~THE LEGEND OF EL HEAD~




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CHAPTER 17 :
TAN YOUR HIDE

...In the face of desert heat, Our skin is shriveled up as though by a furnace,...
Lamentations 5:10



September- Late October 1870

It was a major disappointment to me that I lost Ryan's trail once he had crossed over into the Utah Mountains. We had no choice but to follow him and hope to pick up his trail once in the mountains. I am not certain what blocked off his mental emanations, whether it was the massive density of the mountains themselves or some element in the soil of Utah or Arizona.

The mountains and canyons were not easy to traverse, since Brimstone needed more guidance than I could see to give him. Dio had to ride out front and he would choke and curse when a upwind draft would carry the stench of my rotting corpse up at him.

We crossed the Colorado river from Utah into Arizona at Lee's ferry. I had to use my mental powers to cause the ferryman to give a ride gratis. He was a strict orthodox Mormon so my task was a bit easier than I had hoped. All I did was plant the suggestion that were two of the three Nephi, Prophets from the time of Mormon who wander the earth helping mankind, and he was more than helpful.

Once in Arizona we traveled through the canyons until Dio complained that he could no longer bear the stench.

We spent the next two weeks attempted to tan my body by treating it with astringents and drying it in the harsh Arizona sunlight. Although my skull flesh was also decomposing, although at a vastly slower rate than my torso and arms, I refused to treat it to either the astringents or sunlight. The only astringent available to us was urine and while it disgusted it me to put it on my body I could tolerate it since I had no sensation rising from there, or so little as to be negligible.

All our work seemed to be fruitless because my flesh seemed impervious to the treatment. The sunlight actually seemed to accelerate the slight regenerative capacity my flesh had and thus negate the astringents.

Dio complained that not only did I smell of rot but piss as well.

The next rain which came allowed us to scrub the body clean and so remove the latter part of the smell.

Since this was a failure, it decided to preserve my body as the Egyptians had, by spicing it. Hopefully, this would also remove much of the stench.

Dio made a mixture of sage, mesquite, wild onion and other herbs I do not recall and worked it into the skin of my corpse, including on my arms and legs. After several treatments the skin lost much of the rotten stench and acquiring instead the overpowering smell of the spices. Dio claimed it was like hanging potpourri over an elephant's corpse.

He had a certain gift for hyperbole but I must admit the aroma was quite pungent.

The headlock worked quite well actually but there were a few flaws with the design. The hooked ends tended to tear at my ear holes as they held it and they also cut my hearing down considerably. Another problem I had was with my vision. When I had been bouncing all over creation on the back of Brimstone, I was able to see all around me, even if only in the briefest of flashing glimpses. The headlock fastened me tight to the saddle and thus restricted my view to Brimstone's neck.

All was not a loss however, since I was forced to rely even more wholly on my mental powers to control Brimstone, I discovered that a side effect was that it allowed me to see through his eyes, smell with his nose and hear with his ears.

Looking through a horse's eyes is quite disconcerting. Imagine if you would a stereoscope with a different photograph in each holder. The images would meld together in a superimposed mishmosh which would take the mind a while to decipher.

Another differences is that equine vision is colorless, being in shades of black and gray. Dio described to me the breathtaking beauty of our austere surroundings, the varied and multi-hued rocks which I could not see.

I did however see the mammoth sculptures created by millions of years of erosion, the Great Designer at play, creating works of art of such beauty and immensity out in the badlands where few would ever see them. Perhaps this is one of the Great Designer's little jokes, like the platypus, the mosquito, or me.

So it was with a horse's vision, at first the efforts of this intense control and the switch from human to horse vision gave me violent headaches.

he pain was so intense that I unconsciously broadcast it into Dio, or so he claimed. I think perhaps it was just something else for him to complain about.

Once across the Ferry and inside Arizona we traveled eastwards across the Black Mesa region. This is a region of plateaus and valley, many of which were rich in coal. At my command Dio gathered an amount of natural coal and put it in a bag.

There were many Hopi settlements in the Black Mesa region and we were welcomed at several of these. They believed that Dio and I were kachina's 5, earth spirits of some kind. Through some intertribal communication they had heard of my liberation of the Hopi spirits in Nevada. We were feasted and given gifts of food, dried corn and jerked meat, when we left the Hopi villages.

Although I could not pick up Ryan's mental signature, I did have a slight pull in the eastward direction so this is the way we traveled. We were heading straight for Apache territory or the territory shared by the Apache and Navaho.

Since I had no trouble with the Indians I had figured that I was one some kind honored list. As it turns out honor can be doubled edged.

Dio and I were a narrow, black streaked canyon when sharp cries rose out and echoed through the canyon in a strangely cascading effect.

We were fired upon. Dio dove for cover between some rocks. As fast as I withdrew my mind from Brimstones and began a search, he pulled out his bow, pulled it, nocked an arrow and squinted off in the distance. I felt the presence of an adolescent mind just as Dio fired at what he had seen. The adolescent mind flared into massive pain overload and died, leaving me feeling depressed and angry.

This group of Navaho and Apache boys had heard of the tales of El Head but felt that their medicine could overwhelm my medicine any day of the week and twice on Sunday. They were almost right, almost.

The effort to see through Brimstone's mind and to control him and Dio's horse took so much out of me that I felt as weak as a day old kitten.

In this encounter it was Dio much more than I who saved the day. His self made arrows and bow decimated the six adolescents, leaving only one alive. He told us of how the great medicine men were once more roaming that land, laying waste to cities who did not believe as they do.

Rather than becoming our slave, he jumped off a particularly steep cliff and became part of the landscape.

His mention of ruined cities made me realize we were closing on Ryan, although there was only one city that I knew he had destroyed.

5 Although, El Head never mentions the fact the Hopi and Navaho probably praised Dio more than they did El Head. Since the Hunchbacked, smiling fluteplayer is a sort of deity among them, as it was among the Aztec. To the Hopi he was known as Kokopelli.

Home · Ryan's Psalm·
Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3· Chapter 4· Chapter 5· Chapter 6·
Chapter 7· Chapter 9· Chapter 10 · Chapter 11 · Chapter 12 · Chapter 13· Chapter 14· Chapter 15· Chapter 16·
Chapter 18· Chapter 19· Chapter 20 · Chapter 21 · Chapter 22 · Chapter 23· Chapter24· Chapter25· Chapter 26·
Chapter 27· Chapter 28· Chapter 29



~THE LEGEND OF EL HEAD~




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