Party of the Millennium
A Carlson Septuplets Story
The Carlsons' phone rang, and Melissa ran to answer it. It was usually for her. This time, however it was not. "Michelle, get the phone!" she called to her sister, in an impatient tone of voice. She was mad because she had been expecting to hear from her friend Tanya with some very important gossip, and now someone was tying up the line.
It was Michelle's friend, June Fisher. Michelle talked to her for a few minutes before calling out so everyone in the house could hear, "Hey, you guys, do you wanna go to June's party?"
Immediately five more kids rushed into the kitchen, where Michelle and Melissa were. "All of us?" Meredith asked.
"It's not a birthday party, is it?" Monica inquired, thinking June's birthday was August 30. Then she realized that was Mary's friend Mindy Thorne's birthday.
"Mr. Sanders won't be there, will he?" Molly questioned. Mr. Sanders was her best friend's dad, but he also was part of the local news crew. Molly was always afraid that someone would bug them to be on TV. This happened sometimes, since they were the only set of septuplets in the world. Molly hated it because she thought people should mind their own business and leave them alone.
"Yeah, she invited all of us, and more people too. It's not a birthday party, it's just a general sleepover party. And no, Molly, don't be so paranoid. June doesn't want Ruby's dad to bring his cameras unless she's the one who's getting on TV," Michelle replied. Then she said to the phone, "Yeah, they all want to come, when is it exactly? Okay. I just have to ask my mom and dad but I don't see why not. Okay. Bye." She hung up the phone. "It's from 6 PM on August 17 'till 12 noon the next day. That's a week from now."
"Cool," Meredith said. "Who else is going to be there?"
"Oh, some of June's other friends. It's not one of those big, crazy parties that your stereotypical high school kids throw where the neighbors call the police 'cause it's so loud. It's just a party, like most of you guys' friends have sometimes. But not like some of your friends, Melissa. Remember Tanya Kalis's fourteenth birthday?"
"Please, don't remind me," Melissa groaned. Although Melissa was part of the "popular" group at school, which contained most of the wild people, even she didn't have a good time Tanya's fourteenth birthday bash. That party was one of the wild ones Michelle had mentioned before, where the neighbors called the police. Tanya was a very obnoxious kid and all the Septs except Melissa hated her, even Michelle who usually stuck up for Melissa and everything (and everyone) she liked.
That night the Septs asked their mom and dad if they could all go to the party. Although Mr. and Mrs. Carlson were surprised that Megan, Melissa, Mary, Michelle, Monica, Molly, and Meredith were all invited to the same party (and that all of them wanted to go) they said they could. Mrs. Carlson asked Molly if Mr. Sanders' local news crew would be there, since she knew Mr. Sanders always wanted to find some excuse to put the Septs on TV and that Molly hated it. Melissa answered for Molly that of course there would be no TV cameras for some silly little private party, and she sounded disappointed.
On the night of the party, everyone loaded their sleeping bags and pillows and bags of whatever they were taking into the back seat of the van, on top of the two seats in the back where Melissa and Michelle usually sat. These seats faced backwards and were in what used to be the trunk space of the van. The Carlsons had installed them so there were enough seats for all the Septs and their parents. Since these seats were now under all their stuff, there weren't enough seats for everyone.
"One of you get up front in the passenger seat, and Melissa or Michelle will have to share with someone," Mr. Carlson said."
"I don't want to share with someone," Melissa whined, "I just fixed my hair and it'll get all messed up!"
"You're pathetic, Mel," Mary said, "Who cares how you hair looks? Were going to a sleepover party where we're actually going to do stuff instead of sitting around trying to keep our hair perfect. But if you must have your own seat, I'll just ride my bike to June's house. It's not very far away. I always go over there since it's near the Roscher's house."
"I'll come with you," Meredith volunteered. The Roschers were really Meredith's best friends, not Mary's, but Mary went to their house a lot too, so they both rode their bikes over there often.
"Are you sure you want to do that?" Monica asked. "It looks like it's gonna rain, and we're supposed to have thunderstorms tonight."
"It only takes about five minutes to get there on a bike," Mary said. "We can get there before it starts to rain. We'll leave now while you guys finish getting your stuff in the car, so we'll get there at about the same time." Meredith and Mary pulled out their bikes and took off for June's house. They got there as quickly as Mary had predicted, five minutes later. It hadn't rained on them on the way, but now it was starting to sprinkle lightly.
