Finny's spirits, however, hadn't lifted all that much.
She was starting to suspect that, maybe, she was getting out of her depth and, most scarily of all, that she wasn't going to be able to protect them... even with a gun.
The journey to the buildings took longer than expected. City kids like them didn't really have experience in judging distances much beyond the corner of the next block.
Consequently, it was getting on for noon by the time the adventurers sauntered up to the hole in the railing-topped stone wall that surrounded the whatever it was.
And whatever it was, it was ominous looking. Finny and her friends were used to looking at buildings surrounded by yet more buildings with a backdrop of even more buildings.
These four or five large brick edifices loomed threateningly out of the wasteland with a definite air of 'stay the hell out'.
However, no matter how intimidated they were feeling, beyond the missing gates and sitting plumb in the middle of the yard,
was a tall wooden structure with what looked enticingly like a water tank on top.
What was surprising is that once they were in the comforting embrace of actual walls and felt the tarmac beneath their feet, all four of them instantly felt better.
Smiles appeared, tired muscles found new strength, and there was a spring in their step as they gathered around the outlet pipe.
When only dusty rust fell out of the pipe as the valve was turned, the disappointment was a palpable pang that added to the twinges of hunger growing in their bellies.
Finny caught the feeling immediately and acted to distract them.
"Oh well, there'll be plenty of water in Hope. C'mon, let's explore."
And they did and had fun doing it - running around the empty rooms of the buildings and wondering at all the strange equipment and broken dials.
But the only thing they found were decaying gas bottles, empty chemical drums and a wheel-less medical trolley with a few broken syringes. Nothing of any use at all.
Finny checked her watch for the umpteenth time to see that noon was long gone.
"I'm starving. Let's get going."
They finished the last of the water and Finny checked her map. Even though the place they were at wasn't shown, it was easy enough for her to work out from the sun which way they needed to head.
Onetooth stuck his hand in the air like they were in the schoolroom back at the factory.
"I need to wee."
Finny rolled her eyes in that exaggerated way those in charge tended to do.
"Be quick then."
Onetooth ran around the corner... Then reappeared almost immediately and running much faster.
Onetooth's terrified face froze them all where they stood. The appearance of the charging bear only a few metres behind their friend soon fixed that. All three turned to run.
But even as she was breaking into a sprint, Finny knew, remembered somehow, that bears ran faster than people,
certainly faster than a terrified seven-year-old and even faster than his only slightly older friends.
Finny stopped and spun around, hoping that the gun wouldn't snag on her knickers as she pulled it out.
The world became silent, Onetooth passed her and Finny's fear-heightened super sensitised skin felt the air move as he did so.
The bear was perhaps ten metres away. Its head down, eyes now switching targets from the one running to the one that wasn't.
The slight change in trajectory caused the beast to swerve so that its fur bounced in a new direction and its huge clawed paws gouged the broken tarmac, raising a small cloud of red dust.
Long strands of white saliva spiralled from the flapping lips of the bear's muzzle, at the same time revealing the enormous white teeth.
The long barrel of the revolver became level with the bear's colossal head just as Finny's two thumbs finished cocking the hammer. The only sound she heard was the double click that it made.
Then she pulled the trigger.
Sound came back into the world with a flash, and an explosion and Finny's stick-thin arms were flung up into the air.
A fraction of a second later her butt made hard contact with the ground and the air oophed out of her lungs.
He was an old bear. He knew the sound of guns and didn't like it. With a roar of, anger...? Hatred...? He reared up, never even hearing the bullet that passed a good two metres above his head.
Finny stared upwards in disbelief. Bears are that big? Apparently so and this one was now lurching towards her like it intended to pound her into the ground before eating her.
She didn't have time to re-cock the pistol and, ignoring the painful throbbing of her hands, pulled the trigger with all her might.
Fortunately, adrenalin was still coursing through her veins and gave her fingers the strength to work the stiff action. Onetooth's earlier advice shouted in her head.
