"Hey' we're having a party on Saturday. Why don't you come?" she'd said. Simon wondered if he would have accepted if he had known that her rather large group of co-habitants included her brother, cousin, and uncle. Particularly since his first thought upon seeing Brother was that he could probably break Simon's neck without much effort.
It wasn't as bad as Simon feared early on, but when later in the evening he ended up alone with the three of them, his nerves won out. "So, is this where you tell me if I hurt her, you'll kill me?"
Uncle scratched his jaw and smiled thinly. "Oh, no. If a decade of knifework drills didn't get her to the point that if she wants you dead, she can take care of it herself, I've been doing something very wrong."
"We would help her hide the body, though," Cousin added, grinning, which earned him a half disapproving, half amused look from Brother.
Scrambling for anything resembling small talk, Simon asked, "A decade? How early do you start teaching..." He flailed a bit.
That did lead to some comments about the place they had grown up at - apparently a farm in the middle of nowhere. Cousin made sure Simon knew how his crush had taken to castrating livestock.
Janine and Fred had a nice dinner at home together. It was still nothing as happy as, say, a year ago, but they were healing. The conversation was carefully edging towards family planning, when the children appeared in the garden.
"I'll lock the door." Janine spoke and moved automatically, not pausing to be horrified.
When she came back, Fred stood with the back to the window front, blinds drawn, staring at the sofa.
Lilly, who would have turned nine in three months, sat there, holding the hand of her little brother. She turned to look at her mother. Her face was dark, rotting. Light glittered in her left eyesocket, reflecting off the carapace of a carrion beetle.
"You cannot exclude us. We're part of the family."
Janine choked. This can't be real. Nightmare.
"You left us," Jimmy. His body was pale and bloated, his voice even fainter than in life, and he had always sounded shy. "That was bad."
There was distant thunder outside as Lilly told him, "Don't worry. We won't be alone anymore."
She smiled first at her mother, then at her father. He twitched and threw back the blinds to flee, only to find the glass door darkened with soil.
Lilly said, "We're family. We will always stick together."