Galleons, the following is a theory I made up two or three years ago, at the height of my Left 4 Dead career (and before the second one came out). I think it’s about time I fleshed it out and wrote it down here, for your reading pleasure.
Shelley: Ames, there are legions of the risen undead on our heels. These aren’t frat boys, they’re zombies. Animated corpses that would rather suck out your cerebellum than peek at your knickers.
Amy: Oh, fine. Last week it’s “I wish I could find a boy who was interested in my brain and not my body” and now you’re all “Aaaugh zombies!” Seriously, Shel. Make up your damn mind.
Though our generation seems a bit zombie obsessed these last few years, we aren’t so much spending our time trying to create the t-virus (except as a cocktail), learning to shoot a variety of firearms, or stockpiling for the apocalypse we all claim to desire… instead, we’re playing copious amounts of zombie games and discussing increasingly ridiculous plans for how our badass selves will fight off the undead swarm come doomsday.
While I have long since come to terms with the fact that I’m going to die a horrible death come the zombie apocalypse (see this post for more on that), some people are just now beginning to realize that their intensive gaming will not enable them to survive a brain-loving horde. There aren’t going to be ammo piles stashed in office buildings and random sheds. Pistols don’t have unlimited ammo. There isn’t going to be a musical cue signaling the arrival of a mass of zombies. There’s no guarantee zombies won’t be able to open doors. Wrapping a bandage around your leg won’t cure a broken bone or an infected zombie bite. You aren’t going to die and then respawn in a closet a few hundred feet away.
However, I think there is an aspect of the ZA that Valve got right in their Left 4 Dead series: the special infected.
Don’t believe me? I’m about to show you that every special infected from the first game can be found at your typical college party.
Lock and load, galleons.
This is the guy you cannot fucking miss at the party. He kicks the door open, loudly announcing his presence, and slamming two fifths (Jäger and Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark) down on the table, which will be all-but-drained by the end of the night, leaving the party-goers who manage to maintain their mental faculties while imbibing alcohol wondering just how the hell that son-of-a-bitch isn’t in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.
Probably something to do with weight ratios or BMI or something.
Regardless, the Tank (it’s highly likely that pre-ZA, he already had this nickname) is a booze-consuming machine. He’s loud, he’s huge, and he’s always fucking drinking. He brought his own beer bong. By the end of the night, his shirt is getting so soaked with beer and liquor that he will likely end up ripping it off (literally… that shirt’s seams will leap apart like two positive magnetic poles or high school kids when a cop comes up to the car they are making out in and bangs his flashlight on the fogged up window).
Here we see a herd of Tanks at a watering trough:
And this is when his naturally loud, aggressive personality combines with the pints of alcohol churning in his stomach to make him into a drunk, hulking rage machine. Remember, this is the guy who probably peaked in high school. He was on the football team, and in his hometown, he was like a bulky god. But he didn’t get onto a college team, and now his body is going to seed due to the amount of beer he downs every weekend and he overcompensates for his sports failures by being too loud and too in-your-face and willing to fight every man that so much as blinks at him.
Yes, he wants to fight you. Did you accidentally bump him while threading your way through the crowd to the bathroom? Did you grab the last beer out of the fridge? Did you beat him in beer pong? Did you start making out with a girl who may or may not have made eye contact with him at one point during the night when she was trying to find the rest of her ladypack? Did you make the mistake of breathing near him?
Prepare yourself- you’re about to be on the receiving end of some full-on Tank rage.
So, when the ZA rolls around, our Tanks just become stronger and meaner. As if you dumped steroids and three handles of Wild Turkey into their undead bellies, all you have is one pissed off, flesh-eating monstrosity. You no longer have to do anything to become the sorry sack he’s going to turn his blood-drunk anger on- you’re fucked if you are within his line of sight. Announcing his presence with a load roar (which is about the same as when he was alive, actually), he’s upgraded from chair-tossing to rock-hurtling. Still, he’s not much different than he was in life- you’re still trying to avoid him, running if he targets you and hoping some other sorry bastard manages to catch his eye.
