There was no way Finny was going to make it to the mound of debris.
She was already bloody, and her breath burned in her throat as her lungs and heart worked overtime to supply her body with the energy it needed to reach safety.
Like Casper, Onetooth and Worms behind her, Finny knew she was going to die, torn apart by bullets coming from the hidden shooters who had ambushed them.
All she could do, she hoped, was to die well.
Two bullets hit Finny simultaneously in the stomach, stopping her forward movement dead.
She swayed for a moment staring down in curious surprise at the glistening redness leaking between her clutching fingers. Another bullet took her in the back and Finny fell to her knees.
As the life flowed out of her and cold blackness began to darken her vision,
Finny managed to reach out with one bloody hand towards the simple pile of rubble and sun-bleached wood that would have saved all their lives.
Then she fell forward into the dust, as dead as the barren wasteland that had been her home.
"S'not fair!" Onetooth shouted, climbing to his feet. "We woulda seen yous from the top of the boiler. You cheated!"
"Did not!" Said the indignant ten-year-old jumping up from where he had been crouched behind a piece of what had once been a billboard for 'Spivey's Patented Unction'.
The broken piece of window frame in the ten-year-old's hands went from being a pretend gun to a very real club in zero seconds flat.
Finny pushed herself to her feet and walked over to where the fight was about to start,
at the same time grabbing a bunch of escaping red hair and tying it back into what could only loosely be described as being a braid.
Job done she stuck out her hand towards the ten-year-old, making him flinch.
"Well done. That was dead clever doing that ambush. You won us."
The ten-year-old recovered enough to realise that Finny's hand was extended to shake hands like grown-ups did and not to punch him in the goolies. He relaxed... a little.
He'd heard the rumours about Finny like everyone else.
About how Spivey's so-called nanny was teaching her how to climb walls like a spider and kill you with a secret squeeze on the shoulder so that you were dead before you could even scream.
He didn't believe them, but still. Anyway, he lowered the stick and offered his own hand, at the same time turning to Onetooth with a sneer.
"See. Told ya."
Onetooth didn't get a chance to respond because just then Finny pulled the bigger boy close so that they were nose to nose, even though she was on tiptoe to do so.
"Jus' don't do it again. Okay?"
The boy stepped back, pulling his hand free from the younger girl's surprisingly firm grip. He rubbed his palm against his shirt like he had maybe been ninja poisoned.
He was about to say something, then didn't. Instead, he turned and raised his stick in the air and whooped a victory call to his watching soldiers.
They all joined in and ran off to the far end of the dump.
By now, Casper, Worms and the four other kids who were on Finny's team had also all come back to life. Finny stepped up onto a broken breeze block and put her hands on her hips.
"Right!" Everyone gathered around and looked up at her. "Our turn to defend. This is what we're gonna do..."
And so it went on for most of the day until everyone started getting tired. Soon, tiredness and the heat began to make everyone cranky.
By mid-afternoon 'Attack the Flag' was losing its appeal and kids started to wander off in search of shade and water.
Not long after, the game fizzled out, and Finny and co were left to lick their wounds. Literally, as it turned out.
The previous day Nitty Nora the Hair Explorer from the Union Medical Facility had paid the orphanage a visit.
When Finny's turn came, and Nora was patiently combing through Finny's thatch with a disinfectant smelling lice comb,
the elderly matron noticed the old and not so old scabs on Finny's hands and elbows.
"Have you been picking at them scabs missy?"
Finny examined her hands.
"Ummm, just the really crusty ones."
"Mmm-hmm. Well, you should leave them alone in case they get infected and turn green and then we have to cut your arm off."
Finny thought about that while the comb was being tugged through her hair.
She knew lots of kids, and lots of kids had scabs like hers, and she knew they picked them because really good ones were inevitably shown off to everyone around.
None of them, however, had ever had their arms cut off so Finny had reason to doubt Nitty Nora's warning. She kept quiet though. Nora did wear a uniform after all.
Once the tangles were untangled,
and the fine comb was at last sliding freely through Finny's long red hair Nora returned to the subject of scabs and cuts and scrapes in general and Finny found herself being educated
on personal hygiene. This seemed to be a favourite subject of the medical centre staff for some reason but this time a little nugget of information actually lodged itself in Finny's head.
"If'n you hurt yourself like those little scrapes you got there," Nora was saying. "Spit on it, and it will stop bleeding quicker.
Spit has a natural coagulant in it that helps scabs form quicker."
This new and interesting information, probably because of the slight grossness of it, was quickly passed on to Casper, Onetooth and Worms.
Which is why now, a day later, all four of them were sitting atop the old boiler, spitting on their war wounds and even licking the ones they could actually get to with their tongues.
In the process, relatively clean patches of exposed skin were being created amongst the dust and grime that they were covered in following the exertions of battle.
Looking, then, like some new mottled race of humans that had been just hatched within the boundaries of the scrapyard,
the Four Orphans of the Apocalypse stretched out on their backs and stared up into the blue sky. Worms, on the far end, broke the silence.
"Me too." From Onetooth next to him.
" From Finny and Casper in unison, and then laughed, also in unison,
as they turned their heads to acknowledge their cleverness; and suddenly found themselves way too close together and looking directly into each other's' eyes.
There was this sudden uncomfortable silence during which Finny felt her heart miss a beat. She sat up quickly and fumbled for her watch.
"It's um... It's nearly four ock-lockers."
Just as fast, Casper scrambled to his feet. He shielded his eyes with a hand and stared off in a direction that was completely the opposite to where Finny sat not looking at him.
"We better go. It... er looks like it might rain."
Finny was already jumping down off the boiler.
"Yeah, we don't wanna get wet. Let's go an' see what's to eat."
Onetooth and Worms looked all around the cloudless sky before frowning at each other. What just happened? But they jumped down and set off after Finny who was now already halfway to the gate.
Casper followed more slowly.
By the time they had gone through the enforced hand washing, the subsequent fingernail inspection and had collected their sandwich and mug of tea, everything was pretty much back to normal.
Nobody noticed that Finny and Casper barely looked at each other once.
Everyone ate and drank and discussed the day's war until the inevitable question of 'what are we gonna do tomorrow' was asked.