Monday, March 23, 2020

Quest, a Seven Cows sequel: 1.1 East India Company

Steve Straeder chased the wagon south. Pulled by two horses and trailing a third, the lightweight wagon moved an honest 27 miles every six hours. The horses had been chosen for their speedy walk.

Steve’s anger warmed him as he walked, flaring like heat-lightning on the horizon of a hot, summer evening. That, and the fact that his fastest walk was nearly one mile per hour slower than the wagon. He walked until the wagon was a couple hundred yards ahead. Then he caught up by running a quarter-mile.

The original plan had been for the travelers alternate the drag position on-the-hour. Then everything went sideways.


Chernovsky visited the Straeders on the third day of Steve’s return. Chernovsky had been very interested...and alarmed over the resurgence in Ebola.

In short order, Chernovsky shared the news with Wilder, Salazar and a few others. They convened a war counsel in the back room of Gabby’s Pub to determine what, if anything could be done.

Both John Wilder and Dr. Samantha Wilder attended the war counsel.

After letting the men wrestle with the fear and the denial for better than an hour, Sam banged her mug on the table.

“I hesitate to mention this, but I was following the development of vaccinations in my last job.” Sam said.

“We all were.” Wade Hawk said, sourly.

“The difference is that you were listening to CNN while I had access to what was really going on.” Samantha said. “CNN watered down the news and, in fact, were not privy to most of the research going on. Heck, the main stream media had proven they could not even do simple division with a calculator. Do you think we were going to tell them about injecting people with Frankenstein DNA?”

“So you are telling me there is a lab with vaccine somewhere?” Hawk demanded.

“No, I am telling you that when things shredded there were labs close enough to a vaccine that there were experimental trials.” Sam said. “The CDC was on its ass so the trials were...well, more casual than pre-Ebola.”

“Don’t do us any good, even if they found a vaccine.” Hawk said dismissively. “Ain’t no factories to make vaccine anyway.”

“You don’t understand. Vaccines are biologicals. If you can brew beer or hatch eggs, you potentially have enough technology to make vaccine.” Sam said.

That piqued everybody’s interest.

“Where was the closest trial that you think was far enough along to be worth visiting?” Shadrack Shaw asked. At just-turned-17 he was by far the youngest person in attendance. He was also a natural-born entrepreneur.

Sam anticipated that question. “Ames, Iowa. There was a team that had injected viral material into bacteria and it expressed on the bacteria’s cell walls.”

Hawk snorted in derision. “Might as well be the moon.”

Shaw pressed. “So the vaccine exists as a strain of bacteria?”

“If, and that is a big if, the modified bacteria still exists and any of the scientists from the team are still might be possible to use the bacteria for some kind of vaccination.” Dr Sam equivocated.

Hawk had run out of patience. “So you are telling us that there might be a germ that might be a vaccine that might still exist in Iowa...what, 600 miles away.”

“Stop wasting our time. We are barely able to scrape by, much less bop on down to Iowa to chit-chat with your buddies and pick up germ soup.” Hawk said.

The meeting broke up although a few of the participants stayed in the back room at Gabby’s Pub.

Shaw, Chernovsky, both of the Wilders and Salazar stayed. They held a second, smaller private meeting.

John Wilder, Dr Sam’s husband started the conversation by noting that the East India Company was the historical antecedent to the modern corporation. It was created as a way to dilute the risk of ventures exactly like a trip to Iowa in post-Ebola America.

Like Dr. Sam, he had been blessed with time to think about the problem and the outline of a solution had crystallized in his brain.

“How did the East India Company work?” Chernovsky got right down to the basics.

“Investors pooled resources” Wilder said. “A trip to the far East was so lucrative that even if two ventures failed, the third one could be successful and pay for the losses of the previous two AND provide a tidy profit to boot.”

“Before the East India Company developed the concept of shares, two shipping companies would go bankrupt for every one that was successful. There weren’t enough companies to sustain that rate of failure” Wilder said.

“I’m in” Shadrack Shaw said.

Dr Sam looked at John and nodded. “We are in” John said.

“I am spread pretty thin, but I will do what I can” Chernovsky said.

“The question, though, is what does a modern East India Company to Iowa look like?” Salazar said. “I don’t have the kind of money you have, but I can operate as the general partner and put together a plan.”

“You are going to have to hustle. It will be December in a few days” Shaw pointed out the obvious.

“Every plan has a Who, a What, a How, a Where, a Why and a When” Salazar said. “The most important part is the “Who” because they have to be comfortable with the other Ws and the H.”

“Before we break for tonight, I need a short list of possible ‘Who’s” Salazar said.


***Note to my Readers***
 I decided that keeping you entertained was more important than protecting my delicate ego. I launch into this story much like we live life. I don't have a grand outline beyond a few over-arching needs. One situation will naturally avalanche into the next. As the writer, I will be as surprised by events as you are although my surprise will happen one-or-two days before you read the piece.

Given that I will be living hand-to-mouth with this story, and that peak gardening season is approaching, I want you to expect air-bubbles in the story.

We all have our priorities, right?


  1. Glad to see more. BTW, doesn't seem to bear on this arc, but earlier when you had your characters looking to establish a textile industry, specifically wool, did you ever consider having them also do hemp? Beniccio probably has contacts with experience growing ditch weed, and wouldn't selecting for fiber production be easier than THC content?

  2. SO very glad to see some story come back ! I don't know if Reality is too crazy or if you have a crystal ball and only the virus name has been changed. Still always great reading

  3. Surprises, gaps, this way, thata way, I cant wait.
    Thank you sir.

  4. As you have time, sir.... As you hev time

    Thank You!

  5. Hey, just glad to have the folks back on any terms.

  6. Long time reader, first time with most things, I think you're only getting feedback from the vocal few. Extrapolating to those of use who "lurk", you're keeping thousands entertained. Very much appreciated.

  7. YOU are the writer and the boss of the story. I have read quite a lot of your work, and never been disappointed. sure, you could use an editor but I cannot talk- if I could write like you, I would not be reading your work. Keep up the excellent writing.
    P.S.- I am currently reading Seven Cows, the book. Two thumbs up !

  8. do I have to go to Amazon to get your books? are they on audio?

    1. For the time being, the only book that is in print is the first one, Seven Cows: Pandemic, resilience, hope.

      If you get the Kindle version there are apps available that can perform text-to-speech. I don't know enough about the various options but you can start here:

      Thanks for asking!


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