The whistle of the old steamer sliced through the air like a knife, and the black 1850 steam engine chugged across the American frontier. Surrounding the train were fields of endless golden grass, where buffalo grazed as each hour passed. The golden grass swayed slightly in the breeze created by the passing steamer. Like a bullet in battle, the steamer zoomed through the American frontier with an ambition to complete Manifest Destiny's request to expand west to California and Oregon. The steamer was filled with dreamers from all over the world, hoping to grab their piece of the American dream.
"Mommy, look!" exclaimed a little dark-haired Irish girl to her red-haired mother, who smiled and laughed. She was pointing at a dark brown buffalo that happened to be grazing the fields.
"yes, I see it, darling!" exclaimed her mother, kissing the child's dark curls. Across the aisle in the seat by the window, a young English woman sat hidden behind a newspaper dated sixteen August 1873.
"It looks like another African has been killed by that clan in white," she said, the newspaper still concealing her. She lowered the newspaper, revealing her pretty young face, and looked at her brother, who had taken the seat across from her. "You'd think they'd learn after they lost that war, those Confederates."
"You've been familiar with the Confederates since South Carolina seceded in 1861, Victoria. You know they're stubborn!" exclaimed her brother. Victoria and Charles Avery were a pair of fraternal twins from London who were searching for fortune in California. Victoria had long wavy brown hair put up in a classic Victorian updo. Like most middleclass women, she wore a bustle on the back of her many-shades-of-brown dress. Charles had wavy brown hair as well that made him appear slightly shaggy, and his blue eyes – the only blue eyes in the entire Avery family – peered out at his sister beneath the shaggy brown hair.
"Not that it matters, anyhow. The war has been over for eight years," said Victoria, turning back to the newspaper. Suddenly, a man with dark brown hair approached them, and Victoria and Charles turned their attention towards him.
"James Lilley!" exclaimed Charles, standing and cheerfully shaking his hand. "How are you, Jim?"
"Fine! Just fine, Charles! And yourself?" asked James.
"Wonderful! Wonderful! Do join my sister and me?" asked Charles, and James nodded. He took the seat next to Charles.
"Good afternoon, Miss Avery," he said to Victoria.
"Mr. Lilley," she replied, then returned to reading the paper.
"Mr. Avery," said James. "What brings you to California?"
"My sister and I are in search of a fortune," Charles replied. James nodded.
"I am doing just the same, but on my own instead of with a companion," he said. "You must be grateful that your sister has decided to join your companionship. Miss Avery makes a fine travelling mate." Victoria lowered her paper.
"Surely, you're travelling with your fiancée, Mr. Lilley," she said quickly, wanting to change the topic of discussion.
"A fiancée? Why, Miss Avery! Where could you have possibly heard such a thing from?" exclaimed James.
"It was among the gossip of London," Victoria replied.
"Well, I must say, Miss Avery, that I am not engaged. I am free and available to all," said James, smiling at Victoria. Victoria narrowed her eyes at him, then stood.
"I'm going to go and find a book or a magazine or something," she said, then lifted her skirts slightly and left. Only moments later, everyone was thrown from their seats. Many people were screaming in fear and pain. The car of the steamer was in a barrel roll, rolling across the plains and tearing up much of the land. Suddenly, it stopped, and then there was silence.