Hello all!! This is my third Zombieland fan fic!! Yay!! This idea kinda sprung in my head after re-watching the movie the other day and it wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it O.o I kinda made Columbus seem like a wimp in this but, considering the circumstances, I figured it was alright. Tallahassee is waaay OOC but, once again, circumstances deemed it okay :D Hope you all like it!! :D
It wasn't intentional, hell, it wasn't even planned, but of all the places in the remains of the world for the car to break down in need of gas, it had to be Columbus, Ohio. The Hummer had made the journey from Iowa all the way to Ohio and the rag-tag group had silently prayed that it wouldn't need gas until they'd gotten to the other side of the capital city. Unfortunately, prayers did little in Zombieland.
The engine kicked and sputtered faintly beneath the hood, the car physically slowing as it reached the outskirts of the town. The city was desolate, like all of the others they'd seen in the past few months, but this one was different. This one held sentimental value even though no one wanted to bring it up directly.
Wichita glanced at Columbus from across the driver's seat, eyeing him carefully for a second. "You okay?" She asked quietly, voicing the concern no one else would.
The younger man nodded slightly, his eyes glued to the smoldering remains of an overturned bus. "Yeah…yeah, I'm okay…" He mumbled softly, his hands sealed in a white-knuckled grip on his shotgun. Judging by his increasingly pale features, "okay" was the last word anyone in the car would use to describe him.
"You know," Tallahassee spoke up from the back seat, leaning forward just enough to be in the kid's peripheral vision. "If this is makin' you uncomfortable, we can try to find a gas station on the outskirts of town." It was unusual for the older man to be so considerate; most of the time his "nut up or shut up attitude" lead the others to simply follow in his stead without question. This was different though; everything about this city was different.
Columbus shook his head slowly and glanced over to the both Wichita and Tallahassee. "No, really I'm fine. Really." He added for extra emphasis. It didn't seem to help much.
Tallahassee shrugged and leaned back. "Alright, just thought I'd offer."
The car sputtered along for a block more before they finally found a gas station with a pump that hadn't been destroyed or disabled. All four got out, surrounding the car on each side with guns drawn. The routine had become almost like muscle memory for them, each one instinctively going to their designated spot to keep a look out one their side of the car.
Wichita had been right about most of the town being burned to the ground; at least this side of town looked that way. The air smelled like smoke and there was still the occasional dark plume that drifted into the dull grey sky. There hadn't been too many undead obstacles to overcome on the drive in, a few renegade zombies here and there but nothing they couldn't handle with a carefully aimed shot or open door. However, as much as they tried to ignore it, they all knew that Columbus was keeping a close eye on faces, hoping like hell he wouldn't recognize one.
The gas pump stopped suddenly, their tank full once more. The cost was staggering but one of the great things about Zombieland was that you never had to pay the machine. They all climbed back into the car and pulled out of the long abandoned parking lot.
"Where's our next stop?" Wichita asked, glancing back into the backseat to Little Rock. She'd given her sister charge of the map and the younger girl was acting as a fantastic co-pilot.
"Pennsylvania." Little Rock answered, locating the red circled state on the map easily. They'd been tracking a group of survivors for few weeks now, but, as anyone had to be in this zombie-infested wasteland, you had to keep moving and they hadn't managed to catch up yet.
"Pennsylvania it is." Wichita said as she pulled out onto the main road leading out of town.
"We need to stop for supplies." Columbus said quietly, nodding up ahead to an abandoned Gander Mountain. "We're almost out of bullets."
Wichita nodded and steered over to the sporting goods store, pulling to a stop right in front of the door. They all exited the vehicle once again and split into two groups, girls on one side, guys on the other. Wichita and Little Rock would be in charge of batteries, flashlights, duct tape, nails, tools, and anything else they could find that would make the trip and upcoming destination easier. Columbus and Tallahassee would be in charge of guns and ammunition; if Tallahassee couldn't have a Twinkie, he was going to find the biggest, baddest fucking gun in the store and use it to kick whole-sale zombie ass.
