Raindrops slid lazily down the window, and I pressed my nose to the cold glass. If I didn't get out soon, I was going to murder my family.

"Maybe if you keep doing that, you'll break through the glass and topple to ground and fall on a rake," Devin said with cheerful hopefulness.

I would have liked to murder that one in particular.

"I'm saving up to buy an exorcist for you," I replied monotonously, but my sister was no longer listening to me.

My two sisters and a few of my brothers--I didn't bother counting anymore--sat on the floor in front of the TV, mouths agape, completely hypnotized.

"Are you kids physically incapable of cleaning up after yourselves?" my mom cried, coming into the living room to see if the television was available for her to watch General Hospital. That was a ridiculously high hope for a mother of seven kids raised on Friends, Mr. Dress-Up, paid programming and MTV. She spotted the empty salad bowl Gabriel had used to put his cereal in, as well as the countless water glasses' some of which were empty and some of which were somewhat empty.

"Yeah," Tannis said, not taking her eyes or her attention away from the TV.

"Mom," Devin called, looking over her shoulder. "Look who's getting his snot all over the glass."

"I am not," I snapped.

"Get your face of the window," Mom ordered. She looked at all the dishes, then sighed in defeat, exiting the room.

Taking one last look at the dismal world outside with the black sky pouring rivers down my street, I turned to go sit and watch Pretty in Pink with my brothers and sisters.

"I hate that girl with the orange hair," Tannis announced. "I hope she winds up alone at the end."

"That's Molly Ringwald," Gabriel informed her. He was our resident movie trivia guide. "She never ends up alone. It must be in her contract or something. Although she lives in France now, if that's any consolation."

Tannis began to wiggle around, singing, "There's a place in France where the naked monkeys dance."

What sounded like a herd of elephants came pounding down the stairs, and I didn't have to look behind me to know that it was my oldest brother Elijah. He liked to make sure everyone knew that he was making an entrance.

"I've sprung a leak!" he declared.

"Again?" Devin demanded.

"Where did I put that damn bucket?"

"Um, in your room, under the last leak you sprang," she told him.

"Ooh. I'm glad you pay attention to me and the holes in my roof, because I sure don't. At least I don't until it starts raining torrentially anyway," he said, retreating back up the stairs.


There was a blinding streak of lightening and then it was dark. All of the lights suddenly went out with a farewell flicker, and to everyone's sheer horror, the TV shut off.

It was like their oxygen supply had been cut off. Devin was going "Eeeee…" like Dr. Evil's Mini Me and Gabriel was noisily mourning the loss of Molly Ringwald's presence.

"Evan?" Tannis said in a quiet, nervous voice. "Is that you?"

"It's me, but I don't know if it's you. I didn't know you felt so much like a marshmallow," Evan replied.

"That's my butt."

"Guahhh, get your butt away from my foot!"

"Get your foot away from my butt FIRST!"

Devin sighed heavily. "I hate being in the dark with you vampires."

"Speak for yourself, Elvira," Evan barked.

Elijah stampeded downstairs again, slammed into a recliner, oofed, and found his way over to us. "This is crap. The power just has to go out at the same time the attic gets a leak. My stuff is going to drown."

"Evan just called me Elvira and I don't know why," Devin pouted. "Sic em."

I rolled my eyes, feeling around for the couch so I could sit down. "You wear too much makeup, your hair is huge, you dress like a floozy and you're talentless," I told her.

She squeaked with rage.

"Actually, Elvira as just the first thing that popped into my mind to call her besides Bride of Frankenstein," Evan said, then gave a Beavis laugh. "Nice burn though."

"Thanks, Van."

"If I could see, I would beat you with a stick, Richard Thomas Sparrow," Devin growled.

"Hey!" Tannis cried. "You should beat him anyway! It'd be like whacking a piñata, minus the blindfold! Oh my gosh! We should make this into a family tradition! Whenever the power goes out, we should all get sticks and swing them blindly! I don't think I would play though. My head might get knocked off."

It wouldn't be the strangest thing my family had ever done.

The Sparrow family was insane. I could never figure out how two people who hated each other like my parents could produce seven children. I think all of us were mistakes, probably the results of make-up sex, although my mom always denied that. Twenty-three-year-old Elijah was the oldest. He still lived at home, but paid rent. He resided in the attic. The first week he moved up there was scary because my room was directly below the attic and I would hear his elephant footsteps above my head, like friggen Beetlejuice or Jacob Marley or something. Elijah was a good guy; the type that never takes anything too seriously and knows how to be a friend. But my parents still thought of him as a screw up, even though they never said it in those exact terms. Our favourite wingnut, Tannis, was the youngest at the age of twelve. She was relatively crazy, but in a lovable way, so I could tolerate her usually. Between Elijah and Tannis were, in chronological order, Gabriel, Evan, Coby, ME, and lastly and leastly, Devin. Devin and I hated each other. I think it all started when I told the guy she liked that she stuffed her bra with socks when she was thirteen. I think it's a silly thing to still be mad about, especially considering she doesn't even wear a bra anymore.

We liked each other sometimes. But were we the Partridge family? We wouldn't be forming a band (we hadn't been on a family trip for years because we were too evil, let alone go on tour together), but we might make an interesting TV show, complete with colourful language, violence, and all that stuff that makes for good television.

