Thu, Jun 13, 1:18 AM CDT

Finny's Unwelcome Adventure (part 2 of ?)

Writers Science Fiction posted on Jan 21, 2024
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And it was Casper, of course it was Casper, who missed Finny first. Now, as a lot of the inmates of the orphanage would teasingly tell you, the two nine-year-olds were ‘an item’. Not that either of them would ever acknowledge the crush they had on each other. At nine years old boys, according to girls, were dirty and smelly and stupid; and girls, according to boys were, well, confusing. But, in the last year, Casper had extended his field of self-preservation to include their fiery, red-haired leader and right now all his mental warning lights were flashing red, his inner siren was OOOWAHHHing loudly and… well, you get the idea. What had set the alarms off was that this was a meal time and so Finny should have been sitting beside him tucking into whatever that was on the plate and engaging in noisy conversation with the other eight occupants of the six-seater table. Nobody, it seemed from his interrogation of the other diners, had seen Finny since the mass exodus from the ammunition factory a good three hours ago. ‘So what?’ you might think, but let me explain something about post-apocalyptic orphans. You see, orphans of the pre-teen variety, aside from often being grubby and usually ‘up to something,’ are always ALWAYS hungry. Maybe not actually starving, but young kids in the post-apocalyptic world are hard wired to eat everything they can whenever they can. This was especially true for those who had been former street urchins living out of dustbins and fighting off dogs for their dinners… like Finny for example. Casper knew that Finny would never miss a meal if she could help it. Yes, she might be lounging on her bed engrossed in a book or at that bookshop she sometimes went to… A new lightbulb lit up on Casper’s danger board. It was Thursday, Finny went to the bookshop on Thursdays. Casper counted back the time between now and how long it would take for a running Finny to get from there to the seat beside him. No, Finny had never been THIS late and her belly was as finely tuned as his own when it came to recognising meal times. Now sure in his paranoid little mind that something had happened - he had never fully trusted that bookshop man, he was a clone after all - Casper was already on his feet and heading for the dining room door. In his wake, conversation at the table petered out as all eyes zoomed in on Casper’s half-eaten dinner. There was a brief flurry of brandished forks and one or two squeals of pain before conversation resumed and Casper’s plate wobbled into empty stillness. The nine-year-old’s headlong flight from the dining room and down four flights of concrete steps could have ended in a mess of broken bones and head injuries. Fortunately, Casper’s years long familiarity with these stairs saved him from that. Unfortunately, however, because he was seen and yelled at by various members of staff, we wouldn’t be saved from retribution for his rule-breaking later on. But Casper, normally an avid obeyer of the rules both in and out of the orphanage, had more urgent priorities at the moment and the first of these was to get to Mr Trent’s bookshop and back before sunset when the orphanage would lock its doors for the night. Of course, he would be let back in no matter what time he returned but at the cost of several hours of community punishment, or ‘jankers’ as it was known by the kids. So, as the sun got lower in the sky, Casper raced through the streets towards where Finny was last expected to be. When he arrived though, the shop was already closed and the door locked. Most shops in New Flagstaff have accommodation for the owners because it was just asking for trouble to leave a shop unguarded overnight. Now, Casper didn’t know if this was the case with the bookshop or not but he started hammering on the door anyway. Mr Trent was not pleased by the loud and incessant interruption to his evening meal. The shopkeeper liked to cook, it was one of his few pleasures in the very long life of a clone. But the meal he had prepared this evening was best eaten hot because its gravy would congeal if it was allowed to cool. However, the banging at his front door did suggest some kind of emergency, even if he had no idea what it could possibly be and was unlikely to be interested in if it didn’t affect him directly. Pulling the napkin from out of his shirt collar and dropping it onto the table with just a hint of petulance. Mr Trent got up to see what this ‘emergency’ might be. Going through the beaded curtain that separated shop from home, he was met with some urchin pounding on his shop door, and no doubt leaving greasy marks on the glass while doing so. Mr Trent sighed. In his experience over the many decades, the only emergency children could ever possibly have was in controlling their bladders. Everything else they might be panicking about