|And so the search began for the two
men to go to Venus. NASA worked out a way to advertise
globally for the astronauts, by organising a contra deal
with Coke involving... shall we say... swirly red writing
on the mission's rocket, and an agreement to film an
advert on the surface of Venus extolling the virtues of a
certain soft drink.
"Walk on Venus!" the adverts proclaimed. "You could represent the entire human race, when we land on Venus! And enjoy Coke!" Like all Coke ads, there was tiny writing that appeared at the bottom of the TV screens for about two seconds, only this time apart from letting everybody know who owned the copyright and trademarks, it also included a disclaimer about any successful participant probably dying a cold and lonely death in deep space should anything go wrong, the alarmingly high likelihood of this occurring, and a clause entitling NASA and Coke to the first rights on any subsequent film, television, literary, video game, pop-up book, or poetical adaptations of the event.
Not many people noticed this small print however, probably because it was illegible even using the latest HD-TV with special image enhancing software, and because TVs weren't yet intelligent enough that they could warn their owners that entering this particular contest was a bloody stupid thing to do.
All over the planet, blokes everywhere imagined themselves landing on Venus, then returning to Earth, a global hero, with the prospects of huge amounts of cash reward, and not to mention being the objects of desire for every woman (and/or man, depending on preference) on the planet.
All over the planet, women everywhere rolled their eyes at the prospect of blokes everywhere imagining themselves on Venus, and pondered how small their penises and brains would have to be to volunteer for such a foolhardy mission.
But NASA got application forms (find them in specially marked packs of Coke!) by the truckload. Millions of them. Getting them all delivered was the biggest postal operation since the Craig Shergold postcard thing hotted up. And sorting them all out was a nightmare, even with the sophisticated optical and database system NASA had bought to handle the applications.
The system would scan and process all the applications. It would store them all, and analyse them against specific criteria defined by NASA's top experts, and cross-check against the new Global Medical System that kept track of every human's health details. It would cross-check against known mental and educational records. It would use highly complex algorithms to ensure that the final two selected men fitted every requirement for the mission exactly. Highly paid consultants had designed the system to be flawless, and NASA management put its faith in the system absolutely, to choose the two men who would give humanity its best chance of a successful mission to Venus.
But the system had a bug.
- The Year 2031
Copyright©1998 Daniel Bowen