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What I learnt at Zombie School

Wow, I can’t believe it has been over a month since my last blog post! For anyone who has been anxiously awaiting an update I do apologise, and hopefully this epic post will make up for it! I have had such a hectic month, quite possibly the busiest month of my life in terms of socialising and work: a trip to visit family; a Snoop Dogg concert; 20 events to coordinate at work; two fundraising days for Marie Curie; a Fairytale Ball and most excitingly three separate zombie experiences! Probably a few other things along the way, but that’s what springs to mind right now. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will tell you about my zombie experiences…. in three separate posts in the hope that I don’t bore you to death! I’ll state now that I have written the blog posts pretty quickly in an effort to get them posted before the weekend is over (and I want to chill with a bottle of Bud before bed). The spelling and grammar may be off, but to be honest I’m just too exhausted to go through it all with a fine-toothed comb so I hope you’ll forgive me 🙂

Perhaps you recall my post earlier this year about 2.8 Hours Later: Asylum, the city wide zombie chase game? If you didn’t, or you’ve forgotten all about it then you can recap my post here. Well 2.8 Hours Later came to Newcastle this month. My first experience was Zombie School, yes that’s right, Zombie School! On arrival at Zombie School (in a real school might I add) my fellow classmates and I started with a briefing session where we learnt all about the game, the rules, the different types of zombies used in the game etc, etc. We also learnt that it was possible to fail zombie school… I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t the only person who looked a bit concerned at that point, I mean, imagine FAILING Zombie School, wow that would be embarrassing! Having never taken drama classes before or even practised my zombie roar I anxiously asked the people sitting around me if they had any experience… of course they did, they were both taking A-level Drama, that really had me worried!

After our briefing session we all trailed outside to the local park (public park might I add, and on a Saturday morning) where we were shown how to make a multitude of different zombie noises; squeals, groans, shrieks and anything else you can think of. We were taught, by one terrifying zombie (see here for a video), how to walk like a zombie, and not just one type of walk but at least five different styles of zombie walk – dragging one foot behind you, leading with one particular limb, sky-hook zombie (imagine you have a meat hook in your nose that is practically lifting you off the ground), the knock-kneed zombie, drunken stagger. But it didn’t stop there; we were shown how to sit or lie on the floor and how to get up off the floor like a zombie – very important in case you need a rest on the night as you must ALWAYS stay in zombie character unless it’s an emergency. We were shown how to turn around, how to start chasing people, how to safely chase and safely tag players, all the while being assessed on your zombie skills so that the organisers knew your strengths and could decide on where best to place you within the game. As mentioned, all of this was taught and practiced with an audience of passers-by. At that point I was so grateful that I was 20+ miles from home and didn’t know anyone in the area!

I’m pleased to say that my fellow classmates and I all passed zombie school, yay! Unfortunately we didn’t get a certificate, I’d quite like to hang something like that on my wall at home, but we did get a free ticket to play the game so beggars can’t be choosers as the saying goes. I signed up to my ‘zombie night’ and was on my merry way, anxious to play the game. After Zombie School I was a little apprehensive about being a zombie, as less than 90 minutes of practice had left me achy from using muscles that have never been used before, and a rather sore throat from all of the unworldly noises I’d been making.

To read about my experience of running away from the zombies please click here.

To read about my experiences as a zombie please click here.

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Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Ok, I might as well just put it out there straight away, I mean, you may have guessed by the heading anyway, but when I played the game I survived! Can you tell that I’m immensely proud of myself? No? Well I am. Very pleased too.

Feeling keen (well I was at least) my friend and I arrived at the start with half an hour to spare… waiting around for so long certainly added to the suspense and tension as we awaited our briefing, not to mention the need for a toilet break before we got going! Eventually we were led in to the briefing building as group of 8 – the two people in front of us and the group of four behind. Our first set of instructions set the scene; we were currently in a safe zone of a city that has been overrun by the living dead. Our mission was to leave the safe zone and explore the city for a supply of clean and safe water. To do this we were issued with a map with our first checkpoint highlighted. At each checkpoint we would need to hack a computer terminal to discover if water was available there, if not it would provide us with the grid reference to the next checkpoint. A member of the group was issued with a backpack to carry the water in and the rest of us were given instructions to protect the water carrier at all costs.

Our next set of instructions advised that we would encounter zombies along the way, which we were to avoid at all costs. Zombies are attracted to human voices and the sound of clapping, and we were informed that it is possible to sneak by them if you are very quiet and don’t run. If we were caught we would be marked on the hand by the zombie and could carry on with the mission. It was very important that the water was kept safe from the potentially infected, so if the water carrier was caught someone else would have to carry the backpack and the water. Once the water had been located we were to return to the safe zone as marked on the map, where we would find out whether those who had been caught were infected or not. It was all pretty simple really – go to the check point, hack the computer, don’t get caught, protect the water and return to the safe zone.

