Riddick Is Dead

Written by Kevin F. Pickett, 3 Chapters


My name is Richard B. Riddick. I was once a man who upheld the law. Now I break as many laws as I need to survive, sometimes even the laws of life and death.
I am now a fugitive on the run. The first prison I was in, was for a short while.  Before my first 'lights out', I escaped by knocking out a guard who was half my size. What a pathetic excuse for security. I was captured a month later and sent to a high level slam for people like me. I’m a career escapee. I'm always on the run.
My last stay at a five star max security slam got me a cool shine job on my eyes. Being on the run means you have to stay in dark places.
These new eyes give me the advantage on some wannabe, employee of the month, mercenary sent to kill me. In the shadows I get the drop on them and if I'm in a good mood, I'll go shiv happy on their ass. I love blades. They just feel right in my hands.


Illustration by Ig Barros

Chapter 1 - Descent


I remember the first time I died like it was yesterday. Most people are afraid of death. I've seen it so many times that the idea of death and its finality captivate me. Spiritually speaking, it can't be final. Physically it is. I've seen it done by my hands enough to know the body doesn't go for walk after it's spine's been shattered.
What happens when you die? I was curious for many reasons. Death could be the ultimate escape from the government. How could they follow me? Was there any pain? Could I inflict pain on those I meet in death? The worst feeling in the world is that half of a second in which you take your last inhale. Do you get to feel the exhale? I know the answer.

Mortuaria Luna. It was my home for a short time. It was a nice hiding place. Not too many mercs would venture to that planet even for a quick peek. Most people stayed away because death frightened them. I'm not afraid of any man, beast, or place.

Mortuaria Luna was paradise for me, unlike a high security slam which was torture. The lack of freedom and the structured rules made slams feel too much like the military. You wake up for a meal and then you work. You get a meal at the end of the day and then you're confined to barracks and the only entertainment is a medical book on anatomy.

I heard of the graveyard planet before. I never thought I'd ever get to see it. It was on the list of things to do before I died. It’s funny how things turn out. I hadn't planned it but it all worked out.

Mortuaria Luna was the place bodies were dropped off to rot. No burial ceremonies, no flowers. Just give them a quick heave-hoe into the pits. These pits were all over the planet. There were huge canyons dug out about 15 miles apart used as giant gravesites. Graveyards were few and far between. Only the rich had actually crypts constructed for entire families. Why did people preserve the dead? No one ever came to visit. There were small towns scattered throughout the planet. Mostly homeless settlements. They had adapted to the decay and disease in the air from the rotting corpses.  It was always raining on Mortuaria Luna. No direct sunlight. The planet was covered in a misty haze from all the rain. The light from its sun was reflected off of its two moons giving a blue hue of daylight for 4 hours a day. The entire planet had the same weather and rotated the 4 hour shifts of tinted blue daylight. This created more shadows, and dark silhouettes thrown by any object hit by light. It made you think you were always being followed. What a perfect place for me to blend in.

My journey to Mortuaria Luna started on another planet. I was still on Alpha Rio hiding from my last escape from a mid-level slam. This slam had only locked doors and guard dogs. What an insult? I was a guest of the facility for one year. That was by choice. I had to take the time to get stronger for the running.
The mercenary Talos was smart. He had the local law on Alpha Rio put the word out about me to save him time. The idea of stopping was foreign to me since I've been running for years now. Local law enforcement are predictable though. I guess I am too sometimes. Talos' plan was to put the word out that I was in town. The local law will only run you out of their city. They hope you run to the next town so you become someone else's problem. Talos was waiting for me at the boarder 3 minutes after word reached me. I do the same each time and run at the first sign the local heat is aware of me. As soon as they start looking, I'm already gone. Talos was smarter then that and knew my habits. Sometimes I feel like he was my twin brother lost at birth. He thought like me and from that alone was able to capture me with little effort. There can only be one Riddick per universe. This one's getting full.
It was dusk and I was packing light for the getaway. If I only knew it was Talos. My first mistake was being predictable. It was too easy getting out of town. The local law just let me walk by without stopping me with questions. They were obviously glad to see me go.

When I first got to Alpha Rio I started some trouble for them. My weaknesses are helping people and respecting no laws kept by men with no honor. These lawmen were not men of honor, and I found that out fast. I never carry firearms. They carried big guns, but it was all for show. I dropped two of them my first day here. They were harassing some kid over credits. The predator in me wanted blood but the strategist knew blood would bring the wrong attention. Instead, I just showed them what five hundred pushups a day for one year does to a person. The kid never got hassled again and the law kept its distance from me.

