A few hours later, Chelsea’s eyelids opened. She looked outside the broken glass to see the dim flickering lights of the old test chamber. She sat up to see Jeffrey still in the form of a border collie asleep at the foot of her makeshift bed, so she did her best not to make any noise. Chelsea breathed in and out contentedly. For the first time in a long time, she felt truly happy. She was free. She would be able to sleep in her own bed that night. She would sleep that night knowing that the captives were free and the evil queen was dead. Chelsea wrapped the blanket around her body and turned around to pick up the backpack. She put it on the cushion in front of her and started to dig through it. After about a minute, she found what she was looking for: a Bible. Chelsea figured that she could read it while waiting for Jeffrey to wake up.
After finding what she was looking for, Chelsea set the backpack aside, stood up with the blanket wrapped around her and the Bible in her arms, and walked to the bathroom of the office. She flipped on the light switch and was surprised to actually see lights come on. Chelsea stepped in and shut the door. After doing her business and washing her hands, she sat down on the ground to read the Bible. It was a thicker Bible because it contained the Apocrypha.
Jeffrey and his family were Catholic. They were a family from a small Catholic Church community that wondered from place to place until they found the hotel. Jeffrey was only a young child at the time, so he had no memory of any of the traumatizing events that haunted his parents.
Anyways, Chelsea was happy to be able to read a Bible again. For the Christian, the Bible is the refreshing water that gives the spirit life. Living without it causes them to die from thirst. Chelsea had memorized entire passages, but it was not the same as having the whole book in front of her. She started flipping through the pages to find the passage that she remembered reading last. Chelsea paused as her eye got caught on a passage from Psalms. It was Psalm 22.
She read, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’ Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”
Chelsea looked up. These words literally brought tears to her eyes. These words that were not only a prophecy of the trials of Christ but also the sorrowful cry of a suffering man written thousands of years before touched her heart. She had suffered from so much fear during the past month. Chelsea was very grateful that she was free. She was grateful that she was finally safe.
The more that she thought however, the more Chelsea also felt guilt. She felt guilty that she had been so helpless throughout the whole ordeal. She had managed to free Albina and Brandon, but she could not free herself. Chelsea knew that she had done the best she could but she also felt bad for not being able to do more. Chelsea also thought about the people who were still afraid and still helpless, the slaves of the Combines. They were trapped and calling out for help, but she with all her gifts had not really thought about doing anything for them. Chelsea could not believe that she was going to be sleeping in her own bed that night, but millions of people were languishing in slavery and horror. She did not want to imagine what the monsters were doing to them. She felt called to help Albina and do something. However, she also still felt weak and tired. Chelsea had just endured a horrible ordeal and did not want to imagine fighting alien monsters at that point in time. She felt so tired and so weak.
She curled up into a ball on the floor.
“Oh, God,” Chelsea prayed. “I don’t want to fight aliens. I don’t want to fight GLADOS. I don’t even want to leave this spot on the floor. I could die here. I don’t have the strength to do anything. I’m not strong or capable of doing anything for anyone anymore.”
She felt the arms of God wrap around her. Chelsea felt inspired to look further into the Bible for the strength that her weary soul needed. She found it in Isaiah 40 verses 28-31.
Chelsea read, “…The LORD is the everlasting God…He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
These words comforted Chelsea a lot. She was reminded that she did not have to be a big, strong warrior in order to serve God. God gave weak people the ability to do things for Him. He also used bad situations to give normal people the opportunity to be heroes. God must have given her gifts for a reason. Her gifts came from this horrible place, but she could still use them for something good. Chelsea lay on the cold, tiled floor wrapped in a blanket praying for a while longer. Then she sat up and flipped through the Bible to find the chapter that she last remembered reading, 1 Corinthians 1. She read through that chapter and was comforted by the words. Her favorite verse was verse 27 which says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
Chelsea felt weary and weak, and she had no idea what she was doing. However, that did not matter. God uses the weak, so he would use her, too. She and her friends could change the world. No human should ever have to suffer like she has. Chelsea had always felt responsible for the lives of her friends and family. She suddenly felt a great duty to these people who she had not really thought about before, too. Chelsea wanted to free them and defeat the Combines so that no one would ever have to live in servile fear ever again. They only had to free themselves, the people in the facility, and slay the beast. Chelsea was feeling confident.
