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Pseudo-Zombie (Zombieland AU):
(inspired by mk94 ( “Pseudo-Zombie”, all credit to mk94!)

Chapter 1: Hello
‘I am so screwed.’ Tallahassee thought as he lie on the floor of an abandoned shopping center. No ammo, no weapons, and no goddamn Twinkie. He’d been in such a hurry to run away from a huge herd of zombies that he’d accidentally released from another store, that he’d tripped and possibly broken his goddamn ankle. He lie on his side in front of the SAFEWAY’s customer service counter, clutching his left ankle in pure agony. He’d gotten pretty far before the herd caught up with him, and he was forced to hide out in this stupid place. ‘SAFEWAY. Not so safe, are you?’ he cursed, glancing at the door through the crack in the aisles before him. Luckily, the door was on the other side of the store, which meant he had a little time before the zombies could get to him. He’d thought about running for it again, but when he tried to get up, his ankle just hurt one hell of a lot more and forced him to sit back down. He couldn’t possibly get up on his own, at this point. He’d thought he had time to rest, to recover a little at least, but just a few minutes after he’d sat down, he’d heard the moans. Dragging himself behind the counter on hands and knees, he leaned himself against a massive tower of boxes, causing the stack to wobble a little. ‘Don’t fall. Don’t you fucking dare fall on-’ he thought before the boxes toppled over onto him. They weren’t super heavy, but the contents were of something he despised: Snowballs. The pink, sticky, marshmallow balls that tasted like crap (to him), covered in pink sprinkles….buried him almost whole. He thought of screaming his head off then and there, but the sound of a moan stopped him. He looked up to see a zombie just feet from him, staring back with cold, blank eyes. Here he was: sitting in a pile of Snowballs, staring up at one of the creatures that killed his son, and with no weapons available. He would so not die like this. That zombie would get what’s coming to it once it attacks him….when it attacks? He waited another minute, staring at the creature with his blue eyes twinkling in anticipation. ‘Any moment now….’ he thought, eyes wandering over its body. It appeared as a young man, maybe twenty when he was alive, wearing a torn and bloody collared sweater and a pair of blue jeans. It was the middle of Summer anyway, why would anyone want to wear hot clothes? Two years into the zombie apocalypse, and Tallahassee already had partners. Wichita and Little Rock, sisters as sly as sirens, had joined him on his Twinkie quest. As usual, he’d run off looking for the box of objects he desired, leaving the two of them to snipe at zombies from the car. He’d headed to “what seemed like an abandoned” TARGET, ignoring the huge padlock on the door and the bloody handprints on the windows. Yeah, all he’d wanted was his damn Twinkies. So, he’d smashed the lock off, only to almost get mowed over by a herd of about thirty or so zombies that had been locked inside. He’d booked it back to the car, only to find Wichita driving like a madwoman trying to avoid the herd he’d unleashed in the moment. So, not a good day. He glanced at the zombie again, smirking. It should be glad it still had all its limbs. He jerked as it stepped closer, footstep almost noiseless compared to his heartbeat. “Don’t you fucking dare….” he hissed, glaring at it. It was strange that it still hadn’t attacked, yet. The zombie’s eyes were bright blue on the brink of turning white, and still showed signs of life in them. As soon as the words left his mouth, the zombie froze, a flash of curiosity sparking in its eyes. ‘A zombie being curious? Shoot me here and now. And why hasn’t it started chewing my damn face off, yet?’ Tally questioned internally, watching as it crouched and crawled closer to him. He flinched, scooting back into the mountain of Snowballs. “What do you want from me?” he asked aloud. He watched as it lunged forward, grabbing a handful of Snowballs before jerking backwards with a blank expression aimed at him. It ripped open the first package, gulping down the first two Snowballs quickly before tearing open a second and third. Tally could only watch in awe as it ignored him, eyes wide in shock. After the fifth package, Tally started to shift aside, intent on heading for the door to find his partners. The zombie whipped around and grabbed him by the collar, pushing him to the floor. “What the hell!” the Flordan snapped, flailing uselessly against the zombie’s weight on his chest. It let out a low hiss, Tally instantly going quiet in response. He stared it in the eye, staying silent as it began to bury him in Snowballs. His ears finally registered the sounds of groans and clicking not far from his hiding place, his fear almost becoming overwhelming as he lie still. Through the holes in the Snowball pile atop him, he watched the zombie stand up and turn away, meeting two other zombies at the counter’s corner. He listened as they clicked and he gurgled back, watching them look carefully around the room before stumbling away. He listened to their footsteps as they left, feeling the zombie begin to weakly unbury him. Shoving through the pile of sweets, he was met with the zombie’s armful of his weapons. He reached out and gently took them, looking confused. It turned and swiftly stumbled away, making a choking noise in another aisle. ‘Dammit! He’s calling his friends!’ Tally thought, hiding behind the counter as his skin began to sweat. Waiting a full thirty minutes, he was startled by the sound of gunshots and shouting outside the store, not zombies. “Tallahassee, you idiot! Where are you, you son of a bit-” Wichita’s voice cried out from the front of the store. “Here!” he shouted back, waving his gun in the air. Racing for the counter, the woman hauled him to his feet and forced him to stumbled for the door. “Next time you do this, I’m blowing your goddamn face off!” she snapped, making him smirk proudly. “I didn’t know you cared, sweetheart.” he chuckled back as she threw him into the backseat of the yellow Cadillac. Little Rock was taking care of the approaching zombies with a shotgun, shooting from beside the car. “Asses in the car?” she asked, sliding in beside her sister in the front seat. “Yes! Going now!” Wichita cried, slamming the gas pedal. As the car did a donut and knocked several zombies down, Little Rock handed Tally another shotgun. “Wanna shoot some of these jerks?” she asked with a smile. He nodded, taking the gun from her. Sticking the barrel out the window, he began blasting head after head as the car twirled around in the dirt. “Tallahassee is taking a break from shooting, right