Saturday May 11, 2003:
Gordon phoned me up afternoon and he was getting cabin fever. He told me there was going to be a meteor shower visible in the sky that night. He asked me If I’d ever gone stargazing, and I said no.
So at 9pm, as the sun was setting, we saddled up in my car with a crate of beers, and drove away from the facility, and about 20 minutes out into the New Mexico desert. Eventually, the lights of the facility faded as we rolled away from the valley, and Gordon managed to find a raised viewpoint with a couple of park benches nearby.
I know I mentioned this before, but the scenery really is spectacular, especially with all the heavens hanging over your head. I felt like I was an astronaut standing on the surface of an alien world. I imagined that the buzzards flapping in the distance were strange winged monsters, that the soil underneath my boots was thick as lunar dust.
We said cheers, sat back, and took it all in. I took a deep sigh. When you spend most of your life underground, a few hours of fresh air feels like a two-week vacation. We shot the shit, told some bad jokes, and reminisced about how much we’d changed since meeting each other.
Gordon told me that he’d been selected take Dr Olegivich’s place. That he was the one Dr Vance had picked to go into the test chamber on May 16.
“Congrats man that’s great!” I said, clapping him on the back. “I’m proud of ya buddy.”
He nodded, but I could tell that he was feeling the pressure. Sector C was on the cusp of a huge discovery. I could tell how important this was to him, how much he wanted to make a name for himself, and make Vance and Kleiner proud.
“Hey Gordon, listen” I said, “Take this from someone whose biggest responsibility is making sure the vending machines are stocked: this is your big chance, and you’re gonna nail it.”
“You think?” he said.
“Hell yeah!” I said. “Look man, I’m nobody special. I know that. One of these days, I’ll wake up with a big gut and grey hair and crows feet, doing the same old rounds back in Sector C, and my biggest claim to fame will be when I get to tell people ‘I knew Gordon Freeman.'”
“No way,” he said.
“Totally,” I nodded, taking a swig of beer. “You’ve got a real talent Gordon. You’re a frigging genius, and you owe it to yourself to do this. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have in the test chamber next week.”
“Oh I don’t know-“
“Take it from me,” I said over him. “You’re gonna change the world next Friday. You’ll see.”
He smiled at me.
“I think you underestimate yourself Barney,” he said quietly, “I think you’re capable of great things too.”
“Oh yeah?” I scoffed.
“I mean it,” he said. “You’re the best friend I’ve got here. If it wasn’t for you, Black Mesa would be a lot more boring.”
“Amen to that,” chuckled, finishing my beer.
The meteor shower began. We watched it in silence, and I started turning Gordon’s words over and over in my head. Maybe he was right. Maybe I am too hard on myself. After all, if it wasn’t for me, there’s a good chance that Black Mesa would be a smoking crater right about now. Thanks to me, it was going to stay standing for a long time coming.
But as we drove home, going slow down the desert road in our half-drunk state, I couldn’t help but also feel guilty about what I’d been planning. About taking my new pet and selling him to the highest bidder. There was a good chance that doing that might put an end to Gordon’s hard work.
Gordon’s supposed to be my friend. Is exposing Black Mesa for a few bucks really worth me ruining his life?