|The media back home on Earth were
going crazy with this. What could this mysterious
green(ish) box they had found on Venus be? What did it
mean? And most importantly, was it alien? An alien craft?
An alien robot? The remains of the corpse from a race of
Ralph and Chuck had no idea. But they thought it looked vaguely familiar. A box, a bit more than a metre tall. Mostly green, with a slot along one side about ten centimetres high near the top.
There was some writing, too. Or at least, it looked like writing. The population of Earth had come a long way in terms of technology, but by 2031, with the Unix 2038 bug only just around the corner, they hadn't quite managed to develop anything like the Babelfish. It would have come in handy for Ralph and Chuck, staring at these incomprehensible patterns on the side of the box next to the slot.
Near the bottom of the box was more "writing". It was tiny, hardly noticeable, but at least there seemed to be more words than on the side. Ralph took detailed pictures of all the markings and transmitted them back to Earth, where suddenly anybody who was anybody in the world of codes, symbols, ancient languages and linguistics found themselves either hunted down by NASA to join a research team into the markings, or hunted down by the media and asked to speculate on what the research team might discover.
While endless numbers of research scientists with very nerdy haircuts stretched their brains and supercomputers to the limit working on the markings, Ralph and Chuck kept exploring. They didn't find much else of interest in the surrounding area though, and after a hard day's slog, they were ready to return to Penis I for a rest.
Of course, neither of them could sleep - being the first men on Venus with evidence mounting that there was life was about as exciting as the night before little kids get back to school after the Easter break when they're wondering what all their friends have been up to.
But even as they lay in their hammocks, staring out the window, the teams of scientists had an answer for them. They believed that their supercomputers, using advanced interpretation algorithms and databases which included all known human language, had correctly interpreted the markings on the box. The publicity people were ecstatic. This was more than they could possibly have hoped for. Evidence that there was life - and intelligent life at that - on Venus.
The scientists had all looked at the preliminary studies. Most of them agreed - it all made sense. The box structure correlated with what they thought the markings meant. And yes, it really did point to there being intelligent, literate, civilised, even advanced life on Venus.
As soon as they were reasonably sure, they announced it to the world. The bulletins blared over Earth, every media outlet using a sound grab of one of NASA's computers using voice synthesis to read the interpretation. It was not, of course, a literal translation, but the scientists believed they had extrapolated the probable logical translation of the writing on the top of the box, which was:
DO NOT LITTER.
- The Year 2031
Copyrightę1998 Daniel Bowen