"Good morning. You have been in suspension for -FIFTY- days."
Edd groggily opened his eyes, a feeling of nausea washing over him as he started to regain consciousness. He got up from his bed, cringing at the bright sunlight pouring in from the window. He gritted his teeth. He must've slept in again -
Wait, this wasn't his bed.
Edd gasped, and looked around the room he stood in. It was small, like a motel room, containing a bed and a few counters. He quickly realized that it was a motel room, with an old TV hung up on the wall near the corner, a coffeepot waiting on a counter in front of the bed, and an old minifridge sitting against the wall. To top it all off, the walls had a tacky wallpaper depicting large palm trees, as if the room was barely trying to give the illusion of being on a beach.
"In compliance with state and federal regulations, all testing candidates in the Aperture Science Extended Relaxation Center must be revived periodically for a mandatory physical and mental wellness exercise."
A male voice spoke in a neutral yet slightly upbeat tone. Edd looked around to find who had said that, but he quickly deduced that it was an announcement or recording. His mind still half-asleep, he mentally picked apart what he'd just heard to try and understand it. Federal regulations, testing candidates -
Where had Edd heard that name before? It definitely sounded familiar, but the more he tried to remember where he'd heard it, the more that other, irrelevant memories began to flood his mind.
"You will hear a buzzer. When you hear the buzzer, look up at the ceiling and stretch your arms as high as you can."
A loud noise suddenly filled the room, causing Edd to cover his ears until it ended. The man's voice seemed off to Edd, he thought as he obediently stretched out. Not only did it sound like a recording, but each word seemed disconnected from one another, and there were odd inflections dotted about each one. It sounded computerized almost, as if it was made with a sound synthesizer.
"Good. You will hear a buzzer. When you hear the buzzer, look down at the floor and touch your toes."
Another buzzer rang. Edd tried and failed to touch his toes, focusing more attention on asking how the apparent recordings knew that he'd completed the exercise. Was he being watched?
"Good. This completes the gymnastic portion of your mandatory physical and mental wellness exercise."
That hardly counts as gymnastics, Edd thought to himself. But was better than Gym class, at least.
"There is a framed painting on the wall. Please go stand in front of it."
Edd found it surprisingly hard to walk. His legs were stiff, and resisted when he tried to move them. Strangely, though, he found he had a spring in his step - literally. It was then that Edd finally noticed that he wasn't wearing his usual attire. In lieu of his orange shirt and purple pants, he found himself wearing a darker-orange jumpsuit. He looked down to see that he was wearing strange boots. They were white and reached the top of his knees, and shaped like high-heels. Instead of a heel at the back, a large piece of metal stretched from the top of the boot and curved under it. The piece of metal expanded and contracted under his weight, making him bob up and down with each step. He also felt extremely comfortable standing in them.
Who put him in this attire? Edd's mind was riddled with questions. At least he was fully awake now - how long did it say he was in...suspension? His mind raced as he walked around the bed to view a small painting hung up on the wall behind it. It depicted a small cottage next to a lake, with a large mountain providing the backdrop.
"This is art. You will hear a buzzer. When you hear the buzzer, stare at the art."
Once again a loud buzzer rang, followed by a ticking noise. Edd stared blankly at the painting, his attention focused on contemplating why they would require people to do these things in such an abrupt manner-this Aperture Science place. Darn, why is that name so familiar?
"You should now feel mentally reinvigorated. If you suspect staring at art has not provided the required intellectual sustenance, reflect briefly on this classical music."
Soft, soothing music began to play, and Edd actually recognized the piece. He made the mistake of listening intently, only for the buzzer to interrupt right in the middle of it and make the boy flinch.
"Good. Now please return to your bed."
Go back to bed? But he'd already been asleep for - fifty days. Edd suddenly remembered very clearly; the Announcer had clearly said fifty days.
Oh god, where am I? Edd suddenly began to panic. Where was he? Why was he here, in "suspension" for fifty whole days? He quickly found the door to the room, only to find that that the handle wouldn't budge.
"Please return to your bed. Your suspension has yet to reach its termination date."
A faint hiss emanated from the ceiling, and the sound sent a strange, familiar wave of fear up Edd's spine. The feeling quickly began to die down, however, as he felt himself getting more and more tired. He stumbled back to the bed, the last rational thought in his head telling him that he should at least fall asleep - or rather, get knocked out, somewhere comfortable. He pulled the covers over his shoulders and closed his eyes, wondering if this was all a strange dream.
