Mon, May 27, 2:02 PM CDT

Introducing Finny and her world.

Writers Science Fiction posted on May 21, 2023
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Finny The little girl running down the street in the bright morning sunshine is Finny, or Ophelia if you want her proper name, but grown-ups only called her Ophelia when she was in trouble. She also doesn’t know her second name is Moreland but you’ll learn about that when Finny does, in a couple of stories from now. For now, then, all you need to know is that her name is Finny and she is eight years old and yes, that is her long ginger hair that she is desperately trying to tie into pigtails as she runs. Also, yes that is her piece of fried bread clamped between her teeth while her hands are busy with her hair. That is her old leather boot on her left foot, and her canvas gym-shoe on her right foot… But that’s it, she does not posses the matching boot or shoe. Oh, and those are her too-big, but rather threadbare brown trousers; and above those is her, once pink, but too-small hoodie. Oh and yes, the brown stain on her face is not gravy or dirt or anything other than more freckles than you have likely ever seen on one face in your life. So, that’s Finny; can you see her now? Good. Now, behind Finny is the building she ran out of. That is the ‘New-Flagstaff Orphanage For Waifs And Strays.’ It is run-down, there are broken windows and it is covered in graffiti. One corner of the top floor of the four story building is completely missing, the gap being filled by various nailed or even tied-together sheets of whatever wood was available at the time. The whole contraption was then covered in thick black tar; dug up and boiled from the road surface of some street somewhere else. The repair certainly smells a bit, but it is very waterproof. The whole corner was roofed over with a big green tarpaulin, making the building look like it is wearing a cap set at a jaunty angle. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a very nice place to be used as an orphanage, but there is a reason and I’m coming to it. Where were we? Oh yes. Beyond and surrounding the orphanage the rest of the buildings you can see aren’t in any better condition; some are actually considerably worse off, at least the orphanage has a roof… most of a roof. Now, the reason why almost all of the building in New Flagstaff are broken and bashed about is because of the war. Oh, don’t worry, the war is over now. In fact it started and ended in 2054 and took only about six days to basically destroy most of, well… everything. So, that’s, oooooh let’s see; that was… A hundred and twenty-four years ago. Wow, long time. What? Why haven’t the rebuilt it? Hmmm, that’s complicated and getting a bit ahead of ourselves again but we’ll come to it; right now we’re interested in Finny, where she lives and what her world is like. While Finny is running down the street, tying her hair back, eating her fried bread and trying to keep her shoes on, let me tell you a little bit about New Flagstaff because this is pretty much the only world she has known in all her eight years. And besides, it’s where most of Finny’s stories at least start. New Flagstaff, even though much of it has been destroyed and is now just mounds of grass-covered rubble, is the biggest town in The Province. You don’t need to know much about the rest of The Province yet, except that it is governed… sort-of… by something called, The Union. New Flagstaff is where The Union have their headquarters. The town itself has its own council who take care of day-to-day things like removing dead bodies from the street and keeping the rickety electricity and water supplies available for those who can afford them. There is also an independent police force – the NFPD (figure it out) who handle local crime investigations. There is a hospital, the Union Medical Centre; that’s run by The Union. The orphanage is also run by The Union, not that they spend much on its upkeep. There are a couple of schools, run by charities and are pretty much only there for the kids of the richer townspeople. Okay, that’s the boring stuff. Now, let’s get to the life and soul of the town; the Town Square or just, the pond square… because there’s this big round pond in it… Oh, hang on, Finny has almost arrived at her destination, we better go join her. Where our heroine was heading to in such a hurry is an ammunition factory, one of the many legitimate and not so enterprises owned and run by a certain prominent local 'businessman' called Joe Spivey. Now, Joe is going to feature a lot in these stories, so let’s have a look at him. The first thing you have to know about Joe Spivey is that he is rich, certainly one of the richest people in New Flagstaff. To look at him, though, you wouldn’t think it. Joe isn’t a very imposing figure; he’s short, balding, has bloodshot eyes and smells of beer and cigars (one of which is usually gripped firmly between his stained teeth). On top of all that he dresses like a shopkeeper, or maybe a storeman of some kind. Joe habitually wears an old brown duster, the kind worn over your clothes to stop them getting dirty. Underneath is a pair of work trousers held up with a broad leather belt, and a tee-shirt that ‘still has plenty of wear in it.’ For shoes, Joe wears a pair of blue high-tops that he says are all the better for creeping up on lazy urchins not doing their work. People who don’t like Joe, say he dresses this way because he is a penny-pinching skinflint, which may be true but it isn’t the actual reason. Joe Spivey is a clone… What’s a clone? Oh boy. Okay, let’s see if I can keep this simple for now. Clones are people, just like you and me. There are two types of clones. Firstly. There are what are called ‘Alpha’ clones, like Joe, who are exact copies of people from before the war who decided to have all the information recorded about themselves so that an exact copy could be made, complete with all their memories. If they died, then the copy could carry on in their place. Alpha clones are pretty rare. Then there are ‘Beta’ clones. These were built to do certain jobs. They have no memories of their own and usually just enough intelligence to do the job they were built for. Okay, so Joe is an alpha clone… Kirsten, his er… life partner, is a beta clone. Their four-year-old daughter, Anneka however, is human. Anyway, in his life before the war Joe Spivey was a moderately successful erm… businessman in a place called London which was in a country called England. Joe came from a very poor family and has kept true to his working-class upbringing. As Joe says, “I don’t need a posh suit to bloody well get things done.” But wearing the baggy brown duster also hides the sawn-off shotgun Joe keeps in a special holster sewn into it. So, our girl Finny has arrived at the ammunition factory where she is all ready for a four hour shift making bullets for Joe. Finny’s job, the same as the other younger ‘employees,’ in the factory is to crimp the pointy end of the bullet into the bit that has all the gunpowdery stuff in it. However, before Finny or anyone can actually do any work, she has to carefully walk through the factory along the painted ‘Safe Path’ under the watchful eye of the overseers, to the Coat Room. Here all the employees have to change into the anti-static brown felt uniforms that won’t produce a spark and blow them all up. Everyone has their own peg to hang their normal clothes on before rummaging through the pile of tunics, trousers and boots discarded at the end of the previous day. It’s a case of first come gets the least smelly uniforms. Today, Finny’s nose wrinkles up because she is out of luck in that respect. Oh well, at least the ones she found don’t smell of wee. Three days a week, Finny’s shift at the factory didn’t involve making bullets. Instead, she and three of her friends from the orphanage went up to Joe’s office to sit around a big table in the corner while Joe did his best to teach them how to read and write. Why would he do that? Hehe, let's just say Joe has a philanthropic streak and leave it at that for now, hmmm? Now, you’ll be seeing more of these friends later on, but for now you only need to know that they are Casper, who is the same age as Finny and Onetooth and Worms who are both a year younger at seven years old. Together, they are referred to as either ‘The Reading Group’ by people who put up with them or ‘The Four Orphans of the Apocalypse’ by those who would rather not have to. Whatever name they went by, Finny was the acknowledged and undisputed leader of the gang. So, there you go. Finny in her world. Now, we are ready to start. The Finny Stories In chronological order: 000 Finny Intro 001 The Locket 002 Rats 003 A Christmas Finny 004 The Secret Adventurer’s Club 005 The Secret Adventurer’s Club: Second Adventure 006 Finny’s Birthday 007 Union Candy 008 Then There Were Three Then There Were Four Again – Sort Of (WIP)

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