Body By the Undead

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the...

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the Living Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite running out of weeks in my C25k program, I am not yet done with running. I couldn’t wait to get out into the lovely mid-fall evening that was the third night of December in Boston, and head to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir again.

Because last night was the night I’ve been waiting for since I got started with this thing.

Sure, completing the C25k program was a feat, and it was something I was working toward. But this, this is what I wanted to do in the first place. The c25k was a means to an end.

Last night was my first run using ‘Zombies, Run! 2‘, a running app that tells a zombie-themed survival horror story while you’re out for a jog. You “play” (a word here meaning “listen to the story while running”) as Runner 5, who helps a town in what I believe is the English countryside after crash-landing on a secret mission.

There were a few technical hurdles. I don’t use the stock music player on my phone, and the Google Music App played a little too loudly over the audio cues. So, I paused that and went without music for the first time. Having tried it both ways, I am much happier with the added distraction. The silence is broken with the occasional notice that I have picked up some light bulbs, or a pack of underwear, or some water–supplies useful for zombie survival. The app includes a base building mode, which I assume these supplies will help.

Over my headphones, the voice of Sam Yow, the radio operator for Abel Township, instructed me to run toward an old sawmill. I would see signs for it as I left the woods.

Meanwhile, in reality, I was running the same track I have been on since I started. In my mind, the Waterworks Museum became the sawmill, and the far pump house was the hospital. I made it through the parking lot (first turn of the course) and was in sight of the town (Boston College) with important papers from the CDC.

The Chestnut Hill Reservoir is located in the ...

The Chestnut Hill Reservoir is located in the Brighton neighborhood. (Boston College can be seen in the background). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Suddenly, as I am coming around False Finish Cove, Sam comes on the radio. Zombies had been gathering in the hospital parking lot. They are coming straight for me. Behind me, apparently, the previous runner numbered 5. A woman named Alice with whom Sam had some kind of relationship before she was sent into the same hospital I had escaped–she was not so lucky.

A doctor, a character in the story whose name I forget, came onto the radio, telling me the only way to get past her is to run faster. A sudden bust of speed should keep me safe.

Which is when the stitch in my side flares up. I run for half a minute, maybe more, with the frantic yells of the Abel radio team in my ears, then I slow to a walk. Perhaps I should have spent a few extra seconds stretching.

The radio is quiet. I half-expect a warning that the undead runner is gaining on me. I walk-run-walk my way back to the entrance of the track. The reality and the game feel a little disjointed, but I am also glad that I am able–despite the insistence of certain public figures–able to tell the difference between video games and reality.

This is the beginning of an interesting adventure, to be sure.


10 thoughts on “Body By the Undead

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  4. Hi, I have just started using this app too…I chose to use it for the first time in an unlit park in the dark with lots of paths through trees and no music due to a downloading failure…it was a scarier experience than I anticipated 🙂

    • Had a similar experience. A couple of instances where I wasn’t sure if the app was piping in low, zombie moans, or a car with a bad muffler was passing. Definitely made me avoid the older folks shambling around the tracks, though. hah.

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