PART TWO: TOMORROW NEVER DIES
You can’t escape them. They’re inside the library, seemingly studying, but you know better. They’re sitting in the back of your classroom, smirking, knowing there is no way for you to escape their grasp. You avoid leaving your dorm at all costs. Even commuters have limited freedom.
“At my apartment, both my roommates are zombies,” said human Krystal Kuehn. “And they had some zombie friends over for dinner too. One of those zombies has had it out for me since the beginning…”
It’s been three days since the outbreak of a type of Human Cortico-Deficiency Virus occurred at Corban University. Now, the number of zombies widely outnumbers the number of humans.
“It’s a terrifying text to get. The text that says: Hey, the zombies have put a hit on you,” said Kuehn.
As the tally of fallen humans rose, the humans became more and more convinced that by the time Thursday night arrived, there wouldn’t be enough of them to even hold off five zombies. They were doomed. Or so, they thought.
Mission #3 – Outsmarting the dead
“Not many of us in the human group wanted to do this mission tonight,” said human Kyle Anthony. “We all thought we would just take the loss. The numbers weren’t on our side.”
Out of the 60 humans left, only around 20 showed up for the mission.
The zombies thought they had this mission in the bag. They were prepared.
Zombie Bryce Petersen gathered the undead together before the mission began in order to strategize. The zombies got very little information about the human’s mission but developed a plan they believed to be foolproof.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which team you’re in), the humans had a plan that would change the entire course of the game.
The Humans had thirty minutes to escort one human – who would be randomly selected and blinded – all the way up to the gym, where the human would be “cured,” and return back to the origin point. The random “blind” human chosen was Liane Dehart. The humans came up with a quick strategy that had a small fire squad of the “faster and stealthier men” lead Dehart up to the gym.
“The rest of us formed distractions,” said humans Krystal Kuehn and Natalie Grove. “A few groups booked it out the door as decoy escort squads, and the rest of us split up to guard the perimeter of the Pavilion. Adam [Fields] and Katharine [Hormann] took the front door. One guy kept a constant patrol around the building.”
Grove and Kuehn took guard of the sky bridge out of the back of the coffeeshop, keeping an eye on ‘No Man’s Land’ with Jonathan Partridge.
“We made sure the zombies had visuals on us, that they saw we were up to something,” said human Kyle Anthony. “I had JD [Smith] and Emily [Teterud] act like the packages. We would look out the doors at all the zombies.”
Anthony would yell out what appeared to the zombies to be ‘orders,’ but, in reality, was yelling at no one in particular.
The zombies thought they were efficiently preventing the “blind” human from reaching the intended target. They were sorely mistaken.
Around ten or fifteen minutes into the mission, the humans standing guard by the Pavilion received the message that Dehart had made it to the gym, been healed, and was on her way back down.
“It was perfect timing because we were starting to fear for their safety,” human Kuehn said. “It was a small group and our survival depended on them completing the mission.”
But the humans still had one thing preventing the rest of their team from returning to the origin point safely: the thirty or so zombies hiding in the trees by the Pavilion.
Fields decided to take a huge risk.
“So Adam went running, drawing the attention of the zombies stalking the front of the building and acting like the real escort team was making a break for the Pavilion through the center of campus,” human Kuehn recalled. “He started shouting, ‘Cover the Schimmel sky-bridge immediately!’”
The zombies fell for the distraction and began to approach the bridge.
“While we had been joking and harassing the zombies, there was a moment there when I seriously thought they might storm and take the bridge,” human Kuehn said. “We probably could have fought them off, especially when Katharine joined, but it would have been far too close to comfort.”
But before anything else occurred, shouting erupted from the front of the Pavilion.
They had done it.
The real escort squad had made it back to home base with less than three minutes left in the mission.
Team Humans had won the mission.
“We broke out into victory cries for a good five minutes afterwards, with hugs and pats on the back and high-fives everywhere,” said human Kuehn. “It was really a thing of beauty that we succeeded. The sense of relief was so perfect. I completely understand the war buddies phenomenon. I’d fight by these guys any day now, and I’d probably even take a zombie for most of them.”
Needless to say, the zombies didn’t celebrate.
“We were extremely convinced that we had them trapped,” said zombie Jannalyn Farley. “I had to climb up the walls, bridges and underneath the staircases a couple times to try and kill some humans, but they were all holed in very well.”
“We were outsmarted by the humans and had almost no action that night,” said zombie Sarah Moreau, adding that the night was incredibly frustrating.
The zombies remained hopeful that the last mission, Thursday’s grand finale, would result in their favor.
That is, if all the zombies survived.
Zombie Nathan Messmer walked through the deserted campus.
