Watch Your Step

Rated T for violence, lots of language, and overall zombie peril.

Foreword

This random little story kinda just popped in my head. I loved the movie and (finally) got it on DVD, and I wanted to write a story that featured a potential new rule. And this is what came out. It started as a one shotter that got a little on the long side. So now it's a two shotter. I wrote it kinda in the same way the movie is played out, hopefully it makes sense with the italic narrations and what not.

Anywho, read away and enjoy! Thanks much :)

Part I

It really should have been the number one rule. Watch your step. Even before the world became a roving wasteland for flesh eating zombies, I had always followed the rule "watch your step." Because you never know when you could come across an unforeseen change in ground level, or a deceivingly deep puddle, or a steaming pile of crap left on the sidewalk by your neighbor's pain in the ass little dog. I, in my neurotic ways, had always been wary of these sorts of things in my everyday life. So why I chose now of all times to forget one of the most important rules of pre-Zombieland is beyond me. All I know is that I never ever in a million years expected that a simple misstep would land me in some random hunter's fucking foothold trap.

"GAAAHHH! FU--"

Tallahassee reacted quickly as he slapped one large, calloused hand over his young friend's mouth, both to silence the cry of agony and to help keep the kid from toppling over completely. He strained his ears and sure enough Columbus' short cry had alerted the nearby undead to their attempt at stealthy reconnaissance. He couldn't be sure how many exactly were coming, but the telltale sound of stamping unsteady feet and hungry grunts indicated a large group was well on the way. And they were moving fast.

"Shit," Tallahassee whispered. "Shit, shit, shit."

He was feeling uncharacteristically panicked. Normally he would have eagerly welcomed the oncoming zombies and the promise of brutal slaughter, but the growing puddle of Columbus' blood at his feet really put a damper on his enthusiasm for killing. The kid's leg was trapped in a huge, iron jaw while he continued to scream against Tallahassee's hand.

"Quit yer belly aching," he hissed sternly while he tried to ignore the pain and terror in Columbus' wide eyes. "I'm gonna get you outta here, I promise. Just...chilax for a sec, 'kay?"

Columbus groaned but managed to nod his head. Tallahassee removed his hand and thankfully his young friend kept his screams to himself by biting down on his lip. He was staring down at his mangled leg and looked about ready to vomit all over himself if he so much as opened his mouth.

"Listen, kid," Tallahassee whispered urgently. "We got maybe a minute tops before a shitload of 'em come galloping back here to enjoy a late supper if ya get my meaning. I could probably take 'em on myself, but then I'd feel kinda bad leaving you here all bloody and delicious looking."

The young man could only whimper in response.

Tallahassee sighed and crouched down. "Don't fall over now," he warned the dangerously swaying Columbus. "That'd probably hurt like a bitch."

Columbus swallowed hard against his gag reflex and fisted his hands in the back of Tallahassee's leather coat to keep himself somewhat steady. The older man carefully examined the trap that was biting into the kid's left leg about halfway between his ankle and his knee. It was hard to see where exactly the teeth were--the whole limb was drenched in oozing red blood.

"It-it's bad isn't it," Columbus gasped. "It needs to be a-amputated, right? Oh G-God..."

"Calm down," Tallahassee growled while he carefully got a grip on the trap.

"'C-calm down'?" the young man cried hysterically. "Oh, I'm calm! Never been calmer! I've only got a fucking bear trap on my leg!"

Tallahassee suddenly wrenched the jaws open a crack and felt the grip on his jacket disappear when Columbus stifled a howl of pain with his own hands. But without the support he had on Tallahassee he keeled over backwards and landed on the ground with a thud. At about the same time Tallahassee lost the grasp he had on the trap and it snapped shut again, tearing even further into Columbus' calf as he fell.

The older man's somewhat panicked exclamation of "aw shiiit" was drowned out completely by Columbus' ear splitting scream and the loud grunting of two zombies that suddenly broke through the brush next to them. Tallahassee didn't even think--he grabbed Columbus' dropped double barrel and blew each of the zombies away with one shot. He double tapped the seemingly dead bodies with his handgun, no longer concerned with the noise that was steadily drawing more zombies towards them.

