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Impromptu Zombie Role-Playing

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Friday, July 1, 2016

(After sitting in the hot tub Wednesday, June 29, talking when I started a short diceless, narrative zombie game to give Camilla and Herman and idea of what tabletop was like. With Ashton LeBlanc, Collin Townsend, Camilla Ekker-Runde, and Herman Lee.)

On Wednesday, June 29, several people had come out to Andy Miller’s house for tubing. Collin was the first to arrive, around noon, followed by James Brown and Leigh Ann Philbee a short time late. Andy had already started drinking, of course. Camilla had texted she was running errands before coming so they were debating making the first run of tubing down the Watauga River when a car pulled up below. Andy went down and found it was Camilla.

They all talked for a short while and got themselves sprayed down with sunscreen before grabbing tubes and the small cooler tube Andy had found in the attic the day before and heading down the lane. Andy ran a few towels down to the river where they would land after the short trip. He ran back, something he much regretted, as he had two beers on his mostly empty stomach.

They walked the half mile or so down the lane and the logging trail to the river, put in, and had a pleasant trip downstream. It took maybe a half hour, sitting on the tubes, drinking beer and pop, and chatting. Collin had some trouble keeping up for some reason, but handled it with style and grace. After they arrived at the landing, Collin lounged in his tube while Camilla and Andy swam a little. Then they headed back up to the house.

Ashton arrived around then. Perfect timing. After re-applying sunscreen, they headed back down the lane, seven of them this time, Camilla and Andy with beer in hand for the walk, and put in a second time up above for another pleasant trip down the river. It was a warm sunny day. This time Andy and Camilla took the lead somewhat, heading downstream ahead of the rest, while James and Leigh Ann followed with Ashton and Collin in the rear. It all went horribly wrong at one point - a dead spot where Collin had gotten caught before this time caught Andy and Ashton as Camilla and Collin abandoned them to their fate. They made it back to the group in short order, however.

The water was starting to feel a little cooler by the time they got back to the Miller property a second time, but it was still warm out and pleasant. After a little swimming, most of them wanted to head back to the hot tub but Camilla wanted to go again. Andy was up for it so the two of them headed up the lane one more time. Pleasant conversation took them down the road and they put in upstream. They had a nice heart-to-heart, chatting about numerous things as they floated down the river a third time.

When they returned, Andy put hot dogs on the grill and they all had a nice meal. It was getting a little late and Leigh Ann had had a tooth pulled that day so she and James took their leave, Collin moving his car from the upper lane for them to get out. When he returned, the four remaining went to the hot tub. It was very warm after the cold river but Andy had a little cooler filled with beer and pop and they enjoyed the bubbles and the company. It had gotten dark by then, but the tiny white Christmas lights had a pleasant glow and the conversation was amusing.

They started talking about role-playing games and Andy said he could give Camilla an example of one as she’d never played before.

* * *

As Andy, Ashton, Camilla, and Collin sat in the hot tub, they heard a commotion from somewhere up the mountain. A man stumbled down, bleeding from a terrible wound on his shoulder.

“Help!” he said. “He just attacked me!”

The man stumbled into the gazebo where the hot tub stood and Andy leapt out and past the man.

“I’m going to call 911!” he said making for the back door.

Camilla was the next out and grabbed one of the towels, draping it around the man’s shoulder as a makeshift bandage. The man, meanwhile, had leaned against one of the pillars of the gazebo and slid down to the floor, breathing heavily. Collin and Ashton climbed out of the hot tub.

The man suddenly looked up at Camilla and then stood, leaning towards her, his eyes glazed over and his mouth open. Recognizing someone who’d become a zombie, she shoved him hard and he went back down to the ground. She ran from the gazebo towards the back door of the house.

When the dazed and apparently unbreathing man stood again, Collin rushed him and shoved him hard. The man flopped back over the back of the railing this time, not even uttering a scream, and crashed down the hill to smash into the side of the house below, where he lay in a heap for a moment. Then he stood up, his neck bent at a terrible angle. Collin couldn’t believe the man was still alive.

Ashton ran for the back stairs but the railroad ties used for steps were already slippery from the passage of two other people. She slipped and fell down the last few, crashing into the rocks at the foot of the steps leading to the back porch. Collin rushed after her and heard someone else stumbling down the dark mountainside behind them. He quickly helped Ashton to her feet. She favored her right leg and worried it might be broken, it hurt so much. He helped her to the top of the steps to the back porch as the man he had pushed clumsily climbed up the hill towards the steps.

Camilla and Andy burst out of the back door. Camilla had a tiny knife in her hand that was also fitted with a compass and a few other survival items. The blade of the knife was exposed. Andy held the cordless phone in his hand. Collin handed off Ashton to Andy to help into the house even as his own foot broke through the damaged board on the back porch. He pulled his foot out and then started to work the board loose.

Camilla stood at the top of the steps as Andy helped Ashton into the house. As the uninjured man came at her, she tried to stab him in the temple with the knife but caught him in the neck instead. It didn’t seem to even hurt the man and he tried to bite her shoulder but she screamed and held him off. Then Collin, stick in hand, moved forward and shoved the man’s shoulder hard. The man toppled over backwards and fell to the bottom of the steps even as the other man came up them. They crashed at the bottom again.

Camilla ran down the steps and stabbed both of the men in the temple, killing each of them in turn. Then she and Collin headed back into the house.

* * *

Andy helped Ashton to the couch. She was babbling about zombies and such and Andy handed her the cordless phone and ran down the steps to the living room, heading for the garage, where the shotgun was.

“Andy’s mom?” Ashton called.

“You’re making a lot of noise out there,” Mrs. Miller called back.

Ashton started telling her there were zombies outside.

* * *

Herman, Camilla’s boyfriend, was driving in the darkness of Watauga County. He had his GPS set for Andy’s house and was heading there to hang out with them towards the end of the day. He had passed over the bridge across the Watauga River and come to a steep hill that was not far from the address when a man stumbled out into the road in front of his car. He slammed on the brakes but the man still went down in front of it.

In shock, he pulled out his cell phone. He had service so he dialed 911.

“Watauga County 911, what is the nature of your emergency?” a woman answered.

“I just hit a guy in the road!” Herman said.

A hand came over the hood of the car and the bloody, broken man pulled himself up, standing. He started to make his way around towards the driver’s side but Herman, thinking the man must have been a zombie, floored it and ran him over again. The man didn’t make a sound as he went under the car.

“I just ran him over again!” Herman said to the dispatch operator. “He was a zombie!”

“Excuse me, sir?” the woman replied.

Herman saw movement in his rearview mirror. Red-lit by his brake lights, he saw the terribly injured man stand up behind the car and make his way around towards the driver’s side door. The man didn’t make a sound but Herman could see his left arm was hanging limp and he was stumbling as he walked. He cracked the window.

“Are you okay?” he said. “I didn’t think─”

The man grabbed the window with his right hand and pulled hard. The glass shattered and Herman dropped the cell phone and pushed the accelerator to the floor once again, leaving the undead horror behind.

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