The store had been ransacked months before most of humanity had died out, racks and displays overturned into the aisles and walkways. Streaks and smears of blood stained the floor, imprints of hands as they were dragged away leaving lasting marks on the clean linoleum. They ignored the blood and walked on to the hunting section of the store, Tallahassee letting out a low, appreciative whistle as his eyes fell on the display cases filled with guns. "Thank you Second Amendment." He laughed, patting Columbus on the shoulder as he stepped forward and reached into the shattered case to retrieve a set of handguns.
Columbus remained a few steps back, keeping an eye out for any sudden movements. The last thing he wanted was to be ambushed in the hunting section of a sporting goods stores; that would be embarrassing.
Tallahassee was busy picking out guns meaning it would be a good hour or more before they ever got to ammunition. Columbus sighed and walked over to the next aisle, scanning glass case containing the boxes filled with bullets. The hollow points worked wonders but regular bullets were good too. They needed more shot gun shells too and a scope wouldn't be all the bad either. He didn't bother trying the lock, he just used the butt of his gun to smash the glass.
Which was apparently just loud enough to rouse the lurking horde of zombies from the aisle across from him. There was only three of them, stumbling awkwardly and screeching as they approached. Columbus knew Tallahassee had heard them from his whoop of excitement as he leaped over the gun counter. The younger man fired at one of the zombies, dropping her with a single shot. He took aim and fired again, hitting her once more in the back of the head. The other two stumbled toward him, one tripping and bumping into the other. They got into a momentary confrontation, snapping and growling at one another like rabid animals, and Columbus took another shot, taking the one on the left down. The last zombie paused momentarily, debating on the easier meal that was its dead companion or the living threat right in front of him.
Columbus was reloading his weapon when he stopped, his eyes suddenly locking on the last zombie. His hands shook his and his eyes widened, breath hitching in his throat. "Oh my God…"
Tallahassee had heard the first two shots and was already on his way around the corner when the second two sounded. There was little doubt that Wichita and Little Rock had heard them as well. There was a hesitation and he vaguely wondered if that was it. Then another shot rang out in the silence.
The floor of the ammunition aisle was littered with zombies, a crumpled heap right in front of a very pale, very shaky Columbus. Tallahassee stopped, senses on high alert. The younger man still had his gun leveled at his chest, his eyes wide and glassy as he stared out into nothingness.
"I shot him…I shot him…" The kid mumbled, his voice cracking slightly as he spoke.
Tallahassee frowned, wondering why it suddenly bothered Columbus so much to shoot a zombie. He took a few more steps forward, taking note of the zombies on the floor. There was a good chance that the kid knew one of them, maybe that's why he was freaking out so much. Then he saw it, the last one that lay only a few feet away from the other two. The face was a mess of blood and decaying tissue, most of the hair had been burned away to reveal gleaming bone, but the facial structure was undeniable. This was Columbus' father.
"Shit…" The older man muttered, glancing between the shaking young man and the zombie on the ground. "Columbus," He said slowly, looking directly at the younger man in an attempt to get his attention. Columbus' eyes never left the fallen zombie, his hand still gripping the gun. "Listen to me. I need you to put the gun down, alright?"
"I shot him…"
Tallahassee felt his heart clench slightly at the broken disbelief in the kid's voice. "I know you did, kid. But you did what you had to. Kill or be killed, remember?" He took a few slow steps forward, hands up to show that he didn't have anything in them. "Columbus…put the gun down…"
There was a loud clatter as the gun fell from Columbus' hands, crashing to the floor next to the mangled corpses. He swayed unsteadily, eyes rolling back ever so slightly as his knees buckled beneath him. In one smooth motion, Tallahassee had crossed the distance between them and pulled Columbus into his arms, preventing him from falling. "Easy…easy…" He whispered, slowly lowering them both to the ground and keeping a tight hold on the shaking young man. "I gotcha…"
Columbus was trembling all over, his breath coming out in ragged, uneven pants as he struggled to suppress the sob in the back of his throat. He gripped the older man's jacket tightly, squeezing his eyes shut and fighting to take a deep breath. It felt impossible.
