Rob was in
the simulator struggling in a dogfight to keep out of the
sights of his opponent.
Outside Paul sat at the computer terminal giving chase.
Tim's garage was crowded with about eight over excited
schoolmates. It was the finals of the computer air-war
competition. A monitor was set up for the onlookers. One
of the boys, Chris, sat by a whiteboard, which displayed
the winners of the heats. The standing contestants were
Rob, Helen and three others: Paul, Ian and Steve. Helen
stood next to Tim as she watched on. Tim was enjoying
being the grand master of the games. He lent over to
Helen. "You're doing all right for someone who's
only had twenty hours simulator time."
She put her hand on his. "I have a good
Rob manoeuvred with great cunning but Paul made a hit.
The crowd registered in unison. Tim noticed Paul was
momentarily distracted. By the time he got back to the
game Rob's craft was on top of him. A missile was fired.
"That's heat-seeking," Tim said to Paul.
The crowd chorused. "Eject! Eject!"
Paul suffered a direct hit. The animated representation
of his craft exploded in mid-air before Paul could manage
to eject. An alert came up on Paul's screen reading
"Aircraft totally annihilated. Pilot killed."
Tim looked over to say something to Helen but he was
surprised to see she was not there. He went over to Paul
who was very annoyed.
"When are you going to build the second
"It doesn't happen over night," said Tim.
Tim looked to see what Paul was distracted by. Helen was
standing in the yard framed by the garage door. She threw
her long hair forward to brush it.
Chris, the scorekeeper addressed the mob of boys.
"That about wraps it up for Paul."
Ian slapped the gormless Steve on the back. "You
just fluked it last time. Now your number's up."
Ian clambered into the simulator and Steve sat slightly
confused behind the computer terminal.
"Now it's Ian and Steve in a fight to the death. The
winner of this bout will go into combat with Rob and that
brings us up to the main event."
The garage was filled with the noise of the battle and
the cheering onlookers. Tim's reverie was suddenly
destroyed by something he saw outside. Through a crack in
the wall he could see Rob and Helen talking. He couldn't
hear what they were saying. She was very coy and smiling
Steve was hardly in the air and was already taking a
beating. The crowd was hungry for blood.
"Go for the kill."
Rob put his hands on Helen's shoulders and moved his face
very close to hers. She smiled and became short of
breath. She moved slightly avoiding his eyes but she
melted in his arms and they finally kissed. The kissing
An explosion was followed by a huge cheer from the hungry
Helen became very turned on and pulled Rob's shirt up and
put her hands up under it.
Tim's senses were filled with the roar of battle coming
from the game. He closed out the image of the two kissing
and looked at Steve struggling to stay alive and then at
the hysterical crowd. Tim breathed deeply, his head still
spinning from what he had just seen outside. He turned
coolly to his computer and surreptitiously made some
adjustments to the game. The underdog, Steve, now made a
miraculous recovery and with Tim's hidden help destroyed
the superior opponent, Ian. The crowd was ecstatic at the
unexpected turn around. Ian got out of the simulator very
angry and went over to Tim.
Chris yelled out the garage door. "Rob! You're
"What's the big idea?" said Ian confronting
"What's your problem?"
"That was fixed."
The crowd howled him down. "Take it like a
They began to chant. "Loser! Loser!"
Ian nearly bowled Rob over as he fled from the jeering of
Rob was a bit flushed. He was confused to see Ian leaving
and Steve eagerly climbing into the simulator. Tim
eyeballed Rob and indicated the computer. "You're on
Rob was very confused. "Steve?"
"That's your combatant," Tim assured him.
"This'll be a piece of cake."
Steve's end came in no time at all. Rob's thumb pressed
down firmly on the kill button of his computer game
joystick. A bloodthirsty roar erupted from the crowd. The
simulator rocked savagely as Steve tried to elude Rob's
hot pursuit. Unseen Tim made his adjustments. Again Rob
fired. Another big shout. Chris wiped Steve's name off
the whiteboard. A bewildered Steve handed the helmet over
"Rob, you have the choice of the simulator or the
terminal," said Tim.
"I'm staying where I am." He looked directly at
Helen. "I'm hot."
"It's all the same to me," said Tim.
"You'll be a pushover," said Helen. She climbed
into the simulator and closed the canopy.
Rob whispered seductively into the mike. "I'm
gunning for you baby."
Tim cut them off. "No talking to the enemy."
Helen was in the air. Tim selected the program Mirage
Special. In exactly the same way as Tim's jump jet
special flight, it all turned real for Helen. She was
amazed and frightened by the transformation. "Tim,
how are you doing this? Tim?"
She was not watching carefully enough and allowed the
craft to drift into enemy territory. Anti-aircraft fire
broke out below. A shell exploded close in the air.
Shrapnel caught her arm. Helen cried out in pain and
clutched her bleeding arm. She bashed at the canopy and
screamed. "Tim, let me out."
She yanked repeatedly on the eject lever to no effect.
Nothing helped. The anti-aircraft fire got heavier.
Instinctively she took the controls and climbed to a
higher altitude. "I'm sorry Tim. Please let me
Everything was normal outside the simulator. Rob sat at
his computer terminal. "Look out baby. Here I
The gang of schoolboys cheered Rob on. Tim watched two
radar specks approach each other on his computer screen.
Helen looked in horror as she saw the blip of another
aircraft on her radar screen. A jet hurtled past at the
speed of sound. It turned back in a big arc to find her
again, this time it launched an air-to-air missile. Helen
manoeuvred dramatically to sidestep the missile. She
tried to put distance between her and the other craft but
it caught up quickly.
Rob worked his controls. "This is no fun. She's not
fighting back," said Rob.
"Just playing hard to get," said Paul.
Rob fired a missile.
Inside the simulator, again a missile headed toward
Helen. Again she narrowly slipped out of the way. Her
face was wet with tears. She pulled the craft into a
steep climb and came out of the sun at the other craft.
She fired but it was too fast for her. She made a complex
manoeuvre and was hot on its heels. With a vengeance born
of terror she launched three missiles in rapid succession
and decimated the enemy aircraft. She was relieved to
find the cockpit had turned back into Tim's home-made
flight simulator. Helen caught her breath and wiped her
tears. She pulled on the eject lever and the canopy slid
Helen climbed out of the simulator to find the garage in
chaos. The screen of Rob's computer had exploded. In the
background Steve was vomiting. The wall behind where Rob
was sitting was splattered with blood. A very shaky Chris
put a blanket over Rob's lifeless body where it lay,
thrown off the chair.
Tim was on the phone. He was disturbingly calm.
"Hello, emergency? We need an ambulance at 24 Kelly
St Ryde. There's been an accident."
He hung up. Helen came over to him. "What
happened?" she asked.
Tim turned to her.