Tuition's on the rise. There seem to be no jobs for recent grads. College textbooks are expensive.
And now zombies are invading college campuses across the country.
Great. Can't kids catch a break?
Here's the scoop: It's a game. A sort of grown-up version of tag on a college campus.
The "outbreak" started with one guy at Goucher, a small liberal arts college outside Baltimore. He's called the O.Z., the Original Zombie. He had to feed on humans to survive. And if the O.Z. didn’t make one kill every 48 hours, he’d starve to death.
Zombies started popping up on campuses of Connecticut schools, thanks in part to Alex Marcus, a student at Connecticut College.
“I think most of us do it for the added excitement of running around campus," dodging zombies, Marcus said. "It makes your week much more interesting … having to run to class to survive.”
Here's how it works:
The O.Z. makes a “kill” by firmly touching any part of a human. OK, almost any part.
So how do you know the zombie is a zombie? It's a tell-tale headband they're wearing. And they'll be running for you unless, of course, you happen to be on the track. That’s a safe zone. Those people are just practicing their escape.
After the tag, the Zombie must collect the human’s ID card and report the kill within three hours. If the zombie doesn’t make a tag in 48 hours, the zombie dies a rather gruesome death that involves public humiliation on Facebook. For some, true death is a preferable alternative.
The humans taking part in the game have to wear a headband around an arm or a leg and it is moved to the head after conversion. These are not to be confused with gang symbols.
There are ways for humans to protect themselves. All across the country, players are stocking up on socks and NERF guns.
If a zombie is shot or hit with a pair of socks (dirty college student socks can be deadly), they’re “stunned” for 15 minutes and can’t do anything.
The game has actually gotten so big that Target and Walmart stores near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst reported running out of the guns as humans built up their arsenals.
There are also safe zones, including dorm rooms, bathrooms, academic buildings, the library and the health center.
Marcus says those who missed the memo that zombies are taking over the world are sometimes caught off guard.
“It freaks out a few of the tourists,” he said. “Especially when they see crazy people running around with NERF guns.”
Alex said the first time he was zombie-fied (everyone gets a second chance when there are no humans left) was classic.
“I had the most epic death. I was in the library and I saw a zombie at one of the computers. I knew there were lots outside waiting for me,” he said. “I went out the back by the loading platform. As soon as the back door closed, a pack of them stormed me. I never had a chance.”
“I’ve got an arsenal and an attack plan,” he said. “I run down to Route 32, run up the highway, then run back to campus. That’s how I stay safe.”
Sure hope zombies can’t read, Alex.