was unimportant to adults. He stepped forward into the middle of the shop floor. And if this boy thought he was going to ask him to use… Which is when he recognised the boy as Finny’s ‘amour’. This, combined with the increased rate of his pounding on the glass, suggested perhaps more of an emergency than he had originally surmised. He opened the door. “What?!” “Where’s Finny?” Mr Trent raised his hands in a shrug. “Not here.” Casper started chewing his lip. Reason told him that Finny not being here either meant she had been and had then left. Paranoia, on the other hand, was insisting that the shopkeeping clone had her stuffed away in a cupboard, or cellar or… he pushed the image of a mound of earth away. “When did she leave? She wasn’t at dinner.” Now that Mr Trent understood the nature of the emergency he could wrap this up with one sentence and get back to his own dinner. He started to close the door. “She never arrived.” Casper paused for only a second before deftly sliding past the grown-up and into the shop before the door closed. The thought that, if Mr Trent had indeed abducted Finny, then he was now also trapped only came to him as the shop door closed with a meaningfully solid thud and a click. Mr Trent spun round. “What the devil…?” Casper stuck his chin out in a very un-Casperish show of bravado. “I wanna see if she’s here.” Mr Trent sighed and gave up on his dinner being edible by the time he had dealt with this bothersome boy. “I’m sorry, young man,” Mr Trent began, opening the shop door again. “But if you think I’m going to give you a guided tour just because your little girlfriend missed her dinner…” “She’s not my girlfriend!” The colour of the boy’s cheeks suggested otherwise… or it could just have been the setting sun. “Really?” Though the deepening blush softened Mr Trent’s mood, there was another complication to consider, too. This boy was an associate of Finny, who was an associate of Mr Spivey, who was, without doubt, the shop’s best customer. Joe Spivey had even been known to gift him with some of the rarest and most precious books in his own collection upstairs. Fortunately a solution presented itself not only to this prong of his dilemma but also the other prong concerning his cooling dinner. He took a breath and rolled his eyes. “Fine… go and look for her if you must....” With Casper already running ahead, Mr Trent followed the boy into the back room. “Just don’t touch my books!” Casper quickly looked around the back room. Besides a table, a sink some too small cupboards and piles of books, there was no sign of Finny. Mr Trent sat down and replaced the napkin into the collar of his shirt. Then he pointed at the stairs. But Casper was already on his way. “Mind the books!” Dinner was resumed to the accompaniment of Casper’s desperate running around in the rooms above. When he had finished the boy came back downstairs and stood next to where Mr Trent was just mopping up the last of the gravy. Mr Trent looked up. “Well?” Casper didn’t take his eyes off the misaligned spoon on the neat white tablecloth. “She’s not here.” “No, as I said, Finny never arrived.” Mr Trent took off his napkin, wiped his lips and lay the napkin down. “So, what are you going to do now?” Casper lifted his head, the resumed chewing of the lip indicated that he was in thinking mode. After a couple of seconds, he looked at Mr Trent. “I suppose I should tell someone.” “That sounds like a very good idea. Who are you going to inform about Finny’s disappearance?” The nine-year-old’s eyebrows knitted in the middle. “Um, Matron I guess. Miss Lilly.” Mr Trent turned his seat, his right arm going over the back of the chair. “It’s none of my business of course, but I am rather fond of your gir… your friend and hope she hasn’t come to any harm. Might I suggest you inform Mr Spivey before you return to the orphanage?” He glanced at the clock. “From what Finny tells me, if you return now then you will be very likely not be let out again for a considerable while, certainly not tonight.” Casper licked his lips. He’d come to that conclusion before he had even opened his mouth. But… Tell Joe? That would mean going to his house. And, once told, Joe would not be a happy man. Every fibre of Casper’s being was reminding him that being around an angry Joe was not going to be good. But, deep inside, persistent kicking by Reason was telling Casper that the shopkeeper was right. “Um… I’ll go to Joe’s… and… I’m sorry I thought you might have, um, you know, taken Finny.” Mr Trent took a deep breath. “Apology accepted.” He stood up. “Come on, I’ll drive you. I think the sooner we get Mr Spivey involved in this matter the better, don’t you.” “Yes Sir.” 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 009 Then There Were Four Again – Sort Of (WIP)

Comments (1)



5:57AM | Mon, 22 January 2024

Great ! Go round to Joe's and let the fertiliser hit the HVAC.. I can't wait for the next bit

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