An evening race & a massive game of tag in DC
I started out with my cousin, Chris, and my friend Sarah. We arrived at Dupont Circle a bit late: we just got off the Metro escalator in time to see a mass of at least a hundred people dart southward. We decided to stick to the roads less traveled on our way to station 2: we actually approached from the opposite side, passing by blues heading toward #3 in the process.
At station #2, paralleling many others, we crossed over to the Mall. To much surprise: not a chaser to be found anywhere within the shadows. During this time we joined up with two others whom had avoided a chaser approaching #2, but myself and my original two teammates ultimately made it to #3 without even seeing a single chaser. We went straight through the Mall -- wrapping around the Washington Monument on its south side. We then jumped a block further south to sneak into #3 from the back.
We approached #3 from the southwest and that was, without a doubt, the way to go. Upon arrival at the station, a horde of blues came charging in from the Mall: out of breath at what was described as a masse of chasers wreaking havoc upon the Mall. From discussions later on, it sounds like a big chunk of people were caught just north of station 3.
Since the north sounded so dangerous, we left to the south again: only this time a girl in blue -- a chaser -- had just arrived. We bolted away toward the Metro and she did not give chase (I later found several people whom were similarly frightened by this Girl in Blue). At the Metro escalators, we toyed with the idea of riding one stop north to get us toward #4, but ultimately ditched the idea. The theory was that since so many people were just caught at the Smithsonian, it seemed likely that many would be taking Metro to try and beat the other blues to the next stations.
Going across the Mall and going right up next the White House, we made it to #4 without seeing any chasers. So apart from the one which didn't give chase, we had effectively gone without any chasers at all. The staff at this station was particularly entertaining: they required us to do origami in order to get the needed signatures. Being an engineer and thus having minimal artistic talent, I folded each corner of my square paper to make a *very* crude "crown". Sarah one-upped me by making a paper crane... but it didn't matter: my crown was worthy of a signature and I was happy. I chatted with a chaser whom was resting at the station: she seemed a bit disheartened that the only person she had caught thus far was another chaser.
Since we made it this far without any setbacks, we got greedy. The five of us tried to decide how to approach station #5: should we take Metro to Chinatown? Should we walk to Chinatown? Should we take the grand New York Ave? Should we cut further north?
We declined Metro because it just seemed like too great a trap. If you run into one chaser anywhere in a station, you can be assured that you've just earned yourself a shadow. We declined heading toward Chinatown / Verizon Center because of the sheer masses of people. On the one hand, we might be able to blend into the crowds. On the other hand, so would the chasers. We declined going out of the way because, up to this point, it all just seemed to easy.
New York Avenue went pretty well. About a block shy of Mt. Vernon Square, we had just crossed the street when I spotted a chaser approaching to my left. I thought I yelled out something to my group, though apparently all I did was just belt out a line of incoherent gibberish and take off running, leaving my group behind. What can I say: I'm a natural at teamwork.
I went straight, glanced back, and spotted that the chaser gave up on me. Chris and Sarah darted north and the two others that had joined us went across to the other side of New York Ave. The chaser apparently pursued Chris and Sarah somewhat, but gave up. If that chaser is reading this and recognises that encounter: you said something right as I crossed the street which grabbed my attention. Had you not said anything, you probably could have walked right up and got me.
If I have the story correct (which is probably not the case), a chaser arrived by car and pursued Chris and Sarah -- ultimately catching them somewhere north of New York Ave. I rejoined with the two others of our group just a block to the east and, together, we approached Mt. Vernon Square. We hesitated slightly before crossing, deciding whether we should go through the square where we'd have lots of space to run; or take the perimeter of the area -- alongside the buildings -- and hope to avoid a potential mess.
We chose to go through the square. I was confident that I could out-sprint and outmaneuver most chasers. Halfway along the southern side of the square, all we had seen were homeless along the benches. Then, as I had frequently been doing the entire time, I glanced back just to see if there was anything out of the ordinary. There never was every other time I glanced back, why would there be anything different now?
Like something out of 28 Days Later, about 100 feet back I saw a tall & seemingly athletic male coming toward us full-speed. This time I think my yell was a bit more legible. Our female companion ran southward, across the street, and was nabbed by a chaser waiting on the receiving sidewalk. Our male companion ran straight and, as I later heard from the girl, apparently made it. I went left, into the square.
