Spanish moss hangs from terraces and latticework in long, delicate fingers, curling thickly in the oppressive and close heat of summer along the southern coast. The cobblestoned streets never go quiet, no matter what hour the night has advanced to, human feet and horses’ hooves and the creaking wheels of the carriages they pull a constant stippling of noise underneath the shouts and revels, the ululating chants from the darkest corners of the Quarter, the shouts of boatmen, pulling in to dock. It is a humid, lazy, beautiful melody the city sings under a fat strawberry moon, and if there are devils in the dark then they at least know how to sing too.
It’s almost enchanting enough – and that is the word, because there are enough mesmers and snake-charmers here to make a man forget his own name – to allow him to overlook the writhing depravity running through the corridors and alleys that connect street to street and street to sky.
New Orleans is the kind of place that can never be described.
There exists a certain air – heavy with spices, fish, and voices, sharp and soft – that is never found elsewhere, never captured perfectly in words. But as I said recently to a friend: is it not the purpose of art to capture that which cannot be caught? Art is the pursuit of perfection, at least, and there is no beaten path to the best of us. We like to think that prose cannot be poetry. That there exists some equator between straightforward sentences and the twisting, unbound fragments of thought.
New Orleans is the kind of place where no such lines exist.
And if you know New Orleans like I do – which, admittedly, is not very much, considering the depths of culture and history in spite of the high water table – you know there is no better home for this story, no better echo for the sense of purpose, justice, that plagues Walter Kovacs’s life. Here, there is a narration that is charnel candor only the dying can have, that numbs them from a fading world. And there is a certain fire that only the eternally dying possess; the power of purgatory, that puts them in such a state of everlasting desperation and determination that nothing exists beyond revenge for all that has led them to the end of the river.
However, this story is not reached without much grasping at ideas only vaguely formed in canon; as it should be in an Alternate Universe. And this fic is the most purebred of its kind, bred from the classic zombie and western AUs. This is an AU of an AU of an AU of Watchmen. So many degrees removed from canon, you might think this would also be the most distant, canon-ignorant of AUs. Not so.
Usually, AUs are creatures that can be enjoyed from many perspectives, including that of an outsider. But this work is not included in that ‘usually.’ Carrefour is a member of a shady society just as much as its characters are. Canon-Referencing AUs (CRAU) are a fascinating mix of new ideas and sly gestures back to the source material. And while it still holds up under the golden rule of AUs – that it change at least one vital element to the story, that it be different, that it be new – it is an old kind of new, in the same way that New Orleans often is. Where better to feature a voodoo zombie? And where better to make increasingly poignant references to canon while enjoying the undead? Although the story is separated from canon by a great distance distance and by over a hundred years and by many more ethereal powers, in some strange sense, it could all be a metaphor for events within canon. In short, this is a story that is beautiful for all, but is made for fans.
If you are one of those fans and you know the series, the ratings below should look very familiar to you. No one is ever satisfied, not in the mental or physical sense. It would not be Watchmen if it were not depressing as hell. Honestly, happiness here feels more unnatural than a resurrected corpse. Thus the mandatory high concentration of angst, with graphic violence and the kind of dirty work that is required for making a zombie of a living man. (However, all fingers are shown mercy.) And yet, despite the highly trying toll on mind, emotions, and general psyche, the work is amazing, astounding, the way that only haunted versions of beloved works can be.
Overall Rating: +++++
Read it here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/3886288
As you will notice when you click the link above, the quoted passage at the beginning is the first couple of paragraphs of the work. This is because there is no better piece of this piece to recommend. Nor, for that matter, any worse. The entire story reads as poetry, the most lovingly, achingly descriptive narration I have yet seen. And I believe that you only need a taste of the finest meal in order to be insurmountably tantalized to finish it. This work is by my favorite of Watchmen fanfiction writers. It is, in my opinion, their best piece, where the words flow like the Mississippi and sometimes are just as crushingly, immeasurably powerful.