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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Morgue

"We have to drop the body off," Lucius grinned at them with his jagged teeth.
"I think I'll just stay in the car," Elizabeth said weakly, leaning her head back against the seat.
"No," Lucius shook his head rapidly, sending little beads of sweat flying through the air, "It is not safe to be out at this time of night."
"We'll be fine," Miguel attempted to assure him.
"No one is fine against the mad," Lucius said with an insane little cackle, climbing out of the hearse.
"Tell me about it," Elizabeth muttered, shoving Miguel towards the open door. They reluctantly clambered out, looking uneasily at each other in the darkness.

"Follow," Lucius commanded, as he rolled the coffin out of the back of the hearse, moving quickly in the dark night towards a dilapidated old building.
"THIS is the morgue?" Elizabeth asked loudly before she could stop herself.
Lucius shoved open a creaky wooden door, his eyes bright in the dim light that came from inside, "Follow."
"Dear god Miguel, what have we gotten ourselves into?"
Miguel could only shake his head, "We should have just asked Reese if we could borrow his car."
Elizabeth's jaw dropped, "WHY didn't you tell me this BEFORE we left Harmony with the intention to hitchhike to Bwizville?!"
Miguel shrugged, "I didn't think of it until now."
"This is unbelievable," Elizabeth brushed a large spider web out of her way as she ventured into the dimly lit morgue building.
"Poor Charity," Miguel shook his head, "We're never going to get her out of there."
"We will," Elizabeth said firmly, "That is…if we don't get ourselves killed in here."
They glanced up as Lucius used one bony hand to unlatch the hinges on the coffin, swinging it open with a creak.
Elizabeth shrieked as she saw what was inside.

"What's the matter?" Lucius asked with a grin as he rolled the body out of the coffin, "Aint you ever seen a dead body before?"
"Aren't they supposed to clean them up BEFORE the funeral?" Miguel sounded confused, "And why are you taking a body in a hearse TO the morgue? Wouldn't the body be headed to the funeral home?"
Lucius paused and scratched his narrow chin, glancing down at the bloody corpse that was sprawled on the steel table. "I guess you kids have got a point. Too bad it's too late for ya."
With a cackle, he sprang at them with more grace and speed than could ordinarily be expected from a man his age. Elizabeth screamed and ducked to the ground, rolling out of the way. Miguel leapt backwards, knocking over a shelf. As Elizabeth bolted towards the door, which suddenly seemed all to far away, Lucius' hand shot out and grabbed her shoulder in a grip of steel that once more seemed to defy his seeming frailty.
"NO!" she tried desperately to wrench herself free of his grasp, but his hold was too strong, and then he was dragging her back towards the center of the room. Miguel attempted to hit the old man over the head with a wooden board, but with the grace of a cat, Lucius snatched the board mid-arc and tossed it aside easily.
"What the—"
Suddenly Lucius had grabbed a coil of rope and was franticly tying them to a support beam in the center of the room.
"Lucius," Elizabeth attempted to reason, "You don't have to do this—"
Lucius nodded slowly, "No, I don't suppose I hafta…"
"Just let us go," she pressed further.
"I don't hafta kill ya…but I WANT to," he laughed madly, yanking the ropes tighter. Then he once again turned his attention to the body lying on the table.

"This is like one of those bad horror movies," Elizabeth moaned, clunking her head against the wooden beams, "You know, the ones where you're always screaming at your television set about how stupid the main characters are…"
"Charity will never know what happened to me," Miguel said sadly.
"You've got a lot more problems than THAT right now."
She jerked her head in the direction of Lucius, who was hunched over the corpse, cackling madly.
"He's going to kill us," Miguel said bluntly.
Elizabeth sighed, "Figures, of all the cars that could have stopped, we get the psycho killer."
"Do you think anyone will notice that we're missing? They might come looking for us," Miguel said hopefully.
"Your family will notice, right?" Elizabeth nodded her head, "I mean, mine DEFINITELY won't, but when you don't show up for dinner or whatever, your family is bound to figure it out—"
"Actually…" Miguel's voice trailed off.
"What?"
"I'm NEVER home for dinner," he sighed, "They won't notice a thing."
Elizabeth sighed.




Lopez-Fitzgerald House

"Has anyone seen Miguel?" Paloma poked her head into the living room, having heard enough of Luis and Sheridan's prior discussion.
Luis shook his head, "No…he's always over the Bennett's. I'm sure that's where he is now."
Paloma shrugged, "Oh, all right. Just for the record, I am NOT even remotely interested in William Crane. He is an egotistical, smug, annoying, bothersome, stupid REBEL!"
Sheridan raised an eyebrow.
"DON'T even look at me like that," Paloma threw her hands in the air, "I KNOW what you're thinking, and I'm telling you, you're wrong!"
Luis crossed his arms and stared at her.
"I don't BELIEVE this," Paloma exclaimed, frustrated, "I can't take it anymore! I'm going out."
"Out?" Luis looked confused, "It's ten at night!"
"If I have to stay here with you two, I'll shoot myself," Paloma rolled her eyes and headed towards the door, "I'm sure I'll find something to keep myself occupied."
She hurried away.

