You're Not Alone
(c) to the Valve Company
And just like that, the door slammed shut.
She stared at the damaged Companion Cube, silent in its composure and observational in its nature. Like many times before, it was the sole friend at her side, and now they stood together in the wheat field next to the rusty electrical shed.
The warm wind blew, rustling through the golden grasses, the sky as blue as it had ever been. Yet, she remained staring at the little metal cube, the heart on its metallic surface tarnished and slightly melted, patiently waiting for her to do something. She could almost hear it's little voice... "Where do we go from here, Chell? Where?"
She knew that the Companion Cube could not speak, and so she could not answer it. Instead, she looked around them, the wheat fields stretching on for endless miles. Not a civilization in sight, spare the electrical shed she had come out of, of course. And she couldn't go back in.
She turned around and began to walk away in no distinct direction, when she felt a tugging in the back of her mind.
"Wait for me!" called a small voice. She stopped in her tracks, looking over her shoulder, the wind pushing her twin locks of black hair out of her face. There Companion Cube sat. It was too bulky to carry with her hands, and she had dropped the portal device down in the depths of the laboratories. Physically, there seemed to be no way to carry the little cube.
Yet... She couldn't just leave it there.
She was a problem solver. She kneeled down and took off her Long Fall Boots. She could use the springs to wrap around her shoulders, and could attach the cube to the back, the metal being slightly magnetic. Sure enough, the cube stuck, and she lifted it onto her shoulders.
She parted the golden grasses and began her journey for civilization. Real earth felt strange to her bare feet; back in the testing facility, there had only been cold, smooth floors and hard, metal surfaces. However, she ignored the warm crunchiness of sticks and brush beneath her feet, carrying onward.
Hours passed. The sun burned in the sky, the breeze still blowing, and Companion Cube now quiet, seemingly enjoying the ride. She didn't know why it felt to be so odd outside; wasn't it what she had wanted? To be free? But if there was nothing around... her existence may as well have been meaningless.
She wouldn't let Glados' final words sink in, though. No. She would never believe what she said, especially when it came to personal details.
The sky turned a deep, rich orange, and if possible, the wheat became even more golden. The sun was setting on the horizon, and it was then that she noticed a long shadow stretching across the field, almost reaching for her. Her curiosity spiking, she picked up her pace and discovered an abandoned station of some sort. The ground beneath her was now broken concrete sprawled with moss and grass.
She peered through the dusty window of the 5x5 building. Her bare foot brushed against something rough – rougher than the grasses she had been walking through – and she looked down to find a decaying wooden plank buried underneath brush. Moving the brush aside, she found that the plank was painted black and yellow, though very faded. She could very faintly make out Aperture Science Laboratories; an entrance sign.
It was then that it hit her... She would be leaving. Though she had Companion Cube on her back as a solemn reminder and faithful friend, she didn't know why a part of her wished to be back down in the testing chambers with... Glados. Caroline.
"You know, being Caroline taught me a valuable lesson: All along, I thought you were my greatest enemy... But you were my best friend."
Those words... Those very words, true with all of the emotion of a human but synthesized in a robotic nature, resounded through her. Perhaps it explained why she wanted to go back down there, but she knew she couldn't. Glados forbid it. Her memory was hazy how she had ever gotten down there in the first place, but she knew that she had caused Glados more trouble than progress. She couldn't stay because there was testing to do and science to get done.
"I'll still be here with you," Companion Cube whispered in her ear.
She smiled. Glados was a tricky one; she didn't just toss Companion Cube up for nothing. Glados knew of the bitter loneliness of an endless existence. Glados was more immortal than mortal, but that did not mean she did not comprehend loneliness. And Chell was mortal; her life would end sooner than the supercomputer's, but it could still hold much suffering for her if she were to do it alone.
Glados had her testing robots and her developing science; and, with this realization in mind, Chell had Companion Cube.
Walking past the old security station she found more artifacts of time passed – rusted chain link fences, dilapidated street lamps and broken glass, and even some car tires. She followed the path of concrete beneath her feet, wondering if it would take her somewhere where other humans lived. She didn't know what year it was, how old she was, or even if people were still alive. But she would find out. She was determined to.
The concrete road split apart with grass twisted and curved, leading her onto a blacktop highway. She raised a hand to shield her eyes from the setting sun, but she could see no one coming. Walking alongside the white lines with Companion Cube on her back, she eventually found a lone bus station, a single sign reading a number long-faded and a plastic bench that was somehow still standing.
She sat down on the bench, resting Companion Cube beside her. She rested her hand on its surface, made warm by the sun, and slightly dented from being around so much. If she had the chance, she would clean it up.
"I love you," it chimed, as if reading her mind.
She leaned back on the bench, looking towards the horizon. A sliver of opaque moon was suspended in the purple sky... And she knew that somewhere, floating out in the vast nothingness of space, was a couple of well-placed personality cores.
But her attention was back on earth, watching as a small shadow crawled towards her, following the road. The sound of a bus engine soon followed.
Author's Note: A somewhat more resolute ending than just Glados stranding Chell in a wheat field. I just couldn't get the image of Chell and Companion Cube sitting at a bus station, waiting to go somewhere. And her walking out of the facility with Companion Cube on her back reminded me of Rat Man, when he was trying to leave. I just love this game... Think I should do more Portal fanfiction?