PART ONE: THE BEGINNING
Dawn breaks upon what was once a relatively peaceful and friendly campus. Everything is quiet – too quiet.
They will strike; it’s only a matter of time.
Overnight, three unsuspecting humans were infected with a type of Human Cortico-Deficiency Virus. In other words, they became zombies; zombies who had one goal in mind: infect as many humans possible.
It started slowly; the humans were teaming up, protecting each other carefully. But, by the end of the first day, more than 20 humans had been infected with the disease. The fear in survivors escalated. The surviving humans still outnumbered the infected and had one thing to say in response to their loss: “Game on, zombies.”
Origin of the infection
Corban’s first ever campus-wide game of ‘Humans vs. Zombies’ began on Sunday, Dec. 2, at precisely 11:59 p.m. 168 students registered but, before the clock struck midnight, three of them were randomly selected to act as the Original Zombies (OZ’s).
The OZ’s identities were hidden from the humans on the official site – where the registered can keep updated on the game’s changing stats – beginning the day with a slight advantage. Their identities only revealed by the bandanna they wore around their heads and their lack of Nerf guns.
Nerf guns, rolled up socks and the constant look of paranoia, are what visibly distinguish humans from their zombie enemies. That, as well as the bandanna they have tied around their arms instead of their heads, ensures they are easily spotted by zombie stalkers.
“I’ve never been so afraid and thrilled at the same time,” exclaimed human Emily Teterud.
“It’s been hectic beyond all belief as a human,” said human Kyle Anthony. “You have to scout where you’re going. What zombies might be around or in your class? Can you make it there in time?”
For the majority of the humans that first day, yes, they did make it in time.
The game of ‘Humans vs. Zombies’ originated at Goucher College in 2005. Since it began, the game has developed international popularity and is played annually on six continents.
Moderator of the Corban game, Jeffrey Morse, was wary about starting the game on such a small, private university since most of the games occur on much larger campuses and span weeks. But when a friend shared the positive results of another school’s game – a college relatively the same size of Corban – Morse knew he had to make it happen. “If they could do it, we could do it,” he said.
His excitement was contagious as the moment he revealed details of the game, Corban students rushed to register online.
“Everyone on campus got involved. Every branch on campus – admission, campus safety, etc. – made posts and comments about it,” Morse said. “I had no idea it would take over the way it did. It’s cool.”
Mission #1 – 24 hours later
“You never go looking for the zombies. You spot them and go on your way. If they don’t go after you then, you just get to a safe zone,” advised human Kyle Anthony.
While that strategy may have worked well during the day, it wasn’t exactly the best method of survival when the sun went down.
The game’s first mission was tough. For both sides.
Cheating, harsh tagging and mass ambushes left #teamzombies and #teamhumans weary and confused.
“I knew that the first mission was going to be a little rough,” moderator Morse said. Morse created the missions himself and, being the first time performed at Corban, he was aware that some of the aspects of the game wouldn’t run perfectly smooth. “The game will be what you make of it,” Morse reminded players in an email after the first mission. “Please have some integrity and play by the rules [located on the official website].”
Complaint after complaint swarmed into Morse’s inbox with newly tagged zombies claiming their ‘capture’ was unfair. Morse replies to each one but only makes the decision (of whether or not to grant the zombie’s request to be redeemed) after he has heard both sides of the story. Most of the time, “there is just not enough evidence” to grant the zombie’s request.
A good majority of those who are newly turned, “justifiably get upset.” But Morse argues, “You don’t lose when you get infected, you just switch teams.”
Zombie Nathan Messmer was ecstatic upon turning. “Honestly, it’s super fun being feared by an entire college campus. Plus, making zombie costumes makes me feel like I could actually do something in the upcoming zombie apocalypse,” Messmer said. “Unfortunately, I probably wouldn’t survive past the third day (unless I can get my hands on a katana) #BOOM. ”
The first mission ended in favor of the humans, allowing three of the infected to be redeemed and turned back. Although they lost, the zombies’ metaphorical thirst for blood only increased.
Shrill screams echoed throughout the campus as the women were picked off one by one.
The men traveled in packs, their guns at the ready, meeting in several empty classrooms to develop strategies.
Even Wal-Mart became a warzone as zombies stalked the Nerf aisle, waiting for unsuspecting humans.
The zombie count rose.
“When more zombies get added, you have to know what risks you are willing to take,” said human Kyle Anthony. “I’ve been mostly sticking with people I know think like me in these situations. We have plans on how to get from place to place.”
