Once upon a time, there was a bear named Shoe Shine Bear, though by this point he had been through so much that he could no longer recall exactly why he was called that.
Shoe Shine Bear looked out the portal-like window closest to him, down to the distant clouded blue marble that slowly rotated far below. He’d lost track of how many days he’d been in space.
He had become unsure after his Android Galaxy S6 with the clock on it had died two hours after lift-off. To his devastation, Shoe Shine Bear had discovered that the craft was only fitted with iPhone 6 chargers. He shook his paw wrathfully at this final poetic injustice to his Droid tribe.
It had all begun about a pawful of days ago. A bloated Shoe Shine Bear, filled with approximately 6.78 boxes of Starry Blast-Os cereal (roughly 2.76 Shoe Shine Bears worth of stomach capacity) triumphantly pulled his prize from the final box. A little cartoon astronaut told him to report to the nearest Transmissions, Research, and Assessment of Planets (T.R.A.P.) station for his official Space Victory tour and Astro-Winner Astronaut Training immediately.
This had been the focus of Shoe Shine Bear’s unyielding focus for all of the grueling hours it took to go to Harris Teeter and glumph down as many boxes as his paws could grab off the lower shelves.
A sudden noise caused Shoe Shine Bear to look up; a Harris Teeter employee had caught wind of what Shoe Shine Bear was getting up to in Aisle 6 and had come to express his discontentment with Shoe Shine Bear’s plan. As the employee ran towards him, shouting something that Shoe Shine Bear wasn’t really interested in hearing, Shoe Shine Bear leapt into action, promptly vomiting up 2 Shoe Shine Bears’ worth of Blasto-s and fleeing the scene.
When Shoe Shine Bear arrived at the T.R.A.P. Headquarters, economically tucked between a Supercuts and a Western-themed pet store called Fistful of Collars, a somewhat sweaty, if friendly, summer intern named Brian was at the front desk to greet him. Brian the Intern gave Shoe Shine Bear a quick tour of the cereal-making facilities, as well as the space travel facilities and explained that the funds for the space program came from all the money they raked in by tricking fatties into buying Starry Blast-Os. Brian remembered to whom he was speaking and quickly amended “fatties” to “brave space enthusiasts,” which flattered Shoe Shine Bear so much that he forgot all about the “tricking fatties” line.
After the tour, Brian the Intern sweatily and friendlily handed Shoe Shine Bear off to a sharp-looking woman in a power suit named Tamara. Tamara explained that she was the Executive VP of Space Travelling Things and would take over for Shoe Shine Bear’s Astro-Winner Astronaut Training.
She took Shoe Shine Bear to their “space simulator” which eerily resembled a completely actually functioning spacecraft. Which made Shoe Shine Bear all the more excited to jump into the driver’s seat and press a ton of buttons. Tamara told him to make sure and press the gigantic, ominous red button to the left of the Official Blast-Os Astro-Winner Chair.
This is a really very realistic spaceship simulation, thought Shoe Shine Bear to himself as the doors began to swing shut and the seat began to rumble beneath him. Through the door, he asked Tamara how long the training was supposed to last. Tamara responded, indefinitely.
Shoe Shine Bear was beginning to have some reservations about the nature of his prize. He called out to Tamara to verify that this was indeed a simulation. Tamara responded in the negatory, which gave Shoe Shine Bear even more reservations about the nature of his prize. Tamara explained that to make up for sales lost after their competitor, Cosmic Nutty Bites, sent a squirrel into space last month as a promotional gig, the Blast-Os-T.R.A.P. conglomerate really had to up the ante. Thus, Shoe Shine Bear’s training was going to proceed a bit differently than he had expected.
Shoe Shine Bear argued that that didn’t sound as much like “training” as it did “involuntary space imprisonment,” to which Tamara responded that it qualified as training in that “you now know not to trust people who run joint cereal production and space travel programs,” which Shoe Shine Bear still took some issue with as far as definitions go.
Before he could voice these further objections, however, he was rocked back into his seat as four giant jets beneath him blasted the rocket into the air, the hemisphere, and into space.
At least I have Angry Birds, Shoe Shine Bear thought, as he whipped out his Samsung Galaxy S6 and wondered how many levels he could get through on 46% battery.
It was three days later, and Shoe Shine Bear was beginning to doubt the wisdom of having immediately eaten all of the provisions on board. At the time, Shoe Shine Bear had been convinced he could call upon the wisdom of his ancestors and put himself into hibernation until something interesting happened, but it turned out that eating 56 boxes of Starry Blast-Os (and one 2-year old seasonally themed box of Snowflakey Blast-Os) had only led to a hibernation of about 8 hours, and that hibernation was really more of a “groany diabetic deathlike coma.”
Shoe Shine Bear had just finished constructing a real-life Angry Birds set out of empty Starry Blast-Os boxes when a sudden bump threw him into them, knocking them all down like a real-life Angry Bird. Shoe Shine Bear looked out the portal and saw that his ship had collided with something: another ship!
He could hardly contain his excitement at the prospect of a companion that wasn’t an imaginary Angry Bird. Suddenly he heard a sound a lot like his spacecraft’s doors unsealing. He was being boarded!
He smiled. Then he stopped smiling. Wait. He was being boarded. He quickly thought of all of the things that could be boarding him that he would like to not board him. This greatly outweighed his tally of things he would enjoy being boarded by, such as an ice-cream-truck-shaped alien, or an Android Galaxy S6 charger. He had no more time to contemplate his fate, however, as a mysterious figure entered Shoe Shine Bear’s main deck.