"She is NOT dating a Crane," Luis shook his head firmly, "No way, no how."
"I'm afraid they're doomed," Sheridan was still smiling.
"No," he shook his head again, "Nope. Not happening."
"I don't see you trying to stop her," Sheridan said teasingly.
"She's not going to see William! She hates William!"
"She doesn't hate William."
Luis buried his head in his hands, "You're right, she doesn't."




The Wharf

"I HATE William!"
Paloma stomped down the wharf, ice cream in hand. She stopped at the edge of the docks, pacing in a nervous circle.
"Why am I even thinking about William? He's nothing interesting to me…He dumped a glass of water on my head for god's sake! There is no way what Sheridan is saying is true. No way at all. I am NEVER going to fall in love with William. Nope nope nope. Not happening. He wasn't even that good-looking…beyond those gorgeous blue eyes…" her voice trailed off and suddenly she slapped herself in the forehead, "Paloma Lopez-Fitzgerald, you will NOT do this to yourself. William Crane means nothing to you. NOTHING. You hardly even know him!" She paced some more, "So why am I standing down here on the wharf talking to myself about him?! What is wrong with me?! God, Sara was right, I do need psychological counseling. Boy, do I ever. Staying up all hours of the night thinking about William Crane. I certainly am lacking a few brain cells tonight."
She finally stopped pacing and glanced down at the ice cream in her hand, "What am I doing?"
"I don't know, but you're making me dizzy."
She jumped, startled, and turned to see William leaning against the pier, backwards baseball cap perched appealingly on his head, and a skateboard clutched under one arm.
Paloma scowled, "What are you doing here?"
"I was under the impression that the wharf was open to everyone."
She pointed to the skateboard, "Come to assert your rebel-ism, I'm sure. Don't you Cranes own your own private pier, or whatever? Did you really feel the need to come down here and bother me?"
"I see I interrupted you in the middle of what was certain to be an enlightening conversation…with yourself," William smirked.
Paloma glared at him, "Well its surely more interesting than any conversation I could possibly have with YOU."

He shrugged, "Must be pretty interesting then, because I am known for my fascinating conversation skills."
"And I thought you were only recognizable by that baseball cap."
William eyed her, "You know, the rebel jokes are getting a bit old. You're starting to bore me."
"Oh, heaven forbid."
"Any particular reason you're so hostile?"
"Oh I could run off a long list as to why I might be lacking in the cheery-enthusiasm department, although I think that my witty comebacks serve as a refreshing alternative to the norm. As to why I don't particularly like you, I don't particularly know. Could it possibly be that…you were RUDE to me?"
"You drenched me with punch."
"It was an accident!"
"You could have gotten me a napkin!"
"Why, was your butler busy?"
William crossed his arms in annoyance, "Has it ever crossed your mind that I am nothing like the rest of my family?"
"Funny, you could've fooled me."
"You don't even know me!"
"And I don't care to. Good night William," Paloma turned and stomped off in a huff.
William glared after her.

"Hmph," Paloma muttered to herself as she headed back towards her temporary home, "That proves that. There is absolutely no way…"




Bennett Residence

"Shhhh," Noah whispered as he and Amanda crept in through the door in the kitchen, "We don’t want to wake my parents up."
"Do you have any idea where to look for this information?" Amanda whispered back.
He shrugged helplessly, "Since my mother apparently has no idea what this mysterious information is, I can't imagine its anywhere obvious. On the other hand, she's not exactly genius material…"
"We'll check the basement."
Noah shrugged, "Might as well."
They crept towards the door that led down to the cellar.
"Noah? Amanda? What are you two doing?"
Noah and Amanda looked up guiltily to see Grace Bennett, standing in her bathrobe, clutching a glass of milk.

"We…ah…"
"We were just…"
"Why were you two going to the basement? You know it's not safe down there in the dark, not until I can get Sam to fix that lamp down there. I wouldn't want you to break your necks going down the stairs!"
Noah coughed, "I'm sorry Mom, I forgot about the light."
Grace softened, "That's all right Noah. I just don't want anything to happen to you. I don't know what I'd do if I lost you or the girls, or Sam…"
"It's all right Mom, nothing is going to happen to me."
"Sam is the most important thing in the world to me, without Sam I don’t think that I could go on living, Sam is—"
"We'll be going now, Mrs. Bennett. You have a good night," Amanda said with a forced grin, inching towards the door.
Noah nodded quickly, "I'll be home later."
They turned to flee.

