After my terrifying night of being chased through London, attacked by zombies, knocked over by fellow survivors and left for dead by my boyfriend, what did I learn? That I’m not much of a survivor – in fact, come the zombie apocalypse I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before I became one of the shambling, bloodthirsty hoard of un-dead. I wonder though – would I make a better zombie than survivor?
Well, on Saturday night I got the chance to test that out when Andrew and I took to the streets of London with our zombie crew, ready to take down and infect anyone who dared cross our paths. But before we could claim the honour of becoming one of the 2.8 hours later zombies, we had to complete our zombie training.
Going to Zombie School
There’s a school for zombies, you ask? Yes there is – not everyone can pull off those zombie moves you know, it takes real skill. Of course, there are all those rules to learn too, like, for example, how not to have a head on collision with a player or terrify someone so much that they run straight into a road or dive head first over a wall. Yes, those things are all important, but back to the good stuff – time to construct our zombie characters from a mixture of signature moves: first, there was some zombie footwork to learn:
1) The Stiff Leg
2) The Locked Knee
3) The Skyhook
4) The Stagger
No idea what I’m talking about? Allow Andrew to demonstrate:
Next, we moved on to zombie sounds:
1) The Moan
2) The Gasp
3) The Shriek
Next, throw in some crazy disjointed arm movements and sudden convulsions for maximum scare potential. Finally, you’d be a pretty lame zombie if you couldn’t perfect that all-important glazed-eye stare:
Soon, we’d all assembled our own unique zombie characters.
Fast vs. Slow Zombies
There are essentially two types of zombies: the original shuffling Romero-style option (referred to as ‘type 1’) or the fast 28 days later variety (labelled ‘type 2′). Now, I know opinion is divided over whether or not zombies should run at all – it’s a hotly debated topic among the hardcore zombie fans – but for the purpose of the game, I’m all for a fast-moving zombie. The thrill of the chase and threat of actually getting caught is what makes 2.8 hours later such an exhilarating game. So, we were both excited on Saturday night to get assigned the roles of type 2 zombies. All we needed now was our make-up and costumes – Andrew went for the ‘Farmer Zombie’, I went for the ‘Chav Zombie’.
The Zombie Chase Game
It was the last night of 2012’s 2.8 hours later tour and a freezing-cold, but mercifully dry November night. Our team of six were sent to the very last zone of the game; so by the time the players reached us they were physically and mentally exhausted and desperate to get to the final checkpoint across the road for a well-deserved pint. Our task was to give them one final scare – the last of the season – so it had to be good.
As players arrived at our zone they were greeted by the crazy, harmonica-playing professor, who offered them the chance to save any members of their team who’d already been bitten by zombies. All the players had to do was run straight through the gauntlet of us zombies, pick up the cure at the bottom of the slope and make it all the way back without getting tagged. Fortunately for the players, the professor had learned to hypnotise zombies using a harmonica, which allowed the players a few seconds to get half way down the slope before we sprung to life and chased them like crazy.
I’m not going to lie – the night was tough. Four hours of stop-start sprinting, screaming and staying in character in the freezing cold was exhausting. But – it was one of the most fun things I’ve done; at least since I was a kid. Some of the highlights included:
- Making people scream and swear in terror (obviously)
- Hearing one guy exclaim ‘Those were the best zombies!’
- The girl who said (in a very shaky voice) ‘Thanks’ after I tagged her hand and snarled in her face!
- The guy who retrieved Andrew’s farmer’s hat from the floor and tried to taunt us with it
- The look of glee on one guy’s face when we all surrounded him and pretended to rip him to pieces
- When one player dropped his glasses, Andrew put them on upside down and staggered around in them until the guy was brave enough to snatch them back
- Group-Zombie-Groaning along to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on the professor’s harmonica
- Passersby stopping to watch and take pictures, then running off shrieking when we pretended to chase after them
- Being told that we were too noisy (I guess the neighbours were complaining…)
- The group of players who came back at the end of the night to tell us how much fun they’d had and ask us to pose for pictures with them
- Aby, our fellow zombie (who’d been volunteering for two weeks!) scaring the players with some awesome acting while they waited to run
I would highly recommend volunteering as a zombie any day – if you’re still not convinced, check out this 2.8 hours later promo video and tell me it doesn’t look amazing!
Thanks to the slingshot 2.8 hours later organisers, players and especially our fellow zone 10 zombie crew for making this such an amazing experience. Despite the fact that my whole body aches and my throat is sandpaper-sore today, I’m itching to take part again.
2.8 hours later will be touring again next year starting in Nottingham in March; volunteers get to play the game for free.