Mary and Meredith parked their bikes in the driveway and ran up to ring the doorbell. June answered the door. "Hi, you guys," she greeted them. "Where's the others? And your stuff?"
A honk from the Carlsons' van's horn answered June's question. They had just pulled into the driveway, and Mary's and Meredith's bikes were in the way. "Oops, there they are now. Our bikes are in the way. We'd better go move them." Mary said.
"Can we put our bikes in your garage?" Meredith asked. "It's supposed to rain tonight. Thunderstorms, maybe."
"Sure," June said. "I'll go open the garage." She ran back into the house and a few moments later the garage door opened. Another car had pulled up behind the Carlsons' van. Mary and Meredith moved their bicycles into the garage and the two cars pulled into the driveway. The other Septs jumped out of the van just as it started to rain harder; Zoe Theeworth emerged from the other car. All the Septs and Zoe scrambled to get inside June's house before the rain started to really pour.
A cloudburst rainstorm struck suddenly as soon as everyone had made it inside. Gigantic rain drops splattered on the ground, and thunder rumbled in the distance.
"That's too bad," June said, sounding disappointed. "We were going to have relay races in the back yard."
"Storms like this don't usually last long," Monica pointed out. "I'm sure it'll clear up soon."
"Why don't we turn on the weather report, to see if it's going to stop raining?" Zoe suggested.
They all went out in the family room where there was a big screen TV. June turned on the Weather Channel, where they were showing the local forecast.
"Scattered severe thunder showers will prevail over southeastern lower Michigan this evening," Monica read from the television. "Expect heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and possibly hail and high winds. A tornado watch is in effect for the following counties: Monroe, Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Livingston, until ten PM Eastern Daylight Time."
"Aw, that ruins almost everything we had planned!" June complained. "Now we're gonna have to stay inside all night."
"No, we won't," Megan objected. "Let's go out and play in the rain! You told us to bring a change of clothes for running through your sprinkler and a water balloon fight. Why can't we still do that, if we're going to get wet anyway?"
"That's a good point, Meg," June replied. "Let's wait for everyone to get here first, and then we'll do that!"
The Fishers had a Super Nintendo connected to their TV so they took turns playing that while they waited for everyone else to arrive. They decided to stop, however, when Mary and June's little brother Alex got in a fight over whether Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo was better; instead they just watched ordinary television. The TV showed little maps of counties with tornado watches and severe thunderstorm watches. Westfield was split between Oakland and Wayne counties, which put them right in the middle of the watch area. No one cared about that, however. Tornado watches were issued so frequently that no one paid attention to them anymore, and there were never tornadoes in the Westfield area. What everyone was angry about was the rain—tornado watches usually did mean lots of heavy rain.
The usual crowd of friends was coming to the party. June was friends with almost everyone, and these people were the group everyone expected at parties that all the Carlsons were attending. Tanya, Louise, Mindy, Holly, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Millie soon arrived, and of course the Septs, Zoe, and June were already there. The last to arrive was Molly's friend Ruby, who was about half an hour late.
"Hi, guys!" Ruby said when she arrived. "Hey, my dad's still in the car and he wants to know if he can bring the crew over to interview...."
"NO," Molly said firmly.
"Come on, Ruby," Monica said. "It's just an ordinary party. People have parties like this all the time! Why in the world would you want to put it on the evening news?"
"It's not just an ordinary party!" Ruby proclaimed. "It's the party of the year! You Septuplets are all here, and that makes it news! People want to know about you! You're public figures, you're celebrities!!" Ruby and her dad believed that the Septuplets' daily lives made excellent human interest stories for the people of their community to watch and be proud of. It wasn't every city that could claim the world's only septuplets as its residents. So the Septs were used to Ruby asking them about this.
Mindy came over to Ruby and lead her in the house, pretending that Ruby was insane and incompetent of walking inside out of the rain herself. "Now Ruby, calm down. They're just normal kids. No one wants to see them on the news. This is just a party. A party is not a news event," Mindy said in a tone that one would use to speak to someone who's crazy. Everyone laughed at Mindy's little act, even Ruby, and although she still wasn't convinced, she dropped the subject.
"Now that everyone's here, let's go back outside and have the water balloon fight!" June suggested. Everyone agreed, so they all headed outside. It was still pouring rain and although it was only 6:30, it was relatively dark because the sun was behind a towering cumulonimbus cloud moving in from the west. Thunder rumbled occasionally, but it was far enough away that you couldn't see the lightning, and it was not very loud or frequent, so no one paid attention to it.
