Title: Through The Eyes of a Kid
Email: pchristie6 AT comcast.net
Summary: A F/R romance. This is an introspective story told from Jack's pov. Her reaction to the growning relationship between Riddickand Fry, and given Jack's past, the impact it all has on her future.
Disclaimers: Pitch Black and all of its characters belong to Universal Studios, Jim and Ken Wheat, and David Twohy. I’m just taking them for a little stroll down memory lane.
Author’s Notes: This story belongs to the universe of Monsters In The Night, though it stands alone. Enjoy!
These old eyes of mine have seen some awesome sights over the years, but nobody wants to listen to an old woman. With the frontier all but settled and the Company a distance memory, they think it’s just an old lady’s ramblings. At least that’s what they tell themselves, so they don’t have to see the truth. If you believe in the good, then you’ve gotta believe in the bad as well, and most people don’t have the stomach for it.
I could tell them about sights so pretty it would take their breath away, and things so terrible it would give them nightmares for rest of their lives. Imam taught me that you could block the terrible, if you concentrated on the joy. He was a man who knew a lot about both and only wanted me to have the good things in life.
It seems as if this generation is full of gutless wonders, all they want is to see what’s in front of their noses and forget the rest. Which is just too damn bad! No one cares anymore about a huge ringed planet that rose to block out the light of three suns, or the effect it had on a child that had never seen anything so magnificent in her life. If they did, they’d pretend they’d didn’t, because then they’d have to understand about flesh eating monsters that came with the loss of the light, and picked us off one by one.
I could tell them about maturing on New Mecca. Knowing for the first time what it was to be loved. To have a man who took care of me, as a father should, and all he expected was that I grew up to be the best woman I knew how to be. But if they listened to that story they’d have to hear about life as an indentured foster kid. What it was like to be used at another’s whim, until it got so bad I ran away pretending to be a boy, or would have gladly died, rather than go back to the life I had led.
But there’s one story I’ll never tell. Though this one many people would have wanted to hear. It’s the story of a convicted multiple murderer and a docking pilot. How they survived the worst that the universe had to dish out and ran away together, to live in peace and happiness for the rest of their lives. That’s the payoff that everyone is missing now days. You live through the worst and God gives you the best. I know that, and they know it, but most people just expect mediocre, so that’s all they get out of life.
For years, as I helped Imam run our boarding house in Mecca City, I’d laugh behind my hand as I heard the mercs, that stayed with us, talk about Richard B. Riddick, and how it took a planet full of man-eating aliens to get him. It was strange, you’d think they’d be pissed or something, but they weren’t. It was almost as if he had become some kind of symbol to them. If there was a guy in the group that was new to the business, the older ones would take particular relish in telling him about Riddick’s exploits. It was as if they were saying, be real careful, or his ghost will get ya! But what they didn’t know was that he was more alive then any of them could ever hope be; and that he wouldn’t have hurt a soul, ever again, unless they threatened his family or his new way of life.
But in order for them to have understood any of that, they’d have had to hear the story from the beginning. Maybe, some of them might have taken pity on him, and let him alone, but it wasn’t something I was willing to gamble with, so as I said before, that’s one story I won’t tell, though I remember it like it was yesterday.
When we crashed on that strange planet, I was a wild thing, ready to run off on my own, until I got a good look at the terrain. It was dessert all around, with three blistering suns shining down on us. The crash site was a mess, with parts of the ship strewn to the horizon. It was amazing that any of us had survived at all, but we did.
Wanting to live up to my image of a badass teen, I took an immediate liking to Riddick, a convicted multiple murderer, being transported back to slam by a grungy merc named Johns. That was before we realized how much danger we were really in. When Zeke died, everything changed. We stopped trying to tell ourselves that the crash was an inconvenience and all we had to do was wait for rescue. Because it was clear that if we didn’t do something quickly, we’d die the same nasty death.
It was about that time that I realized that our docking pilot, Carolyn Fry was watching Riddick as much as I was, but in a different manner. I came upon them in the Hunter-Gratznia, he was still chained and she was questioning him about the bloody death that had just occurred. Even as a kid of thirteen, I could feel that there was something between them. It made the air vibrate and it scared the hell outta me. I’d felt vibrations like that aimed at me in the past, and that was why I was on the run as a boy!
I watched them from the distance for a while before I made my presence known. Carolyn was flushed and it was the only time I ever saw her nervous. I knew she wasn’t afraid of the man who, though chained, was inches away from her, but her voice shook all the same. I don’t remember their exact words; it was something about his eyes. But I can still hear their voices. Hers was quiet and breathy and his was smooth as silk, as his words wrapped around her and bound her to him. I had intruded on a very private moment, and in my childlike way, didn’t realize it, until it was too late.
