Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Survival Zombie Poblete

In the end I just couldn't resist the opportunity to see the faces of the local manchegos as more than 1,000 people (and zombies) descended on the otherwise sleepy little village of Poblete, possibly the very same village whose name Don Quixote could not recall. It was going to be at least a two Red Bull effort as it didn't start until 11 pm and went on (supposing you survived that long) until 7 am the next morning.

The "survivors" in our group (myself, my wife, Cristina, Josema, Angel, Patricia and Omar) gathered at the town hall while my sister-in-law and her husband were preparing to join the hoards of zombies from whom we would be trying to escape. We were told that a kind of vaccine had been found - it didn't stop you dying if you came into contact with a zombie, but at least you didn't become one of them - and that we had to help ensure its safe passage to Madrid, where it could be produced in large quantities. The vaccine was in a safe and it was our mission to discover the 8 numbers in the combination to the safe by talking to people at various locations around the village. But, just at that moment there was a scuffle and the spokesperson was thrown off the balcony. Then, a "Z" - the zombies who can run - jumped into the crowd and everyone scattered. In the ensuing chaos I managed to knock my wife's glasses off and give her a black eye (see video)!

The next hour or so we wandered pretty aimlessly around the village trying to find the first clue. I remember this bit being quite slow and boring at the time but it is also what I most remember looking back on it now. It was a strange and liberating experience to be wandering all around a village at night, finding obscure cross country paths and passing through gaps in fences in order to avoid being detected. It later turned out that the game didn't really start until some hours later, by which time everyone had had a chance to scout out the village. Having run through the village more times than I can remember (as it is only 5 km away from where my parents-in-law live) I knew how to get to the ancient church on the hill, which I was convinced would form part of the story. We got to the right place alright, but just not at the right moment: this would be the scene of the grand finale, once all the clues had been found and the safe unlocked. (Apparently it involved dipping your head in a bath of "blood" so as to be inoculated against the zombies, but most of us didn't get that far.)

All the bars were open all night long and played the role of being safe houses with one important caveat: if you entered one while being chased by a zombie, everyone was then at risk (I guess that this would make you very unpopular). The rules also said that anyone drunk or on drugs would be disqualified from the game and, while it was OK to have the odd drink, it was true that everyone behaved themselves pretty well. Of course it was also against the rules to attack zombies - if they touched you or you found yourself sealed off by a hoard of them, then you had to consider yourself undead. Perhaps partly due to the late opening of the bars but also out of curiosity I suppose, the whole of Poblete seemed to be out on the street to watch. We overheard one little girl say "The one time they organize an event in the village and we aren't taking part".

It wasn't too difficult to find out where to go to find the clues as there were either signs of activity or groups of people standing around trying to figure out how to get in. Frustration is definitely one of the elements the organizers deliberately play around with. It might be that you had to come back at a different time or after having obtained a piece of information first from somewhere else; or it might just be that there just wasn't room for more than one person in each group to enter. I got to go into one building with 3 people from our group, where we had to search a "dead" body lying on a table before he jumped up and "unkilled" us. Josema got such a start that he frantically grabbed something from his pocket - it turned out to be the bag with all the little pieces of paper with the clue on (which we duly handed back to give the others a chance). There was, of course, a secondary market in trading clues so it wasn't long before some people had all 8 numbers. Little did they know that you had to actually be in possession of all the corresponding bits of paper to have a chance of winning.

The modus operandi of the zombies was as follows: Z's would round up survivors like sheep and herd them into alleyways that were cut off by the hoards. This was the fate that befell Cristina, when she ran into - of all "people" - my brother-in-law. As he had never met Cristina but she had seen a photo of him with his zombie makeup, he was surprised when she exclaimed, "You're Rob's brother-in-law!". I think he had a great time puteando a la gente.

At about the same time as Cristina was being rounded up, another Z started chasing after me and my wife. I heard her shout out and yet the Z was still some way behind her. She was limping and said that she had felt as though something had hit her leg. It turned out that she had torn a muscle, so in the end, between the black eye and the limp, she looked more like a zombie than some of the zombies themselves.

It was clear that the evening was over for both of us, but in spite of the injuries sustained we both thoroughly enjoyed it (easy for me to say). Before calling it a night, we decided to gather by the town hall where we had been told that there would be an announcement at 3:30 am. We were ordered into lines by the military who arrived in a (real) tank. Then a Z came running towards us and was shot down several times by the soldier's machine guns, but each time he would get up again. Finally, he jumped to his feet and ran after an unsuspecting survivor (not for long). It was our cue to limp slowly back to the headquarters in the local sports hall where we had parked the car. We moved so slowly that a hoard of zombies heading back with their fresh kills to be made-up actually overtook us, but they were not very hungry so I managed to conserve my status as a survivor, evidenced by the green bandana I had wrapped around my arm. We caught up with my sister-in-law and her husband, who had had a thoroughly good time and were just getting ready to go out on the prowl again. They told us that several survivors had cheated either by concealing their bandana or by simply running off before the green bandana could be exchanged for the red one, signifying zombie status. They also told us of one guy who had got very angry when he was caught, as he had been very close to obtaining all the clues.

I would love to have been one of the Z's and I think that I have the speed and stamina necessary, as well as being able to roar at the top of my lungs as I have sometimes been known to do in the closing meters of a race. It also helps to be fairly tall and imposing. I emailed the organization offering my services and they said that all the Z's were members of the organization and had a lot of experience, but that I could always send in my CV. I'm not sure whether they would find anything particularly relevant on my CV or, indeed, what kind of thing they are expecting to find (avid Real Dungeons & Dragons player?). Who knows, if things don't work out in the bank maybe I have a calling there... The next event is a full 48 hour affair in Murcia...

I nearly forgot to mention: next time we must remember that eating fabada is not a good a good idea. We were even more rotten inside than the zombies.

No comments:

Post a Comment