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Chapter 27 · Chapter 28 · Chapter 29


Alma 61:10
Book of Mormon

October 16, 1870

It was four days later that the town of Jeziah had the misfortune to make Donegal Ryan's acquaintance. Jeziah was the first purely Mormon settlement that Ryan and Bolane had visited. The towns in Utah had been built by Gentiles.

Like all Mormon settlements, Jeziah was set out in a particular pattern. The temple lay at the exact center of the town, wide streets radiated out from the temple in a grid of exact squares. Near to the temple were government buildings and retail centers, further outward were residences. Beyond the residences were large squares of communal fields for farming and husbandry.

Although the town had many buildings it was still sparsely settled and the buildings were adobe shells. Most of the real construction work had been done on the temple which was being built of quarried rock.

A thrill went through Ryan as he gazed upon the inhabitants of Jeziah, they were all Caucasian and of Anglo-saxon heritage, God's chosen people.

The Mormons stared at Bolane and Ryan as they made their way down the broad central street. Ryan had Bolane stop in front of the first store which came in sight. This was three blocks from the temple and was simply called, Walsh's General Store.

Ryan found the store to be well stocked with clothing items, foodstuffs and various sundry items from animal traps to bed curtains.

The man behind the counter was a small man, perhaps five feet or so in height. He was about forty and balding with gray hair, despite the heat he was dressed in a business suit with a white shirt and starched collar.

"How do, stranger? You looking to buy anything special or just passing through?" the man said staring at Ryan's ten gallon hat.

Ignoring the man's hint to remove his hat, Ryan slowly roamed his eyes over the tables and shelves of the merchandise. He noted that the shelves were well laden, dust free and polished so that they shone in the afternoon sunlight.

Ryan was seized with a sudden coughing fit. Hacking up a bit of phlegm, he looked for a spittoon, finding none he spit the glob of mucus onto the floor, smiling at the proprietor's stunned expression.

"You folks are all Mormons, ain't you?" Ryan asked, affecting a molasses smooth southern accent.

"My people and I are all Saints. I am Bishop Walsh of the Jeziah Ward."

"Bishop, huh?"Ryan leered and winked, "How many them wives you got, Bishop?"

Walsh was shocked by the man's impertinence and rude behavior.

"That is not your concern. Please leave, I don't need your trade."

"I'm not buying, I'm not selling. What I am doing, is giving."

Taken aback, Walsh gripped his counter and said, "Giving?"

"Yes, I am giving you and your flock a chance to redeem yourselves. Cast off your iniquities of lust and apostasy! Renounce your false Prophet and hearken back to the words of God!"

Walsh felt his face burn as anger boiled his blood. He slammed his fist on the cottonwood counter.

"Once more sir, I ask you to leave this establishment. I also suggest that you get into your wagon and ride on out of Jeziah, we do not need your sort in our community."

"Are you afraid to debate me in front of your flock? Are you afraid that they will hear my words and doubt their faith?" Ryan asked in a low, even serious tone, however he punctuated the sentence with a wild giggle at the end, causing the Bishop's eyebrows to rise.

"I am not afraid to debate you sir, I just do not feel the need. What you have to say is worthless, a waste of breath and air."

"You believe that the age of Prophets is not yet over, correct? Smith was a prophet and then Young was ordained by God to become another prophet. Perhaps I am a Prophet." Donegal Ryan said and whipped the ten gallon hat from his head, exposing his stigmata to the Bishop.

Walsh gaped at the crown of bloodthorns surrounding Ryan's head.

The man was obviously a lunatic but what if there was some message of God's hidden in this insanity? Yet Nephi warned of false prophets coming in sheep's clothing and this man wore a wool robe.

"Tell me why I should listen to you. Our martyred prophet, Joseph Smith explained that God granted us dispensation for our plural marriages as he did to the ancient Israelites. We have returned to the days of the early Church, before the monks and priests of the middle ages messed it all up." Walsh said irately as his patience was eroding.