When I couldn’t take it any longer, I made some wiseass crack about his shined eyes, anything to break the tension between them. Carolyn shouted at me, something she never did, but I didn’t care. The air had been cleared! I pretended to shrug it off as I scurried away, all the while trying not to think about what I’d just seen, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
Though I was still not quite a woman, my experience with men was more than it should’ve been. I was lucky to have gone through puberty late. My breasts were just beginning to develop, though my body was a woman’s in other ways, which I kept hidden. I had seen what happened to the other girls ‘fostered out’ to the man who kept us. When their bodies matured, he moved from simply touching them, too much more. That was what I was running from. It was beyond my understanding that a woman would want a man to touch her like I had been touched, but as I watched Carolyn that day, her body trembled with need. I had a terrible fear of what the convict would do to her if he was ever set free, because I knew he saw her reaction to him as clearly as I did.
Riddick may have been a murderer, and a man who exuded male power, but he always treated me well and with respect. How does that old saying go, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? If that’s true, then I flattered the hell out of him, because I shaved my head and donned look-alike goggles. I planned it for a number of reasons; first of all it irritated the shit out of everyone. I thought that went well with my naughty teenaged boy image, and would keep people from noticing how scared I was. There was also the fact, that Riddick was the toughest, meanest son-of-a-bitch, I’d ever come across and he made me feel safe. I hoped my outward imitation of him would make me look and feel stronger.
It was odd, though Riddick may have been the man I looked to for leadership, it was Imam and Shazza that I felt the closest too. Shazza had saved my life when she cut me out of the sleep tube I was trapped in, for that alone I owed her. But it was more than that. Right from the start she treated me as if I was a real person. I remember thinking that I wanted to stay with her when we got off that planet. I know she liked me; it surprised me when I realized she actually enjoyed spending time with me. And after Zeke died, she kept me by her side almost all the time. I hope she would’ve liked me as a girl as well as a boy.
Carolyn had a strength I’d never come across in a woman before, and though I envy it now, I didn’t see it for it was at the time. It was evident that no one pushed her around. Not monster aliens, Johns, or even Riddick, though I realized both men tried. She stood between the men to keep the peace, and made us all work together to keep the monsters at bay. At first, I all I could see was how she reacted to Riddick, and figured she was using the promise of her body to keep him in line. That made her manipulative and much worse, but not strong. I figured it wouldn’t take much more pressure and she’d crack.
Much go my surprise, and Riddick’s too, no matter what he or this planet threw at her, Carolyn didn’t buckle. She just seemed to grow stronger. That’s when I took a second look at her and realized I might be wrong. But I still couldn’t get rid of the idea that she might want a man’s hands on her. It turned my stomach and made me dizzy to think about it. Though there were a couple a times I was worried for her safety.
The first was during the long systems check. I knew he was in the skiff with her. I’m not sure anyone else did, but I saw him follow her in. I remember thinking here it comes, here’s where all hell breaks loose, and he treats her like all other women are treated. I wondered if the price she was about to pay would be worth the help she was getting from him.
They were in there for over 90 minutes. Now that I’m older I know for sure what went on, but as a kid I didn’t realize the significance of it. I’m not sure if it would have been a help or not, to have understood then. I know I wouldn’t have believed she had been a willing participant, no matter what signals she had been sending Riddick’s way. If she had come out of that skiff in tears or distress, it would have been all over but the shooting, as far as I was concerned. Johns carried a huge gauge shotgun, and would have loved the opportunity to use it. I would’ve told him what I’d seen, no matter how much I liked Riddick. Men, who treated women like that, didn’t deserve to live.
When those skiff doors finally opened, Riddick was the one to come out looking distressed and a bit confused. I watched him as he talked with Imam, and couldn’t figure out for the life of me what must have happened. Carolyn’s angry steps, as she pounded down the skiff’s entry plank, only confused me more. It wasn’t until she brushed past me that I saw the telltale sign of tears, but there was something else as well and it stopped me in my tracks, and made me think twice about telling anyone what I’d seen. I took a moment to really watch her, that’s when I heard her muttering insults to Johns’s parentage, along with threats of a gruesome death to the man himself. It’s a good thing I bothered to take that extra second, because if anything had happened to Carolyn or Richard, the monsters would have gotten us all.
