Every fanboy who open carries a Star Trek phaser or a replica of Ashley Williams' stump mounted chainsaw honestly believes they could survive a zombie apocalypse. It's a flawed theory at best. Life isn't a movie. Even the most daring hero runs out of ammo or forgets to prime their power tools. People get tired, don't have perfect aim or accidentally shoot themselves in places that would make a zombie grab his crotch and wince.
And, oh yeah, there are no such things as zombies.
Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to be prepared, and Cousins Paintball Park in Forney has come up with an interesting way to test your mettle in the last throws of humanity. They've constructed a "Zombie Safari" paintball course and they let us do a ride-along.
It's an interesting mix of a haunted hayride and a shooting gallery except the hayride is a school bus with .50-caliber paintball guns mounted to the windows and the ducks are the walking dead. It's like doing a traditional haunted house, but you don't get slapped with an assault charge for shooting at the creatures that jump-scare you.
I invited my buddy Andrew to help me shoot up the undead because the end of the world is more fun if you have a friend. We drive out to what feels like the middle of nowhere along a Farm to Market road at night. It actually set the mood for the evening better than any ominous Halloween soundtrack you could buy at Party City ever could. Forney's Chamber of Commerce should include it in their brochures.
"Come to Forney!" it would read. "On FM 740, no one can hear you scream."
We pull into the grass covered parking lot and walk up to get our gear and bust some heads. There's a twinge of excitement running across my spine, not just because I'm a huge fan of all things zombie but also because it was a nice dessert to the end of a long, stressful week. I'm about to unleash a tsunami of untapped aggression and aggravation on a wave of part-time workers.
At one point, my chest actually puffed up a little bit at the thought of being "man enough" to take on such a challenge but once I enter the purple hue of the dimly lit bus and the trees begin to close in around us, a little bit of panic starts. I don't know what man gene makes all guys think they can handle any situation until they actually have to handle it but I've got it and it conveniently forgets to tell me that I'm mildly claustrophobic.
Jed, our tour guide, sets the scenario. Apparently, some radioactive runoff got into the Trinity River and the toxic mixture caused the dead to rise from their graves.
The bus drives through a very dense and dark woods and through the mesh of twisted branches and leaves, we can see the first signs of the walking dead climbing over an abandoned car toward us. We unleash a wave of paintballs on the poor bastards. Then we enter the woods and that brave feeling of manliness quickly disappears as the woods feel as though they are cocooning the bus. My inner Ernest Hemmingway turned into an just an inner Ernest.
The trees actually produce more of a natural feeling of fear because they weren't built into a house or made to look dark and foreboding. They just are. There are also some inanimate targets set up for us to unload one such as bodies hanging from trees, heads peeking out of radioactive waste barrels and an "Obama zombie," according to our tour guide.
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Yeah, well ... Forney. What can you say?
We were told by one of the monitors in the line that the zombies have a little game going to see which one of them can get closest to the bus before it drives off into the night. One of them gets close enough to pound on the bus and makes some poor woman scream and it's loud enough to make me jump just a little bit.
I was also surprised to learn that I ran out of ammo by the halfway point. Each participant gets 100 paintballs to shoot at the shambling dead and my chamber was empty before we made it back to home base. If this was World War Z, I would just be another pulled pork dish for a zombie.
Zombie Safari runs from 7-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets and VIP passes are available at Zombiesafari.Ticketmob.net.