now! You’ll sit there quietly while I try to figure out what to do!” Wichita shouted from the front seat, attempting to drive over another zombie. Little Rock smirked at Tally and began shooting again anyway. One less zombie to deal with in the future, right? That was the case, until Tally saw the one in the collar. “No! Not that one!” he shouted, Little Rock jerking in surprise. The bullet launched from her gun and into a zombie, but it was the zombie standing beside the collared one that was hit. Together, they tumbled to the ground. She popped her head back into the window and ground her teeth. “What’s up with you? Tally, the man who wouldn’t let a zombie walk on this earth for a second, suddenly wants them to walk around and keep me from shooting them?” she snapped. “I-uh-just wanted to shoot that one myself. Sorry, I got a little competitive there.” Tally lied, cracking an awkward smile for backup. Little Rock leaned forward and stared into his eyes for a moment, smiling brightly. “Liar.” she said. “It ain’t a lie!” he snapped back, a little pissed at her sight of him. “Liar, liar, pants on fire, hanging from a telly wire!” she chanted back. “Fine, I lied. Happy now?” he asked back, admitting defeat. “You’ve been off since you got out of that shop. Tell us about it. What happened in there?” she asked. “I didn’t want you to shoot that one because it didn’t attack me. Back when I was in the SAFEWAY, it just stood there and stared at me. It didn’t attack me at all. I was sitting there for twenty minutes, just hiding, and it didn’t even try to harm me.” he admitted. “What?” Wichita exclaimed from the front seat, her voice high and squeaky in surprise. “It didn’t attack you. How is that even possible? These things run around eating people, Tally, they don’t just stand there and stare at you.” Little Rock replied, slipping casually into the seat next to him. “Yeah, you got proof?” Wichita asked, peeking into the back mirror at him. Tally dug through his bag, yanking out a rather large box of Snowballs. “It was after these, not me. It even traded me my guns and knives back to get more of them.” he stated, pushing the box back into the bag. “Whatever, man. Sucks that we had to leave it behind, then.” Little Rock said, looking out the window.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Friend
After a four hour drive in the countryside, Wichita parked the car beside a massive barn on the side of the road, scanning the area with Little Rock just to be sure it was safe. It was safe, by god, and had no zombies, lots of food and several easily and well protected floors. Wichita supported the Flordan as he exited the car, hauling him up the stairs to the second floor and settling him down beside a window. After settling themselves in for a while stay, they girls could no longer hold in their amusement. They began to laugh as loud as their lungs could possibly allow. “What? It’s true! Dammit, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that zombie was protecting me!” Tally growled, clearly pissed. “Sorry, but when I hear “a zombie spared my ass and I’m the most dangerous killer alive”, I would laugh too!” Little Rock howled. Together, the three amigos settled in for the night, bunking down in the heavily fortified second floor.

“Why can’t we move on? We’ve been here for days!” Tally groaned as he sat on his blanket. “Well, how about you ask your damn leg? Mister “I have to have that one goddamn Twinkie out there left”, even if it kills me!” Wichita snapped back. “Hey, I’m still capable of travel!” Tally exclaimed back, throwing his hands into the air. “Then, drive the car.” Wichita hissed back, smirking devilishly at him. “Dammit!” Tally cried, plopping backwards onto the rest of his blanket in a huff of annoyance. Little Rock smiled at him, egging him to snipe zombies from the other farms in the area. “Alright, just don’t shoot unless I say, got it?” he asked, the girl nodding back to him. Two hours later, the girls had gone to bed, Wichita on her small cot and Little Rock curled into her side. Tallahassee was bored. The girls were sleeping and he was cleaning his weapons, again. He jumped at the sound of distant moaning from downstairs, when it finally grabbed his attention. “Damn.” he whispered, making it to the window. Peeking outside, a larger group of about twenty or so bloody dead people were passing by, as expected. “And I have to be fucking invalid right now.” he whispered, cursing himself. He could damn well just sit here and kill them all…..To his horror, the group stopped. They moaned and made choking sounds, followed by a short gurgle. Two zombies moved towards the house first, followed by the rest. ‘Shit!’ he thought, racing to the top of the stairs. And before he could warn the girls, two intruders were at the bottom of the wooden planks, shambling their way up. And guess who left the door unlocked? Cocking his shotgun, and with two clean headshots, both bodies hit the floor. He peeked over the railing, seeing at least a dozen heads peering up at him. Well, he had their attention now. Little Rock came running up beside him, gunning down the zombies that came for her with a rifle. Wichita was up, too, taking them out with a plain knife and machete. A few minutes of shooting later, and the few alive zombies left were shambling away into the night. Tally and Little Rock were gunning them down, in case they tried to get more to follow them for another attack. Before Tally knew what was happening, he watched the collared one get shot down. Somehow, it hurt to watch this one fall. It was quiet for awhile before Wichita got up and began dragging the bloody bodies out the door and into the cornfield, setting them on fire. Just as the last few bodies were dragged out the door, it began to rain. While the girls finished their job, Tally stood out in the door frame, letting the rain dribble off his hat and shoulders. He put buckets out so they could have clean water to drink, pausing when he heard a groan behind him. Carefully stalking forward, he found the collared one buried under a pile of burnt bodies, weakly struggling to escape. “You again?” he asked, gaining its attention. He chuckled as it clumsily pushed against the pile, letting out another groan. “Look at ya. Is playing dead your favorite game?” he laughed, dangling his shotgun barrel over its forehead. The creature was pinned on its back, weakly thrashing its arms as he shoved the barrel in its face. It squeaked and shoved a little harder against the pile, Tally watching it for a quiet moment. “Tallahassee? What’s taking so long?” Wichita’s voice called from the barn. Stowing his shotgun, Tally dipped his hat to the zombie, walking away. “Nothing! I’m coming!” he called back, walking back