I always hated the phrase, "Failure is just a blessing in disguise." As far as I was concerned, failure was still failure any way you sliced it, especially nowadays. It wasn't something you could shrug off, just pick yourself up and try again; failure was death. The end of a good day just meant not getting bit.

Well. That and coming up with a couple new and creative ways to sever a head from its body.

I couldn't believe that all this time later we were all still sticking together. I couldn't believe that I was still willing to sit next to Tallahassee on a two hour plus car ride. There's a delicate balance between friendliness, crankiness, depression, and the need for human contact, but somehow we managed it. Three weeks after the amusement park thing no one had even said a word about splitting up. And Wichita still liked to, you know. With me. So I sure as hell wasn't going to say anything.

And then Twin Falls, Idaho happened.

Have you ever driven through Idaho? Seriously. Bum. Fuck. You could be sitting next to someone who'd be staring out the window and drooling and you'd shrug it off because hey, it's Idaho. So we decided to pull off into Twin Falls, 'cause Wichita said she was pretty sure she'd been driving asleep the last five miles.

It looked like Los Angles, San Antonio, Bowling Green, like how every other city in the United States probably looked. Littered. Smoking. A shattered mess of blood and debris. You got used to it real quick.

We parked under a gas station overhang, guns in hand or over shoulders. After all this time we'd lowered our color-coded zombie threat advisory to yellow. And by saying "we," I actually meant Tallahassee. I still considered every day a shiny, blood-covered red.

"Alright," Tallahassee said, stretching himself out of the vehicle. "I gotta go take a shit. If I find out you're snitching any Twinkies in there and not telling me, so help me God I will end you."

Standard threat. I held back a yawn.

I followed Little Rock and Wichita inside the convenient store, hoping to at least score some still-good slabs of jerky and a couple bottles of water. Damn, I missed slushies. Wichita poked at the health food bars while Little Rock wrinkled her nose at what was left of hot dogs and tamales. I picked up a slab of cajun beef jerky that could have easily been confused for a piece of cardboard and ripped off a piece. Jesus, it was like tack.

Wichita peeked over the shelf. "Think we should find a place to stay here in town or keep on driving?" I shrugged.

"My ass is kinda sore. Maybe we could wander around town for a bit."

"True that," Little Rock piped up from a couple aisles down. "Hey, I think I found some still-good queso dip!"

You can't fault us for really wanting to try some maybe still-good queso dip, okay? Sometimes it's a real fucking downer to be all ready to eat, you know, bread, or ground beef, or a banana only to have the possibility snatched right out from you because it's moldy and gross and not fit for human consumption.

So yeah. Queso dip was the reason why we almost got ripped apart and eaten.

"What the unholy fucking shit is going on here!"

I could only spare a glance at Tallahassee bursting in, still holding his pants up in one hand and his Beretta in the other, and I was really glad it was only a glance because I'm pretty sure his ass was still peaking out.

"I don't know!" I shouted back, pulling the trigger and pumping the rifle again, watching half of an elderly man's skull fall to the ground with him. "It's like they were fucking corralled here, or something!"

There had to be at least sixty of them, straining and grunting and pushing through windows and doors and clawing at each other to get closer to us. Little Rock, Wichita, and I were set up behind a huge stack of cased beer and picking off the zombies as they funneled in through the single glass door. The windows were fortunately small and barred, but that wouldn't be holding for long.

"Son of a bitch," Tallahassee spit out, "hold this." He gave me his handgun and zipped up his pants. "Left all the big boys out in the damn car."

"Improvising is the spice of life," Wichita said, reloading. "I think I saw a fire extinguisher behind the counter."

Tallahassee grunted. I was pretty sure we had enough bullets between us to kill the incoming horde and make sure they stayed down, but, "Here!" I handed Tallahassee my rifle and ran a couple of aisles back to the do-it-yourself car repair section and grabbed a couple of tire irons, a car jack, and – whoa, hunting knives. Maybe bumfuck Idaho was good for something.

