I came to on the beach again. I was an idiot for coming back to the game at night, but here I was. There was the sound of the sea, and to my left a bright light illuminating cranes, docks, and a few industrial buildings. There was likely supplies in those buildings – water, food, weapons, and other necessary equipment – but it would be dangerous work, what with the zombies and the murderous bandits likely waiting there for me. Only some kind of devil-may-care hero would risk it.
So naturally I decided to get as far away from that place as humanly possible. I wanted to head inland, away from the dangers of the coast. I lit a flare and carried it in my off-hand as I walked, and while I knew this was likely to telegraph my position to anyone nearby I hoped that I was on my own out there. Then I heard a rustling of grass, and without a moment’s thought I sprinted blindly into the undergrowth. I kept that pace up until I was well away from the shore, and then, still carrying the burning flare, I slowed to a walk.
A sound reached me from the darkness – a person moaning – and I turned to see a figure stumbling past. Its back was to me, and luckily it seemed completely oblivious to my presence. I backed away slowly, making sure to avoid letting it out of my sight.
In a sub-Chaplin moment of slapstick comedy, I stumbled back into and collided with another zombie. We both made confused noises and span around wildly. Then I heard its loud, piercing cry as it leapt at me with everything it had. Eventually, after much confused bumbling, I span round and fired. I was blinded a little by the light of the flare, and so missed twice before readjusting and hitting it three times in the chest. Dropping the flare, I retreated back a few steps, crouched down, and tried to be as precise as possible as more zombies ran towards the sound. Four of them came in all, and while I managed to kill them I took a couple more hits, and was now bleeding quite badly.
I waited to see if anything else was coming, and when nothing did I bandaged myself up. I had lost over three litres of blood and my vision was starting to go blurry, and to make matters worse I had gone through nearly all of my ammunition. The message was clear: I would not survive another poor showing like that again. But I picked up the flare and trudged on, unwilling to give up. Eventually I stumbled upon a cabin in the wilderness. But it had been picked clean, and so I set off into the darkness again in search of supplies.
Then I heard it. A bullet ripped past over my head, and I started running. It took a second burst of gunfire before I came to my senses and dropped the goddamn flare. A bullet winged me and I started to bleed once more, but I managed to hold it together long enough to run into the darkness and fling myself to the ground. As I lay there I saw a figure, and then a second, emerge from the darkness and move towards me.
Words appeared on my screen, but this time it wasn’t just the background talk of other players – it was aimed directly at me. “Stay still”, it said, “you’re not getting away”. I considered firing my last few rounds off in a last-ditch defence, but it was clear they didn’t know exactly where I was any more. I waited in the darkness and watched as they started to light up flares and fling them around the field in an attempt to find my hiding spot. Their net widened, then contracted again as they searched me out patiently.
They scoured the area for a good five minutes before they started widening their net enough for my panic to die down. I was lucky – they had missed me for now. But they told me that they’d still find me.
I chose my opening and ran, not looking back for a moment.