This time Finny took a step back.
"What about Casper?"
Worms stopped again.
"You really are having trouble remembering aren't you? Seriously? You can't remember Casper?"
"What happened Worms?"
"He went to work for Joe. Courier. This one time he needed cash but Joe had no work for him. So he done a job for Fat Eric. Delivery to Los Alamos." Worms looked hard at Finny.
"You really don't remember? You being sweet on him and all?"
Finny felt a chill in her stomach.
"The customer didn't want to pay, Finn. Casper never made it back."
Finny's world spun. But she daren't faint. Not here. Not now. Worms was advancing on her again.
"Just you an' me now Finn. How about we get together. Go for a drink."
She took another step backwards.
Worms stopped. He smiled at her. A predator's smile.
"You sure? Maybe I'll get some cash together and then me and you can make a night of it."
Finny continued to back away, shaking her head. Worms didn't follow her. He watched her, smiling, then turned and walked back to the alley. Only then Did Finny turn away and speed up.
Only then did the shock of Casper's death force tears from her eyes.
Ahead, in the blackness, another oasis of light grew until Finny was able to recognise the place. It was another corner, but this time a friendlier one.
It was the corner where the bookshop stood. But there were figures standing under the glowing street light. Three teenage girls.
Finny slowed. Girls could be just as dangerous as boys. These girls were not dressed for the cool night air. Short skirts, skimpy tops and, as Finny got closer, way too much makeup.
Then the shock. One of the girls was Lisa. Lisa who slept in the next bed to Finny. Poor Lisa.
Even at the age of eight, Finny knew that no one stayed in the orphanage forever. If you weren't adopted you were kicked out at eighteen.
It used to be sixteen but when Matron Maisy took the place over she fought, with Joe's help, to get the leaving age raised. Most didn't wait that long though.
By the time kids were sixteen they were hungry to get out into the world. And Finny also knew what happened to a lot of them. What had now happened to Lisa.
Lisa recognised Finny and her face lit up. But then a figure shuffled out of the surrounding blackness.
The newcomer was an old woman. She used a walking stick now but Finny recognised her. It was Aunt Lucy. The infamous hag who waited to take in girls who decided to leave the orphanage.
Perhaps just 'take' would be a better word because rumour had it that sometimes the girls didn't have a choice. Finny stared at her with her mouth open as Aunt Lucy went on.
"What's the matter with you Finny? Have you been crying?" The bitter wrinkles twisted into the semblance of a smile. "Never mind sugar. Aunt Lucy has something to make you feel better.
" Lucy delved into her coat pocket and came up with a small hypodermic. "Then I've got a couple of nice gentlemen who are really keen to meet you."
Finny staggered backwards, away from the advancing needle.
"What?! No!" She turned to the three girls for help, but they just stared back at her, unmoving. Even Lisa.
It was then that Finny saw the reflection in the window of the bookshop. There was Aunt Lucy, hobbling towards her. But there were four girls, not three. Four teenagers. Finny stared at herself.
The Finny looking back at her was a stranger. Her hair was short, like a boy's. Her clothes figure-hugging and barely covering half of her skin.
For a brief fraction of a second the thought 'I've got boobs' flashed through Finny's consciousness before the horror that was her face hit her. Dead, staring eyes. A swollen lip. A black eye.
Bruises too on her arms, her legs. She backed away shaking her head.
"No." She whispered. "No. No. NO!" Finny turned and fled back the way she had come.
Behind her Aunt Lucy's voice was raised in screeching anger.
"Get back here you little slut!"
Now Finny was once again coming up on the alley where Worms had been engaged in his grisly pastime. He was still there.
Behind her Aunt Lucy's voice still screamed epitaphs at her fleeing back but now Worms was coming.
As children, she could always outrun him, but now it was Worms who had the edge in stamina and Finny knew it would not be long before he caught her.
And then what? A knife in the ribs and another trophy for her former friend? Or dragged back to Aunt Lucy to be given to her 'two nice gentlemen'?
Where could she even run to? Everywhere was black and anything in her future was always going to lead back to one horrible fate or the other. She could hear Worms gaining on her.
Maybe the knife was better. End her future now before...
Her future. End her future. But she had started in Joe's future. The goggles! More desperate than any time in her life, Finny flicked through the settings on the goggles looking for... There!
In the distance. Joe's steps. Joe's door. And, with a sob of relief that almost made her fall, Joe.
Worms was now right behind her.
Now Finny seemed to be running through molasses. Joe didn't seem to be getting closer. She could see him hold out a hand towards her.
"Finny!" Joe's voice. "Finny! Come On!"
She was, but her legs would hardly move. She felt a hand on her shoulder. Finny screamed.
"Finny! Come on!"
Finny opened her eyes. It was Lisa. A much younger Lisa. A laughing Lisa.
"Finny come on. Get up. It's Kidsmas! Double bacon for breakfast. Hurry up or you'll miss it!"
Lisa didn't wait. It was double bacon after all. Finny climbed out of bed and her book fell, shedding pages even as it hit the floor.
Still in her nightie, Finny dropped to her knees and scrabbled the pages together. One page caught her eye. One paragraph.
Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?
Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead, but if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!
Finny's eyes filled.