I laid low for months. I enjoyed the open vistas and bright sunlight. I don't get much sun which would explain the shine job on my eyes. Planets like this are not part of my future. I'll be on the run and hiding out in backwoods towns and derelict planets. Alpha Rio was just a stop I had to make to glimpse some bright days for a change. The towns were spread far between mountains and clear streams filling with life. One could live outside the towns for years and never need food or water. I wanted to stay in town and act normal for a change and pretend I'm free and enjoying a vacation. That was until people started whispering about an escaped convict. I knew it was time to move.
Talos, he was thinking ahead of me. He deserved his prize. Too bad he never got his reward. I recognized the typical merc costume at about 100 yards, but it was too late. It was Talos.
He brought enough muscle to take down a mammoth. His men surrounded me at 50 yards giving me enough room to try and run. I got past the first wave by running and evading. I made it out of the city and over the mountains.
Twenty minutes and I was still running. About 15 miles out I hit the second wave of Talos' men. Talos obviously read up on Riddick. He brought some wire-head cyborgs that were juiced up on growth hormones. They were dumb but strong.
I was out numbered but I had some fight left. After the first punches were thrown I knew it was time to admit defeat. Talos had let me run 15 miles straight and then he brought on the fight. It was the perfect plan but I had to let Talos know why the bounty was so high.
The biggest wire-head had a mechanism attached to left side of his brain. One good rip did the trick. He dropped to his knees and I finished with four quick punctures to his jugular. I made good use of a writing implement. Shivs are all around us. You just have to look with real intent.
The rest of the cyborgs rushed me for the kill but Talos stopped them. Talos' first mistake. I wouldn't have survived that beating. The bounty would have been fifty percent and fifty percent of nothing is, well you, can do the math.

They bound me and gagged me for the journey. It was a quick ride to their ship. They used horses. Probably stolen horses. Well at least they smelled like horses. Who uses horses? Someone was trying to keep things simple and not so obvious. They wasted no time getting off Alpha Rio.  I guess Talos had people looking for him too. 
We rode through open terrain for hours. They never stopped. No need to stay too long where you might be wanted. He thinks just like me.
Maybe I could turn him in for his bounty. I was starting to realize that mercs are criminals too. They're just the ones getting paid to bring in other criminals. I wasn't a criminal. We're all judged by our appearance and it looked like everyone thought I was a bad guy. That's how this prison-escape merc chase thing all started. It all depends on who tells the story to the judge and how it was all perceived. I wasn't innocent but I had explicit reason for what I did. I won't get into details, so you can make up your own mind after we've gotten to know each other.
When we boarded the ship I knew the distinct sound of his primary engine starting up. It was one of my old republic cruisers. I never got to pilot one but I was navigational officer once on one of these ships.
Talos had money or he confiscated this bird from someone who did. I could smell the hormonal musk all over the ship. More wire-heads were around or one wire-head that was heavily juiced marked his territory.  They still kept me blindfolded and gagged. This was obviously a new method of transporting me. I was becoming accustomed to the treatment. Talos was playing by the book now.
His turn to become predictable.
His turn to become the prey.
I wonder if he was capable of making mistakes. His men sure were. I had to wait for my moment. I heard Talos speak for the first time, "Put him in the cargo bay. We don't want a dog like that stinking up the ship."
The next words came at no surprise.
“Drug him until we get into hyper-sleep. Make sure he has enough to hold a normal man for a day. That should do it.”
That wasn’t Talos. That was the man who made the second mistake. Next I felt the needle and then darkness.

