Dylan freeman-Grist auditioning for a role as the star zombie for the running Dead race in front of a celebrity judge panel. PHOTO: Blair Tate


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By Dylan Freeman- Grist 

It happened too quickly. A virus coursed through my veins. It barraged the walls of my arteries, blew the capillaries in my iris. My skin turned to tar, my breath a foul spew of blood.

The valves in my heart decayed and collapsed, yet somehow the failing organ managed to pump sludge through my body. My hairs stood on end; adrenaline frenzied the misfiring synapses of my nervous system.

Myself, along with eight other hopefuls, came to the Office Pub to audition for the role of Patient Zero – the zombie star of the up- coming Running Dead Race. In the end, only one contestant was deemed successful.

The race, which happened on Oct. 27, is a five-kilometre obstacle course. The catch is that participants have to worry about the doz- ens of zombie volunteers looking to remove them from the trail.

Those who auditioned had to channel their inner zombie and do their best impression for a panel of celebrity judges. The panel consisted of Resident Evil producer Byron A. Martin, Toronto Star pop culture reporter Malene Arpe, Silver Snail Comics owner George Zotti, Flare Magazine digital editor Andrew Lovesey and Toronto filmmaker Charlie Lawton.

I walked into the audition room, stood before the judges and did my best attempt at a zombie shuffle. Limping with one leg stuck behind me, I let out a haunting moan.

My back story was simple enough – a classic tale of a neurotic student journalist breaking into a Ryerson biology lab looking for a scoop, only to be bitten by a savage beast hidden deep inside the lost chambers of Kerr Hall. From the point of contact, I began infecting all other stragglers in the area. As a pack, we took over the campus, as a horde, we took over the city and as an army, we took over the entire world.

Once my performance and narrative were complete I stopped, came back to life, and waited for my final judgment.

Despite my best efforts, my “zombiness” was only enough to tie me for second place. Patient Zero somehow managed to slip through my clammy, rotting hands. Once it was over, I washed off the remnants of my face paint, adjusted my coat, and cautiously stepped back into the world of the living.

Left to reflect in the normalcy of life, I couldn’t help but wonder about the undead glory that I could have been.

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