"Oh, kids!" Grace exclaimed suddenly, "I've still got some pea soup pie left over, if you want some—"
"NO!" Noah and Amanda yelled loudly.
Grace looked startled, "Well…why not?"
"I already ate," Amanda tried to sound sincere as she slowly reached behind her for the doorknob.
"And I'll…ah…have some later," Noah said quickly, shooting a fake smile in his mother's direction.
Grace shrugged and put the pie back down on the counter, "All right, if you insist. Noah, don't stay out too late."
Noah and Amanda nodded and hurried out the door.

"Now what?" Amanda asked as soon as they were outside.
Noah suddenly brightened, "I have an idea."





The Morgue

"Since," Elizabeth sighed as she leaned her head against the wooden beam, "It appears that we're about to die, are you up for a confession session?"
Miguel glared at her, "Don't you think we should be brainstorming to try and figure a way out of this mess?"
Elizabeth nodded towards Lucius, who was attacking the dead body with a chainsaw, "We have been kidnapped and tied up by an insane, freakishly strong serial killer. If there was a way out of this mess, don't you think some of his OTHER victims might have found it by now?!"
Miguel closed his eyes, "I guess you're right."
"Of course I'm right. I'm a Crane."
"What's that got to do with it?"
She shrugged, "Our word is always final. So how about that confession session? Have you got any deep dark secrets you want to get out before your untimely demise?"
He shook his head, "Not really."
"Not really, as in you don't have any secrets, or not really in that you don't want to tell them?"
"I don't really have any."
She sighed, "Now that's just sad."

"What deep dark secrets could YOU possibly be hiding?" Miguel challenged.
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow, "You'd be surprised."
"Try me."
She sighed and looked over at Lucius once again, "Fine. I helped cover something up once. Something terrible."
"Go on," Miguel pressed.
"Not too long ago, when my younger sister, Stephanie, and I were away at boarding school in England…it became rather obvious that Stephanie had a few emotional problems."
"What kind of emotional problems?" Miguel questioned, "she seemed fine to me."
"She believed that she could hold conversations with her pen," Elizabeth sighed, "And that her pen gave her orders. According to Stephanie, this pen gave her a command to attack her roommate one night…"
"She attacked her roommate?!"
With a defeated sigh, Elizabeth nodded, "Her roommate, Sara, was a really nice girl, and Stephanie's closest friend. But when this pen incident began, she and Sara drifted farther and farther apart. Until that night, when Stephanie smuggled a knife out of the mess hall."
Elizabeth took a deep breath, "Her injuries were severe, but not life-threatening. I happened to be passing by when I saw the struggle. It took three teachers and myself to pull Stephanie off of Sara. When she was cleaned up by the doctor, she had a terrible gash down the side of her face that took almost fifty stitches."
"That's terrible."
"That's not all…" Elizabeth closed her eyes, "Obviously, something like this would cause mountains of bad publicity. So my family paid off the boarding school so that word wouldn't leak out about what happened. Sara's family was given an exorbitant amount of money, and she was sent off to school somewhere else. Stephanie was given extensive psychological counseling, and I was instructed to keep an eye on her and make sure that nothing like that ever happened again."

"Whoa," Miguel looked stunned.
Elizabeth laughed softly, "Which isn't to say that her homicidal urges have subsided. She's got some really evil desire to murder our father, and she's really got some trouble around sharp objects."
"So do I," Lucius leered at them from across the room, waving a sharp knife menacingly.
Miguel gulped nervously, "Can't we at least TRY to get out of here?!"
Elizabeth shrugged, "Got any plans, Einstein?"
Miguel grinned, "Well, considering that I took advantage of the amount of time it took you to make your, uh, confession, and freed my hands from the ropes, I think we've got a pretty good plan."
And with that he lunged at Lucius, swinging a wooden plank.
"MIGUEL LOOK OUT!" Elizabeth shrieked, struggling to free herself from her bindings.
Lucius swung the knife wildly at Miguel, causing him to leap backwards. Elizabeth finally yanked her hands free, ignoring the pain from the rope burn, and threw herself into the fray.
"TAKE THAT YOU HEARSE DRIVING FREAK!" She screamed, dumping the gurney over on Lucius, who cried out in surprise before struggling to free himself from where he was pinned under the gruesome corpse.

"Come on!" Miguel grabbed her hand and dragged her towards the door.
"You don't see me arguing," Elizabeth grumbled as they shoved open the heavy wooden door and bolted out into the cool night air.
"We're coming, Charity," Miguel whispered as they hurried towards their only means of escape.
Behind them, Lucius managed to wriggle his way out from underneath the corpse and sprinted towards the door, just in time to see his hearse speed away, leaving tire tracks on the pavement.

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