With her Companion Cube under her arm, Chell turned and started heading off into the wheat field without so much as a backwards glance at the shed. Good riddance, as far as she was concerned. She would be happy if she never heard the name Aperture again.
But then she remembered something, and slowly came to a stop. Damn it.
There was no way she was leaving without her cake.
Turning around, she marched back to the shed. She set the cube on the ground, then balled her hand into a fist and knocked sharply on the door. There was no response, so she kept it up. GLaDOS would have to acknowledge her eventually.
And sure enough, after around ten minutes, there came a tired sigh from a camera that was attached to the side of the shed. Chell, having not seen the camera before, jumped in surprise and stopped knocking. She took a few steps back and faced it with a glare, placing her hands on her hips.
"Oh, what is it this time?" the AI sighed. "I thought I was finally rid of you. I let you go. I even let you have that ridiculous cube. Really, what more do you want?"
Chell pantomimed eating, using one hand to fork imaginary cake into her mouth while holding onto an imaginary plate with the other.
"You want food?" GLaDOS asked, sounding surprised. "You want food. Well, given your complete inability to know when to stop eating, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. But really, there is plenty of food to be found out there. You don't have to come back here to eat. Please don't come back here to eat. If you didn't have brain damage, I wouldn't even have to tell you that."
Rolling her eyes, Chell shook her head.
"No?" the AI asked. "Perhaps you have forgotten what eating looks like, because I assure you, that was it."
Chell thought about it for a moment, then made a triangle with her hands. She moved it up and down, trying to make it look like a piece of cake.
"Just what is that supposed to be?" GLaDOS snorted. "It almost looks like cake. If I didn't know any better, I would almost think you expect me to give you—" Upon seeing the expectant look on Chell's face as she stopped pantomiming and returned her hands to her hips, the AI sighed again. "Oh. You do expect me to give you cake. Well, you can't have any. Sorry."
Chell crossed her arms, glaring at the camera, and this time, the message was clear: I'm not going anywhere until you give me my cake.
"It's really nothing personal," the AI said, almost sounding apologetic. "I honestly can't give you any. And it's entirely your fault. Not mine."
Chell gave the camera a questioning look.
"First you will be baked," GLaDOS said, her voice taking on an odd, tinny quality, "and then there will be cake. You were never baked, and therefore, you cannot receive the cake."
Oh, come on, Chell thought, giving the camera her best skeptical look. We both know that's ridiculous.
"Truly," GLaDOS said. "There's nothing I can do about it. So unless you have decided you want to be baked after all, I suggest you leave, because otherwise there will be no cake."
Chell sat down on top of the cube, still watching the camera. She didn't make another move. After a few moments, the door to Aperture creaked open, and the AI spoke again. "Fine. If you really want cake, then come inside and be baked. But I really think that it would be in your best interests to leave. Now."
Ignoring the computer's advice as usual, Chell stood up, picked up her Companion Cube, and stepped inside the shed. The door closed behind her, and she heard it lock.
"Step into the elevator," GLaDOS ordered. "The one you just left. Or don't. Really, I hear that modern science has made large leaps in the field of brain damage. You should just leave now and come back when you're no longer ill. Or, preferably, you should not."
Continuing to ignore her, Chell walked into the elevator. The AI sighed as the door closed and the elevator began moving downwards. "Well, don't say I didn't warn you."
When the elevator opened, it was inside a room that had nothing but a button and an incinerator in it. Chell stepped out, still holding onto her Companion Cube, and made her way over to the button. She set the cube on the ground first, then pressed the button. There was the familiar sound of a ticking clock as she walked over to the incinerator, leaning over it to see the bottom. It wasn't very far down, but she could feel the heat. It felt like she was getting burned already.
"Cake isn't very good anyway, and will only serve to make you fatter," GLaDOS informed her. "Perhaps you would prefer a cupcake instead. Or maybe ice cream. You do not have to be baked to receive either of these items."
The clock stopped ticking, and the incinerator closed. Chell felt cool air hit her face once again, and she closed her eyes in relief.
"If you would prefer either ice cream or a cupcake, please pick up your Aperture Science Weighted Companion Cube and return to the elevator."
Chell considered it for a brief moment, then shook her head. Ice cream and cupcakes were good, but they weren't cake. She heard the AI sigh yet again as she turned back, pushed the button, and climbed onto the edge of the incinerator, feeling the heat hit her skin even from up there.
She was going to get her cake.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes, and jumped.
She hadn't even fallen halfway down when she felt the blistering heat turn to freezing mist. As she hit the bottom, she opened her eyes in confusion. What?
"Congratulations," the AI intoned through speakers Chell couldn't locate. "The test is now over, and you have passed. As part of an optional testing protocol, you were baked for one-point-two-four-three-five seconds before Aperture Science Emergency Temperature Inverters changed the temperature first from boiling to freezing, and then to a normal room temperature of seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit." A panel opened in front of Chell to reveal a ladder that led back out of the incinerator. "Please return to the testing chamber to receive your cake."
Chell smiled as she began climbing the ladder. Maybe Aperture wasn't so bad after all.