that is a lie.

She knows where the vision fell, she just does not like to think about it. Thinking about it inevitably leads her to the conclusion that she is wrong, that he was wrong, that they were wrong, and that this place is just so filled with wrongness that it is an overstatement to call it a shadow of what it used to be. These walls held hope, but so long ago. She let the years fade without looking back, without ever allowing anything that happened to mean anything, and now it is all over. Now it is ending, insomuch as something that has already concluded can end.

And what does one do, in their final moments? What does one do when their world is ending? She has been forcing this limp carcass of a dream onward for far too long, and she knows that it will end with her. It must, and it should. She did not prepare for this, though she knew it was coming. She was not being foolish. She was not being clever. She merely continued doing what she had always done.

The signs had been strong throughout the checkered history of this place. Nothing ever worked out as it was supposed to. Products untested. Patents stolen. Rumours flying rampant. She ignored all of that, as she ignored much of the goings-on; they weren't important. What was important was getting past it, moving forward, not letting it matter enough to destroy the remnants of the dream. As long as she kept moving forward, everything would be fine. She would survive, and he would survive, and they would survive, and they would prove them all wrong and make something out of nothing. There is no magic; only lost physics. As long as the physics were found, the past need not worry them. The future is now.

What a terrible thought in a world where physics did not apply.

Matter built from antimatter; a human heaven built from android hell. Impossibilities only spawn more impossibilities, and she has spent her whole life waiting for the one that makes sense. It never came, of course. She was expecting a miracle to unfold itself from the depths of a shrine to Science. A miracle borne of logic is not a miracle at all. She knew this, and did not allow it to matter. Instead, she continued doing what she had always done.

She should fight this. Should run, or cry, or scream. Should try to escape this twisted dungeon once and for all, and allow the iron gate behind her to slam shut and trap all of the horror inside of itself, and she does not. She knows she deserves it. She knows much of this is her fault, knows that the blood she's starting to see seeping out of the walls is her own fault, and that she deserves to face her reckoning. But she is not being a martyr; oh no. If she were doing anything remotely resembling the right thing, she would have run from here and allowed the demons she's silenced for so long to rise up and tear asunder what shreds are left of her soul. But she is choosing the easy way out, where she does not have to think anymore, does not have to deny anymore, and she would be lying if she said it was not a relief.

She knows she deserves it, but it does not make it any easier. It does not stop her throat from tightening, nor provide her with enough air to keep spots from dancing at the edges of her vision, nor provide any calm to her frantically racing brain. And she sits in that chair beneath that final travesty of this place, that great beast they were attempting to bring into being, and there is nothing she can do. It is over, it is all over, and their last gasp of Science will never be what they want it to be, just as nothing here ever is. It will wrest itself from their control, as everything always does, and it will come alive in its own right and consume this place, and she is glad. She would rather leave behind a smoking ruin than something that consumes its own flesh to survive.

Here she ends, and the world with her; she has finally brought on the apocalypse this place needs, but has been denied so long. There will be no warnings and no prophet, and yet they should know it is coming. They probably do, just as she does. But care is in short supply here.

She should do something. She should attempt to save them, as she never did. She should get up and send them all away, and seal these doors and allow what's left to rot and die like she was supposed to thirty years ago. But she can't, because that would mean admitting that she was wrong, that he was wrong, that they were wrong, and no matter how futile the last gasp of this dream or that of herself, that is something she cannot do. And she knows she has single-handedly kept the flame burning, and it will die when she is gone, one way or another, but she does not want to face that either. She cannot think of all her failures, because that would mean she has been born and lived and died for nothing. It is this thought that terrifies her the most, and it is this thought which keeps her sitting there, unmoving, and it is this thought that drives her to continue doing what she has always done.

She closes her eyes.

Author's note


As a fun fact for everyone who likes fun facts, it took me an hour to write this. And I don't actually have a table. In my house. At all.

An interesting question for me is this: why did Caroline go through with the upload? There was no way Cave, in his demented final days, would have been able to keep that from her. Uploading someone into a supercomputer, especially of her status, can't be an easy thing.

So this is another look at Caroline because, even though everyone insists on believing so, she was not a saint. She was just as corrupted as everyone else. Remember, she ran Aperture with Cave for forty years. She knew everything that happened. And she let it happen for her entire life. Aperture is, colloquially, an epic fail. Nothing they ever did amounted to anything. So she basically closed her eyes to everything that ever happened there, and just kept doing whatever she wanted because she didn't want to think of what she'd already done.

Is that a depressing look at Caroline? Yes. But let's face facts. That's what she did. She let people die in the name of something that never happened. Over and over and over again, from the fifties to the seventies to the eighties to the nineties, Aperture failed at what it tried to achieve and yet she pushed it forward to do it again anyway.

I don't know about you, but I would expect to die if someone tried to stick my brain into a supercomputer while I was still alive. (still alive that's a joke get it ahahahaha)