June set a huge container filled with multi-colored water-filled balloons out in the middle of the front lawn, and everyone grabbed a balloon and began running around throwing them at each other. They laughed and shouted and didn't care if they got hit because they were soaking wet from the rain anyway.
After about an hour June's brother Alex came outside to join the fight. He was a violent little boy, and he was still holding a grudge with Mary over the video game issue for some reason. So he picked up a balloon and threw it at Melissa, who he thought was Mary. It hit her squarely on the back of the head, and she cried, "Ouch!!"
"That's for bashing Nintendo, you Sega-playing amateur!" he cried gleefully.
"You idiot!" Melissa screamed back at him furiously. "I'm not the one who likes video games! She's the one who plays them!" She pointed at Mary. "How dare you throw a rock at my head over such a stupid thing!"
"I didn't throw any rocks!" Alex said, truthfully.
"I think he's telling the truth," Elizabeth pointed out. "Because now I felt something hard hit my head, and so did Holly! It's hailing! See?" Elizabeth picked up a hailstone that had just fallen out of the sky. It was about as big as a marble. "It must have been a hailstone that hit you on the head."
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Melissa said. "Hey, June! It's hailing! Maybe we should go back inside now." It was considerably darker out, although this was the first time anyone had really noticed.
"Good idea!" June shouted back from across the yard. "Come on, everyone! Let's go in now before the hailstones get bigger!"
As they were all going back inside, Mary snuck up behind Alex and popped the last water balloon over his head. "Hah!" she exclaimed triumphantly. "That's for being violent, for not acknowledging that the Genny is a million times better than the SNES, and for throwing a water balloon at my sister, thinking she was me!" Mary had seen the whole incident, and had found it rather amusing. But she didn't like having Melissa the airhead mistaken for herself! Alex turned around and glared at her, but didn't do anything because he was already soaked and it didn't bother him much to be a little bit wetter.
Inside, the group played games like hide-and-seek in the dark, which they all loved, and truth or dare, which all the Septs except Melissa and Michelle and most of their friends refused to play because they thought it was stupid. Hide-and-seek took a long time, about two hours, and obviously truth or dare didn't last very long, maybe twenty minutes. By the time they were done with both, it was almost ten o'clock. By that time, the rain had almost stopped, and the hail was long gone.
"No fair," Michelle said, "The rain ruined everything we were going to do outside except the water balloons, and now that it's too dark and late to do anything the rain stopped!"
"Who says it's too dark and late?" June asked. "We can go to bed whenever we want—it's a sleepover party! Let's take flashlights and do the scavenger hunt I planned in the back yard! It'd be more fun in the dark, after all!"
"Okay," several people agreed.
"It's your party," other said.
"Sounds fun!" the rest added. So they all took flashlights and headed outside.
The kids had a great time finding the things that were on their scavenger lists, until it started storming again. The storm struck rather suddenly; it had only been raining for a couple minutes before lightning began to light up the sky and thunder crashed quite nearby.
"The weather is just not cooperating," Monica said sadly.
"Well, we did get an hour outside," Angela pointed out. "It's eleven PM now."
"Come on, guys," June said. "I guess we've got to go in." They scrambled to get inside quickly—those who were afraid of storms quicker than the others — because they all had put on their dry change of clothes after the water balloon fight and didn't want to have to wear wet clothes all night. It wouldn't really have mattered if they had gotten soaked, though, because they decided to put their pajamas on and lay out sleeping bags next.
Mary had brought her NiGHTS: Into Dreams pillow. June's brother recognized NiGHTS as a Sega character and started picking on Mary's pillow. "Ha, ha! You have video game characters on your pillow! Geez, you really are obsessive. How stupid!" The truth was that Alex would have loved a pillow with his favorite video game characters on it, and he was jealous.
"At least I'm not afraid to be myself, and I'm not so insecure that I have to pick on other people to make myself look cool!" this was Mary's favorite retort when Melissa acted that way, and now she was recycling it on Alex.
"How dare you insult NiGHTS?" Mindy cried, grabbing her own pillow and whacking Alex from behind with it. Mindy was a NiGHTS fanatic too.
"Good idea, Mindy," June said, wanting to get her annoying little brother out of the way. She grabbed one of Monica's Beanie Babies and threw it at her brother. (Monica loved Beanies and brought several with her to all sleepovers.) Michelle grabbed another Beanie and hurled it at Alex, while Monica protested the use of her Beanies as ammunition. Mary whacked him with her pillow and he retreated out of the room.
