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One Last Good Drunk

Albert Samuel Tukker

     He was the closest to me when it all started. There was a small, late lunch crowd in the food court at the mall. Sitting at the table next to me was a young man, alone, talking on his cellphone, a half-eaten BLT in front of him. Behind us were floor-to-ceiling windows.
     Suddenly, every cellphone in the room went off. The man next me jerked and his phone flew from his hand, striking one of the windows and bouncing to the floor.
     As I dug for my cellphone, wondering why it didn't ring, I continued to watch him because he looked to be in pain. I found and opened my cellphone. The battery was dead, again.
     "What the hell is happening to me?" the young man screamed in pain.
     As I watched, his hands, arms, legs and feet were...transforming. Moving. The pain caused him to fall out of his chair and ball up into a fetal position. His screams didn't cease, but continued in a breath-grasping rhythm that was pitiful to listen to. It was then, as I tried to shut him out, that I heard the others around me.
     Everyone in the food court, including those behind the counters and in the hallways, were all doing the same dance. The cacophony of screams was enough to send one into madness, but all I could do was sit there and stare, wondering why I wasn't going through the same thing. Movement caused me to turn back to the young man dying next to me.
     I watched him writhe in pain as something inside him disfigured his limbs. When his face distorted I had to turn away, but all around me people were engulfed in pain. I had no where to look but the floor. When the young man's screaming stopped I had to turn back.
     Up on his knees, his swollen, contorted arms were useless as he tried to reach his bulging neck. His throat had swollen so much that his airway was blocked. His eyes were straining at their sockets as the skin darkened to a blue. He was suffocating in front of me and all I could do was watch.
     His entire body was riddled with movement. I could see it even through his clothing. He was jerking and convulsing as if electrified. He fell forward, catching himself with his hands. He coughed hard several times and spit up blood. He turned to me, his face regaining some of its natural color. "Help," he pleaded, then spun his head to face the ground. He gagged and his abdomen jerked severely inward. He gagged again, choked, then coughed up a large piece of meat. His expression was of surprised shock. A slight wheeze escaped him, then he collapsed straight down.
     I watched him lie still for several moments. I have never seen anyone die before. I walked over to him and examined what was left of him. He looked...deflated. Not all the way, just that he had lost some air. I turned my attention to what he had expelled in his last moments. It was one of his organs. I turned to leave and noticed the screams rapidly dying off. I scanned the area and bodies were strewn everywhere in every position over chairs, tables, and the floor. Others were still falling over. They had all coughed up something. The sickly, sweet, rotten smell quickly spread, a smell that stained your nostrils. A sound from the hallway caused me to turn.
     In the middle of the hallway was a young girl of around ten, standing amidst corpses, trembling. Tears were streaming down her face.
     I walked quickly over to her and knelt down in front of her. "What's your name?"
     "Mommy's," she got out before that short-breath gasping grabbed her.
     "Your mommy's gone," was all I could think to say. There was no where to hide. Death was all around us. Gruesome, horrible deaths.
     She sniffed, then jerked. She stood still for a moment, staring at the floor. Slowly, she looked up to me. "Mister, I hurt." She jerked again, then started screaming. A blood-curdling, piercing scream that penetrated my soul. Her arms and legs started to ripple and bubble. Her face twisted in pain, screams, the skin moving and pushing from underneath.
     I backed away in a squat. It had only been a few minutes since the others started their painful deaths. Why was hers delayed? Does this mean mine is?
     The little girl fell to the ground and mercifully, cracked her skull on the floor. She was still alive, but her eyes stared blankly through me and the pain had vanished from her face. Her skin still moved as her body continued to breath, but she was swelling up fast.
     I stood and ran out the door for the outside. I needed air. That was a mistake.
     Once out in the sunlight I saw all of the bodies on the sidewalk and parking lot. Birds covered all of their faces. It only took a moment to realize that they were going for the eyes. Car crashes were everywhere. Cars into cars, cars into trees, poles, houses. Fires were sparking to life and growing at some of the wrecks.
     Movement in my peripheral vision caused me to turn. A man was running full speed towards me, waving his arms. He didn't look threatening, but I was wondering about his sanity.
     "Throw away your cellphone! Throw away your cellphone!" he was yelling when he was close enough for me to hear. He continued until he was in front of me.
     "The batteries dead," I stated.
     He bent over and braced himself on his knees, panting. "Throw it away, anyway. It's the trigger."
     "What? Trigger? What are you talking about? Do you know what just happened?"
