A group of people are edging their way nervously down a narrow alley – occasional floodlights splashing strange shadows on the corrugated walls of Butetown warehouses.
‘A twitching silhouette’
A rattling moan punctuates the quiet night – the group freeze, apprehensive grins contorted on flushed faces. A twitching silhouette is spotted ambling towards them – the group gesture in silence at the figure, adrenaline hitting the pits of their stomachs. Another moan.
The figure stumbles into a pool of light and raises its head – eyes glazed and unfocused, mouth contorted into a snarl, its visage splattered with blood. It lets out an unearthly scream, and breaks into a run. The group scatter headlong into the night – the chase is on…
Welcome to 2.8 Hours Later. Created by zombie-aficionados Slingshot Effects, 2.8 Hours Later is a fully immersive city-wide zombie chase game. Think of it as zombie tag, but a with a storyline, a mission, actors to guide you on your way, and of course, those bloody zombies.
With Cardiff playing host to hordes across a 2.8 mile circuit running through Queen Street and the Millennium Stadium, we sent some intrepid reporters to live (or die) a night on either side of the undead divide. Some people get beauty, some people get brains.
My evening started with standing in a blood-booth in hospital scrubs to be smeared and splattered with fake blood. Particularly gruesome when combined with the white contact lenses.
Zone 10, do not panic
I was ready to chase the living. Our chase area was Zone 10 – the home stretch, a long, patchily lit stretch between two warehouses in Butetown. The runners were channels past the intervening Type 1’s (shambling, Romero-style brain-eaters) towards us – the Type 2’s. By far the most physical assignment, we were the 28 Days Later screaming and sprinting undead, ready to infect our victims by marking them with UV pen. And screaming in their face, obviously.
By the time the first runners arrived, I was warmed-up and waiting. Orange jumpsuit-clad boss zombie Alex Noble split the group with an unearthly pig-squeal scream, while I broke from the bushes to make a killing.
And so it began. Although sprinting in bursts for two or three hours was tiring, the atmosphere was incredible. I didn’t think I’d ever feel proud at almost making a girl cry. I have to admit a competitive streak, so I really got into it.
Lie on the ground and rise at the slightest sound? Face away and let them pass before chasing? Arrive screaming from the shadows when they thought they had made the finish line?
I tried it all. There’s something about genuinely terrifying people which is really – satisfying. The screams, the panicked eyes, the macho men in army gear running for their lives…who knew being dead could make you feel so alive?
As a survivor, I took upon myself the noble title of humanity’s last hope with a little uncertainty.
It didn’t take long for me to lose that uncertainty – out here, you hesitate, you die.
Kitted out in running gear, or leotards, we were divided into our groups, given armbands, maps, our first rendezvous and our mission – get to a lab, grab a experimental antidote, get back.
Seems simple, right?
When we were pushed out into the evening, it seemed that way. We wandered around with people who didn’t know the apocalypse was upon us, just going about their normal business.
But after our first zombie encounter, things became a little less simple. I became paranoid about the people around us.
Is that a zombie? No, that’s a drunk guy. No wait! That’s a zombie! Run!
It was very immersive, but it snuck up on me – halfway through you realise you’re listening very seriously to everything this actor is saying, right before a zombie breaks through a door and chews on his jugular.
It was surprisingly tiring, but I guess that’s what it takes to survive – and survive I did! Come the zombie apocalypse, I’m ready.
I don’t fully understand why there are zombies roaming the streets of Cardiff tonight. Twitter, can you help?! #asktwitter
— Natasha Cody (@NatashaCody) March 21, 2015