Chapter 18: Ari Levin, September 22nd and 23rd, Year 0

Through most of the night, I lay awake–my mind racing. The easy part was done. I said I was prophet and in the heat of the moment all the FLDS around me had agreed. In the long run this meant nothing. My position was tenuous. I had to pull all the right moves for months to come. The FLDS needed to get into a habit of following me before I could relax. Habits take time to form.

Cults have insanely treacherous politics. The FLDS were no different. At any time for any reason an FLDS member could be excommunicated. When someone was excommunicated regardless of the reason, that person was dead to the rest of the FLDS. If you were excommunicated, you lost all your possessions and your family.

The FLDS had no problems dealing with the mass zombie outbreak. They hadn’t hesitated to kill anyone who had been infected. They trained their entire lifetime to be able to emotionally switch from loving someone to instantaneously rejecting them. It isn’t much of a transition to go from treating someone like he’s dead, to making him dead. Normal Americans would have difficulty turning on infected loved ones, family or friends–not the FLDS. Before the outbreak, there had been about 6000 in Hildale and Colorado City. Now there were about 4000. The death rate in other non-FLDS cities where people weren’t trained to turn on each other had to have been higher.

Most Americans would be in shock. The FLDS were ecstatic. The end of the world was what they were waiting for. Anyone that had been infected by the zombie virus in their eyes was a sinner. They weren’t shedding tears for the family members and the friends that had been killed.

A few hours after the outbreak, most of the zombies in Hildale and Colorado City had been taken out. Malachi Marsden called all the surviving FLDS together and announced that he had been on the telephone with Warren Jeffs. Zombies had overrun the prison and Warren knew that he had only seconds to live. Marsden claimed that Warren passed the leadership of the FLDS over to him. A sizable number of FLDS were convinced that I was the new prophet. A few questioned Malachi’s leadership. After one of them was killed the questions stopped.

Earlier today, Malachi had bled to death in front of 100 of his followers. No one including his son, Tom, tried to help him. My position as the new FLDS prophet was secure. True believers pay attention to prophecies and their holy texts. All of them were convinced I was ordained by their Heavenly Father. It’s difficult to be wholly corrupt and be a true believer at the same time. The majority of the surviving leaders of the FLDS were from the asshole camp which meant that they didn’t give a shit if I was the real prophet. They knew prophets could be killed; Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith were good examples. I was better off if they thought I was a false prophet. If they thought that I was corrupt, they would probably try to work with me.

Any attempt to convert these non-believing FLDS was doomed. The only thing that would influence them was their own self-interest. I had to figure out a way to solidify the support of those who believed in me and defuse the hatred of those who didn’t. I needed to convince the truly religious FLDS that I was their prophet while making the corrupt ones believe I was one of them.

I sent everyone except for my disciples back to Colorado City. They took the three bodies with them. I imagined that they had created a stir when they arrived covered with Malachi’s blood.

In the morning my disciples and I drove into Colorado City. The land lines were out but cell phones still worked. I called Lavel Sondermann to let him know we were coming. The FLDS were waiting for us in the center of town. Lavel introduced me to the crowd. I gave my first sermon. The gist of my sermon was that the FLDS were good and everyone else was bad. It went over well.

I announced that in the near future every FLDS over the age of 16 would receive a personal calling from the Heavenly Father. This calling would be to either stay here in their current homes in Hildale and Colorado City or to travel to my ranch to build New Zion.

During my telephone conversation with Lavel I asked him to arrange for me to meet with Warren Jeffs’ wives. There were 71 of them ranging from 18 to 62-years-old. The older wives had been married to Rulon Jeffs before they married Warren. A couple of them had visited Warren when he was in prison but most of them had not seen him since he was arrested. Since I was the new prophet, these women were now my wives.

After my sermon, Lavel escorted me to the women. I explained that I had always known that God had a plan for me but that it wasn’t until I had moved to Utah that I learned what this plan was. When Rulon Jeffs’ soul entered my body, I had a revelation; I understood our Heavenly Father’s plan. I didn’t know if Malachi Marsden had been telling the truth when he said he heard Warren die. Malachi had been punished because he had sinned against the light. Warren couldn’t have told him that he was the new prophet. I felt Rulon’s soul enter my body; I was certain that Warren felt Rulon’s soul leave.

Rulon’s spirit was destined to be on earth for 300 years. Afterwards his soul would enter the Celestial Kingdom. He and all his wives would then be together for all of eternity.

The human body wasn’t strong enough to tolerate the presence of more than one soul or the memories of more than one life. Warren had willingly taken up the burden of Rulon’s soul and memories but this load had been more than he could bear. I implied that having two men’s memories had driven Warren insane. I was born without a soul; for thirty years I was a hollow man. Once Rulon’s spirit entered me, I was made whole. Our Heavenly Father has spared me the burden of Rulon’s memories.