I woke up after five minutes. I had the usual sex dream of a woman in white holding me down. I liked it rough but she was nice. I kept still and I didn't open my eyes. This was my time. Time to listen and feel on instinct. They were all tired and already in hyper sleep. The interstellar shipping lanes were only a couple of hours out. They could just auto-pilot this bird and still safely jump into the shipping lanes while they're sleeping. Not Talos. He’d let them go off to sleep, but he was waiting for my move. He knew I was awake like I knew he was in front of me staring me down.
“You don't know what to make of me, do you, merc?”
He kept quiet but I knew he was there. He moved side to side looking me over to see if he could discern anything about my abilities. He didn’t know how long I was out.
“You’re wondering how long have I been up. I would wonder the same. This is our first trip. Our first meeting. Who has the honor of escorting me to, to..”
“I never said where. You’ll have to do without that piece of info. And, my name is Talos.”
I moved in close right up to him. Nose to nose. He didn’t flinch.
“When we get to the shipping lanes, no, when I get to the shipping lanes, I’ll make sure you guys get off safe."
He got a good laugh from that. Then I heard someone else laughing. They were definitely off in the corner. I moved my nose in the direction of their laugh and then I got the scent. Another wire-head. This one was a little more hormonal. Probably a growth hormone junkie. Definitely the one who's scent is all over the ship. He scratched his hand blade on the side of the hull. I could tell the sharpness. It was a double-blade with spikes in the middle. From the sound it might have been brand new. It hadn't tasted blood yet. I could tell. I knew then I had my new tool picked out.
Talos took the opportunity to double dose me with another sleep drug for storage. I stayed out longer this time. When I woke again I was alone. Talos must have put himself in hyper-sleep. We hadn't reached the shipping lanes but I was sure we were close. I dislodged the razorblade I had in my mouth. I hide it in a spot under my tongue I dug out and let heal over with scar tissue. It's the ideal hiding place for emergencies. A little tip given to me in my first slam. I moved it around with my tongue to cut through the gag. I then spit it partially out holding it at the tip of my teeth. I twisted my head back and spit it down to my hand. The rest was easy. Why bore you with simple details. A few cuts and rips and I was free, standing in the middle of the cargo bay.
I immediately sensed it coming at me. My natural reaction was to duck as the blade whizzed past my head. It was the juiced up wire-head. He stayed up for me. Why did he watch as I broke loose? He wanted a fight and I had it waiting for him. The wire-head rushed me as soon as the blade hit the hull. I elbowed his head three times before his legs gave out. When he hit the deck he went for my feet but I was already lunging for the blade. It felt good in my hand. My blade now. I hurled it at his head as he was rising from the deck. He caught it in one hand and returned it sailing back at my chest. Did I mention the fact that I was still blind-folded? I pulled off the blind-fold and stared at this hulk for the first time. He wasn't sweating at all. That's probably why I couldn't smell his scent at first. I'm sure he had his adrenal glands removed to decrease his fear. His eyes were blue LED lit from an obvious retinal wire job. The pale grey skin was pulsing with green veins pumping oxygen to what remained of his brain. He had the same wire-box setup in his head like the one I ripped out on Alpha Rio. They were probably brothers. This was clearly revenge.
I let out a growl as I threw the blade again. I poised myself for his return throw and stepped forward two paces to catch the blade mid-air while turning to send the blade in a boomerang fashion. The wire-head wasn't ready and now had a double ended blade slicing through his neck. Decapitations are always the same. The head talks for a few seconds and then shuts down. This wire-head rambled for about five minutes. I listened to the last part of his dead rattle.
The talking head was right. I couldn't pilot this bird. I could pull up the navigation and figure out where I was. The navigation station was something I was familiar with. Just like map reading. According to the display we were in the Triton sector.
The head started to speak again, "THE OTHERS WILL WAKE SOON AND KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND."
I was running out of time. At that moment I saw the Halo Dive suit. I quickly plotted a new course.  I had to get out of the ship before they woke. There was no way I could fly this thing. I locked the controls with my special key. Actually I smashed my blade through the console which was my way of locking it from further entries. As I put on the Halo Dive suit I realized the mercs were waking. Talos was still yawning and didn't open his eyes yet. I remembered from the Nav panel that the new course was taking us past Mortuaria Luna. Until then I had never heard of it. I put on the helmet and closed the airlock. Talos was standing at the door screaming my name.
I opened the hatch over a purple planet. We were easily 900,000 kilometers above the surface and moving fast. I had only one chance. The jumping wasn't a problem since I only had to let go and the vacuum of space blew me out. I tumbled downward ripping through the atmosphere like a meteor. The suits external temp was reading 2,000 degrees and climbing. I could still see the ship as it headed directly for the sun. The course correction was simple. I didn't need any mercs following me and damn sure didn't need someone like Talos with vengeance on his mind. I guess that's what a typical day brings when you cross my path. Running was starting to become fun. I could do this forever.

