Chapter One: Home is Where the AK-47 is Hidden Under the Bed

A wise man once said that if you want to get rid of a gun, you have to pick that gun up.

Yeah, he was wise. Smart quote and all that jazz. But right now that dude is either a) rotting in a hole somewhere, b) chasing us from behind as one of those ugly, unsanitary things or c) long consumed by said things.

Rule Number 26: Try not to look back.

-

"Dammit, Columbus, turn around!" Tallahassee crowed, struggling to keep an aim at the figures behind the truck through the smashed-up rear window as Columbus twisted in his seat to get a better look.

"Yeah, yeah!" he replied, jerking around and turning the wheel sharply as they narrowly missed the wreck of a Mercedes. Tallahassee pulled the trigger and another zombie faltered and fell. Little Rock swore loudly- Columbus flinched and concentrated on dodging obstacles on the city street- and rolled her window down a crack, sliding her pistol through and taking out a woman with dyed pink hair.

Wichita leaned over the dashboard examining a map anxiously. "It's... we take a-,"

"Now would be nice, Wichita!" Columbus was blinking rapidly, his driving getting steadily worse as he grew more afraid. The truck grazed a toppled post box.

"One more block and we take a right. Right!" she snapped quickly. "Step on it!"

But Tallahassee had things under control. There was but one problem- some fat bastard who had taken four hits to the stomach and had yet to drop. The others were falling behind. Rat a tat tat. Down went three more further back.

"Shit, shit!"

The big one had latched onto the back of the truck. The bumper gave a groan, threatening to collapse under the weight. Tallahassee didn't get the chance to shoot. Jumbo didn't get the chance to take a swipe at him through the gap. Little Rock slammed her hand down on a button to pop the trunk, and Tubby flipped off the back and collided with a stop sign with a most satisfying noise.

The sisters gave a sigh as the car swerved around the corner to not-quite freedom.

"Slick move, kiddo." Tallahassee commented.

"Yeah, good job." Columbus nodded shakily.

Wichita watched him tremble for a moment, before eying the open road and tilting her head towards it. "Want me to take a turn at the wheel?"

"... please."

-

After the guts of six weeks on the run with Wichita, Little Rock and especially Tallahassee, there were a few words that could send spasms of terror or undiluted joy accordingly through Columbus's body.

And one of the best phrases left to those who actually spoke the human language? Rest stop.

"This place looks good, I think..." Little Rock said as Wichita pulled the truck in by a large country house on a long, deserted road. With the elder of the pair's reckless driving at a breakneck speed, they had left the confines of the gray California far behind. The last month and few days had been spent combing nearby areas for anyone left... and results thus far had been disappointing.

Columbus climbed out of the passenger seat and took the gun that Tallahassee handed him before opening the back door for him. The older man stepped out and without warning fired four, five, six shots into the air. The noise echoed, and nothing moved an inch.

"You think it's safe?"

"I think it is..." Tallahassee pumped the trigger twice more to be sure. Columbus jerked. "Yeah, it's safe. Keep a weather eye on the horizon though."

"One- that makes no sense." Columbus began to follow him as he lead the way to the house. A little way behind, the girls began to load their weapons before following. "Two-,"

"You stole it from Pirates of the Caribbean!" Little Rock called.

"Thank you!"

They climbed the porch steps and kicked at the door roughly, expecting a force or resistance. However, the wood swung back easily, giving way to a dark hallway. They filed in one by one. Wichita groped for they light switch. "Power's out."

"So open the curtains in the livin' room. A bit of natural daylight ain't ever done anyone no harm."

Wichita made her way past the others, rifle held stoically before her as she scoped the room before entering and ripping back the drapes. Open sunlight poured in and she turned to examine the room. Suddenly her eyes widened ever so slightly and she turned, lowering her weapon a little.

"Guys!"

Little Rock reached first, and soon her expression was equally awestruck as her eyes scraped the walls of the living room.

"Holy crap." Columbus muttered from the doorway. Tallahassee gave a low whistle behind him.

The walls of the prim little room were covered, ceiling to floor, in scrawled writing, each area topped with date. There were too many to read at once, probably about sixty or seventy entries in all, many in the same handwriting.

Four weeks ago: Sarah. I'm safe. I waited at the apartment like you said, but they were everywhere. I can't find you. If you get to read this know that I love you - Allan.

Two days later: A few verses of bad poetry in blue marker.

Three weeks ago: Green- Lyle took off a few hours ago. Said he knew his kid was still somewhere in the city. We couldn't stop him. The children are panicking- there's a few outside. We're getting them upstairs. We're in the study just so you know when you get back. I'm sorry about Lyle. Tess.

