Murder at the Milton's

Chapter One -- The Arrivals


7:00 P.M.

Efad Milton sighed. There was nothing to do, aside from waiting for something to happen. "It's Halloween night, Aaron," she commented drearily to the boy sitting in the chair beside her. "Aren't we supposed to, y'know, hide in the oak tree out front and drop things down on the little kids when they try to come up our driveway?" She tipped the brim of her blue baseball cap back to comb her fingers through her chestnut bangs.

The boy, Aaron Sidnay, shook his head vigorously, trying to get the rainwater still clinging to his dark brown hair to dry. "No, I doubt there are any kids out tonight anyway...with the way the rain's comin' down, someone should be drawing up plans for the next ark by now." He grimaced. "I should know -- I had to wait for you to unlock the door when my parents dropped me off a few minutes ago."

"Yeah," Efad agreed with a laugh. "Although, that 'wet' trend you have going looks good on you." She grinned at the glare she received from her friend.

"Very funny."

"Oh, I thought it was, actually..."

The front doorbell sounded, and Efad sprang to her feet with an exclamation of joy. "I'LL GET IT!" She ran to the front door and quickly undid the deadbolt, only to find another boy standing on her doorstep, shivering from the rain. His hair, the same color as Aaron's, was dripping with rainwater, and his clothes were beyond the ultimate level of "soaked". "Oh, it's only you." Efad shut the door in his face, grinning from ear to ear at the protest the boy put up.

"EFAD, LET ME IN!" He hollared, pounding on the door.

The girl finally consented and opened the door again, jumping out of the way as the boy dashed in beside her. He managed to glare at her before he finally spoke. "I'm glad to see you, too," he growled.

Efad held her hands up in defense. "What? Kevin, did I SAY I wasn't happy to see you? Did I?"

Kevin McGorma rolled his eyes. "Let's just say that I've had doors slammed in my face before."

Aaron bounded into the entryway, skidding to a halt behind Efad. "Hey, why'd you let HIM in?"

"Same reason I let you in," the girl replied flatly. "Y'all can't stand a little rain, and wouldn't leave me alone until I let y'all in. It's not like either of you could've used a shower, anyway..." Both boys began to retort, but stopped and shrugged at each other in unison. "I'll get you a towel if you want, Kev."

He grinned. "That's one of the few suggestions you've made that I actually agree with..."


7:47 P.M.

The doorbell rang again thirty minutes later, and Efad dashed around the corner of the entryway to try and get to the door. Unfortunately, Kevin had tracked in a great deal of water, and therefore her turn (accompanied by a very interesting exclamation of surprise) became an unintentional feet-first Slip-N-Slide run. She scrambled to her feet, slipped again, this time landing flat on her face. The person at the front door pushed the doorbell again, now seeming to grow impatient. "I'm coming, I'm coming," Efad moaned. "As soon as I get my footing and kill Kevin, that is," she growled to herself. Finally managing to stand, she braced herself against the doorknob for an instant before opening the door.

A girl, whose long blonde braid was dripping mercilessly (A/N: Notice a trend...?), shuffled in and let out a moan. "It's COLD," she whimpered. "That rain is COLD!" Her blue-grey eyes were shining, no matter how miserable her tone sounded.

Efad sighed, shut the door and nabbed a towel from a stack she'd set up after Kevin had arrived. "Nice to see you, too, Suzanne."

Suzanne McCord blinked a couple of times. "Why'd you shut the door? Lizzy and Caitlin were coming in right behind me." As if on cue, the doorbell rang just as the girl had finished her sentence. Efad opened the door again, this time admitting two girls, who both had long (and wet) blonde ponytails. One squealed and embraced Efad, who squawked and stumbled backwards.

"It's EEEEEEEFAD!" She exclaimed, letting go of her captive, who gasped for air.

"Hi, Caitlin -- do you greet everyone that way?" She asked.

Suzanne's sister, Lizzy, grinned. "Only people who are dry when she's dripping wet."

Caitlin took a towel from the stack and started to dry herself off, but instead shuffled into the bathroom. A few moments later, she came back out with a disappointed look on her face.