"Why the fuck a car jack?" Tallahassee said when I came back. I picked it up like a bat and let it fly into the oncoming crowd, gutting one and knocking a few more down like bowling pins.

"Huh," he said.

The pile of bodies surrounding the door was steadily growing bigger, and the stench was reaching near-gagging heights. Despite the whole eat-you-for-dinner thing, the worst part about these assholes was the smell.

And then, just in my depth of hearing, I heard something that I couldn't possibly have heard, something I hadn't heard since –

"Was that… a car?" Little Rock looked to us in shock. The screech of tires, maybe, and – holy shit, yeah, car doors slamming.

There was someone else out there with cognizant brain function and I had no idea whether to be elated or completely terrified.

We all jumped at the report of shotguns. Oh God, was someone actually out there plugging away at these suckers only to get in and kill us too? Shit shit. I kept firing. We'd have the knives and some bullets left over, maybe….

I heard one shotgun outside falter, and then grunts and the deep snap of bones and the sound of guts being smeared on the outside cinderblock wall. Sounded like freaking Rambo out there. I forced down the knot in my stomach and kept firing.

Suddenly there was a one-two-three bang far closer than any of the other shots had been, and then someone was maneuvering quickly over the wall-like pile of rotten bodies in front of the now shattered glass door.

Within seconds, all of our guns were pointed on him.

But he ignored us, opting instead to aim and fire at the few remaining zombies still inside the convenient store, reloading and double tapping as he went. Shit, maybe he was one of those defected crazy military guys I'd heard about. I really really really didn't want to die in a stupid gas station convenience store.

He then ran to one of the windows, firing off a couple more shots that echoed the few remaining shotgun retorts just outside.

And then, silence.

He toed the body of a teenage girl, turning to face the muzzles of our guns.

He rolled his eyes. "You've got to be kidding me," he muttered.

"Drop your weapon, kid," Tallahassee said, calm as could be.

"Kid?" the guy spluttered, "Who the fuck do you think—"

There was a click right behind us, right behind Tallahassee's fucking head, oh shit—

"How about you drop yours," another voice said, and oh Jesus this guy was huge. I couldn't set my gun down fast enough and Wichita and Little Rock slowly followed, looking at the huge guy with pure disgust.

"All right, all right, hey," Tallahassee said, palms out and gun dangling from his thumb. "No need to get pissy. Just makin' sure you don't have the munchies, or anything."

"What are you guys doing here?" The first guy's boots crunched over glass, the gun in his hand not completely relaxed.

"I could ask you the same thing," Wichita growled. Man, I forgot how hot she was when she was angry.

"Well, seeing as how you were the ones who were just swarmed by Croats, I'd say—"

"Croats?" I interrupted. The fuck?

"Zombies," the guy behind us replied, gun still up and pointing at Tallahassee. "I'd really appreciate it if you stepped away from your guns, just until we're sure you're not going to turn on us."

"I'd really appreciate it if you got that fucking gun out of my face," Tallahassee said.

"Hey," guy number one said sharply, raising his gun a little. I knew Tallahassee was kind of an annoying, loudmouth redneck, but he definitely wasn't stupid. He set his jaw and glared at guy number one.

"So you guys are just, what. A rag-tag group of survivors that were somehow not dumb enough to get eaten?"

I felt everyone around me tense, and guy number two behind us cleared his throat loudly. Guy number one gave a long-suffering sigh. "All right. Yeah. We've got shelter, food, and some warm-ish water. Come with me if you want to live." Little Rock made a weird, squeaky noise.

"Wait. A shower? Do you mean an actual shower?"

"More like an old well pump that has some weird-ass solar cell hooked up to it that somehow still works. How does a lukewarm bath grab you?" The guy paused, thinking. "I'm pretty sure I even saw some of those squishy dissolving bath thingies. And you look like just the kind of guys who enjoy those kinds of things." Yeah, he was definitely looking at Tallahassee and me, not the girls. What a dick.

The one behind us finally came around to follow his friend out the door, neither of them even looking back.

