The final work may change, but here is a piece from what I have of Zombie Gras so far:
I was here in New Orleans when the infection began to spread. It was during Mardi Gras, which made things rather confusing. Throngs of people, costumed and inebriated, create a surreal environment to begin with. Combine that with a zombie outbreak, and you have a recipe for utter madness.
This was before cities all became colorless, barren landscapes that looked the same. New Orleans still had character; it was a city filled with street performers, music, and revelry that consistently bordered upon joyful debauchery. Visitors typically left the city knowing that they had had a great time, but any recollection beyond that tended to be hazy. And this was amplified one hundred fold during Mardi Gras.
It was evening, and my girlfriend and I were at the Endymion parade. The crowds along the streets of mid-city were elaborately costumed and in good spirits. There was a chill in the air, but alcohol was keeping us all warm and contented.
Adrienne, my girlfriend, in her hand-crafted green pixie costume, returned from retrieving another beer from the ice chest and lay her hand on my elbow, pulling me down so that she could speak into my ear. Music and the gleeful screams of the crowd made hearing one another all but impossible. I couldn't make out what she was saying to me, but I nodded and smiled, feeling comfortable and fuzzy from the alcohol.
Another colorful and ornate float was proceeding down the street, and I stepped up to the curb to wave my hands and shout "Throw me something, Mister!" along with everyone else. I knew full well that I had absolutely no use for beads, doubloons, or plastic cups, but I was swept up in the ritual nonetheless.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some commotion occurring across the street. It looked like it was probably a scuffle; a crowd of people had encircled the pair, ineffectually throwing arms in to try to pull them apart. Perhaps a fight had broken out over beads, or some man had demanded a glimpse of tits from another man's wife.
The float, with a blue gargoyle mounted to its front, passed in front of me, obscuring my view of the other side of the street. We all whooped and hollered to its masked riders.
After it had passed, I took a swig of beer and lazily returned my gaze to the other side of the street, expecting to find the disturbance resolved.
But when I looked again, things had become much worse. Several people appeared to be covered in blood, and it looked as though a man at the center of the disturbance was being repeatedly bitten by several of the people around him. Moreover, each of his limbs was being pulled by a different crazed looking individual; he looked as if he might be literally torn apart at any moment.
Dumbfounded, I dropped my beer and shook Adrienne's shoulder, trying to get her attention.
My eyes still locked on the spectacle happening across the street, I noticed that additional violent conflicts were beginning to crop up in pockets around the initial scuffle.
Maybe the alcohol played a part in it, but a terrible, warm tingling sensation washed over my entire body as it dawned on me that whatever this was wasn't an isolated incident. It was beginning to spread, and Adrienne and I might be in danger.
My eyes still trained on the mayhem unfolding across the street, I leaned down to Adrienne.
"We need to go." I said into her ear.
"What? Why?" she asked, confused.
I nodded my head toward the escalating turmoil and then took her hand, leading her through the crowd.
We began to make our way back to the car. About a block from the parade route, we saw a woman kneeling down on the sidewalk with a child.
"Are you okay?" Adrienne called out as we approached.
The woman lifted her head and turned to face us. There was blood all over her face, and chunks of gore were caked on her chin and neck. Behind her, the child's body lay gutted. It was difficult to be sure in that split second as the adrenaline began to pump through me, but I think the little girl's ribs were visible. A gleam of bone protruded from a bloody pool of entrails where the child's midsection should have been.
That was the moment when I realized there could no longer be any chance of misinterpretation. We were at a turning point, a horrible, life defining moment -- and it was very clear that things were well and truly fucked.
"Oh, shit." Adrienne said.
And then we were running. We ran to the car and got out of there as fast as we could.