The Locket : A Finny Story (Part 2 of 10)
The Locket : A Finny Story (Part 2 of 10) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Finny's journey from Aunty Onetit to the New Flagstaff orphanage.

The Locket : A Finny Story (Part 2 of 10)

She climbed up onto the ledge of the office building that backed onto the side of the town's main square.

Below was where most of the daily activity took place, around the vaults and the auction block.

As far as she was aware she was the youngest and smallest of the street kids to be able to manage the five-metre climb,

something that gave her all-important kudos amongst her peers and earned her the title of 'the climbing girl'.

At a point directly above the vaults, Finny squatted down, wrapped her arms around her legs and planted her chin on her knees.

Aunty Onetit had given her the locket when she was four.

"Here, this was your Mom's. It used to have a chain, but I had to sell it for that potato you're eating." Aunty Onetit belched beery fumes into her face. "Now you look after it.

Hide it and don't show it to people or they'll take it off you." Aunty Onetit then went on to explain the difference between good hiding places and bad ones.

To date, Finny had yet to resort to the hiding place that involved a lot of spit.

But Finny did as she was told. She hid the locket well, kept moving it from hidey-hole to hidey-hole and only ever took it out when she was sure nobody could see.

Inside the tarnished and dented silver locket was a picture of the woman Aunty Onetit told her was her mom.

Behind a piece of scratched plastic on the underside of the lid was a lock of her mom's bright blue hair. According to Aunty Onetit, her mom had been eaten by a bear.

Becoming bear food was not too uncommon in the grassy wild lands outside the few remaining refuges of human habitation but the then 4-year-old Finny just knew in her heart that her mom

had fought that bear all the way down into its tummy.

Aunty Onetit had looked after her since Finny could remember. Until Aunty Onetit never came back one day.

Then hunger forced her and the half dozen or so other kids out of the falling-down crib they had lived in, and into the wider world of the streets of New Flagstaff.

One by one, the other kids 'went away' until, at age five, Finny was fending for herself and honing her wits and muscles by fighting stray dogs for scraps.

That all changed when Crunchy found her and Finny was introduced to gang life.

Not that being in a gang was any significant improvement, but at least she got to eat almost every day and, of course, there was safety in numbers. As a gang member, too, you learned stuff.

You learned who was who. Who was safe and who wasn't. Who would rip you off and who would rip you off worser.

You learned how to keep watch for the burglars and muggers as those individuals went about their trade.

Two little kids singing a skipping song while they twirled rope outside of a house or shop didn't attract attention.

And if the song suddenly changed mid-verse, who was to say if they were tipping off the burglars or not? They were just kids.

Finny and her cohorts did other jobs too. Like delivering packages and posting leaflets. Crunchy was one of Joe Spivey's 'eyes' and never out of work, which was good for the whole gang.

Joe Spivey, though, was on the 'definitely not safe list'. At least according to Crunchy. Also, according to Crunchy, Joe was known to '...

tie kids up in a sack and drown 'em, and then feed their bodies to the giant hermit crabs.' Stories like this intrigued Finny, despite them giving her and the other little kids nightmares.

But it wasn't until she was seven that her curiosity led to her first meeting with the man himself.

As she learned more and more about what Crunchy and the other 'eyes' did to earn their chips, Finny's curiosity in their seldom-seen boss grew.

She started watching Spivey, sometimes even following him,

and that led to the fateful day when she was grabbed by two bigger boys and dragged off with a grubby rag stifling whatever she had to say about it.

Finny had found herself in a dark, wee-smelling shipping container with two young teenage boys she didn't know but who held her arms tight enough to hurt.

Crunchy always, always stressed the golden rule. 'Never be by yourself.

' But she couldn't very well do secret stuff like watching Spivey with someone else could she? Her regret, however, was curtailed by the arrival of another one of Joe's 'eye's...

with Joe Spivey himself close behind.

"This better be bleedin' good. I was halfway through..." Then Joe had stopped when he caught sight of her. "What the fu..."

"We caught her, Joe. She's been follerin' you around. Watchin', you like."

As Joe came closer, Finny's head slowly tilted further and further back. Then he was standing right over her, looking down. The boy on Finny's right smirked.

"Shall I get a sack?"

Finny almost wet herself then.

Joe turned to the boy. The notorious gangster had a look on his face that Finny might have recognised if she had ever gone to school and ever had a teacher who was close to retirement.

The look of tired resignation.

"What? Sack? Nooo, don't be such a... let go of her, both of you. She's scared to death already."

Finny's arms were released, and she crossed her arms to rub at the vivid red marks where their fingers had squeezed.

She gritted her teeth and stared unblinkingly up into the stubbly face of the kid-drowner, defiantly daring tears to come.

Joe had squatted down in front of her then.

"Have you been following me?"

Finny nodded slowly. No point in lying about it.

"Why?"

Shrug.

"You're too young to shrug like that. How old are you?"

"Seven."

"Seven." Joe had looked away and muttered "Jesus Christ" under his breath before turning back to look the little girl squarely in her eyes.

"Look, kid. I'm going to let you go okay."

Finny almost let a sob of relief escape then but managed to hold it in. Instead, she just started to shake. Then Joe had said something else.

"Before I do though I'm going to ask you a question. Now, you can lie if you want or you can tell me the truth, and I'll still let you go.

But I want you to understand that IF you do lie to me, then I WILL find out. And that won't be good for you. Okay?"

Finny nodded again and Joe smiled at her.

"Okay then. Now, did someone ask you to follow me?"

Finny shook her head and even managed a squeaky; "No!"

Joe searched the little girl's face for long seconds. Then he stood up.

"Okay, good. Just stop following me... Now beat it."

Finny had run all the way back to the safety of the gang.

Possibly coincidentally, the following day a Union sweep had raided the gang's crib, and just their crib as it turned out, but Finny wasn't to know that. The bigger kids had gotten away.

But, for Finny and a couple of others, that day was to be their introduction to a new life in the New Flagstaff city orphanage.

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