Rats : A Finny Story (Part 2 of 10)
Rats : A Finny Story (Part 2 of 10) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
Autoplay OFF   •   2 months ago
Joe comes up with a cunning plan, so cunning you could put a hat on it and call it Mister Fox.

Rats : A Finny Story (Part 2 of 10)

It takes a lot to keep Joe from his bed, not that he ever has, or ever will, sleep the sleep of the innocent but that night he had found it difficult to nod off.

Of course, the following morning he was not in the best of moods and breakfast conversation consisted of little more than grunts and "pass the jam... Please".

Eventually, Kirsten gave up and Joe left the house with his mind still troubled.

Today he would be spending most of the day in the square playing the auction house. However, he still had to open up the ammunition factory.

Of his two overseers, the only one he trusted to do that job was so caught up in the world of new parenthood right now that his mind just wasn't in the right place.

So, Joe trudged past the square and on towards the factory. He unlocked the doors and counted heads as the workforce filed in.

As usual, he turned and peered in the direction of the orphanage for sign of any stragglers.

This time he was rewarded with the sight of Finny running down the sidewalk, the mass of her untamed red hair flying behind her.

In her mouth was wedged a slice of fried bread or toast or whatever. Meanwhile, both hands were busy trying to lock down some of her hair with a strip of coloured rag that passed for a ribbon.

As her mismatched shoes pounded nearer on the morning sun-warmed flagstones Joe's face became thoughtful.

Finny was about to slide past Joe and on into the factory when a hand in front of her face pulled her up short.

Excuses and denials automatically lined up behind each other until she realised that none of them contained a subject.

As far as Finny was aware she was actually innocent of any possible charges the boss might throw at her.

The knowledge gave her a warm feeling in her stomach that had nothing to do with whatever that had been for breakfast. She took the piece of toast out of her mouth.

"What?"

Not being the best at small talk, especially with an eight-year-old, Joe got straight to the point.

"Last night, Anneka asked me what a rat was."

Finny's face screwed up in disbelief.

"How could she not know what a rat was?"

Joe blinked. And that was it. Finny's words were the second prong of the dilemma that had sat uncomfortably wrong in Joe's mind all the previous night.

"How could Anneka ever know what a rat was?" and "How could Anneka not know what a rat was?"

Finny was still looking up at him, while at the same time trying to lick the thin jam which was tantalisingly just out of reach of her tongue around the corner of her mouth.

With a sideways flick of his head, Joe dismissed her into the factory. Out of habit, Joe gave one last glance down the street to the front door of the orphanage... And had an idea.

For the rest of the day, Joe was distracted and missed some very cushty deals at auction because his attention was focused on putting flesh on the bones of his recent inspiration.

Losing those deals irritated him, but this was one of those rare occasions when something more important to him than making money got to make use of the dubious synaptic pathways in his brain.

That's not to say that Joe wasn't many chips richer by lunchtime.

While his conscious thought processes worked away at creating a case that his best-beloved might agree with him on,

his unconscious was perfectly capable of handling the more mundane tasks involved in making sure that little Annie had butter on her bread for the foreseeable future.

After lunch, Joe didn't return to the auction house.

Instead, he took a circuitous route (lest he be seen from the factory) to the orphanage and had a few words with Maisy, the idealistic young progressive Matron who ran the place.

'Miss' Maisy's promotion had been as much a surprise to her as it had been to the hardnosed harridan she had replaced.

The only ones who weren't surprised were Joe and several officials at the Union headquarters building.

By the end of the meeting with Maisy, Joe's mental list of checkboxes were nearly all ticked and his mood was slowly improving.

The next thing on his 'to do' list involved an unscheduled return to the factory. Laughter wasn't one of the noises Joe associated with ammunition production.

Neither was the sight of an overseer standing on a box, surrounded by non-working workers, doing a passable pantomime caricature of the owner.

The mice scattered back to work while Taiyoko desperately fought to throw off the brown duster he had brought in specifically for this little show.

