By Mallory Morrison
As they were loitering on the third floor of Mercer, some students stumbled upon a secret room containing a laboratory that some of the teachers were using to resurrect William Jennings Bryan. This might sound like an April Fool’s joke, but this is the actual, if fictional, scenario used as the back story for this year’s Zombie Apocalypse.
Dr. Marty Hartzell, professor of biology, was in charge of the biology portion of the experiment while Brad Gatlin, assistant professor of business, was in charge of recovering a journal in Haiti, the location that had the closest case of zombification on record from the Black Market. Gatlin was using the Break for Change trip to cover up his real reason for traveling to Haiti. Dr. Jud Davis, professor of Greek, and Dr. Dwight Page, professor of languages and linguistics, were both attempting to translate the ancient journal. The leader of the whole experiment was Kauri Tallant, assistant director of counseling/instructor in psychology.
One of the students who found the hidden room was a Christian Ministry major, and being a cocky CM major, tried to translate a portion of the journal. In the middle of the translation, he spoke the last phrase in the journal correctly, bringing W.J. Bryan to life. However, he was missing a key component: his brain. Longing to fill this void, Bryan began to crave the brain that he had lost.
Students armed themselves with the best of their survival gear for the annual zombie slaughter on Saturday. The event was held in Mercer Hall as well as in Rudd Auditorium. The game consisted of three rounds: the survival round, the escort mission and the isolation round.
During the escort mission, teams of four assembled and chose one member to be a lightly armed escortee. The purpose of every team is to keep their escortee alive. If this mission fails, the entire group becomes zombies. The question is: will you defend them with your life?
During the isolation round, group sizes are severely limited. Team sizes can only consist of one or two people. Can you survive on your own?
Here’s how the game works: two or three students are selected as zombies at the beginning of each of the three rounds. Everyone is then given a few minutes to disperse before the zombies reveal themselves and become overwhelmed by the infection. Non-zombie participants will have a marking such as a piece of cardboard duct-taped around their upper-arm. Players become infected when the wrapping is removed. When killed, zombies respawn, coming back to life after 15 seconds and/or the moment his killer disappears from view.
Cardboard weapons, guns and light sabers were the original weapons when the game originated. As the game has advanced, players now use foam swords, more advanced guns, and safety measures are taken much more seriously.
Costumes were welcomed but not necessary. Nuns, exorcists, doctors, ninjas and Curiosity (a character from the video game portal) were some of the costumes that participated in this apocalypse. Past games have included medieval knights, gas masks and medics.
Alumnus Kielyanne Portesi with the help of former student Luke Harris created the idea for the game. When Portesi graduated, Tim Baldi carried on the tradition of the apocalypse with varying co-game masters in the past two years including alumnus David Skinner, senior Sean Bunger, senior Daniel Newport and sophomore Sydnie Enecks.
Kimberlyn Foster, a sophomore and two-year veteran of the zombie apocalypse said, “A lot more people than usual came this time, and it was great to see so many people get really into character, even the zombies.”
Thirty total people were present at this year’s apocalypse including four GM’s and the photographer for the event, Wendy Krauss.
“My favorite part is the sort of bond we all share, whether we know it or not, because we all come for the same thing: nerf guns and zombies. I saw athletes teaming up with introverted English majors, people who had never met before defending one another and best friends trying to eat one another’s brains. When a bunch of people share a common goal or interest, some pretty cool things can happen,” said Enecks.
First time player Andrew Carpenter said the event gave him an excuse to hunt down his roommate.
Junior Andrew Smith’s death was epic, according to all of the GM’s. Nine zombies cornered him leaving him with only a machine gun for defense. He took out eight of his attackers before he ran out of ammo, and the remaining zombie ate him.
The next campus wide zombie apocalypse will take place in the fall a few weeks after Halloween. Bunger will be graduating and will not be here for the next event. However, Bunger said, “I am looking forward to where Daniel and Sydnie take this in the future. I couldn’t be more excited with what they do after I’m gone.”