The timing on this release is a tiny bit off (about a year, give or take), but it’s good to remember the times when 3D Realms’ infamous vaporware project, delayed for thirteen years, was still being hyped to the point of no return. Ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of Gamer Codex, this is Forever, a short story written in March of 2011 and based on Duke Nukem Forever. Enjoy (while simultaneously shunning memories of the actual game)!
It was late, a hour later than he’d have liked. No messages had come in, no one dared to enter the almost completely darkened room he had resided in for… what was it, ten years? Twelve?
It didn’t matter anymore. None of it did.
He sat on his big black Lazy-boy reclining chair, a smouldering paper cigar in his left hand, a fifty-pound weight clenched in his right. Occasionally, he would swap the two into opposite hands, but this was his pattern now, his life: endlessly pumping irons he could crush with his fists while chomping down on a burning stick of death.
How could it get any better than this?
Now, he thought, there might be someone who would complain that this is “unhealthy” or “a waste of time and energy”. But he’d argue, “Hey, buddy, I’ve busted my ass for you for ten fucking years. I deserve a break.”
Not that there was anyone complaining, necessarily. The Earth, once a target for its natural abundance of oil and metals and other crap, had gone dormant on the alien invader radar. Since the last invasion had been halted (by yours truly), humanity had assumed that they were safe, that they could shut down their precious defences, their Defence Forces and their Strategic Homeland Intervention…Something and Something Divisions.
Point was, the world didn’t need heroes. Didn’t need him.
But he could cope. Hell, he could party all night long, what with the large more-than-7-digit check the government had “donated” to his cause. That cause: kicking back, drinking beer and living the sweet life.
He’d also invested in a few…luxuries, here and there. The world freaking worshipped him, had built statues in his honour. There was even Hollywood movies detailing his exploits of how he bested those GD aliens. Made ’bout $50 million apiece. So what else could a alien-besting superhero possibly do, with literally millions to his name?
His answer was to start a casino.
Actually, incorrect. His answer was to start a casino chain that spanned 40 states of the great US of A (plus a small one in Alaska, but no one gives a damn about the Almost-Canadian State). In his casinos, there were only two rules: “No Guns” and “Don’t Leave Your Money Lying Around”.
So, if he got all he ever wanted (money, booze, women…), then why does he feel so…so…
Empty? Alone? Purposeless?
Nope. Just hungry.
His gut starts to grumble again, just as it had been for hours/days/months/however long he’s been lying there.
Suppose now’s as good a time as any to take a break from…well, a break.
He stands up from the Lazy-boy, dropping the cigar onto the carpet. A second later, the cigar’s crushed into cinders and dust.
He doesn’t drop the weight, though. The way he sees it, as soon as he gets back he’s gonna go back to the same routine, so might as well keep to it.
The door was slightly ajar. Flashes of light, flares of orange and red, danced along the floor, on the crack of light visible.
As he approached, sounds became discernible. Sirens, shouting, the sounds of feet hitting pavement, the shrieks that accompanied death by energy beams…
No fucking way!
No way in hell!
He blinked, and a moment later he stood in the city square, in the ruins of his city, in his own casino.
He looked back. Where he had stood moments ago, behind the door in the dark room, now held a gaping hole, about the same size and build as him. The weight was abandoned…in the ruined windshield of a not-so-fine looking Ferrari.
Did I do that, he thought?
Sweat dripped from his face. He’d obviously run in a hurry.
The wind began to pick up, but that didn’t make sense to him. For crying out loud, this was Vegas! The only flow here was the mob of gamblers charging for casinos.
Speaking of which, his attention now turned to his main casino, or what remained of it. The slot machines were toast, the building itself sporting crumbling walls and structures.
And the liquor…Thousands of empty bottles littered the streets, some half-full, their contents dripping into the damp, filthy underbelly of- no, he couldn’t continue that thought.
No…no, no, no-
He shouted with all his might, his tongue flapping, his hands formed into fists. The rage surged through him, echoing alongside his cries for miles.
His vision turned to the sky, where a glowing object hung over the city, releasing tiny blimps of light that seemed to be floating towards the Earth.
A GD alien mothership. This is an invasion.
Of all the times to invade, they chose NOW! Now, when he was just starting to relax?
If someone were standing next to him, they would have been able to see his face turn crimson, see his age lines (which he’d deny having) crumple into a furious expression. They might even be able to imagine smoke pouring from his ears, like a teapot.
But despite this, he somehow managed to breathe in slowly, unfurl his fists, talk himself down from his high horse, and turned away from the unthinkable object currently spewing reinforcements from the atmosphere.
