It's been quite a while since I've written anything, outside of the Being Human tumblr. The problem at first was lack of time for writing, but now I seem to have writer's block. Mostly on Portal Cubed, I don't want to just abandon it, which has stopped me from writing anything else. However I've decided officially taking a break from Portal Cubed and focusing on some small projects such as this may help.
I've been thinking about this story for awhile, since Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, in fact. I plan to have short, bite-sized chapters so hopefully it will be updated with some regularity.
The Merchant of Aperture
They Call Him Mr. Pendleton
"Let's see here... You've got no prior experience in a scientific workplace, barely average intelligence, graduated from a community college in Bristol without ever picking a major, wait is that even possible? Caroline, be a dear and go check if that's possible, would ya'? Anyway, Mr. ... uh?"
"Pendleton. Wheatley Pendleton."
"Yes, Mr. Pendleton. With what I just said in mind, why do you think you have any qualification working for Aperture Science? Which, may I remind you, isn't just some cheap fraud of an establishment that'd hire anyone off the street, such as a certain company who's name rhymes with 'Hack Teresa'. We're Aperture Science, the best damn applied science company on the face of this planet! So tell me, Mr. Pendleton, what makes you think you could work here? Hell, why do you even want to work here?"
Cave Johnson stared at the man sitting across from him, waiting for a response. He was a nervous, scrawny fellow, with slightly thinning blond hair and rectangular glasses. His most distinguishing feature by far though was his height. At somewhere around six foot seven, he seemed crushed into his chair, like a high school student trying to sit in a first grader's desk. Wheatley glanced around the room, trying to think of an answer to his tentative employer's question that would sound sophisticated and job-worthy.
"Well, um, y'see..." Wheatley pressed his index fingers together while biting his lower lip. He knew this interview had already gone south, and much sooner than the other six science companies he'd applied to's had. "All my life, everyone has always said," Wheatley whipped his head around the room to ensure he and Cave were the only ones present, then leaned forward and whispered.
"Everyone has always said... that I'm a moron. And, and well. I wanna' prove them wrong. So one day I was thinking to myself, 'how I am going to show those invalids how smart I really am?' And I realized: a scientist! That's the smartest job ever! If I was scientist, nobody would be able to question my vast intellect. Brilliant plan, innit? And what better place to be a scientist than the uh, y'know 'best damn applied science company on'... uh, um, whatever the rest of what you said was!" Wheatley placed his hands in his lap and put on the biggest smile he could muster, which, with his bulgy blue eyes and slightly gaped front teeth just made him look rather creepy if not insane.
"Hmm," Cave scratched his chin in thought. Then he leaned back in his chair and sipped some coffee from his custom made 'Black Mesa Sucks!' mug. Wheatley got up, he knew where this was going. This was The Part Where They Laughed Him Out of the Building, and he didn't like that part one bit.
"I'll-I'll just... show myself out then." Cave raised his hand to stop Wheatley's departure.
"Tell me, Mr. Pendleton. Whaddya' know about ethics?" Wheatley slowly walked back to his chair and sat down.
"Um... I know that, uh, you do... do things that are good. Like, y'know, helping old ladies cross the street, and, and leaving the seat down, and, and such. Oh, and you don't do things that are bad. Which would be like, um, murder or theft, or, or calling someone a moron. Big one, right there, not to do."
"What about science? What are yer feelings on the ethics of science?"
"Well, I don't... know... uh, the entirety of the um, ethical and eh, moral process of the, uh, scientific community." Cave was silent at this, which lead Wheatley to believe this wasn't the answer he'd been looking for. "B-but I could learn! From you! An-and the other scientists! I'm sure they're all experts at this, trust you and them fully on that matter."
Cave smiled, his mind concocting an excellent, if not potentially illegal, plan. But hey, sometimes sacrifices must be made in the name of science. He reached into one of his desk drawers, pulling out a pen and a lengthy contract. "Sign here." He said while handing the two items to Wheatley.
Wheatley held the pin over the line where he was meant to put his signature. None of his other interviews had gotten this far, and he wasn't sure what to do. Finally he remembered a piece of trivia he'd heard many years ago and decided that must be what Cave was talking about. Calmly, so as to show his confidence and assuredness at this new job, Wheatley wrote "Scorpio" on the line. Cave took the contract and pen back, and chuckled as he read the 'signature'.
"Ya' got a good sense of humor, I'll give you that." Cave stashed the contract back in his desk and held out his hand to Wheatley. "Welcome to Aperture Science, Mr. Pendleton. Or should I say welcome new public relations agent Pendleton?"
Wheatley walked out of Cave Johnson's office with a spring in his step. He was a scientist! Well, technically he was a public relations agent, but one that worked for a science company, and as far as he was concerned, that was the same thing. Hear that mum? Who's a moron NOW? He thought before deciding that it wasn't becoming of a scientist to imagine talking to one's mother in their head and stopped.
So caught up in his glee, Wheatley didn't bother to think about some glaring issues. Like how he probably should have read that contract before signing it, or even after signing it, or how he was about to crash into someone. Then he did.
"Hey! Watch where yer going, Stilts!" The man Wheatley had collided with yelled before shoving him away. Wheatley brushed himself off and stood up, then inspected the man he'd hit. He was shorter than Wheatley, but then again so was everyone else he'd ever met. He was also a lot stronger than Wheatley, if his muscled upper body was any indicator.
"Terribly sorry about that, mate. I didn't mean you any harm. Won't happen again!" Wheatley backed away from the man, worried that he might attack, but instead the man held out is hand.
"Name's Rick, you must be new here. I'm what you might call a security guard, but considering the kind of crazy stuff that goes on around here, I'm more like a security 'adventurer'. So who're you?" Rick said while Wheatley shook his hand.
"Wh-Wheatley." He answered nervously, now less afraid of Rick and more afraid of whatever 'crazy stuff' Rick was talking about.
"Nice to meet ya', Stilts. Now if you excuse me, I've gotta' check to see if anything's exploded or broke out of its containment center today."
"Wait, um, I think you misheard me! My name's Wheatley, not 'Stilts'. I don't even think that's a real name." Wheatley called out as Rick walked away.
"It's called a nickname, Stilts!"
"Mr. Johnson, tell me you didn't actually hire him!" A brunette woman said while adjusting her red scarf.
"I'm afraid I can't. Well I could, but then I'd be lyin'." Cave took a large sip from the 'Black Mesa Sucks' mug.
"But sir, he's a... a... moron! He's the antithesis of science!" Caroline threw up her arms for emphasis, but it didn't seem to help.
"Exactly the point. Wasn't it just last week that you were complanin' about all the lawsuits we've had lately. Well he's the answer. A guy so stupid, he'll believe any PR spiel I tell him, then he parrots it back to the masses and science goes on, unmolested by the so-called 'law'." Cave put his arms behind his head and leaned back, smug with satisfaction over his new plan.
"I don't know sir. He could be dangerous." Cave laughed at her suggestion.
"Dangerous? Seriously Caroline, the guy's like an albatross on stilts, can you honestly think of anything less dangerous?"
"I just have a bad feeling about him, Mr. Johnson. Like he's... he's a threat to science itself." Caroline said while looking over the application sheet Wheatley had filled out. She was sure of it, though she couldn't say why. Someday, somehow that idiot would be the death of her.