She staggered across the slicked cobblestone path, blood still trickling from her bruised nose.
“Wynni, it scary,” Ash whined as she stumbled up the steps of a sleek, charcoal grey metal monstrosity. She leant against the stainless steel door, examining her bloody face; matted blonde hair hung in strands around her bony shoulders, freckles lost under smudged blood, clear, stormy eyes sparked and danced with a ferocity equalling that of her straight, clenched jaw. The door glided open and a spindly hand lashed out and seized Wynta’s steadying hand.
“Don’t touch anything unnecessary Ms Harling; we want no trace of this visit of yours, as I’m sure you’d understand.” His insipid words wisped from clenched, yellowing teeth, his tongue flicked out dampening his pinched lips.
Wynta nodded slightly; too afraid to make any sudden movements. The gaunt man produced a flat, silver contraption and fluidly jabbed and slid his fingers over the surface. A few moments later a stout woman hurried out, pulling along a tray of bottles and fabrics. She set to work spraying, dabbing, injecting and wiping different liquids and cloths, removing all traces of blood and soot from Wynta and Ash.
“Strip,” The woman croaked motioning towards their soiled clothes. Wynta glared at the man who made no attempt to leave the room.
“I do still have some mod’sty sir,” she snarled, shifting Ash to rest him on her hip, “I’ll get changed whe’ ya go away.”
His black, shiny shoes clacked as he strode away, sinking into the shadows. She threw her and Ash’s rags into the basket the maid thrust towards her. She set Ash on his little feet and let the lady huff around and spray antiseptic on her cuts and grazes.
“You have to be careful miss. Ash is too young to be starved to death as you run around. We can look after him. My granddaughter is the same age as him, he could have a friend. Surely you can see that this is a better option. It’s what your parents would of wanted Wynta.”
“I can care for ma own brother. I don’ need ta go leavin’ him with some creepy, old strangers.”
The woman’s wrinkled face contorted into a glower as she hurriedly piled her equipment on a tray and hobbled off in a huff. Wynta scrutinized the stark, sterile room and saw a simple, white robe slung over a metal stool. She shrugged it on and gathered Ash up, sweeping his wet hair from his placid face.