"That's it," Tallahassee growled to himself. "Can't get you outta the damn thing we're gonna have to take it with us."

He holstered his weapons and quickly crouched down again. He got a grip on the chain that anchored the bear trap into the dirt and yanked. It took quite a bit of effort but eventually the stake pulled free and sent Tallahassee stumbling backwards a step from the momentum.

"Alright!" he cheered triumphantly to the body lying at his feet. "Hey, Columbus, ya think we can limp our way to safety now?"

The kid barely shook his head in response. He was completely ashen and his eyes were screwed tightly shut against the few tears that had managed to slip down his cheeks. His lips quivered and he let out a shaky sigh.

"I'm d-dead," he moaned pathetically. "P-please just...shoot me...in the f-face...and get it over with...I d-don't wanna be...eaten alive..."

"You're not dead, spit fuck," Tallahassee insisted. He would never admit it out loud, but the sight of his distraught and pained young friend really pulled at his heart strings. "And no one's gonna eat ya. At least not anytime soon."

With that he helped the quivering, barely conscious boy to a sitting position and bent over so he could haul the thin body up over his shoulder. Columbus groaned when the cumbersome trap pulled on his already torn leg, but other than that he was silent.

Tallahassee turned with his thankfully light load and continued in the direction they'd originally been headed. They'd been seeking sanctuary in what looked like a surprisingly well kempt and innocent looking little log cabin home, unawares that the yard around it was littered with traps. Tallahassee was quick but cautious as he went, sidestepping to avoid getting himself caught like Columbus had. He could just make out in the dusk dozens of metal teeth scattered throughout the overgrown lawn.

The house was owned by one Michael Smitherson, avid hunter and interior decorating enthusiast. The fifty four year old could have been in the running for the coveted title of "Zombie Kill of the Week" had his own brilliant plan not backfired on him. See, Smitherson cared very much for his manly domain and vowed that no zombie son of a bitch would ever step a bloody foot inside. He had foothold traps, wooden pikes, barbed wire fencing, and every intention of digging a deep trench that would surround his home to keep him safely in and the zombies safely out.

He'd surrounded his house with the traps first, placing them every few feet apart in a radius that extended a good ten yards in every direction. That was his first mistake, as logic would dictate he work from the outer trench inwards, rather than outwards from his house. His second mistake was that he worked well into the night, at which point it was too dark to see where he'd laid his own traps. He'd made it halfway to his back door before he was ensnared.

The irony of the situation had not been lost on Mr. Smitherson as he sat there, unable to free himself from the stiff metal jaws he'd placed there not long before. Zombies did eventually come but the traps proved to be effective, and those few who actually attempted to crawl their way towards their helpless meal--regardless of the limbs they left stuck behind them--were shot point blank by Smitherson's trusty rifle. He laughed maniacally at the half a dozen or so zombies who foolishly tried to cross his yard.

Eventually though he decided he'd rather not starve or bleed to death where he sat, so Michael Smitherson stuck the barrel of his gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

Tallahassee continued towards the back of the house. The smell of decay struck him immediately, and he could just make out in the growing darkness a number of bodies--some dismembered--in the middle of the backyard.

"Poor dumb bastard," he muttered. He had half a mind to go grab the shiny gun that had effectively blown Smitherson's head off, but a groan from Columbus and the sounds of oncoming zombies reminded him that they needed to get to safety first and foremost.

He staggered up the few stairs that led to the back porch of the house and kicked the door open with the heel of his boot. He emerged into a well kempt but somewhat dusty from lack of use kitchen. The sounds of howling zombies and the sudden snapping of the traps echoed outside while Tallahassee moved further into the house towards the living room. The windows were barred and all the furniture had been pushed up against the front door. Nobody was getting in that way, so all he had to do was corner himself in here and pick off any zombies that somehow managed to get in the house through the back.

"Home sweet home," he muttered. He gently lowered Columbus' limp body to the floor on what he soon realized was a shaggy bear skin rug. He glanced around and noticed that another similar skin and a number of animal heads decorated the wall, with the focal point being the huge antlered buck above the brick fireplace's mantle. Tallahassee took in the scene and chuckled. "Now why'm I not surprised?"