Strange dream. Strange dream. Strange dream -
"Good morning. You have been in suspension for -nine- -nine- -nine- -nine- -nine- -nine- -"
The voice continued to rattle off a series of choppy, disconnected "nine"s as Edd groggily opened his eyes. Adding to the noise was a pounding sound, coupled with a voice - a different, less computerized voice.
"Hello? Anyone in there? Hellooo?"
Edd got out of bed, struggling to pull himself out of the body-shaped crater he was once in. His mind felt blank, but he could remember traces of what happened earlier. The room was dark; light barely seeped through the large window, and everything looked aged and decaying. Right now, though, the only thing he could concentrate on was stopping that annoying knock.
"Are you going to open the door? At any time?"
Edd stumbled toward the door, giving a loud groan in lieu of a proper answer. The voice on the other side sounded friendly but panicked, as if the man was in a rush. It was flavored with a charming British accent, and Edd grew curious as to what he looked like.
"HA! I knew someone was alive in here!"
Edd jiggled the handle, and was surprised to find that it opened. He was then surprised that he was surprised that it opened - why had he expected it to be locked from the outside? Edd's attention quickly turned from that, as he saw who was at the other side of the door.
"AHHH! Oh. My. God. You look terribl- ummm… good. Looking good actually."
Edd couldn't believe his eyes. It looked like an eye, a large, robotic eye the size of a kickball. It had a bright blue iris with a pupil that dilated and constricted as it spoke, various shutters resembling eyelids, and two handles that moved up and down. They al made it seem very expressive and lifelike. It hung from the ceiling on a metal rail, and glided into the room from it. It seemed familiar to Edd, and made him uncomfortable.
"Are you okay?" the thing asked. Before Edd could answer, it continued, "Don't answer that. I'm absolutely sure you're fine. There's plenty of time for you to recover. Just take it slow."
"Please prepare for emergency evacuation," the Announcer spoke up.
"Stay calm! Stay calm!" The thing sounded nervous, as if it - or he, Edd guessed - was saying that to himself more than he was Edd. "'Prepare' – that's all they're saying. 'Prepare.' It's all fine. Alright? Don't move. I'm gonna get us out of here."
With that, the eye followed the rail to the center of the room's ceiling, where a small hatche opened up. It went in, and was pulled into the ceiling and out of sight. Suddenly, Edd felt the room shake from under him. He heard what seemed like a loud motor from above, and wondered if the entire room was moving.
"You alright down there?" Edd realized that he hadn't said a word to this thing, despite having so many questions to ask it He opened his mouth, but all that he could get to come out was an affirmative "Uh!"
After a short while, Edd felt the room jerk to a stop, and the eye dropped back down from the ceiling.
"Alright now, first things first, I believe I should introduce myself to you. Don't know why I didn't do that before, actually." He spoke in short, choppy sentences, as if trying to get a bunch of things out of the way as quickly as possible. "Well then, my name's Wheatley. Now I wanna be serious for a sec with you. You see, most test subjects do experience some...cognitive deterioration after a few months in suspension."
Memories of the poor excuses for "exercise" came into Edd's head, and he gave a quiet snort.
"Now you've been under for… quite a lot longer, and it's not out of the question that you might have a very minor case of serious brain damage."
Edd jumped. Was this thing serious?
"Don't be alarmed, alright?" Wheatley tried to console. "Although… if you do feel alarmed, try to hold onto that feeling, because that is the proper reaction to being told that you've got brain damage."
He waited a bit to let Edd soak in his words.
"Do you understand what I'm saying? At all? Does any of this make any sense? Just tell me. Just say yes."
One again, Edd tried to speak. Getting air through his vocal chords turned out to be a skill he'd forgotten, and articulating his mouth to form words was a lost art. He knew what to say - he refused to believe that he had any sort of cerebral impairment, his vocabulary being proof of that - but his body had a hard time doing what his mind wanted. He breathed a few nonsense words, before he finally gave up and simply nodded.
"Okay, what you're doing there is nodding," The eye pointed out. "You just nodded. But never mind. Say apple. Aaaaaple."
Edd opened his mouth, ready to give speaking another shot when he suddenly heard:
"Aaaaple-brain! What're you doing over there?"
Edd clamped his hands over his mouth. Did he say that? No, of course not. But that voice sounded familiar.