While my soul was Rulon’s, I had different life experiences and memories. In too many ways to count I was not the same man. Rulon’s wives were eternally sealed to Rulon’s soul. If they wanted they were welcome to live with me in New Zion as my earthly wives. If they didn’t, they could stay here in the twin cities. They could even marry other men as long as those men knew that those marriages were not eternal.

I saw relief in most of my wives eyes. For the first time in years, perhaps in their entire lives, they were free to make their own choices. I desperately hoped that most of them would decide against moving in with me. The idea of living with 71 women scared the crap out of me.

I then met with the FLDS elders. I told them that I was going to restore Brigham Young’s doctrines regarding marriage and divorce. I had a revelation that the FLDS had lost their way; it was only right for women to subordinate themselves to men but recently the FLDS had taken this too far. No FLDS woman should be forced into a marriage or forced to stay in a marriage.

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Later Day Saints was started by Joseph Smith. After he was killed, Brigham Young became prophet. He and Joseph Smith are the only two prophets respected by both the mainstream LDS and the FLDS. It wasn’t until President Woodruff’s 1890 Manifesto banning plural marriages that the two denominations split. When Brigham Young was prophet, divorce was easy for Mormon women and difficult for men. If a woman said she didn’t want to be married, she was divorced. Men on the other hand had to get permission from church hierarchy before he could divorce one of his wives.

The FLDS hierarchy was reluctant to claim that Brigham Young was wrong. We all pretended that this was just a religious meeting and that we were all happy to be together. At this point none of us wanted a civil war.

Over the next few days to weeks families would be broken as some stayed here in Hildale and Colorado City while others moved to Zion. I let them know without making actual threats that if they tried to stop anyone from moving to Zion, that there would be hell to pay.

I began my negotiations with the FLDS with the stick, telling them everything that they didn’t want to hear. I ended my negotiations by discussing the reward. Negotiations require give and take. If the asshole camp had nothing to lose, a war was inevitable. The only reason they weren’t trying to kill me was because they didn’t know the extent of my powers. I didn’t have any.

I had created ‘shock and awe’ with Malachi’s and his two buddies deaths but tricks like that weren’t enough to win a real civil war. Other than my eight disciples, I didn’t have a strong base of support. My best guess was that if the assholes tried to kill me, a few hundred FLDS would fight on my side. If the conflict between the believers and the corrupt got to the point of people shooting at each other, the odds were that my side would lose. I was playing high stakes poker with the FLDS hierarchy and I was bluffing. I had to make sure the assholes were given enough so they wouldn’t go all in until I had a better chance of winning.

I offered them a deal. They couldn’t abuse their fellow FLDS. They were allowed to do anything they wanted with gentiles. From now on all FLDS including women and teenage boys had rights, but the gentiles, non-FLDS, had none. I would stay in New Zion and would let them run Hildale and Colorado City as they pleased. Our Heavenly Father had destroyed the Gentiles’ ability to resist. Sinners had been left alive in the world for the FLDS to use. I didn’t have to fill in the blanks for the assholes. No sane man wants to be married to 50, 60, or 70 women. The only reason for a man to do something like this is because he’s addicted to sex. Sex addicts always want new toys.

The FLDS higher ups had to marry FLDS women to be able to use them. I was giving them permission to have as many women as they wanted without any responsibility.

We all knew that most of the younger FLDS would move to Zion. The FLDS society was a giant pyramid scheme. The younger FLDS at the bottom of the pyramid had no power or possessions. The much smaller number of the older FLDS on top of the pyramid owned and controlled everything. Since the younger members had nothing to lose, they had everything to gain by moving down to my ranch. Normally the older FLDS would have fought to the death to keep their young but I was offering them something better– slaves. Most of the people who lived in Hildale and Colorado City were FLDS but there was small minority that wasn’t. I was handing those poor bastards up on a platter. Nothing was said outright but it understood that everything north and west of us was going to be controlled by the assholes and everything east and south of us by me.

After my meeting with the FLDS higher ups, I let everyone know that I was going to the City Hall to meet with the rest of the FLDS. For the next few hours I stood inside the City Hall saying a few words and shaking hands with the FLDS. I had two of my disciples, Nephi and Landon Daniels help control the flow of people. I had the rest out recruiting FLDS to move to New Zion.

All the power was out. The Colorado City Hall was lit with candles. Only the area around me was brightly lit. I stood in the center of a courtroom in a halo of light surrounded by darkness. A line of FLDS stretched out of the room and into the main hallway. I saw the Daniels brothers change posture. A tall striking woman entered the room. She didn’t bother with the line and walked toward me. The rest of the FLDS moved out of her way. Nephi and Landon started toward her. I caught their eyes and shook my head. They stood in place. I didn’t change my expression or my body language.