He was starving, but no human could be found.
He could feel his metaphorical undead body rotting.
If he didn’t feed in the next five hours, Messmer would become a corpse.
He would be dead-dead.
If a zombie didn’t feed or get fed from a fellow zombie for 48 hours, the zombie would “starve.” The “starvations” began in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
Desperate, hungry zombies crawled through the campus no longer targeting specific humans and instead, searching for absolutely anyone with that bandanna around their arm.
But none could be found.
The humans were determined to stay alive for the last mission, and the zombies were paying severely for the humans’ intelligent mindset.
“Whoever reads this, I am being kept under guard in my room,” zombie Messmer posted on the Official Team Zombies Facebook Group. “If I leave, I will get stunned, and I don’t even have 15 minutes to be alive. For the love of all that is evil and indecent, FEED ME!”
Fifteen minutes later, Messmer posted another note: “Bye guys. I love you all.”
The zombies had lost several of their comrades that day but, with their overwhelming numbers, there was no doubt in their minds that they would prove to be the ultimate winners in the last mission.
Mission #4 – The Grand Finale
“Keep fighting for your life,” sang human Nathan Wagner. “FOR YOUR LIFE!”
Knowing the odds were certainly not in their favor, the humans remained light-hearted and determined to make the best of the night.
“No matter what happens, I am so very satisfied with all of this,” said human Kuehn.
After being outsmarted by the humans the night before, the zombies were focused and prepared to give it all they got.
But the zombies were in for a shock when, out of over 90 zombies registered, less than half of them showed up for the final mission.
“Even though I was a human, I was disappointed all the zombies weren’t there,” said human Nathan Wagner. “It would have been even more cray-cray than it already was. (You aren’t actually writing this down are you? You are? I funny.)”
Despite the disappointment, zombies and humans knew that each team still had to work together if they wanted to be “crowned” victors.
The mission was simple. Humans: survive. Zombies: attack.
Okay, perhaps it wasn’t that simple.
In order for Team Humans to “win,” at least ONE human had to make it safely to the determined “safe zone” – Farrar Hall – before the thirty minute time limit.
The Zombies had to prevent that from occurring.
After riveting speeches were delivered, effectively pumping up each team, the green light was given and zombies and humans were off.
“I’ll never forget the adrenaline rush of fighting off waves of zombies crashing against our makeshift line along Deer Park, while listening to Jeremiah Forrister and Adam Sutton call out directions from the back,” said human Nolan Cason. “We moved as a group of 20 or so individuals, and survived as a result. We lost the occasional straggler as we moved down the road and back, making several stands when the crowd of trailing and circling zombies became too thick. But we never broke. To do so meant death.”
“I had fun hunting down the humans,” said zombie Jannalyn Farley. “We had a group of them backed up against the street and kept charging at them. I personally tagged 6 or 7 people and only [got hit] once.”
“Krystal and I both agreed that we would both die tonight, but we also knew that we would go out in a blaze of glory,” said human Natalie Grove.
Grove was one of seven human girls that had survived to the final mission. Over the course of the week, the humans had suffered great losses in their female population.
Human Megan Russell was also one of the ‘Final Seven.’
“I was so close,” Russell said. “I was almost to Farrar [the safe zone] when [zombie] Derik Chaney came barreling down the hill by the Music House and slide-tackled me to the ground. It was a glorious death, but I was really upset about it.”
The zombies might have succeeded in taking down Grove, Kuehn and Russell, but the 40 or so zombies just didn’t stand a chance against the well-organized, compact team of humans.
“We stood our ground, and earned our survival, as well as the exhilaration of victory as most of our group jogged unscathed into Farrar,” said human survivor Nolan Cason.
Although the zombies suffered the ultimate loss, zombie Jannalyn Farley said the mission was still “extremely fun.”
“The humans were gracious enough not to rub their victory in our faces,” Farley added.
Nathan Wagner was shocked when he realized he was one of the human survivors. “I was very impressed with myself because I did not expect to survive past the first day,” he said.
The humans had won Corban’s first-ever Humans vs. Zombies game.
“It will be a highlight of my time here at Corban,” said Cason.
Everything is back to normal.
There are no longer zombies stalking the entrance to the Psalm Center as students scurry to chapel. There are no longer students with Nerf Guns out at the ready, although the occasional guy still gets that paranoid look in his eye when he spots a student with fabric around their forehead.
Just a regular ‘ol headband.
Everything is back to normal. Well, as normal as it could ever get.
“ I must say that Friday I kept having to remember I was no longer a zombie, and that chasing after people would be extremely inappropriate,” said Jannalyn Farley with a smile.
