There we stood, disorientated and breathless in the basement of an abandoned shopping centre. The lights were flickering. On for just enough time to make sense of the surroundings, but off before any detail could be be taken in.
The corridor was silent apart from our footsteps, but the shopping mall was littered with zombies poised to pounce on any noise. And then came the hushed instructions of our squad leader:
“Keep your eyes peeled.”
Our eyes had hardly adjusted to the dark before the next flash completely threw out our vision.
Our ears were our eyes.
Do you know how hard it is to look where you’re going with your ears? It’s like asking your 90 year old Nan to drive a car; you better hope you’re not in a hurry or there will be casualties!
Despite our limited vision, we ventured on through a maze of deserted passageways and department stores. Screams could be heard in the distance. Moaning in the corners of rooms. Your heart booming around your skull. Terrifying.
After hustling up a broken escalator we started to panic. It was a dead end. We reached the top completely surrounded by metal shutters. Floundering around, we eventually found a switch and forced it down…
The shutter mechanism kicked in and we realised we had no idea which door would open.
We scrambled around the room trying to cover all angles. I stuck to the top left… The top left shutter started opening. Typical. Something was behind the shutter shuffling and gasping. I dropped to one knee and poked my head under, internally clutching my inside digestibles; and there, scuffling through the darkness was a real-assed zombie. A red faced, goo filled, limp-limbed, teeth bearing, ‘I’ll-eat-your-brains’, bloody zombie. Fantastic.
I jumped up and span around a few times, before remembering this thing was hungry for my skull candy.
“Contact left” I shouted, before pulling up my shotgun and blasting a round off into its midriff. It stumbled back before flopping lifelessly to the floor.
This is probably the point where I should’ve said something cool like:
“I left my friendly pants at home.”
Instead, I turned, fled and spent the rest of the day fleeing from anything that moved.
Doomf! The lights go out, it’s just us now, brothers, hung over, vodka soaked brothers. There are others but already I’ve decided I don’t trust them, one guy was wearing a tie! To an apocalypse? No sir, you’ll be known as “bait” from now on. We are screamed at to move, I can’t see an inch in front of my face but I’m sprinting in a large group down a concrete corridor, I hear screams and the sound of fists and bodies at the door, I stumble up concrete steps and lose the notion I had of “I’ll just treat this as a joke and it’ll be fine”.
After a story and explanation from our team leader, we are equipped with shotguns and we are creeping in the underbelly of an abandoned shopping centre. Silence is everything, I am laser focused, the team is creeping up an old abandoned escalator, there is so much space, barely lit but visible it almost makes me wish for claustrophobia. So many coroners, so many places to hide.
We reach the walkway at the top, we need a light switch whispers the squad leader. I don’t want light, in the light they can see me, and I will lose my advantage. If you can’t tell, I’ve started to take fighting and survival way too seriously. We are surrounded by eight giant metal shutters, we all fan out looking for a light, someone flicks the switch, no light, but the damn shutters start going up, we are surrounded, the guttural screams are everywhere, we manage to shoot the oncoming few, and discover lots of bloody body bags as we go looking for the previous squad to enter the mall.
It’s fully lit by sunlight, wide open spaces are littered with the dead. Suddenly a scream, not a groan, these guys scream and hurl towards you! ‘RUN’ screams the leader. I map out where we are running, a clear path to our control room, we just focus forward, don’t look back. We make it, 20 odd of us crammed into a dark security room watching the cameras around the mall, there’s no room to move, and lots of doors with pitch black windows, I’ve seen way too many horror films to not constantly be checking these windows!
We get instructions to go and retrieve a briefcase from a scientist we saw meeting the last team on old camera footage. He was wearing a Stetson hat, which again I thought was another fashion faux pas for a god damn apocalypse, I mean if you’re not gonna dress like a bad ass then I will shoot you!
So we find this guys corpse after silently moving through the corridors and dodging from shop to shop. We remove the suitcase and then immediately start running, explosions are going off and screams are coming. We start going up the stairs, I feel a tiny foot on my calf, then my knee, then my thigh? It’s bloody Kris trying to run up my leg! I weigh up in my head whether he is worth shooting? I only have ten bullets and he’s not a threat, so decided a firm word and a regroup was better.
We talk and agree that because my stupid tiny torch broke that we would stick together and he would be the light and I would make the plans.
Cue the next four hours. Every time any zombie came towards us I told everyone where to take positions, and every time I turned I just saw a smoke silhouette of Kris…gone. One time I had to sprint after him after a zombie clown was chasing us down pitch black stairs. Have you ever tried sprinting down 3 flights of concrete stairs in the complete dark? If we make it out of here alive….I’m going to kill him.
Another time I had taken position behind an overturned table, Kris again had scarpered as a zombie bride was heading our way. I crouched behind the table hearing her screaming going for other members of another team, I popped up in my moment, slow motion, Enrique englasias “hero” plays, I take aim and fire…..To my horror I broke the laws of battle, I saw my entire scatter bullet shot explode square in her groin, her face trying not to break character twisted into an expression I had never seen. I was ashamed at where I’d shot her, I was happy and proud I had saved my team, I was giddy that I’d exploded her groin.
I slump back behind the table to catch my first breath in three hours, I’m thanked by my team mates, I laugh childishly at her contorted face and wonder where Kris is, he would’ve loved this….oh that’s right….
Say what you want about our methods, but we were born survivors, I lead, he skirmished….WE SURVIVED (hehehehe right in the groin).
And that was the story of the time Phil and I went zombie hunting!
We both had possibly the best day ever! Guns, adrenaline and bad zombie puns. #zombros (zombie brothers) for life.
If you’re into end of the world adventures we recommend you try the zombie experience for yourself. We tried the shopping mall experience in Reading by Zed events, and we haven’t shut up about it for weeks!
We need more experiences like this in the world. I’d pay good money to visit an alien invasion, a robot takeover or even vampire crusade experience. (Editor’s note: by vampire they mean circa underworld not that other one).
It actually taught us a lot about how we would act in a real life catastrophe. I, for one, am definitely more of a ‘save-yourself-and-run-for-the-hills’ type of guy, whereas Phil is more of a ‘hold-your-ground-and-fight-like-a-bear’ type of guy. Who knew?
So give it a go and you too can become a #zombro!