She cracked open the door to look out on Jeffrey. He was still asleep. Chelsea knew that he had worked hard and did not want to wake him before he was ready, so she shut the bathroom door again. Until Jeffrey woke up, she had nothing to do. Chelsea placed the Bible in her lap and decided that she wanted to read Revelations. However as Chelsea was flipping through, her eyes stopped on the passage 1 Corinthians 13. That was the chapter in which Paul talked about how to truly love another person. It was read at all the weddings, and Chelsea had memorized it by heart.
Nevertheless, Chelsea read, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Chelsea froze in shame. She realized that she had committed a great wrong. All the time that she was with GLADOS, she had not shown her an ounce of love. Chelsea had spoken the truth and had said wise things. She had had faith and suffered hardship. However, she had failed in the greatest duty that Christians were called to. Chelsea had failed to love that monster. She was impatient, rude, unkind, angry, and held everything that GLADOS had done to her mother against her. Chelsea realized that she was unwilling to forgive her. She harbored the same hatred that she had always harbored against her. Living in such a way was unacceptable. Chelsea knew that.
But at the same time, she wondered if she needed to even bother with forgiving her when they were just going to kill her anyway. Chelsea had never killed anyone before. However, she was fine with the idea of killing GLADOS. Sometimes, killing evil people was the only way to stop them. Chelsea was taught that her whole life. God praised Jael for killing Sisera in the Bible. That was the only way to stop him from the harming Israel. Chelsea knew that killing GLADOS would be the only way to stop her, too. If they didn’t kill her, she would only find other humans to kill. GLADOS could not be allowed to kill any more people. That was righteous reasoning. Chelsea had no problem with it.
However, Chelsea wondered if that was the real reason that she was killing her. Did she not just want revenge for her mother and now for herself? Chelsea knew that revenge was meaningless and ultimately a bad motive. Vengeance was supposed to be carried out by God alone. Chelsea knew that she was wanting all the wrong things.
“God,” Chelsea said. “Can you blame me? I have been through hell. I can’t forgive like you can. I just can’t.”
She felt conflicted. Chelsea wanted to be a good Christian, but she couldn’t deny the anger and the hatred that she was harboring in her heart. She could not just let it go in the name of forgiveness.
Chelsea stood up and walked towards the bathroom mirror. She looked like a mess. Her face was dirty, her hair was messy, and her teeth felt disgusting. Chelsea tiptoed out of the bathroom to borrow Jeffrey’s backpack for supplies. Jeffrey was still sleeping soundly as a border collie. She unwrapped the blanket from around her body and laid it over him. Then Chelsea turned around and walked back to the bathroom. After shutting herself in, she dug through it for supplies. Chelsea found toothpaste, and she used her right index finger to brush her teeth. When she was done with it, she found an extra bar of soap in a box in a plastic bag. Chelsea smiled. Jeffrey thought of everything. She walked to the sink and washed her face and her arms. Chelsea found some paper towels to dry herself off with. Then after that, she found a brush to fix her hair with. Chelsea looked in the mirror and was more or less satisfied with how she looked. She did not like that she was dressed like a prostitute wearing no real clothing, but that could not be helped. She would find clothes later.
Chelsea put everything away and then sat down against the wall once again. She looked down at her hands and noticed that the bandages where her IVs had been were still there. She decided to tear them off. After she did so, she looked up and noticed the bandages wrapped around her left shoulder. Chelsea had no idea about why that was there. She walked up to the mirror, and she created a disc. With her disc, Chelsea was able to slice through the thick bandages. She pulled them off slowly until they were all in the sink. Then when she was done, she looked up and covered her mouth with her hands in shock. Chelsea wanted to scream. The circular Aperture Science logo had been branded upon her left shoulder in the same spot where her tattoo was on her right shoulder. It was now a permanent scar in that shape. Chelsea slowly backed away from the mirror in shock and disgust. She felt as if GLADOS had violated her.