Joe said nothing as he went up to his office, satisfying himself, instead, with just glaring at Taiyoko every step of the way. As he unlocked his office door, Joe called out Finny's name.

"My office. Now." Then he disappeared inside, leaving a confused and nervous Finny shrugging at the questioning looks she was getting from the orphans who shared her work bay.

After work, after his scotch, after dinner, after he could think of no more excuses, Joe asked Silja to join Kirsten, Anneka and himself in the sitting room.

Once they were settled, Joe solemnly expressed his feelings that, even with living in a city almost overrun with vermin, their daughter didn't know what a rat was.

After taking in the way Kirsten and Silja exchanged glances, Joe ploughed on, letting them know that he felt Anneka was in danger of becoming a real 'princess',

removed from the reality of the world outside the walls of the house. Even as Kirsten was drawing breath, Joe quickly set about explaining his idea...

That it might be good for Annie to spend some time with those who didn't have what she had, who didn't have food or clean water whenever they wanted it and, in some cases,

didn't even have parents to look after them. Joe took a deep breath and asserted that he thought it might be a good idea for Annie to spend a morning at the orphanage.

Silja and the orphanage staff would be in the vicinity at all times; he looked Kirsten in the eyes, but Annie would be looked after by Finny...

At this point, Anneka, being a sharp-eared three-year-old, piped up.

"I like Finny! She held my hand an' gived me a hat."

They all looked at her and then Kirsten and Silja turned back to Joe. Joe tried to read their expressions, failed, and so tried to pick up where he left off.

"She would be looked after by Finny, get a tour of the orphanage, maybe listen to some of their stories and hopefully get a feel of their lives. Then she would have lunch with them."

Joe paused. "Then, erm, before coming home, Finny could maybe introduce her to some rats... Just so that she knew what they were."

Joe sat back in his armchair and waited.

Kirsten looked at Joe as if he had just suggested they teach Anneka tightrope walking.

Silja carefully read the craggy lines on Joes face with cool Nordic eyes. There was the beginnings of a smile on her lips. But it was Kirsten who broke the silence over folded arms.

"And can you trust this Finny?"

Joe shifted in his seat. He had expected this same question, but still, it made him uncomfortable. But he knew Finny was by far the lesser of all the other little evils under his charge.

"Well, Finny can be... She can... Sometimes she..." He took a deep breath through his nose to push out the rest of his words with conviction. "Yes, I trust her, anyway, Silja will be there."

Silja's tiny smile increased three or four degrees. She knew exactly what Joe was trying to achieve, even though he was making a dog's breakfast of the delivery.

But she completely understood that he and she were actually on the same wavelength. That in itself was surprising, so she interjected to help Joe who, to her, looked on the verge of floundering.

"Finny issa gooder kid. I woulds very be trusting her." Silja said so firmly that the authority in her voice arrested Kristen and Joe's attention immediately. Silja tapped her chest.

"I is seeings lots of Silja in her."

Silja went on because there was no reply from the two open mouths in front of her. She felt confident; she remembered being eight and surviving day to day only too well.

"Finny's beings a smelly orphan girly is don't making her a bad one." She slapped her forehead a few times. "She hases a strong mind.

She is saying what she is thinking and doesn't do the bullshitting. And she is being kind and good with her leetle friendies. It is easy to see, in fact."

Kirsten unfolded her arms. Joe listened to his unexpected ally.

Silja turned to Kirsten.

"I was going to be telling you all of theses stuffs because Annie sees it too as well she does.

And it is time Anneka meets other kiddlies so she isn't becoming all lah-de-dah flouncy nose-in-the air girly brat."

Kirsten's initial resistance was decreasing. Silja's trademark smirk appeared.

"I won't be letting Annie out of my sight not for one second, and anyway, the smelly orphan kiddlies think I am Ninja avenger lady. They won't dare be trying anythings I can tell you."

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