Chapter 2 - Sepulcher


Freefalling is the best high next to stems, so I've been told. I don't get off using drugs. Natural highs are what keep people like me alive. A few base jumps in the morning is better then a cup of caffeine. When I did my first sky dive I was just 10 days into basic training. After that first jump, I did it twice as much as any other guy just to keep my rush going. Space diving on the other hand is no comparison. The drop takes about an hour.  Altitude readouts are impossible to decipher when you're falling at 10,000 kilometers per hour. I once tried to read a book while falling. It was the manual for the new chute I bought for my first off world recon mission. That was my best jump till today. The ultimate rush.  The planet was getting bigger so I was sure I was in the gravity well. Now just breathe slowly and wait for the skyline. I dosed off for a few minutes. Not a good idea but waking up while free falling is something all in itself. Ultimate rush number two.
I could only see clouds. The coastline wasn't visible through the cloudy mist. My drop speed was decreasing. I was probably deeper into the stratosphere. Not much longer till touchdown. This suit wasn't the usual Halo rigging I was familiar with. I'll find out fast if I know what I'm doing.  The misty clouds are starting to thin out. I see some lights to the north like a large gathering of fireflies. They're twinkling as if their alive but I can tell it's just a city. As I reached 4,000 meters it was time to maneuver to a safe spot not too close to that city. My instinct told me to head for the darkness. That's my comfort zone. I can handle anything in the dark. Too many people fear the dark when it’s actually the closest thing to true peace anyone could ever know. That's why good Generals lead their attacks at night. It’s the time of uninterrupted relaxation. People are unprepared. When I did it I was considered a hero until the tables turned and I somehow became the instrument of blame. I couldn't see tree lines or mountains. Just darkness and fog. I could make out a dark irregular body which could have been a lake. This had to be the best landing zone. The heavy dive suit detached and fell from me while the chute deployed quickly pulling me upward and wrenching my back in the process. I couldn't feel my legs. When I entered the dark body I knew it was water but it was warm and thick oozing into my clothes. I sunk slowly until my head submerged in the sludge. What the hell was I in? I released the chute and used my arms to swim. If what I was doing was swimming then I was swimming in place. I could feel my legs but they were moving in slow motion. I kicked hard and broke the surface. I couldn't see with the sludge in my eyes but I could hear people screaming.
"Over here. He's over here! Pull him out before he drowns."
I kicked in the direction of the screams. If it were mercs trying to save me then I'll kill them after thanking them. I felt a rope tie onto me and I held tight with my hands. Before I knew it I was on land. I tried to stand but someone was holding me down. When I wiped my eyes I saw a woman wiping away the sludge in frenzy. She definitely wasn't a merc. A man walked up and started helping her pull the ropes off. I reached in my leg pocket and pulled out the blade.
"I'll get it. I can cut the ropes faster."
They looked at me with confusion when she blurted out, "Those aren't ropes. Their water moccasins mutated by the toxins in the swamp. We have to hurry before one bites you."
My landing zone turned out to be a snake infested swamp. I could handle snakes but at my second glance I realized they were covering me like a pile of leeches. I was already bitten but I couldn't be concerned. I might ask them after we get the snakes off. The man ripped them off by the handful. He was flinging them into a fire pit they obviously started next to the swamp. Why were these people out here in a swamp? Why were they helping a stranger like me?
Welcome to Mortuaria Luna.
When they had all the snakes off of me I tried to stand and my legs gave out.
"Woo buddy! Did you injure yourself in the fall? I didn't see a plane. Where'd you come from?" When he finished he stared deep into me. Then I realized he was staring at my eyes. Must have been a shock to pull a guy out a swamp covered in snakes and then see my new shine job. These new eyes must be magnificent.
"What are you? I mean, who are you?" I propped myself upright and put away my knife.
"I should be asking you that."
The woman interjected, "He's right Robert. We shouldn't question him like that when we don't know him."
While I was on the ground I massaged my legs for awhile feeling it tingle down my spine. I probably just slipped something out of place when the chute deployed. I leaned forward to touch my toes and grabbed my feet. I pulled myself forward while twisting as hard as I could and then my back let out the most gruesome crunch like I was being bitten in half. I stood up and gazed over my surroundings. The air was clear but definitely warm and musky. My friends were still staring at me while I bent down to go through my backpack. I heard them whispering. They had secrets too. If they were on the run they could get me caught. Might be time to cut the pleasantries and move on. I didn't need traveling buddies. The woman walked up behind me while I was estimating the distance to the city I saw when I was falling.
"We didn't mean to be rude. My husband's a doctor and just wanted to make sure you were ok."
I turned around and met her eyes, "There's a city near here. I saw it when I was coming down. Which direction?"
"It's over that mountain." She pointed and then walked away as I gave her a hard stare. I didn't need to be nice. Friends get you killed. Friends never help out in the end.
"How long have you guys been on the run?"
The woman turns around to Riddick, "Too long."
Robert beckoned his wife to get away from me, "Karen, just let him be." He said.
I had to get going. I'm sure a few people were curious about the fireball falling from the sky.
"You guys won't be safe here. Someone's bound to start looking around my drop-zone. I won't tell anyone I saw you if you don’t tell anybody you saw me."
Karen leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I wasn't accustomed to this. I just turned and ran for the mountain.
I had to be quiet and if I spotted any rescue troops I'd have to avoid them.
I made it all the way to the mountain and over it without spotting one patrol. I was getting closer to the city.

It was dawn when I cleared the first mountain. The city lights were growing brighter as I approached. For some reason the lights seemed to go in and out of focus. This blurry effect wasn't coming from the city but was something happening with my vision. I wanted to stop and rest but I couldn't hesitate because someone was probably tracking me. I thought the merc ship was destroyed flying into that sun but I wasn't up there long enough to see it happen. I gazed upward and surveyed the sky detect any ships coming into orbit. The clouds were too thick but some fuzzy white dots were detectable through the canopy of mist. I thought about making it off this rock. I'd still be jumping through star systems with mercs on my trail every step of the way. They had to know I escaped. They always know.


