— July 4th, 1822
Enjoying the evening’s festivities with the southern bell at his side, Dr. Northrup left the small-town saloon with cheers following. He enjoyed playing piano, but moreso loved the attention he and Caroline received – they were the closest thing this town had to celebrities, as much for their performing as for their cavalier attitude towards life, realizing that it was to be enjoyed to the fullest every evening. Men were drinking and singing, poorly, in the streets, finely-dressed women laughing at said men, and everyone in the mood for revelry.
In the distance, some children were playing with gifts their parents had that day bought them – Chinese fire-crackers and twirlers purchased off the wagon of a small man dressed in strange clothes who had arrived just that day. Surrounded by a gaggle of interested parties, he was still doing business even late into the night, happy customers walking away with all manner of colorful explosives in tow. Smiling at his longtime companion, the chill Nevada air brushed comfortably against his skin, warmed from hours playing in the small bar. Somewhere a small band began to play, which only heightened his spirits. “Care to dance, madame?” he smiled and took her hand, in the middle of the dusty street.
Dr. Northrup never heard her reply.
From down the street, unbeknownst to the couple, an argument had started at the fireworks stand in regards to price. The slighted patron had drawn steel against the foreign merchant and fired, the alcohol in his system perhaps blinding him to that elemental truth that firearms and a wagon filled with gunpowder rarely mixed with pleasant results.
The blast and sight of sparks twirling, shooting, and screeching in every direction wasn’t what first caught Northrup’s senses however. What he heard was a guttural, primal, and alien scream entirely out of place in the sleepy desert town. As he turned, a great beast, seemingly made of fur, fangs, and claws, bolted away from the sudden and unexpected fireshow, directly towards the pair, its inescapable fear driving it to do everything in its power to escape. Dr. Northrup had heard of Gangrel, but had never seen one, especially not in full-frenzy. Moving as quickly as he could he tried to draw his pistol.
And the beast approached.
He thumbed back the hammer as it started to slide free of its leather holster.
And the beast roared in blind panic.
He spun as the beast rampaged past him, focusing on his target.
The beast seemed now not just to be a thing of fur and fright, but of blood.
Dr. Northrup did not fire.
He screamed instead.
The monster disappearing into the darkness, Northrup fell to his knees next to the woman who had stood next to him in life and death, health and sickness, as her chest rose once, fell, and was forever still, her face and abdomen ravaged by the Gangrel in its frenzied escape. It took four men to pry Northrup, not a strong man himself, off of his sweet Caroline.
The next evening, her blood dried on his clothes and on his fingers, Northrup had but one thought as he rose, the fire in his eyes nothing resembling ‘playful:’ the hunt was on.