into the barn. He sat with the girls around a fire, eating some food to fuel up for the night to come. Each person froze when they heard the loud crashing of metal outside. “Another one?” Little Rock whispered, moving to pick up her rifle. “I think I know what it is. Let me handle it.” Tally smiled, heading to the window to peek out. He grinned wider when he spotted his prey, moving to the top of the stairs. “I knew it.” he said, dashing down the wooden planks as quickly as he could. The girls followed, curious of the situation. As expected, he walked to the front door, unlocked and yanked it open, only to see the zombie kneeling on the ground over the bucket. It was drinking hastily, as if trying to down everything in one shot. “And? What is it?” Little Rock asked, peeking outside from Tally’s armpit. Wichita poked her head outside through the hole left by Tally’s hip, a strange expression crossing her face. “Is that even a zombie? Is that the one you were telling us about?” she asked, Tally nodding. “We should bring him in with us.” he said, Wichita giving him a threatening stare. “Are you insane? We don’t want a mutated zombie sitting with us!” Little Rock cried, her shrill voice startling the zombie. Tally watched as it sucked in too much water, coughing excessively to rid itself of pain in being startled. “You take care of the buckets, I’ll take care of him.” he said, reaching into his pocket for his secret weapon. Slowly walking up, he held out the package to the zombie. “Hey, remember me?” he asked, gaining the zombie’s attention. It slowly turned around, humming at him in recognition. He held out the package to it, watching as the other’s eyes began to shine. Reaching out, it tried to take its prize. Tally drew slightly away, hoping to lure it into following him. “Want to eat it?” he asked, taking a step back. The zombie stood up, letting a tiny click echo from its teeth. Backing slowly away, Tally drew the zombie into the house, keeping the Snowball in its sights just in case. It followed him soundlessly, eyes locked on the food. The girls paused in their job, watching him force the creature to sit on the ground beside him. “Here you go.” he finally said, handing the prize to the zombie’s eager hands. “What are you going to do with it?” Little Rock asked, sitting beside him. “Maybe, train it like a dog?” Wichita asked, causing the both of them to chuckle. “There’s only one way to find out if it’s actually a zombie. You two get a washbin ready. Our friend here is getting a bath today.” Tally smiled, glancing at the zombie as it munched on the Snowballs. The first part of the plan went smoothly: the girls got the water into an old tub while Tally tried to undress the newcomer. At least, he tried to. The zombie flailed and cried as he peeled off the old clothing, barely managing to hold onto him. “Stop it, ya damn baby! Be a man and take your fucking bath!” Tally shouted, slamming the newcomer into the bathtub water. Once the zombie was fully situated in the warm fluid, Tally turned to the girls. “Okay, now get me some soap and help me wash him!” he shouted, holding the zombie in the water. “Ew, no! I’ll get you the soap, but you’re washing him!” Wichita exclaimed, throwing some towels and several bars of soap into the room. Little Rock walked in a little while later with a toothbrush and toothpaste, placing it on a stool next to the tub. While Tally was washing the kid’s hair and backside, the kid picked up the toothbrush and paste, brushing his teeth. When he finished, they were pearly white and perfectly straight. When all the gunk was out of the kid’s hair, Tally finally noticed some fresh blood gently oozing out of the side of the kid’s head. He gently touched it, jerking backwards when the zombie turned and snapped at him with pearly teeth. Not long later, the girls were sitting in the living room around the fire when Tallahassee entered the room, followed by the newcomer. The boy was very clean now, his skin nearly all white while he wore too large sweatpants and a too large long sleeve. The old, bloody, ripped clothing was thrown away. “Let me introduce to you, Snowball, healthy unbitten human.” Tally smiled, giving a bow in the direction of the teen. Said teen growled slightly in annoyance at his name. “Why “Snowball” anyway?” Little Rock asked once Tally sat down. “He likes them.” he smiled back, holding up a small package of the treat. The zombie grabbed them and literally swallowed one whole. Wichita looked the newcomer up and down, eyeing his body. “A zombie is okay with being skinny, but a human shouldn’t look like this. With clothes on, he looks like there’s no flesh on him at all.” she whispered to Tally, who nodded in agreement. Together, they sat by the fire, the zombie staring intensely at the flames, humming monotone notes. After a little while, Little Rock hummed the notes back to him, turning to him. The corners of his lips flicked upwards in a small smile, humming louder. With his monotone notes mixed with Little Rock’s, they sounded like a pretty good song. The three partners eventually fell asleep to the zombie’s humming, leaving Tallahassee to drift off last.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Trouble
When Tally woke again, the boy wasn’t sitting there like he’d expected. He got up and walked around the extent of the building, trying to find their newcomer, in vain. “Where did he go?” he asked aloud, his eyes catching on the flash of a hand behind a door. Gently pulling it back, he kept the squeaking to a minimum to take a quieter closer look. The boy was standing there, eyes closed. “Holy shit. That’s adorable.” he whispered to himself, watching the boy sway a little on his feet. ‘Wait….is he sleeping? Is this how he sleeps?’ Tally suddenly thought, waving a hand in front of the boy’s face. Nothing moved. Thinking rapidly, Tally snuck up to Little Rock’s backpack and pulled out her Polaroid Camera. Checking the shots left, he crept back to the boy and raising the camera to his eye. Snapping a quick photo, he stowed the shot in his pocket before returning the camera to its rightful owner. Lying back down to watch the boy, he waited for the others to begin to rise. Slowly, each one took notice of his position, bringing it into the conversation. “That’s so cool! I tried to do that one time, and I faceplanted when I fell asleep.” Little Rock whispered excitedly. Everyone watched the boy intensely as he slept, though he didn’t appear happy whilst standing during his slumber. He looked rather tenser than ever in doing so. When he finally did open his eyes and wake up, he turned to look at the trio staring at him from the campfire. A faint blush came to his cheeks as he walked to them, accepting his breakfast with a tiny smile. While Tally and Wichita planned their new route, Little Rock attempted getting Snowball to speak english. “Say “Hello!”, Snowball! Hello!” she said. Snowball opened his mouth and replied with a gurgle in his throat. “No, Snowball. Say, Hello. Hell-oh.” she restated, offering her hand to him. Tally turned to her and shook her hand. “Hello, my name is Tallahassee. Now, you try.” he said, offering his hand to Snowball. “Hello, my name is Snowball.” Tally said, watching as Snowball tentatively took his hand and gave it a weak shake. Snowball opened his mouth, forcing Little Rock and Tally to wait for his speech. He only gurgled again, slightly louder this time. “No, say hello, Snowball. Hell-oh.” Tally repeated, giving a small smile. “H-hell-ill-o-oh.” a weak voice replied. “Good boy!” Tally said, bringing the boy into a hug. When he released him, he took his hand again. “Alright, now put it all together.” he said. “H-hell-o. M-my name is-is…….” Snowball began, trailing off with a blank look on his face. “Snowball? What’s wrong?” Little Rock asked, sensing the distress from the boy. “Wha-what is-is my name?” he asked, gripping his head in his hands. His eyes turned blank and dark, lacking all emotion. He appeared to be trying to remember something, something important to him. “What’s your name, Snowball?” Tally asked, restating the question. “M-my an-name is-is…..?” Snowball tried again, scratching furiously at his neck and face. Tally lunged forward and grabbed his wrists, pinning them to his own chest. He tugged the boy against him, holding him tightly to himself. Using a free hand, he rubbed his finger pads gently over Snowball’s spinal cord, allowing the boy to breathe deeply into his neck. “Now, what’s your name?” he asked again. “My-my name is Snowball.” Snowball finally said, leaning forward into the Flordan’s chest as a couple tears spilled down his pale cheeks. From her position on the far side of the group, Wichita raised her head, eager to change the subject. “I say we head east towards Tennessee, then north towards Virginia. Anyone object to that plan?” she asked, looking at the group expectantly. Tally looked up from holding Snowball, turning to her with slightly sad eyes. “No, we’re good to go.” he replied quickly, Snowball refusing to remove himself from the Flordan’s chest. Tally and Wichita packed the car for the next trip, making sure to double pack the Snowball box for Snowball’s huge appetite, while Little Rock tried to play Patty-Cakes with him in the barn. After a couple of minutes, Tally’s ears pricked up at the sound of Little Rock crying out. Grabbing his shotgun, Wichita followed suit behind him as they booked it into the massive structure of the barn. They searched around a bit, calling Little Rock’s name in panic. “Little Rock, get your ass out here before I kick it!” Wichita snapped loudly as she neared the animal stables. To her shock, her little sister came bolting around the side of a horse stable, panic in her features. She raced up to Tally, grabbing his shirt. “I didn’t know what to do!” she cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Calm down. What happened?” Tally asked, taking her calmly into his arms. “We were playing in the barn and we found a secret basement door and we opened it and zombies came pouring out and Snowball fell down the stairs into them to save me!” she cried, taking his hand and leading him in the direction she’d come. “Shit!” he cursed, racing to keep up with her as they ran to the basement door. Zombies had come pouring out of it, only because they had been people locked down there by raiders, and forgotten in the passage of time. The blood spatters and signs told them that. Tally glanced down the stairs, running while shooting at the same time, and spotted Snowball lying in a pile of bones. He wasn’t moving, but he didn’t seem dead, either. Wichita raced up to the Flordan, blasting a zombie’s head off next to him while kicking another to the ground and stabbing it in the eye. “Go get him!” she cried, aiming her shotgun down the stairs and shooting to give him cover. He booked it down the wooden planks, scooping up the boy and bolting back up in record time. They threw the door shut, racing for the car. Throwing Tally and Snowball into the backseat, Wichita and Little Rock jumped into the front, the elder starting the car and pounding the gas. The car tires screeched as they zoomed out of the building, smashing into several zombies on the way out. Wichita didn’t slow down for another twenty minutes, the car lurching forward painfully hard every time she hit the gas again. When everyone had finally calmed down, Tally turned to Snowball and felt the boy gently curl into his chest. “You alright, spitfuck?” he asked, hearing a tiny whimper leak from the boy’s mouth. Carefully raising his hand to cradle the boy’s head, he pulled him closer, taking a deep breath. “I wouldn’t let them hurt you, you know? You’re too…...special to me. I won’t let anything happen to ya, got it?” the Flordan asked, Snowball nervously nodding against him. Tally hadn’t taken the time to actually look at the boy: pale, skinny as all hell, black and short curly hair, bright blue eyes, a thin face, pretty tall, long legged, kinda girly in all looks. Tally refused to stop holding Snowball through the next four hours, the group traveling easily through the countryside.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Contact
The next four days passed quick and quietly enough, the group packing almost constantly and traveling along the interstates. If not for his current state, Tally could say Snowball ate constantly, or tried to. They were moseying along a Tennessee interstate when Wichita hit the brake….hard. Tallahassee’s face slammed into the dashboard, startling him from his sleep. “Fucking hell! I’m up!” he shouted, rubbing his pained nose as he re-adjusted himself in his seat. “What’s up?” Little Rock asked from the backseat, watching her sister point at the large fence strewn across the road, bordered by several armed guards. Armed military men were standing in front of the huge gate, spanning almost twenty feet across, while each carried something similar to an assault rifle. One stepped out from inside the gate, raising a megaphone to his mouth. “Identify yourselves! Who are you?” he demanded, the soldiers raising their guns to the car and taking a few steps closer. Wichita stuck her head out the window and waved. “Hey, good to see some people are still alive around here! We’re just traveling around and possibly looking for a place to stay!” she shouted back. The commander lifted a hand, the soldiers lowering their guns as he stepped up to her window. “Evening, miss. Sorry about that. Just some