BrothersA Capstone Final Project
Cortney BulinENGL 487Professor Schaffert28 April 2016
Ever since I was in high school, I have been planning a novel befitting for my original characters. The story of two orphaned English immigrants struggling to find a way to survive in The New World during the 1850s and onward has been stirring in my mind ever since I created the two main characters, Charles and Peter. Their life story first began when I was a freshman in high school, with a two-page short story that would be the catalyst for the beginning of their story in my headI have since decided to use it as the prologue for the novel, seeing as it introduces the characters to the readers, just as it introduced them to me. After that story bequeathed itself to me through my hands and onto paper, I wrote five short stories in chronological order detailing critical times in the brothers lives, highlighting crucial experiences that shaped them into the troubled young men they ultimately become.After high school, I temporarily abandoned their stories and went on to start other novels, which of course I failed to finish. College and obsessions kept me away from them, and it seemed like nothing I wrote (except for fan fictions about Red Dead Redemption and creative projects for my English classes) really sparked the creative flame within me, and as I end the second-to-last semester of my college experience, I return to my characters with renewed vigor and happiness. They were always there throughout the years, poking and prodding at me, beckoning that I put their life story to paper. At long last, I return to the brothers and am now confident enough to continue my work planning, writing, and editing their life story, both in the form of a novel and in a comic book series.This final project has been the spark I was needing to get back to the brothers. This is the beginning of their storyPrologue
Nebraska, 1856An enervated sigh escaped sixteen-year-old Charles as he stopped at the top of a hill and surveyed his surroundings. The brown and white mare he led halted and stood quietly beside him. The young man looked down at the vast stretch of prairie that lay before him. To his left, far off in the distance, stretched an expanse of woods and a stream that ran along the tree line.His breath suddenly caught in his throat as his eyes fell on a small cow-town that sat between him the woods, some four-hundred yards away. There! he thought with a spark of hope. It had been weeks since hed seen anything remotely close to civilization. Right there is where we should try. I hope theyve got everything we need.His thoughts paused as his fourteen-year-old brother Peter walked up beside him leading his black and white gelding. They exchanged tired yet auspicious looks before gazing down at the settlement.Peter motioned with a nod to the woods and said, Those woods could be a good hide-out for us after we sneak through.Charles nodded. Aye. Well go there as soon as we get done.A small breeze suddenly crept up and rippled through their soiled hair and tattered clothing. Peters gaze drifted down to his feet as he became lost in his thoughts. He frowned with guilt as he thought, I wish we didnt have to do this.Whats wrong?He flinched and flicked his gaze up at his older brother, noticing the worried look on his face. Eh? Whats the matter? Youre awfully quiet.Peter sighed heavily and looked down at the settlement with pity. He stayed silent for a while, wrestling with his thoughts. I dont want to do this, Charles, he murmured. It just feels wrong.Charles nodded empathetically. I know.His little brother looked away at the tall swaying prairie grass that stretched far beyond his sight. A wave of homesickness surged through him as he found himself recalling their long-forgotten home back in England in his minds eye: he remembered their farmhouse, the barn and paddock, the pastures and the fields; he recalled herding the cattle from the pasture to the barn and milking them for the night, the long days of hard work; he thought about their parentsOi!He flinched and looked back at Charles. What?You all right?Im fine, he answered quietly as he looked back at the town.For a time, the brothers and their horses stood silently and watched the smoke drift up from out of the chimneys and get carried off by the breeze. They jumped when the gelding, Rio, shook himself and blew loudly afterwards.Perhaps the people there are asleep, Charles thought hopefully. His hope rose slightly at the thought: it was, at the very least, eight oclock in the evening. The sun had begun to set, streaking the sky with a wonderful palette of color.Right, then. Lets be off.Peter said nothing as he took a swig from the flask slung over his shoulder.Charles frowned. You dont have to keep on with that every time you dont wanna talk.Well, it works, doesnt it? he replied with a small grin before he took another drink.Charles rolled his eyes and shook