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Tune in to the dreadful details regarding the life of Gauthier Moreau
Given Name: Gauthier Moreau Age: Biologically: 42, Chronologically: 263 Home Region: Harperdeen Heights Favorite Food: Coq au vin
Unbeknownst to them, when the Moreau family got caught in a vicious storm while sailing from France to America, they'd actually sailed directly into a space-time anomaly. Thus, when they landed, they disembarked on the shores of the Centuryverse, in the region that was then known as Harperdeen Heights.
Years later, Gauthier Moreau would become a vampire after receiving a mysterious telegram and attempting to rescue a man who fell from the sky. Unable to die, he's witnessed two centuries of progress consume the Centuryverse, giving him a uniquely jaded perspective on life. His motives are gray at best, and his proclivity to violence means many people find him unpleasant to deal with. Luckily, Moreau prefers to be left alone.
Yet, somehow he keeps finding himself at the center of important events...
I have been known by many names over the years. I’m told that people of this era call me “Gutshot.” Gutshot Gauthier. Although, I must laugh when I hear this name, because I can’t imagine how that moniker could have resurfaced. I thought I had been very careful…
My given name is Gauthier Moreau.
I’ve just been beaten in a gambling competition by a man who calls himself Tommy Two-Pair. Not only did he cheat, but he managed to convince my hired help to stand down.
I say “hired help” like I paid the men. The truth is: I used my vampire powers of persuasion to hypnotize them into doing my bidding. And somehow, the scoundrel managed to break through my influence…
Oui, I am a vampire.
Or, actually, I believe I once heard the term daywalker sometime in the late 1900s? I believe that may be a more appropriate description of what I have become. I have no feud with the sun, which is convenient because that means I can more easily dissolve into society whenever I have to uproot and move. Whenever my true nature is discovered.
My life has been long and marked by misfortune, as well as triumph, with the occasional decades-long stretch of mundanity. Recently, I have supported myself by selling information. I’ve allied myself with an organization called the Johnson Group Research Foundation—certainly a front for something more nefarious; I’ve been alive for over two centuries, I know a cover when I see one. They provide me with information regarding anomalies and abnormalities, and I sell that information to the highest bidder. Then, I take that money to the casinos and use my powers of persuasion to cheat at the poker tables.
I’m aware that I could simply hypnotize the bankers at the casinos—or at actual banks, for that matter—and have them simply hand me all the money they’ve got. But where’s the honor in that?
And besides the meager pay, the Johnson Group has promised me an even more valuable prize. An object of power I can use to step through time. All I have to do is…mislead another client of mine who the Johnson Group seems to have an interest in. And while there’s no honor in deceiving an associate, I would do far worse than deceive a man for the chance to return to the moment that has plagued my dreams for the past two hundred years…
It was a temperate day in October—I believe October 14th—in the year 1801, and it must have just rained as I seem to remember the scent of it hanging heavily in the air as I strolled through the park. I was living in Harperdeen Heights (what is now called Pemberton Heights) at the time. When I returned home from my walk, my brother Sebastien was waiting for me in the drawing room, reclining in my favorite arm chair, legs draped over the side. My hunting rifle rested on his lap. This was a common occurrence, finding him there like that, and seeing as he lived next door, I figured I had no need to stop it from happening. I knew he meant no harm with the rifle. I kept it mounted over my fireplace mantle as a display of power, and kept it loaded with one bullet, in case of an emergency.
I think holding it filled Sebastien with a sense of gallantry.
“I’ve come up with a name for my miracle elixir,” he said.
“Oh?” I said, raising an eyebrow. Sebastien was always chasing get-rich-quick-schemes. I offered him a position within my company numerous times, and every time he’d turned down the offer in favor of some other ludicrous business venture. I crossed the room to the small table where my maidservant would set the telegrams I’d missed while I was out.
“Imagine it, Gauthier,” he said, standing. He returned the rifle to its mount then, turning in my direction, spread his hands in a wide arc as if he were projecting his words onto a large canvas. “Sebastien’s Curative Revival Formula. We’ll sell it for 75 cents.”
“That’s a terrible name,” I said without looking up. I picked up the message on the table.
“It’s an excellent name,” Sebastien said.
“It’s redundant; are we curing something or reviving the drinker? Surely not both.” I stared at the telegram in disbelief, thinking it a joke.
The message read:
This evening, you will be attacked by a monster. You are to let it happen. You will survive. Leave your home at sundown and do not return. Do not attempt to contact Sebastien again after this evening.
We will meet in the future.