Chelsea had read in a book about how slaves were branded either as a form of punishment or as a way of a master showing their superior status over them. It instilled fear in them because the act meant that their masters could do whatever they wanted with them. GLADOS without a doubt meant for Chelsea to feel this way. It was a way of reminding her of her inferior status. GLADOS wanted Chelsea to know that she was hers to do with as she pleased. If she behaved, she would be treated well, but if not, there would be punishment. Chelsea was her slave. GLADOS had wanted her to believe this fact as deeply as she believed in God. That was why the brand was at the same spot as her tattoo was on her right shoulder. To make matters worse, the mark was even more permanent. Even if Chelsea left, the scar would still be there. She would always remember the horrors that occurred in this place. Everyone else would always ask about it, too.
“How in the hell can anyone be this cruel?” Chelsea whispered to herself as she sank down to the floor. “God, do you see why I can never forgive her? Do you see what she has done to me? She’s a monster.”
Chelsea curled her legs up close to her stomach, folded her arms on top of her legs, and rested her head face down on top as she trembled in shock and fear.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey woke up in the other room. He opened his eyes, stood up, and stretched out his dog legs while he was yawning. Jeffrey noticed that Chelsea had laid the blanket on him. He turned around and noticed that she was not there. Jeffrey looked up and noticed that his backpack was missing and the bathroom light was on. That had to be where she was. Jeffrey shapeshifted back into a human, and he wrapped the blanket around himself and walked over to the bathroom. The door was cracked open. He peeked in to see Chelsea in her ball of misery. Jeffrey saw that the bandages had been removed from her left arm. She knew about the scar, and she was upset.
Jeffrey wanted to find some way of making her feel better. He shapeshifted into a dragonfly allowing the blanket to fall on the floor and walked through the crack under the door. Then Jeffrey flew onto her shoulder. He walked up to her left ear. Jeffrey sang a song from “Sweeney Todd,” a musical they both liked.
“I feel you, Johanna,” he sang. “I feel you. Do they think that walls can hide you? Even now, I’m at your window. I am in the dark beside you buried sweetly in your raven hair, Johanna.”
Chelsea smiled. She appreciated the sentiment that he was expressing. Jeffrey was saying that he was there for her no matter what happened. He had an odd way of expressing himself sometimes but the again so did she. Chelsea lifted up her head and looked at the dragonfly on her left shoulder.
“Hey, Jeffrey,” Chelsea said wearily.
Jeffrey flew up in the air and shapeshifted back into himself. He then sat down on the ground next to Chelsea.
“I’m sorry this happened to you,” Jeffrey said. “I saw them do it. They used a branding iron.”
Chelsea leaned on Jeffrey’s shoulder. She remained silent, so Jeffrey kept talking.
“GLADOS said something awful when she had the robots do it, too,” Jeffrey said. “She said that it was meant to be some kind of psychological treatment. I guess that she was just trying to torture you into compliance.”
“I don’t know what to do, Jeffrey,” Chelsea said.
“About what?” Jeffrey said.
“About GLADOS,” Chelsea replied. “I hate that bitch so much right now. I just want her dead.”
“That’s understandable,” Jeffrey said.
“But it’s wrong. I know that we have to kill her in order to stop her from hurting more people, but right now, I just want to kill her because of what she did to me and my mother. I know that it’s wrong to want revenge, but I can’t control how I feel. I’m afraid that I will turn into a monster.”
Jeffrey shook his head and said, “That will never happen.”
Chelsea lifted her head up and said, “How do you know?”
“You are a strong person, Chelsea. You have been braver than any of us. You have kept your sanity and your mind intact while living as a prisoner. If you have survived her, I am convinced that you can survive anything.”
“That makes sense, but Jeffrey, the only thing that has been keeping me going is God. It is weird to explain, but He has preserved me on the inside. He has protected my soul from being erased by fear.”
“Then, doesn’t it stand to reason that God is going to save you from the evil in your own heart, too? He has saved your soul and nothing is going to take you out of his hand.”
Chelsea looked straight into his eyes.
“You’re right,” she said. “I guess that what I have to do is ask for forgiveness and the grace to change.”
“I would also suggest confessing to a priest,” Jeffrey said.
Chelsea smiled and replied, “I confessed to you. Isn’t that good enough?”
“I still think it might be a good idea to confess to our preacher,” Jeffrey said. “I know that it is a ‘Catholic’ thing to do, but it’s still a good idea.”
Chelsea looked down and said, “You may have a good point. I guess I should talk to other people about it.”