"Wait. How do we know you're not going to just like, kidnap us and leave us as zombie-bate somewhere else?" Wichita asked. The tall one – sweet Jesus, that was an understatement – shrugged.

"You don't. You're just gonna have to trust us."

It was like he knew us. Or maybe it was like he knew everyone in the whole damn world, barring brain-matter sucking individuals, of course, had some major trust issues right now. Whatever. I reeked. I wanted to take a lukewarm bath, squishy dissolving bath thingies or no.

And apparently everyone else did, as they followed me, following them.

We hurdled over the piles of bodies, leaving the convenience store and still-good queso dip behind. The truck was still right where we left it. Mr. Attitude stopped and gave it the stink-eye.

"So. You guys got names?"

"I'm Columbus," I said, pointing. "That's Wichita and her sister Little Rock. And Tallahassee."

His eyes slid over each of us, sardonically nodding. "Uh huh."

"No need for names," Tallahassee said coarsely, coming around from the trunk and pumping his rifle. "Only wherever it is you're headed."

The two guys exchanged looks. Like, weird looks. Like, we're-pompous-asses-but-for-a-good-reason looks.

"Well then." He gestured to himself. "You can call me Lawrence. And him?" He grinned, and fuck all if it didn't freak me out a little. "You can call him Detroit."

The Hummer was big enough to fit all of us comfortably inside, and we drove just around the block to where their car was parked.

"Well slap my ass and call me Suzy," Tallahassee said reverently as we came to a stop. "If I would'a known you drove that sexy motherfucker…."

"Keep it in your pants, dude," Lawrence said. "You haven't even heard her. Or seen what's inside."

We gathered around an older-looking car, big as a freaking boat, still shiny and taken care of, which was weird to see these days. Lawrence popped the trunk.

"Holy shit," Wichita breathed.

A huge assortment of handguns, rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, knives, butcher knives, ammo lockboxes, and – okay, that was definitely a flamethrower. I couldn't help but be a little impressed.

"So," Lawrence shut the trunk with a bang. "Now that you've seen the goods, you want to follow us home? Promise not to kill ya'." Detroit rolled his eyes and shook his head a little, but both got in the car without looking back.

"You got all the guns loaded and ready just in case they're not just being smartasses?" Little Rock asked as we all got back in the truck. Tallahassee started the engine.

"Sister, it's like you don't even know me."

The place Detroit and Lawrence were holed up was a good ten mile drive outside the main city, surrounded by thick, waving grass and soft-cut green mountains dotted with scrub brush in the distance. It was one of those houses built almost in the middle of nowhere but just off the interstate, huge and white with a corral fence surrounding its acres. Inside the house everything was stainless steel, environmentally friendly, and annoyingly ergonomic. It coupled nicely with the four car garage filled with gas guzzling monstrosities, and I was surprised to not see a runway out back for a freaking private jet, or something.

What little belongings everyone had was scattered throughout the living room and kitchen, the bags all ratty and beat-up and bloodstained. Little Rock thunked hers on the kitchen table.

"Okay, seriously, where's the goddamn shower," she said.

Detroit looked like he wanted to say something about little girls and swearing but thankfully, for the sake of his own balls at least, he didn't. Lawrence just smirked and beckoned her to follow.

We all scattered across the house, finding our own niche and opening up a book or closing our eyes. I sunk down onto a pristinely white and incredibly cushy sofa, my eyes glued to the hallway where the two newcomers were. Okay, sure, call me paranoid, but I honestly didn't know how much I trusted these guys. I mean, yeah, I did end up hitching with Tallahassee after knowing him for a full minute and a half, but for God's sake, the man had a love affair with Twinkies. These guys looked like looked like they killed zombies as an Olympic sport.

Well, not that Tallahassee didn't act the same way, but, you know, like I said. Twinkies.

Still, when it was my turn for the bath-shower-thingy, it felt pretty damn good, and hey, I wasn't murdered and left naked in a pool of my own blood, which was definitely a plus.

