The Secret Adventurers Club Second Adventure (part 12 of 12)
The Secret Adventurers Club Second Adventure (part 12 of 12) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Consequences

The Secret Adventurers Club Second Adventure (part 12 of 12)

The previous evening, after Dr Troy had turned up at the orphanage with the missing inmates,

Maisy had put down in the log how Dr Troy had taken the children for a picnic and simply forgotten the time. It was useful to have someone like Dr Troy owing you a favour.

So much for the official story. By mid-morning the following day, however, everyone in the orphanage, including the staff, knew a version of the truth.

By the time Finny, Casper, Onetooth and Worms arrived for their shift in the factory at noon, the whole factory floor was buzzing with their exploits.

After getting changed into the felt suits required for working with large quantities of open explosives,

the four of them went to their work stations on the production line where they would work for two hours before spending the rest of the afternoon in the classroom.

Under the rather lenient supervision of Taiyoko, that day's overseer, the other young employees listened eagerly as Casper,

Onetooth and Worms recounted and even began to embellish the various events of the previous day. Finny, though, was less forthcoming when encouraged by those in her own work-bay.

She was still trying to come to terms with the fact that everyone had so nearly died, or much, much worse. And that it was all her fault. She glanced up at the closed door to Joe's office.

And then there was that other thing too.

Finny stewed for a full hour before the office door opened and Joe came out to spread his hands along the balcony rail and look down at his workforce busily engaged in increasing his fortune.

The chatter ended abruptly at his appearance, and you could almost see the production rate go up. Finny, though, could feel Joe's stare boring into the back of her head.

Even though she was expecting it, when it came, her heart leapt into her mouth.

"Finny. Office. Now."

Finny finished crimping the bullet currently in the machine and dropped the finished round into the waiting plastic bowl. She wiped her hands clean down the front of her smock.

She looked up and saw that Joe had disappeared back inside the office, leaving the door open.

Finny walked slowly out of the bay and made her way along the length of the factory floor to the wooden stairs that led up to the open balcony.

As she climbed the whispers began as Onetooth and Worms revealed the awful secret of where it was that Finny had gotten hold of the gun that she had used to kill the bear.

Casper just stood and sadly watched Finny make her lonely way along the balcony to the open door.

Finny reached the office. Joe was sitting at the big round table the reading group used as a school desk.

"Come in Finn. Shut the door." Joe nodded to the vacant seat next to him. "Sit."

When the door closed the whispering of the workers reached new levels and bullet making was forgotten as Onetooth and Worms were pumped for "when?" And "why?" And "how?

" Taiyoko had to get quite insistent, for him, in getting the kids back to work.

Finny, heart still beating wildly, sank onto the seat. Joe watched her for several seconds but Finny never once made eye contact with him.

He relented, hoping that her tearful confession to Tukiko the night before would forestall any sudden urge she might have for a hug. Joe wasn't comfortable with hugs.

"So. Your little expedition didn't go quite as planned, eh?"

Finny found something on the stained tabletop that needed her attention. She picked at it with a finger and shook her head.

"No."

"You do realise how incredibly lucky you were that Dr Troy was there, don't you?"

Finny's voice dropped to a whisper.

"Yes."

She still refused to look up at Joe. He waited, but the top of Finny's head was apparently all he was going to see. He tried again.

"I suppose I should give you a long lecture about not biting off more than you can chew and how bloody stupid you were. But I think you've figured all that out for yourself, haven't you?"

No words this time, just a single nod.

"Just answer me this then. Why Finny? Why did you set out to go to a bleedin' Devil's Own camp of all places?" Joe was pretty sure he knew the answer, but he wanted to hear it.

This time Finny did look up at him.

"My dad. I know my mom died, Aunty Onetit told me. But she din't say nothing about my dad. So..." A shrug filled in for the rest of the explanation.

So, Joe had it. Finny had used her intelligence and figured out that her father might still be alive... And, being Finny, she had gone to try and find out. Ten out of ten for balls, he thought.

Bugger all for execution though.

"Well, I hope you think it was worth it."

Another shrug.

Joe let it lay.

"Okay, that's your business, I suppose." He paused, reluctant to go where he knew he now had to go. "We just need to sort out the matter of the pistol you took from my drawer."

