2.8 Hours Later - Bristoling With Fear

Visited a city briefly but don't know it well?  Want to acquire a detailed geography of the place in an exciting and novel manner?  Don't mind running away from people in strange make-up and hospital scrubs in the process?  Then what you need is a city-wide zombie chase game!

The city in question here is Bristol, and the event I am referring to is called 2.8 Hours Later.  I was lucky enough to participate in it this Friday, May 27th, and it was fantastic.  You simply must try it if you can, but if you're not sure what it's all about, read on...

2.8 Hours Later from SlingShot on Vimeo.

Having my finger on fewer pulses than someone with an allergic reaction to lentils, I was blissfully unaware of 2.8HL's existence.  Lucky, therefore, that my better half's brother happens to live in Bristol and is most definitely up-to-speed with interesting events.  So he signed us up for the Friday night.

Trying to drive from York to Bristol on a Friday afternoon of a Bank Holiday weekend was a rather foolish endeavour, but we made it eventually, parked in the centre of Bristol and met up with our local team-mates.

After joining a queue, signing away our lives, being given an Igfest wristband, a 2.8HL armband and a grid-squared map of the city centre, and then being briefed on the rules of the game (the main one being: You are not invincible. Do not run in front of a bus), we were ready to go.

I wasn't very nervous, even though I didn't know what to expect.  Two of our team had done it last year, and I knew I wasn't the slowest runner in the group, so I figured that if the zombies suddenly appeared, I'd be ok if I kept my wits about me.

An organizer told us that our first task was to turn left and head for grid square N37.  As I've not got a digital copy of the map, these references will be essentially meaningless, so instead I have created a Google Map showing all the different locations on it.  The link to it is below, but should you wish to retain an element of surprise, you may want to peruse it only once you've finished reading.

View 2.8 hours later in a larger map

Well, we did as we were told, started walking, and quickly spotted a zombie on the other side of the road.  We scuttled past, and it merely snarled at us.  This of course was a set-up, and our jog took us more swiftly to the first crossroads, at which juncture a zombie man came hurtling out from the road on the right, scattering us.  Two of our team of six went left, pursued closely by the zombie, and the other four of us went straight on.

We, the unchased quartet, turned left at the bottom of the road, unsure if our team was now 33% smaller.  Happily, it wasn't, as a short way further along, we found our two errant team-mates, unzombified, if a little shaken.  The adrenaline was certainly pumping, not to mention the heart, and everywhere seemed a potential hiding place of the undead.

We went down a Welsh back street to avoid another encounter, but soon found another zombette lurking at the end of the road.  She was distracted by another group of game players, so a well-timed dash got us onto the Redcliffe bridge unmolested, and we made it to our first location without further trouble (although one of our team was still very jumpy, and would run at the slightest provocation).

Grid square N37 turned out to be an empty shop containing a blood-spitting girl and her grandfather.  Whilst she frothed at the window, he told us we had to get to the church in square P24. I was expecting to leave navigation to the Bristol residents in the team, but one thing I'm good with is maps, and reading them at speed, so it quickly became clear that I was going to have a job to do.

This became especially exciting when the obvious route to the church turned out to be patrolled, and we had to take a circuitous route to St Thomas' Church.  Even then, non game-playing locals tried to confuse us - one business-suited woman snarled at one of our team as we passed by, freaking her out, and the people outside the Seven Stars pub relished it too.

We got into the church ok though, and persuaded the tied-up vicar to tell us where to move to next.  I thought he said B16, which would have been either a square on the very western edge of the map, or else a suburb of Birmingham.  Thankfully, I was corrected, and we searched for V16, in the eastern part of Castle Park.

Castle Park was dark, and shady characters seemed to be everywhere.  I still hadn't appreciated that all the zombies would be in green hospital scrubs, so when a man I didn't like the look of came purposefully towards us, I scarpered.  It turned out he just wanted a cigarette.

Down the east end of the park, where the castle used to be I suppose, we found a small building that was extensively zombied.  After various creeping circumnavigations of the area, and various mad escapes from zombie attacks, it became apparent that the only way we'd get in would be for one person to dash to the door whilst the rest of us created a distraction.

 Commando Pete was chosen, or perhaps chose himself, and made it inside successfully.  When he came out again he was still alive, and told us that the doctor-cum-zombie-butcher he'd spoken to had orders for us to cross the bridge to the Galleries.

The Galleries is a generic shopping mall just north of the park, and its presence stultifies normal brain activity on a daily basis.  It was therefore the perfect location for 2.8HL.

After a circuitous escape from the park, we took it to the bridge in the company of two police officers who were in no way involved with the game.  There we were stopped at the door and told what we had to do: get medicine, get to a shop on the middle floor, get in, get the medicine to Lisa, get the information from her, and get out again.

I have to say this was the best part of the night for me.  A deserted shopping centre, a scattering of zombies, and clusters of men and women running around screaming, trying to find the pills, the shop, the info, or the exit.  We went in slowly, tentatively, but I couldn't wait and ran off.  This wasn't a brilliant move, as I got trapped in a cafe area, but I was able to elude capture.  I then spent a few minutes running away from zombies, going down escalators, running away from zombies some more, running back up escalators, and finally finding the shop where Lisa was (and my team-mates too, who were clearly better at following instructions than me).

