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My bone cleaves to my skin and I have escaped with my flesh between my teeth.
Job 19:20

April 17, 1871

Ryan's madness had almost affected me. I saw his visions so clearly that they had nearly overwhelmed me. By this I knew I was getting closer to him.

It has been nearly a year since Ryan and my other so called partners believed that they had killed me. They had blown off my arms, shattered my legs, scalped my chin and decapitated me with a shotgun blast but I still lived. How, I do not know, perhaps Divine Providence or some quirk of Nature or perhaps even the Devil had a hand in my resurrection, such as it was.

I am a disembodied head, still living in some bizarre half life. My body still breathes, the heart pumps albeit slowly and what small amount of blood I still possess, sluggishly moves through collapsed veins and arteries. Although not physically connected, there is a strong metaphysical connection between me and my body, I cannot travel more than twenty feet distance from it without falling into a sort of coma.

Somehow I am able to control, by mental means, my severed arms and hands and my horse Brimstone. It has something to do with my blood and the soil of the strange valley where I died and was resurrected.

At night the valley glowed with a strange blue glow, the same such glow which now emanates from my flesh in an almost invisible aura. Only my eyes glow deeply with an incandescent sapphire.

When my partners, Ryan, Irving, Davidovich and Bear Marks and I had shared a cup of our mingled blood mixed with the soil of this valley we had become connected in some mysterious fashion. This same connection allows me to sense and track my partners. My horse, Brimstone had eaten grass suffused with my gore and was thus bonded to me and now is totally commanded by mental means.

Once I began gaining on Ryan and became nearer to his presence I could more vividly read his thoughts and mind. His brain was a swirling maelstrom of insanity which always threatened to suck me down with it.

I am however gratified to discover that he cannot sense me as I sense him.

I have been trailing Donegal Ryan for some three months now; it had taken me about a month to get a firm fix on his location.

My blood had called to me from three different directions. After a second's reflection, I guided my horse, Brimstone towards direction with the strongest pull, northwest towards Utah.

Almost immediately after leaving the Valley, I had become a legend among the Indians, Latinos and breeds which populate the vast unclaimed reaches.

On July 10, 1870, the first morning out of the valley, I encountered a foraging band of Jicarilla Apache. What a sight I must have been to them!

The most amazing thing to me was that I could understand the thoughts of these Apache, at least those thoughts near the forefront of their consciousness.

When first they saw me they thought I was the result of some great medicine jest, that some tribe of Indians had severed the arms and head from a bluecoat, strapped them atop of a horse and set a-wandering. It was funny to them even if it wasted a good horse.

One of the band, a young brave named Yawner planned to remedy the situation by taking the horse and dumping the bluecoat body on the plains.

My hand holding a revolver cocked back the hammer. The other arm moved to steady my aim. As the Apache moved closer, they saw that my head was not tied onto the saddle and body but held onto the reins by my teeth.

Fear rose out of them like a dense humid cloud of steam rising from boiling pot. The fear rolled over my consciousness as a wet cloud. This fear grew tenfold when they saw the mobility of my eyes and jaw. They stopped a good fifteen feet from me.

The one called Yawner raised his rifle and fired a shot at me. Fortunately, he missed. Commanding my hand to fire, the fingers squeezed the trigger. The bullet hit Yawner's rifle barrel and knocked him from his horse, he must have been off balance or else I let him have some mental whammy that even I didn't know about.

One of the older Apache held up a calming hand and spoke to me, addressing me as a spirit.

Although his talk sounded like so much gibberish I did understand his meaning. He asked why I appeared to them.

Talking in a thin, whisper around the reins in my mouth, using Apache words filtering into my consciousness I told them how I came to be in this fix.

After hearing of my tale they conferred amongst themselves for a bit.

The oldest one rode up before me.

"The Great One has gifted you with so much powerful medicine we are like infants before your might. We will tell all we see about your medicine and soon every lodge will know of El Jefe Hombre, the Head Man. It is right that we leave you with a gift, a dog of the Nahua who we were going to torture to death for medicine. By gifting him to you we will obtain some of your medicine.

A small pony with a extremely small Mexican looking man tied on it was lead up to my horse. The Apache whirled their horses around and took off across the plain, kicking up a storm of dust in their wake. The Apache pony moved away from me, skittish at the very sight and smell of me. I sought to control it like I controlled my mount Brimstone. The effort gave me a headache and entailed every ounce of my concentration. This difficulty arose from not having shared blood with the pony.

The Indian's former captive was slung sideways over the pony and so did not face me directly. However as the pony slowly obeyed my commands, the side with the captive swung around towards me.

Seeing me the man screamed.

I nearly screamed myself. This man was a hunchbacked dwarf with a scaly red face and head. He had no hair, not even eyebrows.

He screamed in a language which I could not fathom. I could not read his mind at all since I was controlling his pony and because his mind was in a turmoil. A mindless fear filled his every thought raising a constant barrier which I could not penetrate.

Once our mounts were close enough I caused my right hand to crawl onto the captive's pony and free him. As my arm slowly spider crawled its way towards the knots around his neck, it passed near his face. The dwarf lunged forward and took a bite out of my forearm. A distant ghost pain startled me for a second.

The dwarf coughed convulsively at the foul taste of my dried and rotting flesh. The chunk of flesh slid down his throat. Pain flooded my mind and passed just as suddenly. It was his pain that I felt, the passage of my flesh across his tongue and down his esophagus to his stomach was like swallowing a jagged piece of glass impregnated with an acid.

The dwarf convulsed and fell into a coma.

Seeing that he could no longer ride upright on his own, I stopped my hand from freeing him. My hand settled across his back and I urged both the pony and Brimstone towards Ryan's direction.

Controlling both of the horses, I fell into a sort of waking dream, in which the memories of two men filled my senses.

1 Yawner is the English translation of Goyathlay, the tribal name of an Apache known as Geronimo to the White Man. According to Ichabod's later memoirs he had another encounter with Geronimo in the 1880s.

Home · Ryan's Psalm
Chapter 1 · 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 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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