A female chaser ran up on my right; I went left. Out of the corner of my eye, I espied movement on my left; I went right. Now I was approaching the northeast corner of the square when a man cut off my access to the crosswalks. It was at this moment where I realised that I was no longer an energetic teenager, but was now an engineer in his mid-20s whom gets winded just by standing up from the office chair. I ceased my sprint and walked toward the man before me.
I watched just 50 feet beyond at the pedestrian signals counting down the seconds and contemplated trying to doing a fancy spin move... or maybe to try running left again along the north side of the square. I ultimate nixed the idea because: spin moves don't work when all you have to do is be tagged, I wasn't wearing cleats, my muscles weren't up to it, and the guy waiting before me was still poised to chase, just in case. Reaching out, I walked up and shook his hand. My night as a free man had come to an end. I didn't think the chasers would be so plentiful and/or organised at Mt. Vernon Square.
Banding with a couple chasers (one of which was my female companion of yore), we traveling north and hopped on the Metro to take it one station north -- to Shaw / Howard U. On the train, we spotted some blues in one of the train cars -- we moved into an adjacent car and tried to remain nonchalant. I got off at Shaw/Howard to follow one of the blues; and the others stayed onboard to track the remaining blues to U Street. Had I known that a chaser was already on that car with the blues -- meaning that sneaking up on them was pointless -- I probably wouldn't have gotten off at this station by myself.
Some other chasers at this station went north and I camped out the station's escalators. Not so much because I wanted to camp, but rather because I was hoping to reunite with Chris & Sarah; and wasn't too keen on venturing too far around this neighborhood on my own. Whilst on the phone chatting with my other two teammates -- both now chasers, themselves -- two blues surprised me by coming up the escalator. Maybe it was the camo hat or the pale white skin that obviously did not belong, but these two blues were staring at me as they walked off the escalator -- trying to spot any potential orange band on the arm facing away from them.
Had I just held out a moment longer, I probably could have blocked the escalators and, hence, their best exit. However, I knew I couldn't really rotate myself to keep my arm band away, or else I ran the risk of them getting even MORE suspicious. So I went for it... and wasn't fast enough. They made it to the escalator: the guy walking backwards along the up escalator; the girl walking upwards on the down escalator. On the one hand I felt kind of bad to put them in this situation and keep them there, but on the other hand I thought it was pretty funny. The looks being drawn from the regular patrons on the escalators or waiting for the bus cracked me up... but ultimately the blues went back down & rode to another station.
Just a minute beyond that, I left the station entirely and went south to 7-11 to rendezvous with Chris & Sarah. Along with them was the very chaser that ultimately caught me. ...Or at least I think it was. I bought myself some Fuse & an Arizona tea, and we went east toward station #7. The final destination stuck out like a sore thumb: the party overflowing into the steps in front.
We crossed over and rested a bit. A couple minutes later, a female blue came around from the same street we took; and a chaser came around at the same time. I'm pretty sure this entire area was a safe zone, but the girl ran and the chaser gave chase. ...Right across the road. ...Right in front of traffic. ...Right in front of a District police car.
The flashers came on and the vehicle pulled up right in front of me. Another guy and myself both approached the cruiser whilst the chaser & blue entered into the house. Their departure probably didn't set the right tone with the police, but us two explained to the officers what we were doing, that everyone's supposed to obey the law, they are welcome to enforce as needed, we know we're not supposed to run across roads, etc. When it was asked whether or not there was any alcohol at the party, I held up my Arizona bottle -- a perfectly-timed prop -- and the police departed seconds later. Party organisers, remember: sub-free people make a great front for the police (unless they can't be trusted to keep back their qualms about alcohol).
Overall, the police presence was pretty kind. Considering the area, the officers at the party were probably just glad that we weren't shooting at them. The federal police around the Mall were pretty kind: we all said hi to them, they said hi right back. En route to station 4, we had asked a guard near the White House whether he had seen any people with orange armbands around. He said he'd seen several and inquired what it was about, we just said a massive game of tag, he let out a faint chuckle, and we kept on our way.
Back to the party: some more minutes went by as we rested our feet, and quite a number of blues trickled in from the northeast. I was impressed at how many made it: well done, everyone. A walk to the Metro and a train ride back to College Park, we grabbed some TGIFridays and called it a night. I may not have made it to the end intact, but it was nonetheless a fun time... and a great reminder that I REALLY need to get back into shape.