"Five pounds of ground beef in just the fridge," I heard Lawrence say as I was making my way back into the kitchen, having dried off and changed. "Shit. I am so making chili."

The thing about living in Zombieland was, as indicated by that lonely jar of queso dip, that if food was fresh and edible? You ate it. There was no saving in the freezer for later, no conserving of good food to the expiration date. If you were lucky enough to find it and deem it fit for human consumption, you didn't sit on it or hoard it, because then you looked like a dumbass when it suddenly went moldy. That's what Chef Boyardee and Spam was for.

And it was really damn good chili, psycho murdering freak or no.

Once the dishes were washed and put away, I felt pretty good. Stomach full, stench and grime washed off with lukewarm water, really soft, 1200 thread count sheets to look forward to.

And then? And then I stumbled upon my worst nightmare. I mean, my other worst nightmare. The one I had thought up only a few hours ago when I saw Lawrence eye Wichita like a piece of meat.

"…so hard being the older one, right? I mean, geez, you turn your back for one second and the kid like, falls into a well, or something."

Lawrence was hitting on Wichita. Unbelievable. The universe couldn't give me one break, just one. They hadn't seen me yet. I was just outside the entryway. Oh God, he could squish me like a puny bug, there was no way—

"Falls into a well," Wichita repeated dryly.

"Hard looking after the kid, but someone's got to do it," Lawrence said, voice low, ignoring or maybe not even recognizing her tone. "Gets kind of weirdly lonely. And difficult. I know. I understand."

I peaked around the corner just in time to see him snake his arm around the top of the sofa they were both sitting on, right behind Wichita, all smooth and douchebag-like, goddammit.

"Mmm, you know what else is hard?" Oh my God, did she really just say that? Was she really going that route? I just stared, thinking about how I should step in and say something and be manly, defend our relationship. Because we had a relationship, right? I mean, she never said those exact words, but I was pretty sure we were in a relationship.

I shuffled into the doorway. Wichita turned and caught my eye like she knew I was there all along.

"Getting turned down by someone who's almost a decade younger than you," she finished. She kissed her palm and blew it in my direction. Lawrence followed the movement, his face going from confused to downright unamused in point three seconds.

I just stood there blinking happily like a moron.

She got up and walked to me, taking my hand in hers. "Ready for bed, pumpkin?" In my peripheral I could see Lawrence incredulously mouthing the word "pumpkin."

Wichita turned just before we left the room. "'Night 'night," she said with a smile and a little wave.

Holy crap, I had the best girlfriend in the history of ever.

It was almost two weeks later when the generator finally gave out.

I couldn't believe we had actually all stayed in one place for so long. But the house was more than big enough to accommodate us all comfortably. Lawrence and Tallahassee got along, in that they didn't shoot each other. There was shooting, but along the fence out back, blowing away anything from beer cans to creepy porcelain dolls we found in an upstairs bedroom. They had this weird kind of stoicism around each other, like they were trying to out-badass each other without acknowledging it. Detroit ended up either watching them from the patio, arms crossed and thoughtful, cleaning and oiling the huge assortment of guns, or getting roped into playing board game after board game with Little Rock.

We had been using the bare basics: since the fridge and "water heater" were automatically hooked up to run from the generator, we used them, but sparingly. The lights almost always stayed off. We cooked over an open flame most nights. Between six people, an almost two week run was pretty good.

After we had cleared the house of anything worth keeping and packed up the cars, we all stood around gearing up for the goodbyes.


"So." Lawrence slammed the trunk and used his jacket to wipe off an invisible smear. "South? East?"

No one said anything. I knew what they, what we all were thinking. Normally you wouldn't consider six people a large group, but now? Now that could mean your life or be your death sentence. True, there were more people to be aware of the surroundings, more firepower and hands holding weapons, but more people meant more noise and more movement, meant a greater chance of being swarmed like we had been before.

Little Rock was the one who finally spoke up. "I've never seen the Atlantic ocean."

Lawrence grinned.

"East it is."