Fully briefed off we set off to find the first checkpoint. At this point my bladder was feeling particularly full and I was very anxious not to encounter a zombie until after a toilet break… just in case! The first set of toilets available was in the same location as the first check point, but of course you had to go through the building (and past the zombies) before you could get to the bathroom. Thankfully the first checkpoint was pretty tame, clearly to ease us in to the swing of things, and no accidents occurred!

Our second checkpoint seemed pretty tame to start with, a couple of zombies locked in a room but making loads of noise (see first section of video clip below) but on exiting the building we encountered the undead stalking the street ahead of us. As a group we began to slowly make our way forwards, until one got a little close and someone in the group panicked and began running which inevitably started the chase. All instructions forgotten, and self-preservation kicking in, I didn’t hesitate to sprint as fast as I could towards the end, at which point I turned around to watch my team mates come in safely behind me.

We managed to make it through four check points unscathed until we reached a viaduct where two zombies awaited their next snack. With their backs to us we began to slowly make our way through the passage until out of nowhere came another four zombies! Once again the self-preservation kicked in and I just ran… I didn’t look to see where my team mates were or whether they needed help, I just ran. At the end of the zone, helpfully marked out with traffic cones, we had an audience of approximately 30 locals who were lined up on the street having a few drinks and a good laugh at all these crazy people who had paid to get chased by other people (see the second section of the video clip below). It was in this short section where five of my team mates were caught… five! That was more than half the team, what the hell happened? Well, teamwork certainly didn’t! Oops.

Carrying on we made it through a few more checkpoints, wondering whether we had missed the vital water supply… particularly as we hadn’t even looked for it! Carrying on we could then see the BIG one (zone) in the distance. A huge car park on the quayside, (Spillers for any locals reading this) and what looked* to be at least 30 or 40 zombies stationed around it ready to eat the brains of any who wandered through…..shiiiiiiiiiiit! Not taking any chances we stopped at a nearby pub for a toilet break.

Arriving at the zone/checkpoint we received our instructions from a fellow survivor (actor). Clean, safe water was at the very end of the car park, but we would have to avoid the zombies first, and then avoid the corrupt SWAT team stationed in front of the water reservoir. There were two safe areas in the zone, both marked by blue barriers. We had to make it to the furthest barrier where another survivor would give us our instructions. Wanting to have my facts right, and also to satisfy my curiosity, I have just used a map to figure out the length of the zone, which was approximately 250 metres. Standing there, looking out on to the car park as other teams battled their way through, listening to the shouts and squeals at the other end of the car park as the SWAT team battled with zombies, it was pretty damn intimidating! (See the third and final section of the video below – it may not look intimidating in the video, but I promise you it was!)

Self-preservation kicked again… I saw two guys from another team wearing onesies and felt that my best chance of survival was to use them as a decoy (what a heartless bitch I am!) as what self-respecting zombie wouldn’t be attracted to a dragon or a Tigger onesie? The two guys split up and travelled up the opposite lengths of the car park. I kind of followed the guy on the left, whilst also sticking to the middle. Sure enough the zombies started going for him and I was able to spring right up the middle to the first safe area. Once I got to safety I turned back and suddenly remembered my fellow team mates once again! Half of the group were close behind me, but the other half of the group were still close to the start…oops!

Not hanging around as zombies were on the other side of our safe blue barrier, and my decoy onesie survivors were on the move again, I set off for the next safe point where we would receive our next set of instructions. This part of the zone felt like chaos, it seemed like there were zombies everywhere and by this point I had one hell of a stitch in my side. Close to safety I found myself very close to a zombie but I physically couldn’t push myself and harder, thankfully I didn’t have to as she didn’t get close enough to tag me…phew! At this point I was able to enjoy a lovely rest as I waited for the rest of my team mates… half close-by and half nowhere to be seen! I even made a video of the chaos (not displayed as very bad quality), it was only days later when I watched it back that I realised my decoy onesie survivors were still struggling to make it through long after (at least a minute or two…but a minute or two in that kind of situation feels like an eternity!) I had made it to safety. Clearly my plan for self-preservation worked a treat, and as the half of the group who were still with me had made it through by following my route it was a great success!

Our next set of instructions involved sending a volunteer out to collect the water, by climbing through a hole in a fence and back out again, whilst the others dodged the SWAT team. After making it this far there was NO WAY I was volunteering to collect the water (self-preservation!) so we let one of the group members who had already been caught take on that task…. it may have broken the rules slightly but we weren’t explicitly told that the volunteer had to be free of infection. Our volunteer took off in one direction and off we went in the other, quickly making it to safety.

