Astrid van Bergen stretched out in her recliner, yawning away as the credits rolled on the film she had just caught on netcast. It was an old one, back in the days before colour film. ‘It Happened One Night’, all the way from 1934. 178 years ago. A chuckle escaped her as she recalled countless discussions with her fellows all throughout her life. In school, when she was able to attend, they would talk about the newest shows and the hottest celebrities of the time. But herself? Her love affair with old cinematography started from her earliest years when in and out of hospital.
“Thank you for watching Classics of Hollywood, the premier netcast provider of 20th century entertainment.” The announcer AI spoke, the screen in her apartment displaying just the company logo now. “Would you care to watch some selected, personalized advertising for credit redemption and exciting product offers?”
Checking her coffee cup, she still had a bit to finish off before bed. With a sigh, she nodded. “All right, show advertising.”
In a seamless segue the logo shifted into the first advertisement. At the bottom of her vision’s HUD, a small UI bar had appeared to indicate the credit received and any applicable bonus offers from each advertisement. She took a slow sip from her now lukewarm drink as she took in the barrage of commercials.
“You work a tough, dangerous job, Detective van Bergen.” A virtualized man in a good suit said to her, pointing in her direction in confronting manner. “And it’s for people like you that the United Insurance and Executor Company provides its best service and deals. You’ve got some time before your department’s annual policy re-evaluation period, so why not consider us?” The man said in an offhand fashion. “Ask for our information pack to be mailed to you, and get a quarter credit redemption for the film you just watched, a free prize draw for a fabulous holiday to the Armstrong Plaza Hotel’s luxurious Ambassador Suite, the finest hotel in space, and other great offers.”
“Send me the information pack.” Astrid spoke aloud, her HUD flashing up with the newly arrived mail from the company, notification of the quarter credit granted towards the cost of her film, and an update from her Competition-Collater program.
“Thank you for your interest, we look forwards to hearing from you.” The man grinned, before disappearing.
“You are a valued customer, Astrid!” A cheery blonde woman exclaimed from behind a counter. “And we wanted you to know we at Sunny Side Coffee Co value your loyalty.” She blinked. “Whoa, hold the calls, you are just four visits away from eight hundred visits to your preferred establishment!” Giving the detective a thumbs up, she swept the counter to one side to display a collection of mugs, products and promotional items. “Pre-purchase your favourite drink now for pick-up tomorrow, and we’ll give you half the credit of your film, and bonus loyalty points too! How does that sound?” She grinned, proudly smoothing the front of her yellow and dark-orange uniform down.
“I’ll pre-purchase.” Astrid said, raising her loyalty mug up to the screen.
“We’ll have it ready for you in time for your morning drop in! A good cup of coffee is the best way to start the day, and you should know! After all, as we say: The beans are fresh, and the deals fresher!”
Chuckling, she drained the rest of her cup in one gulp, in time for the last two adverts.
“I’m Martina Simone, this is Armstrong Broadcasting Studios, and coming up tomorrow at 2000 hours Lunar Standard Time is your favourite show: The Home Hydroponics Hour with the master of the spray, the chief of the root enclosures, Kang Thompson! Tune in to our live netcast or catch the show on stream before the next one, and we’ll enter you into our latest prize draw, for a chance to win tickets to Hydroponicon, the premier convention for the hydroponics fans showing all the latest developments.”
Martina was the current face of ABS, the first and most popular of the space-based content providers. Her hazel eyes, soft brown skin and raven-black hair adorned numerous virtual billboards around Tranquillity City. Astrid remembered meeting her, and her surprise that the face of ABS was actually a very polite, kind-hearted woman.
No one could say the same for her predecessor. ‘Diva’ Diana Loncar, currently serving five years in prison for assault on the wife of the man she was having an affair with.
“CARDONIX.” A woman’s voice said serenely. “Advanced Technology for Everday Living. Schedule an appointment today, to see how our latest product lines could improve your life.”
As the small musical chime of the company played against a sky-blue background playing host to fluffy white clouds, the detective concentrated on the steady beat of the artificial heart under her ribcage. She hoped that her next visit would give her heart a clean bill of health. She had wasted enough time to replacements in her childhood years.
She had wasted enough time to adverts, too. With a frown of concentration, she switched the primary display in her home off and made for the kitchen, ready to wash her mug up before rest, still thinking about each rigorously controlled beat her cardiac system produced.