Excerpt from September Dawn
SEPTEMBER 2, 1857, SAMUELSON BARN
There was again a roaring in his head as Jonathan saw himself as a little boy, struggling in the wagon in a strange man’s arms. As he fought, the wagon pulled away from his despondent mother, leaving her fighting the Danites, the group of black-clad men in broad-brimmed black hats who held on to her arms so she couldn’t run after the wagon. Jonathan, the adult, knew that the Danites appeared for only one reason.
Jonathan shook his head, trying to dislodge the horrible scene. He was outraged over Jacob’s confession that the Apostle took his mother away because of a revelation.
“And you believed him?” Jonathan challenged. “What’s the matter with you? She already had a husband and a family! Did that count for nothing?”
Furious, he stomped away from Jacob. Lightning quivered, sensitive to his master’s anger and the violent emotions swirling around the barn. The horse began to paw the ground nervously, but his comforter was lost in rage and oblivious to the animal. Lightning’s eyes followed his master’s every move. Jonathan suddenly spun around and confronted his father. “She was sealed to you in the church,” he pointed out, his voice cold and threatening.
“The Apostle Heber said, ‘Learn to do as you are told. If you are told by your leaders to do a thing, do it, none of your business whether it be right or wrong,’” Jacob quoted.
Jonathan stood facing Jacob in anguished silence, his fingers twitching with unbridled tension. “No one should have that kind of power.” Jonathan’s voice was raspy as he shook his head sadly. “It’s wrong to take a mother away from her children…and a wife from her husband. How can anyone justify that?”
“There are things we don’t understand because we don’t have direct revelations from god,” Jacob explained unconvincingly.
“You didn’t even argue with him, did you?”
“He was one of the Apostles. I had no right to argue with him.” Jacob shook his head, looking like an old man stripped of his manhood.
Jonathan glared at Jacob. “She saw through the lie and came back for us. She was willing to risk dying for us. She had more guts than you.” Suddenly, without warning, a blinding light seared his brain, and Jonathan put the heel of his hand to his temple. Agitated, he shook his head.
In the recesses of his mind, Jonathan saw the wagon pulling away. He wanted to scream for his mother, but the Danite had his hand on his mouth. Jonathan’s brain was on fire. The only thing he could think of was to bite the Danite’s hand. He bit hard enough to draw blood, causing the Danite to yelp and let go. Jonathan jumped from the wagon and ran as fast as he could back to his mother. He didn’t even scream; his entire concentration was on finding his mother. Tears were streaming down his face. It was dark. Jonathan didn’t know his way too well, but he felt invincible, infused with a superhuman purpose that pumped adrenaline into his little body. All he knew was that he had to run; he had to hurry and find his mother before it was too late.
There were bushes up ahead, and he thought he recognized the gnarled tree beyond the bushes. Instinctively, he knew he had to hide. His brain was firing instructions so rapidly that he obeyed them without thinking. He ducked behind the bushes, and then crept through until he saw the Danites.
The black-clad men in their brimmed hats were standing around looking down at something. One of them held a bloody knife in his hand. Another one sat on a rock with his head in his hands. He wasn’t dressed like the others and looked strangely familiar, but Jonathan couldn’t see his face. Jonathan’s eyes moved to the fat Apostle who had taken his mother away. The man stood with his legs astride, a look of grim satisfaction on his face. Jonathan felt pure hatred course through his veins.
Then he saw her, lying on the dirt, her throat slit. Her blood ran into the ground, and Jonathan was so shocked that his vocal cords froze, momentarily paralyzed from the trauma. Suddenly, from somewhere in the darkness, a voice called out, “Jonathan!”
The man with his head in his hands looked up at the sound of Jonathan’s name. It was Jacob. Jonathan stood up and reeled back into someone’s firm arms before the blackness set in.
“Jonathan,” his father said, bringing him back to the present.
Jonathan didn’t move. His eyes focused on his father’s anxious face. Horrified realization dawned on him as the pieces to a long forgotten puzzle clicked into place. Poised to fight, he clenched his fists, his body taut with tension. Without warning, he leaped for his father and grabbed him by the front of his shirt, slamming him against a wall. Jonathan felt only rage, as hot tears streamed down his cheeks.
“You bastard!” he screamed. “You were there!”
“What are you talking about?” Jacob gasped.
“You were there when she died!”
“You don’t understand!” Jacob shouted. “I loved her more than any of my other wives. When I die, her secret name is the first name I’ll call. I’ll make her celestial goddess of my planet!”
Jonathan shook Jacob roughly. “You loved her, but you let the Apostle take her away and kill her! Just because he was an Apostle, no one questioned him!”
Jacob pleaded to his son for understanding. “I had no choice! Complete obedience is not optional; it’s mandatory. Bishop Snow had a young man castrated for refusing to give up his fiancée. You know that Manti incident was not an isolated one. I could have been castrated for disobeying an Apostle!”
Continuing to slam Jacob against the wall, Jonathan sobbed, “I hate you! You’re responsible for her death!” Nearly insane with rage, Jonathan’s hands closed around his father’s throat and he began to squeeze.
Just then, Micah walked into the barn with his horse. Seeing the two men, he dropped the reins and rushed over and tried to pry Jonathan off Jacob.
“Jonathan, stop! You’re going to kill him!”
“Just like he killed my mother!”
“He didn’t kill her!” Micah yelled as he struggled with Jonathan.
“I was there! I saw him! I remember everything now!”
“The Danites killed her, and the Apostle made him watch!” Micah shouted.
Releasing his death grip on Jacob, Jonathan paused and stared at Micah, who took advantage of the situation and separated the two men. Jacob leaned against the wall, his hands to his throat, and coughed.
“My mother told me that he cried for months,” Micah said softly.
Breathing heavily, Jonathan looked from his father to his brother and back again. He shook his head as if to clear the confusion still roaring through his brain, and then stormed away. Just before he reached the barn door he stopped abruptly, put his head in his hands, and cried out in torment before turning back.
“I would die for the woman I loved before I saw her murdered!” he bellowed. With that, he stalked out of the barn.