This is Commander Zoe Celus of the freighter Titan. Date twenty four eighty eight. We just intercepted a message from a fellow merc vessel. I couldn't believe what I had heard when we played the message. It was an automated backup of the ships purged logs. Most mercs setup the core processor to detect imminent danger and transmit the ship logs for reception by fellow merc vessels. We intercepted it and decoded the final logs. Their ship was flying towards a sun. How could that be?
They had captured Riddick. I knew they did. That was Talos' ship. He was on Riddick’s trail when we talked last. He was bragging about a trap he set for Riddick on Alpha Rios. We have to get to Alpha Rios now and pick up the trail, if it isn't already cold.
End flight recording. 
"Zahara! Plot a course for the Futuron System. We have a ship to find."
 I might have to kill Riddick when I see him. I know he's worth more alive but he doesn't deserve to live if he's responsible for killing my husband.


I tried to keep my pace fast. The city was getting closer but it was going further out of focus. My legs were almost numb but I was sure it wasn't fatigue. I tried to keep from falling by quickening my pace. There was a fallen tree up ahead. That might be a good place to rest or hide. I pushed on. As I jumped over the decaying tree, my next thought was to feel myself landing on the other side. That never happened.
As I descended, all I saw was a horde of dead bodies. I plunged into the heap of bodies and all I saw was darkness. It was the same when I opened the airlock on the ship and saw the freedom of open space. Darkness is a fear that I thought I conquered with the shine job on my eyes. How could I have known that real darkness would never be conquered?
I don’t think I ever hit the ground but the dead bodies started to squirm around me. I thought it was my own movements but I was sure they were grabbing on to me.
I fought hard trying to claw my way out into light. I saw a glimpse of moonlight and then a hand came over my head and pulled my face back. Another hand came from the side grabbed my face and pulled. Before I knew it I was being pulled down back into the horde. Time to get shiv happy. I cut and sliced pieces of flesh all around me. I carved fingers and mutilated faces to try and push out of this pit of mangled bodies. I made that blade dance in a symphony of blood and guts. My best trick was coring the abdomen and twisting my blade so as to wrap the intestines up and pull them out in out shot. Kind of like spaghetti. This was turning into a nightmare because these had to be zombies. Nobody was screaming. I knew these were not men.  
I was sure of it now. They were zombies. This planet must be full of them. I was even more sure when one bit me, and then I blacked out. Now I am in true darkness and maybe this will be my hell. I think I’m dead.


This is Commander Celus. We have left Alpha Rios and are now hard on the trail of Talos’ ship. It was supposed to jump to the shipping lanes and then arrive at the Cage Delta Maximum Security Facility in two days. It never reached the slam. I know this because we have their logs and a merc ship doesn't transmit its logs unless it's destroyed. Zahara's sensor sweep detected a plasma trail heading for the sun in this system. Riddick is an excellent survivor. So he is on one of these planets nearby. "Zahara, give me a list of all planets in this system and then filter it down to the worst planets for inhabitable life." I love quasi-matrix computers. A girl doesn't need a crew, just a computer named Zahara and a gun.
Ah, the graveyard planet. That's heaven to a criminal like Riddick. "Zahara! Plot a course for Mortuaria Luna. We got a bounty to collect. Maybe we'll get some revenge for my husband while we're at it."



Chapter 3 - Awakening


I awoke in a brightly lighted room. The walls were empty and white. The smell of sterile cleaners was overwhelming. It felt like a laboratory. I tried to stand but I was being restrained. Someone had strapped me down to a table. It must have been an examination because I was the center of attention for the viewers. The whole room was blurry but I could see there were people working on me. They were all worried about something, something terrible from the way it sounded. I tried to get up but someone zapped me with a cattle prod. The shock sent a sharp painful sensation to all of my nerve endings. My eyes went dark again and then the room was covered in a red glow. I could smell meat. The aroma was spreading all over the room. My hunger was growing by the second. I hadn't had anything to eat since my capture. I had to resist. There were more important things to deal with then finding food. The more I fought the hunger the more it swelled in me. I looked around for the smell but all I heard were screams and all I saw were people screaming at me.
That’s when I heard one of the nurses say, “But he’s dead!”


Illustration by Torei


Zahara! Set the ship down behind those mountains. Riddick is here and we have to start looking somewhere.
When I climbed out of my ship I could feel the swampy surface beneath my feet. This planet is disgusting. Only Riddick would hideout on a world so grimy even Mercs would think twice about following.
When I arrived at the city the streets were empty. I could hear screams coming from all directions. At least I was smart enough to have gone back to my ship to pick up one of my favorite toys. The M-99 pulse canon was my best friend. She only came along for special occasions.

This was my first visit to Mortuaria Luna and I had no idea there were cities and better yet zombie corpses roaming about. Zahara said this place was called Graves End. It was a fitting name for a city on a graveyard planet. According to the ships computer, Zahara, this was the last surviving city on this rock. The other cities had died off from unknown circumstances. This place was definitely giving me chills.