I was half asleep in the back seat, that kind of half asleep where your neck falls backwards on to the headrest and your mouth hangs completely open, and where there's probably drool inching its way down your cheek but you can't even bring yourself to care because, fuck, so tired.

Anyway, I was like that, and warm and feeling pretty good about life when I saw the red illumination of Detroit and Lawrence's taillights though my eyelids and felt the car slow down.

"Wuz goin'on," Wichita mumbled beside me. But there wasn't a need to answer, as the fire was visible from where we were even as Tallahassee crept the vehicle to a halt.

The car doors slammed, Detroit getting out first and then Lawrence. Tallahassee rolled down his window.

"Hey, uh, we're just gonna go check that out real quick," Detroit said, ducking to make eye contact. "Just stay here for a sec. We'll be right back."

"Don't know why you're bothering," Tallahassee said. "There's either extra crispy zombies in there or—"

"Help!" We all jumped at the shout somehow heard over the muffled roar of the fire. "Somebody please!" Tallahassee went to open his door, but Lawrence slammed it shut from the outside.

"Goddammit, stay there!" he yelled behind him as he and Detroit broke into a run.

"Like shit, asshole." And, okay, I was slightly inclined to agree, except for rule seventeen… which was the rule that Wichita and Little Rock were totally disregarding, as they both slid out of the truck after Tallahassee. Oh, fuck. I had already broken it once, what was one more time? Be a hero. Be a hero.

I caught up to everyone else, standing around a guy who looked maybe a few years younger than me. Twitchy fingers rested on shotgun and pistol triggers.

"C'mon, you gotta help me!," the guy screamed, clutching his arm to his chest. "My-my family's in there! My big brother's in there!"

"Dean," Detroit said lowly.

"I know, I know." Lawrence – Dean? – reached to his back pocket as Detroit moved forward.

"Hey, it's okay, we're gonna help, we just gotta see if you're infected," he said. The kid looked about ready to burst from panic, and I was about ready to too, 'cause Jesus, if he was a survivor and had family trapped inside, we needed to get them the hell out. Detroit moved even closer to him, and suddenly everything went into motion.

Detroit put a chokehold on the kid at the same time that Lawrence whipped out a large piece of dark fabric from his pocket, unfolding it and letting it unfurl to show the bright white stitching of what looked like a freaky pentagram. They both moved like it was a dance, like it was choreographed, Lawrence slapping the fabric to the dirt and Detroit falling on the kid, shoving him right into the center of it.

The look of utter fury and terror on guy's face made me take a shuffle step back.

But Lawrence and Detroit stood their ground, and, well, between the reflection of the raging fire not too far from us and their faces promising an ass-kicking in the not-so-distant future, I really just kind of wanted to hightail it back to the cars.

"You think this is over?" the kid shrieked, chest heaving. "This is so far from over! There's millions more waiting for you after you send me back, all waiting to tear you to pieces!"

"That's cute," Lawrence said. "It's also sad that you're so far down the totem pole that you weren't even told about the hellgates." Okay, what? Hellgates? Though after being in the company of these guys for this long, it shouldn't surprise me. The kid looked taken aback and Lawrence tsked. "Well, that's too bad," he continued. "After all the hard work it took to be the evil little shit you are today."

"They're sealed," Detroit interrupted. "All of them. Nothing can get out, only back in. One last parting gift from the angels before they left us with all this, you might say."

Before any one of us could ask what the hell this was all about, the guy's eyes flicked completely and totally black. I'm honestly not sure how I didn't piss my pants right then and there.

"The hell—?" I heard Tallahassee mutter.

"Enjoy your last days on this shithole you call home." The guy—thing—whatever the hell it was, looked utterly terrified, lashing out like a trapped animal. I mean, zombies were one thing, but man, this was really freaking me out. "Because we know how to corral and control them, the Croats, and we'll find you and have them all over you so fast you'll wish you were back in Hell."

"And my intestines will be delicious, I'm sure." Lawrence looked bored as he flipped out a good size blade. "Hit it, Sammy."

