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"The Marks of God touched not only the flesh but struck deeply and permanently into the soul'!
Gospel According to Thomas the Doubter,

August 13-15, 1870

Ryan awoke lying on an uncomfortable bed in a shabby dimly lit room. It took him a second to recognize his room in BETHANY'S GIFT. Sitting half propped and half reclining in a wooded wing back chair was a stocky bearded man smoking a cigar. His feet rested on Ryan's foot boards while he leaned the chair back against the wall. His hands were in his pant's pockets and never left them. Ryan watched him smoke the cigar using only his lips and cheeks to draw in smoke, his nose to exhale thick plumes of smoke and a jerk of his head to knock any excess ash onto the wooden floor.

Noticing that Donegal Ryan was awake, Jeffrey Justice Bolane nodded and said, "Well, howdy Mr. Ryan. You feeling a mite better?"

Ryan nodded back and spoke the first thing that popped into his head. "What exactly is it that you're wearing!". He had not been able to fathom what kind of leather clothing that Bolane wore.

"Exactly? Well, my boots," he said rubbing his dark green knee high boots, "are made from Florida croc hide. My jacket", which was a thick smooth, jet colored garment," is made from Indian King Cobra hides. This hat which as you can see is a low crowned, wide brimmed planter's hat is made of cured gator hide straight from Louisiana, my pants are Boa hide and my gun belt is made of rattler hide. I also got saddlebags made of blacksnake leather." Bolane jerked his head and flicked the ash from his cigar.

"Snakes are my special friends and I like to keep them useful to me even after their demise"

Donegal Ryan hooted when he heard this. After this momentary possession had passed, he asked Bolane why he was so crazy about snakes.

"I'll tell you in a bit, but first I gotta know something. You are one of the Chosen aren't you?"

Ryan narrowed his eyes. 'What do you mean by that?" Had God already created disciples for him?

Bolane grinned around his cigar, his coarse gray beard shifting outwards, bristles quivering erect. "Now don't get all worked up. Them cowpokes would've let you lay on the floor until they got enough nerve to roll you. Then they would've rolled you out into the muddy street. I carried you up here."

Donegal Ryan frowned at this, Bolane seemed to be hinting that Ryan should thank him for a task which the Lord had obviously directed him to carry out. Ignoring the prompting, he continued staring at Bolane until Bolane spoke again.

"Well, to make a long story short, I saw the marks on your head. If they ain't the damndest sores I ever saw, looks like them Papist drawings of Christ's crown of thorns."

"I got something to show you too." Bolane pulled up his sleeve showing his right arm. It was dotted with dozens of small circular scars. Donegal saw two fresh scabbed wounds on the back of Bolane's hand.

Noticing Ryan's surprised look, Bolane nodded his head. "That's right, not only am I immune from snake bites I also heal fast from them. 'Course, for some reason, that leaves me with a powerful appetite, I am forever munching on some jerky or such." Bolane said taking a strip of jerky from his jacket pocket and gnawing on it.

Since Bolane was obviously not going to say anything else for a while Ryan launched into a condensed version of his history, omitting the killings of Ichabod and the Hopis.

Bolane sat back nodding and listening. When Ryan was finished he said, "Well, my story ain't so weird but it is plenty loco. Back about five years or so, I was out looking for silver or gold like so many damned fools in this here country.

"I had been a fireman, a saloon bouncer and other sorts of jobs but they didn't really suit me none. Now I did not know diddly about mining or prospecting but figured it was easy money. Through greenhorn stupidity I ended up alone out in the damned desert. My horse had died of thirst and I was lost out in some salt flats.

Traveling in circles, dying of thirst and knowing nothing about desert survival I passed up several cacti that could have provided moisture and food. Because of the heat I had stripped down to my shorts and soon became baked red and dehydrated. Starvation and thirst had made me half mad, so when a sudden storm had kicked up, I thought I was hallucinating. However when the moisture and cool winds buffeted and chilled me, I stripped off my last remaining article of clothing and ran naked through the rain.

The skies turned inky black as fierce storms and dust storms began to kick up. Thick, frequent lightning repeatedly stabbed at the earth. One of these bolts landed not too far from where capered naked in the rain. As the bolt hit the earth a huge explosion rocked the area. A giant billowing purplish cloud rose hundreds of feet into the air. Sand, grit and other residue from the blast scoured the first layer of skin from my body and then the grit stuck to me, covering me like some kind of sandman. At the same time the blast knocked me clear off my feet and I went sailing

I must have flown backwards for several hundreds of feet, finally landing face down right over a small cave in a cluster of rocks. My skin felt tingly all over, probably from being sandblasted, my heart raced and I knew I was dying.

As my heart felt ready to explode there came a sharp stabbing pain in the back of my head.

Reaching around to the back of my head with a speed I had never experienced before, I found a rattler with its fangs still stuck in the back of my head. After pulling it loose I fell into a deep sleep.

"When I awoke, I had a fierce stabbing headache. I knew God had spared me for a reason and so I took up the good book. With my immunity to snake bites I became a snake handling preacher. When I saw you I knew I had met another of the Chosen"

"Who are these Chosen?"

"People with the marks of God on them, like you got on your forehead." Bolane looked about the room as if someone else were in it."Let me show you something" Bolane removed his hat and leaned over showing Ryan the back of his head.

