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Then There Were Three (part 4)

Joe Spivey's picture
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Matron Maisy Clinton pulled up at the rear of the New Flagstaff Orphanage and hurried inside. As luck would have it, many of their charges were returning to the building for the four o’clockers snack, which also meant that the full quota of staff was available to provide and oversee the meal. Maisy stopped two such as they were shepherding children to the dining hall if they had clean hands, or to the ablutions if they did not.

“Leave this please.” She said, taking the pair aside and waiting for a group of five preteens to make their way to the stairs.

The five orphans, confused by the fact that the staff weren’t standing at the foot of the stairs where they were supposed to be for the ‘hand check’, nevertheless lifted their hands and waved them in the direction of where Matron and the two other staff were standing. Maisy smiled and nodded at them and then made shooing motions to send them on their way. Once there was a break in the passage of kids, she turned back to the two staffers.

“George. Stand by the front door. Nobody is to leave the building, that’s children or staff. Nobody leaves. Got it?”

“Yes Matron.” George replied, though not quite sure if he had ‘got it’ He was about to ask why he had to do this and what about the hand check, but the Matron had already turned to his partner.

“Elsie. Go and lock the back door… Make sure there is nobody in the yard first. Oh and, check the shed.”

“Yes Matron.” Elsie made to move to carry out the instruction but Maisy hadn’t finished.

“Thank you. Then I want you to go and check the dump and send any children back here, no excuses.” She thought for a moment. “The square too. It can’t hurt. In fact, round up any strays you can find and send them straight here.”

Elsie looked apprehensive.

“The older children…”

“Threaten them with grounding. Just make sure they come home.”

“Yes Matron… Can I ask why we are doing this Ma’am?”

Maisy shook her head.

“I’ll explain later. Now, off you go, both of you.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The two staffers chorused and set off about their respective tasks.

Matron Maisy then headed upstairs to her office, where she sat down at her desk to wait for a phone call from Hope Springs. What would happen next would depend on what she would hear.

With small noses pressed against the side windows, Nurse Maisy drove her clapped out excuse for a car cum ambulance down Hope Springs’ indistinct main street. Then on past the clinic where it turned left in front of the impressive former home of the Barret family, now the Town Hall. Finally turning left again down a side road.

This was the first time the members of the Reading Group had been to Hope Springs, the original destination of the ill-fated adventure that had ended up with them all being taken by the Devil’s Own. Later to be rescued by Dr. Tukiko Troy, the missus doctor lady who sometimes visited the factory where they worked and who was rumoured among the workforce to either be Joe Spivey’s secret daughter or his secret mistress, depending on who you listened to… and your understanding of what a mistress was. Whoever she was, the kids liked the young doctor and Finny was hoping they might get to see her now they were in Hope.

Right now, though, the three orphans who weren’t semi-conscious, were more interested in the town itself. Born and raised in the concrete and brick confines of New Flagstaff, the wooden buildings, little gardens and general grassyness were something strange and new.

At the end of the cul-de-sac they had turned into, their destination became apparent by a number of people clustered around and going in and out of a ramshackle and rundown house that looked, to Casper at least, like the typical haunted house of movie lore. Finny, however, was looking at the people and what they were doing.

It seemed like a lot of stuff was being taken out of the house to be piled in a heap in the garden. Bed frames mainly, but other furniture too, and boxes, lots of boxes. Some stuff, though was being taken into the house. Most of this coming from the building next door and Finny recognized some of it as being like the machines and medical things she had seen at the Union Medical Centre. All of this too-ing and fro-ing was being organized by a blond lady standing on the roof of a pink car and directing things by pointing a lot.

Their own car came to a halt. Nurse Maisie turned in her seat and pinned them with a serious glare.

“You three stay put. Don’t even think about getting out of this car until I come back for you.”

The nurse’s face, and the seriousness of the whole situation since Worms had got sick, cowed Finny, Casper and Onetooth into much meeker versions of their normal selves.


Satisfied she had their obedience; Maisie got out of the car and opened the back door. Outside, everyone stopped what they were doing, even the bossy lady on the car and backed away from the path that led to the old house.

Nurse Maisie lifted the unmoving body of Worms into her arms and gently carried him past the line of whispering onlookers into the house.

Finny and the two boys looked at each other. This was starting to get a bit scary.


Canni Belle's picture

((Such a seat gripping story <3

One minute your calm, the next your shooting someone in the face, then your doing your chickendance. If that is not chaos I dont know what is - Aiid

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