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Monday, March 04, 2024

Humans vs. Zombies: Inside the campus infection

Editor's note: Kat Bein followed a group of humans around this weekend and wrote about her experiences.

It was 9 p.m. Friday night when I found myself at the Reitz Union Colonnade. UF was dark and mostly deserted, but I wasn't alone.

Inside the Reitz Union lobby, about 30 students stood huddled in groups, waiting anxiously for information from their leaders outside.

Just beyond the colonnade steps waited the enemy, the scourge of the undead, the zombies.

It was a couple of days after the infection broke out, the third time in UF campus history, and already more than 40 people had changed. I was glad to be a human, and though I wasn't armed, I was safe among these weathered warriors. Or at least, that's what I hoped.

At about 9:15 p.m., the humans were called to muster. Dr. Muriel, the one woman who knew how to cook-up a cure for the virus had been injured the night before and rescued by some brave young band of humans calling themselves the Basterds.

Dr. Muriel told everyone she needed samples of the virus in order to recreate the cure in her lab, but the only samples she knew of were lost somewhere on campus, and we humans would need to scour the area for clues as to their whereabouts.

I was nervous. We were safe where we were, but the humans would all be leaving soon and I didn't want to get left behind. I found the group with the most guns and followed them. I was a Basterd tonight.

Led by Nick LoCastro, a fourth-year microbiology student, the Basterds are a tough looking band of badasses. LoCastro was armed with three guns. Another Basterd, Cameron Conrad, was strapped to the nines with modified guns and a slew of sock-grenades draped across his chest.

The Basterds, about 10 in all that night, headed toward the Infirmary. We'd gotten a hint that some clues could be found "where sick students go." LoCastro ordered us all to hush ourselves as we hustled through the shadows, guns cocked and ready in case of ambush.

We snuck around the back way and came through the Florida Gym. We met a game moderator, third-year computer engineering major T.J. Boyd, on the steps of the clinic, and he told us to look for something blue.

While the Basterds checked around, I stared at the body looming in front of us. I found out that was Derek Jones, the Original Zombie. I gulped.

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Someone found the clue - it was a hazmat suit and mask and a clue reading something about having only two minutes to be somewhere. There wasn't time to think what that meant because more zombies were rapidly gathering around.

LoCastro ordered the Basterds to huddle, AKA I tried my best to get in the middle. The air was tense, and there was an uncomfortable calm before the storm as the zombies circled around us, then, suddenly-

AAHHHHHHHHH!!!! The zombies roared and rushed our group. I screamed and put my hands on my ears as Nerf bullets shot past my head. I was confused. I thought I felt a zombie's hand brush my face. But when the noise deadened and reality set in, I was still alive.

I was lucky. The zombies were only stunned for the next 10 minutes. There was no time to grieve.

We took cover inside the Florida Gym before regrouping in McCarty Hall. One of the Basterds told me the chilling tale of how, last year, about 40 students were infected where we stood in a bloodbath referred to as the McCarty Feast.

We met with Dr. Muriel. She told us it wasn't looking good. Since we left the Reitz Union Colonnade about an hour and a half ago, the zombies had taken the lead and we Basterds, along with another group of maybe three or four somewhere else, were the only humans left.

On top of that, some humans had discovered the coolers hidden in McCarty woods that contained the cure, but they had gone in before realizing the woods were "poisoned," and technically they should have been dead for going in without the hazmat suits.

The mission was pretty much a failure for the humans, and so plans were scrapped. The zombies were declared winners. But there was hope for tomorrow, and Dr. Muriel promised lots of cure cards to even the playing field the next morning.

Three times running and humans vs. zombies is still working out the kinks. But hey, it's just a game.

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