Suzanne cocked her eyebrow. "What's the matter with you...?"

"It's my goal in life to weigh 100 pounds soaking wet," Caitlin replied sullenly. "I only weigh 95 right now on their bathromm scale, though."

Efad laughed. "Oh brother, what a dream..." She jerked her thumb behind her and shook her head. "Kevin and Aaron are already in the TV room, though I'm not sure what they're watching... some mindless cartoon, no doubt. Y'all can go sit in there for a while...I hope." Lizzy and Suzanne shrugged and went to sit in the living room, while the other two meandered into the kitchen. "Hey, you're a good cook, right?" Efad asked.

Caitlin grinned. "Yeah, and if you need help cooking dinner, I'll GLADLY be of service!"

"Great! How 'bout firin' up the stove and making us some spaghetti?" Aaron called from the TV room.

The two girls glared at the wall in the direction of the voice. "EVESDROPPER!" Caitlin hollared at him, shaking her fist. Efad winced and covered her ears, wondering if the shout-fight could possibly happen when they were facing each other.

"I can't help it if both of y'all's voices are MEGAPHONES," he yelled back.

"Ai, ai," Efad moaned. "Enough! Spaghetti sounds good. You---" she pointed to Caitlin "---are in charge. GO." The other girl gave her a mock-salute and began rummaging through the cabanets for the pasta. "Um... Caitlin, it's in the third door on the right..."

"Oh. I knew that!"

Efad sighed and hung her head, but perked back up as the bell rang again. "AHA!" She skidded around the corner, and after slipping and falling flat on her face for a third time (whilst muttering death threats to rainwater), she let in a tall girl with short-cut brown hair and three short teenage boys behind her, though she appeared slightly afraid of her followers.

"Hey, Efad! Are they supposed to be here?" The girl pointed behind her at the boys. One shook his head, flinging the rain out of his black hair, while the other took his crimson baseball cap off of his blonde hair to wring the water out of it.

The third boy, upon taking a red and white polka-dotted cap, sighed happily. "And I managed to keep it dry... Hey, Efad."

"Hey, Christien. ET, I don't know if you've met Christien Phileman..." she gestured to the smallest boy, who happened to be only twelve. "...and Justin and Brian Layor..." The fourteen and thirteen-year-olds nodded a 'hello' each to the girl in front of them. Efad grinned. "Well, I guess you have NOW, but..."

Elizabeth Talley (or ET, as everyone called her) grinned back at the shorter girl. "Yup, sure have. I hope you don't mind me dropping by and all -- Mom and Dad are out of town, and since I have my license (FINALLY), they said I could stay here for the night..."

"It's no big. I have the rest of the gang here, anyway. All our parents decided to go out to a Halloween party in Birmingham, and since our house is obviously the biggest, we're all staying here until sometime tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow morning?" Christien's eyes widened. "You mean I have to stay in the same house with CAITLIN for the entire night?!"

Efad shrugged. "The adults didn't know the storm was going to be this bad. Mom called earlier and said if it kept on comin' down like it is, they'd be staying in a hotel for the night." She put her hands on her hips and gave the three boys a sideways look. "This is just clicking for me. How did y'all get here if your parents are in B-ham...?"

Brian grinned. "Marie dropped us off. I like having an older sister with a license!"

"Yeah, that's what MY brother says," ET commented with a grin.

As the four walked into the kitchen, Efad glanced at Caitlin to see if she'd made any progress. The girl was sitting on a waist-high stool, slowly stirring a large pot of noodles. The latter sighed. The water wasn't even boiling yet, which meant it would be a little longer than she'd hoped. After all, when you have ten hungry teenagers in the house, it's hard to keep them from either raiding the fridge or becoming cannibals and eating one another...

Kevin meandered in from a doorway on the other side, carefully approaching Caitlin and peeking over her shoulder into the pot. "Hey, I don't think it's supposed to look like that," he noted, pointing to the stick-like noodles sitting in the water.

Caitlin whacked his hand with the spoon. "NOT DONE!" She yelled, preceeding to chase the boy out of the kitchen. Efad hung her head and whimpered to herself. This was going to be a LONG night...