Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In which I prepare to become a member of the undead (and other tales from the crypt).

"I'm going to be a zombie!"

Amanda and I work with a great group of pretty laid-back people, but her exclamation still turned a few heads. It was so out of context, in fact, that it took me a minute to catch up to her.

"Ohmigod," I answered once it finally clicked. "You got the email? Why haven't I gotten the email?"

A few weeks before this, I'd run across Run For Your Lives, a 5K zombie obstacle course scheduled for late October and taking place just an hour or so north of me. Volunteers would run an obstacle course while avoiding other zombie volunteers -- a race for their lives, so to speak. Better yet, not only was the site looking for runners, but they were also looking for zombies. And when another friend of mine posted on her facebook that she'd volunteered to run... Well, of course I was going to volunteer to try and eat her delicious organs. I contacted the group to convey my interest and, after some persuasion, convinced Amanda to join me.

She talked me down from the verge of hysteria. "I just got it. They probably emailed you and it's just sitting in your inbox or something."

"It had better be. If they accepted you and not me..."

At this point, at least one of our coworkers and my boss's boss were looking our way with a mixture of interest and amusement. While Amanda rattled off a quick explanation, I went to check my email. I held my breath as I waited for the inbox to pop up, and when it did...

"I got the email! I'm going to be a zombie!"

This announcement was met with an eyebrow raise from my boss's boss and a bemused smile from our eavesdropping coworker, who demanded a few more details and, after finding out that the zombies were going to be professionally made up so as to add to the "realism" of the event, decided she was going to go, too, and take pictures.

"But just so you know," she said, "you guys are a little weird."

Our weirdness -- or at least mine -- wasn't exactly a secret. My desk was decorated with a string of ghost lights and toy dinosaurs (which I regularly distributed around the office), and I was well-known for my fascination with the walking dead. All kinds of zombie paraphernalia had been gifted to me by various coworkers, including a "What would a Zombie do?" decision wheel, a stuffed "Dismember Me!" zombie, and a large "Zombies vs. Unicorns" poster, and I had on at least three birthdays been presented with homemade cards featuring either zombies or zombie movie references and quotes.  My love for zombies had come up in conversation at a meet-and-greet for our new department leader a few months before, and we had spent at least ten minutes discussing the various pitfalls of horror as a genre as a result.

I only nodded. "Yeah," I answered her. "But how many chances does a person get to be a professional zombie?"

She considered that. "Technically, I think you're freelancing."

I made a mental note to add "Freelance zombie" to my resumé, and once we'd wrapped up our conversation and went back to our desks, I re-read the email again. There wasn't much to it -- it really boiled down to "Thank you for your interest in Run For  Your Lives!" and "We will contact you with the full details as soon as they are available". Enough to know that I was on the list and get me excited, that was for sure.

"This is better than some silly zombie walk any day," I told Amanda later, as we were heading out the door.

She looked at me skeptically. "You were really looking forward to the zombie walk."

"Yeah, but I didn't want to have to do all that work. Making yourself up to look like a zombie is hard. And messy. There's lots of cornstarch involved, I think."

Amanda just shook her head, but I convinced myself that she agreed with me (even if she wouldn't admit it), and when she looked at me again, I just grinned.

"We're going to be zombies."

She sighed. "You're going to make me regret this. I can already tell."

Considering we had a whole three months to wait before the event, this was very likely true. "Yeah," I answered, "but it's totally going to be worth it."

The event Run For Your Lives! takes place on October 22 in Darlington, Maryland. Runner registration ends on October 1, so sign up today! In the meantime... Prepare for the zombies.