When she got up to me, I shook her hand and said, “Hello Rachel, I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Since you’re responsible for my husband’s death, I’m not sure what to make of your words.” Her eyes matched her speech. It looked like she had loved her husband. Rachel Marsden hated me.

“I am the left hand of the Father. Malachi didn’t understand that. I regret what I had to do. This is not the time or place to discuss your husband’s death. Once I’m done here, we will speak.”

Rachel nodded. Her eyes didn’t change. When she left, I could tell that most of the watchers were relieved.

It took hours to meet with every FLDS member who wanted to see me. After I met with all of them, I took a quick break and sent Nephi to bring Rachel to me. Malachi and Rachel had been terrorizing the FLDS for years. Even after my arrival and Malachi’s death, Rachel still had power. The FLDS were supposed to be a male dominated society; clearly, Rachel was an exception.

I told Landon to stand outside the courtroom doors. I didn’t want to be disturbed. I stretched and relaxed for a few minutes. Illusions take work and preparation. If it is quiet and you have your ear right on a tile floor especially one that is on top of a wood subsurface, you can hear footsteps from a couple hundred feet away. I had to lie quietly. Deep breathing, even a racing heart, can drown out the sound of footsteps. Every once in a while I could hear Landon move just outside the room.

I turned my head often. I didn’t want pressure marks on my face. Magic is a pain in the ass. If it wasn’t, more people would do it. I was on the floor for over 45 minutes. I didn’t have a restful night; it was a struggle to avoid falling asleep. I heard two people walking toward the courtroom. I counted their steps and right before Landon or Nephi could knock. I spoke, “Let Rachel in. Nephi and Landon, you may wait outside.”

When the door opened I was standing with my back toward the courtroom doors with an open bible in my hands. I heard the door behind me close and Rachel walk toward me. She hated me. It only took one meeting to figure out that Rachel wasn’t a cold dispassionate killer. She was ruled by her emotions. Sooner or later she was going to try to kill me. I wanted her attempt to be under my terms. She liked to torture people. Torturers want to touch the people they hurt. I made the educated guess that Rachel would prefer knives over guns.

If she had a gun, the odds were worse. My head and neck weren’t protected. Bullet proof vests strong enough to provide adequate protection against high caliber rounds exist but they’re too bulky to wear comfortably under clothing. The vest I was wearing was designed to be concealed. It had a low profile and couldn’t provide much protection. Three years ago I got shot in the chest with a .45 ACP round while wearing the same kind of vest; the bullet didn’t go through the Kevlar but it broke two of my ribs.

I relaxed when I heard her pace quicken towards me. People with guns usually maintain their distance. She moved smoothly without hesitation. Her breathing was controlled. She had training. I examined her wrists when I shook her hand earlier today. Her left wrist was slightly larger than her right. She was left handed. I knew that she had cut people before. A knowledgable opponent is easier to fight than an amateur. A pro knows where to strike. I can predict what a trained fighter will do.

The ribs and the spinal vertebra do a great job protecting the vital organs from a small blade. It takes enormous strength, or luck to be able to get a knife into the heart or spinal cord from the back.

There are only two reasonable knife targets from behind. The first and most deadly is the throat. Amateurs try to cut from the outside in. People who haven’t tried to cut human flesh assume that it’s easy to cut through a man’s neck. Knives only cut through flesh like butter in movies. It’s difficult to slice through living flesh. You have to saw back and forth to cut into meat that’s lying dead on a plate. Most targets won’t stay still while you jerk your blade back and forth across their necks.

A pro stabs the knife point two to four inches deep into the side of the neck just in front of the spine and then pushes the knife blade out. A deep strike into the neck like this will either penetrate the voice box or the windpipe just below it; this makes it impossible for your target to cry out. Your victim will usually push your hand and blade away with hysterical strength, helping you rip through the throat, the vagus nerve, and the carotid artery. Most people go into shock and collapse immediately. The ones that don’t go into shock bleed out in less than a minute.

The second location is the kidney. Anyone who’s ever had a kidney stone will tell you that it’s excruciating; a knife blade in the kidney is even worse. A stab to the kidney isn’t fatal but it causes so much pain that your victim is usually incapacitated. Rachel liked to make people suffer. The chances of her going for my left kidney were high.

