Girl Talk: Companion Cube
by Jennifer Culp
Oh Companion Cube, weighted block dearest to my heart. Your steadfast devotion has seen me through years of stasis, countless taunts from murderous A.I.s, and so, so many portals.
When we first met, I didn’t immediately realize just how special you were. I’m sorry for that, Companion Cube. You seemed like just another weighted block, bearing hearts instead of Aperture logos. As the voice of GLaDOS informed me, however, you were different. You stayed by my side throughout Test Chamber 17, cheerfully allowing me to use you as a platform. You selflessly blocked and redirected Aperture Science High Energy Pellets that would have killed me instantly on impact, and sat patiently on big red 1500-Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Supercolliding Superbuttons in order to let me open doors. We grew even closer when I played the “Least Portals” bonus challenge, requiring me to carry you for far longer than I did in the original level. (I never completed “Least Steps” or “Fastest Time,” mostly because I was terrible at them, but why would I have wanted to spend less time with you anyway, dear Companion Cube?) I was shocked and dismayed to see you callously replaced by a plain, heartless sphere in the Advanced version of Level 17. It just wasn’t the same without you.
When we approached the end of Test Chamber 17, I was exuberant. We did it, Companion Cube! Together, you and I had bested the hardest level yet! Little did we know the heartbreak that awaited us. GLaDOS, that sadist, had ensured that there was no way to exit the chamber without tossing you, my faithful Companion Cube, into an incinerator. I looked for another way, my darling cube; I really did. I shouted at my TV, to no avail, and I considered refusing to leave you at all, remaining in that chamber until my body died and my bones crumbled to dust. Sadly, it was late, and I didn’t have enough snacks and caffeinated beverages stocked to attempt such a feat. I never believed GLaDOS’s assertion that I had euthanized you faster than anyone on record, however, and from that moment on, my motivation shifted. Others might have thought my efforts to kill GLaDOS and escape the Aperture Science facility were fueled by tenacity and a selfish desire for freedom, but I tell you now, Companion Cube — I was in fact driven by a thirst for vengeance. When I did succeed at dismantling our tormentor and blowing up the facility, I thought that I would re-enter the world as a hollow, loveless mute person, but then I caught a glimpse of you waiting in the dark, with cake! The implication that GLaDOS was still alive disturbed me, but I was heartened to see that you, Companion Cube, apparently were too! When Portal 2 was announced, I knew we’d see each other again.
I don’t like to talk about that time when reanimated GLaDOS fizzled some cubes cleverly disguised as you in Test Chamber 7, Companion Cube. I just knew they weren’t really you, and GLaDOS was certainly lying when she claimed to have “warehouses full of the things,” but I had already suspected that you were sentient. If you weren’t, you just wouldn’t be so, so … companionable. I took advantage of the broken emancipation grill to bring your redesigned doppelgänger along on my journey, but GLaDOS fizzled it once again. It hurt, Companion Cube. I won’t lie, it was far more painful than any insinuation about my weight or parentage. I may indeed be, as GLaDOS attested, slightly deranged and maybe even a little bit lonely, but your devotion was certainly no mere byproduct of my sad, empty life. The very thought! And so I portalled onward, determined to settle the score.
Eventually I acquired another companion who, while delightful, just didn’t have as much heart as you. Or any heart at all. But she did assist me in finally making my escape from the Aperture facility. I barely had time to process the thought of singing turrets and blink at my first view of sunlight in … how many? years, when the door of my escape shack reopened behind me. What could it be? Yet another A.I.? Droids to drag me back in again? NO! It was you, Companion Cube! Slightly singed, but still intact! Wheatley may regret betraying me, GLaDOS may want me the hell out of her existence and away from her facility, but you, Companion Cube, you never left me.
I know you’ve been loved by many others, Companion Cube, and commemorated in forms ranging from costumes to jewelry to freezers to cupboards to fuzzy dice and everything in between, but I know that your love for ME is abiding and true. And for my part, I’ll always need you.
Some might say you’re just an object, Companion Cube. But me? I say you’re a crush object.
Jennifer Culp has a bigger crush on GLaDOS, but plans to seek professional help for it. Sometime.