Column: Paintball playing pattern breaking introvert

(Photo: Alex Thenin)

by Alex Thenin
edited by Jayce Ringwald

A scream shattered the stillness, followed by a silence louder than any sound.

On the thirtieth of September, the clouds were gray and the sky was raining as I crawled through the fallen leaves, the mud and dirt. The trees bent down as if a weight was attached to the tip of their limbs, the whole world around me was an oppressive gray. I heard a loud whistle past my ear. I dove under a log as paint bombarded my cover. I stood up and started firing back. Sickly green paint splattered around them as I aimed. Then my visor turned an ocean blue and my vision was gone. The impact was quick and sudden, like a jump scare in a B grade horror movie. I yelled, “Out,” and wiped the blue off my visor. I had a long walk back to base with my arms in the air so as not to get hit again. Believe it or not I was actually having quite a bit of fun.

Adventure Recreation had organized this outgoing event for students who wanted to go paintballing. To be honest, I only went for a project. It’s disturbing that it took an excuse to break me away from my everyday pattern. I recruited my roommate because, unlike me, he had played paintball before.  We got a ten-dollar discount for signing up together. It was about the same price you would pay if you went down to AG Paintball to play.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, we were having second thoughts. It was rainy, gray and cold. My roommate and I looked at the vertical downpour and thought that there was no way in hell the whole thing wouldn’t be called off. The only reason we got up in the first place was to try to get our money back. To our surprise and dread the thing was going on as planned.

We were the first ones to arrive in the bubble.The plan was to get picked up at 10 a.m. and arrive at AG Paintball an hour later. Once there we would get our gear. We must have waited for five minutes before someone else arrived. “Is this the paintball thing?” The driver arrived, counted the three of us and we were on our way. There were eight spots available, but the van only held three of us and the driver.

Once there, I got a paintball gun, a mask, a belt and three ammo pods. The group of us walked outside and started loading up. It quickly became apparent that I had no idea what I was doing when I asked, “What’s a gravity fed hopper?” They pointed and laughed at the plastic extrusion that came out from the top of my gun.

We were paired with another group and split into teams. A referee took us out of the nets, into the land of the empty barrel covers. We marched in the rain, in the deep mud into the village made of planks of wood and a bus.

I was worried about getting hit, which inevitably happened. It was startling, but not painful.

We played more more round in another map and then broke for pizza.

D-day was a hill with logs as barricades on top of it. The empty place had trees and fake tanks. The game was that attackers would respond when shot but defenders end up in the dead box. If the defenders were able to keep the hill for fifteen minutes they won. Defending was the easy part to be honest but it got a lot harder when we were attacking. Two new players joined us with their own guns. They were quick and accurate. They were also not on my team.

We had a plan originally. Run up the hill together, they can’t get all of us. Everyone near me had been shot and I was the last one near the top of the hill. I was pin down by two people shooting at me. I was behind cover when an electric shock of pain zapped my rib cage. Then another came. I got hit four times in a row before I was able to inhale enough air to scream, “out!” The Canadian shot so fast I didn’t even have to time to react to it really.

My legs, my side and my arms killed the next morning. Those two knew players really knew how to aim. I stumbled into the shower and saw all the bruises and welts on me. I was a living, breathing Pollock painting with all the red that stretched across my skin. My roommate complained about the pain in his legs for days afterwards, because he got shot in the inner thigh three times at close range.

A bad experience is more memorable than an ordinary one. The same old is forgettable, normalcy is a toxin to are lives as it slowly drags us into an uneventful unmemorable life. Pattern breaking is the most important part of life. It’s also surprisingly difficult. That’s why I suggest if you have never played paintball you should.

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