Humans, with a mixture of terror and excitement, shared tales of terror of zombies who were willing to risk all (not that they had much to lose) in order to feed.
“I betrayed those that I once loved – three at once BABY,” said zombie Melissa Berry. Berry’s “kill” count rose at an alarming rate, currently standing at nine kills. “Zombies are just misunderstood. It is fun to be a zombie, but even zombies are social creatures. We want to be around our friends. That’s all.”
Well, considering the amount of people she has ‘turned,’ Berry might have more enemies than friends.
“As more and more are infected, I begin to plan my routes ahead of time. I stay away from people and avoid any sort of human interaction at all costs,” said human Nathan Wagner. “I dart from cover to cover, looking this way and that, terrified that at any moment, a zombie will jump out at me and I will become one of them. It has become a habit to check my gun every 5 minutes and make sure it’s fully functioning.”
It has become the habit of almost every human.
“Courage supplies strength to each step I take outside,” said human Emily Teterud.
Mission #2 – Death becomes them
“I have been shot five times already,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson III.
Emerson isn’t playing.
This is how intense the games have gotten; even non-participants have been continually caught in the wildfire.
After Bryce Petersen was “emotionally betrayed” by best friend, zombie Travis Noble, he decided to embrace this new lifestyle and turn “the zombie team” into “the best-case scenario.”
During Tuesday night’s mission, Petersen rose up as a leader for the team of zombies, strategizing and commanding. “The night prior, the zombies didn’t do well and I wanted to make sure that we took a better stand,” Petersen said.
Whether it was due to his leadership or not, the zombies did infinitely better, doubling their numbers, preventing any humans from gathering food.
“It was a lot of fun because everyone worked really well together,” Petersen said.
Although the humans “won” the second mission, gathering 102 resources out of the required 100 necessary for victory, it was, by no means, an easy win.
The casualties were monumental.
“Before leaving Davidson, our Band of Brothers came together for one final “Bob Ross” moment,” said human Adam Sutton. “Who or what is ‘Bob Ross?’ It’s the ‘Ooh Ra’ of Davidson. Zombies, beware!”
While the zombies plotted together as a team, the humans found a greater advantage in separating into groups of five or six, and staying in a strategic formation.
But the night still proved difficult.
“We were all surrounded. I just kept yelling ‘stay together, stay together!’ It was intense and terrifying,” recalled human Joe Kraft.
Kraft acted as his group’s leader in Tuesday’s mission, doing all possible to keep his fellow humans alive. Bearing a bulletproof vest, a double-barrel shotgun on a sling, a12-round pistol, a small six-round pocket pistol (Nerf, of course) and a heavy supply of ammo, Kraft is determined to stay alive for Thursday night’s grand finale. Him, and the rest of his small group, survived the mission, though, for a few hours, they thought they had lost one. (UPDATE: Kraft has turned.)
Adam Fields lowered his Nerf gun to his side, forced a resigned smile on his face and walked through the crowd of zombies with his head held up high.
He had gotten tagged. Or so, he thought.
“There was a complication that arose involving my infection,” Fields said.
“The feeling of utter joy I felt when I discovered I had survived the night cannot be expressed in words,” Fields said.
So, instead, Fields demonstrated his excitement by cocking his gun and retying his bandanna on his left arm, with a mischievous grin on his face.
There are only a few more hours until the third mission.
The current standings: 67 humans; 92 zombies.
An intense bloodbath is predicted to occur tonight.
“I am at the point of being outright terrified,” human Krystal Kuehn said. Kuehn is only one of 12 humans girls still alive. “Zombies are not supposed to be this intelligent!”
“I may not have all of life’s challenges figured out, but I know the one thing I desire at the moment: TO STAY ALIVE AT ALL COSTS,” said human Nathan Wagner.
As this all prepares to go down, emotionally invested spectator Ralph Waldo Emerson laughs heartily at the commotion. “The killing of Jeffrey Morse was very funny,” Emerson said. “I think my favorite has been the fact that my roommate Tony (who ‘killed’ Morse) is able to lure people in with politeness.”
As of now, Emerson’s bets on surviving are on human JP Partridge and, possibly, human Steve Emerson (his twin brother).
“I will always be Team Human,” said human Brad Powell. “Until I become Team Zombie.”
Good luck to humans and zombies alike in the mission tonight.
PART TWO WILL BE POSTED SOON.