"Why is this doctrine of plural marriage never viewed positively in the Book of Mormon. In fact does not Jacob reiterate the earlier gospels in his condemnation of the institution?"

A sharp spike of fear shot through Walsh. This being knew of the Book and yet questioned it. He must have gotten a copy of the Book and memorized certain passages within it.

Joseph found and translated the golden tablets of Mormon opening a new age of revelation. God spoke to Joseph often and one of these revelations was the allowance of plural marriage for the Saints. We were commanded to increase our numbers and increase the population of the earth. Until the spirit world has been emptied, until every existing spirit trapped in pre-existence has a chance to take on mortal flesh and create an immortal soul the bounteous glories of God will not be manifest in the physical world for all to take part."

Donegal Ryan whipped his head backwards as he brayed a shrieking laugh. A spray of blood droplets loosened from the bloodthorns misted the air.

Several blood droplets baptized Bishop Walsh's face. Although they felt slightly cold and greasy to the touch Bishop Walsh had no ill effects from drips of blood streaking down his face. He slowly wiped his face clean with a linen handkerchief and stuffed the soiled the rag into his pocket. Deliberately stepping from behind his counter, Walsh stepped up to Ryan and planted a punch deep into Ryan's gut.

Shocked Ryan gasped, losing air and folding as quickly as a cheap squeezebox. Ryan lay on the dusty floor sucking for air like a fish out of water. Walsh grabbed the tail end of Ryan's robe and dragged him out of the store, across the wooden sidewalk and plopping him down in the dirt of the street like a moldy sack of manure.

The town elders had heard the argument with Ryan.

Bishop Walsh kicked the prone body of Ryan hard in the stomach, stomping out any air Ryan had managed to get into his lungs.

Jeff Justice Bolane sat in the buckboard of the wagon, chuckling at Ryan's plight. Although he knew that he would suffer for it later, he could not help but laugh.

"And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things..."

"Amen, brother Walsh, the words of Jacob the Nephite, who also says to cast out demons." said one of the pious men who launched a kick at Ryan's head.

"And their minions," added one of men gazing in Bolane's direction. A coldness gripped Bolane's heart and he snapped the reins to get the horses moving. He found his way blocked and jumped from the wagon, thinking to dash from the town.

Bolane and Ryan were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Ryan screamed curses and animal noises until Bishop Walsh had their mouths gagged. Ryan and Bolane were tied to four by eight pieces of lumber and had hot bubbling tar poured over them.

Eight men, four each carried a tarred figure out of the town and for a few miles into the dusty grasslands beyond the town. The horses were confiscated and the wagon was driven to an area a mile or so from the town, to let the elements destroy it.

Bolane and Ryan had been dropped in a salt pan.

The searing pain of the burning hot tar had mercifully plummeted Ryan and Bolane into unconsciousness. They awoke feeling aflame and blind. Their screams were muffled, gags still in their mouths. The tar had cooled and hardened, sealing their eyes shut but not their noses they were still able to breath and to smell the mingled scents of the fresh tar and their scalded flesh.

Not able to feel their arms and legs they were unaware of the fact that the Mormons had put the four by eight beams upright and stuck them into the dirt with Bolane and Ryan still lashed to them, creating ersatz crucifixion posts.

Bolane's chest heaved as it became harder for him to breathe.

Ryan was also experiencing difficulty breathing but he was in such an intense state of pain that he did not notice this malady.

The hot tar had glued the bloodthorns onto his head. Many should have molted long before but the tar held them fast. Still the replacement thorns had kept growing on schedule and were growing inside the still fastened bloodthorns much like an ingrown nail will continue growing into the skin. The pain was mind numbing.

Blood from the blood thorns continued to flow despite the tar about Ryan's head. Having no free flow it had pooled, the weight and heat of the tainted blood had formed two bubbles in the tar, one over each eye cavity. As the bubbles slowly but steadily grew they eventually widened and merged into one large blister in the tar over Ryan's eyes.

