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Sally Hall: A celebration of life by dodging hordes of the undead in Leeds

The 2.8 Days Later zombie chase game is on its way to Leeds

The 2.8 Days Later zombie chase game is on its way to Leeds

Nights out in Leeds frequently involve the wearing of trowel-thick layers of make-up and scantily arranged rags of clothing.

But they rarely end up at a giant party for the undead, hanging out with a posse of zombies.

This is the finale I envisage for my evening of adventure with 2.8 Hours Later, which will be flooding the city with sufferers of partially deceased syndrome for a series of adrenaline-fuelled zombie runs this week.

The company specialises in hosting apocalyptic events where participants are given a city map and a set of clues, then let loose to dodge hordes of the undead in order to reach their target.

In certain areas of Leeds the streets will be overrun with crowds of moaning shufflers whose vacant, dead-eyed stares flash with murderous intent.

Some would say that’s business as usual – although the relentless pursuit of brains certainly sets the zombies apart from your average bloke-on-the-pull down Greek Street on a Saturday night.

I can’t wait to pound the streets in desperate flight from the hordes of volunteer zombies recruited by 2.8 Hours Later this Friday night.

And the after-party sounds awesome too.

(Though it would be even more amazing to experience the evening in full shuffle mode from the outset, as one of the volunteers. They have to go to zombie school! Where they are ‘taught to run, chase, scream and bite like true undead champions’! And it’s all organised by the Inhuman Resources Manager! Jobs don‘t come much cooler than that.)

But what does it say about our society, this pervasive obsession with the zombie apocalypse?

Brad Pitt’s new movie World War Z also plays on our creeping fascination with an undead Armageddon. Images of mass contamination, unchecked brutality and apocalyptic extinction seem to be scratching a societal itch somehow.

As the king of the undead George Romero (director of Night of the Living Dead) put it himself: ‘Zombies represent a global disaster that people simply don’t know how to deal with’.

Whether it’s a portent of impending environmental doom, symbol of unchecked consumerism, or signifier of a global pandemic – the zombie apocalypse certainly provides a rich subject for reflection.

I always enjoyed engaging in zombie chit-chat with my former boss – a bloke even more obsessed with apocalyptic scenarios than me.

Whereas I had my escape route all sorted (not that I plan to reveal it here, of course. I don’t stockpile extra cans of Alphabetti Spaghetti for just anyone, you know…), he was ready to stay and fight.

A motorbiking psychiatric nurse with a penchant for martial arts, my boss could handle himself in a scrap.

Yet his strategy seemed foolhardy in the extreme. Not only did he plan to take on the zombies himself, he was also training his cherubic, golden-haired sons (still toddlers at the time) to take on the living dead bare-handed.

(‘They won’t be expecting ankle biters,‘ he crowed. ‘That’ll give those brain-eating blighters a shock.’)

However we approach the impending demise of the human race, one thing is for sure. A night of joy and absurdity, spent boogying with hundreds of gyrating zombies, has to represent some sort of triumph over doubt and fear – and, there amidst the undead, I hope to celebrate feeling truly alive.

 

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