This is the second post about my trip to England which chronicles the events of day 2 of Escapism. If you haven’t read the first post, I’d advice you to do so by following this link here.
I awoke early the next morning by Steve’s alarm clock, something I’m sure I’ll never forget no matter how hard I try. See, the thing with setting songs as an alarm is that when you just wake up it just sounds like a collection of weird noises randomly put together. It could’ve been music. It could’ve been a cat being dropped from a helicopter at a farm. It could’ve been everything. All I remember is waking up from weird noises and sitting up in bed just in time to see Steve do the same thing. He grabbed his mobile, turned it off. We looked at each other, both equally confused, and then went back to sleep.
I woke up shortly when Joe was getting ready to hit the shower. I dismissed the whole thing with Steve’s alarm as a dream and it wasn’t until he mentioned it later that day that I realized his alarm had in fact gone off. In the meantime, I was waiting for said alarm to go off before taking a shower. After a while I gave up and showered anyway.
Once downstairs we had breakfast. Toast and coffee. I have no idea what it tasted like because I’m not a morning person. Everything about the entire morning is a massive blur. I remember Steve complaining about Sky taking too long with getting out of bed. He tweeted a complaint about how we were waiting while she was already sitting at a table having toast. Nobody said anything about it, we were kinda waiting it out to see how long it’d take before he’d notice. I think our wait for Sky to come down lasted so long she actually went back to sleep at her table.
After much more waiting for no real reason and messing about, we set off to go paintballing. I’ve never gone paintballing before, so I had no idea what to expect.
At some point along the journey there we had an entire tube car to ourselves, which was awesome. Gave us the space we needed to wake up and act weird.
After we arrived at our stop we waited for a van to come pick us up. Most of the group was just messing about the usual way we had been doing since the start of Escapism. Except Tilly he walked away and sat down quite a distance from us. Sky followed after some time, and some time later Spy followed. I was kind of doubting if I’d walk over there as well, but I figured I’d give them space before the rest of the group started moving there as well.
A van picked us up and we got driven towards the paintball place. During the ride we discussed the video content of the Escapist and how we didn’t like most of the series currently running. It wasn’t too long until we arrived at our stop.
We got out silly military-fashioned jumpsuits and ammo belts, bought us some paintballs and listened to the instructions as they were given to us. We had to make teams, and there were several ways we could do this. We could point out who we wanted to shoot and figure out the teams that way. All of us pointed at Steve. I think even Steve pointed at himself. Since that didn’t work we were arranged by the numbers we had on our hands in permanent marker. The same number would be on our gun and was the envelope of our personal belongings. I was number 106. We were divided by even and odd numbers. Luckily, Steve had an odd number.
It was time for the first game. Capture the flag in a big field with haystacks and a helicopter in the middle. There was a flag at the helicopter, it had to be taken to the opponent’s side.
We were given our signal to start. I immediately scanned the area in front of me for hostiles. I spotted one and started shooting. I didn’t hit anyone, but whoever I was shooting at wouldn’t move as quickly as he was before. I tried to find a balance between carefully moving forward and rushing it. I few paintballs flew past me as I found the next stack to hide behind. I moved out of cover and shot someone with a mohawk before hiding behind the haystack again. So much for the captain. There was another one near the area I shot him, I knew exactly where that one was hiding. Without hesitating, I got out of cover and fired several shots. At least one of them hit the target. Without checking if it was safe, I rushed forward to the next point of cover. A few paintballs flew past me, they were close. I took down another hostile and got ready to move again… That’s when it was announced the game was over. We had won. Our team had pretty much steamrolled the other.
Don’t worry though, this was the only game our team had won. The game after this, I took on 4 people at the same time by myself on the same side of the field before fleeing. Once I found my new position in the middle of the field I found the perfect target, he hadn’t even noticed me yet. There was just one tiny problem. I was out of ammo. That’s when I got shot for the first time. It felt like a sharp painful jab, but the pain disappeared shortly after as if it was never there.
After those two rounds we had a short break. We discussed our military cunning and exploits over hamburgers and soft drinks before heading back to the next battlefield. This time it was a barn and a bunch of old broken cars.
Unlike the previous game, we had a strategy for this one. I can’t remember what it was. I think it came down to moving along the sides to circle the dummy in the center. Needless to say, this was also the exact strategy of the opponents, whether it was also planned on their end or not. I rushed past the right side of the field, thinking I could hide behind this wooden wall for cover. There was a puddle there and keeping in mind that real men don’t dirty themselves in mud during battle I valiantly rushed past it out in the open hoping there’d be cover nearby. There wasn’t. Someone was standing behind a wooden crate. He was shooting at me. I jumped out of the way and hid behind a wooden crate. For some reason it sounded smart to sneak around the crate and surprise him from the other side. The second I was around the corner three shots hit me at the same time. Unless the shooter was a total spazz it must have come from three different people, considering where I got hit. My left and right hands were covered in paint, as was my shoulder.
Next round, same field, opposite sides. We got our signal. I took four steps forward and got hit by paint. I raised my hand to give the signal that I was out. It was met with more paint.
