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3 Sep 2012

2.8 Hours Later/Zombie Apocalypse Training

Sorry it's taken me a while to get this up and posted.  Summer ended up with me having tons to talk about on Mondays.  Inspiring settings, writing, books reviews etc.  And I've been away twice this summer around England so that took away a couple of week's blogging.  This could probably fit into a Halloween post but I have to gush about 2.8 Hours later now.  Seriously, it was one of the best and nerdy things I've ever done (Number One involves going to a midnight showing of Back to The Future re-released in cinemas).

So if you haven't heard of 2.8 Hours later the name stems from the British zombie flicks 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks later.  It's basically a zombie LARP (Live Action Role Play) where you are put in groups, given a map and have to go around the hosting city centre to find the safe HQ.  Whilst finding HQ you come across survivors who give you co-ordinations on your maps.  This just keeps sending you to survivor to survivor until HQ is reached.

Only one problem... around every survivor and on the way to different locations are zombie hordes and you have to dash past them.  Basically it turns into a game of tag.  Zombies run after you and if you're tagged they mark you with a pen.  That's an infection.

I can NOT stress how AWESOME THIS WAS!!!!

Unfortunately my phone ran out of memory just before we even started but two people me and Pete grouped with took photos.  In the end I realised it would have been annoying to have a camera on all the time when I'm running away.  But next year I'm seriously considering a headset camera. I really wanted to show you all what it was like experiencing it.

The event got me in a zombie writing mood and I've been jotting down ideas since July.

You really get into tactics and survival mode.  You're walking down streets, slowing down at every corner and freezing at every sound.  When it first began we were heading towards a car park.  No zombies in sight.  And we started hearing this rustling in the bushes.  Well, we thought there was rustling.  The boys (Pete and Andy) were in front of me and Alex.  I was checking behind one bush and the boys were checking behind another.  Nothing.  But as soon as we heard rustling our hearts stopped and we were crouching down behind a bush, trying to be as silent as possible.  Nothing.  So we kept forward and that's when we saw the first zombie rolling around in the car park.  Then we saw another.  They hadn't seen us so we ran to the nearest car and hid.  We're practically running and bending down behind things at the same time.  We also kinda cheated and went around the car park to meet the first survivor.

First zombie horde avoided.  Way to go us!

Our second locations took us to an empty shopping centre.  This time is wasn't possible to dodge the zombies.  There was only one way to get to the survivor: (These are all Andy's photos.  I still hadn't worked out to delete photos I didn't want... after two months of having it ><)

Now these zombies were part of the slow, shuffling type.  But this is where I unfortunately got tagged and was thus the first to be infected... damn. >< By a slow, shuffling zombie.  Shame on me.
This was our first scenario that had us dashing around zombies frantically.  The survivor would only tell us the location if we got her sweeties for her diabetes.  So it was a case of dodging zombies as we ran, practically leaping down the escalator to the ground floor and dodging more zombies as we grabbed some sweeties from the box.  Back up the escalator, dodging zombies - pretending to go one way but going the other to confuse them.  Acting as bait to get all our group through... although not something I'd recommend during an actual zombie apocalypse.  But I guess I thought: well, I'm infected already.  What have I got to lose?

We were sent down the staircase to the emergency fire door.  A group had already gone straight down before us so this is where our paranoia set in.  We quietly went down the stairs, listening for any footsteps, peeking over the edges to see if we could spot a zombie in green scrubs.  We stopped on the stairs for a second now that we were out of the way of the shopping centre zombies to find the location on our maps.

Then me and Alex practically had heart attacks.

There was a slam.  Rattling, like someone was trying to get in.

Or already had...

The boys hadn't even noticed so us two girls did the biggest no-no in horror history.

We started creeping down the stairs to explore the strange, rattling noise.  I'm already getting prepared to run upstairs.

Run upstairs... bloody hell, haven't I learned anything from horror films?

Luckily it was only the door rattling after the last group left the building.  Andy can already see a zombie lurking in the distance outside and we slowly walked outside, peeking out first to check where the zombie is.

Turns out... not one zombie.  There's a small horde down Lands Lane and of course it's in the direction we need to go so there's no way of avoiding them.  Pete of course decided that he was going to run down one of the arcades and ended up facing a zombie hen party.  Me, Andy, and Alex decided that the only way was to leg it.  And we did. 

Unfortunately these zombies were the fast ones.  Alex was chased by one zombie that could have been a match for Usain Bolt and was caught.  And then the bloody zombie kept going for me! I got tagged (the bugger was speedy) and infected for a second time.  Definitely no chance of being a survivor now.