After this we had only one more encounter; a long and narrow cycle path, with zombies lurking in the bushes along the way. We encountered a fellow survivor (actor) who informed us that we were very close to safety, we just had to make it a bit further along the path and we would find a set of steps on the right which would lead us to the back door. The survivor, well equipped with a riot shield, would show us the way. At this point I considered making a video of the last run to freedom, but then I thought better of it. I’d come all this way without even being caught, why risk it for a video? I should add at this point that somewhere along the way a sixth member of the team had been caught, so there were only two definite survivors. I’d also realised by this point that the person at the front seemed to be safest – the zombies could be quite slow in reacting to human noise so if you were at the front the chances were you would get past them before they were fully ‘alert’ and they’d go for those in the middle of the group.

Off we set with our riot-shield-carrying survivor when out of nowhere (ok, a bush) comes the very zombie who taught us at Zombie School (see here for a clip of him in action!). Our survivor holds him off with the riot shield and tells us to run… I didn’t hesitate for a second – I’d seen this guy move at Zombie School, he was bloody fast and bloody scary, so I sprinted, quite possibly the fastest sprint in my entire life, dodging other zombies as they emerged from other bushes… to safety.

Aaaah, safety, no more zombies, no risk of being caught…. I could finally relax, knowing that I DO have a chance of surviving a zombie apocalypse!

The end result

The end result

 

With the 2.8 Hours Later Zombieboss at the Zombie Disco

With the 2.8 Hours Later Zombieboss at the Zombie Disco

 

 

 

 

 

*After being a zombie a week later in this very zone I would say the more accurate number would be between 15 and 20, but whilst playing the game this looked like a LOT more!

To read about Zombie School please click here.

To read about my experiences as a zombie please click here.

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Naughty kitty steals the coffee!

Our eldest (pet/child) Zak steals the cold dregs of hubby’s morning coffee. The cat has no shame at all, absolutely none. When the mood takes him he will happily try and swipe the food off your plate whilst you’re eating, so this should really come as no surprise. Our only concern is how long has he been doing this, and is it only to cold coffee?!

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Why do I do this to myself?

Ouch, ouch, ouch! My triceps are KILLING me! Seriously, it hurts to put my coat on, it even hurts lifting a mug of tea so that I can have a drink. Why am I in so much pain? Well it’s all self-inflicted. I finally took the plunge and tried out a Les Mills Body Pump class last week, (on Wednesday might I add, as I write this it is Sunday). Don’t get me wrong, it was fun and there was a great atmosphere in the class, but it was hard, really hard.

If you have no idea what Body Pump is, check out the video below.

On Thursday my arms were fine, I even felt a little smug about it, but the fronts of my thighs, (or the quads for anyone fitness minded…. I had to look it up on Google to be sure I was using the right name!) were pretty stiff and painful. On Friday I felt fine, totally fine. Then yesterday I woke up and the pain had set in in my arms…. I hadn’t escaped. The smug feeling from Thursday was well and truly over and self pity set in. I really hoped it would have magically disappeared over night and my arms would be back to normal today, but nope, that was just wishful thinking on my part.

Would I go back and torture myself again? Yes indeed I would, I mean, if I can’t cope with a few exercise classes now, how will I ever make it to Machu Picchu, right? So I’m booked in for another class tomorrow night – bring it on! 

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Who’s scared of zombies? Not me!

I don’t know about you, but for me pay day could not come quick enough this month. January always seems to drag on forever, and since I get paid early in December, waiting for pay day is like waiting for Christmas when you’re a kid. I’ve had loads to sort out this month: paying off the credit card after buying some lovely new hiking boots in the January sales (obviously a necessity for my upcoming adventure!); hotels, flights and train tickets for my birthday celebrations; vets bill for the devil kitten (neutered so she can explore the big world outside the window); and tickets to take part in what looks like the most exciting interactive game I have ever seen that is available in the UK!

2.8 Hours Later: Asylum

Simon Evans, who co-founded 2.8 Hours Later, describes the game as becoming a character in your very own horror film. 

The lines between reality and game are constantly blurred and broken, and hearts genuinely do get pumping and minds start racing.

Now, maybe I’m not quite right in the head…. but when I watch that trailer and read that description I just can’t wait for the games to begin! I’ve always loved a good horror film, and although I have no desire to be in a real-life horror film situation, I think it’ll be great fun playing the game. Plus, as an avid viewer of The Walking Dead (hands down the BEST TV show out there as far as I’m concerned) I’ve often wondered whether I would survive a Zombie Apocalypse, or Zombocalypse (it’s a real word, I saw it on the internet somewhere which obviously means it’s real!) and isn’t this the safest way to find out? I mean, I’d hate to have to wait until it actually happened to find out how good/bad my survival skills are, so this will be a good test, and like any good test it will highlight my strengths and weaknesses so I know what areas I need to work on. See, it’s not about having fun, it’s all about personal development and survival…..honestly!

In addition to playing the game and being chased around by zombies, I also want to volunteer to be one of the infected, so I get to chase other people (yep, I have a mean streak!). To do this you must first go to Zombie School (if you are lucky enough to be accepted) which I have to say looks like great fun…

As soon as they start accepting applications for my local city I will be registering my interest to be a zombie, just keep your fingers crossed for me that I get in!