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Journal: #ComebackSeason

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Hello? Y'all still there?

So... it's been a minute, huh? I didn't realize I'd scheduled a post for March 27 but it totally makes my unexplained absence look a lot less reprehensible than it actually is so as random as it is, I'm not taking it down.

Moving on from that piss-poor bet-you-didn't-even-realize-it-was-an-apology apology, life's been swell during my impromptu break from the blog! And by "swell", of course, I mean hilariously horrendous. It's like life is determined to ensure that I am never without a suitable anecdote for every darn situation. Lest this post be ridiculously long (plus I went to Manc for a few days and caught every damn bug, germ, virus, you-name-it Suji and Mo had on offer in their ill state, so I'm too weary from a lurgy that just won't quit to type), I'll just tell you one of them.

Before I do, let me just point out that this doesn't mean I'm "back" as I've still got tons of coursework to do, and tests and exams to study for (boo). Now, story time! I call this one...

Target Practice

I went paintballing for the first time last month. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures - I woke up thirty minutes before the coach was scheduled to leave the morning of (typical) and had to sacrifice breakfast for a too-quick shower, forgetting to pack wet wipes, a change of clothes and an extra pair of shoes or lunch in my haste, so I was a little too moody to remember to document the day. But I really wish I did. I looked super attractive in those camo overalls, muddy shoes and the complimentary helmet hair. Luckily, I got my hands on a few photos you can't see me in (bonus!) to use as visual aids.

On that brisk Saturday morning we, the [cough-cough] best of Leeds' Electrical/Electronics students* boarded a bus to Wakefield with our Civil Engineering counterparts for a friendly game of paintball - but I use the word 'friendly' very, very loosely. There was nothing civil about those CivEng guys, bloody hell. They were like a perilous tactical unit straight out of every action film you've ever watched - combined. Their captain had clearly seen the Expendables one too many times because these guys were beyond SWAT-team coordinated; they were highly-trained assassins, and we, their frightful fumbling prey.

Journal: #ComebackSeason | Ses Rêveries

Speaking of captains, ours ditched us. Yes, that's right. As the event was organized by the committees of both our departmental societies, it went without saying that the society presidents would automatically be captain. But ours decided he'd just jump ship to CivEng on the day "because they didn't have enough members" and take the secretary with him (traitors :P ). Given the chain of command, guess who was next up to take the reins? You guessed it: yours truly, the paintball virgin - which I of course, declined. Turns out our president, G's an amazing shot and our secretary, I's been going paintballing for years so we essentially lost two of our best in one fell swoop without even realizing it. But in the end, someone shot G straight in the gonads with a gun firing at 120mph - unwittingly, of course, but we're not admitting that - so let's just say the score's been settled.

Given that no one else stepped up to be captain, so began the story of our humiliating defeat. I'm creasing right now just typing this: we were awful!

While the CivEng team were using hand signals like they thought they were in the military to communicate their strategies, combat-rolling through the mud and whatnot, whenever I asked my teammates what our game plan was, I was often met with a "just shoot and don't die" and a casual shrug. In the breaks between rounds, I could see the CivEng team celebrating their victories by buying extra paintballs in the thousands (the thousands - meanwhile most of my teammates were down to our last few already) while my team either sulked in a corner and watched them with terror-stricken eyes or munched heartily on chocolate bars and laughed at the hilarious event that was our most recent loss. In an attempt to eliminate the then-palpable defeatist attitude in our team mid-way through the day, my speech went: "Right, guys, we know we're gonna lose, it's inevitable at this point. But just try not to die, like, too early on. It'll be less pathetic that way."

It wasn't.

In the apocalypse arena, where we had to stealthily transport our randomly-appointed 'President/Prime Minister' onto the abandoned double-decker the other team were shooting at us from within the ten minutes in order to win that round, we lost our PM and ended up yelling at each other across the grounds trying to figure where he was ("I don't even know who he is, mate"), who was covering him ("hey, where the hell is he?" "Not with me!" "Well, he's not with me, so where the f--- did he go?") and why the hell he wasn't already in the safe zone yet. A more offensive quote from that round, but one that really does sum up just how salty some of us had gotten: "Of course. Of course they've got snipers and we picked the fattest guy here to try to sneak past them." Suprisingly though, we managed to win that round... after we had finally eliminated enough of the other team and had enough seconds left on the clock to cast aside our fear of being shot and collectively stand up from behind our barricades to scream at the PM to "get on the f---ing bus!" Similarly, in the arena where our objective was to plant a bomb outside the other team's safe house, we sent our bomber round the side through the trees while we distracted CivEng with our impressive shields protecting a decoy... and then completely lost track of the guy with the bomb. Hell, half of us didn't know we'd won until the Marshall told us we could get out from behind our barricades.

