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The Knudhansen Party, a group of fifty six settlers on their way to California to start new lives, mysteriously vanished in the Central Rocky Mountains. A year later, another expedition discovered what appeared to be their base camp. Arne Svenson, a teacher and farmer who was part of the other expedition stated the following in his journal: "Signs of a battle were obvious. All manner of broken gear lay strewn among charred wagons. We also discovered the remains of at least five and forty souls. Among their many wounds, each shared a common breakage of the skull. Some of these holes appeared to have been caused by bullets, others by blunt instruments such as hammers or even rocks. . . . Our guide, an experienced man with many years in these wilds, believed this not to be the work of wild Indians. After all, he argued, why would they have murdered our people without taking both horse and oxen? We counted skeletons of all animals and found him to be correct. . . . One other fact we found most distressing was the number of bite wounds found on each of the deceased. As no animals, from the howling snow wolf to the tiny ant, touched the carcasses, we ruled out their complicity in this matter. Stories of cannibalism were ever present on the frontier, but we were horrified to believe such tales of godless savagery could be true, especially after such horrific tales of the Donner Party. . . . What we could not fathom, however, was why they would turn on each other so quickly when supplies of food had still not run out." As it turned out, at least one of the group had been infected earlier, and once turned had attacked the other pioneers. A pair of Lakota Sioux came on the scene while they were out hunting, fifteen year old Elija Black and his grandfather. The two Indians eliminated a number of the zombies with tomahawk blows to the head, beheading and fire. One of the "survivors", a thirty year old woman told them how the infestation spread and how most of the now-reanimated party had wandered into the wilderness. She then confessed that her wounds and those of the others were an incurable curse. Unanimously, they all asked for death. Afterwards, the grandfather revealed to Elija that he was bitten during the battle. Elija Black’s last kill of the day would be his own grandfather. From then on, he devoted his life to tracking down the remaining zombies of the Knudhansen Party. With each encounter, he grew in knowledge and experience. Although he never arrived at Piedmont, he had dispatched nine of the town’s zombies that had wandered into the wilderness. By the time of Hayward, Black had become, in all probability, the world’s leading field scholar, tracker, and executioner of the undead. Not much is known of the rest of his life or how it eventually ended. In 1939, his biography was published both in book form and a series of articles that appeared in English newspapers. As neither version has survived, it is impossible to know exactly how many battles Black fought. A dedicated search is under way to track down lost copies of his book.

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