I listened intently. The sound of her steps told me where she was. I knew she was going to try to stab me; she was moving too quickly for anything else. Almost everyone holds their breath or cries out before they stab someone. The instant I heard her hold her breath, I turned to my right and slammed the binding of my small leather bound bible on her outside mid thigh. If you do this right and I did it right, the thigh goes into an immediate cramp. Rachel gasped in surprise and pain as her knife missed and her right thigh muscles were locked in spasm. She was frozen in place. I kicked her right foot out underneath her and she sprawled to the floor.

“Rachel, Rachel. You’re trying to surprise a prophet?”

Rachel bounced up, spitting with fury. She had good taste in knives. She was holding a British Sykes-Fairborn Commando knife. Before she had been angry, now she was berserk. She was definitely Tom’s mother. She sprang up straight into a lunge at my mid section. I blocked the knife with the bible and used the same move I had with her son. I stepped forward with my back foot until we were almost back to back and then slammed my elbow against her head. She fell to the floor.

She was no longer berserk. I could see that she was thinking again. She got up slowly. Just as I figured, she had some training. She got into a knife fighter’s stance. Her feet were slightly more than shoulder’s width apart. She held her open right hand out at neck height in the proper position to either block or grab. She held her knife in her left hand. Her thumb was in line with the blade. I could tell by the look of her knuckles that her grip on the knife was firm but not overtight.

She was cautious. I had taught her to fear me. She wasn’t going to attack first. I raised my arm like I was going to slap her. She moved to block and as she did. I hit her right forearm with the edge of my leather bound book. If you do this correctly with a flick of the wrist, a book can strike like a leather club. This surprised her. In her moment of shock, I struck her left inner forearm right below the elbow. I hit the nerve that controls the grip muscles. She dropped her knife. I slapped her left ear with my hand cupped so a pressure wave entered her ear canal. Rachel collapsed. A ruptured eardrum is painful.

She began shaking. At first, I thought she was having a seizure. It took a few seconds to recognize what was going on. I knew she was disturbed but I hadn’t known to what degree. She was having an orgasm. My plan, when I started beating her, was to see if I could break her. To terrify her enough so that it would be safe to let her live. I hadn’t expected success but there was no harm in trying. My first choice wasn’t to kill her; if I did, there was a chance that the other FLDS leaders in the asshole camp would jump to the conclusion that they were next in line. Rachel was psychotic. I didn’t think that that the FLDS hierarchy would go to war over her. There was a small risk that they might. Now I had another, better option.

I read from the bible, “Exodus 22:18. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Rachel, do you know that this is a mistranslation? The word witch isn’t accurate; murderess is closer to the original meaning. The ancient Israelites didn’t have a problem with magic.

An important word was left out, unmarried. The correct translation of the original ancient Hebrew is thou shalt not suffer an unmarried murderess to live. The ancients understood that a dangerous woman needed a man to control her. You’re too dangerous to be without supervision. I took your husband from you. It’s my duty to keep you under control.

Take off your clothes.”

She stood up slowly. She unbuttoned her dress. She slid it off her shoulders. She wasn’t wearing a bra or underwear. She had scars from old whippings on her back. I pulled my belt off and beat her with it.

I’m not into sadomasochism; sometimes you have to do the job in front of you. She orgasmed before I mounted her from behind; she enjoyed pain more than sex. After I was done, I had her clean me off with her mouth.

Once we were finished, she got dressed. I let her keep the knife. She was presentable. I had taken care not to leave any bruises or signs of trauma to her face or hands. She was wearing the typical FLDS dress which covered her neck, her arms to her wrists and her legs to her ankle. I called out to Nephi and told him to get Tom.

I had everyone else leave the room and spoke to Tom alone. “We need to talk about your parents.”

“Mr. Levin, I don’t blame you for what happened with my father. He needed to die. If I could have, I would have killed him myself.”

“Tom, I have a favor to ask you. You are my disciple. You are important to me. I want you to understand that you have the right to refuse me. Tom, you know that your mother has the same issues as your father.”

Tom looked down. He nodded.

“Your mother needs a master, a man who can control her. Otherwise she is too dangerous to be allowed to live. I’d rather not have to execute her. Do you understand the situation?”

Tom looked down and quietly said, “Yes.”

“The only man I know who can control your mother is me. That means to keep her under control, I have to marry her. You’re now the man in your family. Do I have permission to marry her?”

Tom didn’t know what to say. He just nodded.

“Thank you Tom.”

We walked out of City Hall together and announced that Rachel and I were engaged. Most of the FLDS reacted with shock. By the way they reacted, I got the feeling that most of the men would have rather dipped their equipment in acid than be with her. I understood that point of view.

I met again with the FLDS hierarchy. I explained to them that Rachel would be different from my other wives. Unlike my other wives she would continue to live in Colorado City. I needed someone I could trust to take care of things when I wasn’t around. For the first time I saw the assholes smile. I had given power to one of their own. I proved that they could live with me.