2. The Men Behind the Curtain

I’m not sure how Clément got the idea to make a zombie, but he surely came across these monsters in his meanderings around the world because he, too, is a creature of darkness. He certainly knew just where to go to get the infernal recipe. I was unfortunate in that he chose me as his victim, though I have known all along that he was my nemesis. It was a feeling I had from the first time I met him in Narita Airport upon my arrival in Tokyo.  It was odd that my father, who resided in Tokyo much of the year, had sent for me, since he’d spent all eighteen years of my life pretending I didn’t exist. I should have suspected something was up. Perhaps I didn’t want to believe that.

To me, Christian Orison is the collegiate young man in my mother’s old photos. Stiff-postured and well dressed, he is fair-haired, handsome, and he looks insufferably arrogant. This is the way I know of him. I also know of him through my mother’s broken heart and a drug habit that sent her to an early grave and me to a series of very formal boarding schools perched on the slopes of mountains or on desolate coasts. We have never met, this father and I. He is the bankroll behind many of the things I despise, and there is no way in hell I would have responded to his summons except for the perfect hook. Baiting a trap, I’ve come to discover, is one of my father’s talents. My lure was no less than an audition with Hiroshi Nakamura, a man I believed to be the greatest choreographer to have walked, danced, or glided upon the face of the planet. I sometimes wonder how the disinterested Christian, who knew so little about me, could have come up with so perfect a snare. Did he actually read the reports penned by my dutiful educators? Did he know about my successes in dance? I’m sure his spies were informed, even if he was not. In my heart, I think, there was a tiny place that hoped that he actually wanted to see me. Hope is a treacherous thing. It can make such a fool out of anyone. So, there I was at the Narita airport, exiting customs, staring at a white card with my name on it in English: “Erin Orison.” Naturally, my father was not there.