“People will line up from here to the town square to purchase Dr. Sebastien’s Elixir. I’m sure of it. Are you even listening?” Sebastien was at my shoulder, craning his neck to read the message. I crumpled it in my hand and stuffed it in my pocket. “What was that?” he said. “Who was that from?”
I waved my hand to dismiss his curiosity. “Business. Just business.”
I had received threats from business competitors before, but this message felt different. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Of course I wouldn’t be attacked by a monster. That was nonsense. So, it must have been meant as a metaphor… But what was I meant to glean from the message? These were my thoughts as I left my house later that evening. I had asked Sebastien to watch the house for me. He protested, of course, but he agreed after I insisted. I wasn’t sure where I was meant to go, but my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided I would retrace my earlier steps through the park. I’d considered taking my rifle with me, just in case, but even back then one couldn’t easily get away with carrying a loaded rifle through town. Not in Harperdeen Heights, anyway.
The moon was hidden that evening, so I carried a lantern with me.
You will be attacked by a monster. You are to let it happen.
The only monster I could think of was that William Emmerson, who had just imposed a tariff on all exports leaving the port, dealing a serious blow to my profit margins…
Just as I began to work myself into an emotional state over business affairs, the park was lit by an ethereal blue light. I scanned my surroundings, alarmed, and found the source of the light was a glowing ring that had appeared in the sky. Within the confines of the ring, I could see the moon shining brilliantly. But outside the ring, the sky remained dark—as if the space defined by the unearthly halo belonged to a different sky. As I marveled at this, something fell out of the ring and plummeted to the ground two hundred yards away from me.
Something compelled me to run toward the thing, and when I reached it, I found that it was human.
A pale, emaciated man lay at my feet, remarkably unscathed by his fall.
“Please…” he whimpered, to my surprise. “Help…me.” As I reached to hoist him off the ground, the blue light of the ring faded. I looked to the sky and confirmed it had gone.
The withered man clung to my shoulder as I helped him across the threshold of my home.
“Sebastien,” I called. The house was quiet. The darkness outside poured in through the windows with no candlelight to challenge it. My maidservant had been lazy again, and I thought I would reprimand her in the morning. The only light I saw came from the lit fireplace in the parlor, illuminating my brother sleeping in my armchair, hunting rifle across his lap. “Sebastien!” I said again.
He stirred and rubbed his eyes. “Gauthier?” he asked, groggily.
“Sebastien, quickly,” I said. “Send for a doctor. This man needs urgent help.”
Though in the dark I couldn’t see any physical injuries on him, the man on my shoulder had fallen from the sky. What man walks away from a thing like that uninjured? And above all that, it was plain to see he was elderly, even in the poor lighting. As if on cue, the man broke into a rasping, wet cough. I ushered him into a seat.
“Send for a doctor?” Sebastien asked, standing. He held the rifle lazily in one hand, letting it point toward the floor. “Gauthier, I am a doctor!”
“A real doctor,” I said, turning towards him. “The man suffered a tremendous fall! He needs a surgeon!”
“I could be his surgeon!”
“We don’t have time for your fantasies,” I said, returning my attention to the man to better asses his condition.
“I’m serious, Gauthier,” he said, “I’ve watched surgeries before. You find a cloth he can bite on, and I’ll fetch my saw…”
“SEBASTIEN,” I barked, letting my anger get the best of me. I stood and took him by the shoulders, staring directly into his eyes. “You will do no such thing! Do you understand me?”
My brother’s face scrunched in fear, but I couldn’t stop myself—his foolishness could cost a man his life.
“You are not a doctor! You cannot perform surgery! And you will never amount to anything until you stop chasing your schemes and fantasies like a child!”
“Gauthier—” My brother said, stepping back.
“No, you listen, Sebastien,” I continued. “We may still save this man’s life, if you’ll just send for an actual doctor.”
“Someone who can actually help!”
“WHAT?” It didn’t occur to me that my brother’s fear did not come from my diatribe. I sensed a presence behind me.
Hot breath on the back of my neck.
The quiet, wet crackling of jaws opening wide.
The pressure of teeth against my skin, and the delayed, piercing pain of fangs penetrating my flesh.
I screamed in pain, flailing my arms to ward off my attacker as everything I saw took on a sanguine hue. But the man held tight. With one of his hands on my neck and his other arm wrapped around my torso, I wasn’t able to shake him. I don’t know how long we stayed connected, but I felt something change in me. I felt a new strength. A new hunger. A new darkness.
And still, I could not shake the man.
“I can help you Gauthier,” my brother cried, pointing the rifle toward me. He closed his eyes and cocked his head to one side.
