from Speedfactory, Game #2 (Cohen & Wark)
our APEX expectations of Paris, the destination marker sits
squarely over London. We passengers stare at the video projection
screen, willing the plane to change course, to fly towards
the indicated landing point instead of along this unpredicted
hypotenuse. We are veterans of too many airport movies and
too many video games, and there is a ridiculous terror in
the GAME OVER outcome which must follow this. The seemingly
mis-aimed icon follows its passage between the warzones: Da
Nang, Kabul, Baghdad, Kharkov. These are the recognisable
names between Bali and Athens.
announcement: the pilot assures us we are not flying to London:
Paris is a new route, and Zero Point Paris has yet to be programmed
into the system. Hmmmn. It could be me alone, but I imagine
row after row of tightened, doubting lips. Our symbol sits
still on the screen, or jerks forward pixel by pixel.
we get closer to northern France, the skew path becomes more
disturbing; I am more disturbed by it. Despite the pilot's
soothing techno-talk and, on-screen, battle markers superseded
by wine-producing centres and punctuated by the periodic stillness
of the airline logo, all purity (the round-ended metal tube,
evenly spaced passengers struggling for sleep positions, weighed
meal portions on rectangular trays, flight attendants' perfectly
practised routines) is gone, muddied by this minor techno-gap.
We descend, the altitude measure dropping at near enough to
10m/s, the distance from destination almost unaltered. Switch
it off! I brace as the altitude falls below three hundred
metres. I'm gripping the armrests, pushing myself back against
the upright seat, telling myself: come on, relax, relax, it's
routine. The screen eventually goes blank. And as usual I'm
thinking about farewell notes, who should be mentioned.