?People can get hurt in the dark?

By Marleen van Wesel

 It’s Tuesday evening on Houtlaan and small groups of students wearing red bandanas, gas masks and capes are sneaking past. “They’re playing Humans vs. Zombies”, explains Thomas van Marle (23), a Chemistry student.

He actually organised the game, together with a few other members of the fraternities Het Duivelsei and Catena. “When you think about it, it’s like a more advanced form of tag. When we started out eight days ago, there were two zombies and about thirty humans. There’s a mission every night, when the zombies can try and bite the humans – pretend to, obviously - to infect them with the zombie virus. Tonight’s the last night.”
A little under thirty zombies are now attempting to force the two remaining opponents into a corner of a car park behind Houtlaan. The humans have entrenched themselves behind a barricade of bike stands and have armed themselves with inflatable clubs and Nerfguns – pistols that shoot rubber arrows. “Zombies that are hit are out of action for five minutes”, explain zombies Mike (19, Biology and Medical Laboratory Research at the University of Applied Sciences), Dominique (19, Japanese) and Anneloes (21, Biomedical Sciences). “These humans are dealing with the situation professionally. We were using socks and mandarins.” Zombies are allowed to attack during the day as well, besides during missions. “Outside, of course. You’re safe if you in a house, in a university building or at Catena”, Mike continues. “But I only discovered that rule after my housemate had infected me.”
Suddenly someone in the zombie group yells: “Go!”. The opponents are beating them off, and it’s working: the zombies even cease their attack for a moment, because one of them has been hit quite hard. Van Marle comments: “People can get hurt in the dark. Some zombies have grazes and there’s even someone who’s now missing bits of his front teeth.”
This is the third time that Het Duivelsei has organised the game, but it is the first time they have played it with Catena. In the former editions, a few humans managed to survive to the end of the game but the zombies are very enthusiastic now. “Last night, they managed to grab another ten humans”, recalls Van Marle.
Daan (21, Molecular Science Technology and surviving human) also managed to hang to the end of the two previous games. “I even bought a new Nerfgun this time – this one’s battery-powered.” His fellow-human, Alexander (18, Astronomy), is defending his life with Daan’s old gun.
The game was first played on American campuses in 2005. A few members of Duivelsei read about it on the Internet and introduced it to the fraternity. “It’s a bit more difficult in Leiden than on a campus”, says Daan. “You’re less likely to run into each other by chance, so the battles are generally limited to the missions”
The zombies are finally victorious at four minutes past eight, just a few minutes before the game ends. Nevertheless, they don’t have much time to enjoy their victory. “Just in time. Most of us have got to go our ballroom dance class”, says someone, not very scarily, from behind a Halloween mask.

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