Jeffrey got up and said, “Yes, you should go out there and think about it, and I will be in here because I really need to use the bathroom.”
“I get it, Jeff,” Chelsea said. “It’s fine.”
She walked out of the bathroom and picked up the blanket that was lying on the floor outside of the door. Chelsea sat down on her makeshift bed and thought for a long while Jeff used the bathroom. She asked God to take away her hatred of GLADOS, but she did not really mean it. Chelsea did it because she thought that it was what she should do. She lay down on the bed wishing that she wasn’t so hypocritical.
Chelsea began to daydream about the day ahead. She and her family and friends were going to kill GLADOS once and for all. Chelsea was going to give that bitch what she deserved for destroying so many lives. She wished deep inside that she could be like Jean Valjean of the book Les Miserables and be able to forgive her tormenting enemy, but she really felt like Sweeney Todd and wanted her revenge.
Chelsea sat up. She decided to pray some more. She thought that it would help her feel better if she prayed and expressed all her anger. Chelsea did. She expressed every bit of anger she felt out loud.
“I hate her, God,” Chelsea said. “I hate her so much. She has treated me like a damn lab animal, and she has marked me for all of time. Wherever I go for now on, people will always want to know about this stupid scar. GLADOS has wounded me for all of time, and I just can’t let her get away with it and pretend that she has done nothing wrong. I might be crazy, but I don’t really care.”
Chelsea sat up and smiled.
“I’ll kill her today, and then I’ll be able to go home. The nightmare will be over. I’ll slice and dice her into tiny bite size pieces. Then, that will be the end of that. My mother, all the dead, and I will be avenged. After today, God, it will be over.”
Chelsea’s smile vanished.
“God, help me. Save me from my own insanity. I don’t want doing this to make me go insane.”
Chelsea created a little disc and as she looked at it, she thought about how similar she was to Sweeney Todd. They were both people who had been wronged, and they both wanted revenge. Their weapons of choice were similar, too. Sweeney Todd used shaving knives to kill, but Chelsea would use her sharp discs to kill.
She looked at her disc in awe and confusion. Chelsea always loved her gifts. She hated that they had to come as a result of her mother’s imprisonment in this horrible place. The world was not a perfect place. It was an image of how God could use horrible events to do wonderful things. Chelsea looked at her scar on her left shoulder. She smiled. God had to have a good purpose for that thing being there, too. She lay back on the makeshift bed and rested her eyes.
Jeffrey finally came out after about an hour. Chelsea sat up when she heard him open the door.
“Tu étais la pour beaucoup de temps (You were there for a long time),” Chelsea said in French. Jeffrey had taken lessons from his mother who was a high school French teacher.
“Je sais ça, mais j’avais une bonne raison (I know that, but I had a good reason),” Jeffrey said.
“What reason might that be?” Chelsea said.
“I was reading the Bible and praying,” Jeffrey said. “I was also getting ready.”
“Those are good reasons.”
“I found something that might help you.”
“In the Bible, you mean?”
“Yes!” Jeffrey said quickly galloping next to her in his excitement.
“What did you find?” Chelsea said not responding to his over-enthusiasm.
“I found the verse in Philippians 4 that says ‘And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ That reminded me of you. That is why you have not and will not go insane. God is guarding your heart and your mind with peace so that you cannot go insane or have your soul erased by the terror.”
Chelsea remembered something and said, “That’s right. Corrie ten Boom talked about it in her autobiography. Even in the midst of the concentration camp, she never lost hope to the terror. God protected her inside, so he will protect me, too. I’m not going to go insane.”
Chelsea smiled and cried a small tear of joy. She was not going to lose herself to her desire for revenge.
Jeffrey handed her the Bible that was opened to the Gospel of John and said, “I realized something else, too. You know how you’re ashamed of the scar on your shoulder. Jesus had scars, too. Thomas touched them. He received them when he was nailed to the cross. Remember? So, you are just like him. You have received a scar for Him. You are blessed.”
“You mean that my scar is like a badge of honor or something?” Chelsea asked.
“Yes,” he said.
Those words really did help make Chelsea feel better. She realized that they hurt Jesus, too. She realized that she was not alone in the world. They tormented him, too. She like him would bear scars from torment only to be resurrected in the future as something beautiful. Chelsea realized that this scar was a blessing in a way, but she still felt terrible all the same. She knew now that this scar would not destroy her, yet she still felt like she had been violated.
