Shot In The Dark : (Part 12 of 18)
Shot In The Dark : (Part 12 of 18) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Finny and Bill.

Shot In The Dark : (Part 12 of 18)

Darkness changes the way people see the world. Familiar places become foreign and hard to find. Unless that is, you grew up with night as your friend.

Both Finny and Joe were on excellent terms with the night so Finny had no problem knowing where it was Joe took her next.

Behind the buildings on her right was the square and the pond, a little further back was the LifeNet place where clones came and went and did whatever it was clones did down there.

A figure emerged from the shadow of the nearest wall. It was Bill. Joe reached across Finny and opened her door.

"Go with Bill. He'll get you onto the roof of the Ranyhyn Building, you know what to do from there." Joe saw the hesitation on Finny's face as she stared at the man he wanted her to go with.

Joe touched her shoulder. "Don't be scared Finny. He's a bit of a ba... Er, bear but he won't hurt you."

"Aren't you coming?"

"I've got to go and get ready for when you come back. Don't worry, I'll be waiting for you."

Outside, Bill was starting to get agitated and was gesturing for Finny to get a move on. Finny slid out of the car, and the pair of them disappeared back into the shadows.

Joe pulled the door closed and drove off.

Finny realised that Bill was not alone. Two other men were with him. Finny stood with them in a well of darkness next to a door.

The buildings along this side of the square were not in the best state of repair, and the top levels of the one they were next too had suffered severe damage long in the past.

Now the buildings were used as temporary warehouses for goods bought and sold at auction.

Bill picked up a huge canvas holdall then gripped Finny by the shoulder and pushed her towards the door.

"Open it... be quiet about it, there's a watchman inside."

Finny pulled free of the man's fingers and knelt down. The three men huddled around her, watching her every move. Finny could smell the nervousness on them, that and the beer.

The lock proved to be simple. With a final click, the door opened a fraction, and Finny turned to Bill with a smile and ready to be congratulated, or at least thanked.

But Bill and the other two just pushed past her. There were sounds of a scuffle, a couple of meaty thwacks and then the sound of a body hitting the ground.

By the time Finny had rolled up her tools, it was all over, and all she saw was a pair of legs sticking out from behind a small counter.

The three burglars held a hurried, whispered conversation before splitting up. The two other men vanished into the depths of the storage area.

Bill took Finny by the upper arm and pulled her after him towards the stairs.

Joe drove through the streets until he was sure the union guards outside Hanne's place hadn't got suspicious and got a patrol car involved.

Then he drove to Beau's and picked up an unassuming young man called Ike who had been waiting for over an hour. Like a lot of people in New Flagstaff, Ike owed Joe.

Bill and Finny emerged from the stairwell onto a floor of the building that was pretty much open to the stars on all four sides.

Snapped off concrete pylons, showing their bare sinews of rusting rebar intimated that the floors above this one were considerably less stable than the one they were on now.

Bill pulled Finny over to the edge of the building and for a moment, she wondered if the man was going to just throw her across the ten-metre gap to the Ranyhyn Building.

As they were on the third storey, Finny really hoped not.

But Bill didn't. He just stood on the edge for a few moments looking intently, first at the building opposite and then at the floor where they stood.

Having come to some kind of a decision, he let go of Finny's arm.

"Don't wander."

Finny rubbed her arm. She watched as Bill set down the big holdall and pulled from it what seemed to Finny like a disproportionate amount of rope for the size of the bag. And not only rope.

There was a small three hooked grapple which had its shaft and tines tightly wrapped in tarred cordage.

Then there was a thing made of little wheels all held together with more rope that Finny didn't understand and finally a harness, which Bill thrust in her direction.

"Put this on."

This was more like the plan Joe had drilled into her for most of the afternoon while she lounged on Joe's chesterfield wearing Silja's PJs.

Bill was going to somehow string a rope between the two buildings which Finny would use to cross the gap onto the roof of the Ranyhyn Building.

Obviously, the harness was to be part of this arrangement.

While Finny worked out what went where with regard to the harness, she half-watched as Bill went about his business.

First of all, he wound a length of rope round and round one of the stumps of concrete.

Then he spent a lot of time making sure there were no kinks or twists in the complicated arrangement of ropes and little wheels.

As she observed the big man going about the delicate work,

Finny let her thoughts do their own thing in an attempt to distract her from the knowledge that she would soon be dangling in splatting distance of the hard ground below.

Something had been niggling at her ever since she and Joe first went to The Borough. Finally, she plucked up the courage to distract Bill from what he was doing.

"Mister Bill?"

Bill didn't even look up, but the grunt that reached Finny was taken as some kind of acknowledgement, so Finny went on.

"Have you got a dog?"

This time Bill did stop and his bullet-shaped head slowly tilted up to face where Finny sat on a small pile of rubble.

"I do. Why?"

Finny ignored the question.

"Is... Is he called... 'Bullseye'?"

Bill stood up quickly and crossed the intervening gap in four long strides to stand glowering over Finny.

By his sides, his thick fingers clenched and unclenched as if unsure if they wanted to be fists or not.

Finny remembered Nancy's words and wondered if she was about to die, sitting on a pile of bricks in an itchy suit that didn't fit right. She squeezed her eyes shut and waited.

When nothing happened, she squinted her eyes open enough to see Bill fishing something out of his back pocket.

Sure it was going to be a knife Finny was on the verge of finding out what the absorbency level of 'non-Newtonian gel' was when Bill's hand reappeared holding a thick wallet.

He thumbed through its contents for a few moments and then held out something for Finny to see.

It was a photograph of a very proud looking Bill holding on his lap a small Yorkshire terrier with a little pink bow on its head.

"She's called 'Tulip'."

Finny looked at the picture.

"Ohhhhhhh. Awwwwww she's cute!

Bill put the picture away. He was still scowling.

"Everybody asks me about my dog. I don't get it."

Feeling uncomfortable, Finny tried to explain.

"Umm, well, you see... There's this book..."

Finny told Bill about the novel 'Oliver Twist' and how there was this character in it called Bill Sykes who had this dog called Bullseye.

Heeding the warning from Nancy, she didn't go into too many details.

Bill's scowl disappeared. He still didn't look happy about being compared to a character in a book, but at least now he knew why people kept asking about this 'Bullseye' dog.

He went back to work on the pulley system and Finny was left to finish adjusting her harness.

Once happy with the tackle, Bill tied one end securely to the rope he had wound around the broken pylon. Then he turned his attention to the long line with the grapple on one end.

Very carefully, he arranged the rope into two coils. A coil of maybe half a dozen small loops with the grapple attached and a coil of bigger loops for the remained of the rope.

Then he called Finny over to him.

Finny stood in front of Bill with her arms up while he checked her harness. He pulled several straps uncomfortably tight before grunting his satisfaction.

"Ok, kid. Stand back."

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