formal test to ensure no mutations of the plague have happened.” the commander apologized. “Not a problem, sir.” Wichita replied quickly, sensing his authority. “Great. Alright, how many have you got with you?” he asked, lifting a clipboard to his eyes. “I’ve got my little sister, and my two friends. So, four.” she said. The man wrote the number down and nodded politely to her. “Alright, miss. We’ll let you all through. So, when you get inside the gate, I want you to follow the signs to the Front Desk. There, you should be able to park your car and sign up for a Housing Unit for all of you. Everything is shared here, miss, but we’ve got plenty of space for people who want their own houses.” the soldier said. “Thanks.” Wichita replied, watching the man step back from the car and signal to the other soldiers at the gate to open it. Two massive metallic doors quickly flipped open, allowing them to drive the car inside. Once inside, a beautiful community of homes and military installments greeted them. Even a CDC Lab stood within its walls. Snowball was looking around nervously, unable to sit still and rather fidgeting with his hands and knees. “Alright, we’ve got ourselves a place to stay! How about that?” Wichita asked, Tally nodding happily to her. They drove to the Front Desk, which happened to be a building at the front of all the installments. While everyone popped out of the car, guns flew to Snowball once he exited. “What the hell?” Little Rock asked, throwing her hands into the air as the others did, except Snowball. One soldier raised his radio to his mouth, pressing a button. “Civilian Transport 12 contained an Infected. I repeated: CT 12 had an Infected with them.” the soldier said, speaking to someone on the other end of the line. “Copy that. Commander is en route now.” a voice crackled back through the radio. The soldier who spoke on the radio nodded to the others, who closed in on the group. “On the ground, now! Knees, on your knees, hands in the air!” they began shouting, aiming their weapons at critical parts of the group’s body. Tally and Wichita dropped to their knees, folding their hands behind their heads. Little Rock copied them, looking to Snowball as he simply stood there, attempting to get his hands above his head. “On the ground!” a soldier said, walking up to Snowball and pushing him roughly to the asphalt. The boy’s body landed sideways with a soft thud, Snowball refusing to move after that. He stared fearfully at Tally, who looked back to him in panic. “Hey, be careful man! He’s human, not a zombie!” he cried, watching the soldiers turn towards him. The soldier standing over Snowball aimed the barrel of his AK over the back of his head, bending his arms behind his back and cuffing them together. “We’ve told people like you not to bring Infected in here. Why do you keep doing it?” another soldier asked, casually walking up to Wichita. “We told you: he’s not infected. He’s human, still. Just a little hungry, that’s all.” she snapped back. “That’s enough!” a voice called out from behind them. Turning his head, Tally spotted a woman getting out of a buggy, walking up to them. She wore military garbs, and carried an AK herself. “Commander!” one of the soldiers exclaimed, saluting her. “Forget the rank, soldier, focus on the situation.” she said, stepping in front of Tallahassee. “Sir, it seems you have someone who might be carrying the Virus with you. For security reasons, we will need to have you all transported to the CDC Lab for testing. Nothing bad should come of it, I assure you.” the woman said. One of the soldiers helped Tally to stand up, now that his hands had been cuffed. “What’s with the cuffs, then, lady? Not to be offensive or anything, but why the force?” he asked back. “Force is needed when we have so many breaches in our security. We’ve lost twenty six civilians before you arrived. It would be best if they were on the only ones we lose in the next few months.” the woman replied. Wichita walked over to stand beside him, glancing nervously at Snowball. “And what’s going to happen to Snowball?” she asked, gesturing to the boy lying on his stomach on the ground. The woman glanced at him, turning to give her a stern look. “I don’t know what his results will show and I can’t guarantee that he will return with you.” she stated honestly. “You mean, he might not come back with us?” Little Rock asked, tears pricking in her eyes. “Yes.” the woman replied. She nodded to the soldier standing over Snowball, Tally watching the man haul the boy unsteadily to his feet. They were lead slowly down a few empty streets towards a massive building, wide rather than tall, labeled: “CDC: Disease Research and Containment Center, Tennessee. The first soldier in the group paused, swiping a keycard at the door. With a small click, the two metallic doors slid open wide enough to be measures five feet across. The entire group marched inside into the lobby, where a military dressed receptionist was waiting. “Civilians, new, awaiting virus testing. They possibly have an Infected with them.” a second soldier stated. “Down the hall, second door on the left.” she said, pointing to her right. The first group, containing Tally, Little Rock and Wichita, began to march down the said hallway, leaving Snowball standing at the desk with the second group of soldiers and the commander. As soon as Little Rock took notice of the situation change, she whipped around and began to struggle against her captors. “Snowball! Snowball! Where are you taking him? Why isn’t he going with us? Snowball! We’re coming back for you!” she cried, tears streaming down her face. The soldiers began to drag her by her shoulders as she shouted, ignoring her pleas to be released to her friend. “Sis, you need to listen to me. They’re taking him somewhere else, yeah, and we don’t know where that is. They could be taking him somewhere bad, yeah, but we don’t know that, do we? So, how about we drill the asshole who’s doing this and get our answers then?” Wichita asked, Little Rock nodding in agreement. “Don’t cry, sweetheart. We’ll be fine, he’ll be fine, too. Trust me.” Tally said, knowing well he may have made a promise he couldn’t keep. They turned their attention back to the hall they were being marched down, being turned to the left and shoved through a door before having it lock behind them. Dim blue lights turned on above them, illuminating Tally’s white shirt and Little Rock’s shoes. A red beam shot down from the ceiling, scanning across them before snapping out of view. “What was that?” Little Rock asked, turning confusedly to her sister. “I don’t know.” Wichita replied before they heard a speaker switch on. “UV SCAN COMPLETE. SCANS ONE OF SEVEN COMPLETE. RESULT: NEGATIVE.” a monotone voice replied. “Great, this is going to take awhile.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Testing