Columbus moaned again, drawing Tallahassee's attention immediately. It was dark outside at this point, but the older man could just make out in the moonlight the dark, bloody stains on Columbus' jeans and the thick metal teeth that were still clenched around his leg. His fingers had failed before to get the thing opened, so what he needed now was a little leverage to pry it apart.

"Aha!" he exclaimed when he noticed the fire poker leaning against the nearby hearth. He grasped it in his fist just as a deafening crash sounded from the kitchen. He quickly spun around to see a one armed zombie stumble into the room with a trap latched onto each of his broken legs. The zombie snarled and stumbled forward to bear down on a wide eyed Columbus when Tallahassee jabbed the sharp end of the poker straight through its neck.

Thick blackish blood spewed from the wound and from the zombie's gaping mouth before Tallahassee finally yanked his weapon out of the dead flesh, taking the monster's entire head clean off with it. The rest of the body fell backwards in a decapitated, twitching heap.

"Holy shit," Columbus gasped. Apparently the terror of nearly becoming zombie food had snapped Columbus out of his shock. "That was... ...and then you fucking... ...with his head..."

"Exactly," Tallahassee muttered. He kicked the body away and moved cautiously through the kitchen towards the back door. There were three more zombies outside in the yard, but they hadn't even made it past the perimeter of the traps. They crawled along, moaning and looking all ensnared and pathetic and overall non threatening. Tallahassee slammed the door shut and pushed the nearby kitchen table against it, just in case.

When he returned to the hunter's living room, he saw that Columbus was even paler but had somehow managed to push himself up to a sitting position. He cautiously poked at the wound on his lower leg, looking fascinated and horrified at the same time. He gazed up at Tallahassee through tired, fever bright eyes.

"...'S not so bad," he slurred. "Well, besides the...b-blood loss making me...little dizzy. Doesn't...doesn't even hurt much anymore."

"That's good, kid," Tallahassee lied. "That's real good."

The poker was now useless as it was covered in infected zombie blood. He cursed and tossed it to the side before grabbing another tool from the hearth. The flat shovel would be a little more cumbersome to work with, but hopefully it would do the trick. He knelt down and positioned the shovel between the jaws that were snapped around Columbus' leg.

"So you won't mind if I get this thing offa ya now?"

Columbus gave a little half assed shrug.

"Okey dokey."

With that Tallahassee wrenched the shovel one way and used his free hand to pry the rest of the trap open. It pulled out of the kid's flesh and to his credit Columbus didn't even scream. His eyes rolled back into his head at the disgusting sight of his own mutilated leg and he was back on the floor, unconscious before Tallahassee had even finished getting the thing off of him.

"Columbus? Kid? ... ... ...Spit fuck?"

There was no response, not even when Tallahassee lightly slapped his cheeks.

Now Tallahassee was no doctor, but he could tell by the shredded skin and the deep wounds and the sheer amount of blood that was coming from said wounds that the injury was serious. The kid's leg was probably broken too, but he would never be able to tell. All Tallahassee knew was he needed a doctor fast. But where in the hell would they find a doctor in world populated mostly by brainless zombies?

"Hannah Montana to Big Daddy T...Big Daddy T do you read me?"

Tallahassee jumped at the crackle of static and the sound of a familiar cheery voice. He'd completely forgotten about the walkie talkie he had strapped to his belt.

"Yeah, Little Rock," he said grimly back. "I hear ya. Listen kid, we've got a little bit of a big ass problem over here..."

The walkie talkies were my idea, and a brainchild that I was very proud of. After the Perilous Pitfall of Pacific Playland as I--but sadly no one else--like to call it, me, Tallahassee, and the girls decided to stick together. The talkies were just in case we got separated. Well, that and because they were super cool. I was given the code name "Venkman," which was awesome until it dawned on me why my Tallahassee and Wichita laughed every time they called me it. I swear I will never ever in a million years live down the fact that I killed Bill Murray.

We had no idea where we were going so we just drove. We were going in a general eastern direction to start, though I was a little doubtful of rumors I'd heard that the east coast was safe. There was no probably no place on this whole Goddamn continent that was zombie free.