Though neither, Riddick nor Fry ever spoke of what went on between them in the skiff that afternoon before the eclipse, I knew something had changed for them. It was something basic and elemental, which in some ways made the tension worse and in others better. Whereas before, I had been waiting for the first huge clap of thunder after lightening lit up the sky, now there was no thunder, just the lightening between them. It made me begin to realize there was something that I was missing when it came to those two, and maybe even, about men and women in general.
It wasn’t until after Shazza was killed and Riddick almost died, that things began to become clearer to me. I realized how much Carolyn really cared about him, and that her feelings only added to her strength. Though there was still this big gapping hole in her personality that I didn’t understand. How could a woman feel that way about a man? It was what kept me from coming clean about being a female. So I turned to the other person who was kind and gentle and had treated me well: Imam. If I had gone to Carolyn, and told her my secret, it could have prevented a lot of pain, for her, but I’m not sure the outcome would have been any different.
The second time I worried about Carolyn was on our trip through the night, back to the escape shuttle, from the Hunter-Gratznia. After she convinced Riddick to lead us safely through the darkness, but before we actually started back, things went from bad to worse. Personalities had become much clearer to me. Johns was easily recognized as the snake in the grass I had suspected he was. Imam had become my protector, a role that he was to continue for the rest of his life. But something was very wrong between Riddick and Fry. For some reason they weren’t acting as a team any longer. Something had come between them. The sizzle was still there when they looked at each other, but there was a coldness in Riddick’s eyes and a fear in Fry’s.
We were half way between the terror of the crash ship and the safety of the skiff, when Paris pulled away from us, plunging us into darkness and precipitating his death. It was like a shot was fired through the group. We had begun to fall apart as soon as Riddick withdrew his support of Fry, but this was the final assault. In the darkness that followed I learned about true betrayal. Not just the kind where someone takes advantage of another, who is younger, and weaker than they are, but the kind that tears at the soul, and can break a heart. Riddick gave Johns the ammunition to bring down Fry; by telling him I was a girl. The merc gloried in his destruction of the small blonde woman who had kept us safe up until then.
It had been Fry who came to my aid as I stood there and tried to explain while the others look on in shock. It was Fry who put her arm around me as I cried on her shoulder. It was Fry who suffered the most from my secret, as Johns used it as a weapon to try and destroy her. He wasn’t satisfied with his initial victory; because he went on to tell something she had told him in confidence, “that she had tried to dump the passenger section during the crash.” As he yelled out his accusations, I watched a strong woman bend and almost break. My heart ached for her, as Imam and I helped her to her feet. I watched the holy man carefully, but all I saw was forgiveness in his eyes. Forgiveness of Fry’s actions and my duplicity, it was then that I realized he was a man I could trust, no matter what happened.
Johns had just proved he was worse than I had suspected. He was cruel and mean spirited. The way his eyes glowed when he looked at Fry, made my insides crawl. Here was a man who would be a real danger. Suddenly I was very afraid, and glad we were surrounded by aliens, or the monster in Johns might have slipped out and harmed Carolyn, as I had wrongly suspected Riddick of wanting to do in beginning. The merc was a man who preyed on the weakness of others. Even in the subdued glow of the light he held high over his head, I could see the sick desire that filled his face as he watched her. If she lived to get back to the shuttle, he was going to do something terrible to her!
I looked over to see if Riddick was watching, but his face was a mask. His shined eyes worked like a one-way mirror, letting him see all, but us nothing. Why was he just standing there? Then it came to me! Johns must have said or done something that turned the big man against Carolyn. It made my blood boil to think that he was so easily swayed. I had just begun looking at the convict like a childhood hero; it hurt to discover he wasn’t all I had made him into. Then I remembered a very important truth. Trust was hard to come by, especially when you’re on the run. I should know, I didn’t give trust easily, why should he be any different?
When Riddick fought Johns, then let the monsters do the killing for him, it confused me even more. Who exactly was Richard B. Riddick and what was driving him? It was when I saw him with Carolyn, after the fight, that I realized he was beginning to change. I saw him reach out as if to touch her, but then he pulled his arm quickly back, before the action could be completed. Even from ten feet away, I could feel him strain against the longing to put his arms around her, and make sure she was all right, as it warred with the need to get us moving before we were all killed.
What I thought I was seeing, had shaken me to the core. Had admitting that I was a girl, after all those months of hiding out as a boy, made me feel and see thinks I would have missed only a week ago? It didn’t make any sense, and I didn’t want to look too deeply at the rippling, changing relationships around me. I chalked it up to fear and exhaustion, while trying to deny that Riddick and Carolyn might really care about one another. It was a thought that didn’t have any basis in my world. If a woman cared about a men, he mistreated her. That was all I had ever seen. In the lexicon of my youth, men didn’t love they lusted.
