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Interactive Case #3: Born on the Bayou (Part 1)

Our third interactive case introduces us to the wonderful world of zombies. As you will see, zombie plagues are decidedly different from the vampire outbreaks you've dealt with so far. Sure, they're not as clever as vampires, but zombies are trickier than generally thought and especially hard to kill. This time, you will be working in a supervisory role, so your human resources skills will need to be as sharp as your zombie-fighting.

Date: January 24, 1965
Place: The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, New Orleans Office

Background: The packet is on the doorstep of your Portland, Maine, home when you go out to get the newspaper in the morning. Inside is a one-way plane ticket to New Orleans along with some cryptic mention of your services being needed in the Big Easy. You wish there was more information, but when the letterhead bears the insignia of the FVZA, you don't ask questions. So you pack a bag and stop in at the FVZA office in Portland to say goodbye to your fellow agents and pick up your treasured samurai sword. At the airport, you reflect back on your 10 years hunting vampires and zombies in New England. You had hoped to retire there, but it seems that the Agency has other plans.

Rain and an overly-friendly 24-year-old named Chris Folan meet you at the airport in New Orleans. Folan turns out to be the rookie agent who's been given the unenviable task of getting you up to speed on the situation. It seems that a zombie plague has had New Orleans in a stranglehold for the past month. In the previous week alone, two agents were killed by zombies and two others fled for the relative safety of the police department. The rest of the staff is burned out and it's going to be your job to restore their enthusiasm. Mardi Gras is only a week away, and the governor wants results. So no pressure.

New Orleans HQ,
St. Charles Ave.
The Case: After you drop your bags at your new place, a first floor walk-up off Pirate's Alley, Folan takes you to the FVZA office on St. Charles Ave. You arrive just after five and are surprised to find that everyone's gone home. In Portland, no one left before seven. Just as well. You can bury yourself in incident reports and get a head start on tomorrow. You plow through a stack of reports until your eyes ache, and then you put your head down for a little nap. A phone call jolts you awake at 11:15. It's a cop telling you that New Orleans police cornered a zombie on the campus of nearby Tulane University. Apparently, the cops shot the zombie several times before it disappeared into nearby Audubon Park. Damn police! They're not supposed to engage zombies. Now the zombie is wounded, and a wounded zombie is unpredictable and you don't like unpredictable. You tell the cop you'll be right there, and then you hang up and call Folan to come get you.

Your mood hardly brightens when Folan tells you he's never actually gone on a zombie call. But maybe that's good news: he'd only get in the way. Besides, you've wasted enough zombies for five people. You arrive on the scene to find police cars, flashing lights and a crowd of college students. Several of the assembled gawkers snicker when you unsheath your samurai sword, but that's OK. Some agents like flamethrowers, some like grenade launchers, but it's the sword for you. It's quiet, never jams and it makes it easier to identify the zombie once you waste it.

The crime scene,
the day after
Tracking the zombie into the park doesn't take long. The rain-softened ground makes it easy to follow the zombie's characteristic dragging footprints. After about an hour of tracking, you corner the groaning creature next to a swamp, and when it comes crashing out of the underbrush, you behead it with one swing of your sword. Folan retches into a bush as the zombie's headless torso staggers around blindly, its neck squirting thick tarry zombie blood. As much as you hate zombies, you can't help but admire their dogged will to live. Three more swipes of the sword and it's over: you could fit the remains into a suitcase. You pause to look the thing over. It's a male, early twenties, without a stitch of clothing on. No clothes, no shoes, no socks. Must have been attacked while sleeping. As you kick the remains around with your foot, you discover a big bite wound on the inside of the left thigh. The relative lack of decomposition tells you this one's fresh, probably only one or two days old. Should be easy to identify, you think, as you wipe off your sword on some swamp moss.

Maybe it's the excitement of the kill, or the drunken fight in the next apartment, or the jazz music drifting into your room from nearby Bourbon Street, but you don't sleep much. You rise with the sun, score some coffee with chicory at Cafe du Monde and head over to the office. The six remaining New Orleans agents start shuffling in around 9:00. Once they are all assembled, you introduce yourself and recount the events of last night, almost breathless with excitement. But you're a little surprised when your story is met with indifference. "Welcome to New Orleans," one agent says, with a shrug, and heads off to the coffee machine. The others begin to disperse. Feeling a little prickly, you raise your voice and say, "I think we need to investigate this one."

All six agents look at you as if you suggested everyone pour honey down their pants and go sit on an ant hill. And then, one by one, the agents beg off with vague excuses. Folan, the rookie, looks at you expectantly. It's obvious you've reached a crux.

What's your move?
(Click the number corresponding to your choice)

Read the riot act to these deadbeats. They've obviously become accustomed to slacking off and need to have a fire lit under them. You've got to show them that things are going to be different under your watch.

Play genial. Offer to take them out for breakfast. Once there, pick their brains and listen to their gripes. After a few cups of coffee and a dozen beignets, they'll be more receptive when you suggest heading over to Tulane to proceed with the investigation.

Relax, man. This is a fight you can't win. Let the agents go about their business while you start the investigation by yourself. You don't want to alienate the team on your very first day.

Go to Part II of the investigation.

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