Oh, you know this douchebag. Him and his cronies are the ones you have to fight through to get into the party, moving through a haze of cigarette smoke and inane conversation. He’s the one who, when inside, nods to several cohorts scattered throughout the party, and stands up. As if of one mind, 1/3 of the party-goers suddenly stand up, ambling toward the door as they make their way outside to inhale that sweet, sweet cancer.
Wait… where the fuck did my conversation partner just go? Oh, that’s right- the fucking smokers have snagged them and dragged them outside. They are now spending their time with the hipsters, the wanna-be academics, the assholes who have spent their time in the classroom learning nothing except how to parrot the ideas of their professors. They’ve read one article regarding a current political situation, so they decide to spend thirty minutes arrogantly expounding on the socioeconomic issues currently in play, all the while not really understanding the situation and knowing nothing about the region, the culture, or economics in general.
Smokers are complete cocks. Not only are they incredible windbags, making your brains pour out your ears in a painful stream, but they spend half the night conning cigarettes off anyone and everyone in the immediate vicinity, citing the Smoker’s Code (bum generously and ye shall be bummed to during your own time of need… cancerous karma at its finest) and making promises of repayment they’ll never honor.
So when the ZA rolls around, these guys are fucked. Still hooked on their deathstick habit, they don’t have cigarettes or conversation partners anymore. Those tongues that they used to flap so wantonly on porches and balconies they must now use to ensnare survivors, hoping for one more smoke or someone to listen to their opinions on Derrida.
Come on, buddy. I promise I’ll pay you back when the cure’s found.
After years of useless chatter and chainsmoking, all they are composed of is hot air and smoke. When shot, they explode into their base constituents, desperately sucking in one last lungful of their own filth in an attempt to get another nicotine high.
Nobody likes this guy.
This guy wishes he was the Tank. Maybe he played the sports in high school, too. It’s more likely he played the tuba in the band. Or held dungeon delves in his mom’s basement. Whatever his origins, the fact remains that he is now a large, squishy ball of danger. He shows up to the party and proceeds to immediately start the drinking games. Beer Pong. Flip Cup. Quarters. Ride the Bus. Kings (or Waterfall or whatever the fuck you call that dumbshit game). He’s got a case of the cheapest beer he could find, and he’s in it for the long haul. He is always playing a game, always downing a beer. Less aggressive than the Tank, he tends to be quieter, though he’s still actively keeping the beer-based games alive.
Mostly because he’s incapable of any other form of party socialization.
Besides being slightly annoying (one can only be asked to join his Flip Cup team so many times before irritation sets in), this guy really isn’t anything to worry about. For the bulk of the night.
But the more booze that pours into him, the more dangerous he gets. He’s like a time bomb, and it’s only a matter of when this fucker’s gonna blow. And oh, how he’ll blow. The vomit will spew from him like a mighty cannon. A chunky, soupy fountain of vomit will arc through the air, and for just a moment, you’ll almost be impressed.
Until you get hit by the spray.
A serial projectile vomiter, all anyone can really hope for is that the alcohol incapacitates him enough before he lets loose that all he manages to do is soak himself in his shame.
And after the ZA, these poor slobs, their sensitive stomachs full of zombie bile, can do nothing but resort to old habits. Whether the horde is drawn to the scent of the bile or the smell of your humiliation as you wipe the Boomer’s vomit from out of your eyes is up for debate.
You see that kid along the wall there? Yeah, I missed him the first time I looked over as well. Dressed mostly in black, his hair a jagged swoop over his eyes, he’s doing his damnedest to not actually interact with anyone at the gathering. His phone may be in his hand, but he’s not actually texting anyone- he’s just updating his Twitter about how lame everyone is and possibly blogging about the futility of trying to socialize with people who just don’t understand what he’s going through.