Eventually we came to the mutual decision that we would make good of what we had left of our lives and the empty country we resided in. Little Rock had gotten to go to her amusement park, and now everyone else wanted to visit some of their favorite places or someplace they'd always wanted to go but never had a chance to. Wichita picked next, and before we knew it our bright yellow Hummer was headed for Las Vegas, Nevada.

Surprisingly the infamous city still had living inhabitants. Granted its usually thriving tourist population of millions had been reduced to only a handful of people but still--it was the most non-zombies any of us had seen in a long time.

Not that these were people who wanted anything to do with us. Most of them could be found glued to their slot machines with cigarettes hanging from their lips and one hand working the gambling device of choice while the other held some sort of gun at the ready just in case.

And then we met two particularly interesting businessmen who had once been big wig hotel owners before the great zombie-pocalypse. They were currently working on creating a new Vegas resort, one that catered specifically to the undead. They hadn't been having much success as of late, especially after their first casino opening resulted in their third partner being eaten by their guests. But still they press on, determined to turn the Las Vegas Strip into a thriving tourist attraction once again.

Apparently, even in a world were money no longer mattered, people were still obsessed with making as much of it as possible.

Next we visited the Grand Canyon, per Tallahassee's request. I'd been there once before as a kid on a rare family vacation. The stifling desert air coupled with my fear of heights did not make it a particularly enjoyable trip, then or now. I hovered far from the edge while the other three ooohed and awed at nature's beauty. I for one couldn't see how a giant hole in the ground was so damn exciting.

My trip was coming up next and I had no idea where I wanted us to go. Everyone else's trips had been fun and exciting for them, which left me feeling pressured to come up with someplace equally good. It's amazing how anxiety over something as simple as picking a vacation destination could keep me up at night.

We were just starting to leave the desert behind when the Hummer finally decided to crap out on us. Thankfully suburbia wasn't more than a few miles ahead, so after gathering up our things and watching Tallahassee give his heartfelt goodbye to our vehicle we headed off to look for a new car and a place to crash.

We'd split up then, the girls running off to find a suitable vehicle only because we men had picked the last one. Me and Tallahassee were supposed to find a safe place, radio the girls to tell them about said safe place, and then hunker down for a good night's sleep. It wasn't long before we found the perfect house that, unlike its neighbors, appeared untouched by the zombies. Little did we know that the house was untouched because it was practically untouchable.

If only I'd been watching my step from the start...

Tallahassee had thankfully found a well stocked first aid kit in the bathroom. He started a fire using wood furniture that was around the house so he could see what he was doing while he wrapped gauze and bandages around Columbus' blooding leg. The kid was still unconscious, breathing shallowly and shivering slightly even with the fire on full blast and the bear skin blanket from the wall draped over his body.

They'd been in the house for well over an hour now with no word from the girls. When Little Rock had radioed before she informed Tallahassee that they had successfully found a working vehicle. He directed her as best as he could to where he and Columbus were and told her to hurry her ass up after giving an abridged tale of what had happened to them. Little Rock gasped when he mentioned Columbus' injury and she assured him that she and her sister were well on their way.

Where they were now though he had no idea. For all he knew they could have been eaten alive already. Or they could have found their vehicle and decided to ditch them again, especially after they learned that Columbus was hurt. Wichita would probably decide to leave them stranded just so she wouldn't be slowed down by a cripple. You never could tell with those girls.

"Well this is quite the cluster fuck you've gotten us into here, kid," Tallahassee muttered to his unconscious friend. He put a hand on Columbus' feverish head and gently brushed the wavy brown hair away from his sweaty brow.

Not surprisingly, Columbus didn't respond.

"You better not die on me, now," Tallahassee whispered. He was feeling uncharacteristically emotional while this boy, his friend, was suffering. He hadn't felt this bad since...

"There's no way I'm losing another kid," he said while swiping the liquid from his eyes at the thought of his son. "No fucking way."

Finally he heard a squealing of tires outside. He sighed in audible relief and scrubbed his face with his hands in an attempt to hide any signs of his distress. The girls had made it in one piece, well, unless zombies had suddenly learned how to drive. But that couldn't be. Zombies were dumb. They couldn't even watch their step, let alone--

Tallahassee gasped as he leapt to his feet, walkie in hand.

