I recently got a new phone—a phone that can actually do stuff, and one that prompted my wife to say, “Welcome to the 20th Century.”
I countered: “But we’re in the—”
“I know,” she said.
This is my first-ever personal phone, and I sort of didn’t know what to do with it at first. An office Secret Santa, however, had given me an iTunes gift card, so I bought a couple of songs and then remembered an app I’d read about last year.
It’s called Zombies, Run!, and it basically plays a story for you to listen to while you run in real life. It’s sort of a game in that you “pick up” items as you go along—including medical supplies, water, and, honestly, underwear—some of which you can then use to improve a virtual outpost full of post-zombie-apocalypse survivors, but the main draw is this: While you’re running, earbuds firmly in place, a voice gives you directions and reports on nearby groups of “zoms” with a hankering for your hamstrings.
I initially thought that the game was a bit more interactive, but the missions seem to be set audio tracks. Which is fine by me. My typical physical activity consists of walking up the stairs to go to bed, and this download actually motivated me to get out of the house and do several laps around our condo complex.
I was prepared to be a bit freaked out, but the initial mission was fairly tame. At first. I chose to run at night, thinking the darkness might heighten the suspense. Also, that’s the only free time I can generally carve out of my day.
Once I got into the groove—both in running and in the game—it was easier to slip into the story. I tuned out my neighbors, waving from their garages as I jogged past, and focused on the narrative. Smoke coming from one condo’s chimney became the sight and smell of a downed helicopter. I didn’t know how to incorporate the one set of Christmas lights still mounted and lit, though.
Everything was going smoothly until a large pack of zombies caught wind of me and gave chase. One zombie in particular broke from the pack and zeroed in on me.
The voices in my ears grew urgent. “Don’t look behind you!” they shouted, “Just run! RUN!”
That worked. I resisted the urge to glance backward, even when I passed a streetlamp with dual lights on top, giving me a double shadow. Suddenly, as my eyes slid sideways, I could see silhouetted on the road another figure immediately behind me.
Imagination is a powerful thing, especially when it has audio help.
Since this is the first time I’ve run in, well, my 30s, I will admit that I paused the track to walk a bit before carrying on the run for my life. I imagine that the zombie took a breather, too, maybe put her decaying arms up over her head and shuffled along a little more slowly before picking up the pace again.
I’m a bit sore now from the rush, but I will be going out again soon.