The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter came the dead. It was a well known fact in the United Kingdom that the undead were most seen during the winter. And as was with all living things, they were hungry. Every house barred its doors and windows once even fall came. Children could not go outside unless accompanied by a weapon-carrying adult. Every child obeyed the rule every day since they were born. But one day, in the middle of December, in a small village at the edge of the forest, a young, sixteen year old girl named Rose decided to break the rule.
Her mother and father had been usually unbearable, and her twin Riley had fought with her that morning. Rose had to get out of the house. The fire that was always blazing in the hearth made the house stuffy, and the pet owl’s screech was more aggravating in her small kitchen. She had only planned to be out a few minutes; just long enough for a breath of fresh air, and for a few snowflakes to land on her eyelashes, but it was long enough for them to sense her. The whole village heard the hungry shriek of the undead, and she knew. The zombies were coming.
Rose immediately called for her parents. They both came running out of the house holding crossbows and swords. “What have you done?” Her mother said, looking at Rose sitting on the step leading to the lawn. “The sun has set, you know the rules.” Riley came bounding out holding his twin swords in both hands.
Rose’s father did not ask questions, he simply grabbed her arm and threw her inside. “Do not come out no matter what, okay? Not all of us can fight, you need to keep the bloodline going if we die. Remember your training.”
Rose shook her head, “no. I am going to fight with you. I cannot stand by while you die for me.” Her father did not listen. He closed the door and locked her inside. There were no windows except for a small one in the door where she could watch what was happening. She could not believe what was happening. Fear gripped her and her throat became thick. She saw her mother Nieva, her beautiful long, straight, blackish brown hair swirled around her as she fought. Her father Hunter with his short, blonde curls, cropped so that the curls did not get in his way, at her brother’s back so he was not undefended. Riley. They were twins and they looked almost identical. He had always looked like an angel. His golden curls formed a halo around his face and his bright blue eyes were almost to big for his face. Even then he looked like an angel. He was covered in the blood of the undead, as well as his own. Rose tried the door again but it would not budge. She knew she would never be able to get out. Her parents were the only ones with the keys, and they both had them at that moment. She ran and grabbed her sharp stars. A weapon that her mother said was a gift from a Chinese royal that she had once been friends with. She through them at the window, broke it, and hit one of the undead in the head, killing it.
Rose tried to slide through the window, but it was just too small. She slid back down before she could get stuck and the undead could get her. All she could do was watch. She watched as one bit her brother in the neck, and he fell, dead. She watched as one grabbed her mother by her beautiful hair and through her against a tree. She watched as her father, her strong, amazing father, was shot with his own crossbow. They were all dead. Rose could not see out of her blurry eyes, and as she stumbled from the window, she tripped over a chair, hit her head, and everything went black.
When Rose awoke she was alone. There were no more sounds of fighting outside the door, and when she went to see, the bodies were gone as well. All that was left was a small key, slid through the crack at the bottom of the door. It must have been her mother. She must have woken up and slid the key under the door before she was taken by them. Rose leaned down and picked it up. It was so cold she almost dropped it. That was when she realized she could see her breath, and her body shaking was not only from the aftershocks. There was snow on the ground and everything was frozen, even the blood that stained the porch.
Rose knew she could not stay there. She went to her room and grabbed everything she could. She grabbed her warmest clothing to accompany her into the village. She grabbed her jewels that she hoped she could sell for money. As she was grabbing her jewels she found a pin necklace. It was the pink dragonfly necklace that she had bought yesterday morning. Her whole family had gone into the village to buy vegetables, fruit, and anything else they had needed. She had seen the necklace and she knew she had to get it. Her parents had money. Riley and she had never asked how they had it, but they knew it was from the history neither of them ever spoke of. It had been the last thing her mother ever gave her. No one was getting that. She clasped it around her neck, letting it hang to her breasts as she took her things outside.
By some miracle the undead did not kill their horse Ruby. Rose found her nickering and running the lengths of her pasture. As Rose calmed the horse down, she tied the sled with all of her belongings to her, saddled her, and got on. Ruby had always loved her mother the most, but she was calm enough for Rose to ride the five miles into the village. By the time she was greeted with the smell of woodsmoke and horse dung, she had saddle sores and pain everywhere. She stopped at Grumpy’s, the bar that her parents’ very good friend owned. Grumpy was an interesting man. He had a large beer belly, a thick, black beard and mustache, and he was a dwarf. When Rose was nine she was taller than him. He was the only one in the whole town that her parents had trusted, so she trusted him then.
She stepped through the door into the pub. Everything in the pub was old. The paint was chipping, the bar was sticky with twenty years worth of spilled ale, and the small, round poker and eating tables that were packed in the small space, all were different colors most likely from ale, food, and most likely some patrons’ vomit. “Li’le Rose. Wha’ are you doin’ ’ere?” Rose swiftly turned to look back at the bar. Grumpy had risen himself onto the platform that had been placed right behind the bar so that the patrons could actually see him.
“Grumpy you will not be pleased with the news I bear. Perhaps you should sit down.” Grumpy gave her an inquisitors look, but he hoisted himself up onto one of the bar stools. “My family has died. The undead came to our house and slaughtered them. My father had locked me inside so I was not harmed. Now I am left alone and I do not know what to do.”
Grumpy simply stared at her in shock. It seemed to Rose at first that maybe he had not heard her, but he began to shake his head. “Oh Rose I am so sorry. Yer parents were the best people I knew. But you are not alone. Your mother’s mother is still alive. She lives in London. I will write to ’er tonight to explain the situation.”
It was Rose’s turn to look stunned. Her grandmother was still alive? Her parents never spoke of her, and she had assumed the rest of her family was dead. “Yer mother and grandmother left on good terms so the Lady Madeline should not ‘ave a problem with you livin’ with ’er.”
Rose’s head tilted to the side, “the Lady Madeline?”
Grumpy chuckled, “yeah, yer grandmother is the best friend of the Princess of Italy and the old Queen of the United Kingdom.” For the second time in one day, Rose could feel her head spinning, and before she could get herself to a couch, everything went black.