About twenty minutes later, when the scans were complete, a massive door on the other side of the room slid open. The trio walked through it, finding themselves surrounded by a massive lab. Four soldiers stood on either side of them, blocking their escape. The woman from before stood in front of both rows of soldiers, holding a clipboard. “Welcome to society.” she said, cracking a tiny smile. “Where’s Snowball?” Little Rock exclaimed, stepping forward to stand squarely in front of the woman. “He’s undergoing some more testing. Ours scans don’t get everything, kiddo. There’s still more for you three to do, too.” she replied casually. “But, he’s not dead, right?” Wichita asked, the woman nodding. “Correct. Anyway, let’s get off with the introductions. I’m Commander Dawn, leader of this base. The base is called B12 and is formed in Tennessee, I’m not going to tell you where. Anyhow, your preliminary scans came up negative, yay, it means you don’t carry the virus, so far. However, you need to get bloodwork done and some basic physical and mental testing done just in case. I have three different doctors prepared for each of you. And yes, you do need to be seperated. Questions?” Dawn asked. “What kind of virus is it?” Wichita asked. “It’s an evolved form of Ebola, and so far it’s been untreatable. We’ve been looking for Patient Zero since our first reports started coming in, but we’ve had nothing so far.” Dawn replied swiftly. “What do you do with the Infected you find?” Little Rock asked. “We kill them on strict orders to prevent the virus from spreading.” Dawn replied, Little Rock looking nervously at the medical tents set up in the room. “Anything else?” Dawn asked, everyone shaking their heads. “Good. Follow me.” she said, leading them to the first tent. A male scientist stood in front of it, holding a clipboard. “Mickey Knox?” the man asked, Tally stepping forward. He followed the man into the tent, watching Wichita and Little Rock walk past it with nervous glances aimed at him. The doctor told him to sit in the medical chair in the back of the tent, Tally nervously glancing at the man as he strapped him in. “I am going to take some blood, ask you some questions, and have you perform a few physical exercises for me. Is that alright with you?” the man asked. Tally nodded, wincing as the needle entered his arm. He watched the scientist fill several vials with blood before removing the needle and placing a bandaid over it. He was given a page from a book to read aloud, trying his best to sound literate even with his low education. “Thank you. That’s enough.” the doctor said, taking the page from him. “How was it? I didn’t get the best education open to me, so I’m a little nervous that I might’ve missed some words.” Tally asked, the doctor giving him a strange look. “Your score was perfectly fine. A few errors, nothing more that would mark you as infected.” the doctor replied, gesturing for him to stand up. The doctor had him touch his toes and twist this way and that, displaying his mobility and physical capability. “Perfect score! We haven’t seen that for a long time.” the doctor said, gesturing for him to sit back in the chair. The doctor didn’t strap him back in, however, and chose to stand off to the side, messing with the blood vials. Tally looked up to see Dawn walking to the front of his tent, standing with a radio in her hand. “Can you all hear me?” she asked, Tally nodding in response. “Good. As you know, I am Commander Dawn of the Eighth Military Division stationed here at the CDC in Tennessee. Since the outbreak, we’ve been given strict orders to kill all infected until the cure is found. So, we’re testing your blood for the possibility that your cells contain the antidote agent. However, there are consequences if one of you carries that agent in your bloodstream, as you should know. As far as our orders go, whoever has that antibody within their system will not be allowed to leave this facility. That antibody will need to be isolated and distributed across the planet before that happens. To my great delight, all of you are clear of the virus and do not carry the antibody. Your friend, however, is another story. I will have you transported to the Observation Room so I can speak with you privately.” Dawn explained, turning off the radio. Several soldiers escorted Tally to another room, dark but illuminated with UV lights. Dawn sat behind a desk, a stack of papers in her hands. “Where’s Snowball?” Little Rock asked, stepping up to the desk. “You are a very brazen young lady. “Snowball” is in the next room, currently being restrained while we speak.” Dawn replied. “Show me.” Little Rock demanded. Dawn turned to a light switch on the wall, flicking it upwards. The lights in the room next door flicked on, displaying Snowball lying on the floor trying to protect himself from the sterile blinding lights. The group could see him through a tinted glass wall, of which made up one of the walls of Snowball’s room. “Snowball!” Little Rock cried, slamming her hands against the glass. “He can’t hear you. He’s been drugged since he was uncooperative with our testing.” Dawn explained, tears welling in Little Rock’s eyes. “You drugged him? How could you do that to him? You could have just explained it to him!” Wichita snapped, waving her fist at the woman. “It was a mild sedative. We’re surprised it worked so well. Usually it’s only effective on rabbits or dogs.” Dawn replied. Tally noticed the three chairs in front of Dawn’s desk, choosing to sit in one and face the woman. “What have ya got to tell us?” he asked. “What can you tell me about your friend?” she asked back, avoiding the question. “He’s nothing more than a friend. A little spitfuck that survives when he should be dead by now.” Tally replied. “He’s my best friend, and a damn good one at that!” Little Rock cried as Wichita held her close. “He came to us while we were traveling on an interstate. Tally met him in a store, when he had no weapons. The kid traded him weapons for food, as a zombie. When we realized he wasn’t a zombie, we cleaned him up and added him to the crew.” Wichita explained. Tally turned his attention back to the glass, where Snowball was desperately trying to cover his eyes by lying on his stomach and curling his arms around his head. He lie there panting, unmoving, his bright blue eyes half lidded and pricking with tears. Dawn held up the papers now, flipping through their contents. “This is a file we printed from a cell tower in Columbus, Ohio. This is the information on your friend here, before the outbreak happened.” Dawn explained, handing the papers to Tallahassee.


