Ken Hodgson, an authentic, powerfully original voice in Western fiction, returns with the most notorious story in the annals of the frontier '
In 1873, Alferd Packer led 21 men from Utah to the gold fields of Colorado. Three months later, he came back to civilization alone, guarding the terrible secret of what he had done there. To this day, no one knows what really happened on that fateful expedition ' except Packer himself.
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June 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Lone Survivor by Ken Hodgson
From the memoirs of Alferd Packer
Yes, I admit to having eaten human flesh. That is the sole reason I was forced to languish in a steel cage for fifteen years in that hellhole of a state penitentiary in Caeon City, Colorado. This was also why I was very nearly lynched by a drunken mob and later sentenced to death by an unforgiving judge and prejudiced jury.
Every step of my blighted existence since that unfortunate incident on Slumgullion Pass in the winter of Seventy-Four has been plagued by a biased press and dogged by a man whose uncalled-for hatred toward me knows no bounds.
By all rights and reasons I should not be sitting here in this warm and peaceful home on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado, penning my memoirs, for I have twice barely escaped the hangman.
Atop one stack of documents on the far side of my writing table I see a printed invitation to my own execution. It was issued to a Mister Louis Chapman and the date set for my death was the Nineteenth day of May in the year of our Lord Eighteen Eighty-Three.
As I begin my writings the year is Nineteen-Seven, in the outset of a new century. One of the most modern of conveniences, an Edison incandescent lightbulb, dangling from a black electric cord, illuminates my work. This marvelous device requires no fuel or fire and can be turned on and off by the mere moving of a small switch. Many things wonderful have been issued in with this new age.
I take no small satisfaction in the knowledge that Louis Chapman has been buried beneath cold black earth at the Lake City, Colorado, Cemetery for well over twenty years. I also wonder if perhaps he came to be interred in the same plot intended for me. It would be the sweetest of irony should that be the case.
Dear friend, I pray you not take offense at what you may perceive to be a jaded viewpoint, but as you shall quickly come to understand, I have suffered many injustices at the hands of my fellowman.
And all for simply doing what I had to do to stay alive. Can anyone who reads these words say with honesty that they would not defend their own hold on this mortal coil with any means available to them?
Spare me an answer, gentle friend. I have visited the blackness that lurks in the human heart and soul and know it well. Think of me what you will, but given the same situations which I have faced, you would act as I did. When the icy breath of the Grim Reaper blows down the nape of your neck, there is only one response possible: survival at any cost.
Now, after all these many years of suffering and anguish, Dame Fortune has finally smiled upon my countenance. Redemption is finally at hand due to a kindly man by the name of Leyton Laird of Slayton Publishing Company of New York City.
As Benjamin Disraeli so eloquently said, "Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time." These memoirs which I now pen will not only set forth the truth of my statements and actions, but provide me with satisfactory monetary rewards to enable me to enjoy the remaining years of my life to the fullest.
Mister Frederick Bonfils and H.H. Tammen, owners of The Denver Post newspaper and the Sells-Floto Circus, still want me to tour the country and speak on my trials and tribulations. They wished to do this earlier, but due to an arrogant and vicious Governor Thomas, who restricted me to the Denver area for six years and nine months as a condition of my parole, this was impossible. The resulting problem created a considerable disagreement between the owners of the Post and a lawyer they had hired by the name of "Plug Hat" Anderson to look after my interests. This culminated in the unfortunate shooting of Bonfils and Tammen by Anderson. Fortunately both survived and bear me no ill will from the incident and the actions of another.