The inevitable... Hey, it was this or a "slash" fic (not "Talumbus"). The opening paragraphs are an alternate draft of "Trip to Vegas" that I created for the Zombie Vegas ebook.

Wichita and Columbus lay on a mattress in the back of the Caddy. Wichita spoke softly: "You know what I think about? How many ways we could never have happened. If we hadn't been in that grocery store. If you and Tal had kept driving. If just one of us hadn't made it." She looked at him thoughtfully. "Do you think it was just chance?"

"You mean, do I believe in God, or fate, or something like that?" She only looked at him, waiting for him to say more. "I don't know. When I was a kid, I went to church, and I believed in what they were saying. By the time I was in middle school, I would tell people I was an atheist, though I guess I never got my heart into it. Now, I guess I'm agnostic."

"Columbus?" she said. He looked at her. "I believe there's something. And I think we were meant to get together."

"I do, too," he said.

"But... sometimes it's hard for me to believe that. Especially when I think about when I stopped to let you out," she said. "I told you I hoped you would find who you were looking for. But I wanted to ask you to stay. Sometimes... I stay awake wondering if I would have, if you had gotten out that door." She shivered.

"I wouldn't have," he said, and hugged her legs. It was not long until Wichita was asleep, but Columbus's eyes remained open, gleaming with tears.

Some time, some where...

A Humvee rolled through the ruins of a town in Oklahoma, just ahead of a pack of zombies. At the wheel was Krista. Beside her as Austin, her boyfriend of almost 2 years. In the back was her younger foster sister, Abbie.

"We're running low on gas," said Austin.

"They're catching up!" said Abbs. She drove faster, gaining distance but burning up fuel faster.

"What's that?" Austin said. He pointed to a strange shimmering patch in the air, a few hundred feet away and fifty feet off the ground. As she looked, the patch was enveloped in something like a cloud of lightning. Zombies staggered back, their sensitive eyes blinded by the light. The lights on the dashboard dimmed. Then the Humvee coasted to a halt.

"Go, go, go!" Abbs screeched. Krista was trying to start the ignition again even before the car stopped. Austin climbed up the cupola and fired an old double shotgun at the nearest zombie. They had emptied the vehicle's machine gun escaping the infested refugee camp where they got the vehicle. The light went out, and a disc-shaped object dropped out of the sky like a falling manhole cover.

The engine sputtered back to life, and Krista did a hard turn, trying to evade the zombies. She raced down a street, then did another hard turn. As she rounded the corner, she beheld a figure neither human nor zombie, but what looked like a machine: pyramids and polyhedra of steel gray, arranged in the shape of a man. It raised a hand at her, and then clenched the hand in a fist. As the Humvee crashed into the figure, he- or it- punched through the hood, and then Krista's world went dark as her head hit the steering wheel.