"I hate storms," Elijah grumbled.

Thunder cracked, followed by lightening that illuminated the room. For one flash of a second, I could see the faces of Elijah, Gabriel, Evan, Tannis and Devin. Tannis was grinning maniacally. "Suck it up," she said. "Storms are great. Just think of it as God bowling!"

"No comprende, sister."

"The thunder is the bowling ball hitting the pins," she explained.

"And the lightening?"

Gabriel snickered. "Let me guess. The lightening is when he gets a strike."

Luckily before Evan could launch into a large, dramatic and incoherent spiel about how he thought that God and he had a mutual hatred, the phone rang.

Gabriel, who was Butthead to Evan's Beavis, chuckled moronically. "I didn't know phones worked when the power was out."

"Twenty-two years old and still a dumbass," Devin sighed.

"Good God, are you people insane?" Elijah demanded. "The PHONE is ringing! The power's cut! The killer from Scream is calling us!"

I began to laugh as I located the phone on the end table, picking it. "Hello?"

"Oh, hello there…Elijah?" It was my elderly neighbour, Mrs. Smith, calling. I could tell by her warbly voice.

"No, this is Richard. How are you?"

"Not very good, Richard. I'm just calling to see if you have power over at your house."

"Which killer is it?" Gabriel asked. "There were three Scream movies, and five killers. Or maybe six. I fell asleep through the third one. I just remember Scott Foley was the killer in the third one, there might have been an accomplice too. I hope it's Matthew Lilliard calling. He was funny."

"Hey, was he the guy who played Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movie?" Evan asked. "I like that guy, but not when he was Shaggy."

"I like Shaggy, but not when he was that guy," Devin giggled.

"You're an idiot," I told her, then realized I was still on the phone. "Damn! Sorry! You're not an idiot, Mrs. Smith! We don't have power either!"

"It's fun to bug Richard when he's on the phone!" Devin exclaimed. Suddenly I felt her bony fingers tickling my sides. "Ticky ticky ticky, Richie!"

Instinctive self defense mode caused me to kick in her the ribs. "Goddammit you dumb cow, I'm CONVERSING!"

"Well! I NEVER!" Mrs. Smith cried, repulsed.

"Not you, Mrs. Smith!" I insisted. "I was talking to my sister."

"He was beating me, Mrs. Smith!" Devin yelled. "But don't worry, he only beats me when he's sober, so I'm usually okay! He just spent all his beer money on heroin tonight!"

The other line went dead, and I slammed the phone down. I leapt on faith at Devin, both of us toppling to the floor. "You're going to DIE, dammit!"

"What are you kids doing?" Mom shrieked.

"Tea party!" I hollered back.

My fingers closed around her neck as she closed hers around mine.

"Ten bucks on Richard," Gabriel announced.

"I'm putting bets on Devin," Evan countered. I would have to kill him next.

"Richards like a foot taller than Devin though."

"He is NAAHHHHHGCHGHCKGHK--" Devin tried to protest, but I tightened my grip around her throat. She put her hand over my face and pushed me back, of course one of her fingers poking me in the eye.

"Small ones always shave the most endurance though," Evan reminded Gabriel.

"Yeah…I guess Richard's kinda scrawny. Okay, I'm betting on Devin too."

"I wish we could SEE!" Elijah complained.

I did too. I was worried Devin was going to kick me in the nuts and I wouldn't see it coming.

Our wish was granted, because just as Devin grabbed a fistful of my hair and I pinned her head to the ground, the lights and the TV all came back to life.

Sadly, Mom came to see what was happening. She took in the scene, absorbing the sight of Elijah, Gabriel, Evan and Tannis standing around, cheering us on, as I sat on top of my sister, trying to strangle her.

"What the hell is going on here?" she cried.

Coby came up behind her, a banana in his hand. He grinned his surfer dude grin, snickering approvingly. "Hahahaha, Richard, dude, she drew blood! Way to be, Devin! Uh, I mean--bad."

"Shut up, Jacob," Mom snapped. She must have been pissed because she never called Coby by his full name Jacob anymore--no one did. "Can't you just stop--being like this?" she demanded, her stress showing in the wrinkles around her eyes.

Devin looked up at her sheepishly, with her soft green eyes. She said nothing. She knew very well that Mom had never had much patience with her for some reason. She did, however, shove me away from her.

I stood up, shrugging. "Sorry, Mom. She told Mrs. Smith that I blew all my money for alcohol on drugs--"

"I don't care!" Mom exclaimed. "God!" She raked her hands through her dry, frazzled blond hair. It looked like she had some unfriendly words to say but she kept them to herself as she stormed back into the kitchen.

A noisy silence fell over us like static. Mom always seemed to be in a bad mood lately, and this wasn't the first time she'd blown up at us. I mean, when you make seven very different kids live in the same house, it's only natural that they're going to try and commit fratricide. But Mom was losing her temper more and more lately. We figured it had to do with the fact that Dad kept coming home later and later every night.

Tannis sighed quietly, looking out the window. Her grey eyes were sad. "I hate storms."

Welcome to 4716 Silak Crescent, home of the Sparrows clan.