his head. For a while, he kept vigil for any signs of life down below. Nothing stirred in the town. Convinced, he turned toward Koda, his paint mare. Cmon, he suggested to his brother as he grabbed the saddle horn and cantle.Peter stood staring at the ground, rooted in place by shame. No.Charles sharply turned back around. You what?I saidno, he responded hesitantly, well aware of his older brothers temper. His eyes flicked from the ground to his brother and back.Charles frowned. Lets just get this over with andIm not going down there, Charles.Why not?Because.Because why?Peter hesitated, then looked up at him and bravely stated, Because its just dodgy.Who bloody cares?!I do, and Im sure the people down there do as well! We shouldnt have to steal from them! If we steal from them, then how are they gonna survive?Charles glared at him cynically. Then thats their problem, not ours. Now stop it andNo! Im not gonna steal!Fed up with his brothers heroics, Charles turned around sharply and demanded, What choice do you think we have, Peter?! Using his fingers to count out the things on their list, he said fiercely, We have no clothing but what we wear right now, no blankets, hardly any food or water for both ourselves and the horses, and no money! How else do you think were gonna get all these things? Eh?! He pointed down at the houses sharply with one steely finger. Either we steal the things we need now or we dont survive at all!Peter frowned and, after a short time, bowed his head in defeat. He sighed bitterly and said, Fine, Ill go, but next time aroundThere always will be a next time, Peter, so dont think that were getting out of this! We dont have a choice, and we never will! Whether you like it or not, this is our lifestyle now, so just stop complaining and live with it! Now cmon!Peter looked up at him with remorse. Angrily, he walked up to him and stood by his side.Lets just bloody get on with it and get the blemmin hell outta here, snapped Charles as he mounted Koda. He viciously threw the reins at Peter, who caught them after they slapped smartly against his arm. Slowly, he went around Koda and mounted Rio, then followed his older brother as he carefully guided his horse down the steep hill and towards the town.
The white glowing moon was bright enough for all to see that night in the small town; all was quiet and serene, no sound audible except for the soft clopping of hoof falls as the two weary travelers rode abreast of each other on their paint horses. They walked their enervated equines down the muddied, well-trodden main street until they came upon a general store, which was, as far as they could guess, the only shop in town.Charles turned his mare down into a dark alleyway between the shop and an old bank. His brother reined his horse after him and urged him to a trot to catch up. Once they were reunited, they stopped their horses and dismounted without saying a word, then led their horses out of direct sight from the main street and tied them behind a large wood shed. Once they were out of sight, Charles looked around to make sure they werent being watched or followed. His brown eyes swiveled about warily; he had seen plenty of things enough to get him and his brother this far, and he was determined to continue their survival. Trying to calm his anxiety, he scratched his short, scruffy beard and mustache. He shivered from the cool evening breeze that blew down the alley, rustling his soiled clothing and tossing his dark brown hair that reached past his ears and the middle of his neck.Damn that bloody wind, he swore under his breath.His words caught his sibling off-guard. Peter looked curiously at him and asked, Eh? Whats wrong?Keep your voice down, you twit!Like an abused animal, Peter flinched at his older brothers sharp command. He was two years younger than his senior, and he still didnt have the common sense or the experience Charles wished he had, especially when it came to a thing like this. His sibling looked at him, his light-blue eyes glinting with naivet; he winced when Charles threw him a sharp glare, reminding him of why they were to keep quiet and what they were doing here in town. Averting his older brothers gaze, Peter ran a hand through his short, sandy blonde hair and muttered, Sorry.Sorry wont do us any good if we get caught, you daft bastard, Charles retorted as he stepped around his younger brother and walked down the alleyway. He stood in front of the middle window in the store, peered inside, and nodded in approval. Aye, thisll do, he murmured to himself when he saw mostly everything that he and his brother needed within the store.He flinched when his brother rushed up beside him to peer inside as well. Do they have everything we need in there? Peter exclaimed.With a suppressed snarl, Charles shoved his brother away and said, Shut it, Peter, and just stand there! Youre gonna bugger this all up if you keep on.Without another word, Peter stood st