“Thanks, Jeffrey! I really am grateful, but I can’t just reason away my emotions like you can,” Chelsea said. “I still feel like I’ve been raped by her. It’s just going to take a while for me to get over that.”
Chelsea got up, walked into the bathroom, and looked into the mirror.
“I suppose that it doesn’t help that I’m dressed like a bikini model either,” she said as she looked at herself.
“Oh,” Jeffrey said. “I think I can help with that.”
Jeffrey ran to his backpack inside the bathroom and dug inside of it for a minute. After a minute, he pulled out some navy blue boxer shorts. He then took off his sweater. Jeffrey handed both of these clothes to Chelsea.
“I know it’s not much,” Jeffrey said. “But it’s what I have.”
“Thanks, man,” Chelsea said grabbing the clothes. She quickly put on the boxer shorts. However, she hesitated about putting on the sweater.
“Jeff, I can’t take this,” she said. “Won’t you be cold?”
“Chelsea, are you forgetting that I can shapeshift into anything?” Jeffrey said as he shapeshifted into a wolf with thick fur.
“I’ll be fine,” Jeffrey said shapeshifting back into a human.
“If you say so,” Chelsea said. She pulled on the sweater. It was a bit baggy but it was very comfy. Chelsea hugged herself with joy. She was so happy to be wearing real clothes again.
“Thank you, Jeffrey,” she said. “You have no idea how good it feels to wear clothes again. I have been wearing nothing but bandages and hospital gowns for the past month. I actually feel like a human being again.”
“You’re welcome,” Jeffrey said. “How about I get us something to eat?”
“Jeff…” Chelsea started to say but he took off as a peregrine falcon before she could finish. She wanted to say that there wasn’t anything to eat in there, and it would be better for them to go outside to find something. Oh, well! He’d be back soon enough.
Chelsea went into the bathroom. She gathered all the stuff together and put it into the backpack so that they could leave as soon as possible. Chelsea was excited. She would get to find her friends, she would be reunited with her parents, and best of all, they would get to kill GLADOS and go home. Chelsea picked up the packed backpack and placed it besides where she was sitting on the cushions. She found Jeffrey’s water bottle and filled it to the brim. She then drank some. The cold water going down her throat tasted so good. Chelsea realized that it had been a long time since she had drank cold water, too.
Chelsea got back to the cushions and decided to try to telepathically talk to her father. She shut her eyes and started calling out to him.
After a minute, Zaki responded, “Chelsea, Chelsea, is that really you?”
“Yes, Dad,” Chelsea responded with joy. “Jeffrey set me free. I’m free now. I’m all beat up, but I’m free. I can’t believe that I’m saying this. How are you? What are you doing?”
“Thank, God,” Zaki said with happiness. He couldn’t believe that Jeffrey had pulled it off. “We’re in the vaults below the facility getting people out. Hold on. Let me get your mother.”
In less than a minute, Chell was back. She talked to her by putting her hand on Zaki’s head.
“Oh, thank God!” Chell said with tears of joy. “Are you okay?”
“I’d be lying if I said I was, Mom,” Chelsea replied. “I have struggled. I haven’t been as strong as you.”
“What are you talking about, Chelsea? You have been so brave. I know saved Albina and Brandon. I’m so proud of you.”
It hurt to tell the truth.
“Mom, I almost attempted suicide.”
Chell responded with a shocked and upset silence.
Chelsea continued, “Mom, I’m sorry. I was so scared, and I thought that I was just holding you guys back. I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. However, God told me not do it and have hope, and I did. Now, I’m free and you don’t know how happy I am to hear your voice. Please don’t be upset.”
“How could I be upset at you? I’m upset at her for how much she made you suffer. I wanted to spare you from her,” Chell said.
“Can you keep going, baby?” Zaki asked. “Do you think that you have the strength to continue?”
“Dad, I have more than enough strength to fight. There is no way in hell that I am going to let her get away with what she has done,” Chelsea said.
Chell smiled to herself and replied, “That’s my girl.”
Chelsea looked at her left shoulder and knew that she had to tell her parents about that, too.
“Mom, she did something else to me that I know I need to tell you about,” Chelsea started nervously not knowing how her Mom would react.