It was a squirrel.
More specifically, it was a rather ticky, mangy little squirrel wearing a space suit. The space suit was emblazoned with the symbol of a peanut with kind of a douchey expression, extending an equally douchey thumbs up. This must be the Cosmic Nutty Bites squirrel!
Before Shoe Shine Bear could inquire about his theory, the squirrel declared that he was indeed Ivan the Cosmic Nutty Bites CosmoSquirrel. He declared this in a strong Russian accent, which Shoe Shine Bear was a bit surprised by but pretended to not be surprised by at all in order to not appear racist.
Shoe Shine Bear offered Ivan the CosmoSquirrel a seat on a pile of abandoned and slightly crumpled Starry Blast-Os boxes, and Ivan the CosmoSquirrel began to tell his mournful tale.
Apparently, the Cosmic Nutty Bites PR team, without an even cursory understanding of how space works, had come up with a “revolutionary PR campaign” which involved moving a bunch of stars into the shape of a giant peanut.
When Ivan the CosmoSquirrel, who held a double degree in Space Engineering and Astronomy, had tried to explain to the team how many different types of impossible this was, their response was to change their PR campaign to “blast Ivan into space for Being A Wise-Ass.” Ivan the CosmoSquirrel’s fuel had run out as soon as he had exited the stratosphere. He had been aimlessly drifting in orbit ever since.
Shoe Shine Bear asked what Ivan the CosmoSquirrel’s ship ran on for fuel. Ivan responded, incredibly cheap cardboard, actually. Shoe Shine Bear’s face lit up. He had a plan.
Shoe Shine Bear awoke blearily, which was really no change from how he normally woke up. The difference was that this time we was covered in sand and debris. It appeared that the Blast-O boxes had worked almost too well in propelling Ivan the CosmoSquirrel’s Crazy Nutty Spacecraft™ back to Earth into the middle of a deserted desert. He knew it was a desert because of all the sand, and the horny toad that was squinting at him from a dusty log.
He looked around for Ivan the CosmoSquirrel and found him fastidiously stacking pieces of the nut-shaped wreckage. Shoe Shine Bear saw that what Ivan the CosmoSquirrel was stacking specifically were volumes of law books.
Apparently Ivan the CosmoSquirrel had always wanted to be a lawyer rather than a low-ranking, fated-to-be-blasted-into-space-in-a-giant-nut-shaped-spacecraft PR executive, and had used his time in orbit to become a pretty handy lawyer.
This struck Shoe Shine Bear with a second brilliant idea, fulfilling his yearly quota for brilliant ideas.
Shoe Shine Bear awoke blearily once again. This time he was in Medium Claims Court, taking on T.R.A.P. with Ivan the CosmoLegalSquirrel as his representation. He quickly tried to look like he had not just been asleep, failing almost completely because of the legal brief stuck to his face.
Upon returning to civilization Shoe Shine Bear discovered that he had been rebranded in his absence as the Starry Blast-Os Spaceventure Bear and was world famous for his daring (if commercial) space exploits. With the help of Ivan, Shoe Shine Bear was able to bring a pretty solid image appropriation case against the corporation.
T.R.A.P. didn’t have a chance against the squirrel’s legal adeptness, and quickly folded. Shoe Shine Bear took over the entire Blast-Os-T.R.A.P. conglomerate, swearing to run it for good instead of evil.
He was quickly distracted by a balloon being blown in the wind and promptly forgot about the whole thing, causing the business to be closed forever, leaving hundreds of employees out of a job and leaving Brian the Intern out of “valuable academic credit.”
Glossary, for Your Convenience:
Astro-Winner: Like a regular winner, but astro.
Being A Wise-Ass: A heinous crime punishable by being blasted into space in a giant nut-shaped spacecraft.
CosmoSquirrel: A squirrel, but in space.
CosmoLegalSquirrel: A CosmoSquirrel who has gained a law degree.
Glumph: Fitting any amount of food in your mouth that is more food than your mouth should reasonably be able to hold. Onomatopoeiac.
Harris Teeter: In the upper tier of grocery stores, above Food Lion but below Whole Foods. Establishment where they don’t take kindly to people glumphing unpurchased product.
Hibernation: Something you can only achieve a weak replication of by glumphing 57 boxes of Starry Blast-Os.
Pawful: A handful, but for bears.
Power suit: Like a suit, but more powerful.
PR: A soulless division of the Communications Department that, despite having less production ability than an actual empty box of Starry Blast-Os, proceeds to make the most money forever. Constantly make Becca’s job at ETV a living hell. Stands for Pretty aRrogant.
Real-Life Angry Birds: A game Shoe Shine Bear invents out of a combination of Space Madness and Dead Phone Fever. Involves carefully forming delicate structures out of Starry Blast-O boxes and then meticulously fucking it all up as soon as possible.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Shitty, annoying phone for a person to have that makes all your text messages to them turn green instead of blue, like a SAVAGE.
SpaceVenture Bear: Like a Shoe Shine Bear, but goes on SpaceVentures.
Summer Intern: Sweaty, unpaid, self-conscious migrant worker. Often pale and suffering delusions of future gainful employment. Wide-eyed suckers whose dreams serve as tasty fuel for the soulless corporate machine.
Stratosphere: A space word.