Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Days of Halloween Day 8: Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse 2011

Note: Due to the nature of the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse I don’t want to give a whole heck of a lot of detail about where, when, or why you’ll have the shit scared out of you. Just know that you will and often.
I hope you guys can get on board with more of a narrative than an actual review because that’s how I can get away with being a little more vague and, hopefully, entertaining.
Also, if you don’t want any spoilers you shouldn’t read this. Just go do it. It’s awesome.

I can only hope that my humble words are able to do justice to the grand adventure the DCW Hooliganz experienced last Friday night.
We arrived at the Atlanta Center for Disease Development Friday night at 19:00. Not all of the DCW Hooliganz were able to make our arranged tour of the facility. In attendance were (left to right) Mrs. Troublemaker and myself, Rescue John, Darth Pete, the Belligerent Monkey, Gnoll, Handsome Harley Hoffman, and Little Pond.
The CDD is located on the outskirts of Atlanta; just outside of Palookaville, where you can score the best fucking corndogs you’ve ever had in your life. The exterior of the Center is a foreboding two-story fortress that looks more suited to military defense than scientific pursuits. The dark, grim structure is a startling contrast to the cheerful lights of nearby Palookaville.
There are a couple of options available for your tour of the Center for Disease Development. The main tour involves a look inside the facility’s inner-workings and an opportunity to meet and interact with some of the people that make diseases work for us. A secondary choice was offered as a “Unique Survival Experience”. Whatever that means.
The main tour is a mere (whatever), the Unique Survival Experience is (whatever), or you can combine the two for $30. I highly recommend you do so. Neither experience is to be missed.
All eight of us chose the combo package.
We gathered just outside of the entrance to the CDD and waited for 20:00 – the official start time for our tour. Security was tight – a small group of unsavory youths near us received a thorough inspection from the guards and nobody was allowed into the facility without a TSA-style pat-down. 
Darth Pete requested a body cavity search but the attending guard declined.
There were two groups of people in front of us. One was an assortment of perfectly pleasant-looking middle class folk. The other was a group of Return of the Living Dead cosplayers accompanied by their parents – Maude and Hank. While we were waiting for the preceding groups to be admitted, one of the security detail approached me on the sly. I was hoping he was going to try and pass off some stolen documents or damning photographs. No such luck.
Guard – “Hey man. Nice shirt. Not a lot of people around here like Calabrese.”
Me – “Oh, well I do.”
Guard – “Cool, man. Our guitarist is good friends with them.”
Me – “Yeah – they were at Dragon*Con a few years ago and I’ve been following them since.”
Guard – “Yeah.”
And damn my feeble mind I couldn’t break his code. I can only assume “Calabrese” was the password and he thought my shirt signified I was the agent he was seeking. What could it all mean? Did his first statement indicate I was in enemy territory? Was his “guitarist” their man on the inside? I wracked my brain to figure out his game, but before I knew it the other two groups had passed through the entrance and it was our turn to be inspected.
After Darth Pete was denied his extra-thorough search, Hoffman assumed his trademark pelvic thrust position and offered up his junk for inspection. The guard found nothing (rimshot!).
Once our octet was queued up outside the main entryway a guard walked the line and rattle doff the rules in cool, military fashion:
  • Don’t wander off
  • If you do wander off, don’t let anybody bite you
  • If anybody bites you, you will be shot
  • Don’t wander off
Weird rules, right?
But I guess scientists can be a peculiar bunch, particularly those intelligent and specialized enough to be involved in a field like disease development.
The guard escorted us into what was clearly meant to be a Very Impressive Room. It was all rounded and clinical like something you’d see in a science fiction movie. There were hatches on the left and windows on the right with a single large window at the far end. We were all Very Impressed.
As the doors closed behind us, I realized our guard was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t the most reassuring moment ever. And then another guard appeared behind the far window and a voice came over a concealed speaker system.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to the Atlanta Center for Disease Development. Don’t wander off. Don’t get bitten. We will shoot you. When this announcement completes, please proceed through the door into the facility. Don’t wander off.”
And then a large portion of the far wall opened. They must have had a faulty pneumatic system because the door moved about as smoothly as the one on my shed. Maybe it would help if somebody was behind it going, “Psssh!” like on Star Trek.
The only thing visible beyond the door was pitch black oblivion. Clearly we were meant to proceed unguided, so I took the point and passed through. There was a chain link fence on the other side and I’ve got to say – the accommodations were not nearly as fancy as the Very Impressive Room. As a matter of fact, I was starting to get a little suspicious of just what the heck was going on around here, anyway. And then I noticed some movement on the other side of the chain link fence.
Are there fucking zombies in here?”
There were fucking zombies in there. Can you believe that shit?
But at least there was a fence between us and them.
We moved through the building fairly quickly after that. It seemed like something had gone horribly wrong, as every employee we ran into seemed terribly upset if not downright suicidal.
And then the zombies attacked.
If for some reason you decide to tour the Center for Disease Development facilities during their October Open House (now through the 31st), just know that the place has a severe zombie problem. Those fuckers were everywhere.
Eventually after running for our lives making our way to an exit we encountered a small family of locals. You would not believe what happened to them, but thankfully a friendly member of the local constabulary showed up to offer assistance. He guided us to another building where we ended up getting attacked by fucking zombies again. The CDD really needs to get its shit together before the next Open House.
Next we ended up in the ruins of Downtown Atlanta. If you think Atlanta is a shithole now, you should see what it looks like after a Zombie Apocalypse. Hookers and junkies all over the place. Okay, it’s not that different. But there was this crazy blonde biker dude running around offering all sorts of inappropriate diversions for the unwary.
Fine. Post-Zombie Apocalypse Atlanta is exactly the same.