“Yes?” Chell replied.
“She branded my left shoulder with the Aperture Science logo.”
Zaki sighed. He already knew this, too. He just hadn’t told Chell because he didn’t want her to be upset. He could see the shock on his wife’s face.
“Why would she do that?” Chell asked.
Chelsea replied, “I think I know why. It is in the same place where my tattoo is on my right shoulder. She kept telling me that she owned me like I was her pet or something. I told her that she would never own me because I was owned by God and my tattoo was a symbol of that. I think she did it to tell me that she was staking a claim on me and owned me as much as God does. That bitch is sick. I don’t know if I can ever find it in my heart to forgive her, mom.”
Chell said, “You are blessed, sweetheart.”
“What?” Chelsea asked.
“Remember the Beatitudes,” Chell said as much to reassure herself as to reassure her daughter. “The people who are persecuted because of righteousness are given the kingdom of heaven. You were tortured because you are righteous. The kingdom of heaven is yours. I’m so proud of how brave you’ve been, but don’t worry. Tonight, she will be dead and we will be home together along with all our new friends that we have helped escape from here.”
“That is wonderful, Mom,” Chelsea said.
Her mom sounded so happy at the idea of having her back. Chelsea was almost afraid of telling her what she was thinking. She did not want to hide anything from her Mom however. Chelsea did not like keeping secrets from her mother.
“Mom, there is one more thing that I wanted to tell you,” Chelsea said.
“What is it, Chelsea?” Chell asked.
“What would you say if I told you that I wanted to go fight the Combines with Albina? I mean…I know how it feels to be a slave now. I know what it’s like to live in fear every waking second. No one should have to live that way, Mom. I’m tired and need to rest. I know that, but after that, I was thinking about fighting the aliens. What would you say?”
“I would say that I’m proud of you and you should do it if God is calling you to it,” Chell managed to get out with tears running down her cheeks.
“Thank you, Mom,” Chelsea said. “Jeffrey went out to get food, but I’ll let you know when we get moving and you can tell us where to go from there to find you. Okay?”
“Keep us posted, Chelsea,” Zaki said.
The call ended. Chelsea fell backwards on the cushions. She knew by her mother’s tone that she didn’t want her to go, and she wasn’t sure of what to do.
Meanwhile in the vaults, Zaki and Chell were standing apart from the small group of people that they had managed to get free plus Roberts.
Chell stood still. Zaki stood beside her.
She turned to look at him and said, “You knew about all that she was going through. Didn’t you?”
Zaki slowly nodded.
“Why didn’t you tell me?!” Chell yelled with a very angry look on her face. “That monster has been making our baby suffer tremendously and you didn’t bother to mention it? What’s the matter with you?”
“I’m sorry,” Zaki said. “I didn’t know how to tell you. I thought you would lose your head and do something stupid. I wasn’t sure if you could handle it.”
Chell looked away from him and stared at the ground in disbelief.
“I can’t believe how much that bitch has done to her,” Chell said. “It may have upset me, but I still would have liked to know what she was doing, Zaki. I want to know what she’s enduring. Don’t keep things from me anymore no matter how awful. Okay?”
“Okay,” Zaki agreed.
Chell continued to stare at the ground. Zaki knew what she was thinking about.
“I know you’re upset about something else, too. You’re upset because Chelsea wants to leave to fight the aliens,” Zaki said.
“I just can’t believe that she is even thinking about doing that in light of everything that she has been through,” Chell said.
“Are you really? She is a tough young lady. She always has been. She is related to you after all. Chelsea also wants to see the world. She is at that age. I also think that this experience has just given her more of a desire to help others. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I know how you feel though. You’re worried. I’m worried, too. You don’t want her to leave us or more specifically you.”
Chell looked at him and said, “Zaki, you and I both know how it feels to feel trapped. We both promised after she was born that if we could help it that she would never feel that way. I think that if God calls her to go she should go. However…”
Chell’s eyes were filling up with tears. Zaki put his arm around her shoulder. He understood because he was feeling exactly the same way. He feared for the safety of their daughter even though he wanted her to feel free to follow her own desires the way they had not been able to.
“However?” Zaki asked.
