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Zafehouse Diaries 2: The battle of Cleveland, pt 2

Paying the piper

Concluding a diary of zombie doom, in which five four survivors attempt to escape an infected town in strategy-management-RPG Zafehouse Diaries 2 [official site]. Problem being, they straight-up hate each other. In this second and final part: death! Duplicity! Arguments about cleaning! And... a hero.

First order of the day is to regroup, and then to secure our current premises. We've had a serious scare, and can no longer take anything for granted. Deborah busies herself with setting up some burning oil and chain traps around the house, while Joshua upgrades a few of the gang's weapons. Combat machetes can kill more zombies than regular machetes, right?

The really good news is that tragedy seems to have brought everyone closer. Or perhaps it's because Josh is the only remaining bloke in the group, and as such open distaste towards women really isn't going to do him any favours. In any case, it's green and yellow lines all round, and there's a particularly strong friendship between musician Amy and priest Deborah.

Perhaps the loss of Brian, who was a right old snob towards people without education as high-falutin' as his, has smoothed out the general dynamics within the group. We'll miss his nursing skills, but Amy steps up in his absence - starting off by treating Deborah, who got a little bit nibbled while patrolling the grounds of our current house.

Before we can plan our next move, we have a visitor. He calls himself the Piper, which sounds like an omen of doom to me, and he claims he can save us from the horde of zombies that are surely gathering right outside our door. Only thing is, he needs some bait.

Specifically, a live human, to lock inside a cage in the back of his van, and which he could use to lure the shamblers away. Joshua immediately volunteers Deborah for the task. I am now rather less sure that he has re-examined his attitudes.

I can't do it. Not only have we just lost someone already, but the Piper's whole plan stinks. Who even is he? If all it takes is a live human in the van, why would him, in the driver's seat, not be sufficient? He's up to something. This is a kidnapping-to-be. No way I'm trusting him. To Joshua's dismay and everyone else's relief, I send him away.

And this is when things really start to go wrong.

Furious - whether because I wouldn't trust or because I've foiled his monstrous plan - the Piper pummels his van's horn as he vamooses, summoning every deadhead in the area to our barely-safehouse.

We were not prepared.

Stephanie gets on with further securing the entrances, while Amy snipes a few advance guard zombies and Josh sets more traps (which he grumbles about even though it is for the express purpose of saving his life). Because he remains an absolute arsehole even at the end of the world as he knew it, he also decides now's the time to declare that he'll be more tolerant to Deborah on one condition - that she does more cleaning.

I mean, Jesus Christ. Your last refuge is about to be invaded by an army of the undead, you're totally dependent upon three women for your own survival and yet you think that now's the time to tell them that they should act like 50s housewives. If only there'd been an option to put Joshua in the Piper's cage.

They waited until dark. Of course they did.

They attacked from the East, West, and South. The barricades helped, but it wasn't enough.

Stephanie and Amy held them back briefly, but were overrun.

Oh no.

They came in through a doorway and windows leading to the second bathroom and kitchen.

Oh no.

The action occurred in the bedroom.


Amy and Stephanie killed 23 zombies.


Joshua ate an invigorating meal.

For fuck's sake, Josh.

And... everyone lives. Just this once, Rose. I can't believe it: we survived.

Then they come again.

They attacked from all sides.

...wasn't enough

...were overrun.

...Amy, Stephanie, Joshua and Deborah killed 37 zombies...

Joshua was injured...

That's OK, that's...

Stephanie and Amy were killed.

Oh God.

We are only four houses on from where we started, and three of us are dead. The only two who remain, Joshua and Deborah, cannot stand each other, and it seems the only hope of them working together depends upon the woman doing more cleaning for the man. Awful, awful.

Despite a sense that all is lost, I feel it's important to get out of here. We're knee-deep in the dead, which is grotesque, but more importantly the fact that so many zombies made their way over here hopefully means that surrounding houses are relatively clear of 'em. So it's on, at last, to Buttercup Avenue, where the remaining pair successfully take out 13 zombies and then find the car we were looking for.

It's broken down and needs brake fluid, a radiator, an air filter, a fuel pump and a battery. Fortunately we've already found two of those in our travels, but looking ahead at all the other houses we need to rummage through in search of the others is a galling prospect.

