True life: humans versus zombies

Photo by Sho Kitamura

It’s the only game I’ve played in which riding a unicycle is a tactical advantage so brilliant that it’s against the rules. I usually stay away from wearing the color yellow, but I’m petrified of it during the week of the game. The perfect test of mental constitution, physical endurance and strategic foresight, Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) is an exhilarating campus activity that everyone, including me, takes way too seriously.

It is important to realize that HvZ is only a game to those who aren’t part of it. The actual players live out Walking Dead-style scenarios between engineering classes. They pretend to carry dangerous blowguns and last-resort grenades to ward off the zombie horde.

Meanwhile, the spectators just notice marshmallows and socks littering the quad.

They pretend to carry dangerous blowguns and last-resort grenades

One fine Tuesday night last semester, I took the treacherous journey from West Campus to Clough, hoping to finish some 1371 homework. My armband seemed to glow in the crisp evening air. It was perhaps the only thing about me that stood out. Every step I took, the armband rustled, and I could have sworn I heard the words “fresh meat.”

I made the journey there successfully, of course. I had taken all the necessary precautions: I traveled without a backpack so as not to slow me down, I took the lesser-known path through Van Leer and I used my Call of Duty tactics to stay low to the ground while moving. But alas, I let a completely unforeseen enemy get the best of me.


On the way back, I decided to take the Tornado Valley of the HvZ game: Skiles walkway. As soon as I stepped out, I knew something was wrong. I could feel the zombies watching, waiting. And suddenly, as I calmly walked down the stairs, they ambushed. There were four of them, hiding behind one of the brick walls. I took the quickest path that I could see: onto the overhang that juts off the Skiles building and overlooks the walkway.

Three of them waited at the top of the stairs while one followed me onto the overhang, smirking. And that’s when the lesser half of my brain came up with a thought common to stupid college students, men going through bizarre midlife crises and Ezio Auditore: “I could make that jump.”

“I could make that jump…”

I decided to drop from the overhang onto the pinestraw underneath me, and jump off the brick wall onto the pavement below it. This was not a good decision.

And yet, it worked to perfection. I fell clumsily onto the pinestraw, and when I hit the pavement below the brick wall, I ran faster than I had ever imagined I could.

Maybe it was surprise. Maybe it was pity. I’d like to imagine that it was admiration. But the zombies gave up the chase as I slipped into the Student Center.

Finally I returned to my room, triumphant. I lay in bed that night, in awe of my adventure. And the next morning, I awoke, ready to escape death once more.