     "Throw away your phone. We gotta get outta here. You got a car?"
     "What happened just now? Trigger for what?"
     "Throw away your damn phone!" he yelled at me.
     I reached in my pocket and pulled out my cellphone. I flipped it open and showed him the blank screen. "See. Batteries dead."
     He swatted the phone out of my hand in one quick movement. "You gotta car? My wife's got the keys and I don't know where she is."
     "Yeah. It's over there. Shouldn't we wait for the police or someone?"
     "Who do you think did this? You got a car?"
     "What? This was intentional?"
     "Let's get rolling. I'll tell you about it while you drive."
     Moments later we were pulling out of the parking lot. The freeway was only a few blocks away. He had said to take it south.
     "So, what's going on?" I prodded.
     "You know what chemtrails are?"
     "I've heard the rumors."
     "Well, they're not rumors. They've been spraying that crap for years so it's in everything; the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breath. They were just waiting for the right moment to activate the trigger."
     "Trigger? What trigger?"
     "Didn't you hear everybody's cellphone go off at once?"
     "Yeah, ooh."
     "But wait, how come you and me are still alive?"
     He thought a moment. "Well, first off, neither of us had a cellphone. My wife has ours and yours was on the blink."
     "There was a guy sitting right next to me," I explained. "Not more than six feet away. He had a cellphone. Couldn't his trigger reach me?"
     He shrugged. "Dunno. I was standing right next to three women, each on their phone yapping to somebody else, and I'm sitting here now."
     "Where are we going?" I asked as I raced onto the freeway.
     "Into the country. They're bound to trigger it again. Just to make sure. And there's fewer towers and phones out there."
     "Just who are, they?"
     "The powers that be, the criminals in charge, the ones behind the scenes, the puppet masters."
     "Yeah, but just who are they?"
     "Just follow the money. Always follow the money." He paused as he watched the world go by out the side window. "By the way, you live in town?"
     "Hunh? No. About twenty miles away."
     "Interesting. What about food and water?"
     "Grow most of the food I eat. My water comes from a well. I get my electricity from solar panels and a wind turbine. I..."
     "Just the food and water, thanks. Interesting. Have you noticed chemtrails over your place?"
     "Chemtrails? No. I rarely see a contrail."
     "That could explain the delay."
     "Delay? What delay? And just what in blue blazes is so interesting?"
     "Oh, geeze. What we saw back there was planned and carried out by the powers that be. The true, powers that be, not the puppets they parade around in front of us.
     "They've been using chemtrails to seed the populace for years with a dormant agent. It gets into the soil, the water, the plants, the air, us. I'm guessing the more contaminated you are, the quicker response from the trigger.
     "You, uh, don't use your cell very much, do you?"
     "No. It's usually off, in the kitchen drawer at home. Why?"
     "I think they're being used as primers. Keeping the agents just below active level. At the ready. Since you haven't received much contamination and aren't primed, your delay could be several hours."
     That explains the little girl. "Several hours? Before going through that? I think I'm gonna need a gun."
     "That's not a bad idea."
     "What about you? How come you're not affected yet?"
     "I live outside of town, too. South." He pointed out the windshield. "A little over thirty miles. Also grow my own food and drink well water. I rarely used the cell, but my wife did. Quite a bit. A lot of times around me. So, I'll probably go sooner than you."
     I didn't know what to say to that. Good for me? I win? What a thing to wait for. I changed subjects. "Is that where we're going? You're place?"
     "Yup. I gotta gun."
     We were silent as I drove. After several miles he asked if he could try the radio and I said sure. All the stations were either static, or on autopilot, except one local AM channel. We caught the end of a live broadcast:
     "...everybody is infected; from the President to the Pope. Everyone is infected," the female voice repeated. "The coincidence with the cellphones has been ruled just that - a coincidence. The infection is spreading to those still alive, indicating it is a live virus. No one is escaping this attack from the microbe world. This could be the end of Mankind. We repeat, everyone is infected. This is...arrg-" Silence that lasted several seconds. My passenger and I looked at each other.
     "We are fucked," I remarked.
     "I didn't need them to tell me that."
     Then the broadcast returned, automated: "This is 'Weed' on your radio. The legal high in Albuquerque. W-E-E-D, 420 AM." The station then went into automatic play.
     "Well, either way, we're toast," I commented when he turned the radio off.
     "We could soon be the last two people on Earth."
     "That's a scary thought."
     "And we ain't bound to last, either."
     "That doesn't help."