Deborah was injured in the fight. Joshua decides to take a shower.

There is a crushing inevitability to the idea that team wanker Josh will be the last man standing, isn't there? That said, he's clearly been using everyone else as human shields, and that's no longer an option.

Zombies invade our new home again at nightfall - fortunately only half a dozen, which the pair were able to hold off. Afterwards, Josh declares he has a fever, which I suspect is just an excuse to have a lie down and see if Debs does any cleaning, but what can you do?

There's nothing for it but to move on. Sure, we could make this place safer, but realistically we'd only be waiting for death. We've got our pick of weapons and armour, seeing as the team is so small, so it's now or never.

We breach the next house on Buttercup Avenue successfully, taking out a whopping 17 zombies. Whatever the political issues between them, Josh and Debs make an effective fighting force.

Which is just as well as, mere hours later, 20 more zombies pour into the house, which we've not had time to barricade at all. Amazingly, both our remaining survivors survive, though both are injured in the process. That's 37 zombies killed in one evening: good going, team.

The bad news is that this house is absoutely steeped in corpses, and Joshua's retired to bed to nurse his wounds. Grudgingly, Deborah starts cleaning up. This is only because it's absolutely necessary in order to avoid infection, you understand, not an endorsement of Josh's caveman mentality.

Alright, time for a game plan. D&J have been lucky, but I can't rely on that. We need to minimise the risk of the next incursion, which means maximising the risk in our current location. We set a few traps, then make a big noise in order to lure zombies to this house. Then, we peg it.

Onto 2 Springfield Avenue which, praise the gods, houses only 12 zombies, presumably as a result of our distraction efforts. No car parts, alas, so we move on immediately, clearing 17 zombies out of 1 Springfield Avenue. Josh is injured both times, and Deb has to spend so much time treating him that she can't do any cleaning - which is presumably the cause of an explosive argument which follows.

I brace for another death. This has been on the cards for so long now. Fortunately, Deborah - absolutely this team's MVP since the start, despite being somewhat elderly and entirely uneducated (and a priest, which doesn't seem the most natural fit for combat) - calms things down. If there is any remaining hope that we can survive this ordeal, it all rests on Deborah's reliable shoulders.

Three hours later, zombies invade. 22, pouring in through every door and window of a house we have had no chance to secure because everyone was too busy arguing.

Once again, our odd couple survive. Once again, Joshua takes to bed after the fight, and once again Deborah has to clear corpses out the house alone otherwise it's going to be the death of both of them.

"Deborah has redeemed herself in the eyes of Joshua."

Oh no, no. This is even worse than when most of the team died in one fell swoop. Redeemed herself of what, exactly? Of the crime of not being an indentured servant? This is a monstrous state of affairs.

Still, this is a partnership that seems to work, for all its ugly overtones. Josh and Debs successfully make it Station Drive, clearing a new house of 15 zombies - but, once again, find no car parts.

Onwards again, success again. Maybe we can do this after all. But a storm is coming, and that will have a dramatic impact on both visibility and zombie movements. We decide to quickly shore up our current abode instead of moving on again, so of course Joshua decides that now's an ideal time to take a shower.

If he'd stayed dirty, he might have lived. Instead, fresh armpits cost him his life. The pair take out 26 zombies - a new record - but Joshua, awful, retrograde Joshua, falls too.

Deborah, always the MVP, stands alone. In a way it's a relief. Unfettered by a lazy chauvinist, perhaps she can be the engine of brutal efficiency that she was clearly born to be.

On her next breach, she singlehandledly clears the town museum of 36 zombies. Superwoman right here. Unstoppable, clearly. She'll have that car repaired and out of here before we know it.

I sent Deborah into a police station, but I never found out exactly what happened inside. "Deborah became trapped inside. Her body is still there."

I pushed her too hard. I'm sorry. But: what a champ she was. The hero of Cleveland Road. The elderly, uneducated priest who took out dozens of zombies, who kept her cool even in the presence of absolute scum. She could have done it, if only I'd sent her somewhere else, I know she could. Deborah Edwards, I salute you.

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