"Hooray! Now that the enemy has been defeated, we have the room to ourselves. What should we do now?" June asked.
Since there was not really anything else to do, they decided to watch a movie. The storm raged outside and threatened to knock the power out at any minute, but they had nothing better to do, so they would start a movie anyway. June, who liked action-packed disaster movies, had three movies out to choose from: Independence Day, Jurassic Park, and Twister. Michelle said a tornado movie was appropriate because of the tornado watch, which everyone else had forgotten about, but they decided to watch Twister anyway. They sat around in their sleeping bags (which they spread out in the family room) and watched the movie on the big screen TV, while eating chips, popcorn, pop, and various other unhealthy snacks.
Towards the end of the movie, Megan decided to go get some more pop. She got up and headed to the kitchen to refill her cup. Angela followed her, and then Mary, Monica, Mindy, Elizabeth, and Ruby all realized their cups were empty too so they went to refill their cups as well. Since such a large crowd just got up and left, June stopped the movie and went to find out why everyone decided to leave at once. Michelle and Holly followed her, and Hannah, Millie, Molly, and Meredith got up to see what was going on. Only Melissa, Tanya, and Louise remained in the room because they were too busy gossiping with each other to notice everyone had left, and Zoe stayed because she was already asleep.
Megan, who had started the mass exodus to the kitchen, wondered why everyone had followed her. "What's going on?" she asked.
No one knew, so they all went back into the family room. Upon returning, they noticed that two thirds of the television screen was covered up by a message that read, "Tornado Warning! Wayne and Oakland counties take cover immediately!"
"Hey, who turned the movie back on without us?" June asked.
Everyone stared at the screen for a minute, and then Monica cried, "That's not in the movie!"
"It's a real tornado warning!" Elizabeth cried.
"Why didn't you tell us, you airheads!" Mary shouted at Melissa, Tanya, and Louise, who had been in the room the whole time and hadn't even noticed.
"What?" Louise asked. Then, noticing the screen, she shouted, "Oh my gosh, there's a tornado! Hurry, get in the basement!"
"Thank you for noticing," Mindy said sarcastically. Michelle woke up Zoe, who was still asleep, and everyone started panicking and milling about frantically in a state of mass confusion.
June, being the hostess, took it upon herself to gain control of the situation. "Okay, everyone. Calm down. Just go in the basement. We'll be okay. I'm going to go wake up my parents and then I'll come down. Okay?"
Everyone nodded, and then there was a stampede for the basement door. Several of the kids grabbed their pillows and bags and whatever else they could easily reach. June was running up the stairs to get her mom and dad and brother when a shrill siren sounded. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher and Alex jumped out of bed and came downstairs too.
The Fishers' basement was full of exercise equipment and old boxes of junk. It was one big rectangular room with small windows on near the ceiling two sides. Everyone crowded into the corner farthest from the windows and crouched down on the cold tile floor. The kids who had brought sleeping bags shared them with their friends because it was very cold sitting on the tile. There was also a small television set, which Mr. Fisher turned on to see the weather report. Every channel had large messages warning of the tornado.
Suddenly it became very loud. When the Septuplets were in the second and third grades, they had been very interested in natural disasters and had read all the books their schools and the local libraries had to offer about the subject. From this research, they recalled that many tornado survivors said that tornadoes sounded just like loud freight trains. That was exactly what the current loud noise sounded like.
Louise, who valued her long, glossy, painted fingernails, began to bite them off nervously. Hannah and Millie hid under a sleeping bag, and everyone crowded closer together. Everyone was worried about their families, their pets, and their houses.
There was another loud noise, which sounded like a large crash, and then Meredith shouted above the terrifying sounds, "Cover your heads like they make you do in tornado drills!" Everyone did so immediately. Then came the sound of glass shattering, and the noise from the wind became even more intense. Melissa and Alex even started to cry, but you couldn't hear them at all because of the other sounds.
After a few minutes that seemed like years, the noise died down again. Mary looked up, and then June peeked out too, but everyone else kept their heads down. Mary and June saw that the all four of the windows in the basement had broken into hundreds of glass fragments, which were scattered all over the floor. Some boxes were tipped over, and one window that looked out into a flower bed had dirt spread all around it, but everything else was the same. The all-clear siren sounded, and everyone else looked up.
"Is everyone okay?" Mrs. Fisher asked. Everyone mumbled, "yeah," "uh-huh," and "sure."
