Sponsored By: Cragmyre
Time Bawllin’: 38 minutes
Yes, there is an achievement called Gooey Balls. Yes, I achieved it. No, I’d rather not talk about it.
I’m almost at the gate. I can make it. I have to make it. If I don’t make it, either those walkers will get me or the ballers will.
The ground shakes beneath my feet. I permit myself enough breath to curse as I break into a sprint. The ground slopes up in front of me. At the top of the ridge is the gate. If I can make it there, I’m safe. If not, well, the crushed bones of previous baiters lie scattered about me, pulped and tamped into the earth.
We never buried the baiters when they died. It wasn’t safe to.
None of this is safe. None of what I’m doing is safe. If it were safe, we wouldn’t need to ask people to do it. But we need supplies, and to get supplies we need to kill enough zombies to get through to places that still have them.
So we send baiters, like me, to attract the walkers into big groups. Then the ballers use the only weapons we have left on them, and hope that the baiters are masterful enough to stay out of the way. And I am a master at this. I’ve done it thirteen times. Thirteen. Some call that unlucky, but nobody has ever baited the walkers that many times and lived to talk about it.
But this is no time to stroke my own ego. The ballers have let loose the weapon: a giant, heavy ball of whatever scrap and junk they can scrounge together. Last time it was a big ball of vine creepers. By the way the earth is shifting, though, this time it’s something a bit heavier.
The shaking stops, and I know the ball just left the ramp. With luck, it will land on the huddle of walking corpses a few hundred feet behind me. It hadn’t missed yet. If the ballers build it big enough, it almost can’t miss. We designed this track to make sure of that.
I stumble up the ramp. The boulder hasn’t hit yet, but I won’t let myself look until I’m at the safety of the pylons. Even with the ramp, the boulder has never made it past them. We designed it that way.
I pass the first pylon, and keep running. I’m probably safe now, but why chance it. There’s a tower behind the pylons, with an observation deck. I make for that, swinging briefly on the ladder as I leap up and grab the rungs at speed. I climb up it like a shot. At the top I finally stop, gasping for breath, and look down. What? No!
The ground didn’t stop shaking because the ball had left the ramp; it stopped because the ball was stopped. Stopped! What did those idiots use to make it out of this time? It glistened in the overcast morning light, oozing slightly. Compost? They were planning to kill the zombies with slime and compost?
The track is a flurry of movement. At the bottom, climbing the ramp to the pylons, I can see the walkers. Behind the blocked ball I see the ballers working frantically. What are they going to do, push it?
Bombs? They're going to move it with bombs?! One of them runs back, trailing a wire behind him. There's shouting and arm waving, and then a bright flash followed a second later by a loud boom. A cloud of white smoke is where the ball used to be, but the ball is gone. Did it blow up? I can see the ballers waving, pointing.
My eyes follow their gestures and see the ball, rolling through the sky above me. Getting closer.
They’d used too much, or put it in the wrong place, or … oh, who the hell cares at this point? Whatever they did, the ball wasn’t going to hit the zombies. Not first, anyway.
Thirteen. They said it was unlucky. All the more so because the ballers are freakin’ idiots.
The 217th baiter was struck by the ball and was not, in fact, killed. He did not, however, bait again, as the zombies would no longer chase him due to the smell. The ballers retired from rolling but ended up making a good living in the cosmetics industry making zombie repellant. Their signature line, Smellz like Ballz, remains a top seller among people who don’t want zombies to chase them. It's also doing quite well in the niche for people who really, really like dutch ovens. It would be a funny old world if we were all the same.
Is it the Dark Souls of terrible mobile physics games?
Thirteen missions is an extraordinary number of successful missions for a baiter. The average career of one lasted five days. Why they were able to recruit as many as they had is left as an exercise to the reader – but probably was related to the punch-line of the joke about the djinni and the very small piano.