Undated: Several games of X's and O's.

One week ago: Note to self; strong smelling food attracts them. Do not remove corn dogs from freezer.

Four days after that: RIP Jennifer. We're so sorry you felt the need to end it like that.

And, in four-foot high letters across the south wall: CHECK THE COFFEE TABLE.

Wichita gave a little exhalation of wonder and clamped a hand around Columbus's arm. He took her other hand in his for support. She cocked an eyebrow, smiling slightly, and he let go quickly.

"There were others here." Little Rock whispered, tracing a note on the paint with her fingers.

"Were being the operative word." Tallahassee added. "So where the hell did they go? This place is damn near spotless- none of those bastards got in, that's for sure. And there ain't no bodies anywhere that we saw. So..." He frowned in thought.

Columbus slapped the last message and darted past Little Rock, who watched as he pulled open a drawer on the coffee table and pulled out a single slip of folded paper. On one side it read: "To whom it may concern- and that means you."

"Read it out," Wichita ordered tersely.

Columbus complied.

"To whosoever is lucky enough to read this. This house, my home, has for the last weeks been used as a safehouse for survivors. There are nine of us now, but we can't hold out much longer. We're running out of food, and we can't just stay here.

We're leaving for Maine, where one of the people here has heard there's a ferry leaving the country on the 7th of September. That's two and a half weeks from today. They're hoping that of we get the last of the uninfected to open sea and stay there for as long as possible, they might die out without food. If not, at least we die rather than get eaten.

Feel free to use the house for rest and planning- it's well reinforced and we've got a little food left in the cellar. But if you're hoping to skip this country, get a move on. 7th of September, Eastport. They won't wait. So if you find this letter and you're okay, hurry. You have a chance.

Green."

A poignant silence filled the room.

"So- what, they left like three days ago?" Little Rock asked.

"Yeah. Heading for Maine."

"That's right across the country..." Columbus stared at the script writing.

"We could manage in five days if we step on it. We've got two weeks anyhoo." Tallahassee glanced around. "It's five thirty. I'm giving it until five thirty A.M., and if your asses ain't in the seats I'm pullin' out without you."

Wichita rolled her eyes and stalked off into the hallway before pounding up the stairs. "I get first dibs on the shower!" Little Rock gave a sudden shriek and took off after her.

-

The sound of running water filled the house again as Little Rock finally got her wish. Columbus lay in his room assigned to him for the night and listened to the white noise, enjoying the fact that for the moment, he did not need to think, let alone worry.

"Ohio?"

Aaaand... in kicks the brain. It was nice while it lasted.

"Wichita."

She was in the doorway, just barely visible in the pitch darkness of the house. Her wet hair was dripping steadily onto the floor, and the clean though oversized clothes she had found hung off her form as though she were lost in them.

"Can I come in?"

He paused. "Why?" Dammit. Dammit. His mind was screaming at him. The first time in his life a girl has requested entry to his room, near his bed, and he questions it. Smooth. Real smooth.

She was taken aback a bit. "I... uh..."

"No, wait, forget that. Just- come in, yeah."

While he had expected her to display some form of coyness or reserve, Columbus seemed to have forgotten that that simply wasn't Wichita. She climbed straight onto the little single bed and squirmed up next to him, her expression cool as a cucumber. He felt his ears heat up.

Lying on her back, she toyed with a strand of dark hair for a long moment before muttering: "You really think there's a ferry?"

"I-I don't know. Maybe. I hope so." His heart thudded uncomfortably.

"Me too."

More silence.

"I mean," he continued. "Doesn't really make much difference either way. It's not like we've got other plans. Right? And there are others... others who were here. They're still going. We're not alone. So we might be okay. I mean, if-,"

Wichita gave a small, tired grumble and rolled over, pressing herself into his side. She closed her eyes. "You talk too much."

"Yeah."

Columbus felt her lips, pressed near his shoulder from the lack of space, curve into a smile against his T-shirt.

And so that night, with danger stretching out for miles all around their little rest stop, four people fell asleep with the thought that maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't end up as corpse chow by the time this was over.

-

Rule Number 32: Enjoy the little things. Even though you did screw up any chance you had with her tonight. Columbus, Ohio- you're an idiot.

-

A/N: I have intentions of writing more (though this, I suppose, actually does seem a little oneshot-ish), and I hope I'll reel in at least a few reviewers. I've got several plot points in mind already. Seriously, I fell in love with this movie. Like, wow. Cult-classic in the making. Anyway, if you made it this far I hope you enjoyed! Review if you fee like it. =]