Man’s Best Friend, Zombie’s Worst Enemy Part 36

After his first day, Ethan felt more at peace. GMV campus was large enough that if he put his mind to it, he could forget it was surrounded by an electric fence. He could order whatever food he wanted delivered to the gate, and one of the GMV staff would pick it up to deliver to him. The staff were zombies just like the rest and had varying access to the facilities depending on their level of contribution, which was determined by non-zombie managers that ran the compound remotely. The pamphlets didn’t say all this, but his Internet access was unfettered, and there were plenty of reviews online. This facility boasted care for people in all stages of zombieism and had not had any violence since its founding twenty years ago. Mom and Dad had done their homework.

At the end of his second day, Ethan told the world about Julia’s nasty gossip habit. She would tell Ethan the worst thing she could learn about every one of her classmates and update him whenever she learned something worse. On the third day was breathing classes, and Ethan learned to think before he spoke. In anger, he could do nothing but grunt and growl, but when he had all his wits about him and took care, he could speak in complete sentences, almost like a normal human being. That evening he wrote about Julia’s phase where she changed dogs to suit her mood. He felt like whoever the slob was that married Cruella De Vil. God save us.

GMV called their pool The Natatorium, and Ethan swam laps, letting little Revenant paddle around in the shallow end. In the pool, he was just his body, which was a little achy but still did everything expected of it. No one expected him to talk, either, and he could briefly forget what he had become. On his blog he started writing about this one time when he asked Julia where she wanted to eat and she shrugged. Then he had to suggest places to her continued shrugs until she finally said “if that’s what you want” to their local burger shop. He deleted it and tried to think of another of what he was sure were a long string of stories to fit his new Disney villain image for his ex. When nothing came, he looked into her family. Surely the richest clan in Nevada had some skeletons he could unearth.

As it turned out, Sable Engineering was not much of a target for media attention. He went to their website, which made him wonder if it was a museum. On the front page was an ad for a new exhibit honoring the Sable family’s long history. Koji Sano invented the Sano Engine in 1805, and his great, great grandson was forced to change his name to Keith Hunter Sable to avoid the Japanese internment camps during world war II. The middle name was to ingratiate himself with his wife’s father Hunter, who led the internment process in the southwestern United States. The war was still going strong in 1940 when he had his son. In typical engineer fashion, he had found a name that worked and stuck with it.

Ethan scrolled through pages of Sano/Sable family history. He looked at a family history of Sano Engineering. Once a great warrior, Toru Sano retired to a plot of land awarded to him by his Daimyo and learned that he was a terrible farmer. When he gambled away the little land his family had, he committed seppuku in front of his wife Yuki and their young son Koji, leaving them to fend for themselves. Yuki convinced an American missionary to take her and her son to San Francisco to start anew. They brought nothing but what they could steal from their own home before the new owners could kick them out, including Toru’s katana, which was on display today in the exhibit outside Keith Sable’s office. Koji’s letters didn’t describe when, but at some point he added an inscription to the blade. 

名誉を与える最後の方法

It reads, “Meiyo o ataeru saigo no hōhō.” Roughly translated, “The last way to give honor.”

With the help of his impressive sword, Koji gained the attention of a metalworker and became his apprentice. Over their lifetimes, he and his son Shigeru opened a shop Sano & Son, and earned a total of one hundred and seventy three patents.  Under Shigeru’s son Koji Jr, the company earned eighty patents. Before his premature death of tuberculosis in 1862,  Koji III’s company won twenty five patents. Over a long and healthy life, Koji IV’s Sano Engineering won twenty seven. Koji IV didn’t even have children until the 1900s, and under Koji V and Takeshi Sano’s leadership the rate of invention inched back upward to fifty-four patents in the midst of WWII, during which time they became Keith Hunter and Tyler Sable. 

Ethan looked through the pictures of the Sano lineage as they became crisper and went from sepia to black and white. Each Koji took a white wife, and his children were a little lighter. By Koji V, The original’s dark olive skin and asiatic eyes were completely gone. Only his brown eyes and broad, flat nose remained, and only on close inspection. This family could pass for European descent if they wanted to because they were European descent. The name was the easiest thing to change. The history ended abruptly there, as if the last ninety years of Sable Engineering were of little interest.

Intrigued, Ethan searched more deeply into the Sable family. Corporate earnings reports for Sable Engineering were easy to look up. They had been in decline for decades, the company reporting losses for the last twelve years straight. How was the family so rich, then? Had they just accumulated so much wealth they could absorb that kind of downturn? For lack of anything better to do in his little compound, he manually combed through digitized government records for the name “Sable” and found a connection to a holdings firm called “Mutual Holdings Ltd.”

