After a full day and night of servant duties I’m exhausted. I curl up in my bed and yawn, happily thinking about the number of times I’ve smiled over the past twenty-four hours. I’m not even asleep yet when I hear it. The hair-raising screams filling every corner of my little room. I sit bolt-upright, my heart seemingly stops beating for a second and I turn quickly to my little window. Out in the distance I can see an orange light; it takes a few seconds for me to realize it’s a fire. I stare for another half a minute and a few more bright orange flames pop up along the outskirts and more screams reach the castle.
I jump out of my bed and open the door to the hallway. A knight in full armor runs down the hall and a few other servants are glancing around for answers just as I am. After a few seconds I see another Knight running down the hall, he doesn’t have his helmet on and I recognize him instantly.
“Cameron!” I shout as I walk out of my room, he slows but I can tell he’s in a hurry. “What’s going on?” I ask.
“There’s a massive zombie attack starting on the outskirts. We fear that they may break through our defenses,” he says quickly, and continues on his way, but pauses after a few feet and turns to look at me. “Phoebe, be careful,” he says with a worried look on his face then turns and runs away.
“You too, Cam!” I shout after him, but I’m not sure if he heard.
I return to my room and close the door. I quickly dress and strap all of my stolen weapons to me. They are easily hidden beneath my long dress and cloak. I grab the bag I’ve had packed for weeks and throw it over my shoulder. Lastly, I grab my stolen sword, there’s no place to hide it. I slide the sword through my belt and it feels like a good place to keep it. Luckily I’d already wrapped it in old fabric from the laundry, so it won’t stand out too much. Turning to the door, I take one last look around this little room that’s been my home for years; I know I won’t be seeing it again. I take a deep breath and walk out. No one bothers to notice me as I run down the hall, down the stairs, and out of the castle’s wide open doors.
The cool night air feels good on my hot face and I breathe it in deep, letting it cool the panic in my chest. I reach the thorny bush that cover my small hole to the outside and cover my face as I crawl behind it and through the wall.
Before I stand I look around at the fires and destruction. I instantly look to my family’s hut, and feel a wave of relief overcome me as I see that it hasn’t been touched yet. I reach for my pile of long sticks, which help me cross the moat, but through the side of my vision I catch site of a group of about seven zombies. They are looking into the water, obviously confused. One sticks his foot in the water for a few seconds before jumping in and starting to swim. He is reaching for the bank when an alligator bites him hard and quick. I turn away as he’s torn apart and eaten by the hungry reptiles. When the screams and struggling gasps stop I look up again to see the remaining six zombies standing around a nearby tree. With little warning they all start hacking at the tree: some kicking, others scratching at the trunk, and one jumping at the tree and repeatedly hitting it. After a while the tree starts to sway dangerously and the zombies start to shriek with excitement. I can see other small groups of zombies coming from the distance; it won’t be long until the whole shore is teaming with them.
I can’t stick around here, and there’s no way I can cross with so many zombies nearby. I duck back through my secret tunnel before any of the zombies are able to see me. I really hope that if they get across the moat they don’t find the passageway, but there is nothing more I can do to hide it.
I emerge from the bush but quickly duck back behind its coverage when I hear stomping hooves and the clatter of armor nearby. I look through the branches and see about eight knights astride horses. Sir Nesband stands in front of them and from where I’m hiding I can just make out what he’s saying.
“… distract the king and queen, then Marty is going to lower the drawbridge. We only have a few seconds to all get out of the castle, then the bridge is going back up. So we’ve got to make it quick. On my signal we’ll all rush towards to the gate, no stopping and no hesitating. Try to kill as many zombies as you can. At daybreak we’ll meet by the old willow tree,” he pauses and looks each of the men in the eye for a brief second before continuing, “Men, I believe we are doing the right thing, but if any of you are uncertain you can still back out now. If you go out, know that you may not get back in.” There is a clanking of armor as the men nod. “Take your positions men, and watch for my signal.” There are a few hushed cheers of excitement and then the men break off into eight different directions and the night is silent once again.