"You know what?" Wheatley concluded, heading back toward the door. "That's close enough. Just hold tight, I've found one more I gotta get into position."
For a short while, Edd was alone again. He practiced talking, mouthing words before quietly applying his voice to them. The ridiculousness of it all was not lost on him, but he felt relieved to be able to speak again. At last, he finally raised his voice and asked, "Who said that?"
"Double D?" Edd suddenly recognized the voice, and a wave of relief washed over him.
"Eddy? Is that you?"
"Double D, it is you!" Eddy agreed. "Is that jerk gone yet?"
"You mean Wheatley? He said he had 'one more to get into position', whatever that means."
"I think it's talking about us."
"You felt your room move around and shake and stuff, right? Hey, maybe it's getting Ed!"
"Oh god, I'd forgotten about him!" Edd hugged the wall behind the bed, where he could hear Eddy the clearest. "Where do you think we are?"
"Heck if I know," Eddy replied. "I just remember getting the best sleep I've ever had - except for waking up of course. Man, how long was I out?"
"I have no idea." Oh god, Edd thought. How long have they been here?
"That Wheaters guy'd better get back here with Ed soon. These rooms are crumbling apart?"
"Really?" Edd looked around, but other than age, the room looked stable and intact.
"Mine got a big hole in it when that guy moved it. In fact, I wonder..." His voice trailed off, and before Edd could ask what he meant, he heard a loud bang. Suddenly, he saw a small foot jutting from the wall, adorned in the same kind of strange boots that Edd wore. It quickly pulled back and kicked at the walls again, knocking away enough of it to make a hole connecting Eddy's room and Edd's.
"Am I awesome, or am I awesome?" he gloated, strutting into Edd's room. He also wore an orange jumpsuit, but he had taken off the top half and tied it around his waist, leaving his chest covered by a white undershirt.
"Eddy, do you know how much trouble we could get into doing that?" Edd asked, deciding to ignore asking about his friend's fashion choices.
"Double-D, I wouldn't worry about getting in trouble here." Eddy's voice suddenly turned serious, and he motioned for Edd to follow him through the hole into the other room.
Edd complied, and saw that Eddy's room was identical to his, save for a large hole in the window. Edd looked through it, and gasped. From what he could see, they were in a gigantic warehouse, suspended over a pit so deep that Edd couldn't see the bottom. Shipping containers were stacked hundreds upon hundreds high, all of them aged and covered in vegetation.
"Double-D, I think we've been out for a while."
"I think so too, Eddy."
At that moment, they heard another motor approach them. Their rooms rumbled slightly, and they could hear Wheately talking with someone faintly from the other side of Edd's room. The two Eds headed over there, and they heard Ed's voice.
"Eh, close enough I guess."
Thank god he's alright, Edd thought.
"Yo Ed! Bust through this wall and get in here!" Eddy shouted, knocking on the wall opposite to the bed. Edd opened his mouth to protest, but Ed had already burst through the wall with a laugh. Wheately was no longer in Ed's room, but they could hear a gasp of surprised coupled with a "What just happened over there?"
"Hi, guys!" Ed chimed, ignoring the eye's voice. "Now that the terror of the Generic Lifeform and Disco Operational System is taken care of, the three Eds must reunite their portal-powers to save the world!"
Edd and Eddy exchanged glances, and the former said, "My my, Ed. That was abnormally specific compared to your normal outbursts. Did you really make that up on the spot?"
"H-huh?" Ed looked confused. "You mean you guys don't remember? Apathy Science, the super awesome portal guns, the giant robot lady who tried to kill us?"
"Ed, what kind of dreams have you been having?" Eddy asked. "It felt like I was asleep for a few friggen' seconds."
"It wasn't a dream! We really did -"
The Announcer at that point spoke up.
"All reactor core safeguards are now nonfunctional. Please prepare for reactor core meltdown."
"Ah, you're all in the same room now!" Wheatley chimed as he entered Edd's room. "That makes things a bit easier now! Alright, look," he kept talking as he went up through the ceiling and started up the motor, "I wasn't gonna mention this to you, but I'm in pretty hot water here."
The room suddenly jerked to life, and began to move. The holes in the walls grew, and cracks began to spread from them as the place lifted upward.
"The reserve power ran out," Wheatley explained, "so of course the whole relaxation center stops waking up the bloody test subjects!"