There was no way to avoid these zombies.  There were about five or six of them and just three of us (Pete had run down the arcade at this point!).  Our survival instincts told us there was no way to dodge.  No where to hide behind.  We could only run.

Now this wouldn't happen in a zombie apocalypse but after running around like headless chickens in the shopping centre and now around Lands Lane we were parched.  So we stopped at Tesco for drinks and a quick break to get our breaths back and quickly check the map again to see if we all got the right co-ordinations.  The next location was only a street away and we made our way down a dark side street with quite a few skips placed around.  Perfect for any zombie who was hiding. 

Again we were walking down cautiously.  I crept a few people out by asking if they saw any zombies ahead of us.  Well, I had to make sure!

And we came to our next location. (Picture from Wikipedia)

Why the creepy, dark church?? WHY???

So we had to wait outside while the group in front of us searched for the survivor and experienced any other horrors that we were expecting.  Outside the church there was a small memorial set out.  People who had mysteriously disappeared at what I'm assuming was supposed to be the start of the zombie apocalypse.

So while we waited: Picture time!

When we got into the church it was dark.  No light at all except for the little rays that crept through gaps in the stained glass windows.  We stayed at the door while our eyes adjusted to the darkness, looking around for any signs of zombies creeping around.  We ducked down behind the pew and crawled through them on our hands and knees.  Occasionally our heads popped up to see if there were any zombies.  Nothing.
Then we heard chains.  Somebody moaned.  We all froze and I bravely peeked over near the altar where I could see the dark silhouette of somebody moving about.  Well, he wasn't in scrubs so we all creeped a little closer.  It was an elderly man chained to the altar and he spoke when he saw us. 
We went over, looking everywhere.  Behind pews.  Up in the balcony.  Nothing.  It was just us and the elderly man.  He groaned a lot, shuffling and twitching.  Begged us to free him.  But we knew the rules.
Was there a reason he was chained up? We couldn't risk setting him free.
The occasional snarling confirmed that it would be too dangerous.  But he would only tell us the next co-ordinates if we set him free.  It was time to start negotiating because there was no way we would free him.  Sorry, mate, but if you're growling and snapping at us... we won't take it as a good sign.
We made a deal with him.  We'd get his friends to come back for him when we got to the HQ.  So he finally gave us the co-ordinates and we dashed out of the church.
Our next co-ordinates took us all the way back we came from... straight to the zombie hen party.
Now this was quite amusing for passers-by who had stopped to watch. 
The hen party stood in a line.  Mascara down their faces.  Beers in hand.  They staggered and wobbled on their heels, gawping with their blank looks.  They waited.
And about 2 different groups were already standing there.  Then our group arrived.  And we all ended up standing there and gesturing each other to go first.  Another rule: never volunteer to be first.  Firsts always die.
The zombie hen party were staggering closer and closer.  So we all agreed to go all together and people stood around watching all these young adults getting ready to race past the hen party... it took us a couple of tries.  None of us really moved after 1,2,3... go! the first couple of times.  Finally we all ran for it, dodging past the zombie hen party who spat their beer at us and we made it to the next survivor. 
Kirkgate market was the next location.  Empty stalls.  A maze of aisles.  We walked down slowly, stopping at each stall to glimpse down the aisle, expecting zombies to be lurking around the empty market.
Instead we came across this guy:

A grumpy, blood covered butcher who made us recite the alphabet to get the first part of the co-ordinates.  He sent us straight out to the outdoor market stalls where the zombies were lurking.  Here's another rule in a zombie apocalypse:

Don't run off on your own.  Stay running with the crowds at all times.  The zombies tend to go for the ones who went running off on their own.  Easy target.

This marked my third infection.  I wasn't very good at this surviving business.

There was only one way out.  I was dodging through the stalls, hoping the zombies near the exit would concentrate on everyone else who had the sense to stick together.  Unfortunately he saw me coming and I sprinted back to the group.  Maybe if I was in a group I'd have a better chance of getting past this guy. 

Yeah, right.  The exit was this tiny little gap between fences and this zombie had parked himself right in the middle, arms wide open and ready to tag. Another rule... zombies might cheat!

We all ended up tagged.  Hello infection number four.  There was no way I'd survive this.

Quick break to pose for a picture. Don't recommend this in a zombie apocalypse.
The cheating zombie is in the background.  He kindly posed for this pic ^^

Our next stop was the Dark Arches and this is where we were slowly coming towards the end of our trek!