"Easy…deep breaths, alright?" Tallahassee said softly, looking up just in time to see Wichita and Little Rock come running around the corner.
"What happened?!" Wichita exclaimed breathlessly, her gun clenched in her hand.
"Help me." Tallahassee said, ignoring her question and slowly pulling Columbus into a standing position. "We need to leave. Now." There was no discussion in his voice, it was an order.
Wichita nodded slightly and grabbed one of Columbus' arms, looping it over her shoulder and shoving her gun into the waistband of her jeans. "You have some explaining to do." She shot at Tallahassee, taking note of Columbus' shell-shocked features.
"Later." Tallahassee muttered, half-dragging, half-carrying the younger man to the door. Little Rock walked slightly ahead of them, covering their exit carefully. They tossed their supplies into the back of the Hummer and carefully loaded the borderline catatonic Columbus into the backseat. Before the doors had even closed, Wichita hit the accelerator and they were gone.
The rest of the afternoon passed by in heavy silence, no one really knowing how to approach the subject that Columbus had shot his own father. Tallahassee had explained everything to Wichita as they drove, occasionally glancing into the backseat to see the younger man gazing blankly out the window at the passing scenery. He couldn't imagine it; even when Buck had died he didn't have to pull the trigger, the little boy was killed almost instantly when he fell down a flight of stairs running from them. He couldn't imagine killing his own son and he was pretty sure the feeling was mutual when it came to killing one's own father.
Pennsylvania was still a long way off but they just wanted to get as far away from that city as possible. It didn't matter where, anywhere was better than there.
They passed through a tiny town just as the sun was setting and decided to stop for the night. They found a house that looked mostly untouched from the destruction outside and settled on it for the evening. Columbus still hadn't said a word, his wide brown eyes glassy and blank as he gazed emotionlessly across the sprawling porch that lead up to the house. With a bit of encouraging from both Wichita and Little Rock, Columbus stumbled out of the Hummer and allowed himself to be lead up to the front door. Under any other circumstance, they probably would have been annoyed with his lack of response and total uselessness but, considering recent events, they didn't push.
The regular preparations went into securing the house for the night; boards covered all of the windows, a few padlocks bolting the door into place and a constant stream or surveillance on the outside world. Wichita and Tallahassee took care of most of the security issues while Little Rock rummaged around through the kitchen to find something edible for the evening. The refrigerator was a bio-hazard all on its own so there was very little point looking. The pantry was stocked with boxed and canned goods though so it wasn't a complete disaster.
Little Rock found a box of Tuna Helper and held it up to Columbus who was sitting expressionless in a kitchen chair. "Tuna Helper sound good?" She asked, not really expecting an answer but addressing him nonetheless.
Columbus looked up at her with haunted eyes, nodding slightly. It was a minor improvement, at least he was making eye contact. Little Rock smiled sadly and went about preparing dinner. Milk was out of the question so water would have to work; granted, it wouldn't taste the same but oh well. She followed the directions on the box, carefully adding all the ingredients and shoving it into the oven once she was done. Strangely enough, gas, water, and electricity still existed in Zombieland but then again it was hard to get rid of something when there were no people left to control the computer systems and grids that maintained the flow.
The sound of a TV being turned on in the front room caused Little Rock to look up. The channels switched quietly, the volume increasing as it landed on some channel that was playing a constant repeat of the weather. Tallahassee appeared a few seconds later, glancing between Little Rock and the silent young man sitting in the chair. "What're you cookin?" He asked, falling into a chair beside Columbus.
"Tuna Helper." The girl responded, turning to the oven to check the dish. "Should be ready in about ten more minutes."