Journal: #ComebackSeason | Ses Rêveries

If you think our poor coordination was the worst of it, think again. In a war without strategy, there is no comraderie. It's every man for himself. I learned this the hard way after a teammate literally used me as a human shield as soon as the Marshall said "Go!" in one round - before I'd even gotten my wits about me - while 'bullets' went spraying everywhere. How they all missed me before I managed to wriggle out of her vice-like grip on my overalls and duck behind an obstacle is beyond me. You should have seen my face. She's lucky she started apologizing before I'd expended all my really's and are-you-kidding-me's in crescendo; I had a freaking gun in my hands, yo. At that proximity, things could've gotten very messy.

I was pretty fortunate at the start in terms of not getting shot; I was even the last man standing at one point! My luck did run out eventually though. It was the 'eliminate all the zombies to win' arena and we were the zombies. Our "game plan": take cover and hang tight. They whittled us down rather quickly, until the last eight zombies so we split up into three groups - one group shooting at the other team to hold them back while the other two hid behind barricades, praying to last until time ran out. I was in one of the hiding groups and it was in the last two minutes that our shooters got killed off. Panicking, I decided to look over at the other group from around the side of the obstacle I was hiding behind with the two guys in my group. I spotted three CivEng guys running towards the obstacle behind which my other unsuspecting teammates were crouching. Overwhelmed with sudden feelings of imminent guilt, I raised my gun ever so slightly, aimed and fired, gunning them all down (#BritishSniper #BradleyCooperAintGotNothingOnMe). The guys next to me cheered and the group I'd just saved gave me the thumbs up - but we celebrated too soon.

For in my moment of incredibly uncharacteristic heroism, I'd given away our positions to the rest of the CivEng team hiding in the trees at the back end of the arena. It really didn't take long before they all rained down upon us all - with a vengeance. You would have thought we'd just kidnapped their daughters a la Taken with the way they came at us. Even though the rules clearly stated that once you've been hit and you raise your hand to exit the arena you are not to be touched, those barbaric mercenaries didn't care. I had my hand up and screamed "I'm already dead! Jesus Christ, stop shooting me!" until my voice went hoarse, but their trigger-happy fingers took no notice (for the record: G, I know you were one of them. What happened to fellow-committee-member loyalty, bruh?). My luck went even further down south when I actually shot one of my teammates in the ass. But that was funny.

In the end, we lost by twenty points. I was too tired at the end of it to really care though. They did tell me it was a "full day's worth" but I had no idea what that actually meant. We were there for seven hours! Even as a former athlete turned lazy git, it was the most physical exertion I've ever experienced in my life. Not only was I covered in bruises the day before (note to seven-year-old self: you were definitely wrong, my friend; black people can bruise just as easily and the pain can last as long as a month and counting), I couldn't feel my feet when we got back on the coach and my muscles stiffened so I couldn't walk or move properly for a week. Luckily the incident coincided with when I inherited my flat mate's wheelie bag** before she moved back home (funny story that) so I didn't have to carry my books on my sore back to uni the following Monday.

The biggest upside, however: our Marshall was really, really hot and he was sweet enough to give me paintball tips between games and he got me fifty paintballs for free after one of the other workers spilled the little I had left all over the floor (ty-pi-cal).

Journal: #ComebackSeason | Ses Rêveries

The End.

*Mechatronics is generally housed under this department in most universities but we're technically still part of the Mech Eng and Computing departments too. We're the slutty middle children of engineering.

**Usually sported by old ladies and students who've officially stopped giving a s--t, these admittedly unfashionable wheelie bags are a Godsend!

Photo credit: Disney Studios via Tumblr; LUU ShockSoc

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