In the end, Riddick proved me right, when he left us behind in a cave when the going got too tough. I was more upset than I realized, because I had been hoping against hope that there was a chance I had been wrong about him, and men in general. Watching the big gruff man being gentle and kind to the small woman by his side, made me want to have a real life, where men and women were happy together. Now the illusion was gone, and so was the hope. Even if we got out of the cave, I didn’t believe I’d survive. I’d been badly wounded and was bleeding all over the place. As Riddick had said, the monsters were attracted to the scent of blood, and they’d been following mine ever since we left the Hunter-G.
But Carolyn went after him. To this day I don’t know what she said, or how she did it, but they came back for Imam and me. The man who returned with her wasn’t the same one who had left us. There was a peace about him that I hadn’t seen before, and a sadness in his eyes whenever he looked at her. It was almost as if he was saying good-bye, in the only way he knew how, with silence.
I had a very real fear that he was going to give his life, so we could get back to the skiff. When I was wounded a second time, not far from the settlement, my fear turned to a certainty, because he stayed behind to fight them off. What I didn’t realize at first, was that Carolyn stayed with him, but as Imam and I ran through the night, I could hear Riddick yelling at her to run, and the next thing I knew she was with, us as we stumbled up the entryway to the skiff.
That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in a hospital on New Mecca. Imam told me that Carolyn had gone back to help Riddick, and they had both died. At the time I didn’t bother to question how he had been able to fly the skiff by himself, I was too lost in my misery. I consoled myself that they had died together, so maybe it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
It wasn’t until a year later, and the H-G was discovered, that Imam told me the truth. Carolyn and Richard were alive and together, living on a planet that only the holy man knew about, somewhere on the boarder of the area of space controlled by methane breathers. At first I was real pissed, but as the weeks passed and I realized that Company spies were watching us, I understood his reasons, or thought I did. What I didn’t realize, was that he never told me the exact whereabouts of that planet. He had vaguely mentioned where it was, and in my excitement, and relief to hear that they were alive, I ignored the obvious.
Imam had good timing, because a few weeks after he told me the truth, the letters began to arrive. They were always addressed to the both of us, and came by way of one transport pilot, or another. Though they were signed either Zeke and Shazza, I knew who sent them, though I considered it unfair that there was never any way for us to answer them.
As the years passed, the letters kept coming, and they were a comfort to me. Not only did they tell me that Carolyn and Richard were happy and together, but that they knew where I was. I lived with the hope that one day, the two of them would walk through my door. I listened to the mercs and travelers at night, in the dining room, for any mention of Riddick or the planet that Imam had told me about, but all the stories they told about the convict were old ones, and didn’t mesh with the man who I knew.
Men came and went, but I almost never dated any of them. I measured them by two very tall, and different yardsticks in my mind; one was Imam and the other Riddick. Needless to say, there wasn’t a man who could live up to those two, let alone a combination of them. I wanted someone with the goodness that Imam possessed, but with the strength of Riddick. He also, had to have the ability to make me eyes light up, like Carolyn’s had every time she looked at Richard. I refused to settle for anything less.
As an adult I realized all the things that I had been too young to see in those few short hours on that planet. They had loved each other, weather they realized it at the time or not! Loved enough to change who they were, and take a chance on being hurt by letting someone into their lives. They had been two people who didn’t trust, but when they gave up the fight and trusted, they walked away with the prize. Now all I had to do was find a man who could make me want to follow their example.
The year that I turned 22, Imam died. He was sick for about a week, and then his heart gave out. In his final days he told me all about his years with the Company; the bond Riddick and he shared because of the Spook Squad; and the real reason why the Company, even now, sent the occasional spy to watch over us. Richard and Carolyn had the knowledge of one of their greatest secrets, and it would mean their deaths if they were found to be alive. When I heard all that, I was glad they were out there among the stars, somewhere. No matter how much I needed them at that moment, knowing that they were alive, and safe, was more important than anything else to me.
A month later I looked up from my desk as a voice like old scotch whispered, “come on kid, don’t want a miss the party.” My mouth dropped open as I stared at the man standing in front of me. Riddick? I know I looked different; I had grown up. In the place of the gangly child I once was, now stood a tall slim woman. My hair was long and I wore it held back from my face with combs, which was the style of the day. I couldn’t believe he would recognize me!