I surveyed the streets and buildings for anyone to offer some information on Riddick’s whereabouts. Riddick might not even be here anymore. He could have secured discrete passage on a ship out of here as soon as he saw me land.

I was about to give up and head back to my ship when a man approached me. He came out of a side street alley walking fast towards me. He was covered in torn clothing and he kept his head down. My first instinct was shot first and maybe ask questions before he died. This was a big city and I needed a lot of detail.

When he got close he didn’t stop to keep a proper distance but continued until he was in my face. He raised his head revealing his blood stained mouth. I leapt back in panic but also managed to get off one shot. As I fell down to the street I saw the man’s head exploding from the impact from my pulse cannon. I never shot someone at close range with it before. The splash of blood when his head split open was astounding. I had gobs of flesh covering me as I lied in the street. This is how it was going to be.

I got up and ran for the nearest building. It was an old cruiser repair shop. When I got inside I could see it was already looted for anything valuable. To make myself safe I chained the front doors. Surprises were not something I needed right now. I searched the garage and found a partially rebuilt quad runner. This was going to be a long night and I was going to utilize every minute of it finishing this quad. 

By morning I had the bike running like a newly christened battleship fresh out of space dock. Since I didn’t know the streets I got a map from the garage wall. The lady said he was infected so he would likely have made to a hospital. The closest one on the map was also the largest. It was about two miles east, deep center into the center of the city. 

I made it to the hospital but not before killing three of those zombies on the road. I needed to conserve ammo. Who knew what I would need to get out of here? Was Riddick really worth all this? Half a million credits is worth more then my dead husband.

A couple of armed guards stood watch at the entrance. I waited for awhile a finally saw a doctor come outside for a smoke. He might be worth my trouble.

“Hey Doc. I need to know if a baldheaded soldier type was brought in recently. “

The two guards looked at each other and laughed at my expense.

“I wasn’t talking to you two idiots. Something told me you would be so forthcoming with that information.”

The bigger of the two spoke. “You’re right we don’t really care but there is something you could do to make us talk.”

I hoped off the quad and started slowly walking up to them. I pulled back the side of my trench coat to show a little leg. They were giving me the attention I wanted but not the attention I needed. Before I could get off a shot at these two morons a horde of dead-walkers can rushing down the street.

The guard screamed, “Let’s lock it down.”

The other guard said, “I’ll man the turret while you lock down the entrance.”

He turned to turned to the doctor and politely said, “Time to go back to work Sir. We’ll keep the entrance secure.”

The Doctor couldn’t even look at me. He pivoted on his feet, turned and walked inside with his head down. Isn’t it just like men to leave a woman to fend for herself. The two guards tried to close the door before I could get in. I threw my pulse cannon in between the doors to stop them.

“I can help you guys fight hem off. Please let me in.” The mob of dead-walkers was feet from me when I turned and shot the heads off of two of them. The guards were obviously impressed because they opened the door for me after that. I climbed next to the mounted heavy gun on the turret. I stuck my pulse canon out the window and during the melee I managed to take out about twelve dead-walkers while the heavy gun took out the rest.

The guards were now my battle buddies and more then happy to tell me that Riddick was taken down to the research department a few days ago. They gave me directions and radioed in the clearance I needed to get to the basement levels. I would have rather killed these guys but sharing a fire fight with them and getting what I needed was almost like sex.

  The basement level was filled with blaring red alert sirens when I got there. I tried to find the administrator but I ran into a nurse who was covered in blood and visibly shaken.  I asked her what was going on. She told me a patient went berserk and was ripping apart the dead-walkers with his bare hands.
She wasted no time and ran for the elevator.  I needed more answers so I headed in the direction of the Administrators office.

