Miss Elmira Ravenhurst was a school teacher in the small town of Doornail in the foot hills of the Serra Nevada Mountains in California. Fourteen years since the discovery of gold, and five years since a steamer ship docked in San Francisco carrying a cargo of death and the end of the world. The ship carried a plague of the living dead. Grey fleshed corpses that should have been buried six feet under, their flesh rotten off the bone as they infested San Francisco feeding off living flesh. Now the country was at war with a plague of un-dead zombies in the west as war raged between North and South.
Elmira had dreams that were broken when her fiancée was eaten by a pack of zombies on a supply run to Sacramento. The children solemnly listen to lectures with wide eyes as she walks back and forth the heavy ring of keys at her side jingle with every step. A bell rings in the distance and Miss Ravenhurst, mouth set in a grim line, uses the keys to open a small door in the tidy little school house. The door opens on a tiny room with a hatch leading to an escape tunnel underneath the town. Elmira ushers the children through, dabbing at tear stained faces as the children march down the tunnels to safety.