"Watch out for the trees," he said. The last piece of advice from a corrupt guard before we were thrust into the Safe Zone. Safe Zone my fucking arse. There were zombies everywhere.
Before all that, however, we queued.
|Queuing like bossi (plural of boss).|
And queued. And queued a little bit more, just for good measure. Unfortunately the staff were suffering from a technical error regarding scanning tickets which resulted in a rather lengthy delay in getting groups of eager survivors through. Since that's something out-with the organisers' control I shan't begrudge them too much for the hour and half's worth of queuing. Okay, perhaps a little bit of begruding. Dude, an hour and a half. Which leads us to Rhona and Ben's first Tip of the Day:
|Aren't I dashing?|
So, on to the things we liked, of which there was many. Let's start with the story, which I'll keep short to save any surprises:
A zombie outbreak has decimated humanity and you, a group of survivors part of a band of rebels known as Asylum (rebelling against what, I'm not so sure), are tasked with infiltrating the "Safe Zone", a police compound, to retrieve vital water supplies and take it to a rendezvous point for extraction. That's the basic gist of it, but the level of detail that is put into making the situation feel real and believable is amazing. We were briefed before the mission in the Asylum headquarters (a cleared out office space in an industrial park) and the walls of the command centre were plastered with maps, various strategies for missions, names of allies, enemies, recently infected; all incidental details that you're never directed to and only given the slightest of moments to take in but really add to the feel of the game and serve to get you pumped up and ready for kicking some rotten zombie butt. Yum.
The leader (Ben, of course) was given a map and was in charge of navigating the team through the zombie infested city. There was also a person who had to carry the backpack (which I volunteered for) and they were in charge of obtaining and carrying the water. This person turned out to be the priority of the group as, if they got bitten by a zombie, the water would also become contaminated and the mission would be all for nothing. So I picked well as it meant the rest of my team had to draw zombies away from me as I sprinted from checkpoint to checkpoint.
Having been briefed and warned about the trees we were released into the city. Our first objective was to get into a building, find a ration card (as it would become useful later on in the story), hack a computer (a task which we were only shown very quickly how to do) in order to obtain the co-ordinates for our next location, then get out. This was absolutely terrifying. The building was in near darkness, it was totally silent and we were all on edge. We grabbed a ration card and typed the code into the computer. Moving in an X formation in order to keep me safe, we walked through to the next room and could see light coming in from the door out. That's when we heard it. A growl followed by a blood curdling scream. A zombie, lying in the corner in complete darkness, had spotted us. The X formation now thrown out the window, we all bolted for the door. Imagine five people all trying to get through a single doorway all at once; it's not an easy task. Tumbling out into the cold air, all of us laughed that laugh you do after something terrifying has happened but the initial danger is no longer a threat. The zombie wasn't chasing us, but it was clearly just a taste of what we'd signed ourselves up for.
|Pitch darkness for the entire mission. Scarier than |
coming across John Travolta naked in an alley
covered in pig fat.
|Kate's arm band seems to be signalling the mothership...|
This leads us to Ben and Rhona's second Tip of the Day:
Be wary of lad groups (ie. large numbers of burly, white, anthropomorphic chodes being really loud and obnoxious). There was a surprising number of lads on our night and they're not fun. They're loud and arrogant. If you should spot lad groups in the queue for your event, don't be afraid to hang behind and let them run ahead once you start - you don't want to be stuck behind those guys for the whole night.
|*insert witty caption here*|
|These guys were pants-shittingly-scary. Lovely people though.|
We then reached the final kind of segment of the story and this nearly destroyed me. The pissing storage containers. I won't ruin it, but holy fuck, man. Before we knew it, we had to start running again - fast walking or a light jog wouldn't cut it, I am talking proper sprinting. It genuinely felt like I was running for my life. Honestly, the acting all round was great, but the people playing the zombies were out of this world - closest you'll get to a Romero movie. It's great how the difficulty slowly escalates as you go along as well. By the final gauntlet (shufflers, sprinters, grabbers. Aaaaall the zombies) there was no way we could be tactical, there simply wasn't the time to stand back and think out a strategy. All we could do was run.
It was at this point where I took off the bag holding the precious water and turned to my team and said, "Who is the best runner here? Who can take the bag, because I'm going to get caught." It was a solemn moment - I was exhausted and knew that my time would be up soon, there was no way I was making it past that next hurdle of zombies and if I was caught then the water would be tainted and we would have failed. They had to go on without me. However the team rallied, told me how great I had done and that we were going to get through this together (cue inspirational music). So I hoisted the bag containing the precious water back over my shoulders, my lungs still burning, my knees weak, and steeled myself for the final push. That's when we came across this guy:
|Who knew a pair of trousers could house this much fear poop?|
|"I'd like to thank the Academy..."|
We had managed to get through it all, the precious water still intact. We were survivors. However, we did suffer one casualty - poor Lisa, though she fought bravely and valiantly, succumbed to the zombie infection. God bless her soul and may she rest in peace. But one death out of five ain't too bad, right?
|If only we had saved Lisa that number would be at 500. *twitch*|
|His name is Pablo.|
I think we did fantastically. I'm particularly proud of myself given how much running there was at the end and how horribly unfit I am. I would highly recommend doing some kind of physical training before going to an event like this, because should I do something like this again, I am definitely hitting the gym a good few months in advance to work on my cardio. I think the pictures display here very accurately how delirious I felt after the strenuous physical endurance that my body was subjected to and I think at this point I genuinely believed that the mission was real and the water was like the apocalypse equivalent of the Holy Grail and we were actually part of a rebel initiative called Asylum. But don't worry, I got some nourishing alcohol in me at the Survivors Disco and that straightened me out. Speaking of which though, the drinks weren't expensive, they were ludicrous. £6 for a cocktail, £4 for a pint and £4 for a Spirit and a dash. I've been to a Festival bar and even by those standards that's steep.
To wrap things up. It was awesome. Queuing and other such bad points aside, I had a really great time and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have added "volunteering as a zombie" to my bucket list, because talking to the people afterwards at the party just made it seem like the absolutely coolest thing in the world. I also think that, should this event make another appearance in Edinburgh, it'll be a lot better because there should be more zombies, a better layout as the organisers would be more familiar with the land and hopefully no technical errors which would reduce queues.
|Kate's thoughts in this picture: "Haha, the bitch is dead!"|
I'm still waiting for something to come out of the flipping trees.