Gaming Memories – DayZ

The following took place in 2012, in the beta version of the DayZ mod for ARMA 2. It recounts the story of how I survived the zombie apocalypse by eating 87 cans of baked beans.

Chernarus is not a welcoming place any more. The lush green fields are now infested with hordes of shambling undead. And if the zombies don’t kill you, other wanderers surely will. Being alone is risky, but trusting the wrong person could cost you your life. In this harsh new world, you won’t get far without friends.

I awoke dazed and shivering on the beach, just like always. I glanced around, taking in my surroundings, but it seemed to be clear. I was alone. The sun had just risen, which meant I had time on my side. But not much. Time is a treacherous ally in Chernarus, always ready to sneak up on you. I had to find supplies and shelter before nightfall. And my friends.

[Okay guys, I’ve respawned. I’m on a beach, don’t recognise it. Gonna head up the coast until I find a landmark. Then we can figure out where to meet up. You got your map printouts? Good, I’ve turned the lights off in the flat, and I’m using a Maglite to read my map. Total atmospheric immersion. Now, let’s find each other!]

I wander along the beach for several miles, running parallel to a zombie-infested road. The open ocean is to my right, a dark brooding forest across the road and up a slope to my left. I might have more cover in the trees, but I feel safer in the open where I can see any threats long before they’ll reach me. I scavenge some food, and find an axe in a shed. Could come in useful. Eventually, I come to a settlement, an eerily quiet ghost town. The street plunges between two rows of concrete buildings, a high street of some sort. I bear right instead, heading into an industrial dock.

[Okay, I’m at an old shipyard town or something. This seems like a safe spot to meet. Just keep following the coast, Paul and Sam. I’m somewhere south of your position I think. Jon, do you have any idea where you are yet?
“Some forest. Zombies everywhere. Can’t talk. Busy running.”
Haha. Just keep going, I guess. Tell us if you find the sea.]

Somewhere just inland from my position, I estimate it to be on that high street I saw a moment ago, a red flare goes off. The sun is setting, and the red glow lights up the world like a never-ending firework. I freeze, taken completely by surprise. This ain’t a ghost town, after all…

[Fuck! Do you see that? Someone else is already here!
Paul pipes up over the headset. “I see the flare. That wasn’t you?”
No! All I’ve got is a rusty axe.
“Shit. I’m coming in from the north. Where are you?”
Looking desperately at my real-life map printout that we cobbled together on Photoshop the day before, I take a guess at my position being somewhere inside grid reference G8. I relay this information to Paul, who, sitting in his room in Windsor, checks his own map.
“Ah, yes! I think I’m close. Stay away from the road, I can hear gunfire.”]

Bullets pop and crack in the near distance, echoing across the night time sky. Whoever set off the flare is armed. Holding nothing but my woodsman axe, I feel rather ill equipped. There’s a few zombies between me and a garage in the docks, but at the sound of the guns, the zombies shamble off, attracted by the noise. I take my chance, and sprint across the open, diving into the garage.

A zombie is inside, and immediately pounces on me. I scream and swing my axe, again and again. The zombie glitches and twitches, eventually collapsing dead on the ground. I find a pair of binoculars and a can of food, which I instantly gobble to restore some health.

Outside, the gunfire ceases. I wait patiently, scanning the docks outside, as the sun dips below the horizon. The world goes still. Darkness descends as the flare goes out, and the docks become black as pitch.

[Where are you dude? And do you have a flashlight by any chance?
“No, but I have something better… is that you hiding in the toolshed?”
“Wait there.”]

Out of the darkness, I spy movement. Something is coming towards me, and I can’t tell if it’s a zombie or a survivor. I raise my axe, ready to swing, and… it’s Paul! We exchange a series of excited head-nods and gestures, relieved to have found each other. He’s holding a sniper rifle, and explains that it has a night-vision scope on it. He looted it from the dead guy he found in the street, presumably the same guy who set off the flare. He also had two pistols, a bunch of food and a compass.

He gives me the spare pistol, and we explore the nearest warehouse for supplies, finding a few rounds of extra ammo and another compass. We hunker down for the night, holding the warehouse as we wait for the sun to come back up. At dawn, feeling a little more confident, we set out on our next objective: to locate Jon and Sam.