The Administrator was a short squirrely fella. Not cute by my standards. Administrator Tulsa was his name. He saw my guns and body armor and probably assumed I was some kind of military support. He asked me to follow him as he was in a rush to get to the Chief Medical Officer. He needed to get him the security file on a patient they were detaining who was also the reason for the red alert. I asked him to describe the patient. His description fit Riddick to a Tee. Tulsa told me that Riddick was brought down here a few days ago. He was infected and arrived dead. Riddick woke up during the autopsy and went crazy. He started attacking everybody. Well, that's what they thought at first and then realized he was only attacking infected people.
We arrived at a room marked Research Lab. The Chief Medical Officer was standing in the lab. He was another short squirrely fella.
The only lights came from the monitors on the lab tables. There were several digital readouts and graphs on the monitors.  One had a 3-Dimensional image of Riddick's body.
The Chief pointed to the 3-D image of Riddick and said to us, “I just finished analyzing the results. I have never seen anything like this. An infected humanoid that has developed aggressive, anti-viral toxins in his blood. The toxins kept the virus from spreading but it also triggered an aggressive defense mechanism."
He pointed to the digital graph on another monitor and explained, "At first he was clinically dead. This state allowed the body to fight the virus. When he woke him up he started attacking infected hosts. It’s almost like his body is fighting the virus at the molecular level and also the genetic level.”
I had to ask, "Have you tried talking to him?"
I was thinking like a merc. I just might be what they need to get Riddick to cooperate.
"He seems aware but he isn't stopping for idol chit chat. He just throws us to the side. If we attack with force, well then that's another story. He's already crippled two of my best security guards. We thought the dead-walkers were bad. They're nothing compared to the mess this guy started."
This just raised more questions in my head. If I can help out here, there might be money in it for me.
The administrator interrupted by throwing the file he was holding down on the Doctor's desk. He pointed at me and said, "She's here for that thing we have trapped in the clean room. He's an escaped fugitive and from the looks of it, any other details are classified. We got a military conspiracy sitting in our lab."
I had to change the subject before they escorted me out the hospital, so I asked, "When did this virus outbreak start? To the looks of it you've been dealing with it at most a few weeks."
The Chief turned away and stared at the wall.
He said, "My colleague was the first to identify the virus strain. She isolated it and then she disappeared about a week ago. She left with her research notes. So we're flying blind here."
The administrator grew frustrated and yelled out, "Chief! This makes no sense."
The Chief sat down in a chair and leaned back with his hands folded behind his head.
He continued, "We found your 'Riddick' a few days ago. A pure infected specimen and he was dead. I had them bring him directly to me so that I could do an autopsy. I was able to extract samples for testing but that's when he woke up. Now he is destroying any and all infected bodies he runs into. It's like he can smell them. We have him contained but soon he will finish with the corpses on this level and work his way out into the city. I need more samples of his blood to replicate a cure."
Now I had my leverage. They had something I needed and I could get something they needed.
I said to the Chief, “Doc, all I ask is that you let me talk to him.  You'll get your sample and I get to leave with him no questions asked.”
“How can you be sure you can communicate with him?”
The Doctor had no faith so I assured him by saying, “Riddick and I have history. He’ll ‘communicate’ with me.”
 The Doctor hesitated briefly but said, “Deal.”
We shook hands and then his guards escorted me out of the room.
I entered an observation room with a glass partition separating the room. Riddick was pacing on the other side. His eyes were sparkling like red crystals. His hands were covered in blood. He was examining the walls and glass. I could tell his mind was devising a way out. I knew how he thought. Riddick stopped when he saw me.
“Zoe!” he said and smiled.
“Yeah killer, it’s me.”, I pulled a chair up to the glass and sat down. 
“I tracked you here all by myself, Riddick. I must say you picked a really filthy planet this time. Who would come here chasing you?”
“Cut the bullshit Zoe. You already know I killed him. He just let me take over his ship and fly it into a sun.  I know you got heart Zoe. You're just waiting for your chance to ghost my ass for revenge.”

“Same ole Riddick. I can’t fool you. Yes, it is just revenge I got on my mind. So, let’s get to the point. You’re infected with a virus.”

“Virus? I’ve never been sick in my life.”

“A virus from this planet. You were infected previously somehow. Maybe when you landed."

Riddick put his head down to think then said quietly to himself, "That lake."

“Riddick, your body killed off the virus but it did so by producing a viral toxin that your body is crawling with. You’re not yourself and that’s why they have you caged. They just want a large sample of your blood and then we can go.”

"Go where? Back to the slam? Fuck you!"

"I can wait all day, Riddick. I want that sample and then you're getting bagged for transport."

"Come in here and get me, Zoe. You think they got anything that can stop me. I can wait all day."
He was even more stubborn then when I first met him. I had to let him in on my plan.
I whispered, "Wanna make a deal?"

His attitude changed and he responded with, "Whatcha got in mind sweetness?"

Riddick leaned closer to the glass.
I whispered more, "You let me get a sample of your blood and then I negotiate the selling price. Then we split the profit. I'll give you twenty percent and a one day head start off this world.  I don't give a fuck about these people or this planet. What do you say?"

Riddick pulled away from the glass and yelled out, "You gotta come in here first Zoe. Maybe we can have that goodbye kiss you never got."

I shot the glass with my pulse cannon. I was outraged at his remark. The glass had a large burn mark where Riddick's face was, but the glass and Riddick were unharmed. The expression on Riddick's face was well worth the trip to this scum infested planet.
Shocked at my actions, the administrator got up and said, "That's a titanium derivative translucent alloy. Nothing can get through that. The entry airlock is outside the room."
Administrator Tulsa stepped outside the room and pointed towards the airlock "Shall we."
Four armored guards converged on the airlock door ready for it to be opened. I turned the port wheel and the door hissed open. I stepped in to find Riddick sitting and waiting. His eyes were still blood red and sparkling in the dimly lit room. The Chief handed me a syringe and Riddick stuck out his arm for extraction. I was able to extract four vials of blood with no problem from Riddick.

