Rats : A Finny Story (Part 10 of 10)
Rats : A Finny Story (Part 10 of 10) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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The wanderers return... and bring some friends.

Rats : A Finny Story (Part 10 of 10)

A lot of people would have been suspicious of a short, balding, middle-aged man, wearing a long dirty coat, watching an orphanage through binoculars.

Not many of them, however, would have said so to Joe's face, at least not unless they wanted a new line in Zeiss dental wear.

Joe was like a puppy, at last seeing its master turn the corner onto its street, when he finally saw Silja and Anneka emerge from the front door.

He zoomed in on his daughter, looking for bruises, Band-Aids, tears or even missing body parts as the pair walked back down the street heading for home.

Instead, Anneka was happily skipping along, hand in hand with her nanny and engaged in excited, animated conversation.

Ten minutes later, a bewildered Taiyoko suddenly found himself left in charge of the factory,

and Joe arrived home just as Anneka was sitting on Kirsten's lap with milk and cookies and telling tales of secret dollies and scratchy toilet paper. Of 'Mostly Horse' and 'Dead Fly Pie'.

Of huge scary rats with hands, that live under the floor and sneak into your bed at night...

On hearing this one, Joe got 'The Look'. This time the look meant 'if she has nightmares about rats, you will be the one getting up to deal with it.

' Joe accepted the look and the implication with a smile and a nod.

Across the room, Silja hid her own relieved smile at escaping that fairly regular duty, by turning her head to scratch behind her ear.

Meanwhile, Anneka was still mixing words with her milk and cookies, having to halt her story every few moments while Kirsten wiped away each new milk moustache.

Now she was telling about how Silja had beat up a big boy for being mean to Finny.

As the details unfolded both Joe and Kirsten looked slightly alarmed until Silja filled them in on the details and corrected Anneka's imaginative exaggeration of the incident.

Anneka waited with the annoyed frustration of an interrupted child,

taking the opportunity both to hide a biscuit in the bib pocket of her dungarees and do something about the annoying itch in her armpit.

Kirsten was distracted from Silja's explanation by Anneka's fidgeting.

"Annie? Sit still. What's the matter...?"

The question went unfinished as Kirsten's sharp eyesight caught the slight movement on Anneka's bare leg.

A little black dot that moved and then disappeared only to reappear a moment later on her own forearm.

"Oh, what?!"

She stood up abruptly, knocking the plate with its remaining cookies off Annie's lap and onto the floor.

Silja immediately leapt for the fallen plate, while at the same time scratching under the white cotton wrap that, barely, covered her breasts.

Kirsten noticed immediately and at the same time felt an itchy crawling sensation at the base of her own neck.

"Oh no! Joe, for..."

With Anneka now being held at arm's length and with a look of surprise on the little girl's face at her mother's sudden strange actions, Kirsten headed for the living room door.

Joe stared.

"What? What's the matter?"

"Fleas, Joe! Thanks to your bright idea Anneka has come home with fleas!" She glared at Silja. "And it looks like she isn't the only one."

All three of the women in Joe's house headed noisily for the bathroom.

Silja was catching it now for her part in persuading Kirsten to let Anneka get near enough to 'godamn rats' to catch their fleas.

Joe listened until the bathroom door closed behind them, then he sank back into his chair. Fleas, the great social leveller. A slow smile spread across his face. Bleedin' perfect, he thought.

"Orlitid faetur a hofdi." Silja said slowly and let Anneka repeat back.

Silja had Anni sitting on the small chair and was making a game of tracking down the last of the fleas on the little one's body in much the same way as her mother had done with

her decades ago in that 'other' world.

Silja listened. Kirsten had finished her shower and, satisfied she was clear of any infestation had dressed and gone back downstairs and now was berating Joe about his stupid idea.

Silja smiled to herself, Kirsten was doing most of the berating, from what Silja could hear Joe was mostly soaking up the flak only occasionally putting up his defences.

Kirsten was house proud to the last degree. Naturally, she only wanted the best for Anneka, what mother would not. Kirsten was also in a position to make sure Anneka got all she would ever need.

Kirsten was the queen of her castle; it was her household; everything was to the best available standard and had to be 'just so'.

In moments when Anneka was napping and there was time for coffee in the kitchen with Kirsten, Silja had learned that, unlike herself,

Kirsten had absolutely no recollection of life before cloning.

Kirsten had freely admitted that up until the day she met Joe she was a committed 'gold digger' and Joe was supposed to be just another 'sugar daddy'.

But that was before Cupid pulled off some minor miracle and the unlikely couple became forged together with the strongest bonds of love, which were then padlocked by the arrival of baby Anneka.

Silja smiled as she picked off the last creepy crawly. She understood Kirsten, 'La Grande Matriarch'.

But she understood Joe more, and where Anneka was concerned, she and Joe were both of a like mind. Life could be tough. Life could be seedy. Life had nasty surprises awaiting the unwary.

One had to be prepared for life outside in all its cruel and beautiful manifestations.

Whatever life had formed Joe, Silja had no idea and she would never ask him, and Joe would never tell, for that matter. But she recognised the similarities.

Silja had lived with lice, filth and hunger. Shouting guards and their batons. The camp and all its degradations. Unlike Kirsten, Silja remembered everything of 'the life before'.


Silja playfully ruffled Anneka's short hair. Despite the unceremonious de-lousing, Anneka had had a wonderful day, made many new friends and now was completely worn out.

Silja put Anneka into pyjama's and into her soft warm bed. Silja kissed her brow.

"Goda nott."

The teenage nanny dispensed with her usual coffee and sandwich before bed. Downstairs, Joe was still enduring the tail end of 'Hurricane Kirsten'.

Silja closed her bedroom door behind her and leaned on it, smiling. It had been a good day.

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