[“Okay guys,” says Sam. “Pretty sure I’ve found your docks. I’m running towards you now. But err, I hope you’re armed, coz I’m bringing some friends.”]

A short trip further up the coast, we see another survivor. He’s running full sprint, arms flailing at his side, chased by a horde of at least two dozen zombies.

I’m grateful for the pistol in my hand. I take aim and let it sing.

The survivor zig-zags up the beach towards us. Paul is lying prone to my left, aiming his rifle at the approaching horde. I see zombies fall one by one as he picks them off. I fire in short bursts, taking out stragglers. The survivor eventually reaches us and hunkers behind us both. It’s Sam, and he’s been running down the coast for about 15km, growing a tail of zombie followers as he went.

We deal with the last of the shambling monsters and reload. The beach is all clear. After a bit more exploration, we meet up with Jon on the edge of a forest. He relays information about a nearby settlement that he passed by. It was quiet, suggesting no other survivors. If we were smart, we could scavenge and loot the entire town. Surely, we would find something worthwhile.

So, we set off, retracing Jon’s steps through the forest, until we emerged on the outskirts of a pretty large town. A church spire rose up above every other building, seeming to be the central landmark of the settlement. We inched our way down the main road, covering each other’s flanks, and watching for signs of movement.

We came to a ramshackle storefront. The glass window front had been smashed in, so we climbed inside and rummaged around. The shelves were mostly empty, but there were enough cans of baked beans to feed the four of us for several days. Sam found some more guns upstairs, including an AK74, and Jon found a shotgun.

Morale was high after the treasure trove of baked beans, and we left the store feeling confident. Perhaps a little too confident…

We crept around a corner, and came face to face with two other survivors. There was a moment of frozen panic as we eyed each other up. 4 of us. 2 of them.

I can’t say who fired first.

All I can remember are the screams.

The exchange of gunfire lasted a mere five seconds, in which I took a bullet to the leg and chest, Sam killed one of the strangers, and I’m pretty sure Jon took out the second. The noise attracted a horde of undead that had been milling around the outskirts of the town.

All hell broke loose.

Bullets flew, whizzing passed my head and richocheting off the concrete walls. Zombies pounced on me as I fled down the road, tearing chunks of flesh from my bones. My vision blurred, gunfire rained all around as my friends fought back the ravaging, festering creatures.

[“We’re getting fucked up!”
I know! My screen is just red and blurry, I can barely see a thing!
“Get to the church!” cried Sam.]

Sam took off down the road, making a beeline for the biggest building in town. The church.

We scrambled inside, shutting the door on a horde of undead that instantly began scratching and hammering at the heavy door. Sam, Jon and Paul took potshots out the windows, picking off the ones they could see.

Meanwhile, I could only drag myself up the aisle between the pews, bleeding profusely, my vision fading in and out. I couldn’t feel my legs any more. I was bleeding out and would surely die without serious medical attention.

At the foot of the altar, I collapsed and blacked out.

[Uhh, guys. I’m in serious trouble, haha. I literally can’t see anything now. My screen is a total mess, and my character keeps falling over.
“Let me see. Hahaha, oh my god, you’re sprawled out on the floor.”
Does anyone have any bandages? I’m bleeding out.
“Oh, shit, you can bleed out in this game? That’s awesome!” says Paul
“Here, use this,” Sam exchanges morphine with me, which I use instantly.
Paul has a bandage, but it’s the only one we have between us. After I use it, my screen changes from red to a milky grey. I can sort of see, but its not very clear. And my character continues to flop bout uselessly on the floor.]

I’m in bad shape. Really bad shape. All I can do the postpone the flow of bleeding is eat my 4 cans of baked beans that I looted from the store. It boosts my health to a point where I only pass out every 20 seconds now instead of 10. But I’m of no use to anybody out in the wild.

[Go on without me guys…I’m just gonna die if I come with you.
“Nah, mate,” says Sam. “We never leave a brother behind. We’ll find you more beans.”
If you really want to. I guess I’ll sit here roleplaying a useless cripple for a while?

My friends venture out into the wild, taking turns to guard me. Paul and Jon go first, and we listen to their chatter over the radio headsets. They return with 6 cans of baked beans, which I gratefully munch.

Sam goes next, with Jon, and Paul and I are left in the church, him patrolling the pews, checking the windows, me lying uselessly upon the church dias.

