So a week after I survived the zombie apocalypse, it was MY turn to be the zombie and hunt down those pesky little humans running around. I arrived at Zombie HQ on my own (I didn’t volunteer with anyone, and this worked out quite well as I saw a lot of groups/friends/couples being split up), feeling a little nervous, and hoping to get a ‘nice, easy role’ as I was still feeling the aches in my legs from playing the game and I didn’t fancy any more of that thank you very much. I got chatting with a few people in the queue as I waited to check in, they had already volunteered the night before so were able to tell me what I could expect.
On check-in I learnt that I wasn’t going to have an easy night. Oh no, I was going to be put to work as a type 2 zombie (fast, think World War Z) in the largest zone of the game, zone 9 (Spillers) which I had already identified as the hardest part of the game when I played it as a survivor the week before. As our zone was towards the end of the route we were the last group to be briefed (a short replay of Zombie School), warmed up and sent to costume and make-up. Make-up was quite fun, first off we were covered in white face paint with a bit of black to hollow out the face and the eyes, and then splattered with fake blood. The end result looked pretty good I thought…
Once ready we boarded the bus and were deposited at our location where we checked the area to ensure it was safe, i.e. no broken bottles or piles of dog mess to fall in to, did a warm up of the body and the vocal chords and got ourselves in to position ready for the first group of victims survivors.
As a fast zombie I was armed with a pen to mark anyone I caught in the hope that they would then be infected. I felt a lot of pressure at this point – what if I didn’t catch anyone?! I was stationed at the very last stretch across the car park, maybe 50 – 75 metres from safety… hoping that players would be exhausted by the time they got to me, and hopefully easier to catch!
The first couple of groups got through ok, a little bit of intimidation and chase but no one was caught I don’t think. I was definitely a bit nervous to start with, I don’t know about my fellow zombies, so I felt it took me a few times to get in to the swing of things. It was hard being the chaser on the last stretch as I constantly found myself at the ‘safety zone’ just as I was getting up to speed, so I’d have to back off and turn around… and boy was it a long zombie stagger back to my original position!
I don’t want to go in to too much detail and give away any valuable information on how to survive as there are still games to be played in other cities and we don’t want to give any players the upper hand! But, after a while I did develop a tactic which helped me. As the players ran across the car park and began to get close to being level with me I would start hobbling towards them, slowly gaining momentum until they were level with me and would then break out in to an all out sprint… I caught a lot of people off guard, helping me to catch at least 10 people (I didn’t keep an exact count as it was all too busy and crazy to be keeping numbers in my head). As someone who was a bit chubby at school and was never one for sports or athletics I can’t describe how great it was to hear some of the players remark at how fast I was, it was quite hard to stay in character whilst you’re trying not to smile with self-satisfaction. It was funny to see some people who clearly thought they were running as fast as they could and then realised I was right behind them, all of a sudden the adrenaline would kick in and they found a new high speed – it was great to watch! In some ways that was better than actually catching players, as the game is all about getting the adrenaline flowing and trying to survive – but I couldn’t let everyone slip through like that, what about my ego?!
If I’d thought it was hard work surviving the apocalypse the week before, that was nothing compared to being one of the zombies. The area I was in was by far the hardest zone to get through as a player (at least in my experience as a player) so to spend three hours in that zone chasing hundreds of people (fair enough it wasn’t the whole length of the zone) over and over again was exhausting. There were a few times I chased people to the edge of the safe zone and would turn around to drag/stagger/hobble my way back to my starting position (and my bottle of water!) ready for a nice lie down on the floor and a little rest, only to find more groups entering the zone – no rest for the wicked I suppose!
As it began to get dark we were told that the last group had made it through and we would soon be back on the bus and headed to the zombie disco. I was shocked to see that it was nearly 11pm and we had been on the go for nearly three hours, but I was definitely ready to sit down and chill out! After de-briefing, returning costumes etc my fellow zone zombies and I made our way to the zombie disco. At the entrance to the disco we bumped in to a player who recognised us from our zone and informed me that loads of players had been talking about the fast blonde zombie at the end, and that they thought I must’ve caught the most people. I have no idea how accurate that is, and I doubt I caught the most people, but nonetheless I was absolutely thrilled to be described in such a way!
On arrival at the zombie disco I was hyper, but one quick drink and a sit down and I realised how exhausted I was! Would I do it again? Definitely… both as a runner and as a player. Bring on 2015!
To read all about Zombie School please click here.
To read about my experience of running away from the zombies please click here.