Our next survivor was another rude guy who didn't seem to like anyone infected.  Understandable but I was worried what he was going to do with those who admitted they were.  So I lied and said 'no'.  Not doing that again.  Apart from another girl everyone else told the truth and were sent back.  Me and this girl were practically thrown into the back of his van where a woman sat, screaming and tied up. 


The woman was absolute frantic.  She kept gesturing with her tied up hands to the duct tape around her mouth, wanting us to take it off for her.  Hell no! You could be a zombie in the making! Taking off that duct tape will just make it easier for you to bite us.

So the girl next to me took the duct tape off her mouth.

*face palm*

And the van went dark.  I mean, pitch black and the woman was even more hysterical.  I would have screamed if I hadn't frozen on the spot.  I honestly could have died with fright when those lights went off.  I was expecting something to creep in and attack.  I was expecting her to attack.

But suddenly we were set free and told to get lost.  We had our next co-ordinates and he wanted rid of us.  Phew!

The last co-ordinates lead to an alley way where we trekked down carefully.  Until we saw a flash of green.  All of a sudden there was a zombie in front of us.  We were all mixed up now.  There were quite a lot of groups around as we were reaching the finale and so a whole bunch of us inched forward gradually in this alley.  All of a sudden the zombie screeched and charged for us.  We all screamed (boys included) and ran straight back.  This went on for a while.  Me and my cousins (who I unexpectedly bumped into on the event) decided to try and find a way around this alley.  We ended up walking around empty car parks, climbing over walls, (hoping we weren't trespassing anywhere) and got to the other side of the huge horde that guarded the gates to HQ.  There was a lot of running to walls and hiding behind them as we waited for the perfect opportunity.  We were waiting for the big groups to come closer and start running.  Our theory was if the zombies were focusing on the groups who going the right way we could maybe sneak past them all. 

The groups we left behind started running and we bolted.  A couple of zombies saw us and made a run for us but it was too late to run back to our hiding place.  The only thing to do was leg it.  So the whole street was full of zombies and humans running in all directions.  I narrowly missed a zombie who was right near the gate to HQ and dodged right past him and through the gates.  I was safe! Yay!

Now why couldn't I have done that clever dodging stuff before?

We all waited until we had all our group with us and watched as people ran back to the safe area where the zombies weren't allowed to cross.  Watched as others continued to run about in circles with about five zombies following them.  The zombies who weren't chasing anyone were being taunted by those of us who were safe in the gates of HQ and they took to rattling the gates, screaming and roaring at us as they stretched their arms out through the bars, desperately trying to grab hold onto a human.

Overall, how did I do in the zombie apocalypse?

Sadly, I didn't survive.  We all didn't:

The zombie disco was fantastic.  There was a dance floor where everyone took to shuffling about and twitching rather than dancing properly.  There was a zombie killing game to play near the tables and a projector showing different clips from tons of zombie films.  The bar was serving special undead cocktails so the cocktail lover in me had to try the riga mortis.  =D Nice but the rum was really strong and made me gag and gurn like I really was a zombie. 
It was an amazing night! And it was so much fun to walk back home through town covered in blood.  My legs were already going stiff from all the running so I had the zombie shuffle perfected as me and Pete made our way home.

We're definitely doing it again next year.  We're also hoping to volunteer as zombies as well for Leeds! =D It was great for inspiration as well as we got into playing survivors and coming up with strategies to avoid zombies and experiencing how terrifying it could be to walk the streets during a zombie apocalypse.  There is so much paranoia and fear that the street you could turn into may be packed with zombies.  Not knowing what might lie ahead seriously creeps you out.  You have to be so aware of your surroundings, thinking of exits, hiding places etc.  Great research if you ever wanted to write a zombie novel!

If you're in the UK I seriously recommend taking part.  It's so much fun and everyone has a great time.  The volunteers who act as survivors and zombies really go for it.  Me and Pete were lucky to meet Andy and Alex who we had a great time with.  This is the website for you to see if a zombie apocalypse is coming to a city near you!

Here are a couple of videos I've found from someone who took part in Leeds this year.  Gives you an idea of what the experiences were like! You can see how people really get into the LARP. It's fantastic!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god, this is AMAZING. I hope I get the chance to go to one some day!(They don't seem to run any in Scotland, feh. :( An Edinburgh one would be ace.)

    The part where they threw you in a van sounded terrifying, though!