Our friends return with yet more beans, but Jon has taken a zombie scratch to the arm. He’s okay, but I feel bad about the risk my friends are going to, in order to keep me alive.

[It would be easier to just let myself die, but this is hilarious watching you guys go out to help me.
“It’s amazing,” Paul says. “Never experienced this kind of survival in a game before.”]

Again and again, my friends venture outside, creeping through the zombie infested town, gathering cans of baked beans, purely to feed me as I lie in a drying pool of my own blood under the roof of Jesus.

After eating seven times my own weight in beans, I finally have enough HP to stand upright and walk without collapsing. Finally, it’s time to move on.

On the edge of town, we discover a factory. It is here that we make our last stand against the undead. Unaware of our doomed fate, we storm the factory, sweeping up such wonderous treasures as barb wire fences, scrap metal for fixing up vehicles, tires, gasoline cans and even a few more cans of baked beans.

A single gunshot triggers the start of our downfall. It was not fired by any of us. Another survivor has discovered out town. It may even be the same guys we killed earlier, returned to salvage whatever gear we may have left them.

The four of us scramble to the roof to survey. Sure enough, there are two survivors on the road. One of them is gravely wounded, hunkered down tending to his friend who lies in the middle of the road. Zombies are surrounding them from all angles.

Paul and I cannot help but offer our assistance. We take potshots at the zombies, but the survivors panic, thinking we are shooting at them, and the non-injured of the two begins firing back at us and running up the road towards us.

The zombies react to the gunfire like moths to a lamp. In seconds, the base of our factory is swarming with undead, most banging on the windows, but some managing to squeeze through a narrow doorway that we didn’t seal.

With nowhere to run, we make a stand on the roof, blasting zombies as they emerge up the ladders and stairwell. Sam fires down at the zombies on the ground with his new rifle, but he is too close to the edge. The survivor with the gun reaches us, and fires at Sam. The shot strikes him in the chest and he spins dramatically, his eyes glazing over as he looks at us with a final and desperate hope.

[“Nooo!” cries Jon. “Sam!!!”]

Sam tumbles over the edge of the roof and lands amid the horde. They begin to devour him immediately.

Grief-stricken and mad with rage, Jon leaps over the edge in a brave but futile attempt to avenge his dear friend. Paul and I are left alone, shooting the last of the zombies that have made it onto the roof. We turn our attention to our friends on the ground. Sam is a motionless, half-eaten corpse, and Jon is backing himself into a corner, his shotgun singing, exploding heads. He runs out of ammo and pulls out his pistol. It’s just not enough. The zombies overrun him and he goes down.

[“Shit!” Paul cries. “There’s just too many of them. We have to run!”
Let’s aim for that hill, we can make it if we go now. Follow me!]

I turn and run to the other side of the roof. There’s a dumpster against the wall on this side, and only a few zombies separate us from the hill. I jump onto the dumpster, taking a small amount of damage, but it’s manageable. Paul follows and we make a break for the hillside.

After scrambling up the hill, we take cover in the long grass and lie down to survey the factory that claimed the lives of our friends. There’s no sign of the other survivor. We figure he must have succumbed to the zombies as well.

[“Well, that was friggin amazing. Sorry you died though, guys.”
“It’s okay,” laughed Sam. “This game is awesome.”
“So good,” agrees Jon. “My attempt to avenge you Sam, didn’t exactly go to plan.”
It was glorious to watch. Gonna take a screenshot of the factory from here. To remember this moment. Paul, stand there, I’ll get one of you nex–]

A bullet hits me in the face. The last thing I see is my friend Paul posing in front of the factory. I’m dead before I manage to take the picture.

[“Shit!!” Paul cries. “where the fuck did that come from?”
Argh! I’m dead! What happened?
“Someone’s sniping at us! Did he get you?”
Yeah! I’m dead!
“No way! Argh he’s coming for me! WHERE IS HE?!” Paul cries, in utter hysterics. “NOOOOO! THE FUCKER GOT ME TOO!”]

We never knew who it was that killed us. But it had to be the survivor we had tried to help. There was no-one else around. Such ironies is normality when you live in Chernarus, these days. I don’t blame him for what he did, after all, he was probably the same guy that we murdered earlier… You can’t trust anyone in the zombie apocalypse. But having friends surely helps.

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