Oh, emo boy in the corner. You are such a cocksucker.
With his hood up over his head, he’s completely isolating himself from everyone around him, though at the end of the night, he’ll tell his friends about how awful the party was. How the hell would you know, emo kid? You weren’t really there. You were the scenery, not a party-goer.
Every so often, someone will approach this guy. They’ll make an effort to include him. He’ll respond by viciously tearing them apart with his sarcasm and angst-ridden fuckery. Bitchy, the other person will leave, and the emo kid will roll his eyes, certain that this was proof that everyone at the party is a mindless idiot and he’s better off not even trying to engage people this vapid.
He never ends up in the actual party photographs as he prowls around the fringes of the gathering, avoiding the flashing cameras and phones with a sneer of derision. Nobody will notice, but for twenty minutes or so, he will vanish into the bathroom, taking his own photos of the party…
…Often in mirrors.
When the ZA hits, he has to give up his sharp tongue for a set of wicked sharp claws, but it’s about the same. He prowls around the edges of the mobs, pouncing on some poor sap and ripping them apart.
And he never gives up the hoodie.
Some of you might be surprised that I feel the Witch is not the emo kid of the ZA. And while a fairly strong case can be made for the whiny bitch being super emo, I say there’s a better explanation.
Galleons, meet the party’s drunk crying chick.
There’s always one. One female that gets too drunk off her wine coolers and the 2 shots of coconut rum she giggled her way through. She doesn’t have the courtesy to just sleep with some random guy or quietly vomit in the bathroom.
Oh fuck no.
Already an emotional basketcase (due to her unfortunate condition of possessing a vagina), this bitch decides to just let loose with the waterworks in the middle of the festivities. Her wailing, ragged sobbing causes everyone to turn slowly, knowing exactly what they’re going to see slumped on the floor of the kitchen. Her hair is disheveled, her makeup running down her face in watery black trails. Clutching her hands to her rapidly reddening face, she starts warbling about being unattractive and how nobody likes her and what an asshole that Mark boy is and how she can’t believe she’s single and how all her friends really hate her… It’s a torrent of unwarranted bitching.
She’s not an emo kid, she’s an attention whore. She needs to be reassured that she’s pretty and fuckable and interesting and that people like her and that Mark is going to call her and if he doesn’t he can just go to hell because she’s an amazing person and he should be honored she’d even consider going out with a guy like that…
Of course, she’s not going to believe a goddamn word that’s said to her, but she’s also not going to shut up until some unfortunate soul gets close enough to try to calm her down. And when they do, she’s going to lash out, physically and verbally, screaming at them and clawing at them to get their goddamn hands off her, she doesn’t need their pity, they don’t understand, just leave her the fuck alone. Somebody is going to be stuck with the unsavory task of pinning her arms to her sides in a half-hug while attempting to soothingly rub her back while she flails like a fish and yells watery obscenities. Eventually, she’ll give in and finish it all with a truly spectacular flood of eye water and I’m so ugly and you’re my best friend and I’m so sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Nobody wants that fucking job.
Instead of leaping to crying chick’s side, everyone is going to shuffle their feet, nervously glance around, and try to turn their backs to her and begin a stilted resumption of their previous conversations. People who need to piss walk carefully past her, tip toeing their way around the sobbing female and rushing to the safety of the bathroom. Make no sudden movements. Do not attract her attention. You don’t want to be the one stuck consoling her for an hour and a half.
The ZA happens, and she’s basically the exact same. Only now, instead of just slapping at you, she tears your face off with her terrifying claws.
Bitch be crazy.
And really, if you think about it, the rest of the party goers are the same kind of single-minded rabble as a regular ol’ zombie horde. You have to fight your way through them to get anywhere.
It seems parties are probably the best preparation for the ZA. If ever there was an excuse to attend them, dear galleons, I think this is it.