     We rode in silence for another few miles before I popped out a question. "Hey. What about the people who never get close to a cellphone and live out in the boonies like us? What about the aborigines and tribes in Australia, South America, Africa?"
     He stared out the windshield for a moment. "You heard her, the infection is contagious."
     We were quiet the rest of the way.
* * *

     "How long has it been?" I asked him as we walked to his porch.
     He checked his watch. "About forty-five minutes."
     "So, anytime, hunh?"
     "Your guess is as good as mine."
     "You're the one who knows so much about it. You ain't in on it, are ya'? Is this something that went wrong?"
     "No, I'm not in on it." He put the key in the lock, twisted, then opened the door. "I guess you would call me a conspiracy theory enthusiast." He pushed open the door. "Come in. We'll have a few drinks while we wait."
     He pointed me to the living room, then disappeared into the kitchen. I scanned the oblong room. A wall of books, from floor to ceiling, on the right. A fireplace in the far wall. A cloth covered recliner big enough to fall asleep in close to the fireplace. A short couch. Coffee table. Two lamps. A doorway to the kitchen in the left wall, to the left of the fireplace was a hallway to the rest of the house. I picked the plush, leather chair in front of me and sat down. "Nice place you got here," I said to the doorway.
     "What?" he asked as he entered the room, a beer in each hand.
     "I was commenting on your home. It's comfortable."
     "Thanks." He held out bottle. "This okay?"
     "Perfect," I said as I reached up to take the lager. "This the strongest you got?"
     He chugged about a third of the bottle as he stood there. "Nah. This is just to get us started and use as a chaser." He tilted the bottle to his lips and downed another third. "There's rum, whiskey, vodka, and an old bottle of Thunderbird."
     "Bring it all."
     "You got it." He spun on his heel and disappeared through the doorway.
     I felt a little funny sitting there while he waited on us. "Can I help?" I called into the kitchen.
     He poked his head out the doorway and stared at me for a moment. I felt I was being sized up. "Down the hall, second door on the left is my den. Bottom left-hand drawer of the desk is my pistol case. There's a box of shells in the drawer just above, way in the back."
     I tilted my bottle and chugged half of it. Was I really going to shoot myself? Could I shoot myself? I don't want to go through whatever is happening to people. The pain, the crawling, rolling skin. The bulging and the bubbles. Those people looked as if they couldn't wait to die just to end the pain. I put the bottle on the coffee table and stood. "Second door on the left. Bottom left drawer. Be right back, Hopalong."
     "Name's Adam."
     "I'm Colt."
     "Nice to meet you, Colt. Wish it was under better circumstances."
     "Nice meeting you, too. Thanks for the beer."
     "Let me get the hard stuff and we'll have a blast."
     "I'll get the, uh, case." As I headed for the den, my thoughts racing and spinning, I heard myself mumble, "For another kind of blast." I couldn't focus on anything. Crazy ideas of maybe I won't be infected. Or that I won't go through all of the convulsions and torture. And just where do you shoot yourself so you don't feel it? At the temple or the under the chin you'd feel the pressure and hot gases just before the bullet left the barrel. In the mouth you'd taste the lava hot explosion long before the bullet struck. Which is faster; a bullet or a nerve impulse? Will I be forgiven or was I suppose to suffer? Crazy questions that can only be answered once.
     I paused at the threshold of the second door on the left. Bottom drawer, left side. Why is everything left? I tilted my head to crack my neck, then entered the den. The three inner walls were floor to ceiling books. The outer wall had a sliding glass patio door. The desk faced the door to the hall, the glass door behind it.
     I walked over to the desk and opened the lower left drawer. A hand-carved, dark wood case sat prominent on the bottom. I retrieved the beautiful wooden case that held the gun, and the shells from the drawer above. They were forty-five caliber shells. "That outta do the trick," I muttered. I went back to the living room, set the case and box on the coffee table, then reclaimed the chair and finished the lager.
     A moment later Adam returned with a large, silver tray covered with bottles and drinking paraphernalia. He set it down on the coffee table next to the shells. I scanned the tray. He had everything he mentioned, plus a few more choices. There were also two shot glasses, two snifters, two drinking glasses, and two fresh lagers.
     He sat down on the couch and grabbed a beer. He took a few good swallows, then placed it on the table and picked up a shot glass and the bottle of rum. "That's my third beer, if you want to catch up. I had one out in the kitchen going through the liquor pantry." He filled the shot glass, then gulped it down. He chased it with the beer, then continued talking as he poured another shot. "I found some gin, tequila, cognac, and a bottle of rye. Take your pick. Mix and match. I'm going to pour some cognac and let it breathe a bit."
