They shut the door behind us, and locked us in with nowhere to go.
Our hearts raced with each step as the group walked through the dusty boiler room. The corridors were tight and dark. Our hands gripped our rifles so tightly that they left imprints on our palms.
Up ahead, the first door lay open wide. Crimson red writing on the walls told us to turn back, but that's not why we were there.
Adrenaline kicked in, pushing the group through the door like storm troopers. But we didn't check the corners - and they were upon us faster than we anticipated.
"Move! Move! Move!"
This is "Apocalypse: A Zombie Kill Experience" at Tucson's neighborhood horror den, The Slaughterhouse.
"Apocalypse" lets you stalk zombies with CO2 laser tag rifles. The zombies roam through two houses, CarnEvil and Boiler Room. Teams of four or fewer hunt them down using the laser tag rifles. Each hunter starts off with 50 rounds of ammo; extra rounds are available at additional cost.
The experience is fun and unique to the horror house industry: Instead of running away from the horror as you do in a typical haunted house, you chase it down.
Each house is a maze filled with zombies lurking behind closed doors and in corners. The zombies are supposed to be wearing receivers that ring and turn red when a hunter aims and fires directly at them. The sound verifies the shot, telling the zombie to fall down. However, during my run through the maze last weekend, not all zombies wore such devices.
That was disappointing because it made the experience feel similar to playing good-guys, bad-guys shoot 'em up as a child. You shoot your enemy and hope they drop dead, but sometimes they don't.
The zombies don't stay dead, either. After a few seconds they get back up, forcing the hunters to constantly push forward.
A monitor on top of your gun collects the data on how many zombies you have killed, but since some zombies aren't wearing the receivers that number isn't accurate.
Orange target-acquisition marks are hidden inside each house. Part of the mission objective is to take down these targets, which are supposed to light up when hit and register a "target achieved" on your monitor. But one target in the Boiler Room last weekend was out of order.
Beyond these little annoyances, "Apocalypse: A Zombie Kill Experience" is an entertaining experience that you can't find anywhere else.
To fully enjoy the outing, let go of trying to beat your friends to the zombie kills. Instead, just focus on the group effort to move from start to end, taking down zombies.
"Apocalypse" is in its early stages of development, said Slaughterhouse spokesman Bobby Sutton. A third zombie house is in development on the upper level of The Slaughterhouse.
The Slaughterhouse plans to improve on its system, adding some sort of proximity detector that goes off when zombies are too close.
After they work through the kinks, Sutton said he wants to take the zombie show to the annual TransWorld's Halloween & Attractions Show, a national convention held in St. Louis next March.
"We're excited to be bringing something to Tucson that nobody else has done before anywhere in the country," Sutton said.
if You Go
• What: Apocalypse: A Zombie Kill Experience.
• Where: The Slaughterhouse, 1102 W. Grant Road.
• When: 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through July; July dates sold out except July 20.
• Cost: $10-$55 at slaughterhousetucson.com
Isaac Cox is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org