The Duke Nukem series is all about being a crude action hero, but the terrible things that happen to women are shocking. “Get our babes back” was the motto at one point. But what if one of these damsels in distress wanted to escape by herself? This is the story of Veronica Venom. It isn’t humorless, hopeless, restrained, or meant to arouse. It’s a short story about survival and our place in a cold universe.
Plus, there are lasers.
Veronica Venom: Chapter 5
There were two choices. Risk following the butch-cut murderer, if he was still alive. Deciding if that would be a good thing, she left in the opposite direction. If he was as big a threat as rumored, and if they were focusing on killing him then their forces would be weakest where he had already been.
The incubation room led to a corridor. As she walked down the halls, half crouching and leaning against a wall and using her rebar for support. The tissue stretched thin, revealing the cement walls and floor, until a few thick root-like tendons remained clinging to pipes and corners.
Lots of rebar here, she thought and then realized this was the most she had ever thought about rebar in one day, or ever. Within a few hundred paces she wasn’t sure if her strength was waning or if she was shivering. She walked across a decal that read DESTRUCTORS. They had taken over the football stadium.
The hall ended in an exit, a hole in the ceiling, and an officer in riot great hanging by the chains of a fluorescent light. Finding the door locked, she involuntarily pivoted on her heel and landed against the door frame. She stared at the lifeless man. Face Shield smashed. Black burned holes in his armor. Blood pooled underneath him. A picture tucked in his collar. Gun dangling from his fingers. Bloody mud caked on his boots. Wait. Gun dangling from his hand. Gun.
She reached up. Gun. Her hands were slicked by the greasy blood. Her stomach ached as she stretched. Her outstretched arm went to coddle the injury but quickly realized there was nowhere to touch to hold in the pain. Gun. Bit of punctured muscle. Gun. Torn skin. Squishy innards clinging to skin. Gun. She was entirely sore. Gun. She thought of the help she needed; surgery, stabilization, stitches, ice, gauze, lots of laying down and eating cheap apple sauce. The gun was close. She batted at it, just out of her reach and the arm swung. The gun clung to the dead soldier’s glove by his dried blood.
Her fingers hit it with a second bat. The hand swung and the gun fell with a slight rip of loose fabric. The gun fell to the floor. Veronica dropped her hand to her knees for support. She carefully reached down for the gun as dim light the suspended officer.
The floor seemed to breath as she focused her attention to the free firearm. It came close. It backed off. Her hand neared the barrel. The floor suddenly jumped at her face. The body of the dead man fell from the light and pancaked her against the cold cement.
For a minute, Veronica watched the ground fog with every labored exhale.
“Mmmmgh” Her voice. She had almost forgotten she could talk. Like an old friend.
“Hey, get off. Dead useless fuck! I really don’t want to die.”
She tried to lift herself but her arms had lost too much strength. Things went black and the flat sound of her hitting cement echoed in her ear. She wondered where her strength was. She found it in her legs. Pushing up with her butt to let the clunky body roll off her. The wounded flesh clung to the floor.
The body was down. It stared at her with an silent need. He was young. He had eyes like Brenda. Now silent in their stare into the dark.
She couldn’t think of anything more useful than the gun but she tried to search the pockets, anyway. The questions didn’t prioritized themselves. What is happening to me? Should I take his cloths? Would it get me any farther? Am I better armed than naked? Does it even matter if I bleed out? Is there a first aid kit. The buttons might as well have been fused on. The zippers felt like fighting back molasses to open. There was no piece of clothes she could get off. She stared at her finger. They shook with effort. Or, was she trying to keep still. It was hard to keep track. She found two magazines, a pair of handcuffs, mace, a flask of vodka and a CPR mask. None of it mattered without pockets.
Veronica Venom will conclude next Monday!
Article by contributor Ray Richards.