"Check the dictionary," I scream at my friend, Annie. The zombie is growling just inches from my feet and the clock is ticking down to the end of the hour. Somewhere in the small, locked room there are clues to open the combination lock that secures the zipper of the fanny pack. If the zombie touches you, you've been eaten. In the interactive adventure show, Trapped in a Room with a Zombie, there is lot of screaming, forehead-beating over frustrating riddles, dodging around the room and climbing up onto the furniture to avoid the hungry monster in the corner of the room. And if you can avoid panicking, it's pretty damn fun.
Created in Columbus, Ohio, this amalgamation of a haunted house, murder mystery theater, and Choose Your Own Adventure books, gives participants the opportunity to experience a scene straight out of The Walking Dead. Its popularity in its first iteration encouraged the show's creators take the show to other cities around the country and they've pitched up in northwest Dallas, in an oversized industrial storage unit at 3001 Quebec St. They're planning to stay in town for the full year, with shows Wednesdays through Sundays. The show's promoters bill it not just as entertainment, but as a corporate team building activity. Certainly, the puzzle forces you to work together. Plus, discussing that time Susan from accounting was eaten by a zombie would be pretty entertaining water cooler talk.
Only one person on our eight member team was eaten, but she screamed "self-sacrifice" and threw a clue at those of us still living. The game feels like a childhood game of good guys versus bad guys, or hot lava (here, the zombie is lava). When the zombie gets close, everyone screams like a little girl, the macho man promises of protecting each other gone with a loud flick of the chain. Solving this puzzle -filled with codes, riddles and visual clues - would be difficult in an hour without a monster breathing down your neck. Add in the fact that every five minutes, the zombie's chain grows longer and the pressure-packed room seems to grow warmer as nervous sweat drips down your back.
Sure, you can tell yourself that you won't be scared. It's not like it's a real zombie, after all. But you try perching yourself atop a bookcase, opening a combination lock, and using a fishing pole to pull out the next clue, while a woman with ghoulish make up snips and snarls at your feet. It's little wonder the success rate is only 28% in Dallas (it's much higher in other cities, by the way). To know what it's like, you'll just have to try it. Then you can report back how easy it was for you.