Terminator v Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The lawn was scorched in a perfect circle and sparks of electricity still zapped randomly nearby as the terminator appeared. Kneeling in the middle of the lawn as if bowing to a god, his sensors refocused and his first sight of the twentieth century was his own naked body.

He got up and surveyed the environment. November 12th 1984 15:03. 100 Hamilton Avenue, Enfield, South England, UK. The transfer had been a success. Now, his primary mission was to seek out the boy who would become vital to the resistance in the future. Although only part of the tertiary wave of the Machines' Weapons of Past Destruction mission, he had been selected to kill the boy who would one day write such powerful books that they would inspire the human fighters of the future. The young human had been targeted for termination, and he would not stop until the job was over or until the power no longer pulsated through his skin-encased metal frame.

A few doors down he could hear a dog barking. Always with the barking. He made a note in his internal task list to kill the dog and filed it under Post-Mission Activities at the top, just before "Apply for NASA job". Walking through the French windows into the living room, crushing the broken glass into the worn, brown carpet, he scanned for any signs of life. After deducing that the probability of humans in the house was 0.29047, he decided to wait for the boy to come home. Age 15. That meant school-age, so he would be home at approximately 15:40. The terminator had time to kill.

His database reported back to him the most likely location of the boy's possessions, so the terminator marched upstairs and into the first room on the left. Furniture, décor, and smell all pointed to a high probability that this was his target's room. Clothes. Subroutines told him that if he needed to blend in he'd need clothes, so he scanned the room looking for suitable attire. Socks, green: too small. Trousers, type-Farah: too tight. Shirt, type-Association Football: possible fit. Nothing else was suitable, so he squeezed the shirt on and searched the other rooms for something to cover his skin with. Returning, he looked around the room, until he found something else that caught his attention. There, sitting on the boy's desk was an electronic device with what he recognised as a primitive human interface. A rectangular black box, with blue-grey keys and a coloured diagonal stripe. He ran his eyes over the symbols on the front and recognised simple coding commands. A microcomputer of some sort, although too simplistic to have been registered in his database. The 48K ZX Spectrum looked up at the machine that was from another world.

15:10. Plenty of time to see what this inferior machine was capable of. He switched on his backward-compatibility mode and searched for a wireless connection. Error. Bluetooth?. Error. He picked up the curious object and searched for a LAN port. None found. He wondered how he'd ever been created. Finding the power socket, he inserted a small probe and gave it some power. It came on, but nothing much happened. He inserted another probe into the TV socket and was suddenly presented in his immediate vision with the curious words "© 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd." Running his fingers clumsily over the keys, he tried to interface with the computer, but gave up after one minute and 10,894 key presses after the keyboard slowly began to melt onto the metal cover containing it. Locating an entrance at the back, he finally managed a complete diagnostic analysis after interfacing direct to the circuit board contained just within. Final analysis was that he had more computing power than…please wait…please wait…please wait…error stack overflow ZX Spectrums. He didn't understand the interest in such a BASIC machine, (but found his Human Humour Appreciation Chip had just reported that that was considered to be a pun) and so tried to calculate the uses of such a, well, useless object.

Two leads poked out at the back in sockets labelled Ear and Mic. Quickly learning, the terminator surmised that an early data storage device had to be inserted to transfer data to the computer, and so he located a suitable object labelled "Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Welcome to the Pleasuredome" and put it into the player. The computer did nothing, even with the correct commands he'd discovered whilst communicating with it, so he fiddled with the leads at the player in case of a bad connection and turned up the volume. After a few seconds, "Two Tribes" pumped round the room, causing the terminator to decrease his audible input and to deduce that this was probably not the right tape to attempt. He ejected and inserted another: "Manic Miner", and saw the computer successfully jolt into life with a wave of scrolling coloured bars on the sides of the screen. He had certainly never seen anything like it in his existence.

After he had played 5,894,321,345 games of solitaire on his internal games chip, read through the entire known downloaded library of mankind, calculated all known possible methods to kill a canine and came up with a previously-unknown method of crushing a human head, the computer finished loading the game. This time, gentle, simple music flowed through his inputs and around his circuits as he surveyed the entertainment software. Realising he was far too superior for it to be a challenge, he temporarily decreased his intelligence levels to what he considered to be suitable for the game in question and reached for the keyboard.

"Mum? Are you in?" Tony came through the front door and sat his school bag down. Good, he thought, it didn't look like anyone was home. He walked through the living room, oblivious to the mess that had been created a short while ago, and started to go upstairs when he heard some music. "Lee?" he shouted up the stairs, wondering if his best mate had raced round the back and had sneaked in to play on his computer. No response. He ran up the stairs and into his bedroom. "Lee, you complete – " He stopped. Sitting there, playing level 19 of his favourite game, was a huge hulk of a man in his now-stretched Spurs shirt.

The terminator had a decision to make. He hadn't bargained on this game defeating his low intelligence level for the past twenty minutes, but he was programmed to succeed. However, his mission primary target was, in all probability, now standing behind him.

"Anthony Parker?" he said, standing, facing the boy.

"Errr…yeah. Who the heck are you?" he looked down and stared. "And why are you wearing Mum's big knickers, you pervert?!"

Noting the reaction and quickly planning a replacement change of lower garment, he picked up a small black heavy object as the target turned and started to exit the room at speed. He didn't get to the lowest step before the Spectrum power supply had flown through the air and hit the back of his head, killing him instantly. Primary mission accomplished. He turned to the computer again and sat down. Secondary mission override…