H1Z1 is a zombie survival shooter set in a virus ravaged world. As the infection ends, it’s up for people to fight the environment as well as each other for a life in their new, post-apocalyptic reality.
That’s what it’s supposed to be about, anyway. But for me lately, in addition to killing people, it’s been about breaking up with my long-term boyfriend and a beige house along Mosquito River.
The house I’m talking about sits unassuming on the end of a block, a road to the front and a river to the back. It’s a two story home with a large garage, its architecture both modern and turn of the century, taking heavy cues from the era of plantations and southern belles. It’s neither dark nor light, just a mixture of brown and white that blend to be somewhere right in-between. It’s the largest structure in the Pleasant Valley neighborhoods to the east, sequestered away on a car packed street that forms a grid which feeds into Avram Highway—a long stretch of busy road that runs to Bubba’s Truck Stop if you go to the end.
We’ll never have a house in the real world together, so I’ve come to think of this house as ours in a sad way. I know it’s weird and I know it’s cheesy, but in many ways, it’s the last vestige of our failed relationship in a game that we spent a lot of time together in.
We’ve been through its layout dozens of times by now. We know all the methods of entry, even the secret spot on the second floor balcony that you can access by standing on top of a parked van in its driveway with just the right angle of jump. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms and a single bathroom. One of the rooms, the one facing east, has an excellent vantage point of the staircase that leads to the second floor. We’ve used it several times for clutch kills on unsuspecting home invaders.
The house has a beautiful backyard, littered with blackberry bushes and trees. It’d be the perfect place for a summer BBQ, its picket white country fence making a border between the house and the riverbanks. The backyard is also the scene of our most devastating deaths: a frenetic 5v2 in survival mode where we killed four people, only to be ambushed by the cowardly fifth while we were looting their corpses, who then proceeded to ask us exactly how mad we were over his crackling, cheap headset.
I think I told him he sucked before respawning and making the long trek back to our base in the Spence Hills. You laughed at my weak insult and I laughed at your laugh. Eventually, as I ran back through the trees trying to find the base you built for us, I fell into my old habits and reprimanded you about going to the house in the first place because we lost our only automatic rifle. You brushed it off and said you wanted to go back with more weapons to enact revenge. We eventually did, ultimately clearing the base the five man group had built up in its then barricaded walls and taking their supplies.
This was the first time we laid eyes on the house, but it wasn’t the last.
The last time was when you dropped down on it while playing Battle Royale recently. It’d been a month or so since we last played together and this time you’re playing as a female avatar, something you’ve recently switched to because you have decided that the hitbox is slightly smaller—a decision that is so you it hurts. Even though we’re long since over by this point, I unabashedly love this about you and it hits me with a strength I’m surprised by. After all, your endless search to see competitive edges where others only see walls is what’s made you a top player of every game you set out to conquer.
You land from your parachute descent and a guy lands to your right immediately after. You don’t even hesitate; as the guy stumbles from the kitchen, you run ahead up the staircase and veer to the right. You know the best potential spawns are in that bedroom due to its extra spawn point of a closet and you’re hoping for an AR15. You get lucky and get one, right as he enters the room following you. He runs and you run the opposite way, right into the bathroom before darting to the eastern bedroom. From there, you lie in wait and peek corners from its two access points: the balcony and the hallway. You see him in the opposite bedroom and fire at him, but he ducks back into the room and disappears.
“Where the fuck did he go?” you ask, posing it to both of us, but you’re really just asking yourself. You’re already looking for him, scanning your surroundings. You take a few hesitant steps toward the hallway then see him downstairs through the stairs’ banister and fire a single bullet into him for a headshot. Afterwards, you pause to ask me if I saw that and ponder on how he got there so quickly.
I tell you I did. We talk a while before we finally conclude he must have jumped off the balcony from the bedroom in the second it took to strafe between the doorways then reemerged through the front door hoping to take you by surprise.
“He took literally the worst path he could have taken, right into your crosshairs,” I say to you with a laugh and you agree.
Then again, he didn’t know our house like we do. Like I do.
Like I did.