Horatio Slice: Confessions of a Space Pirate

Oleander Plume
7 mins read
Published almost 2 years ago
Chapter 1

Horatio Slice: What Just Happened?

Horatio stared out into the sea of raised cigarette lighters. He used to find the gesture endearing, but now worried that one of his fans would set themselves on fire. After slinging his twelve string over his back, Horatio sang the first line of Monotony’s latest single, “Under the Gun,” and the place went up for grabs. The song had been out for under a week, yet everyone in the stands knew the lyrics by heart, a testament to the ferocity of Monotony’s fan base. Horatio found it humbling and kind of terrifying at the same time.

Being a rock legend freaked him the fuck out. Not long ago, he sat in the cheap seats, singing along with his favorite band, The Jukes, with barely enough cash to buy a T-shirt. Now he had money to burn, a dozen sports cars, three houses, and a yacht he never learned how to drive. The lifestyle was over-the-top ridiculous, and he wanted out. All he really needed to be happy was a van with a decent stereo system and a dog to keep him company, plus maybe the redhead in the front row who tossed her panties at him—red ones that had her number written across the crotch in black ink. Horatio was still winking at her when the floor dissolved under his boots, sending him into a free fall. When he finally hit solid ground, his knees buckled, and he fell on his ass.

“What in the fuckity fucking fuck just happened?” Horatio saw iron bars and a cement floor. “Jail? How the hell did I end up here? Again.”

“I don’t know about you, but I’m in here for indecent exposure.”

Horatio freaked when he saw the other man sitting across from him, one knee bent, face hidden behind a porno magazine. The dude had cool boots on—tall ones, with chains around the ankles.

Horatio asked the man, “Hey, buddy, where am I?”

The guy flipped a page before answering. “Merona.”

“Merona? Is that in New Jersey?”

“New Jersey? Can’t say I’ve ever visited that particular dimension.”

“Dimension?” Horatio asked.

“Yeah. Where are you from?” the stranger asked, still hidden behind the porn.

“New York City.”

The dude tossed his magazine aside and lit up with a grin. “New York? The boys and I love New York. Great shopping. I’m Snake, by the way.”

Horatio almost choked on a mouthful of drool. Snake had the most amazing eyes, as silver as the chains on his boots, and miles of glossy, black hair. Horatio found the pirate get-up a bit of a stretch, though. Snake wore skin-tight suede pants and a frilly white shirt, topped off with a long, black coat. If he added an eyepatch or a hook for a hand, the dude could have walked right off a movie set. “I’m Horatio,” he said, then added, “Horatio Slice,” when he didn’t receive the usual star-struck response.

“Well, Horatio Slice, why didn’t you tell me you were from Earth in the first place?” Snake asked.

Horatio blinked. “Wait a minute. Are you saying this isn’t Earth?”

“No. I said that this was Merona, remember?” Snake looked irritated.

“Where the fuck is Merona?”

“Around mid-galaxy, fairly close to Vinterbourne, and a stone’s throw from Turquin. But you don’t want to go to Turquin. The creatures there will bite your dick off.”

“You’re stoned, right?” Horatio asked with a smirk.

“Beg your pardon?”

“Been smoking dope? Drinking? Shooting heroin?”

“Nope, never heard of any of that. Except drinking. I do enjoy knocking back a few.”

Horatio was about to ask Snake if he enjoyed knocking back anything else, like dick, for example, when he got distracted by the sound of heavy footsteps. A hulking figure approached, about six foot ten, with broad shoulders and a thick waist.

“A Reptilian guard,” Snake said under his breath. “Not surprised, really.”

“A what?” Horatio turned to get a better look and did a double take. “What the fuck are you supposed to be?” he asked the guard.

The creature growled. “Are you talking to me, punk?” The voice was masculine. And angry.

“I mean, your mask. Kind of early for Halloween, right? Or are you going to Comic Con when your shift is over?” Horatio squinted. “Gotta say, though, that’s some badass makeup. Pretty realistic.”

The guy looked like a lizard dressed in a drab olive uniform. His bald head, face, and neck were covered in sand-colored scales. Thick ridges replaced eyebrows, and his nose was nothing but two slits in the center of his face.

“This ain’t no mask, pretty boy.” The guard balled up his fists. “Or make-up. This is my face. Gotta problem with it?”

Horatio felt his bladder loosen. “It’s not a mask,” he whispered to Snake. “Where the hell are we, dude?”

“I told you, Merona. Mer-oh-nah,” Snake said.

“Merona Prison, to be exact,” the guard said. “Where I’d grind you into paste, except Meridian wants you alive.”

“Blimey! What did you do to Meridian?” Snake asked Horatio. His eyes grew wide, and he shrank back a bit.

“Who’s Meridian?”

The guard snorted. “Who’s Meridian? Did someone drop a brick on your head? Meridian’s in charge of the entire galaxy, for fuck’s sake.”

Horatio scratched his head and tried to remember the president’s name. Clinton? Yates? He knew she was tall with short hair, and while he couldn’t picture her face, the president was definitely not named Meridian. That he was sure of.

“Well, whoever she is, what does she want with me?” Horatio asked.

“I don’t know what he wants with you, and I don’t care.” The guard tugged a paperback out of a shirt pocket and settled his bulk on a plastic chair that bowed under his weight. “Just mind your manners,” he said with a snort.

Horatio tried to make sense of the situation. Either he got hit on the head with a piece of stage equipment, or passed out from the bong hits he shared with Ricky, Monotony’s bass player, prior to the show. Thinking it was a dream, he relaxed and continued eyeballing his sexy cellmate, happy when he found Snake checking him out in return.

