The Lesson

Standing outside the emergency ward of my local hospital, with a drip in my right arm and a very slender, and untidily rolled cigarette burning from the corner of my mouth, I thought to myself, “I should never have gone south”.

To be completely honest with you, I couldn’t understand why it had all gone so wrong. I had rehearsed this operation on my XBox, hundreds of times and approached every possible challenge from all directions and used a wide range of tactics. I had never failed it before, even on ‘insane’ level I was able to get the girl and then get the money back to my safehouse.

The job had started well. I left my house just before 2300 hours and reached the compound gates at a couple of minutes before midnight. The company employed to maintain the security of Victoria’s rail yards and business precinct had a basic blue uniform and I figured that at this time of night, with low light and the retiring shift itching to get home to their family, I should be able to blend with the crowd and slip past the gate. ‘Blending’ worked fantastically in the game. The tactic aroused no suspicion, and once inside the yard, it gave me time to look for an appropriate position to wait for the next phase of the operation. I left the group of guards at the corner of the carriage wash-down station and moved to the shadows and waited for the cleaners, who also wore a basic blue uniform. I joined a group and we moved into the station. I was feeling confident and even made a few smart remarks to my ‘colleagues‘ about the graffiti and what it was suggesting the government should do with the latest round of tax increases.

I grabbed a broom and headed for one of the carriages. I needed to kill the next forty-five minutes before Narelle started her shift in the pay office and I figured pushing a broom wouldn’t hurt me and it would help with my cover. It’s amazing what people leave on trains – in that short period I picked up $7.60 in change, a nearly full packet of tobacco, the latest copy of Motorcycling magazine and a rail pass with another three trips on it; this job had its perks! I had to get my focus back; it was nearly time to meet Narelle at the emergency exit door at the back of the administration building.
The door was supposed to be alarmed, but because all the smokers used it as a shortcut to the smoking area, the front desk guard had disabled the alarm. This was another important lesson I had learned in the game. It had taken me many attempts to break into this building. In fact I was about to give the game up, when I noticed a computer generated character stub a cigarette and open the emergency door. I slapped myself. “Emergency exit doors open from the inside only, except if the alarm is disabled and the door is left ajar” ………. my way in. The level of reality in some of these new games never ceased to impress me. It seemed as if the game writers had maybe pulled a couple of these jobs for real and used the experience to increase the reality levels, in-game. It got me thinking, if the game writers needed real life experience, remind me that I never want a job writing fighting games like ‘Fists of Vengeance’ or zombie games like ‘Dead Rising’.

Anyway, enough daydreaming, it was time to make my way to the door. Narelle was on time and she led me into the building and up to the pay offices. This is where the safe is and as it was the day before payday, it should be brimming with cash. Thanks to good old Google, I knew everything there was to know about the Eagle Oz 996 Office Safe, and after many on-line sessions I also had my locksmithing diploma, which meant this combination lock would not stand in my way. It actually took me a lot longer to get the combination than I thought and to be completely honest, Narelle found the combination in her bosses draw, but I was nearly there anyway.
So there it was; a big pile of money. I stuffed it all in my bag and closed up the safe.
It was at this point in the game where I got to kiss the girl and then silently and stealthily make my way out of the building, blending once again with the workers and successfully leaving the compound and returning to my safehouse. I’m not sure exactly how it all went so wrong. I thought I had it all under control. I remember Narelle saying that there was enough money there for us to run away to Sydney and get married and have lots of kids. I think I sort of shrugged and said “yeah, maybe”. The next thing I knew she was yelling at the top of her voice. She grabbed the pack from my back, took out all the money and stuffed it back in the safe. She slammed it closed and spun the lock and told me that if I couldn’t commit to a relationship with her then she certainly wasn’t going to help me set up the lifestyle I was dreaming of. Damn she was loud! I decided to run while I still had a chance.
I left the building at full speed and headed for the smoking area. I managed to somehow scale the smokers’ shelter, from which I was pretty sure I could make the jump across the barbed wire fence. I nearly made it. Unfortunately, my shoelace caught on the top wire. I crashed head first to the ground, badly spraining my right knee and deeply cutting my forehead on the concrete footpath. It was still quite dark and my flight to safety hadn’t created too much of a disturbance. I limped to the nearest hospital and here I am, broken, but still a little bit positive.
Next time I’m heading north. They tell me the security around the North Queensland Shipping yard is pretty slack and with all this real life experience, maybe this time I can pull it off.

The Lesson

Andy Smerdon

Dayboro, Australia

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Artist's Description

The jury is out on the topic of video game violence and if it creates sociopath behaviour – it didn’t seem to do much for this bumbling would be criminal.

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