“I still don’t want her to leave,” Chell said. “That baby means the world to me.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea was lying on the cushions still. She knew that her Mom wasn’t happy, but she did not know what to do about it. Chelsea asked God to help her convince her mother if that was what he really wanted her to do. Then suddenly, Jeffrey as a peregrine falcon swooped back into the room with dead pigeons in his claws.
“I’m back,” Jeffrey said while flying. “I found us two pigeons to eat, one for each of us.”
Chelsea sat up and looked at him.
“Jeffrey, that’s disgusting,” she said. “You know I can’t eat it raw.”
“Hold on a second,” Jeffrey said dropping one of the dead birds.
He swung the bird up in the air, quickly shapeshifted into a small dragon, and breathed fire upon it causing it to barbecue immediately. By the time Jeffrey caught it in his dragon claw, it was completely cooked. He smiled at the result, shapeshifted back into a human, and handed the roasted bird back to Chelsea.
“Arigato, Jeffrey-kun,” Chelsea said in Japanese.
Chelsea was happy. The bird looked delicious. She had not eaten in about a week because she had been asleep. Even so, she looked like she had gained back about five pounds of weight. Be that as it may, she was still hungry. She looked over the bird in anticipation.
“I really does look good,” Chelsea said. “Thanks a lot!”
Jeffrey prayed out loud.
He said, “Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”
“Amen,” Chelsea said as Jeffrey crossed himself.
She took her first bite. It needed some spices, but besides that, it was fine. Jeffrey shapeshifted back into a falcon and started eating the dead bird. He picked it apart with his bill as he ate it. Jeffrey like Chelsea had read many books about animals and had observed animals in the wild. He learned how to act like other animals from observing them.
“I got in contact with my parents,” Chelsea said in between bites.
“How are they doing?” Jeffrey asked.
“They seem to be doing alright. They are down in the vaults getting out the other test subjects.”
Chelsea put her bird down for a moment and said, “I don’t think my Mom is happy though.”
“Why not?” Jeffrey said looking up from the bird he was ripping apart.
“I told her that I wanted to go fight the Combines and she said she was alright with it, but I know that she didn’t really mean it.”
“How can you tell?”
“It was the tone of her voice. She sounded like she was trying to sound happy. She doesn’t want me to leave.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I think that I’m still going to go. I think that God wants me to do it. I don’t want anyone else to be a slave to something overwhelmingly powerful. I just don’t want her to be upset about it.”
Jeffrey finished eating his bird, picked up the bones with his beak, and flew it outside. Meanwhile, Chelsea was still eating her pigeon. Jeffrey came back in and shapeshifted back into a human. He walked over to Chelsea and sat next to her. Chelsea turned around so that she could face him.
“How have you been doing, Jeffrey?” Chelsea asked. “You have been alone for pretty much a month. What happened?”
“Well,” Jeffrey said. “When I and the others heard that you and Brandon were kidnapped, we prepared and left about an hour later. It took a while but Sylvie and Zaki used their telepathy to find the building. We broke in, and everything was so quiet. It was actually kind of eerie. We sneaked around for a while, but she found us. GLADOS asked who we were and if we were related to the test subject. Zaki said that we had received your call for help and that we demanded to know where she had taken you and Brandon. She said something about being happy to see the rest of her test subject’s family. Then the next thing I remember is seeing smoke bombs being set off. People either passed out or ran away. Roberts short-circuited a door and ran away. I remember seeing people run away or pass out. She set off some kind of knock out gas. I was drowsy from it but I shapeshifted into a dragonfly and flew into a vent. When I woke up, everyone was gone. I was scared, and I felt alone. However, I prayed and was able to keep going. I shapeshifted into a cockroach so that I wouldn’t be noticeable. For days, I wandered the halls looking for people, but I couldn’t find anybody. This place is huge.”
“You must have been so lonely,” Chelsea said.
“Not really,” Jeffrey said. “I knew that God was with me, so I wasn’t upset or anything like that. I did not like having to stay in the form of an animal all the time though. I wandered principally to find a good place to hide, to find food and water, and to perhaps find somebody. I couldn’t communicate with anyone because Zaki was out. I eventually started going through the vents to search for food. It was a good place since there was plenty of moss to eat. As I wandered through the vents, I eventually found this place. The cameras in this test chamber were all dilapidated, but I took them out anyway and decided to make this place my home. I have liked it here. I can be a human here.”