“What’s that contraption on your back?” Snake asked.

Horatio swung his twelve string around to the front. “This is my guitar.”

“Oh, right. I’ve heard music back on Earth. Is that what you use to make it?”

“What do you mean, ‘Back on Earth’?” Horatio thought his head might pop off. “You don’t have music here?” he asked.

“No. Actually, yours is the only dimension that does.”

“No tunes?” Horatio stroked his guitar for comfort. A world without music? He couldn’t wrap his brain around the concept. “That’s a fucked-up situation.”

“I enjoyed the little bit I did hear whenever I visited your planet. Can you play something now?” Snake asked.

“Sure. Might as well.” Horatio dug around in the pocket of his leather jacket and found a pick. “Any requests?”

Snake snickered. “You’re awful calm for a man who got snatched from his dimension and thrown into jail by an evil dictator.”

“Oh, I’m sure this is just a drug-induced dream. I’ll wake up in a few minutes. Most likely with a hard-on.”

“I always wake up that way, too,” Snake said. “Especially when I’m dreaming about Sugar.”

“Sugar? You like the sweet stuff, huh? Nose candy? Coke?”

“Sugar’s my lover’s name.” Snake sounded put off.

“Oh, sorry,” Horatio said. “Sugar’s not a common name where I’m from. Is she pretty?”

Snake’s eyes got squinty. “He’s real pretty.”

“So, you’re gay.”

“Got a problem with that?” Snake glared at Horatio.

“Not at all. I like cock. And pussy.” A trickle of nerve sweat dampened Horatio’s collar. Where the fuck was he, and why was everyone pissed off? Hoping some music might turn things around, Horatio set his guitar on his knee. “The strings won’t make much noise without an amplifier, but you’ll get the idea.” He played the intro to one of his favorites, a tune called “Fighter” that he wrote for his first album. Loud music blared from the guitar.

Snake covered his ears. “Thought you said it would be quiet,” he shouted.

“Yeah, I don’t get it.” Horatio fussed with the volume control knob and resumed strumming. The air turned to static, and a strange hum vibrated Horatio’s teeth, followed by a noise that sounded similar to a watermelon getting hit with a baseball bat. “What the hell?”

“It was him,” Snake said, pointing toward the guard.

Horatio’s mouth dropped open. “Holy shit. Did that dude just...fucking explode?” Bloody chunks dripped down the wall behind the chair, and a pool of red, viscous fluid spread out from under the plastic legs. Another guard walked in.

“Do it again!” Snake said.

Horatio hit the same note, and the guard exploded, leaving behind nothing bigger than one eyeball that rolled across the floor in slow motion.

“I guess that’s why we don’t have music out here,” Snake said. “What did you say that thing was called?”

“A guitar,” Horatio muttered, eyes glued to the disembodied eyeball staring back at him. It was yellow with a slit pupil. “Dude, I’m gonna hurl.”

Snake tapped Horatio’s shoulder and pointed to the urinal jutting out from the cell’s back wall. Horatio crawled over to it, heaved, and sank to the floor.

“This isn’t a dream, is it?” Horatio said.

“Nope,” Snake said. “I’ve seen some carnage in my day, but this takes the biscuit, right here.” He tilted his head and stared at Horatio. “Who in the bloody hell are you?”

“I’m Horatio Slice, lead singer for the band Monotony. We were in the middle of a show at Madison Square Garden. I saw a flash of light, blinked, and fell into this pile of whack-a-doo.”

“You must have dropped through a portal. That’s how we travel between dimensions.”

Horatio stretched out his legs and leaned his back against the wall, mind reeling. Had he just traveled through a portal to another dimension? “I watch the sci-fi channel and shit, but this is nuts. This is blowing my mind,” he said.

Snake took out a flask, had a swig, and handed it to Horatio. “You look like you could use a belt. Or four.”

“Thanks, bro.” Horatio took a mouthful, swished it around, and spit it into the urinal, following up with another long drink. Needing something stronger than whiskey, he handed the flask back to Snake before fishing out a joint and lighter from his pocket. “I need to get stoned right motherfucking now.” He took a drag and offered a hit to Snake. “Want a toke?”

“Sure.” Snake scooted over next to Horatio. “What do I do?”

Horatio held the joint to Snake’s lips. “Breathe in, but hold the smoke in your lungs as long as you can.” The touch of Snake’s mouth against Horatio’s fingers gave him a semi, which made him feel like a sexual deviant—he had made two prison guards explode, and now he was horny. “This has to be a dream, man. I must have taken some weird shit.”

“You’re not dreaming because, if you are, then I would be, too, and I know for sure that I’m awake.” Snake took a toke. “Makes my head all funny. I like it,” he said, expelling a cloud of smoke.

“Yeah. Hawaiian. Real mellow buzz.” The two men shared the joint until it was a small roach that Horatio flicked into a corner. “That’s better.”

“My dick is hard,” Snake said. “Is your dick hard?”

“Nope. But I could get it hard if you want,” Horatio said, wagging his eyebrows.

Snake giggled.

“Well, you mentioned you were gay,” Horatio said, turning a few knobs and strumming his guitar. Both men fell over backward when the wall behind them crumbled to dust.

“Did I do that?” Horatio asked.

“Brilliant!” Snake said. He sat up and wiped tiny bits of plaster from his ruffled shirt. “Now do it again. If you can get us outside, I can take us far away from here.”

Horatio stood and pointed the neck of his guitar at what he thought might be an exterior wall. Before he could strum, sirens wailed. “We are so screwed,” he said.