The United Americas of Earth: 2249 A.D.
On the eve of his execution, Death Row inmate Kerick Riley overpowers the guard and escapes the violent penal colony that has been his prison for over fifteen years. On the run to find the answers he seeks, the grim-faced, gray-eyed Kerick has two things on his mind: revenge and woman.
Scientist Nellie Kan has spent the last several years researching a frightening disorder that has developed in certain populations of humans. On the verge of developing a serum, Dr. Kan is kidnapped by an escaped Death Row inmate and claimed as his personal sexual property. Is her captor the key to the answer she seeks, or a lunatic who will destroy them both?
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July 24, 2008
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Excerpt from Death Row by Jaid Black
Cell Block 29:
Death Row unit within the Kong Penal Colony.
40 miles outside the Mayan pyramidal ruins of Altun Ha in former Belize, The United Americas of Earth, December 17, 2249 A.D.
"Prisoner, Riley. Remove your clothing."
Kerick Riley's dark head came up slowly, his cold gray eyes flicking dispassionately over the smirking face of the prison warden. Wiping mud from his eyes, he rose up to his feet from the pen of wet dirt and blood he'd been kicked into, simultaneously noting everything there was to see about the executioner. From the pristine white silk robe the warden wore, to the flash-stick in his hand that could ignite and thereby sizzle a man to death at mere contact, nothing escaped his notice.
For fifteen years, seven months, three weeks, and five days, Kerick had waited with an inhuman patience for the arrival of this moment. He'd never allowed his mental acumen or extreme physical strength to lessen from lack of use over the years, that both would be there to serve him when the hour of reckoning had at last come upon him.
It had worked--it would work.
Never once in all of those fifteen plus years had he allowed his thoughts to betray him. He knew when it was safe to think, and he knew as well when it was necessary to create a void in his mind to prohibit a detection scanner from probing what went on in his thoughts.
From a young age he had been taught the necessity of control, his mother having gone so far as to beat the lessons into him. She'd used such harsh tactics not because she had hated her son, but conversely because she had adored him, and more fundamentally, because she had wanted him to live.
The lessons in bodily and mental control passed down from Tara Riley had done more than help Kerick survive in the violent world of twenty-third century Earth; they had also made it possible for him to survive this day. Today. The dwindling hours of remaining daylight prior to his execution.
Kerick's sharp gray eyes continued to study the warden, but betrayed none of his emotions. They simply calculated and assessed with an almost robotic precision, doing the same as they'd always done these past fifteen years. He realized that the sadistic warden had always despised--and envied--his ability to think and behave as though he were a machine, for it made predicting his behavior impossible.
Warden Jallor tapped the flash-stick against his thigh, his eyebrows shooting up mockingly. He believed he'd won, Kerick knew, thought indeed that the prisoner was about to die...
For nearly every waking moment of the past fifteen years, Kerick had calculated, assessed, plotted, and planned. He had noted the weaknesses of the 50-story structure surrounding him, had made certain that he'd learned all there was to know of the seemingly impenetrable fortress that was his prison. For the most part, he understood that Warden Jallor was correct--Kong was an impenetrable fortress. But Kerick also understood that there was no such thing as invincible, and he had spent fifteen years learning how to defeat the undefeatable Kong.
Officially entitled Correctional Sector 12, the penal colony of Kong had gotten its nickname from an old black-and-white movie none from Kerick's time had ever seen but all had heard tell of. It was said that in the old movie the god-like ape King Kong could escape from any prison, but not even the Mighty Kong could escape Sector 12. For most prisoners, that statement turned out to be chillingly true, but for Kerick Riley...
"Remove your clothes," Warden Jallor snapped, his patience nearing an end. His icy blue eyes flicked down to the innocuous bulge in the prisoner's pants. "Now."
He wanted to kill him. For year after bitter year, Kerick had comforted himself with thoughts of Jallor's death, with thoughts of avenging himself--and avenging his mother. But for the moment at least, such was not to be. He needed the warden alive. For now.
But when it was over, when all was said and done...
Kerick's stoic gaze never wavered from Jallor's as he slowly, methodically, removed first his prison-issued woolen tunic and finally his woolen pants. Both garments were a dirty, muted brown, filthy and greasy from having been worn for three solid years without a cleaning. In truth, removing the disgusting clothing was practically a relief. It would mean he was naked during the escape, but so be it.
When he was finished, Kerick stood before Warden Jallor in stone-faced silence, his heavily muscled six-foot five-inch frame completely divested of clothing, his brooding eyes that saw everything piercing the warden's.
Jallor's gaze wandered down to Kerick's penis, then back up to his face.
He was a stupid man, Kerick knew. Sadistic but stupid. Removing the prisoner from his chains would prove to be his downfall.
With the sensory chains on, Kerick never would have stood a chance at escaping. The moment he ventured outside the perimeter of the Kong penal colony, the sensors within the chains would have detonated and his skin would have gone up in flames, charring him to ashes within seconds.
But on the day of execution the chains were removed--the only day in a Death Row inmate's life where that was so.
Warden Jallor stepped towards him, careful to keep his distance, his smirk deepening. "Fifteen years ago you swore this day would never come to pass," he said in a mocking tone. "Indeed, how the mighty have fallen."
For the first time in fifteen years, Kerick smiled--a gesture that caused the warden to frown. "Yes," Kerick agreed, his deep rumble of a voice scratchy from a prolonged lack of use, "how the mighty have fallen."
Two guards appeared behind Jallor. The warden made a dismissive motion with his head, indicating it was time to retreat and step aside while the flash-stick was detonated. The warden barely had time to gasp before the flash-stick was snatched from his hand, rendering him completely defenseless from an assault.
"What are you doing?" Jallor snapped at one of the guards, his eyes promising retribution. "Hand the weapon over and take your place at the--"
The warden's words came to a halt when the "guard" holding the flash-stick peeled off his face armor. Jallor gulped as he looked up into the grim ebony face of Elijah Carter, a Death Row inmate who was scheduled to be executed next week.
Kerick walked slowly towards Jallor. His jaw tightened as he came to a stop before him, staring down at the wide-eyed warden. With a growl he picked Jallor up off of the ground by the neck, his grip tightening until the warden's throat began to elicit gurgling sounds.
"Don't kill him," Elijah warned. "Not yet." He glanced over to the secret panel in the execution pen that allowed for a magistrate of justice to escape should situations like this one ever arise. That panel would take them to the outermost perimeter of Kong. From there, Kerick, Elijah, and Xavier would be on their own in the jungle. "The DNA scanner only responds to living flesh prints, amigo."
"You sure?" Kerick snarled.
"As sure as I can be."
Kerick grunted, but said nothing. He tightened his hold on the warden's neck fractionally, letting Jallor know he'd never allow him to live once they'd gotten from him the palm scan they sought.
"We need the bitch alive," Elijah reminded him.
Nostrils flaring, Kerick turned his head and stared hard at Elijah. Seeing his familiar face, and realizing as he did that Elijah would be executed next week if they were caught, he regained his sanity long enough to let loose of his hold on the sadistic warden.
Jallor gasped when Kerick released his throat. He panted for air as he fell to the ground and turned eyes filled with hatred on the prisoner-turned-executioner.
Kerick smiled slowly, his steel gray eyes locking with the warden's. "Indeed," he murmured, "How the mighty have fallen."