I never expect to survive. But this time I didn't intend to.
Every game invites you to play a character, though most people settle for souped-up versions of themselves. This time I swapped Dwayne Hicks for Martin Riggs. My mission: get the two VIPs through alive by any means necessary.
I'm suicidal but I'm not stupid. I drop us into the second-to-last squad to go out (tired zombies lack stamina), with a bag of energy-giving sweets, backup batteries for the phones, satellite tracking of the VIPs (via Latitude), flashing lights to draw attention and a big Huntsman umbrella to hide behind.
We get attacked early on and I'm able to hold the zombie's attention, at least. Okay. We have a plan.
Further down Tooley St, a mob of survivors form as squads bunch up, all of us unable to find the checkpoint location. Viv spots zombies in the distance, not paying us much attention, as I try to collect intel from the other survivors so we don't have to risk exploring by ourselves. Suddenly they're moving our way, fast. Instinctively I yell "Contact!" and suddenly the whole mob is moving as one, fleeing six abreast down the middle of the road. Someone else echoes my shout; I doubt they've actually seen the threat. I glance back. The zombies have stopped hundreds of metres away from us. The mob runs on; shouting doesn't seem to stop them. I'm not sure if we're safer without them.
A later checkpoint calls for us to go up to the ninth floor of a carpark on the stairs, then take the ramps to level 14. I lead the (newly collected) squad up to the eighth floor, past a couple of confused civilians, and stop on the stairwell before the landing. The door's ajar and I don't like it. I'm focused on that when a scream from the VIP makes me look up to see a grasping hand coming down from the stairs above, inches away. We back up, then charge through the door to the 8th floor, abandoning the stairs to the zombie.
It happens again; exiting the carpark, Viv spots a hand gripping the door from the outside, only a couple of fingers giving away the position of the zombie hiding behind it. It would have murdered all of us in seconds. We take another exit.
I'm supposed to be saving their lives.
I get my chance. Union St is narrow, and two zombies block our path. One group slips through while a car goes the other way, using it for cover, and a mob builds up behind us while we wait for another chance. Out of time, I look at the VIPs: "Alright. I'm going to be a hero, so you'd better be ready."
Then I walk up to one of the zombies.
"Hey! Stinkface! Your mother was an ogre!"
He's not that interested.
"You want tasty brains? How about these? It's a pity you're so slow! I bet I can hop faster than you!"
He looks at me, then looks away. I'm waving a flashing red light in his face. Oh well. Plan B.
I turn around.
"Dammit. This doesn't work for shit."
I'm half-expecting the response but my heart still jumps at the roar and suddenly I'm pelting at full speed down a side street. We reach the next junction and he's still chasing me. Right onto Copperfield St, past another turnoff, and another. I'm at full speed and can't keep this up for much longer, and I'm not gaining on him. Risborough St. He's still coming. I hit the t-junction at Great Suffolk St and another survivor waves me down; the pursuit has stopped. I stagger into a doorway and collapse, sending a terse message to the VIPs:
"You'd better have made it."
They do. We regroup, passing through another checkpoint and directly into an ambush under a bridge. Both VIPs are clear, but I'm on a collision course with a slow-moving zombie I have no room to dodge.
"EAT FLAMING DEA.. or, don't".
He grabs me just as I remember that I don't actually have a weapon. Okay. I'm scratched. But I'm still standing and the VIPs are still OK.
We save precious energy by diverting down side streets; the VIPs are tired and I can't sprint any more. But it doesn't work; for the first time ever in my four runs at this game, there's a random zombie hiding behind a car, alone, on a random street we shouldn't have been on. He starts tracking one of the VIPs at a fast lurch, then switches to a full-on sprint when I start calling him names. This time he gets me. It turns out that making them angry also makes them fast. The VIPs get clear and wait for me around a corner.
But it's the final checkpoint where things turn weird. It's an ambush at the end of a street; the map says there's someone to meet there, but we can't find him. The whole mob is asking "left or right? left or right?" and refusing to approach until we know. Finally we do engage them, and it turns out to be an actor just standing there, right in the middle of the horde. We're magically safe if we're standing within a few metres, apparently. There's confusion. I get bitten again, but it doesn't matter.
While he's muttering whatever plot points he seems to care about, we're standing less than ten metres from the zombies. I have no idea what's going on. Then suddenly the professor has gone and we're charging into certain death, though the road in the other direction is completely clear. It's a fuckup, a bad one, inexplicable, and it instantly undoes all of our heroics. One VIP dies in seconds. I spot the other being surrounded, and can see that there's nothing I can do, now. I get absolutely mauled, not that I care.
So this is how it ends. I'd have liked to have gone out more gloriously.