The Locket : A Finny Story (Part 5 of 10)
The Locket : A Finny Story (Part 5 of 10) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Finny, the climbing girl.

The Locket : A Finny Story (Part 5 of 10)

Finny found herself in an unlit backstreet.

All she had to do now, she thought, was get back to the orphanage while carrying a very conspicuous large sack that just screamed 'shenanigans afoot!' ...People, she could hide from.

But, with all the meat in the sack, it was dogs that could be a problem, especially the ones that were as big as she was.

Fortunately, dogs are stupid and also an old enemy that Finny knew how to deal with... It usually involved a lot of running and hiding.

Sometimes that didn't work, and climbing became involved, Finny learned to scale vertical walls with just her six-year-old finger tips.

On one occasion, when she was cornered by a large mutt too big to fend off with a kick, Finny was forced to resort to something she only partly believed could really work.

But, work it did, and Finny learned that ramming your finger up a dog's bum hole can, indeed, give you those vital seconds you need to escape.

It wasn't too long, then, before Finny found herself back on familiar streets with familiar short cuts and familiar hiding places where she could stop and catch her breath.

Finny didn't have a watch, had never had a watch, and couldn't tell the time anyway. At least not from some mechanical thing strapped to your wrist. But Finny knew the city and all its seasons.

She knew who would be where at any particular time. She knew what was going on and when it was due to end and all the other little clues that turned the whole city into one big timepiece.

So, she knew that the orphanage doors would, by now, be well and truly locked and that if she turned up late and knocked to be let in...

Well, she could say goodbye to her sack of goodies and probably wouldn't see the outside world again for a week at least.

But, getting in and out of the orphanage unseen and at any time she liked had stopped being a problem for the resourceful Finny two days after arriving.

However, squeezing the large sack through a cellar window she was only just still small enough to get through herself, had consequences for the quality of the contents of the said sack.

Getting it up through the wall cavity was no mean feat either, but eventually Finny was beside her bed and kneeling over her lockbox,

where she began quickly decanting the contents of Silja's sack into the lockbox's sadly sparse interior.

The only thing that seemed to have seriously suffered was the cheese, but it had been so big that even the remaining lumps would need to be sliced up.

Once the sack was empty, Finny sat back on her heels and looked over her spoils. The paper bag grabbed her curiosity so she lifted it out and unrolled the open end. It was candy.

But not the hard-boiled sweets given out as rewards at the factory,

or the broken homemade toffee that sometimes made rare appearances at the orphanage - but which locked your mouth shut if you tried to bite into it before you had sucked

the sticky mass soft enough. The candy in the bag was squidgy, pastel-coloured and cast in the delicate shapes of animals that would appeal to a three-year-old.

Finny felt her eyes start to water and quickly shut the bag and pushed it down into her lockbox. For her at three, any half-eaten apple core had been a treat.

A non-food related smell wafted up from the box. Finny lifted out the bar of soap, wondering why the weird nanny had included it. She sniffed it.

It was the same hard soap they used in the orphanage. Used for cleaning floors and kids alike, sometimes with the same scrubbing brush. Finny frowned and lifted her arm to sniff her armpit.

Did she smell? She couldn't smell anything. She slowly lowered her arm. ...but they had. She shrugged, pfft, maybe their noses were broke.

Inside, Resentment grew just a little and smirked.

Finny pushed the soap down into the box away from the food. Everything was worth something in the orphanage, even soap. She would trade that quickly so that it didn't contaminate the good stuff.

It was then that she caught her finger on something and jerked her hand back.


Her finger was bleeding. Sticking it firmly in her mouth, Finny leant down and looked for the offending splinter. Except it wasn't a splinter.

It was a protruding screw head, and Finny remembered about the false bottom she had discovered ages ago. And that reminded her about what she had hidden there.

Not long after arriving at the orphanage, after she had found her lowly place in the pecking order,

one of the much older inmates had been showing off something that Finny instantly wanted more than anything else in the world.

Whiskers was another one of Joe Spivey's 'eyes', which was unsurprising, but he was also doing the same for Fat Eric, Joe's 'business' rival.

The teenage wannabe gangster was playing a dangerous game.

Whiskers had got his name because he was sixteen and insisted on calling the patchy growths of sparse hair around his jawline a 'beard'. Not that Finny cared about that, or Joe, or Fat Eric.

Finny only cared about the gift Fat Eric had given him for some job or other.

Finny only cared about the roll of beautifully delicate lock picks that Whiskers had flaunted around the recreation room one day.

Not that Finny had a clue how to use them, but then nor did Whiskers. The difference was that Finny wanted to learn, but before she could do that, she had to own them.

The price she'd had to pay for the lockpicks had been high, disgustingly high, but that had only made her more determined than ever to learn how to use them.

She had a rough idea how it was done. Back in her time on the streets, Finny had seen locks being picked several times while acting as a look-out.

To her, this marvellous ability had seemed like a kind of magic. She wanted to be able to do that too.

It had taken her half a year, but after that, there was hardly a lock in the orphanage that Finny couldn't open.

There were some that she wouldn't, like other people's lockboxes - you could lose your fingers for doing that. But only one lock that she could never beat, and had nearly got caught trying.

That had been the safe in the orphanage's office, and it had been way beyond her skill.

In that same half-year, there also came a day when Whiskers never returned to the orphanage. The older kids looked at each other and shrugged.

It was automatically assumed that Whiskers had finally lost the game.

Finny unscrewed the false bottom and lifted the roll of lock picks out. She hadn't used them in ages.

Getting caught with them would mean being thrown out of the orphanage and maybe even handed over to the notorious New Flagstaff police.

But now Finny was looking at the picks in her hand and seeing Joe's Ditty Box. The lock on it was easy.

Then the image of the lock on Joe's office door materialised in her mind's eye - another easy pick.

Besides her tendency for fiery anger, Finny's ginger hair seemed to also have given her instant and sometimes ill-considered decision making.

Finny wasn't going to wait a week and risk losing her locket forever. She was getting it back tonight.

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