Tallahassee nodded and motioned to the door. "Why don't you go see if your sister needs help." The indication was clear and Little Rock caught on immediately. She nodded and, casting one last look at Columbus, wandered into the other room. Once she was gone, Tallahassee turned to the younger man. "Look, kid, you gotta snap outta this, okay?" He moves so he was in Columbus' line of vision. "I know you're in a bad place right now, hell, I can't even imagine it, but we need you. You can't breakdown on us now."
Columbus swallowed dryly, his eyes glassing over with tears once more. "You know…" He began brokenly, his voice cracking as he spoke. "Part of me knew they were already dead…that it was just a matter of time…" He pause, taking a breath and swallowing again. "But that…that was just…" He faded off, shaking his head slowly.
Tallahassee nodded slowly and patted him on the shoulder. "I know, kid. I know it hurts." He stood carefully and turned back toward the door. "Trust me, I know."
Dinner passed by quietly, the conversations reaching a dead (no pun intended) conclusion with each try. They briefly discussed their plan of action once they left the house, how far they would travel until they stopped again, little things like that to fill the empty void left by no people. It was odd, Columbus was usually the one who kept the conversations going but tonight all he did was stare at the tuna casserole, picking at it with little interest. After a little while longer, he excused himself from the table and disappeared upstairs. No one tried to stop him; he needed time and in this rare moment of peace, without the constant presence of flesh-eating monsters, they could give it to him.
After dinner, Tallahassee found a copy of Die Hard and popped it into the DVD player, falling on the couch and pressing play. Wichita sat in the recliner a few feet away half watching the movie and seriously debating on whether or not she should go upstairs to check on Columbus. The flash of a jacket caught her eye and she relaxed slightly. It looked like Little Rock had beaten her to the punch.
Columbus was curled on his side in one of the bedrooms, the softness of the mattress doing nothing to help his discomfort. He felt hollow inside, like someone had ripped a huge hole out of him and stomped it into the dirt. He'd known all along the likelihood of his parents surviving the Zombie Apocalypse was slim to none but he'd still held out the slight hope that he was wrong. Today confirmed his worst fears and worse was the fact that he'd been the one to put a bullet in his father's decaying skull. The memory made him physically sick.
The door creaked open and Little Rock took a few cautious steps into the room, watching Columbus carefully for a few seconds before she finally come all the way inside. She crawled onto the mattress with him, curling on her side so she was facing him. They didn't speak for several minutes, both content in the silence.
"You know…" Little Rock said quietly, watching Columbus' facial expressions. "It's okay to cry. You know, if you need to." She wasn't good at the whole comforting game, she sounded almost mocking, but it was worth a shot. "I cried when I found out my parents were dead."
Columbus didn't say anything but a renegade tear trickled down the side of his nose.
"I mean, I didn't actually 'find out' they were dead. I kinda just assumed but its still-" She stopped abruptly as Columbus pulled her into a tight hug. For a second she couldn't move, her entire body freezing against the embrace. She felt wetness on her neck and finally relaxed into the hold. Awkwardly wrapping her arms around the older boy's shoulders, Little Rock closed her eyes and just laid there as Columbus cried.
Neither knew how much longer it was before Wichita walked into the room. She didn't say anything but slid onto the mattress on the other side of Columbus and curled up against his back, wrapping her arm over his and squeezing his hand gently. It was a simply gesture but one with a profound meaning: they were still here and they weren't going anywhere anytime soon.
Tallahassee walked in some time later, not joining the three on the bed but sitting on the edge of the mattress and gently patting Columbus' leg. Columbus would heal, they all knew it; he was a fighter, you had to be in a world like this. They were all orphans in Zombieland but as long as they had each other, maybe that wasn't so bad.
Okay, hopefully this wasn't too terrible O.o I can't imagine having to kill my own parents or anyone I loved for that matter so I figured Columbus' reaction was alright :D Thanks for reading!!