Finny's Birthday (part 1 of 8)
Finny's Birthday (part 1 of 8) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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This story is a direct continuation from 'The Secret Adventurers Club Second Adventure.'

Finny's Birthday (part 1 of 8)

It was a week after The Secret Adventurers had been rescued from the Devil's Own.

Their story immediately became the talk of the orphanage, then the factory, and, eventually, was even being talked about in New Flagstaff's various bars.

For Finny, the publicity was a very two-edged sword.

Amongst her more rebellious peers, she was applauded for the sheer audacity of leaving the city and her ballsiness in, not only stealing an actual gun but killing a bear with it.

As for getting punished for the theft, well, that only added to the kudos she got from them.

However, what she gained on the swings of delinquency she certainly lost on the roundabouts of responsibility and good sense.

Finny's more sensible peers now seemed to distance themselves from her. Nor did the littler kids come to her so often for advice or help, and both these reactions bothered Finny.

What got to her even more though was that some kids, especially the younger ones, actually seemed afraid of her.

Consequently, Finny started to remove herself from the company of other residents at the orphanage.

Instead of playing in the dump, or hanging with Casper, Onetooth and Worms, Finny found herself more and more visiting the bookshop where, in return for some dusting and sweeping,

Mr Trent allowed her to sit quietly at one end of the counter and read until she had just enough time to get back to the orphanage before lock-up.

This had not gone unnoticed.

In the days since the debacle that was the second adventure of the Adventurer's Club, the Reading Group in Joe's office had turned into a depressing affair. Finny had become quiet and withdrawn.

So much so that the three boys were increasingly sullen, confused and more than a little lost without their leader's involvement and, well, leadership.

Joe had tried to snap her out of it, but her failure, as Finny saw it, was weighing heavily on the eight-year-old's shoulders.

By the end of the fourth day, Joe couldn't get much enthusiasm out of any of them and the office clock now ticked loudly in the depressing silence.

Finny was in a funk, and it was affecting everyone.

That night, at home, Joe and Kirsten were together in the lounge.

Kirsten was finishing off her own business correspondence using a dark brown leather writing case with high-quality paper while Joe,

who tended to do most of his correspondence on the back of beer mats in bars, was nursing a thickening pile of reports on the whereabouts of Scott Moreland, AKA 'Gunman',

AKA the likely candidate as Finny's father. He made notes of useful information, not that there was much of it because Gunman seemed to be making efforts not to be found.

However, there was one piece of information that had got Joe thinking.

Even after he and Kirsten had finished their after-work work and were just enjoying being together, it was apparent to Kirsten that something was nagging at Joe.

Eventually, his distraction became too much.

"Joe! I am going to buy you a rubber bone."

Dragged from his thoughts, Joe looked up.

"Huh? Why?"

"Because you are too old to be grinding your teeth like that."

Confused about Kirsten's seemingly random chatter about teeth and bones, Joe frowned and tried to catch his train of thought before it left the station.

Kirsten rolled her eyes.

"Joe."

"What?"

"That means we talk about whatever is causing you to sit there like an overwound clock. Right?"

Joe opened his mouth to speak. Then closed it again. Then opened it again, this time raising a finger. Then he seemed to deflate before trying again.

The pained look on his face was so pitiful that Kirsten knew she had to put him out of his misery before he sought solace in grumpy silence.

"Joe! What is it?"

Joe's face contorted into such an expression of pained confusion that for just a moment Kirsten thought he was about to tell her that he was dying, or worse... flat broke.

Joe's shoulders slumped; it was a dilemma beyond his understanding.

"What do you buy a kid for its ninth birthday?"

Such an ordinary thing was the last comment she expected Joe to come out with, and her expression confirmed as much.

"What?"

"A nine-year-old. What do you get one for its birthday?"

Kirsten's exasperation went up a notch.

"A nine-year-old what?"

It was Joe's turn to look irritated.

"Finny of course." He tapped the pile of reports on his knees. "I've just found out that her birthday is the day after tomorrow... Well, most likely anyway."

Kirsten put the pieces of the puzzle together in an instant and came up with a solution without missing a beat.

"Clothes. Get her some new clothes."

Joe looked doubtful.

"She's got clothes. In fact, the orphanage dishes out free clothes, she can take her pick. And what does she need more for? The ones she's wearing haven't even worn out yet."

Sometimes it was hard keeping a straight face with some of the things Joe came out with. But Kirsten had become well-practised.

"Joe. Those are hand-me-downs and discards. The last time Finny had anything new was when she..." The pause was slight, but it was there. "...did that errand for you."

The 'errand' in question was when Joe had Finny burgle the Ranyhyn Company offices to retrieve Hanne Berg's file on Silja, their nanny and Hanne's sister.

Joe had rewarded Finny with enough chips to buy clothes to replace the near rags and mismatched footwear she had been running around in up until then.

However, Kirsten's objection still wasn't making it through Joe's frugality.

"And she wears them every day. Nothing wrong with them."

The statement earned Joe 'that look'.

"Except that she does wear them, every day, Joe."

The chink was made in Joe's parsimonious armour. Despite the orphanage's best efforts with soap and scrubbing brushes, the inmates tended to be a bit whiffy in confined spaces.

Joe conceded with a sniff and an upturned lip. He shuffled the pile of paperwork into a bundle.

"Fine. I'll send Silja to buy her a dress then."

Kirsten's eyes widened at the horror of what that might mean.

"You'll do no such thing! I'll take charge of buying clothes for Finny, Joe. She's a little tomboy and needs good, sensible, hardwearing clothes. Not frills and lace." She sat back with a grin.

"Annie gets those."

Joe let the subject drop. Now that Kirsten had made the clothes idea her own, he would have to think of something else.

Leaving Kirsten to browse the much-thumbed fashion pages for 'good, sensible, hardwearing clothes', Joe retreated to his study.

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