AGE: 20

“I figured as much.” Wichita said, reading over Tally’s shoulder. Most of the document was a profile on the kid, being pages long and listing dozens of areas he’d lived or worked in before and since the outbreak. “Columbus, as the community called him, was born with a rare form of Autism known as Aspergers. This made him extremely intelligent in whatever field he chose to study. Since the outbreak, he lived in a protected community known as Cleveland until he vanished suddenly on a mission while out with a Scavenging crew.” Dawn explained. “Many people disappeared during the outbreak. Why should we be concerned about his vanishing?” Tally asked. “The doctors manning the outbreak center in Cleveland isolated a sample of his blood. He vanished on the day they got the results.” Dawn added. “What does that mean?” Little Rock asked, turning to the commander. “It means it wasn’t a coincidence. Someone forced him to leave or he was running from something.” Wichita explained. “Yes, read the last line.” Dawn finished, pointing to the final page in the paper. Tally glanced over the pages to the final one, eyes scanning over the final few words:


“He’s got the cure.” Tally said slowly, letting each syllable roll off his tongue. “What?” Wichita cried, snatching the papers from him and scanning them herself. “Correct. Before he vanished from Fort Cleveland, he gave blood for the test. The results came back on the day he vanished and they are positive for the cure agent we’ve been looking for. We’re retesting him now to make sure that is the case.” Dawn explained. “So, you’re saying that Snowball carries the cure to the zombies?” Little Rock asked, Dawn nodding. “We can save them. We can save the people we lost.” Tally whispered, Wichita pulling him into a hug. “Don’t worry. After this, we can go look for your little boy. Okay?” she asked, Tally nodding against her. To their surprise, a soldier entered the room and held a piece of paper out to the commander. “The results, commander.” he stated, handing it to her and quickly leaving the room. Dawn took a moment to read over the paper, eyes scanning at a rapid pace over the small print. She looked up at the trio, cracking a wide smile. “It seems he carries a version of the virus, as well as the antibody. Somewhere along the line, it appears he was bitten and turned into what we called a “Pseudo-Zombie”.” she explained. “What’s a “Pseudo-Zombie?”” Little Rock asked, Dawn also earning a curious glance from Wichita. “A PZ, or Pseudo-Zombie, is the name given to a human in the process of mutating into a zombie, or given the influence to act as one.” the commander explained. “So, he was bitten at some point after vanished from Cleveland, Ohio, traveled all the way to Arkansas with a group of zombies, and somehow managed to become one of them.” Wichita said, piecing all the information together. “But, something doesn’t make sense. Why did he leave the old compound in Cleveland?” Little Rock asked aloud, scratching her head. “We got reports that Cleveland had been overrun in just a few days after he vanished. We have reason to believe that one of the head honchos there was trying to kill a lot of people and take over the rest of the fort with a small group of Ravagers.” Dawn stated. Tally paused, glancing at Snowball, or rather, Columbus, in the next room. He looked so scared, so frightened that someone or something was going to hurt him. The look he had on his face made Tally’s heart break. “So, what’re you going to do with him? Simple blood draws or what?” Wichita asked, taking the words from the Flordan’s mouth. “Lots of testing will need to be done to isolate his antibody. As you know, he won’t be able to leave here. However, I do need one thing from you, since he doesn’t appear to be able to give it to me.” Dawn said, sliding a document across the desk into Tally’s view. “What’s that?” Little Rock asked, pointing at the finely printed document. Dawn handed Tally a pen and marked where to sign. “This is a document used to prevent ill intent on our facility. No harm has ever come to our patients, but just in case, we have our parently figures sign it to prevent claims of damage and death.” Dawn replied. Tally carefully read over the document, trying to process everything in his brain. Several minutes later, when he was satisfied with his comprehension, he turned to the girls. “This is a group choice. We make it together. Yes or no?” he asked. “What choice? There isn’t a choice to make!” Wichita exclaimed, crossing her arms defiantly. “There is, young lady. Columbus holds the key to humanity’s survival at this point in time. You either give us permission or not. Your species is on the line.” Dawn added. “Do it.” Little Rock said. After a brief look of surprise on the commander’s face, the woman recomposed herself and watched Tally sign the document. Folding it neatly and placing it into an envelope, she sealed it with a pin and smiled at them. “The world thanks you in advance.” she said, standing up and leaving the room. The second the woman was gone, Wichita wheeled on Tallahassee. “You don’t know what they could do to him! Why give them permission? They could kill him or worse!” she snapped. “Would you rather have more hell breaking loose and all of us losing? We risk everyone for the sake of a tiny risk to him. You don’t have enough to lose, girls! I do! And, I’m not willing to risk that my little boy can still be saved and he’s still out there waiting for me!” Tally snapped back, standing up to his full towering height. The two children went silent after his outburst, sitting on the floor with their heads bowed. To their shock, loud thumps gained their attention at the window. Turning around, Tally spotted Columbus standing against the glass, bumping his head uselessly against it. Lifting a hand to the glass, the Flordan rested his palm in the impression of the boy’s head, feeling his heart slow a little. “I can-an he-hell-help yo-you. I-It’s no-not safe he-here. Will-will yo-you help me-me?” his weak voice asked through the glass. Tally grinned wickedly wide. “Hell yeah, spitfuck.” he replied.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Hellfire
“First course of action: getting out of here.” Wichita said, eyes scanning about the room. Together, the moved about the small space, intent on finding an escape route. Peeking through the keyhole in the door, Tally looked about outside for anyone approaching or leaving. “Seven to the left, four to the right. Dawn’s at some kind of command post. We could just walk out and ask to find our house?” Tally suggested. “Good idea.” Wichita said, turning to Little Rock. “Tell him we’re coming back for him. We’ve got to go, now, so be quick about it.” she whispered to the child. Little Rock turned to the glass and ran up to it, smacking her hands against it. Feeling the vibration of the material, Columbus’ eyes rose dipped to her height, the boy appearing to be looking her in the eyes. “We’re coming back, okay? We’re not going to leave you here, I promise.” she said, stepping away and heading back to stand beside her sister. Columbus let out an agonizing moan, bumping his head against the glass once more as the trio slipped out of the room and into the next. Tally was the first to approach the commander, giving her a wistful smile to begin the conversation. “Ah, Mickey. I presume you’ve said your goodbyes for now?” she asked, Tally giving a nod. “Yeah. Listen, the girls and I were wondering when we were supposed to see that house assigned to us.” he said, getting to business right off the bat. Dawn nodded, picking up a nearby clipboard. “It looks like you were assigned to H5. One of my men can lead you there.” she said, a soldier stepping forward to assist them. The man led the group out of the building and to a smaller house resembling something you’d see in the suburbs: old woodwork, newly