He leaned close to my face and said, "How about that kiss Zoe?"


I knew she was going to cross me but I didn't know when. Getting close enough to smell the fear was all I needed to know she was about to try something.
While I was close enough to her for that kiss she said, "Yeah Riddick. How about that kiss?"
Zoe  plunged a syringe with black liquid into my neck.  She pushed the plunger and emptied the entire vile into my blood stream. I felt the hot shot flow in my veins and then reach my heart instantly. I was frozen. She dosed me with Dark Dream. Nothing but a new age narcotic used by kids to enter pseudo hyper sleep for dance clubs.  I'll be awake in a few minutes. She didn't know I was immune to the stuff.
The darkness over took me again. My mind became overwhelmed with rage. In the darkness emerged a red sun. In seconds everything was red. Almost like the world was painted in blood. I saw walls and doors blocking my path but I bulldozed my way through them.

I was free. Daylight was all around me. I think I was outside the hospital. For some reason I was not in control. My body would not go where I wanted to go. I knew my only escape was to find Zoe's ship but that's not where I went. My body took me deeper into the city. As I got deeper into a tree filled park in the middle of the city, I saw legions of dead-walkers huddled together. My body continued to get closer and closer. They were feeding on people. The horror of it was that the people were alive. I could hear their screams. I could hear the crunching of bones and cartilage between the ghoulish teeth of the dead. The mob of dead walkers had created a mound of blood, flesh and bone. I could see separated limbs moving and dismembered bodies still clinging to their humanity.  Some cried at the site of their disemboweled bodies. This was hell. I finally could see the hell of this universe and it was in this small microcosm of existence. I died.

My rage grew like a furnace blazing with hot coals. The beast like rage took complete control and all I could see were dead-walkers being ripped apart by my hands. The rotten blood and flesh was tearing from the bones like paper dolls. It was almost calming to hear the screams stop.  I heaved the smashed skulls and torn limbs of the dead-walkers into my own pile of bloody death. As I zeroed in on the nexus of the legion, I could see people alive and fighting back. They fought with everything they had. Some were on the verge of death but the survivors were struggling to live. I crushed the skull of the last dead-walker with pleasure. I compressed his head with my hands. I heard the skull crack and then the pop of his brain exploding in my fingers. I wiped the brain fragments and skulls off my hands over the pile of bodies I had made. That was the last one. I was free again. The red rage subsided. I couldn’t have imagined how I looked to the survivors standing atop the mountain of dead rotting bodies cleaning my hands off. It was time to go.


Captain Zoe reporting in from Mortuaria Luna. My ship is now leaving orbit. Request all charts and tracking information on all ships leaving this sector in the last six hours. When I finished my hail to all federal ships
I heard a voice from the cargo pod, "I thought you'd give me a day’s head start?"
“Riddick!”, I exhaled.
"So you stowed away on my ship. Why would you do that knowing I would kill you? Your bounty is still substantial if you're dead."
Riddick steps into the cockpit and sits at the navigation station.
"I thought about that Zoe and realized that you did come into some riches recently. It took me awhile to figure out why you weren’t right behind me when I escaped the hospital."
Riddick smiled and glared his incandescent eyes at me, then said, “You had to negotiate a price. Obviously they paid you more then my bounty. That would make any girl retire. So stowing away was obvious. Zoe had it hot for me but she was rich now. Why temp fate and risk your life for me?"
He was never an average fugitive. Riddick was ex military. From the brief look I had at his files, you could tell from all the deleted information that he was some form of covert ops. He was always thinking. Always making the right decisions. He was right this time. I didn't need that bounty anymore. I was chasing him so that when I caught up with him I could see his face when I pulled the trigger.  I reached for my pulse canon but it wasn't there. I looked at Riddick’s hand and he was holding it in his lap. I jumped for the gun but his grip was too tight. I was straddled across his lap wrestling him for the gun. That's when it happened. I kissed him.
It was the goodbye kiss I was promised. He squeezed me around my waist while kissing me harder and pulling me closer. He looked at me again with those reflective eyes then said, "Thank you Zoe."
I closed my eyes and said my last words, "No, thank you." I grabbed the pulse canon and shot out the airlock. I grabbed Riddick tight again and kissed him. We both flew out of the airlock into space. We held each other, not once disconnecting from our kiss. Then everything went black.


Zoe. She was one of a kind. She had all that money but all she really wanted was a goodbye kiss. She got her kiss and now I'm floating through space holding onto a female corpse. I was dead three times today but that never stopped me. I think I see a space freighter approaching.



Illustration by Ig Barros