Our Sponsor by John Namest

Katlin watched her hair gently fall from her brush and marveled at the way the early morning sun highlighted the golden strands. "Oh no" she sighed. She had forgotten what stroke she was on. "Fifty strokes in the morning and fifty at night." was clearly detailed in the handbook1 . It had to be somewhere around thirty, but she decided to do another thirty to be sure. Her PI2 . was at the top of her class, despite the shift towards creative logo piercing. Pure good looks and a solid reputation of loyalty never went out of style she reminded herself pursing her lips at the mirror. But it had been a difficult day yesterday. Her best friend Heather had confided to her at Church while in line for Starbucks3 . Heather was shopping Saturday and fell in love with this Gucci outfit and her confidence in her Tommy sponsor4 was slipping. Heather was supposed to see a Brand Counselor today. Katlin wondered if Heather blasphemed, it might affect her PI due to their close friendship.

"Bus ETA is two minutes." Her LIT5 warned.

"Oh phooey6" Katlin dropped her brush, grabbed her LIT and went to meet the bus. "That's eighty strokes tonight," she thought to herself.

Katlin tried not to appear to notice Jake staring at her four rows ahead. The furthest seats were the most desirable and only the most desirable sat in them. The air was thick with the prepubescent banter of lower classmen. Heather was sitting next to Katlin going on and on about that stupid Gucci outfit. Jake eye's had the force of GAP7 ads and hers were inexorably drawn toward them.

Unfortunately, Jake had a reputation incompatible with Katlin's sponsor. He was an iconoclast and the rumor was that he was responsible for circulating information on how to fake ADD for Ritalin and other nefarious acts. Besides, she was dating Bobby, Quarterback and the most popular boy in school. Their reign had lasted throughout their junior year and she wasn't going to throw it all away for the wild promise held in those eyes. She turned to Heather and smiled and tried to listen and never turned her gaze anywhere near Jake.

The first class bell had rang and Katlin was already in her seat. She was ready to join in the daily prayer.

The Sponsor's Prayer

Our Sponsor who art in H.E.A.V.E.N. 8
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy market Sung
"Thine will be Done!"
On Earth
As voted in H.E.A.V.E.N.
Give us this day, our daily ad
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not to brand disloyalty, but deliver us from indecision.
For Thine is the market, and the power, and the popularity, for ever and ever.

1 The handbook is the standard document issued by a sponsor outlining the guidelines of brand loyalty.

2 Popularity Index: Tallied from global databases of peer opinion and sponsor loyalty records.

3 First Starbucks appears in December 1999. It's a Christian Church in Munster, Indiana.

4 In 2001 Chris Barrett and Luke McCabe, high school seniors in Haddonfield, New Jersey, sparked the movement that led to all students having corporate sponsorship. This led to the abolishment of public schools and a wave of expensive private schools and specialized learning institutions.

5 LIT: Learning and Identification Tool. The first prototype was developed in 2017 in response to the Valley High Massacre. Since all material possessions except sponsor clothing were banned on school property, a way to give students their homework had to be developed. Its construction is fairly flimsy to discourage its use as a weapon and to help instill a sense of nurturing for material things in the student. The PI penalty for replacement varies with the sponsor. The device consists of a large touch-sensitive screen that the student can write on with a finger. It is also networked with two-way voice and video capability. Slower students can interact via voice recognition. When positioned properly, it can also recognize sign language.

6 Any speech deemed as potentially offensive is prohibited by the majority of sponsors. Details are in the sponsor handbook.

7 Antonio Vasalas, a GAP researcher decided to take the old GAP slogan "Fall into the GAP" a step further. His psycho-gravitational advertisements brought a whole new meaning to compelling content. Anyone viewing them would completely focus on the ads as long as they were in view. After a 72 car pileup on a LA freeway psycho-gravitational advertising was banned. Its references have become somewhat of a colloquial expression.

8 Homogenized Economic Activity Vanguard of Entrusted Nations: Global trade organization enriching lives all over the world and providing guidance to underdeveloped countries to join the global economy.