But I recognized him! At first glance, the man in front of me looked the same, but on a closer inspection, he was so different! His head was still shaved, and his goggles still covered his eyes. He was as big as ever, maybe even more muscular, if that was possible, but everything else about him had changed. Instead of a cold mask, he wore a smile. He no longer held himself in an unconscious posture of defense. His shoulders were relaxed and he held the hand of a petite, curly-headed blonde girl that couldn’t have been more than four. She looked up at him with big blue eyes that adored him, and called him ‘daddy.’ He had his other arm tightly around Carolyn, who was holding a tiny dark-haired baby over her shoulder, and smiling as tears ran down her cheeks. What a perfect disguise, Richard B. Riddick, a family man! No wonder he wasn’t recognized.
I hurriedly rushed them into the back room for fear that they might have been seen, but I should have known better. Riddick had already checked out the place, and knew it was safe. That’s when I learned that my hired man, Sam, was really sent there by Riddick and Carolyn to watch over Imam and me. He had gotten word to them that Imam was dead and they had come.
We spent a week together, then the pull of the stars called to them. They offered to take me with them, but I refused. I didn’t want to intrude on their family, and besides, I thought it was time I did something on my own for a change. They promised to write and asked that I let Sam stay; it would keep their minds at ease. When put like that, I couldn’t deny them.
Watching Riddick and Sam as they said good-bye, made me realize why the younger man had made me feel so comfortable right from the start, he reminded me of the older one. They were both big quiet men, who moved with an economy of speed that was a surprise, given how large they were. But unlike the Riddick of my childhood, he laughed easily and had an open nature. It was only when he was questioned about his planet of origin that he had became quiet and uncommunicative. He was as determined as Imam and Riddick had been to keep the secret of Corianna Prime.
A year later Sam and I were married. At first I was amazed that Sam would be so perfect for me. He was kind and gentle when I needed it, and protective to the point that it drove me to distraction. When we first started going out, he seemed to know that I was still a bit leery of a man’s touch. Over the months that followed, he calmed my nerves and made me long for him in a way I didn’t think was possible. I finally understood about lightening bolts, deep needs, and that men do love women. I came to realize that all I had learned in my childhood, had been a perversion of the real thing. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that Riddick and Carolyn must have known how I felt. That thought was followed by the sure knowledge that they had picked Sam out for me, and sent him my way. It seemed downright ungrateful that it had taken so long for me to catch on!
Over the years I knew great happiness and intense sadness. I gave birth to three children, and now have six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. My youngest son and two of my grandchildren died in the inevitable war against the Company, but as terrible as wars are, it was one that needed to be fought. Once the Company was destroyed, a new peace and prosperity flourished. We no longer lived under the oppression that had driven men like Imam and Riddick into hiding. Though I hoped that Carolyn and Richard would move back into well-traveled space, I knew they wouldn’t, too much damage had been done.
In our youth, Sam and I traveled through the far reaches of space, experiencing adventure and seeing sights others can only dream about. But we’d always come back to one of our two homes, either on New Mecca, and the other on Corianna Prime. The planet was still hidden from most travelers, and those of us who knew about it didn’t make an effort to let others know of its existence. Sometimes Riddick and his family would be there; sometimes they’d be traveling like us. There was always another star to discover and another planet to walk on. Like them, we thought that an ideal way to raise our children.
That’s the story that I can never tell to all those people out there who wouldn’t understand. The ones who speak of the Great War that brought down the Company, as if it was a thing of glory. They didn’t hear the death screams of thousands of people as they died, when their ships exploded, spilling oxygen into the void of space; the flame that was produced, a wild blue arch that flashed and was quickly extinguished, leaving only bodies and rubble behind it. And they don’t mourn the loss of children and grandchildren who fought for the peace that they take so casually for granted.
They’ve never known the glory of walking on Corianna Prime, with her six moons shining down on them. Or made love in the green ocean of that planet, as the fourth moon set, sending a deep purple light across the rippling waves. But most importantly they’ve never seen a love so deep it could change two people in the blink of an eye. A love that caused them to band together so that the life of a holy man and a teenager were saved, along with theirs. It gave them the strength to do what was needed to be done, and the courage to face an uncertain future together.
Yes, I could tell all those folks a lot of things, about horrors and happiness, and a love that lasts forever out among the stars, but since most of them wouldn’t care or even understand, what’s the point? So, I’m writing it all down for my children, and their children after them. It’s a story worth telling, and one that’s worth remembering, about how those monsters in the night came and changed us all.