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Chapter 27· Chapter 29


Corrupted seeds do not merely produce rotten fruit, but they can produce orchards of evil.
Revelations of Johnny Appleseed

January 14, 1871

Despite the minuscule population of Crowded Point, Ryan decided to hold the three day ceremony anyway. They might get one or two converts out of the dregs from this one horse town.

As might be expected the citizens of Crowded Point were starving for entertainment. Of the hundred and three residents, fifty showed up to watch all or most of the shows. Forty two stayed for Ryan's talk and got free samples of his Sure Fire Cure-All Tonic.

Of the forty-two, eight showed symptoms of the transformation sickness signaling that they were Chosen.

The proximity of Ichabod made Ryan's skin crawl as if flies were burrowing through the hairs on his back, made him nervous and snippy. A growing uneasiness consumed him and he called a meeting of his elite Chosen, The Elect, those people carrying the marks of God as shaped by Donegal Ryan.

There was, of course, Bolane with Binky the Gila Monster

There was Elasto the rubber man, whose bones seemed to have become malleable as had his flesh to a certain extent. Originally he had been brush drummer named Hiram Rogers.

There was Lion-girl, a teenage girl from a prim and proper Catholic background. Her name was Leonora and from what Ryan had gathered she had always been a stocky, plain jane girl. Although Ryan was not certain, he believed that her lustful proclivities were towards her own fair sex. Perhaps this was why her auburn hair was gradually becoming a leonine mane as her broad nose and jutting jaw formed a maw, filled with sharp, white teeth. Coarse reddish hair sprouted all over her body, her breasts had receded and her nails had grown thin and rounder preparatory to becoming claws.

There was old Ezekiel Tate, a former trapper who had retired to the desert community of Sulphur Springs because he'd had enough of freezing his nether regions off in the damned snow. His outward appearance had not changed at all, he was still a gray hair duffer with leathery brown skin and average height and looks. Yet he had changed internally.

When Tate had first joined the troupe, he had been suffering from a constant chill. Despite how hot the desert heat became, he was never warm, remembering frost bite and bone numbing winter winds. Even in the dog days of summer he did not perspire and dressed in thick buckskins, leather shirt and buckskin jacket.

Now all he dressed in was a leather breechclout and moccasins, claiming that the fire in his belly kept him warm as toast.

His stage name was The Stove. Tate had the ability to keep a fire burning inside his body. After imbibing the tonic, he had started a small act of swallowing lit cigars coughing them up still lit, a few minutes later.

Tate graduated to fire eating only he actually ate the fire, it was not extinguished in his throat. After swallowing the fire, Tate also ate wood, coal and other combustibles, exhaling thick plumes of smoke out of his nostrils and mouth. He became adept at making shapes with the smoke. Drinking alcohol, whisky or even kerosene or oil allowed him to breath fire. When Tate ate enough combustibles, his skin temperature rose and he could fry eggs on his chest, boil a pot of water on his belly or ignite matches laid flat on his palms.

Not generally known to the public was that Tate could also regurgitate a sticky, flaming substance, defecate hot coals and urinate greek fire. He sat some distance from the others on the ground, chomping on some chunks of coal, picking his teeth with slivers of wood. Finishing this he held the toothpicks between his fingers and breathed on them turning them into an ashen treat he licked off his fingertips.

The last two members of Ryan's Elect were the Barstow Brothers. Like Tate, at first glance they appeared quite normal, albeit so swarthy as to be a slate color. A second, closer glance showed great differences. Their skins were craggy and hard, although with an underlying malleability. The Barstow's stage names were the Flint Boys for their tough skins produced sparks when struck with iron or steel.

They were immensely strong and their rock hard fingers were deadly weapons as several marauders had already discovered.

Ryan briefly explained, for the thousandth time to Tate's thinking, that one of the Nine Horsemen of the Apocalypse had given himself over to Satan. That very Horsemen would be arriving in Crowded Point, probably the next day. He might or might not have various corrupted minions with him. Ryan told the Elect that Chaos must be prevented from ruining all of his work, Anarchy must be captured and incapacitated.

The show would go on about their normal business but if Anarchy came to Crowded Point, everyone sitting here would go to pre-planned positions.

Bolane would find a sniping position on the roof of one the buildings, Lion-girl and Elasto would engage any of Anarchy's minions who did not appear to have any special abilities. The Stove and the Flint Boys would attack those minions with special abilities. Binky the Gila Monster would be set loose to attack the invaders. If needed, Ryan would join the fray.

As a last resort the Chosen would overwhelm Anarchy with numbers but Ryan did not want to involve too many people at once because there was too great a danger of unchecked destruction and death.

Actually, Ryan did not want to involve a lot of his followers because controlling so many at once would hamper his powers and possibly weaken him to the point where Ichabod could beat him easily.

Ryan dismissed the meeting and went back to his tent. Pauline lay sleeping on a rug beside his bed. Waking her he asked if she would join him in the sacrament of love. Once again, she rejected him, punctuating her rejection with a slap.

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 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 29


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