“Although we didn’t pull out a win in the end, I still had a lot of fun this week,” said Sarah Moreau. “I formed alliances with people I had never really met, and became ‘enemies’ with some of my good friends for a while. It was a nice stress-reliever (or, at times, stress-inducer) during dead week.”
Roommates became friends again, and friends could actually walk alongside each other without a single ounce of fear. Instead of dodging dart guns or sprinting across the skybridge, students now came together to reflect on the game and, as a result, reflect on themselves.
“When I was first turned into a zombie, I was so mad! I thought all the fun in the game was over. But the minute I walked out of class, three humans saw me and ran in the opposite direction. I realized I no longer had to watch me back, or cower behind a Nerf gun,” said Farley. “No, I was the hunter…no longer the hunted. And it was awesome! Being a zombie was SO much fun. Everyone was afraid of you and you could walk around reveling in the power! ”
“The camaraderie that I partook in with my brothers in Davidson, and eventually with all surviving humans, was unlike anything I’ve experienced here at Corban outside of Bible studies, prayer, and worship,” said Nolan Cason. “From the Facebook page that was established on Sunday, to the extraction teams that were led to rescue follow humans, the unity was palpable. The tension and apprehension that accompanied each moment one was outside was exhilarating.”
“I never had so much fun running around like Kim Possible with a Nerf gun defending my tribe of Davidson brethren during a post-apocalyptic zombie infested city on a hill,” said Justin White. “Honestly, I loved the rush of being in a team setting and strategizing ways to avoid being tagged. Overall it was a fun experience, but it was ironically freeing when I finally became a zombie… considering I could work on my homework in peace!”
Contrary to popular belief that the game distracted every player from his or her studies, Nathan Wagner said the exact opposite was true for him.
“I loved it. It made me do more homework than I would have done otherwise,” Wagner said. “I was in the library all day and all I had with me was my computer and my homework. Trying to survive also made me avoid social interaction, which led to more homework getting done.”
Along with praises for the game, those who participated in the game also had a few suggestions on ways to improve the game if it were to be played again.
Kyle Boardman suggested that perhaps the zombie spawn point during missions be located somewhere other than PVG. He said it being “up a huge hill, close to the outskirts of the campus and away from the action wasn’t helping the zombies out much. I’ll tell you that much. I was very winded near the end.”
Boardman also suggested a lesser stun time for zombies during the day. (Grove and Kuehn protest this request.)
Sarah Moreau expressed concerns over humans traveling around campus using the tunnels, which gave the zombies a greater disadvantage. “I also think some people got a little too invested and were trying to cut corners or cheat, which didn’t necessarily add to the fun of the game,” Moreau said.
One of the more common arguments during the HvZ game were those of humans claiming their tags were “unfair.” To settle those disputes, Ashton Moore suggested it be done in a “fun way.” “I’m thinking like a Mexican Standoff type of idea,” she added.
“Zombies should be allowed melee weapons. Just because it would be awesome,” Nathan Messmer said.
The number one suggestion most people gave was to add more moderators.
“Jeff did a superb job, but the demand on his time was too great,” said Nolan Cason. “Jeff could only be in one place and only has so many eyes, so cheating – intentional or not – naturally occurred. More refs and moderators would lessen the workload, distribute the stress and make the game fairer.”
Game moderator Jeffrey Morse agreed with Cason’s suggestion, stating that “having another 3-5 moderators” was “definitely the first thing” on his list of changes for next semester’s game. “I did not foresee the amount of moderation the game would take mostly because almost double the expected amount of participants registered in the game.”
Yes, Morse has confirmed that there WILL be another infection coming Corban’s way next year.
“After seeing how much fun everyone had, and the dozens of ‘Thank You’s’, ‘You rock’s’, and ‘BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE’s,’ I decided I want to try to have another ‘undead week’ next semester [though probably not during Dead Week],” Morse said.
Although Morse is ineligible to be the ASB Activities Coordinator next year, he strongly encourages his replacement to hold HvZ at least once next school year.
“I think it has potential to become one of the all-time favorite Corban events, and it will be interesting to see if people will still want to do it every semester a few years down the road,” Morse said. “Believe it or not, having zombies infect campus, actually brings people together. ‘Humans’ who hardly knew each other before the game, became tight-knit by the end of the week extraction. ‘Zombies’ hunted together in large packs, stalking popular human targets for hours, and both teams had their respective Facebook groups to strategize in.”
Morse encourages all those who did not participate in HvZ, to do so next semester. “You will meet new people, and become deeper involved in the Corban community,” he said. “Also, the missions were ridiculously awesome and everyone gets super into them, making the whole experience that much better! You will not regret playing.”
One last piece of advice: Enjoy the zombie-free campus while you can Corban.