The blood's heat scoured the tar away from his eyes. Opening his eyes Ryan saw only a vast, hot crimson expanse. Like a burning pit of Hell.' For a second he doubted himself, for a split second he thought perhaps the Mormons were correct. Yet as he continued to gaze at the reddish substance before him, Ryan realized that it was his own blood.

For it is the blood, as the seat of life that makes atonement and ... "without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness."

Despite the pain that he felt and the great agony he knew was to come, Donegal Ryan tensed his jaw and concentrated on feeling the area of his head where the stigmata had formed.

After an hours concentration Ryan felt as thought the top of his skull had split and was widening at an ever increasing rate. Yet he was able to feel how the pores in the bloodthorn area had become tiny sphincters which constantly contracted and expanded at variable rates pushing the bloodthorns out of the skin as they increased in length.

The blood thorns were not individual thorns produced on a massive scale but were instead a single growth. It was like a vine crawling and webbing its way through his skin. Why the growth had only covered a certain area of his skull he did not know. This growth pushed its way out of the pores of his skin thus creating the bloodthorns. When the outside growth had reached a certain size or thickness it would break off under its own weight, leaving a dot of blood on the surface and the broken stem of the bloodthorn vine under the skin in the pore.

The bloodthorn vine was attached to his brain at three different locations on his skull, growing directly out of nerve clusters and nerve tissue grew inside the bloodthorn vine, resulting in terrible pain when the thorns were broken off, even the moltings hurt to a degree.

Since the tar had prevented the bloodthorns from molting, the bloodthorn vine was growing in upon itself and was drawing tighter around his Ryan's brain, growing into his brain.

After detailed examination, Ryan learned he could control the actions of the sphincters and that if he caused them all to shut it would clip all of the existing bloodthorns off and relieve some of the pressure inside his skull. The danger was he might not be able to get those sphincters open again.

With a huge muffled scream Don Ryan caused the blood thorn sphincters to close. Seizures and convulsions racked his body and red blackness velveted his mind. Donegal Ryan swam to consciousness becoming aware of a vise around his skull.

What he had feared had happened. The tar had sealed the sphincters closed. The bloodthorn vine was trapped underneath his skin and could not escape through his pores. Ryan knew that the vine would double back on itself growing directly into his brain and building up beneath his skin to burst from the skin in thick branches, tearing his scalp to pieces.

Ryan put all his will to fight against the pain in his skull, to force the shut sphincters to open.

The pain and pressure grew in Ryan's head. As the band of pressure increased Ryan felt heat rise as he broke out in a fever, his body treating the invading bloodthorn vine as a disease. The vines in his head grew hot, he imagined them glowing red hot as coal.

The bloodthorn vines seemed to become white hot, burning needles stuck all around his head.

The blood blister covering his eyes seemed to shimmer, to bubble, fizzle, seethe and boil from the heat.

Donegal Ryan screamed in a pain near ecstasy as the bloodthorns ripped through the skin of his scalp and forehead burgeoning forth like the spears of the Hydra's teeth from beneath the earth.

Sunlight seared his vision and an acrid, bitter black smoke clawed at his nostrils.

His head was burning and the flaring heat melted the tar on his arms and burnt away the ropes binding his arms to the wooden stake.

Home · Ryan's Psalm
Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3· Chapter 4· Chapter 5· Chapter 6·
Chapter 7· Chapter 8· Chapter 9· Chapter 10 · Chapter 11 · Chapter 12 · Chapter 13· Chapter 15· Chapter 16·
Chapter 17· Chapter 18· Chapter 19· Chapter 20 · Chapter 21 · Chapter 22 · Chapter 23· Chapter24· Chapter25· Chapter 26·
Chapter 27· Chapter 28· Chapter 29


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