And it was a shame, because Lily had grown to almost like the sky-orphanage. She had only been there for three weeks, but already she had gotten used to it, used to its smell of damp and boiled cabbage, and the way the wallpaper was speckled with mildrew and was curling off the walls. She was used to the front door and how it caught on the worn wooden floor, she was used to the crockery cabinet and how it rattled during the lightning storms, and she was used these rickety old stairs she now climbed, how they were full of protruding nails and a rotten fourth step that had to be jumped over. What she wasn't used to, however, was the other orphans. Or rather, they weren’t used to her. They seemed to hate her, the other boys and girls, seemed to hate this strange new orphan with red hair that Lady Thricetin had brought in. Not only was she the new kid, and not only was she the quiet one who mumbled to herself during dinner, but she was also the girl who woke up the whole orphanage in the middle of the night when she sat up in her bunk, screaming, drenched in cold sweat and trembling from one of her nightmares…
Last night had been a bad one, she had screamed and screamed until Thricetin had hurried in with a gaslamp to calm her down, and even then Lily had not gone back to sleep, choosing instead to sit there until the early hours of the morning, shaking and mumbling about her nightmares. From what Lady Thricetin could gather, last night had been the 'Spider Dream', one of the worst of all the nightmares, the one where Lily would dream that she was tied to an operating table, and a masked man in white with was standing over her with a knife ready to cut her open and pull out all her organs, one by one, finally wrapping his old fingers around her terrified heart and pulling it free of her ribs.
As Lady Thricetin climbed up the second flight of stairs, she became aware that Lily to talking to herself again, muttering under her breath about her dreams.
"But what if they aint just her dreams?"Thricetin thought as the two of them climbed. "What if they’re her…her memories?"
Memories so horrific that Lily's mind had tried to shut them out, tried to destroy them, but they were still seeping, bleeding back in through her nightmares.Memories. Had these things actually happened to the girl? How else would a street urchin even know what an operating table was? Maybe the girl had escaped from some institute, like a mad-house or something, and maybe her hair had been discoloured by all the strange chemicals they injected the mad people with. Maybe. Maybe not. At any rate, she was a homeless girl with no where else to go, who was no stranger to blood and who was already a deadly shot with a revolver. And that made her perfect for the Lady's purposes, perfect for the life of crime she had planned for the girl.
"Perfect," Lady Thricetin thought,"perfect unless the mad 'un takes to murdering us all in our beds or somefink..."
“’Ere, Lily. Look at me.”
Lily looked up at her, and the dark, tired skin around the girl’s silver eyes was glistening with the tears.
“You aint dangerous are you Lilly?”
“Dangerous. You wouldn’t like, kill us all or nothing, would yer?”
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