MY NIGHT AS A ZOMBIE by Nathan Robinson
Recently, I was offered the opportunity to attend Zombie Uprising in Chesterfield. It’s a claustrophobic, real world shoot-em-up with air-soft weapons, where you complete missions in a derelict factory with the threat of zombies (just humans dressed as zombies; don’t worry) around every corner. It’s great fun and a bargain at the cost/exhilaration ratio, as it’s run with professional precision by a marvellous group of actors.
Then I heard they were hiring zombies. I had the chance to view the other side of the business, immersing myself in the other side of the ultimate zombie experience.
Time: 1630 hours.
Location: Kirton Lindsey RAF Barracks.
After the base was decommissioned a few years ago, RAF Kirton lay in a state of limbo. It’s too big to do anything with. The people of the town don’t want anything done with it, so as to not crowd their picturesque setting in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds. It’s a large sprawling site, larger than the village it’s named after. Numerous buildings are dotted about, all left to ruin, the grass is overgrown, windows are broken, rubbish is strewn about. To say it looks apocalyptic is an understatement.
The staff are divided into two groups. ZEUS, who are decked out in army fatigues and SWAT team paraphernalia, looking every bit like a paramilitary force ready to stage a coup; and the zombies, who are ushered into a staff room and told to pick and well-worn overall that fits and grab a mask and goggles if you don’t want to lose an eye.
I was a “trial”, one of several new zombies brought in to fill the voids on this massive site with something roughly zombie shaped. You can never have enough zombies, I am told.
I wouldn’t call it hazing as such, but the “trials” are ordered to line up, facing away, ready for a pain test as we’re all shot in the back with different weapons of varying force. The biggest, the staff gun on rapid fire, hurts like ten bee stings at once. But the pain soon fades and I’m thankful for the smelly overall dampening the blows.
We have a meeting about the evenings event in an abandoned cinema, going over the order of the organised insanity which is to follow. With all the military persona, backchatting banter and anticipation of adrenaline, it feels like the colonial marines briefing scene in “ALIENS”.
The Kirton site is vastly different from the Chesterfield one I’d previously experienced. It’s more spread out, so the missions take a little longer to get going as the customers are ferried from building to building, so there’s a little waiting around between the arrival of the “fresh meat”. But later I’m thankful for the breather.
The first group arrives. I’m located in the “Morgue”, a former health care centre set on two floors, with a central stair case and numerous rooms leading off. I close all the doors to help contain the mystery of what might be lurking behind. I channel my inner zombie, develop a slight limp and test my roaring growl.
I chose the upstairs, hiding in the reception area because it means I can cover two doorways at once. What follows next is essentially a prolonged version of BOO! In which my fellow zombies and I stalk behind doorways and jump out at people. The shock on the punters faces is real. Being a horror author I’m used to scaring people from afar (sometimes I put fake spiders in books I sell, because I’m evil), so this is different. I love scaring people, so the malicious part of me delights in this. I roar at people. We all roar and the punters scream back. The real fake fear starts to bleed out of their foreheads as they begin to perspire. It’s not real, they’re telling themselves. But it is real, because it’s reality and someone is trying to get them. I see eyes gape in fear. I hear real screams of fear. The men crying out just as much as the women.
I hide behind doorways. I trap people in rooms as my fellow zombies stream in from another door. I set booby traps behind doors so objects fall to the floor, creating noise and distraction whilst we creep elsewhere. It’s fun frightening people, and I took to it like a natural.
By the time we reach the end of the final mission, it’s dark and all the customers have to light their way with a sparse number of torches and the dull lights of a couple of beaten up pick-up trucks. The finale is a well-orchestrated scene in which all of the zombies are brought together en masse in a terrifying spectacular worthy of any zombie film. It’s chaos, and it’s beautiful.
After a meet and greet and photo ops with the weirdly grateful customers, the zombies remove sweat filled masks and goggles. We get a bottle of water, a chocolate bar and a wage for our troubles. The new starters get a pat on the back and I’m invited back after proving a job well done. I hoarsely reply my thanks. My voice has gone from all of the screaming. It takes a full day before the croak fades and I get my dulcet tones back.
It’s gone 11pm by the time I get home. I have a whiskey and head for bed without having a shower.
I sleep well. I dream of zombies.
Zombie Uprising is an exhilarating night out, whether you’re paying customer or happy to be a zombie for the night. There’s numerous sites in the North of England, and I can’t wait to visit another one. I suggest you do the same, because it sells out very quickly.
Check availability and for the opportunity of being a zombie at www.zombieuprising.co.uk