'Shoot him in the body Finn!' Finny aimed into the lower half of the fur wall that was coming for her.
Another explosion and her arms were again flung high by the recoil. The bullet hit the bear under the chin, just where the lower jaw attached to the skull.
It tore through soft tissue and muscle and ploughed on through the condyloid mass and the thin bone of the base of the skull.
Only slightly deflected by the curve of the top of the skull, the .45 calibre slug exited through the top of the bear's head in a spray of blood and brains.
Momentum carried the bear forward, and Finny had to roll to one side as its carcass crashed down exactly where she had been sitting.
The roll to avoid being crushed didn't, however, save her from the spray of ejected and still ejecting matter from the dead bear.
Finny scrambled backwards and onto to her feet with the gun pointing all the while at the bear in case it suddenly sprang up again.
She backed away two or three metres before recognition of a world that was more than just her, and the bear began to return.
She stopped, and her heart began to slow as normal sound came back and she could feel the throbbing stinging in her hands.
Then the boys were there. Onetooth and Worms. Touching her, clapping her on the back, congratulation her...
Finny threw up.
She dropped to her knees, the gun carelessly dumped on the ground so that she could lean forward and support herself on her hands.
Finny continued to vomit until all that was left was painful dry retching. Onetooth and Worms looked at each other. Worms shrugged. They didn't get it.
Finally, Finny climbed to her feet and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, leaving a bloody smear across her face.
She looked at her hand, seeing the blood and brain matter for the first time and retched again.
"You okay Finn?"
Finny took a deep breath and nodded.
"Yeah. Just... You know."
Onetooth didn't know but wanted to comfort Finny.
"Uhuh. You gonna be alright?"
A new voice joined the conversation.
"Of course she is."
Finny, Onetooth and Worms spun around. A man was standing about five metres away. Tall, skinny, bald and wearing dirty, patched clothing. Jeans, T-shirt, boots, all in shades of black.
Crossed bullet belts hung from his shoulders, mainly empty of bullets.
The first striking thing about him, though, were the tattoos that covered his bare arms, his face and even climbed up past his ears towards his shaved head.
The second striking thing was the big semi-automatic pistol he was pointing in their general direction. He walked towards them slowly.
"First time you kill something when it's either you or him." He waved the gun at the bear corpse. "Or old bruin there. First time always gets ya like that."
The three orphans started to back away from the approaching man. Finny's foot touched the gun. She glanced at the man, locking eyes.
The casually held pistol was suddenly not casually held at all and pointing right at her.
"Oh, no little girl. That would be a very bad idea you're having there." The man nodded towards something behind the little group.
Finny continued to stare at him, hoping for the gun to waiver so she could...
The shout was urgent, but Finny wasn't sure whether it came from the throat of Casper or Worms. Not that it mattered.
Her head turned automatically at the distress it held and she saw what the man had nodded towards and what had caused the high-pitched warning.
Another black-clad figure, this one a woman with two short stripes of green hair on either side of her own otherwise bald head. But she sported just as many tattoos as the man.
The woman was emerging from around the corner of one of the buildings. She had Casper held tight to her body with her left arm while the right held a long, broad-bladed knife to his throat.
Casper looked terrified. The blood drained from Finny's face. She turned back to the man who was now only a couple of metres away from her, smiling a rotten toothed smile.
"Now why don't you be a little sweetheart and just kick that cannon of yours over to me? Gently now."
Finny felt Onetooth and Worms huddle around her. For what? Finny thought. Protection? The word mocked her.
Desperately fighting back the tears that threatened to come any moment, Finny did the only thing left she could do to protect them all from immediate and bloody death.
Just as instructed, she gently kicked the pistol away from her and towards the leering tattooed man.
The man bent down, picked the revolver up and stuck it into his belt.
"Okay, Sadie. Bring those ropes over here."