AN: I'm back! Howdy Buckaroo's! I'm Happyghost your trail guide/storyteller. Come sit around the campfire as I tell you a story about some of our favorite Twilight characters in an all human pioneer adventure!
A big THANK YOU to my awesome outlaw pre-readers:
Quick-draw "Letsjustdance" and Eagle-eye "GeezerWench"
How did I come up with this idea?
When I was in elementary school (during the 80's) the highlight of my week was getting out of class, and going to the computer lab. It was there that I became obsessed with the game "The Oregon Trail". I played the 1985 version and the computer monitor had only one color...green. I was enchanted by the green pixilated images that danced across the clunky old monitor.
It was more than just a game, it was an adventure. You were a pioneer with a family, and it was your responsibility to take them safely from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. Sometimes you would die and lose the game. The trail was a dangerous place.
I loved the game so much, I begged my Mom to buy a computer so that I could play the game from home. Unfortunately, we were poor, and couldn't afford a computer, so I would pretend. Some days after school I would fill my bed with stuffed animals and sit on its edge pretending I was driving a wagon across the plains.
Now that I'm all grown up, I want to take all my favorite characters and write a historical fanfic about them having their own "Oregon Trail" adventure. Will you join me? I'm driving, and hopefully we will all make it safely to Oregon Territory.
Close to Fort Bridger August 16, 1866
It was a beautiful night. The travelers should have stopped and made camp hours ago, but Jasper didn't want to stop until he reached the fort. He knew it had to be close. His feet ached as he trudged along the dusty path. His brother Peter and his sister-in-law Charlotte were riding in the wagon following him.
"Let's stop here, Jas!" Peter yelled out to his brother, who was only a few yards ahead of the wagon.
"Just a little farther, Pete!" Jasper yelled back. He was tired. He had been walking all day in the hot sun, but he wouldn't stop yet.
"Even if we reach the fort tonight, we can't go in. It's too late!" Peter yelled.
Jasper stopped abruptly and turned to stare down his brother. They were all dirty, tired, and hungry but Jasper was thirsty. He was thirsty for whiskey. They had run out three whole days ago, and Jasper needed to have a drink. They hadn't any money left. Jasper and his brother had traded their most prized-possessions for supplies, and they had already gone though all of their reserves. Jasper was disgusted with himself; he knew he was a drunk. He drank to forget. It had been a whole year but his heart still ached. The only solace he could find was at the bottom of a bottle.
"You two can stay here and make camp. I'm going to try to make it to the fort tonight. You can meet me there in the morning." Jasper said as the four mules pulling the large farm wagon slowed to a stop beside of him. "I'll take Nellie, and ride to the fort ahead of you."
Charlotte was exasperated with Jasper and extremely tired. She always woke up at least an hour or two earlier than the men to do chores and fix their breakfast. She was so sleepy that she felt like she might fall over. "Let him, Pete. Let him go." She removed her bonnet and sighed into her husband's chest as she allowed her heavy eyes to close.
Peter became agitated. He was tired of putting up with Jasper's demands, mood swings, and drunkenness. "Fine. You go on and get lost tonight. Then we're going to have to spend all week looking for you. Jasper, damn it! Just wait until morning!" Peter pleaded.
Jasper didn't hear a word his brother was saying as he walked around to the back of the wagon to retrieve a bridle for Nellie. They didn't have a saddle; they had traded it for supplies early on. Jasper took the blanket he slept on and an extra set of clothes. He wasn't planning on wearing the clothes. He was hoping to trade them for some booze.
The three travelers had suffered a long hard journey. They had been traveling since April. Their journey had started in a war worn Texas, and would hopefully end in a successful new life in the Oregon territory, where there was the promise of free land. The trip had been more difficult than they had expected; especially when they had run out of money and vital supplies. Sometimes they had gone days without food, but the thing that brought down their morale more than anything was Jasper's constant bad attitude.
Peter was so mad that he was considering leaving his only brother behind at the fort to wallow in his own filth, and continue to Oregon without him. Instead he just yelled obscenities at Jasper as he rode off into the darkness, towards the fort.
The tired mule was wet with perspiration and foamed at the mouth beneath Jasper as he rode along the dusty trail. He sighed in relief when he finally saw it over the crest of a hill: Fort Bridger.