Finny's face lost all colour. From the moment she had picked the lock and taken the big revolver, she always knew this moment was coming. Joe's face was set.

"Nobody steals from me, Finn. There have to be consequences; otherwise, people get it into their heads they can take liberties." Joe stood up. "Go and open the door.

Everyone has to hear this so they understand that."

Finny felt the world around her take on a different hue, like she was separate from reality. She stood up, went to the door and opened it wide.

When she turned back, Joe was standing by his desk, looking stern. The cane that usually hung undisturbed from a brass hook on the side of the desk was now in his hand.

When it was over, Taiyoko, Casper, everyone, in fact, stood and watched Finny make the slow and painful journey from the office to the changing rooms.

As she passed him, shaking and staring fixedly ahead, Taiyoko beckoned two of the older girls.

"Look after her."

Taiyoko looked up as a movement caught his eye, and he was just in time to see Joe's door gently click shut.

Epilogue

It was a week later and what had happened had faded into eight stripes of yellowish, blackish, still-sore-if-poked bruises.

Finny and friends were sitting at a table in the hot dining hall enjoying the unsweetened tea and the, usually, cheese sandwich, mid-afternoon snack that was four ock-lockers.

About twice a week four ock-lockers would also include a 'something else'.

The 'something else' today, to go with the sandwich and the brew, was a single cupcake embedded with a few sultanas and sprinkled with sugar.

The general consensus of opinion around the unusually full hall was that the cupcake was three bites of very nice.

It had certainly added to Finny's already sunny disposition that day.

It was with a happy smile then, upon seeing a little boy whose name she vaguely remembered, and who was about to amble past their table with his as yet untouched four ock-lockers,

that Finny beamed a happy smile at him.

"Mmmmm. Those cakes are really nice."

In return, Finny had expected what she normally got. Something along the lines of 'Hey Finn. Yeah, can't wait.' And accompanied with a reciprocating grin.

What she got in reply was something else.

Archie, for that was his name, stumbled to a wide-eyed stop at the end of the table. With a trembling hand, he quickly put his cupcake down in front of Finny.

"Sh...sure Finn." Then he scooted off to join his three little friends a few tables away.

This left Finny staring open-mouthed at Archie's cupcake and wondering what had just happened.

When she looked up, her composure was further tilted by the demeanour of Onetooth, Worms and especially Casper. They had gone quiet and passed each other uncomfortable little glances.

Normally very quick on the uptake, it took Finny several seconds to fit herself into the terrible scenario that fit all the facts of what had just happened.

'That's a nice doll you've got there, kid.' 'Hey! Look at her new shoes.' 'Hey kid, you're gonna love this mud we've all just pissed in.'

Finny angrily banged the table with both hands and pushed herself to her feet.

"No way!"

Heads were turning her way. Nearby chatter suddenly ended.

Finny snatched up the cupcake and stomped towards the table where Archie and his friends, none of them older than five, were one by one realising that red-haired fury was heading their way.

Way over by the door and behind the serving table adult heads, sensing the delicate disturbance in the noise levels, tuned their trouble detecting radar in Finny's direction.

Finny reached Archie's table and plonked the cupcake down.

"That's not what I meant!"

There was a pause of a couple of seconds during which Finny's stomach churned as she registered the actual real fear on the four faces.

Then, in the blink of an eye, three more cupcakes - one of them half-eaten - appeared next to the first.

Finny stared from the faces to the cakes and then the horror mounted when she heard the whispering start behind her.

Her head spun around and the whispering stopped. It was then Finny noticed the growing suspicion on the adult faces as they made their way slowly closer.

Just a week earlier Finny would have been one of the whisperers. She would have been one of those trying to get a better view as authority closed in on the trouble maker...

The bully making some other kid's existence a misery.

It was all a mistake! She was Finny. Mistake or not, Finny slunk back to her table. She sat down and tried to finish her suddenly tasteless sandwich.

She knew what would happen now without looking around. The adult would question the 'victims.' The victims, though, would say nothing, because that's what victims did.

The incident would be put down in the log and Finny and her friends would find a closer eye being kept on them.

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