     I leaned forward and picked up the bottle of whiskey. "Mind if I don't use a glass?"
     "Go for it, Bro'. I never did like whiskey. My wife would get wasted on it, though, and give me the best blow jobs."
     "I ain't givin' you a blow job," I coldly stated as I twisted off the cap.
     He had just gulped the other shot of rum. He quickly chased it with a slurp of brandy. "Damn, dude. You about made me choke. I wasn't implying anything. Just making a statement about the whiskey."
     I took a long swig of the burning liquid, then held the bottle out and examined the contents. "Looks like you were a happy man quite often."
     "We did okay together." He looked up to the ceiling. "I hope she's waiting for me."
     I took another large swallow. "Yeah, well, the only thing I got waiting for me is two cats and three dogs. Maybe all them chickens I killed to eat, too. They'd be looking for revenge, though."
     He chuckled, then drank some more from the snifter. "Somebody will be there. What about your parents?"
     I thought a moment. They and my brother. "Yeah. I guess my family will be there."
     "Sure they will." He downed more cognac. "Um, how long you wanna wait before we...uh..."
     "Blow our brains out?" I stated.
     "Yeah. That."
     Another long drink from the bottle. I was going to need to mix my drinks. "You're the one that knows all about what's going on. You tell me."
     "I don't know a whole lot about anything, really. My job, my wife, the land around here; I know about them. Anything else, circumstantial evidence, hearsay, rumors and accusations. However, if you step back and look at events, past and occurring, you can see that somebody is benefiting when other people suffer. And although different peoples suffer at different times in history, it is always the same ones benefiting.
     "Events strongly indicate that this was a thought out plan to cull the human herd. A plan that went bad. And I mean bad for everybody, including the ones who thought it up and carried it out. Everybody is infected and will die very soon. The only question is when."
     I put the whiskey down and picked up the tequila.
     "Uh, use a glass with that, or any of the rest. Please. I plan on sampling everything. 'Cept the whiskey."
     "No problem." I filled the drinking glass to the rim. I leaned to the table and sipped it until it was down enough I could pick it up without spilling it. When I leaned back into the chair, I noticed that my nose was starting to tingle. "Why would they do such a thing?"
     "Culling the herd? There's several theories. Which do you want?"
     "The real one."
     "Ah, well, nobody really knows for sure. But the most frightening one is that we are just pawns of the Gods. There's not a damn thing we can do."
     "You're saying this is simply Good against Evil and we're just...extras?"
     He nodded his head. "Yup. Another theory is that this is Evil's doing. A desperate attempt to get the last remaining energy before this error is fixed."
     "Error? Energy? Now what are you talking about?"
     "This realm was created by mistake. Evil being placed here was an error. Evil was suppose to have been sent to a small realm all alone. No one seems to know how it got caught in the realm of this solar system, but once it was sealed in it was simply too late to just extract Evil. Good had to send warriors again and again, but Evil was too good at deception and turned the inhabitants away from Good. Good eventually stopped sending warriors and simply waits for Evil to run its course.
     "What we're going through now is Evil's last breath. Evil thrives on the energy of Good, of the innocent, the ignorant, and the fooled. It thinks that if it can get enough energy, all at once, it can break free of Good, for good." He leaned forward and refilled the snifter.
     I didn't know what to think of that philosophy. I mulled it over in my clouded mind. "That's just silly."
     "Okay, then. How about: the criminals who secretly rule this planet, from financial crisis to wars, wanted to reduce the population to a more manageable level. Except, their little project goes haywire and kills the entire population.
     "That one make you feel any better?"
     "Not really. Either a whim of some god-forsaken god, or the whim of some godless asshole. It's all pointless."
     "Yeah, well, the rest of the explanations aren't any better."
     "I've heard enough. Let's get drunk until the end starts."
     "I'll drink to that."
     My mind did flip-flops and somersaults as I emptied the glass. Everybody is going to die. Everybody. Whether it was Good against Evil, some megalomaniac with an attitude, or Nature's revenge, there's going to be nobody left. With the glass empty I came to the realization that it really didn't matter. Dead is dead.
     Still, thoughts taunted me. A voice, booming god-like, tells me that this is all a mistake and that I have to die to fix it. Sorry, but you're not worth saving. Another voice, human, male, maniacal, informs me that I don't need to think about it. I'm worthless from birth. A bottom-feeder. A cockroach. I'm in the way.
