Posted 3-04-2004
He was already drunk, his sixth drink resting half-finished in his hand. Kayla could smell the alcohol on Adam's lips. Like dad. She shuddered at the thought and wrapped her arms around herself.  He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. "You 'K Kay?" His friend laughed and they slapped each other on the back a couple of times.

She looked around for an escape. Nothing, just more of these wankers drinking to be cool. Adam grabbed a slice of pizza from the table, inhaled it and belched long and loud. He joined his friend in another laughing fit, and Kayla held back bile as the smell of alcohol washed over her.

Someone passed by and flicked a cigarette butt at the wheelie bin behind her. They missed, and it tumbled off her arm, singing a few hairs. Her muscles tensed, and the skin on her back tightened, stretching the scars. Dad again. She backed into the corner of the room and hugged herself.

She waited there silently, eyes flicking back and forth as people milled about her. Someone convinced the DJ to turn the music up. It bore into her, the bass pounding against her stomach. She leaned back into the corner and tried to will the nausea away. Failing that, she stumbled over to the bin and introduced it to her stomach contents. Everyone around her cheered, and started chanting her name. Idiots, she thought. Or would have, if she'd had the presence of mind.

She wiped her mouth on her hand, transferred the bile to the carpet, then half walked, half crawled back to the corner and collapsed in it. A concerned looking girl meandered over, and asked if she was okay. She was drunk too. At least she was friendly drunk.

Kayla offered a weak smile in return, and was considering trying to start a conversation when the girl got shoved from behind. She tumbled headfirst into the wall, and collapsed in a heap, her drink emptying itself on Kayla's top. The girl's boyfriend looked over, and stared laughing, "Guy's, Tam's already out!" Then he looked at Kayla, or more correctly her chest, and she retched again at the familiar look in his eyes.

One of his friends joined in, "Rob, look at her friend! She wants to start the comp already." She looked down at her front and tears pricked here eyes as she saw the extremely alcoholic contents of the girl's cup soaking the white top. Pulling her jacket tight around her, she huddled as Tam's boyfriend sauntered unstably over. He said something, but she couldn't make it out. Dizzy from the reek of alcohol around her  her top, Tam, Rob  she pulled her knees to her chest and started rocking back and forth.

Her nose was filled with the cloying smell of alcohol and the music pounded at her head. Rob bent over and grabbed her jacket by the collar. He pulled, and she stood up with it, for fear of losing it. He swore at her, and started tugging at it, trying to pull it off. She tried to resist, but his friends came and held her arms. They threw the jacket across the room, and she lost it in the crowd.

Everyone cheered again, and Adam looked over from the fish tank he was chatting up. His face went bright red, and he started yelling incoherently at the guys surrounding Kayla. Rob laughed and started yelling back. Adam charged across the room and slammed him against the wall, putting a dent in the plaster. Rob shoved him back, and he stumbled into the bin, knocking it over and spreading its contents across the floor. Rob moved slowly across the room, silent revellers clearing a path for him, and stood over the dazed Adam. He kicked him viciously, once in the side, then turned back to Kayla, anger showing clearly in his mostly-glazed eyes. Adam lashed out with his foot, and caught Rob on the side of his knee. He collapsed in pain on the floor, and Adam quickly jumped on him and started pounding away at his stomach and face. Kayla rushed over and grabbed Adam by the shoulder, pulling him back, and off Rob. He turned and swung blindly at her, catching her across the cheek. She felt the flesh split under his knuckles, and she collapsed, sobbing, on the floor.

Adam looked around the room, confusion in his eyes, and swayed, in time to some music no one could hear. One of Rob's friends recovered from his shock and dashed forward to grab Adam around the neck. Another helped Rob up, who promptly shook his assistant off and hobbled over to Adam. He was struggling uselessly against the forearm held across his throat, and his eyes bulged when Rob slammed a fist into his stomach. Rob hit him again, but this time a sickening crunch come from Adam's nose, which began spurting blood. One last blow to the side of the head, and Adam went limp. The guy holding him by the neck shoved him to the ground, and he hit it with a sickening thud, his inert face inches from Kayla's as she huddled on the floor.

Rob shook blood from his fist and moved toward her. She tried to pick herself up, to get away, but she was too slow. He planted his foot between her shoulder blades and forced her back down, her head slamming against the floor on the way back down.

She looked again at Adam's face, blood trickling from the nostril and a wave of fear swept over her. For a moment she was eight again, and her mother was lying on the kitchen floor, bleeding to death. "Bitch," said a voice. Was it Rob's? Or dad's? She felt a searing sensation on the back of her neck and had time to see a cigarette butt land on the carpet beside her before she blacked out.

 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

 The sound of a heart monitor whining a long steady tone woke her up and she opened her eyes to a white glow. It was too bright, so she closed them again. Her face ached, and it hurt to move her lips. Her head started to throb as the whine sliced into it. Reaching up with her hand, she felt her face. Her left eye was swollen shut, and she could feel at least a dozen other cuts and bruises. She tried to open here eyes again, and managed to keep them open longer this time. The white walls and smell of ammonia told her she was in a hospital. Her eyes began to water and she closed them again. Her face hurt, but there was another type of pain too. One she hadn't felt since dad left. She shuddered. The whine stopped. She opened her eyes and looked over at where it had come from. Through a gap in the privacy curtains she saw a face being covered by a sheet. It was Tam's.

Kayla shuddered again. Lucky girl.

Chris Prior 12RBD

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