The television set was still turned on, and it still had a tornado warning message, but this time it was for Monroe county, which was pretty far away. Everyone stayed still for several minutes. "It's okay to go upstairs now," Mr. Fisher said after a while. Everyone got up except for Angela and Louise who wanted to stay downstairs, but when everyone else left, they ran up stairs too.
They looked around at what had happened. The house was still standing. Some of the windows on the side of the house that the basement windows were on had been broken, and the curtains and other things in those areas were messed up. Everything else, fortunately, was the way it had been. Michelle and June headed towards the broken windows, but Mrs. Fisher said not to go near them without shoes. So they and a few other kids put their shoes on and went to look out the window.
Outside, everything in the Fishers' yard was basically the same except that a large tree that had been in front of their house was now uprooted and had tipped over onto the neighbors' front porch. It was a large tree and had smashed the roof of the porch. Directly across the street, however, two houses had been totally demolished.
"Hey, I know what must have happened," Molly said. "The tornado obviously didn't touch down on this side of the street, but it did across the street and wrecked those houses. While this house wasn't destroyed, the wind was strong enough to break the windows or blow things into them, and knock your tree onto the neighbors' porch! That must have been what that big noise was!"
"Thank you, Ms. Tornado Expert," Melissa said sarcastically, although she knew just as much about it as Mary did because she also had read all those books in third grade.
"Can that happen?" Holly asked. "I mean, can a tornado really knock down the house across the street and leave the other houses standing?"
"Oh, sure!" Monica replied. "We've seen pictures of paths of destruction like that in books!"
Looking out the window, they could see neighbors coming out of their houses to help the people across the street. "I'm going outside too," Mr. Fisher said. Mrs. Fisher went too, followed by June, Mindy, and all the Septs except Megan. They were still in their pajamas and nightshirts.
Luckily, no one was seriously injured at any of the houses, except for someone in one of the houses that had been smashed who had a minor injury. Soon an ambulance pulled up and that person was taken to the hospital. Mr. Sanders' news crew had arrived, too. They wanted to cover the disaster scene.
After a few minutes, Megan and some of the other kids, including Ruby who saw her dad's news crew, joined the others outside. "Hey, you guys," Ruby said to the Septs, "Now you've got to be on the news. My dad really wants to get you on there, with the disaster coverage." She hadn't asked him about it, but she was correct in assuming it. "Now this party's not just the party of the year. It's the party of the century — no, it's the party of the millennium!"
"Oh, don't exaggerate," Molly said. "But we'll do it anyway, I guess, because of these unusual circumstances. Right, guys?"
"Right!" all the other Septs agreed.
Ruby went up and whispered something to her dad, who then went over to interview the Septs. "Here at the scene of the disaster are the world-famous Carlson Septuplets! The Carlson girls, along with many others, were spending the night at the home of Fisher family. Could any of you kids tell me what happened earlier this evening?"
Melissa and Meredith described what had happened, and then Mr. Sanders asked if they had any plans to help the people who had lost their homes in the storm. He seemed to think that just because the Septuplets were famous, they went around giving aid to disaster victims. They didn't, but before anyone else had a chance to answer the question, Monica thought of an idea. "As a matter of fact, we are planning on helping out! We're going to give money from the `Septuplet Account' as we call it, which has all the extra money we've earned from movies and endorsements and such, to the people whose homes were destroyed to help them rebuild!"
All the other Septs smiled and everyone else who was standing around, which was quite a crowd by now, started clapping.
"There you have it, folks," Mr. Sanders said to the camera, "these brave children who lived though a tornado measuring F3 on the Fujita tornado magnitude scale are going to donate money to help the relief effort. Now we take you back to the news room for more on the Westfield Tornado."
The news crew thanked everyone and then packed up and left. "Wow, you're really going to give money to these people?" Alex asked.
"Sure we are!" Megan said. "Great idea, Monica!"
Everyone else agreed. And that's just what the Septuplets did, after their parents said it was okay (they thought it was a great way for the Septs to spend some of their money). Everyone went back inside and tried to sleep, but couldn't, so they spent the rest of the night watching Independence Day and Jurassic Park. (Somehow, the power was still functioning on their side of the street, thanks to underground wires!) The only people who slept at all the rest of the night were Zoe (who could sleep through anything) Megan, and Angela. Several parents called the Fishers because they wanted to make sure their kids were safe or because they had seen the Septs on a late-night news break, and several kids also called their parents to see if their houses were okay, and all of them were. In the morning, all the guests went home, and that wrapped up the "party of the millennium!"
"Party of the Millennium" © 1997 by Jessie Mannisto.