The sight of the fort should have been enough to raise Jasper's spirits, but he remained stoic as he approached the soldiers on guard. He dismounted his mule and raised his hand in greeting. He was unarmed. "Just came ahead of our wagon to scout out the fort." Jasper spoke quietly as he tied his mule to the fence. "Nice night, isn't it fellas?"
The two soldiers that were positioned close to the entrance of the fort approached Jasper and shook hands with him. "We have orders to keep the fort locked down at night, mister." The younger guard explained.
"Sure son. I understand. I was a military man myself back in Texas." Jasper took a pouch of tobacco from his back pocket and rolled himself a cigarette and offered the men one before he lit up. "Hey, ya'll wouldn't happen to have any whiskey out here would you?" He asked as he blew out a lungful of smoke.
The guards smiled warily as they explained that it was against the rules. They looked around nervously for their superior officers before one of them leaned in and whispered, "We might. You got some money?"
"I have a set of clothes to trade. I'm desperate, fellas. What do ya' say?"
One of the guards took the clothes and looked them over. He nodded at Jasper and disappeared into the fort for a few minutes and returned with a full bottle of amber liquid.
Jasper shook the guard's hand. "Thank you for your hospitality gentlemen. I'll be camping out here tonight, and I look forward to visiting with you tomorrow."
Jasper took his blanket and went to lie down under a tree that grew just outside the fort. He took off his dirty boots and stretched his tired feet. It felt so good to lie down. The air was soft and the field was quiet. The only noise that could be heard was the soft chorus of crickets. Jasper opened the bottle and took a swig. It burned so good as it slid down his throat. He must have finished half the bottle before he fell over. He was lying there with his eyes open, when he noticed two figures in the distance running from the fort through the darkness. Jasper blinked hard a few times trying to focus his eyes, but then he forgot all about it and rolled his aching body over and fell asleep.
A few hours later, gunshots rang through the air and Jasper woke with a start. It was morning but the sun hadn't come up yet. There were men on horseback riding from the fort shooting their rifles in the air and whooping wildly. Jasper's head pounded and his stomach ached, as he stumbled on shaky legs to his mule Nellie who was bucking to free herself from the fence.
Once the loud men rode off and Nellie calmed down, Jasper retrieved his blanket and put on his boots. Just beyond the gates of the fort Jasper could see a large group of men assembled. Full of curiosity, he stepped towards them.
There were two men speaking to the crowd. One was obviously a sheriff. He had a gold star attached to his vest. He was an imposing man with a thick brown mustache, and a hard worn face. His voice was deep and loud as he commanded the men. "Whoever finds my daughter and brings her back to us safely will be greatly rewarded."
"I'll be putting up the reward, cash or gold—your choice. Five hundred dollars!" The other man shouted. He was young, blonde and soft looking. He was dressed in fancy clothes. It was clear he was a wealthy man.
"Make it a thousand, Newton!" Some man yelled from the crowd.
"Five Hundred and a horse." Newton yelled. "Now go find her!"
The crowd whooped and scattered. Some of them ran off to mount their horses. Some of them just ran off on foot.
I sure could use five hundred dollars. Jasper thought. His mind was made up; he was going to look for the girl.
"Excuse me sir!" Jasper yelled as he waved down the sheriff. "I've just arrived, but I'd like to help you find your daughter. What does she look like?"
The sheriff paused and looked at Jasper through squinted eyes. He was loading his guns. "She's small, 17 years old, brown hair, and I believe she's wearing a light brown dress. She goes by the name Bella." He mounted his horse and stared Jasper down. "Unharmed, young man. We need to find her unharmed." He said it the second time almost as if to himself. His voice was grave with worry, and Jasper thought he noticed a look of guilt pass across his leathery face before he rode off as fast as his horse would take him.
Jasper remembered seeing two people running through the dark last night. He was sure one of them must have been the missing girl. He rode out of the fort and was elated to see his brother driving the wagon over the horizon. He trotted up to them excitedly. "Pete, Char, there's a girl missing from the fort. They put out a reward—five hundred dollars. I think I saw which way they went. Let's go find her!"
Peter and Charlotte turned and looked at each other; a silent conversation flowed between them. Charlotte nodded to Peter in acceptance. He kissed his wife softly on the lips then jumped off the wagon. The brothers began unhooking the mules from the wagon and by the time they were ready, Charlotte handed them their loaded guns and two canteens filled with cold coffee.
"Be safe." Charlotte called, as they rode away from her in a cloud of dust.
I hope to post bi-weekly. Stay tuned and please review :)