He’d regret turning his head back to the ruins.
There, he saw it, his old nemesis. Its face as dark and wrinkly as ever, its nose squished like a pancake, its tusks gleaming with what was likely the remains of its victims.
As much as that pissed him off, that the hogs had returned, that wasn’t what set him off.
Nope, the freaking pig was smashing open his bottles, taking swigs of the liquor, and just tossing them aside like trash.
There went his inner calm. Replaced by a controlling, if not tempting, urge to beat the living snot out of every living swine in the nearby radius.
The poor pig…And all he wanted was a good bottle of beer.
He quickly progressed to the pig, charging through debris rather than dodging it. Considering that the street were wrecked beyond repair, cars flipped over, parts of the road sticking out, it was amazing that he still had enough momentum to leap into the air a foot from the target AND was able to drop him in one blow.
Actually, to be fair, the first blow sent the currently desecrated bottle flying and booze squirting out of the swine’s nose, as well as smashing his skull. The second pretty much knocked him out of the park, and into a pool of his own blood and drool.
He breathed once more, his shoulder dropping from their hunched position.
Right about now, he was feeling as though there was still justice in the universe, like hope still shined for him. It probably would have been cruel to interrupt his moment of victory, but someone could have done well to explain to him that smashing such a loud and sloppy creature out of its existence is bound to attract attention.
Especially if some of those “reinforcements” he was cursing several paragraphs back were coming to ambush him.
PARTICULARLY if those reinforcements had been other swines who had been in hearing range of his vengeful actions and were prepared to kick some hiney.
But even if someone were to explain this, it couldn’t be predicted that a very, very P’ed off alien brute with dreams of becoming a MLB champ would be tailing him, preparing to batter up and smack him silly with a large metal rod.
It probably occurred to him just as the rod connected with his jaw. A little too late to avoid smashing through three walls, two floors and a poor Twinkie treat stand that left before its time.
He came to in seconds, amongst fallen Twinkies, dust and loads asbestos. His jaw ached, his forehead felt like it had been struck with a jackhammer and something warm, something wet was trickling down-
Oh crap, he was bleeding.
No, he couldn’t bleed, he wouldn’t bleed, it was a trick, it had to be!
But the evidence was there: reddish, sticky, smelt salty. He’d beat enough aliens to death with his fists to know it.
He also felt woozy, tipsy, almost hungover. His vision was blurring greatly, though through the gaping hole in the ceiling he could still see large blobs gathering around it, pointing down, making really weird noises.
Squeals. Those noises were squeals.
He shook his head off, trying to stay conscious just for a few more seconds, just so he could drag himself off, drink a few, pop some adrenaline meds, grab his precious guns and be on his merry way.
Then he focused back on the hole, and he noticed the hogs.
Saw a large brute carrying a big steel rod leap down the hole.
Watched him sail toward him, his rod held up as though he were stabbing through air.
He waited for the inevitable, accepting that his fate was sealed.
As the brute’s rod neared his skull, and his gargantuan feet flattened his chest pancake-style, he closed his eyes and pondered on his final thought.
Why couldn’t they have been bugs?
He jolted back to the conscious world. His arms ached from hanging over the Lazy Boy’s arms. His cigar had gone out.
Just a dream…
Just like the ones he’d been having for months now.
Nightmares of invasion, of destruction, loss, pain.
Were they just products of his imagination, a output for all the energy he wasted on this monotonous routine? Or was it something more mystical, like the universe was sending him warnings of a hopeless future, in the hopes of giving him a chance to alter fate?
Maybe some more beer would help, he decided.
He was shaken from his thoughts by sound coming from the doorway, a tapping of some sort.
Ah hell, not again.
Slowly, he edged towards the door, his fists readied in a defensive position. Nothing seemed to accompany that initial noise-
He stopped at the frame and grabbed the door handle, ready to pummel anyone who stood in his way.
Breathed in and yanked on the handle.
“Oh, good. You’re still here, Mr. Duke, sir. ”
The landlord. For once, he was tempted to hug the man.
And he had thought the worst.
“Sorry about the inconvenience, but I had to be sure my longest-staying resident on this here plot was still, ya know, around.”
He chuckled, reached for a cigar, dug through his pocket for his lucky matches and stroked one down the mounted pig head by the doorway. Bringing it back, he rubbed it along the cigar’s tip and took a puff from it. Breathed it in for a moment and then spoke.
“What, did you think I was gone forever?”
Feel free to comment below (if you have anything left to say about old Duke). Keep reading, gamers!