2.8 HOURS LATER | LIVE EVENT
Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse….Nearly.
During a zombie apocalypse, it is best to avoid multi-story car parks. They are full of tight, angular staircases, blind corners, slippy ramps and dead ends (no pun intended!). Great for zombies. Bad for you. If you want to survive.
I know this because I've been there. At the end of October I traveled to London to play 2.8 Hours Later, a citywide Zombie chase game created by Slingshot. Playing the game is very simple. In its most basic form it's a game of 'Tig', and the Zombies are 'it'. If you are caught, then you become a zombie too.
It already sounds good, right? It gets better.
The game is played over an area of the host city. You start off by getting into groups of up to eight people. You are given a reflective armband, to show you are playing the game, and a map of the area you will be traversing. After a short and entertaining safety briefing ("the cops are not actors...rules of physics still apply...try not to break anything") your group is sent out into the world.
Your mission is to reach Resistance HQ without being caught by a Zombie. The catch is you don't know where the HQ is. In order to find out you have to seek out 'survivors' who are littered around the city. Each time you meet a survivor you are given a new map co-ordinate to try to find the next. Simple.
If a Zombie catches you then you are marked with a UV pen. You can continue playing the game, but ultimately you know you will become a Zombie yourself by the end of the night.
Our group got the nod to go and we bravely strode into the night. Then we realised the Zombies could be anywhere - behind walls or cars, lurking in an alley, hiding in a doorway. We quickly encountered our first survivors. First a weeping woman who assured us we were on the right path. The second introduced us to his recently bitten daughter, who spat up blood into the window she stood behind. She didn't have much time left and neither did we. Co-ordinates received, we huddled briefly over our map, fixed a route, and set off gingerly into the street.
Even though we knew it would happen, we weren't expecting the first Zombie attack! Suddenly a blood-curdling scream pierces the night and a gore covered Zombie launches himself from behind a car, splitting our group in two as we sprint for safety. We stopped to catch our breath and re-group. We had no idea if the others had survived, but we had to get to the next co-ordinates.
We re-routed and to our delight found our 'apocalyptic family' safe and well at the next stop. We stood outside a multistory car park. Shadows bounced off the walls inside, screams echoed off of the concrete walls. We had to go in. We joined another group of survivors and opted to take the ramps to the top – it seemed safer than the stairs. We creeped and shuffled, looking ahead and behind, sending out one or two ahead to get a better look. A survivor blasts out of a nearby stairwell with a (fast!) Zombie in hot pursuit. As we scatter in utter confusion the survivor trips and rolls over the concrete. He's a goner. People are running everywhere and we can only hope the slow and foolish will become our human shields. We also hope that that's not us!
We meet the survivor at the top, delighted about the successful acquisition of co-ordinates and then realize we now have to get back down. This time we hit the stairs. A line of us creep in single file down one side of the staircase, ready to turn on our heels at any moment. Suddenly the guy in front of me bottles it and I'm at the head of the queue. We spot a Zombie lurking at one of the doorways. We can't go back. Since it hadn't lunged itself at us yet we hoped maybe this one was a bit slow. There was nothing for it. Holding our breath we dashed down the stairs without looking back. Screams rang out behind us. Panicked footsteps echoed through the stairwell. We threw caution to the wind and bolted the rest of the way down and blasted out of the fire escape at the bottom.
We lost a few on that run…it paid to be at the head of the queue.
We battled on through the night encountering a chained up priest, a homeless man, a hen party, 'the butcher' and a mad professor. One of my favourite spots was the abandoned pub – not quite as safe as the Winchester.
They saved their fastest zombies for the final stretch. Our little group (now only of 4) spot a few Zombies lurking ahead. We notice another group of survivors turn down the lane behind us and decide to opt for 'safety in numbers'. It's too late. The Zombies advance quickly and we have to run for it. We scrape our way past and around the corner only to find four more waiting for us! Then another four around the next. There is utter confusion as people and zombies run all around. I get trapped in a Zombie pincer attack and BAM, I'm caught. I relinquish my hand for the tag. When it's done I have to run again. The zombies are everywhere but the end is in sight! One of our group survived that last attack.
On arriving at Resistance HQ we are met by officials in Hazmat suits who yell orders as they barrel us up the stairs. We are rushed into a small dark room where we present our hands to the 'official.' He scans over them and sounds an alarm as he realizes three of us are infected. In seconds we are whisked away to meet an army of people waiting to help us in our transformation. We emerge only moments later pale faced, dark eyed and dripping with blood. There is nothing the undead like better than to party! We step down into the 'Zombie Disco' where we dance till the small hours, and recount the tales of our journey with strangers.
Now let me remind you, this was out in public. We were playing in the streets with normal people trying to go about their business around us. Passers by looked puzzled and confused as they saw our groups trouping around, huddling around our maps, or running screaming from alleyways. Cars pulled over to ask us what was going on….and where they might be able to catch a glimpse of a Zombie.
The background noises from cars, sirens and the activity of the city only heightened the mood. There was a sense of 'danger lurking around every corner'. You knew it was only a game but you, your group, and everyone who played took it seriously. When you are sprinting as fast as you can with a screaming Zombie outstretched behind you, you feel genuine terror. When you are split up from your group you worry for their safety. Complete strangers become your best friends for those few hours.
Not all of us survived, but it was one hell of an experience!
Slingshot will be bringing 2.8 Hours Later to a number of cities throughout the UK during 2012 including both Glasgow and Edinburgh. They will be releasing dates for some cities by the end of January. Keep an eye on their website (http://www.2.8hourslater.com/) or their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/2.8HoursLater) for information on when tickets become available.
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