Be sure to take your time in this portion of the tour because there is a lot to see. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you happen to have a wrestling mask handy when the gimp shows up he’ll be very impressed.
We made our way through the struggling but proud little community of pimps and psychopaths to meet the fellow that ran the place. He was nice enough and made the traditional offer of cigarettes for our women. The male Hooliganz debated – after all, we could have made a fortune reselling the smokes we got from trading our two hot ladies – but declined in the end because we are nothing if not gentlemen and also because we did not want to get punched in the eye for even joking about such a thing.
The blonde biker guy returned at that point and offered to cook us some dinner. 
He had a more than generous portion of meat to serve, but it was getting late and the militia had shown up again so we parted ways and headed into the scariest fucking place I have ever been in my life that wasn’t Walmart at 2:30 AM on a Thursday. But rather than a bunch of toothless women in spandex, this place was inhabited by about a thousand slobbering undead.
I took off.
I didn’t bother keeping track of Darth Pete or Rescue John and I knew Hoffman’s dance background made him nimble enough to avoid any zombie entanglements. The situation was so intense that Monkey increased his pace to a rapid mosey and Gnoll was nearly lifted off his feet being propelled forward by the women.
When faced with the impending zombie attack, Little Pond chose her backup wisely. You might wonder how somebody could possibly determine the most valuable ally from the staunch ranks of the DCW Hooliganz. Will Monkey’s vast and creative mind get you through? Perhaps Hoffman’s determination and canny wit? Gnoll’s MacGyver-like knack for creating could mean impenetrable defenses both on the move and once a base of operations is established. Darth Pete’s mighty beard could blaze a trail through even the densest pack of the undead, but Rescue John is a real-life hero. How do you decide? My own storytelling skills might not seem valuable, but a hulking frame and pure, masked determination could be the difference between life and death.
Little Pond counts an astute wisdom among her own list of assets, so she teamed with the only logical choice – Mrs. Troublemaker. Not only does my wife posses the agility of a gazelle and the strength of a mad rhinoceros; she is also the only one in our group who didn’t scream like a ninny and run away as fast as they could without a single look back.
I am a large man. I do not necessarily move quickly, but I was like (famous football person’s name here) trying to (make a football score) that night. Zombies were all over the place and closing fast. On the ground, behind walls, popping out of closets (why there were closets in the middle of an open lot I’ll never know). I was jumping, dodging and weaving like mad. And then a tiny, screaming, red-haired blur shot past me so fast I was afraid a sonic boom might topple me into the arms of the undead. That blur sped directly into the nearest shack and stopped. I followed.
The story as I heard it later was that Little Pond and Mrs. Troublemaker were propelling Gnoll ahead of them like some sort of human shield (see? I was right about his defensive usefulness) when a zombie decided Little Pond looked absolutely delicious. She ran the distance you might expect to have to run to make a zombie give up and return to its original spot, only to turn and discover it reaching for her hindquarters. Imagine doing the sort of thing we were doing; thinking you know the parameters and expectations only to discover you’re wrong. The whole Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse is like that. So anyway, Little Pond transformed into a crimson bolt of lightning and took off. I can only assume Mrs. Troublemaker threw Gnoll at the zombie to get away and he survived somehow.
Everybody else made their way into the decrepit excuse for a shelter (including my wife – this made the third time I had actually remembered to wonder where she was), hoping for a moment to recover. No such luck, because the second Darth Pete approached the zombie-shaped lump in the corner about a hundred zombies assaulted the shack and we had to clear out.
There was another militia member waiting outside to guide us to the next building, which we were told was a safe zone. We all agreed that designation seemed highly dubious.
Sure enough, before long even more zombies popped out of the woodwork. But there was a glimmer of hope through one of the second story windows! There – sparkling like a mighty diamond of salvation – was the Palookaville emergency mobile corndog distribution unit!
After making our way through a final teeming mass of the undead, the DCW Hooliganz – all eight of us – burst into the cool night air of Palookaville.
But our harrowing adventure was not yet over.
If you remember we as a group had opted for the secondary portion of the CDD tour. And as fantastic as the zombie-laden walk/run-through of the facility had been, it just would not be complete without the
Yes. That’s right.
You get a gun.
With ammo.
And you get to shoot moving zombies.
In the face.
They split us into two groups of four. If your group gets fifteen headshots you get a big, giant trophy that proclaims you to be a bunch of Badass Motherfucking Zombie-Shooting Sumbitches.
Okay, you actually get a sticker that says “Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse”. Which is also neat.
But the fun – if you can believe it – does not stop there. Because if you do not immediately proceed to the Palookaville emergency mobile corndog distribution unit and purchase a Palookaville corndog then you are one dumb shit (unless you’re a vegetarian like Monkey – then you should buy some boiled peanuts or a pickle). 
If you’re approaching the mobile corndog unit and happen to catch sight of a giant fellow with a Snuffy Smith beard that looks like he probably goes around pulling the tusks off of boars for fun; don’t be scared! 
That’s just good ol’ Jim and all he wants is to make you a delicious corndog! And they are beyond a shadow of a doubt the very best corndogs you’ve ever stuck in your piehole. Don’t bring yo’ momma to the AZA because those corndogs are so damn good she’s gonna get slapped.
Also, the tent across the way has soda.
I personally forgot to buy a t-shirt this time around. We might end up going back with Evil and Lady Evil or some other permutation of our crew and I can get one then. I did manage to get a photo of me and Rescue John fending off a horde of zombies, though:
Believe me when I say the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse is worth two trips. It’s even bigger and better than last year and I think the final act is much more successful. Not that last year’s was bad – it was actually pretty amazing. It’s just that there is no climax suitable to top what you’ve just been through. This year’s endgame feels more organic and satisfying. 
5 out of 5 Crazed Post-Apocalyptic Atlantans