Underneath Bolane's hair were two small reptilian eyes, they were yellowish with bright green vertical pupils. "I call 'em my lucky snake eyes. I can't see out of them too good, everything is kind of murky and distant but they do warn me of danger and help me see at night. They see clearer and better at night."

Bolane dropped some more cigar ash on the floor, exhaled a huge cloud of cigar smoke and said, "I figure that you are some kind of preaching man, like me, which is why you got the marks. I been thinking maybe we could hook up."

"Doing what?" Ryan asked suspiciously. He had the sudden urge to caw like a crow but surpressed the urge with some effort. However this same effort made three of his blood thorns pop out of his head. He gasped at the sudden stabbing pain.

"Selling Jesus to the Heathen, brother. That's one hell of a stigmata you got there, my friend, we could rake in the cash with that bit of gimmickry." Jeff Justice Bolane smiled as thin trickles of blood ran down Ryan's face. His quick fingers snatched up two of the fallen blood thorns. His hand jerked back just as quick with expletive.

Ryan hooted and asked if the thorns had burnt Jeff Justice's skin.

Bolane shook his head and showed Ryan. One of the hard crusty blood thorns lay nestled in the rough palm of Bolane's palm. The other had slid into the soft flesh between his thumb and forefinger like a splinter. Rubbing his left thumb and two forefingers together briskly, Jeff Justice Bolane blew on them once and rubbed them briskly once more before attempting to pluck the thorn from his skin.

"God curse it! Bolane shouted as the thorn broke, part of the thorn was left buried deep in the skin, burning like a hot needle. Jeff Justice Bolane reached inside his jacket and pulled out a small sharp throwing knife. As he placed the sharp edge of the blade to his skin, he saw that the thorn had disappeared leaving a tiny, dark reddish blister.

Knowing that Bolane was now one of his blood brothers, Ryan agreed to become his partner.

Bolane had a wagon rig which could be converted into a small stage, he also packed a tent for large shows if he thought a town could make it worth his while.

Their first show was two days later in Flatbed, Utah. They saved several souls and collected a multitude of donations before Donegal revealed that he was God's Last Prophet.

Jeff Justice Bolane drove the coach hard, cursing constantly at Ryan. His words were lost in the roar of the angry crowd chasing behind and his words were ignored by Ryan who reveled in a revelation while they fled the crowd of heretics.

God wished Ryan to assert authority over Jeff Justice Bolane and over the other ten Chosen that they would find. They would become the new Disciples of the True Church, Church of the Eternal Apocalypse.

The Last Days were fast approaching with the end of the century, the new century would be the beginning of the thousand years of Satan's Dominion over the Earth, only Ryan and his Church of the Eternal Apocalypse would provide any form of salvation for mankind. Everyone else would be damned! Damned and forgotten for all time. Damned with no hope of resurrection or eternal life.

When their blown out horses had finally slowed to a crawl, having left the angry crowd far behind, Jeff Justice Bolane smacked Donegal Ryan across the face with a hard, leathery hand. The blow came as quick as a snake's strike and stung just as much. Donegal Ryan was knocked from the wagon's driver seat. He lay on his belly sprawled in the dust of the prairie, his ten gallon hat lying a few feet away from him.

When Donegal Ryan looked up at Jeff Justice Bolane, a chill shot down Bolane's spine. Ryan's thin gaunt and bearded face was dark with dust and dried blood. Fresh streams of bright red blood ran from his nostrils and split lips, slowly seeping into and dripping out off of his bushy, unkempt beard. Darker trickles of blood ran in thin, almost pencil thin lines from the ring of blood thorns about his head. Three lines ran parallel to each other down across each of his eyes and the center of his forehead. The central line ran straight down his nose to drip from the sharp pointed tip of his bridge. The other two lines ran straight down, bisecting his already gore encrusted eyebrows, across his lids to collect in his lashes.

Bloody tears fell from radiant pale brown eyes. Half crawling on his belly, Donegal Ryan hissed at Jeff Justice Bolane, sounding like the bastard progeny of a King Cobra and a Puma. His hard white teeth glimmered dark carmine in the afternoon sunset, reminding Bolane of a gator's blood rimmed fangs.

Half chuckling yet wholly enraged, Donegal Ryan pointed a grimy finger at Jeff Justice Bolane. "Damn you Boy! Don't mess with God's chosen Printer and Prophet!"

Bolane felt a white hot needle strike his hand right between the thumb and forefinger. Pain, as if plunged into boiling oil, enveloped his whole hand, poured further up his arm, into his shoulder and finally surrounded his heart with burning torment. Jeff Justice Bolane clutched his heart with his working arm and fell out of the wagon's seat. His vision blurred as his consciousness faded. He was distantly aware of Donegal Ryan standing above him.

"Listen good, Snake boy, You were marked by God, Chosen by God to follow me!" Donegal Ryan reached up and plucked two blood thorns from his forehead in either hand. A gout of dark blood and a sharp cry of pain followed each removal. "Since you no longer fear the serpent's kiss, let's see if God's signs can renew your fear of Satan." Howling like a wolf, Donegal Ryan plunged the sharp bloodthorns into Jeff Justice Bolane's eyes.

Bolane screamed as each eyeball was bathed in what seemed a combination of lye and acid. The searing pain followed him into unconsciousness and became his constant companion in the days of darkness that followed.

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 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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1996-2009 Dennis E. Power. All Rights Reserved.
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