The Secret Adventurers Club (part 2 of 5)
The Secret Adventurers Club (part 2 of 5) postapocalyptic stories

ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Finny takes charge, of course.

The Secret Adventurers Club (part 2 of 5)

Finny was next, of course. Then Worms and then, after an ineffectively hidden nervous glance down the alley, Casper came up the rear, as usual.

The first things Onetooth noticed were the unmistakeable bullet holes in both the walls and the half-open door.

The first thing Finny noticed, with a widening grin, was the open safe.

The first thing Casper looked for was the way out and all the possible places they could get themselves trapped.

But the second thing everyone couldn't help but see was where Worms was proudly standing and grinning at them.

On the floor, just outside the doorway and chalked onto the floor, was the crude outline of a human figure. Oh, and the bloodstain. They all noticed the bloodstain.

Once he knew that he had everyone's attention, Worms dropped to the floor and assumed the shape of the outline while doing his best impression of a long, drawn-out death rattle.

He got the expected laugh from his friends, but Finny wasn't getting the humour. Something tiny at the back of her mind was telling her what Worms was doing wasn't, she struggled for the word.

Good? Right? Respectful? Then she found it. Normal, this wasn't normal.

The laughter died on her lips even though the others unashamedly continued as all three of them watched Worms squirming and twitching on the dried-up blood of the dead person.

Finny had formed a vague idea about what to do about her friend's odd behaviour after that very unsettling dream she had had at Kidsmass.

Now she decided that it was high time she did something about it.

For now, though, time to put an end to Worms' fun before he collected enough dirt and dried blood to warrant an enforced scrubbing from the staff when they got back.

"Awright. C'mon," she said hauling Worms to his feet. "Let's see what we can find before someone else takes it all."

They immediately set about turning over the office. Opening drawers and even looking behind pictures in the hope of finding another safe. Which reminded Finny of the open safe she had spotted.

The embossed plate on the front of the door read: 'Wilson Safe Company Est 1905'.

That didn't mean much to Finny, although she regularly searched the bookshop and even New Flagstaff's book repository for books on safes and safe cracking.

She could tell, however, that this safe hadn't been forced open. She looked inside. There were no shelves in the small safe and the bottom was, like the floor outside, covered in plaster dust.

That, she deduced, meant the safe must have been opened before all the smashing up was done.

Finny drew a face on the dusty metal floor. She added braids and then put her name under it.

When she went to underline her autograph, she detected a slight movement and her breath caught in her throat.

Either she had just activated a booby trap, or the safe had a false bottom, maybe even both.

"Guy's?" She tried to keep a smile in her voice. The three boys responded to their leader's voice and stopped what they were doing. Finny turned her head, making the smile reach her face. "Hey.

I think this office has been done. Maybe there's some booze left in the bar." The boys' eyes lit up. Alcohol was a major trading find.

It would be fair to say that what followed Finny's words was a race to get from the office to the bar. Finny didn't care who won; she was just glad they had gone.

She took a breath and then slowly shifted to the side while keeping her finger pressed firmly down on the floor of the safe.

Only when the eight-year-old was as sure as she could be that she had shielded as much of her body from any blast as possible did Finny close her eyes and snatch her hand away.

Nothing happened. No booby trap then. But that only left the possibility of a false bottom. Finny lost no time investigating because the boys might come back to see why she hadn't come.

Still being cautious, she examined the base plate. Sure enough, the bottom of the safe was a loose sheet of painted aluminium about half a centimetre thick.

Finny carefully pivoted it upwards, then frowned in disappointment as doing so revealed no hoped-for space underneath.

She was just about to let it drop back when she thought to look at the bottom of the plate itself. Sure enough, something round and shiny was recessed into the bottom side of the aluminium.

She prised it free so that it fell into her hand and then she let the false bottom fall back.

She looked at the thing in her hand. It was like an oversized poker chip but made of metal and only had markings on one side.

Not trusting the others not to suddenly return, Finny thrust the thing into her pocket and went to find them.

What hit Finny as she stepped through the door from the ruined office into the equally ruined main room of the bar was the overpowering stink of alcohol.

Its unpleasant smell made her want to gag, and Finny immediately wondered if you could get drunk just from the smell.

Casper, Onetooth and Worms were busy behind the bar. Searching, or rather kicking, through the mass of broken bottles and glasses that crunched beneath their feet.

The look on their faces suggested they were not hopeful of finding anything useful. That being the case, Finny decided not to join them.

Instead, she looked around the bar itself for any clue to hidden loot.

It didn't look promising, at least not in the main saloon area. All the tables and chairs had been broken.

So too had the pictures on the walls, but they were all of naked ladies or cows or, oddly, both together so Finny wasn't overly upset about the damage to them.

Wall lamps, ceiling fans, even the gold-painted plaster stuff had all been smashed up. Well, except for the things that people had already taken.

Finny noticed a lot of clean patches of wallpaper where stuff had been unscrewed.

She looked further afield. A balcony ran all around three walls of the big oblong room. The fourth wall was a stage, now littered with broken stage lamps and thick black wires.

Finny got the feeling that the people who had done all this had been real mad about something. Even the poor old balcony rail had been broken in lots of places.

But just now she was more concerned with all the doors that led off of the balcony.

She figured these would be bedrooms for guests, but she wondered how anyone would have got any sleep because of the noise from the bar.

Anyway, hopefully, there would be suitcases and stuff in the rooms.

Back downstairs in the main room, two doors looked to Finny like inviting possibilities for loot. The kitchen, of course, because food was always tradable.

And then there was that other door with all the fancy plastery stuff around it and the sign that said 'Lucy's Special Place - Invitation Only' and a lady's face painted above it winking at you.

To Finny's way of thinking, if it was 'special' and if you needed an 'invitation' then there had to be good stuff in there. She whistled, and the boys came scampering over.

She waited, hands-on-hips.

"Right. I don't think there's nothin' worth much in here. I bet the grown-ups took all the booze an' stuff first thing they did.

" She allowed them a moment of disappointment before giving them the good news. "But... There's lots of bedrooms upstairs.

" Three pairs of eyes looked up and took in the balcony as if seeing it for the first time. "An' there's a kitchen." That got immediate approval, as she knew it would.

Then she pointed to the other doorway. "An' then there's a special room or something over there."

The boys whispered together. Casper and Onetooth were wanting to go upstairs first, and Worms immediately opted for the mysterious special place. Finny, however, made the choice for them.

"We got to stick together, no wandering off. So, we're doing the kitchen first. Foller me." Finny set off towards the double doors to the kitchen, knowing that the others would follow.

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