The room swung forward and suddenly jerked, as if it hit something. The walls began to crumble away, giving the three boys clearer and clearer views of the enormous warehouse around them as they sailed through it.
"And of course no one tells ME anything," Wheatley continued. "Nooo, why should they tell me anything? Why should I keep kept informed about the life functions of the ten thousand bloody test subjects I'm supposed to be in charge of?"
The room made its way through rows and rows of shipping containers, clumsily bashing into one every now and then.
"And whose fault do you think it's gonna be when the management comes down here and finds ten thousand flipping vegetables?"
The Eds held on to whatever they could grab for dear life. The space between the bed and the closet was the least broken, and Edd scrambled to stabilize himself as it jerked and tossed him about. The window had completely shattered, giving them a wide view of where they were headed. The room approached a moldy wall, with the words "DOCKING STATION 001-04 600 FEET BELOW" barely visible printed on it.
"On the other side of that wall is one of the old testing tracks," Wheatley explained. "There's a piece of equipment in there we're gonna need to get out of here."
"Oh boy, I think I know what it is!" Ed exclaimed.
"Hold onto something. I think is a docking station." Suddenly, the boys felt the room swing forward, rapidly picking up speed as it flew toward the wall. Edd and Eddy quickly dove behind the bed - which appeared to be bolted to the floor - and braced themselves while Ed simply stood in the middle of the room. It slammed into the wall, causing Edd and Eddy to lift off the floor and plop back down and not appearing to affect Ed's stance at all.
"Watch it up there, you jerk!" Eddy shouted to Wheatley.
"Hold on down there, will ya mate? I think this is a docking station, but it looks like it's down. I'm gonna attempt a manual overwrite on this wall here. Could get a bit technical. Hold on!"
Edd opened his mouth to try and point out the words on the wall, but Wheatley quickly rammed the room into it again. After a few more attempts, the wall finally broke away. The room the Eds were in was almost completely destroyed, with nothing intact but the bed and parts of the floor. Wheatley lowered from the ceiling and began to talk.
"That was a wild ride," he said. "But don't worry, I think I'm okay."
"We're the ones who're okay!" Eddy sputtered. After a short pause, he added, "I mean, you should be glad that we'renot hurt, since you banged us around like that!"
"Well, you look alright to me," Wheatley said. "Now that everyone is up and running, I believe it is time you three get into the testing area. Probably in no fit state to do so, but at least you have each other."
"Wait, you're leaving us?" Edd asked.
"No no no," he defended. "I just can't follow you into that room. Y'know, what with my rails and all. Just go ahead, do your best, and I'll see you up ahead,."
After a moment's hesitation, Edd stepped forward from the room to the hole in the wall, followed by his friends. He carefully crossed over various debris until he found himself walking over a pane of glass. He was standing over some kind of room, which looked familiar to him. Ed and Eddy stepped on the glass as well, and before Edd could turn around and warn them, it broke underneath their weight and dropped them into the room.
"Hello, and again welcome to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center." The Announcer's voice rang through the empty room as the Eds picked themselves off the floor. "We are currently experiencing technical difficulties due to circumstances of potentially apocalyptic significance beyond our control. However, thanks to Emergency Testing Protocols, testing can continue. These pre-recorded messages will provide instructional and motivational support, so that science can still be done, even in the event of environmental, social, economic or structural collapse. The portal will open and emergency testing will begin in three. Two. One."
Suddenly, two strips of metal positioned vertically along a concrete wall in the room began to light up. They glowed a bright orange, and something sudden formed between them. It was an ellipse, an oval of a strange, pulsating, and orange energy large enough for a person to crawl through. On the other side, Edd could see himself and his friends - only it was from a different angle. He looked to his left, and saw another ring of energy - only this one was blue.
They were portals.
They were portals.
A flood of memories came washing back to Edd. He remembered waking up in Aperture Science, testing with cubes and buttons, then portals. He remembered the pits of acid, the orbs of energy that could vaporize him, the incinerator, the cake. Oh god, the cake.
And he remembered GLaDOS. All the quirky, nasty things that robot had said to him and his friends.
"Ed, you weren't lying," Edd said, dazed.
"Double-D? What're you talking - " Eddy gasped, apparently having a similar epiphany. "Oh. Oh god."
"I guess we're not out of the woods yet," Edd mused. He remembered the sight of his freedom being taken away as the robot dragged him back into the facility. "In fact, I think we may be far from it."