Ethan started again, going through government documents for mentions of ”Mutual Holdings Ltd.” The company started in 1956, but didn’t really grow until the late 1970s, around the time that the SP-12 “zombie” variant of lyme disease was beginning to grow rampant. Mutual Holdings venture funded and bought every zombie protection startup it could get its corporate hands on. When the approach of dogs for protection and hotels for quarantine established itself, it was the leading provider of training services and cozy places to put your infected loved one. It even held close to eighty percent of the companies that provided the supplies and labor to run Safety Patrol.

“Good lord,” Ethan muttered under his breath. He had just gotten a scoop. Stacy would be jealous. That was just icing on the cake, though. If it hurt Julia, that’s what mattered. He typed up his next blog entry. “How one family came to control the entire US zombie safety industry.”

Once more, the words poured out of Ethan on the page as they could no longer from his mouth. Before he knew it, he had written not a blog article but an expose. He stood and lifted Revenant in the air, spinning around the room before he went back to his study. He would have to break this up. Maybe he could release one snippet at a time and keep his readers interested with a trickle of information over weeks. This was so much better than picking on Julia for being an annoying girlfriend. He copied his story off to a Word document and wrote up a catchy summary.

No sooner did Ethan hit “post,” than somewhere, a web-crawler filter picked his story up. It fired an alert email to a man in thick glasses and blue jeans who pet his grey-brown pomeranian-great-dane mutt as he read it over. Then he forwarded it to a woman in a black suit with a white poodle, who sent it on to a man in a three-piece suit with an earpiece that seemed like a permanent fixture in his head. Geoffrey Geoffreys nudged his sleeping labrador retriever awake with his foot and they fast-walked through the halls of Sable Engineering headquarters. He sidestepped another man, who chased after him.

“Jeff, what’s going on?”

“It’s Julia again.” They veered past a column, the other man’s doberman keeping pace with the rest of them. “Her ex-boyfriend is trying to take the company down.”

Keith Hunter Sable IV, or Junior as he was called since his grandfather died, was his father’s son, but with a vicious streak that took more after the second in his line. He kept in top physical shape to make sure he’d always be able to chase Geoffrey Geoffreys around and intercept news on the way to his father.  “What does he know? How could he know anything? Julia doesn’t even know anything.”

Geoffrey Geoffreys adjusted his ponytail while he leapt the steps to Keith Hunter Sable III’s office. “He only knows public information. Stuff that’s been circulating for decades. Low concern, but your father wants to be kept up to date on his every move.”

Junior had all he needed. He stopped and called Leonora back to him. The huge doberman fell over trying to stop its momentum on the marble floor, and Junior was already on the phone by the time it made it back to him. “No, this isn’t about her. You can keep looking for her later. I need you to find Ethan. The old man is going to let him get away again, I know it. He should never have asked the photoshop team to make sure the fake picture would be easily detected. I need you to take care of it.”

Dane Bell, wearing a sweaty blue tank top, brought her seat out of recline position and blinked groggily. She still felt exhausted from her night staking out the Indian math teacher’s house and was getting frustrated at Julia’s skill at evading her. Tracking targets down was her least favorite part of the job. It seemed like an improper use of her skills. She could go into a zombie colony, shoot someone, and leave. She wasn’t a private eye. The money, Dane. That was the important part. She looked down at Walter sleeping curled in the passenger seat and reached out to pet him. He lifted his head and looked at her with glittering black ferret eyes, then yawned and went back to sleep.

Dane punched “Green Meadows Village” into her GPS, then added a waypoint to get some coffee.

Gray Paw Print Clip Art at Clker.com - vector clip art online, royalty free  & public domain

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By Sam Munk

Science fiction and Fantasy author with a focus on philosophical inquiry and character-driven drama.

1 comment

  1. So sorry I haven’t replied before now—we are at South Padre Island and I only have my phone. Can’t figure out how to provide detailed feedback via phone. (User error strikes again.)
    I think I recall one typo, and I would reduce the amount of detail about Sable family history.
    But I’d definitely keep the part about the ancestor committing suicide in front of his wige and som. And how she got them to the US. But I’d omit some of the detail about patents.
    This is another good one, suffice to say. I’ll offer more intelligent feedback next weekend.
    Leslie

    Sent from my iPhone

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