repainted, clean and habitable. They had just walked in the front door when they were alerted to the sounds of screams from outside. A wall of human traffic was massing on the streets, swaying different directions as people rushed to avoid an incoming attack. Tally saw a soldier standing in the street with a megaphone, shouting orders to people around him. “Get to your assigned house and get to the basement! You will be protected there!” he cried. Tally grabbed his shoulder and turned the man to face him. “What’s going on?” he shouted above the noise of the gathering crowd. “Ravagers, sir! They’re invading from another camp! We had a leak of information and they’ve come looking for us and our supplies!” the man shouted back, before being swept away in a sea of bodies. Tally froze, the noise around him fading into distant roars. His eyes swelled with flames, his chest becoming tight in anger. “She kept this from us. She thought not telling us about the Ravagers coming after Columbus was a good idea.” he whispered to himself, mind a tangle of distant thoughts and newfound ones. To his fright, he looked up to see Little Rock running in the direction of the lab, of which was suddenly blown up on one side due to a rocket impact. “Sis, come back! It’s not safe!” Wichita cried, running after her. The cries of the teen were enough to push him back into combat mode, the man quickly bending to scoop up an AK-47 before rushing after the duo. After losing them in the blasts of smoke and gunfire, he paused to locate them by sound. Hearing their shouting voices, he discovered them crouching by several damaged tractors. “I can’t find him anywhere!” Little Rock cried, her tears trailing loose down her cheeks. Cries to their south gained the trio’s attention, causing Tally to turn towards it. “Let’s go this way.” he said, the girls following him close behind as he ran for the next section of cover. They followed the cries to the front of the camp, finding the entire border wall blocked by tanks and other heavy military machines occupied by the Ravagers. “We can’t get out and they’ll eventually kill enough people that this camp will be swarming with infected!” he heard a soldier shout to some civilians. Tally paused, going over the facts: shooting live people, letting said people turn into zombies, zombies eat live people, kill zombies and take over camp….”That’s their plan! Shoot them, not the zombies!” Tally cried, bolting from his cover and shooting wildly at the Ravager blockade. Several mad-men went down before they turned their attention to him, returning his fire. He dove behind some cover, ducking crazily to avoid being struck with bullets. He got up on one knee, raising his gun to fire before he felt the stinging pain of a bullet piercing his arm. ‘Damn, that was my shooting arm!’ he cursed, clapping a hand over the bleeding wound in hopes to prevent himself from bleeding out. “Tallahassee!” Wichita cried, making a move like she was going to run for him. He lifted a hand, gritting his teeth in a crazy smile. “You crazy son of a bitch!” she cried, picking up a fallen soldier’s AR-12 and cocking it. While she and Little Rock were returning fire, he crawled his way back towards their cover and leaned his back against it. He puffed in pain, Little Rock working quickly to wrap his wound to stop the bleeding. At the sound of more screams coming from behind him, he turned his head to see a massive wave of infected stumbling their way to the front of the camp. He recognised Columbus’ face towards the center of it, the young man turning to stumble towards him. None of the other zombies followed, instead making their slow pace towards their new prey. The pseudo-zombie knelt in front of the Flordan, eyes full of sorrow. “I ain’t going to die yet, kiddo. Good plan, mind if we join in?” he asked, Columbus nodding joyfully. Wichita handed Tally his gun and they returned fire on the Ravagers, occupying them to let the zombies get close enough to attack. Slow but surely, the Ravagers went down one by one, their screams of agony music to Tally’s ears. The soldiers from the fort raised their weapons and began to fire at the infected now leaving the camp, shooting them down in spurts of loud bangs. Columbus stood beside the girls, watching the soldiers shoot down his old family. Once all of them were down, the soldiers cheered in victory, letting out loud laughs and cries of anguish. Hearing a click behind him, Tally turned to see Dawn raising her gun, the bullet firing into Columbus’ back. The young man let out a strained cry, falling to the ground with a loud thump. Tallahassee moved to intercept Dawn’s weapon, instead looking down the barrel of her pistol himself. “What are you doing?” he snapped, eyes narrowed in anger. Dawn cracked a mischievous smile, tilting the gun to the side. “I told you he’s the only one who has the antibody for the virus. Now, he’s the only one here with the virus in his system. So much as a scratch could infect hundreds, if not thousands, more people.” Dawn explained. “That doesn’t give you the right to shoot him! He’s still human, just as much as you are!” Little Rock cried. “He protected us from the horde. He sent them away, instead of having them come after us. That means something, whether or not you’re willing to believe it.” Wichita added, frowning as deep as it could go. “Ju-just go. Eve-everything will be okay.” Columbus’ weak voice said. “We’re not leaving you. You don’t deserve that, after everything you’ve been through.” Wichita snapped, silencing the pseudo-zombie. “What about your promise, man?” Tallahassee asked, glancing wistfully at the young man. “My-my promise….” Columbus repeated slowly, steadily pushing himself off the ground. “That’s our Snowball.” Little Rock said, praising the teen’s resilience. “That’s not Snowball, anymore, kid. That’s a man-eating, killing machine that will manipulate anything it has around it to get what it wants.” Dawn said, taking the safety off her gun. “Don’t you fucking dare.” Wichita hissed, taking the safety off her own gun. “I-I will no-not let yo-you hurt my-my friends!” Columbus cried, lunging forward and taking hold of Dawn’s gun. The woman cried out, falling backwards onto the ground in shock. Columbus landed on top of her, hands wrapped firmly around the gun and fighting to prevent it from blowing his own face off. “Get off me!” Dawn snapped, punching him clean in the face. The boy recoiled, still unwilling to let go as she slammed a knee into his gut. His hands dropped from the weapon, his body slamming hard into the dirt as she rolled on top of him, pointing the gun directly between his eyes. When a loud bang cut through the air, Columbus’ eyes jerked shut, his body spasming awkwardly on the ground. He felt the full weight of the woman fall dead against his chest, opening his eyes to see a hole blown through her head. Tally was grinning like an idiot, a shotgun in his hands smoking at the barrel. He bent down and hauled the body off the boy, jerking the kid to his feet and into a tight hug. “Don’t ever do that again, ya hear?” he asked, arms wrapping tight around the boy’s chest and back. Columbus nodded against the man’s chest, raising his hands to give a weak squeeze back. “Alright, should we get out of here before someone finds out we did this?” Little Rock asked, everyone nodding in response. They booked it to the car, Tallahassee and Columbus sliding into the backseat together. “I guess we’re never going to see that cure made.” Tally said as Wichita drove out of the fort and back out onto the interstate. Columbus made a face, digging into his pocket before pulling out a small package of vials. He handed them to the Flordan, who’s jaw dropped on the label:


“Son of a bitch.” Tallahassee said, looking to the pseudo-zombie with wide eyes. “What’s that?” Little Rock asked, eyeing the package. “Our new mission.” he replied.