After that we had two more rounds in a forest. I have no idea what happened in those rounds, as all I could see was greenery. I shot at everything that wasn’t green or moved, hoping to hit someone. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hit anyone. Several people were firing at me, it was raining paint all around me. I tried moving away from that position and was greeted with a few paintballs all over my body. I raised my hand and quickly lowered it as more paintballs flew all around it. One of the people who supervised the fight signaled for them to stop and moved me away from there.
The same pretty much happened the round after it, except even more shots were fired when I raised my hand.
We got one more break after that. After the break there’d be a few more final rounds. Spy was going to take action shots of everyone during those rounds. Me, Dan and Tilly dropped out. I was tired, out of paintballs and reluctant to buy more. Dan had the same reason. I’m not sure what Tilly’s reason was. We talked about the accidents we’ve been in and what kind of marks they’ve left behind. Also, Steve never got shot by anyone. He did get me though. Hard. In the face.
When everyone returned, the last few heroic paintballing stories got shared before we headed back to the van which would in turn take us back to the tube station. I have no idea what everyone was talking about on the way back. I was seated right next to an open window and all I could hear was the wind. That tends to be where I drift of into fantasy worlds or deep thoughts to escape from reality. This time instead I just lingered in the moment. It was the first moment I realized I was happy where I was. A feeling I can’t say I often have.
We arrived just in time as the tram was about to arrive. Steve yelled at Dan to hurry, calling him yeti. Tilly moved to the end of the station and got on a car by himself. We slowly made our way to him by getting in every car, walking towards the end of it, getting off at the station and jumping into the next car. It took us a stop or two to catch up with him. At some point we were spread over 3 separate cars that we had all to ourselves.
We got off at Leicester Square, where we searched for Sky. Since everyone went off in different directions, it took a bit of time to get the group back together. When we were sure that the entire group was in fact together again and that we weren´t missing any Daves or Mikes, we went for the arcades.
After an initial walk through the entire arcade to see what games they had, I headed for the Guitar Hero machine. Part of me was afraid some random people were playing on it and that it’d take ages to get rid of them and play. The random people who were playing the game already turned out to be Tilly and Sky. Tilly dropped out after the first game and I took his place. Tilly told me the controller couldn’t strum upwards, so it’d be impossible to play the harder difficulties. I was wondering what kind of person would rely on upstrumming so heavily before I realized that what he meant is that you literally can’t play it. You need upstrumming to choose the difficulty on the menu. Me and Sky played one song before she put her controller down. Since I hadn´t played any Rock Band or Guitar Hero for more than half a year, I felt like at least giving Expert a go again. I picked up the guitar Sky had put down and played one song. I’m not even sure I played it on Expert because I accidentally mashed my way past the difficulty select screen. No notes seemed to be missing, so it could have been Expert.
After that I went on to find other things to do. I’m not sure where Sky and Tilly went off to afterwards, but I found my favorite game of the arcade. I had heard of it before. I´ve seen it in Japanese television, where an idol, Gackt played it with one hand and still managed to win. I wanted to play it. The game was the arcade Hokuto No Ken game. Perhaps more well-known under the name Fist of the North Star. After playing through that game on almost all of the difficulty levels in a row, I went off to find the rest of the group. They were messing around with the games that handed out tickets afterwards in the hope they could get something cool from it. We won a plushie that we called Asian-Dave. Dave (the one that’s actually Luke) got renamed Non-Asian Dave.
When we were done at the arcades we assembled downstairs where we watched a few of us get thrown off one of those bull rides. In the meantime the youngest of the Escapists, Jedamethis joined us accompanied by his mother.
We slowly made our way back to the outside. Stopping only for a shop that sold funny t-shirts and hats. We toyed around a lot with the pink hat and a few of us bought silly shirts. I still have to give my respects to Revelo for having had the guts to buy that “Hitler European Tour” shirt.
That shop was no match for the one we encountered after it though. It wasn’t too long after we walked out of the shop with out new shirts that we saw this massive anime shop that had all kinds of cool stuff. I have to admit that despite the fact I don’t watch anime anymore, I thought that shop was awesome. They had Roy Mustang gloves from Full Metal Alchemist. I bought them. I love them. That’s still nothing compared to Sky though, she bought the entire Miku Hatsune vocaloid costume, complete with wig.
After having wasted god knows how much money in there, we took a tube back to the hostel. We made a stop for pizza and fish ‘n chips along the way. After that we just messed about in the hostel again.
Me and Joe took a table outside after it started getting dark to just talk about random things. It didn’t take too long before everyone else joined in and memes started spreading around again. We made two attempts at a group picture, both inside and outside. Spy started with his idea about making a video of all of us saying something to the Escapist community in general. Shame that video never got made.
We spent several hours in our room watching silly YouTube videos on mobile phones before going to sleep.
That marks the end of day 2. I’ll be posting the third and final day of Escapism soon enough. After that I’ll continue with the rest of my time spent in London followed by my adventures in Sheffield with Sky.