Introduction - The Last Snow

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**4 years ago***

Joshua Balz and his girlfriend, Ryan Ashley Malarkey finally arrived safely to their job, the Strange & Unusual Oddities Parlor.

It was another snowy day in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and though the early snow fall was soft, last night wasn't so kind, neither was it harsh.

You can say it was just how cold it was. Jack Frost held no mercy towards the small town.

"Josh, I'll park out back," Ryan Ashley said to her lover. "Take Toronto and Casper outside so we can clear out the snow from the pathway."

"Got it," he said, climbing out, then getting the dog carriers that held their two Pomeranian dogs, and headed to the door, unlocking it and hurrying inside to warm the place up. He was thankful it wasn't horribly cold inside, but it was a little chilly.

He let the dogs roam free before turning on the heat and then getting the snow shovel from storage and heading outside.

As he started to clear the snow, an odd noise echoed in the empty morning streets.

He stopped and looked around. It sounded like an infant crying.

He dropped the shovel and following the sound.

It lead him to the corner of the store in the alleyway.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" he asked, slightly nervous as the cries continued. He looked around before he noticed something huddled near some boxes.

He gasped when he realized what it was.

A woman, wearing nothing but a tank top and a long skirt and brown fringe boots.

"Oh god. Miss, are you okay?" Josh asked, approaching her, the crying getting louder.

She didn't even flinch or move.

He got closer and noticed she held a small bundle of clothes.

I touched her arm and realized she was literally as cold as ice.

I also noticed horrible black and purple bruises all over her arms.

I lifted her head a little and the bundle moved, and I gasped as I removed a piece of cloth.

She held a baby in her arms. The baby wailed and shivered in her mother's cold embrace, covered in a leather jacket and a sweater and pink baby blanket.

That's when it all started to set in.

This woman is dead. She died trying to save her daughter from freezing to death.

"Oh my god," Joshua said as he looked around, seeing nobody.

He needed to alert someone. But first get this baby somewhere safe. He didn't want to abandon the baby.

"I promise, I'll protect her," he said to the deceased mother has he got the child from her.

He held the wailing child close to him as he then got up and rushed back to the store.

The infant stopped crying but whimpered a little loudly from the cold.

Joshua then ran in and saw that Ryan Ashley was already there.

"Ryan, call 9-11," he said urgently.

She looked up and gasped. "Josh! Where do you get that baby?!"

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