Naomi Silverton was in her home when she received Alexia's Call.
She and her mother were having their usual evening chat in the sitting room, the TV playing on low, quite ignored in front of them. It was guy talk tonight - a guy called Reggie had asked Naomi out, and she inquired from her mother whether it was too soon after her breakup with Bill.
An eavesdropper would hear the familiar girlish titter associated with the ritual taunting of the opposite sex. This eavesdropper, not knowing their relationship with each other, would assume that they were the best of friends, from the way they finished each other's sentences, or the way they sometimes seemed to speak in a code no one else could understand. In a way, they were indeed the best of friends.
Ever since her father had died, Naomi and her mother Tracy had felt a strong need to lean on each other emotionally. Her mother who was an artist, had found it hard at times to support them both, and Naomi was always ready to start a part time job to help her out. But Tracy almost made a religion out of independence, and insisted she could pull through. And she usually did.
"I'm hungry." Naomi announced.
"Well, fetch the tea then!" her mother said.
"No way, I did it last time!" Naomi protested. She glanced at her mother, catching a very mischievous grin on her face, and her fingers raised, waggling in the air in a threatening manner.
Naomi gasped. "Oh no, now you know that's not fai- eeek!" Naomi exploded into squealing giggles as her mother tickled her relentlessly. She escaped so quickly, she almost stumbled. "You are so sneaky..." but another waggle of her fingers got her walking briskly to the kitchen, grinning and shaking her head.
She got herbal tea bags from a honey jar in the top cupboard (they both enjoyed herbal), and collected an artsy tea set onto a tray.
"I'm waiting!" her mother yelled from the couch.
"Maybe I would be faster if you, like, gave me a hand!" Naomi hollered back, grinning. She had an impulse to run to the sitting room and play-wrestle her mother.
When she had placed the biscuits on the tray, she carefully lifted it, walking slowly across the slippery kitchen floor. In fact, she was right at the border between the tiles and the carpet when It came.
Without warning, her head was split in two by something loud enough to burst her eardrums if it had come from outside of her head.
But it didn't.
It was in the exact centre of her brain, where she couldn’t reach or stop it. Then, just when she thought she would go mad, it stopped as abruptly as it had begun.
As she came back to awareness, she realised her eyes were closed and her hands were grasping her head. She opened her eyes with some difficulty, since her tight squinting had locked her eyelashes together. She was kneeling on the ground and the tray and its contents were splayed on the carpet. Most of the ceramic things were broken.
She felt a pressure on her shoulder. She turned and looked at her mother on the floor next to her, with an agitated expression, her mouth moving soundlessly. Then, as suddenly as if she had switched on a radio from zero to maximum volume, sound returned to her ears.
" - you ok?! Answer me!" her voice was quivering slightly. Naomi managed to voice out an "I'm fine" before her mum pummelled her with questions. What happened? What should I do? Has this happened before, are you sure you're ok...
She heard a familiar buzzing as she heard several thoughts coming at once from her mothers mind. Soon, she would tell her to lie down. Then she'd call the doctor, who would promise her a check-up the next day. Of course then he would find absolutely nothing wrong with her. It would not be what Naomi could read at the front of her mother's mind, clear as day.
This was no tumour. It was a Distress Call, plain and simple. But she hadn't had one for nearly two years...
The neon lights of the old building flickered violently from possible over use. If the bar known as The Shack was a car, it would be a three-wheeled-cart pulled by a lame donkey. Everyone knew the place was going down. Surprisingly, it had lasted quite a bit longer than most expected. It definitely earned its name, with bits of ceiling coming apart occasionally and its flaking walls. Still, it remained a popular social attraction for more people than it legally should have.
For Jake Smith, it was the perfect place to pick up girls. Besides the fact that the beer was cheap, if he came at the right time, there would be a recently dumped, loveless, pretty girl, wallowing in misery. And he would be her Prince Charming, ready to scoop her out. When he was done, he would throw her back into her pool and search for new fresh 'fish' in the chain of clubs that was his 'sea'. If there was something Jake was good at, it was Charm.
The moment he was waiting for came. She came in a flurry of tears, dressed in lilac skin pants and a tank top. At a glance she looked not much older than 19. The sweet type. Easy.
He flicked his cigarette butt into the gloomy corner he was standing and stepped into the light of the bar. His unshaven face gave him a rugged look that many females found highly appealing. He moved casually towards the entrance.
She sat at the corner of the bar under the broken light, obviously trying to be inconspicuous. She was failing miserably.
He slicked his hair back and began to walk coolly across the bar. Only, he didn’t make it.
His head split in two - he didn’t even realise that he had fallen to the beer-stained floor, nor was he aware that he was cursing. When he regained control of himself, he was looking up at two rather well-built bouncers. They didn’t look happy.
"Hey guys." Jake grinned stupidly at them as one of them wrapped his large hand around the front of his shirt, using it to lift him up. He had a second in which he turned around and caught a glimpse of the girl. She hadn’t moved, but there was a man with a goatee approaching her, holding two drinks. Damn.
Before he knew it he was outside, face-down in a puddle that smelt rancid. He lifted his face out and shook his head like a dog.
"Oh, Alex you crazy red head." He murmured as he wiped the gunk off his face. "What have you gotten us into this time?"