“How did you find your way around this floor?” Chelsea asked.
“I would shapeshift into an ant and leave pheromone trails so that I could find my way back here,” Jeffrey said. “Eventually, I got so used to finding my way around that I didn’t need them anymore. Then, I found you and shapeshifted into a cockroach to watch over you until I found an opportunity to set you free.”
Chelsea looked down in sorrow for all that he had been through.
Then she looked straight at him and asked, “Jeffrey, out of anyone here, you had more ability to leave than anyone else. Why didn’t you go find a way out? You could have seen your parents or breathed fresh air or something like that.”
“I didn’t want to leave you or anyone else,” Jeffrey replied.
Chelsea smiled to herself as she walked up to the window and dropped the leftovers of the pigeon she had finished eating outside.
“You’re not even a little mad at me for what I’ve put you through,” Chelsea said. “You’re godlier than I have been. I am not able to forgive her for what she has done to me.”
“Look at the bright side, it is over now and I’m sure your wounds will heal with time,” Jeffrey said.
“It’s going to be a long time before I feel anything resembling normal,” Chelsea said very sadly. “Right now, I just feel awful.”
Jeffrey looked at her sadness and wanted to help. He began humming Chelsea’s other favorite song from “The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.” Chelsea looked up and realized that he was humming “The Song of Storms.” She looked at him in confusion. One thing the two of them had in common was that they loved music and were very moved by it. That song always usually had the ability to make her feel happy. Jeffrey stood up and pulled Chelsea up with him. He started waltzing with her to the song he was humming. He did stuff like this to pull her out of a bad mood. He wanted her to know that she was going to be alright, and she could find reasons to be happy still. Chelsea chuckled and smiled as he twirled her around and around. For the first time in about a month, she felt a small sense of joy. Chelsea was able to let go of her pain for a little while. She was able to feel happy. She regained the confidence that everything would be alright because God was with her. It was a small rush of joy that gave her life. She felt alive once again. Jeffrey knew that he had helped her when he saw her smile. Chelsea felt happy, and she gave him a warm hug. While hugging him, she noticed sunlight pouring in from a hole in the roof probably. It was like a divine sign.
“Are you ready to go?” Chelsea said.
“Yes, I just need to get my stuff together,” Jeffrey said.
“I already did that. I just think we should both drink some water and then fill the bottle up all the way again one more time before we leave.”
Jeffrey and Chelsea each took turns drinking as much water as they wanted. Then Jeffrey went to the sink, filled the water bottle all the way to the top, and then put the water bottle in his backpack.
“Shall we?” Jeffrey said.
“Hold on,” Chelsea said. “I have to contact my parents. I told them that I would talk to them again as soon as we were about to leave.”
“Okay,” Jeffrey said.
Chelsea telepathically was able to contact her father once again. Jeffrey touched her head so he could listen in.
“Hey, Dad,” Chelsea said. “Give me the gist of what is happening. We are about to go find the others.”
“Well,” Zaki said. “Everyone in our group is free now. Your mother, Pastor Roberts, and I are down here while everyone else is together in another group. They were hiding in a secret room that a few robots helped them find. GLADOS found them, so they had to run. After that, they were making their way to us. However, I told them that you two were coming, so now they are waiting outside for you. All you have to do is make your way to the roof, find them, and then come down to meet us.”
“We are deep underground, but I know that we can find our way out. The others will not have to wait long,” Chelsea said.
“Chelsea, listen,” Chell said. “GLADOS knows that you’re free, and from what Sylvie told us, she is hell bent on finding you. You two need to protect each other. There is no telling what she’ll do if she finds you.”
“I will not let her catch me, Mom.”
“You need to watch your surroundings. I know by experience that she is good at setting up traps. Keep your eyes open for anything that looks remotely suspicious. Avoid anything dangerous looking. Okay?”
“Protect her, Jeffrey,” Zaki said sternly.
“I will, Zaki,” Jeffrey said.
“I love you,” Chell said. “Keep in touch, okay?”
“We will,” Chelsea said.
“10-4,” Zaki said.
Then their communication ceased.
Chelsea turned to Jeffrey and asked, “Are you ready to go?”
“Yep,” Jeffrey said putting on his backpack. “Let’s go.