After the end of the world, it looked like all that time wasted at college was good for something, because I could definitely tell that was Latin of the old-school variety that Detroit was spouting out. Then the kid started screaming and all I could think about was The Exorcist.

"What the fuck are you doin'?" Tallahassee started forward but Lawrence blocked him with his arm.

"Chill, tough guy," he said. "Demon's gotta go before we can do anything else."

There's always that niggling, logical part of your brain that insists things like the rattling in the attic was in no way a ghost or poltergeist or whatever, just a raccoon rooting around, or the house settling. It was the same way when more and more news reports came out of people who, for all intents and purposes should be on their way to dying or already dead, were brainlessly chomping away at their loved ones and basically acting like, well, zombies. There's only so many times you can deny the truth shoved in your face before you're forced to just accept what's happening.

Case in point, demons were real, and Lawrence and Detroit were apparently some kind of seriously screwed up priests.

The guy hadn't let up on his shouting and pleading, and it only got worse as Detroit's voice rose. Lawrence held the long knife pointedly at the demon, but made no move to actually do anything with it.

I almost fell back on my ass when what looked like disgusting black smoke poured from the guy's still-screaming mouth and seeped into the earth.

Little Rock, Wichita, Tallahassee, and I stood stock still and completely in shock while Lawrence and Detroit wasted no time rushing to the guy who had slumped on the ground. Detroit wiped the blood away that was trickling from his ears (and nose and mouth) to put two fingers to his neck.

"Shit," he said. "I can't—" He put his ear to the kid's now startlingly blue mouth, his fingers back on his throat.

"Sam," Lawrence said. "Sammy."

"Yeah," Detroit—Sam—acknowledged. He closed the dead eyes staring at us with a sigh.

"What the hell was all that?" Wichita said. She and Little Rock were huddled close, the latter of whom looked pretty pale and a little freaked out.

Lawrence and Detroit picked up the body to move him off the fabric. "Like I said." Lawrence shook it out before folding it up and sticking it back in his pocket. "Demon. Possessing this kid for God-knows how long."

"And, what, you guys are some kind of crazy-ass priests?" I asked.

"Don't need to be a priest to exorcise demons," Detroit replied. "I'll write you a copy of the basic exorcism. Looks like there's still a lot more activity than we thought."

"Yeah. Did you hear what that fucker said? They've got some way to control the Croats." Lawrence grimaced. "That's just what we need. A herd of corralled zombies on our asses."

"Like in Twin Falls," Tallahassee said.

"Huh. Yeah. Like in Twin Falls."

Detroit scratched the back of his neck. "You know we're gonna have to…." Lawrence shifted, and grunted in response.

"Mind sharing with the class?" Little Rock said. I caught Wichita's gaze. We already knew.

"Before we ran into you guys we'd been on demon clean-up duty," Lawrence said. "The zombies?" He shook his head. "That's kind of just the beginning of our issues. And before, you know, all of this, it was kind of our job. Exterminators, you could say."

"I honestly don't even want to know," Wichita said. Detroit grinned.

"Yeah, you're probably better off," he said.

"So now that Mr. Blabbermouth here has spilled the beans, looks like we've got to punch in and get back to work," Lawrence continued.

"If you see anyone who looks like they've got half a functioning brain like this guy," Detroit gestured to the body on the ground, "don't trust 'em. Say 'Christo,' and if they flip out, black eyes, the works, then you've got a problem."

"That's where the exorcism comes in," Lawrence picked up. "Memorize it so you can say it as quick as possible and still enunciate it properly. Have a few guns stocked with salt rounds; we'll give you a few so you can know how to pack them. If you can somehow find some bags of salt, keep them. And if you can get a circle of it around the demons, you'll be pretty well off."

"Jesus," Tallahassee muttered. I had to agree.

"But you're leaving?" Little Rock said, looking pretty dejected. "What about seeing the Atlantic Ocean?"

