Once upon a time, Blas would have voiced loud complaint at yet another musty, unfamiliar room with flickering lights and limited exit options. Over the past few months, however, his standards had sunk. He was happy just to be allowed to stay near her somewhere away from obvious zombie threats.
Stacy stared at a glowing green screen and flicked through microfiches. Some of the permanently archived documents in Sable Engineering Building Z’s basement:
“Lordy Lordy, look who’s forty! Birthday party for Jack Wellington.”
“Instructions for proper use of the new breakroom microwave”
“Come to Building H to turn in your 5-inch floppy disks and pick up your new 3.5 inch ones”
Kramer looked out the window and to his phone, which was apparently attached to a drone monitoring the perimeter, but his red-eyed deerhound glared straight at her. Ethan insisted that Kramer and the deerhound were a stand-up guy and dog respectively, but geez, they were creepy. Kramer apparently didn’t have a first name, and he literally just called his dog “the deerhound.” Blas didn’t act like he thought they were creepy, but he did always happen to be between them and Stacy. If they were separated, he was between their midpoint and Stacy. She didn’t confirm his geometry with a protractor, but he had the general idea down.
She needed to find something interesting to merit the tremendous effort it took to get her in here, so she wrenched her eyes off of “The Deerhound” and back onto her microfiche machine.
“Profits are not faltering”
“New incentive bonus to encourage technological developments within the company”
“New business model means stalled profits are temporary”
“New upgrades to breakroom microwaves! They are now available only on the first floor!”
“Profits are skyrocketing. You just have to read the chart right.”
Stacy whipped the microfiche sheet out from the machine and slipped it back into the holder. Mutual Holdings Ltd. did not have its own headquarters. The documents had to be here. She thumbed through the sheets for something indicating the shadowy umbrella company.
“You tried the search terminal?” came a voice. Kramer stood above her, jerking his head towards an old computer. Together they found the plugs and got it booted up. Glowing green text appeared on the screen, and Stacy tapped her query on the keyboard.
Search Keyword: Mutual Holdings Ltd.
The addresses that came up took Stacy to what she was looking for.
“Pong – are video games the next big growth area?”
“Making a case for New Zealand Sheep futures”
“Investment opportunities in the world of SP-12”
Finally. Stacy felt the blood coursing through her veins. She skimmed the document. It boiled down to shotguns. Easy to use and effective. She checked the date – August 1978. She kept looking.
“Zombies can’t hide from a dog’s nose. Invest in the dog industry” January 1981
“What do we do with infected who aren’t completely turned? Demand for a new industry?” March 1981
Goosebumps rose up and down Stacy’s arms. This was still just evidence of savvy investing, but if there was foul play to be found, it was within arms reach. “This is it, Blas. We’re so close.”
“Presentation to Keith Hunter Sable II – Ensuring long-term market dominance” May 1981
It was a slide deck, but it looked to have been jumbled. Stacy hoped nothing important got lost.
The first slide came from the middle of the presentation. Creating new markets and dominating them as they form.
- Switch pressure on politicians – move away from universal gun ownership and towards universal dog ownership. Invest in dog certification and training
- Push vague, limited notion of zombie humanity – lobby against direct executions. Invest in “humane” zombie containment facilities at both high and low end of the market.
- Encourage federal safety patrol program – Mutual Holdings owned shotgun manufacturers bid on contract to supply weapons
Afterlife Care: Helping the dead live their best lives. It included a simple line art of a snarling zombie with decayed hand outstretched, a “plus” symbol, and a high rise hotel. Then an equals sign and a neat stack of dollar bills. The next slide included a picture of a zombie with an arrow pointing to a snarling dog.
- Constant threat of violence by dog facilitates division between infected and uninfected
- Dog response reinforces uninfected perception of infected as evil, dangerous
- Newly infected loses lifelong dog companion, emotional disarray facilitates isolation
Whatever fog was left in Stacy’s mind cleared. That was part of the design. Dogs were a tool not to protect humans from zombies, but to maintain division between healthy and zombified humans. This is it. You need to record this right away. She lifted her phone and started snapping pictures.
Naturally, beneath the bullets was the same stack of dollar bills, this one paired with a finger pointing at a sitting dog. The next slide indicated that shotgun sales would remain strong. Another slide described in explicit terms just the public relations campaign she saw on the VHS tapes.
- Encourage – a distinct point where humanity ends. “He went full zombie”
- Encourage – fear and distrust. “Zombies eat people”
- Discourage – concerted eradication. “Zombies will always be with us”
- Discourage – search for a cure. “Disease is incurable,” “zombies are too dangerous to study in research labs”
- A high-profile accident in an early cure trial could help set public opinion
Stacy took picture after picture of the scrambled slides until finally she came upon slide #1.
Man’s Best Friend, Zombie’s Worst Enemy
Leveraging SP-12 to drive targeted sector growth and maximize sustainable profit.
Mutual Holdings Ltd. May 24th, 1981
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