This is part 2 of an ongoing series in which I roleplay in DayZ as myself – which is to say, as a scared man with negligible survival skills. Read part 1 here.
I’m in a bind. What appears to be my only way off the roof of a three-storey building, a ladder to the top floor, is blocked by an infected lady who would beat me half to death before I step off the rungs. My only weapon, a fire axe, doesn’t have the reach to take her out through the hole in the ceiling. Things look grim from here, so I take a peek elsewhere, skirting the edge of the rooftop for a fire escape or anything else that could help me avoid the undead ladder guardian.
There’s another ladder. This is the best day of my life. I descend all the way back to terra firma, hot-footing it away from the building and into the outskirts of Chernogorsk. But I can’t leave the city just yet – I still need rope to fashion an improvised bow, and feathers for some homemade arrows. I can see a barn not far down the road, and farm buildings have a good chance of containing everything I need. All I need to do is avoid attracting any more zombies.
There’s three more zombies. This is the worst day of my life. Against such overwhelming numbers I can do little else but sprint in the opposite direction, ducking into a large house in an attempt to throw them off. It fails, as do several more dodge-and-weave maneuvers through smaller buildings. My scent, apparently, just too strong.
With their growls and gurgles filling my ears, the zed trio chase me all the way to the barn. I realise that running further would be pointless; they obviously possess the tracking skills of a Australian huntsman, and unlike me, they’ll never need to stop for food or water. If I’m to loot this farm in relative safety, I’ll need to stand and fight.
I have but one advantage: all that ducking through houses has at least split the group into a staggered line, so if I’m quick, I can take them one-by-one. I run to the furthest end of the barn, pull out the axe, and prepare to make what I deeply hope is not a final stand.
Number One goes down from a single swing, and a couple of seconds pass before Number Two makes her move. She lunges just as I just do, and we both miss. With Number Three now inside the barn and advancing fast, I plant the axe in Two’s spine, sidestep her falling corpse and face the final attacker. She raises both arms, but my axe comes down faster.
I’m panting, exhausted, and alive.
More good news comes in the form of a nearby chicken house, where I spend a minute wiggling my arm around inside for loose feathers. This act of somewhat domesticated hunter-gathering is made slightly more tense by the fact that I’m pretty much out in the open; easy prey for any bandits who witnessed my flight from inner Cherno and are now looking to catch me with my pants down. Or with my arm inside a tiny wooden hut.
I get away clean, however, and turn my attention to a nearby shed. There’s no rope – the final piece of my plan to construct a useable ranged weapon – but I do take the time to check the description on a packet of seeds, to see if I could have them as a light snack. It is here, reading about tomatoes, that I am ambushed.
Not by the living, but by yet another infected, who lays two heavy hits into my back before I even hear him approach. I immediately start to lose blood, and dart out into the road, closely followed by the sneaky, army-uniformed bastard. I don’t think, I don’t fight – as the colour begins to fade from my vision, my only instinct is to run to somewhere I can hide and use my shirt as a makeshift bandage. No such luck this time, as a second military zombie emerges from a bush ahead of me, catching me in a dangerous pincer movement.
I run, blood still dripping from my back, into the nearest building: another barn, this one with two flights of stairs on each side. Panicking, I head for the high ground, only to become trapped when both zeds prove adept at using steps.
As the first moves within biting range, I make the only move I can, and barge past him as I descend the same staircase I just climbed. His friend, unfortunately, is completely blocking the final flight. I charge him without considering my angle of approach, and don’t simply miss the stairs – I go flying off this level of the barn completely. I fall, strangely slowly, before meeting the concrete floor. Bleeding and broken, the blackness takes me.
Hey James, how long would you last in a zombie apocalypse? About twenty minutes.
And yet, I’m not sure that’s fair. Arguably the biggest factors in my early death were to do with DayZ’s janky movement controls and questionable physics, rather than my decision-making (which was, admittedly, poor). I don’t have a screenshot, but the raised level from which I took a lethal feet-first fall was only about nine or ten feet off the ground – hardly a perilous drop. Plus, while I’m not the fittest chap around, I’m also not so physically challenged that I can only run in straight lines, like my DayZ character.
All things considered, I think I deserve a do-over. I’ll be continuing this diary with a new character and a new life, one which will hopefully last longer than it takes you to read about it.