     Does heaven forgive the ignorant and the fooled?
     I leaned forward and had to pause. Not only was my nose tingling, but I was off-balance and had to wait for things to settle. Once the woozy feeling abated, I poured two fingers of rum into the glass and picked up the other lager.
     "Colt hunh? Were you kicking at birth?"
     I swallowed some beer to rinse the tequila down. "Hunh? Oh, my name. No. Well, not that I remember, and Mom never said anything." I smiled at my own joke. "Uh, no. My dad liked guns. I got a brother named Winchester. Guess we're lucky we weren't born twins. Can you imagine? Smith and Wesson?"
     Adam slipped out a chuckle. "Yeah. Remember the old Batman shows with Adam West as Batman?"
     I had to think a minute. Who was Adam West and who the hell would name their son Batman? From the thick sludge that had become my thoughts came the old television show and the actor's face. "Yeah, I remember. You were named after Batman?"
     "Kinda. My last name is East. My dad's idea of how to name a child. I'm a pun."
     "Good thing you're name's not Attila."
     He slammed another shot of rum. "What?"
     "Then you'd be Attila the Pun."
     He stared at me in disbelief, then burst out laughing. Moments later he jerked, his laughing gagged quiet and his eyes grew wide. "Oh, god, Colt. I think it's starting." He jerked again and a leg kicked the bottom of the coffee table. He twisted back and forth at the waist where he sat, grunting and groaning.
     Several moments later he seemed to get control of it. "Quick. Hand me the gun." He clenched and jerked. "Before it's too late."
     I slammed the glass and bottle down on the table. I opened the wooden lid and paused. It was a Nineteen Twenty-One Colt forty-five revolver. Blued barrel and hand-carved mahogany handles.
     "Colt! Now!"
     I picked up the revolver and popped out the cylinder. It was loaded. I flipped it shut and handed it to Adam.
     He reached his hand out, grabbed the gun, then dropped it. He jerked again, wrapping his arms around his belly. He bent forward and talked to the floor. "I can't do it, Colt. I can't hold on to the gun. You' to have to do it. Hurr...UGH! Please."
     I stared at him for a moment. Did he just ask me to shoot him? I downed some more rum. "What?"
     "Shoot me you fuckin' idiot!" he barked. "It burns like hell. Just fuckin' shoot me! Please."
     I moved to retrieve the revolver off the floor. He sat there, rocking and jerking and moaning. I tried to move fast, but everything was kind of floaty at this point. My feet felt like marshmallows.
     "Hurry, Colt. Please," he pleaded.
     "I'm trying, buddy. I'm pretty fucked up right now."
     " I," he pushed out.
     Finally, with gun in hand, I was standing again. I cocked the hammer and held the gun with both hands to steady it. Unable to take aim, I tilted forward and pulled the trigger just as the barrel touched just above his ear.
     The explosion startled me and I dropped the revolver at the same instant I watched a high-speed spray of blood strike the couch cushions. Half-a-second later Adam fell in the direction of the blood, dead.
* * *

     I shot Adam over two hours ago. The whiskey and rum bottles are empty. Maybe I'll die of alcohol poisoning and won't have to shoot myself. I am pretty sleepy.
     So, in case someone does survive this madness and I don't wake up from this alcohol induced nap, I want to say a few things. Perhaps it will help any future generations deal with the beast called Man.
     First, whenever you find Evil in your fellow man, it must be stopped. This is an absolute.
     Next, respect and honor Nature. We are natural beings. We can't tame or control Nature. We don't even control our own breathing or heartbeat, how are we going to control the force of Nature?
     That leads to the next, next. Don't be arrogant. Just because you can talk don't mean you ain't stupid.
     Next, try to do it right this time. It might be the last chance Nature gives Mankind.
* * *

     I'm back. The tequila bottle is now empty. I don't have much time, though. I feel a burning. It's like a flame. Like someone has a torch lit inside my stomach, in my gut. It's...spreading. I have the gun.
     I'm leaned back in the recliner, the snifter in one hand, the revolver in the other. I notice it's dusk. I could very well be the last man on Earth at this point, but it doesn't matter. This ain't no competition. Besides, the booze ain't working like it was and the burning's getting pretty bad.
     I'm at least going out with a bang. I think I'm going to try under the chin. See if it really does blow my head off.
     If you're reading this it means you survived the culling. Good luck to you.

Copyright ©2010 ASTukker

posted: 29 March 2010