Alliea and Rob
We were having a quiet drink at the bar and some idiot turned on the Juke Box.
The volume was too loud. The song was appalling – a groaning, howling, shouting blues song about what it’s like to be an oppressed male with a small libido. I turned and looked and saw a grey haired old fool bopping and clicking his fingers to the beat. And I scowled.
And then he started to sing along.
She don’t understand me
She don’t wash my clothes
She do not respec’ me
My baby, she don’t like my whores
She thinks I’m a loser
My baby, she thinks I’m a liar
My baby, she…’
And so it continued. I turned to Rob, and rolled my eyes.
‘I like it too,’ he said, smiling, and my soul died.
‘It’s a dirge.’
‘Hey.’ The greyhaired loon was standing at the bar next to us.
‘Can I help you?’ I said.
‘You should leave,’ he said, and winked. And the doors crashed in and a Corporation Arrest Team crashed in. I straightened up. Rob clenched his fists. They brought their guns to bear. The old loon threw some dust in the air and there was an almighty bang.
‘Run!’ We ran. Out of the exit, the loon ahead of us, moving with remarkable speed for a man with grey hairs and wrinkles. I ran to the back door, but he tapped my arm and pointed up so we ran up the stairs. Two flights, three flights, four… I cursed as I realised we were going to get trapped. I began to despair. Then suddenly, the old man stopped. He produced a plasma gun. And he blew a hole in the hardplastic walls and outside there was a spacecraft hovering.
‘Nice,’ I said admiringly.
I grinned, eyeing me up, in a way I found disconcertingly appealing, considering his age, and withered looks.
‘Who the fuck are you?’ Rob snarled.
‘You can stay, or come with me, you think I give a shit?’ the old man retorted.
We leapt out of the hole in the wall and were sucked by some suction device on to the hull of the spacecraft. Then the old man clambered like a mountaineer across the hull, and plunged himself through the ship’s open doors. We started to inch our way after him but then the doors closed and the spacecraft leapt in the air and we found ourselves trapped on a fast moving space vessel speed vessel hurtling at extraordinary speed up through the atmosphere… on the wrong side of the hull.
‘Oh, fuck,’ Rob contributed.
The sky was lit with explosions as the arrest squad fired at us. The moon was bright, and a strange shade of blue. I had a vague recollection that the planet we were on was called Serendipity, but I wouldn’t swear to that.
We flew up to the clouds, cold and hot and scared, then the hull doors opened. We started to move along the hull, trying not to breathe because there was very little air. Beneath us was a magnificent icy expanse of white clouds, riven with a myriad flying dinosaur type flying creatures. Rob looked down and grinned and I saw his grin and I grinned too.
‘Who the fuck is this guy?’ I asked him, subvocally, and Rob shrugged.
‘Look,’ he said. And I looked down at the atmosphere of this terraformed alien planet and my heart warmed with joy. I suddenly felt alive, alert, myself, calm, composed, at one with the world. For so long I had lived like a savage, animated by my worst, primal, feral instincts. But for a few brief moments I felt like an angel.
Then they turned the suction machine on again and we were swallowed up into the ship. We crashed in a puddle of arms and legs, and looked up to see the grey-haired loon was beaming at us. ‘Safe and sound,’ he said.
‘Who the hell are… ‘ I began.
‘And now you work for me,’ the loon concluded. And grinned again. Two of his teeth were missing, and he was clearly too slovenly to have them replaced.
‘Yeah, all right, what’s the deal?’ Rob said calmly.
‘Double shares for me, total loyalty, terrible food, almost certain death,’ said the loon.
‘What do you think Alliea?’
‘What the fuck?’
‘Pirate. Crew. Yes? No?’ The words were dealt like cards.
‘Yes,’ said Rob.