Do it as soon as you can. Also, get there around 7 PM. The lines are only going to get longer the later in the season and night you wait. Because this shit is awesome.
Oh, and I also once again drank the mystery booze. This time over at Monkey's house so it was a slightly less stupid idea.
But it was definitely revolting.

31 Days of Halloween vs. 31 Days of Halloween!
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM – Fucking Ghost Hunters – I know you’re sick of me bitching about this show and I am certainly sick of having to write about it.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 1
2:00 PM – 7:00 PM – Paranormal Witness – Remember when I said I would watch this eventually and form an opinion on it? Well, apparently that was a big pack of lies. Because I haven’t. Our DVR shit the bed last week and all of our recordings are screwed up and I kept forgetting to set one for Paranormal Witness and honestly I’d just rather watch Re-Animator a fiftieth time anyway.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3?
9:00 PM – 11:00 PM – Fertile Ground – This sounds exactly like The Messengers. I wish it were called Ghost Farm.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score - 2
7:00 PM – 3:00 AM – Ghost hunters/Paranormal Witness – Just alternating episodes of these shows. I think SyFy did it just to make me create more slots, but fuck ‘em. I’m lumping it all together.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 1/3
3:00 AM – 5:00 AM – The Reeds – I don’t know what to make of this. See what your think:
Halloween score – 3
Quality score – 2
5:00 AM – 8:00 AM – Paid Programming
Halloween score – 0
Quality score – 0
8:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Friday the 13th: The Series – FUCK YEAH! And I am off for this! Except that I’ll be with Lil’ Troublemaker all day, so I better set the DVR.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 5! FIVE! Okay, maybe more of a 4.

Until next time, stay creepy

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