The worst part about being in stasis was the dreams, the never-ending dreams. And they were never just dreams: they were always nightmares. Whenever the announcer's voice woke her up, Chell would, after searching for and never finding a way out, think about how nice it would be to dream about kittens or puppies or something.
But she never got that sort of dream. Hers were haunted by memories. Piping voices calling "I seeeeee you!" and the Companion Cube falling to its death and the cake she had been promised and the graffiti that had littered the walls in the test chambers.
But most of all, Chell's dreams were haunted by memories of her, the computer whose name she had never found out. If computers even had names. The giant AI's voice and form invaded every portion of her nightmares, mocking and guilt-tripping her even from beyond the grave.
"You murdered your Weighted Companion Cube," she would mock. "And that's why you will receive no cake." And then she would laugh, and the floor under Chell would vanish, and she'd start falling. But it would be a bottomless fall, because you can't die in a dream, after all. Chell figured she now knew that better than anyone else in the world.
Instead of hitting bottom, after a while, Chell would fall into a portal and fling out into the center of a test chamber filled with turrets. She never had a portal gun in the nightmares to defend herself with. And as the turrets fired at her, they would all scream at her in the computer's voice, telling her how pathetic she was and how a child could solve this test.
But of course she wouldn't die there either, and after a while she would be falling again, winding up at last in front of her Companion Cube, which was in front of an incinerator with a huge opening. Fire spurted out of it, and she had to shield her face against the blistering heat.
"If you don't euthanize the cube, I won't close the incinerator, and you will die," the computer would say in her overly sweet voice. "And then you will receive no cake."
So of course Chell would have to do it, would have to pick up the cube and drop it in. She'd watch as it fell, tears forming in her eyes as the incinerator closed. And then all of a sudden she'd be right back in the AI's chamber, and the dream would repeat itself. She was helpless and powerless to stop it, because it always felt real to her, no matter how many times she saw the same scenes repeating over and over and over again.
And every time the announcer would order her to get back in the bed, she would refuse, choosing instead to remain on her feet.
"If you do not get back on the bed within the next sixty seconds, then a knockout gas will be released while you are standing, and you may fall!" the announcer always announced. But Chell wouldn't listen, choosing instead to stay on her feet, even as the gas began to hiss and she felt herself blacking out. Somehow, she always woke up on the bed anyway.
And then one day, she woke up to a ruined room, and blinked around in amazement. How long had she been asleep for? The announcer was saying something about "nine-nine-nine-nine-nine-nine," but that couldn't be right, could it? She couldn't possibly have been asleep for that long…could she have?
"Hello!" a voice from outside cried. "Is anyone in there?"
For a moment, Chell thought it might have been her imagination, just a leftover from the nightmares, but then the voice kept going, requesting that she open the door, and for the first time in a long time (nine-nine-nine-nine-nine-nine?) she had hope.
But it wasn't a person. It was only a little metal ball, and she frowned at it as it babbled on and on. Then the announcer said something about needing to evacuate, and the metal ball said he was going to get them both out of there, and Chell felt a smile coming to her face for the first time in what she knew had to be years. The room began to move, steered by someone who clearly had absolutely no idea what he was doing, but she'd never be forced to sleep again, and with enough time awake, maybe the nightmares could finally fade away.