However, it wasn't all good, as only 2 of the 6 of us had medicine, and we all needed it.  Back out into the mall went four of us, and luckily I spotted four bags of pills (actually Tic-Tacs, which meant we considered eating them) almost immediately.  Back in the base, we went to give them to Lisa, who told us we had to find the Gatekeeper in Callowhill Court, grid square S11.

Of course, we had to get out of the mall first, and this almost proved a problem.  Getting downstairs was fine, but then a zombie spotted us as we neared the exit, and hurtled after us.  I wasn't too worried, as there were lots of people behind me who were going to get caught first, but I didn't think all 6 of our team would make it out.

Adrenaline does funny things to you, though, and everyone sped down the corridor, through the doors and out onto Broadmead.  None of us were captured.

Outside, some lads sitting on benches advised us that there were some zombies to the left, so we went right.  Across the square, outside BHS we spotted another one, so we turned down Merchant Street and then cut through Quaker's Friars.  The area was unpeopled, so two of our team took the opportunity to go to a brasserie and use the facilities.  One of them took so long that we thought they'd decided to abandon us, but eventually our sextet was reunited, and we edged our way round to S11.

There, round the back of the shops, hanging round the bins, guarding his trolley, swigging his rum, we found The Gatekeeper, and what he told us was terrifying.  We had to go up the steps past Primark.  He was adamant we do this quickly, as the steps were apparently patrolled by a zombie hen party, and if we got past them intact, we should go on to the Bear Pit.

The zombie hens of Primark -  (C) SlingShot Effect

I started jogging off, till I realised that no-one was coming with me.  Urgency on my own was clearly not wise, so I slowed down again.  We came to the steps en masse, and tried to walk confidently past the hens, as if we did so, they would apparently leave us alone.  It worked partially, till we thought we were past them, at which point one of them charged after us, screaming.

Out on the Haymarket, we needed to go right, but zombie panic ensured that not everyone did, and the hen-zombie stopped those who'd turned left from correcting themselves.  It was tense, and exciting, with a group of us on the edge of the subway to the Bear Pit trying to distract her and get the rest of the people past.

We eventually managed this, only for a couple of zombies to appear in the subway.  They didn't harass us, though, and wandered through the tunnel.  We crept after them and out into the pit, expecting more zombies to appear at any moment.

Somewhat surprisingly, they didn't.  We found a woman tending an ill man, curled up in a corner, and she told us we were near the Resistance HQ and should get help.  Q4 was the grid square we needed.

This was on the edge of Stokes Croft, home of this year's Tesco Riot, but I didn't know this at the time, and was solely interested in how we could get to the base.  We turned right down Moon Street and immediately saw a couple of telltale characters in green scrubs.  We backed off, and tried Wilder Street, but that was the same.  So we returned to the main road and headed up Stokes Croft to see if coming in from York Street was better.

It wasn't.  There were zombies all over the place, and seeing a factory called H. H. Brain Ltd, we had a suspicion that we might be close to where we needed to be.

So we went up City Road and then down Brunswick Street to try and come in from a different angle.  One zombie chased us for a bit, but a second sortie enabled us to get back round on to Wilder Street, where we seemed to be alone.  Lots of other contestants were now in the area, often in quite large clusters, so we inevitably attracted attention before too long.

I can't quite remember what happened next, but my better half and I made a successful breakaway, only to find ourselves at the back door of the HQ, where they wouldn't let us in.  Had we realised were we'd needed to go, we'd have made it safely, but now it was too late, and we had to dash back towards Stokes Croft again.  And Hen didn't have the energy to do any more dashing, and another zombie appeared and she was captured, and she ended up looking like this:

Made up for a night on the town.

Having lost the other four too, I was now alone, at least in terms of team-mates.  As more contestants arrived, so did more zombies, and getting to the base was becoming harder and harder.  I circumnavigated the area again, tried to repeat my first (semi-)successful foray, and failed.  And now it seemed to be just me and the zombies.  Occasional stragglers came and went, but I was a bit isolated.

Eventually I texted my team-mates to discover their whereabouts, and the response was "We're all in the HQ. You'd best just run for it."

Not having much in the way of a plan B, I came round the corner onto York Street, used some parked cars to get close to the junction with Backfields, up which I knew I had to run, and saw that there were about half-a-dozen zombies.  There were also lots of people inside the compound, peering over the wall and cheering, and when I was spotted by a zombie, I just ran for it.

I was quick enough to get past the first two easily, then I just about dodged the third, but the fourth was much too close.  I tried a ridiculous Steve McManaman drop shoulder dummy and moved to my left, but the zombie reached out and grabbed at me, clutching briefly at my arm.  But my momentum took me past him, and now I could see the other five standing in the doorway of the building, screaming at me to come in, and though I wasn't sure if a brief arm grab counted as capture, I came in.

And inside the HQ I was deemed to be clean, along with three of my team. Only Hen and Pete had been caught, and a 4/6 success rate seemed pretty good.  We could breathe again, and get ourselves a drink, although not till we'd posed for the obligatory group photo:

2.8 Hours Later - two zombies, four survivors
What an amazing night out.  And what an amazing way to see a city.  Anyone fancy setting up a Jorvik Zombie Viking Hunt?