"You'll just have to tell us all about it when we meet up again." Detroit nudged her with an elbow. "Besides, I gotta get you back for kicking my ass at Rummy."

"In the meantime, Detroit would love to work on his cross-stitching, make you guys one of these handy dandy devil's traps," Lawrence said, grinning.

"Don't know about you guys, but I haven't used a calendar in God-knows how long," Wichita interjected. "I don't even know today's date."

"It's May third," I said. Everyone stared at me. "What? I've been keeping track. Someone's gotta remember everything for the history books." Tallahassee rolled his eyes.

"You're in the swirlie danger zone, kid," he said. "Best stop while you're ahead."

"The harvest moon." Definite thanks to Detroit for derailing the swirlie conversation. Not that I needed it, of course. "It's near the beginning of October. That can be our cue to get… wherever."

"Dude," Lawrence smacked him. "What's that one huge mansion in North Carolina? The Biltmore? We should totally shack up at the Biltmore for a while. Doesn't it have like, three hundred rooms and a bowling alley?"

"Among other things."

"Hell, I'm game," Wichita said. Little Rock and I nodded, and Tallahassee just gave his customary grunt.

"Well, super duper," he drawled. "Now if we could get a move-on, I've got a skinny dipping appointment to make." He gave a salute to Detroit and Lawrence that I'm pretty sure was half sarcastic, half genuine, and turned back to the car without another word.

That's another thing about Zombieland. There are no goodbyes. There's only the unspoken optimism of "until next time." Didn't ever think I'd want to apply that principle to these guys, but somehow, after finally being reassured that they weren't going to kill us, and even after Lawrence tried to pursue Wichita right under my nose, and definitely not forgetting the fact that they were apparently either certifiably insane or actual real life demon hunters, they felt like friends. Or, at least two people who I could probably stomach to see again.

Detroit wrote out the exorcism for us on a scrap of paper from the trunk, and made sure that one of us (me) at least knew the basics of Latin. After pocketing it, we did that awkward, stand-around-and-look-at-each-other thing. Or, we did, until Little Rock said, "If you don't come in October, I'll go out and find you myself and kick your asses."

"Duly noted, ma'am," Lawrence said.

"And you guys try not to get holed up in any more convenience stores," Detroit added.

And with that, they slumped into their respective seats, slammed their doors, revved the engine, and drove away.

"Columbus! Goddammit!" Did Tallahassee just shriek? I think he just shrieked. I frantically searched my pockets and tried to ignore him as the demon threw him against the concrete wall. Shit, shit, shit where did I put it. Memorizing is good and all until the second you desperately try to recall it, like standing on stage to give a speech and your head going terrifyingly blank, except with a lot more blood and probable imminent death.

"Just—just fucking say it!" Yeah, sure, okay Tallahassee, the only thing I can suddenly remember right now is Lincoln's Emancipation speech in its entirety, and I don't think that'll do you much good right now. And seriously, when did these jeans get seven huge pockets?

"Exorcizamus te!" I suddenly heard behind me. Wichita was shooting and reloading, teeth bared against the handful of zombie tagalongs, but her eyes locked with mine as she shouted those two words again. And by God, she was a genius and a lifesaver, because with those two words everything snapped into place and the exorcism somehow came out of my mouth without any screw ups.

Smokey black sludge poured from the middle-aged man's mouth, simultaneously grossing me the hell out and giving me that same thrill of, you know. Evil vanquishing.

Tallahassee groaned from his spot on the ground.

"Uh," I said. "Sorry."

"I'm going to kill you," he replied, "as soon as I can stand up straight."

Yep. Zombie and demon vanquishing. We got the hang of it eventually. And as for Lawrence and Detroit, well, who knows. Hopefully they were still out there kicking ass and taking names and cross-stitching because damn, one of those trap things could definitely come in handy.

But in the meantime, we maimed and beheaded and double-tapped and exorcised our way across the country, seeing the sights, ruining others, and saving up stories to outdo each other for when we met up again.

For now, this is Columbus, Ohio from Zombieland, saying… well, you know the rest.