"Little Rock, Wichita! Be careful of the yard," he warned, hoping to God he wasn't too late. "...Little Rock?!"

He heard nothing but static after that, and in his mind he kept waiting for more girlish screams like he'd heard from Columbus.

"Concern noted, dude," Wichita finally responded. "We'll be fine."

Minutes later he saw lights dancing around outside through the cracks in the barred window. He smirked to himself. Of course those crafty sisters were smart enough to find a bunch of working flashlights. He only hoped any nearby zombies didn't see them, too.

"Hey," came a muffled call followed by furious pounding on the front door. "What'd you do, lock us out?!"

Tallahassee scrambled to move the furniture away from the door so he could let the girls in. He sighed in relief when he saw both sisters standing there, unharmed with smiles on their faces. When he let them inside their grins immediately fell.

"Oh my God, Columbus," Wichita gasped. She quickly knelt on their prone friend's one side while Little Rock took the other. "And...is this a bear?" She poked at the furry skin, or more specifically at the deceased bear's head that rested on Columbus' chest. "Did you kill a fucking bear while we were gone?"

"No I did not," Tallahassee snapped. "Listen--the kid's hurt real bad, and unless watching ER counts as having a medical degree I got no idea how to help him."

Little Rock lifted up the bear skin blanket and gasped when she saw the now completely bloodied bandages around Columbus' leg. Wichita peered at the injury too and made a face.

"He needs to go to a hospital," she stated.

Tallahassee threw his hands into the air. "A hospital?! No shit Sherlock! But just where in the hell are we gonna find a hospital?!"

"It's a couple of miles away on the other side of town," Little Rock said matter-of-factly while she held Columbus' limp hand in her comforting grasp. "That's where we got the ambulance."

He gaped at her. "The...the ambulance?" He peered out the door and had to do a double take. Sure enough there was an ambulance there on the side of the road. He forced a laugh only to relieve some of the painful anxiety he'd been feeling. "You know, you gals are alright."

Little Rock beamed at the compliment. "Thanks!"

"Okay, if you two are done stating the obvious I really think we should get going." Wichita was crouched over Columbus, and it looked like she'd been tracking the pulse in his wrist. "Can you carry him outside?"

Tallahassee nodded and immediately bent down to scoop Columbus' limp form into his arms, bear skin and all. The young man groaned when he was moved and his eyes actually fluttered open a little.

"Wha...where're we goin'?"

"Hospital," Tallahassee answered.

"...Really? Those're...still a thing?"

"Apparently. And you're going to one."

Columbus' eyes fell shut again and he sighed heavily. "Okey dokey," he mumbled.

"This way," Little Rock called as she took the lead outside wielding two flashlights.

Tallahassee followed the small girl closely as she led them through the maze of traps that covered the front yard. Wichita brought up the rear, always wary of surprise zombie attacks. They made it into the ambulance without incident and Tallahassee loaded himself and Columbus into the back. Little Rock flipped on the sirens and her sister just as quickly flipped them off as she climbed into the driver's seat.

"Aw, man," the smaller girl moaned in defeat.

"Sorry, sis, but I do not want a shitload of zombies following us right now. Besides--I doubt there's a lot of traffic we have to worry about on the way there."

Little Rock sighed. "Yeah I guess not." She glanced apprehensively back at where Tallahassee was laying Columbus on the bare floor. "But...do you think it's...safe?" she quietly asked her sister.

"'Safe'?" Wichita scoffed. "Of course it's safe. It's an ambulance. It's like practically death proof."

"Oh okay. But what if--"

"No more buts. This is gonna work. And if not..." she trailed off for a moment and it was clear various emergency plans were playing themselves out in her head. Finally she turned to her sister and forced a grin. "Just trust me. Okay?"

"Oookay."

"Good." Wichita twisted in her seat and called to the back, "you guys ready to go?"

Tallahassee sat on the floor next to Columbus. He shot the girls a thumbs up, the universal sign for "we're all good back here."

She nodded and sent one last sympathetic look in Columbus' direction before starting the ambulance and pulling away from the booby trapped house.

"But...I don't like hospitals," Columbus muttered in his semi conscious state.

"Of course you don't, spit fuck," Tallahassee mumbled. "Of course you don't."