“Sebastien, NO!” I shouted over the roaring in my ears.
And then the assault was over, the roaring replaced by ringing. The man released me, and when I whirled around to plant my fist in his face, he was gone. The adrenaline left my body and I collapsed to the floor.
“Gauthier—” I heard my brother whimper. And then: “GAUTHIER.” He fell to his knees and crawled toward me. “I… I… I didn’t… I don’t…” My vision returning to normal, I saw a deeper expression of fear on his face. One mixed with grief. And revulsion.
He was staring at my stomach in horror, and when I followed his gaze, I found that he’d shot me. A cannon ball-sized hole had been torn through my body, leaving my innards exposed and glistening darkly in the dancing firelight. But I felt no pain. Nor did I feel any form of shock, nor disgust; despair nor fear. I felt…
“I’m sorry, Gauthier, I…” Sebastien cried, shedding tears over my ruptured organs. “I thought I could help! I… I only ever wanted to help.”
“Sebastien,” I said quietly, a feral sensation beginning to blossom in my chest.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry…” he sobbed.
“Sebastien, get away from me,” I warned.
“No!” He leaned in close to my face. “I won’t leave you to die alone.”
“Gauthier, I’m sorry, I—”
I couldn’t suppress the feeling any longer. I pushed off the ground with my elbows and lunged toward my brother. I needed his blood. I needed it more than I had ever needed anything before. More than I needed air. We collided, and Sebastien rolled away from me, scrambling to his feet. I did the same. We regarded each other from opposite sides of the parlor with only the crackling sound of the fire to break the silence.
But then another noise invaded the space. It began as a thick gurgling, then became a visceral squelching. My entrails were possessed by a flurry of motion, squirming and writhing wildly, flinging my blood in all directions, slowly but diligently knitting themselves back together. The squelching was replaced by a dry, organic sound, like the shattering of glass, but softer, duller, heard in reverse. And then the room was quiet. Even the fire dared not make a sound.
I turned to my brother—my dear but foolish brother whom I loved, whose blood I had been ravenous for only moments before—and I saw him break.
“M-monster…” he mumbled from behind hollow eyes.
“Sebastien, I’m sorry,” I started to say.
“MONSTER,” he shouted. “MONSTER! HELP!”
I backed away from him. “No, please!” I urged him. Whatever dark urge I’d been consumed by was gone for the moment. “Please, brother, don’t. I…”
“HELP ME,” he screamed, voice cracking. Sebastien brought his hands to his eyes and let loose a painful wail the likes of which I’d not heard before. “Somebody! Please!” Before I knew it, he had fled the house, running into the night.
I didn’t think it wise to follow him.
After that, I closed myself off to the world. I cloistered in my home for months, sliding in and out of madness. My worthless maidservant quit after only a few days, and I ran out of provisions shortly after that. The food I ate did nothing to satiate me. The hunger gnawed at me, whispering to me every day, growing louder and louder, shrieking at me from within, commanding me to feast on the blood of mortals. But the memory of my brother’s face, his fractured look of unspeakable pain and terror, kept me tethered to humanity. I could no longer live as an ordinary human, but I refused to accept what I was becoming.
I heard the gossip of the townsfolk as they passed my home, lowering their voices to whispers, believing I couldn’t hear them.
“Did you hear what happened to that Sebastien Moreau?”
“The one who sells ‘miracle elixirs’ and calls himself a doctor?”
“I heard one of his tinctures drove him mad, and he nearly killed his brother.”
“Gauthier Moreau? The businessman?”
“His brother veritably tore him in half with his bare hands!”
“I heard it was Gauthier who went mad, and attacked Sebastien, so Sebastien shot his brother in the stomach in self-defense.”
Eventually the rumors transformed into urban legends.
“Don’t stare at that house for too long. Gutshot Gauthier will tear you apart, if you make eye contact with him through the window.”
“Didn’t Saint Moreau used to live in that house?”
“You know. The man who lost his mind and pedals crucifixes on the banks of the Goldengulch River. He claims there are vampires in Harperdeen Heights.”
In that way, the gossip was actually useful to me: I hadn’t seen or heard from my brother since that awful night. He lived next door to me, but I couldn’t bring myself to visit him for fear of causing him more pain. Or that I might lose control of myself again. But when I learned that Sebastien was allegedly living on the riverbank in squalor, I decided I had to see him again.
The moon shone brightly on the evening I made my way down to the water. I didn’t bother to conceal myself, nor to stick to the shadows. I felt confident that none of the townsfolk was capable of truly harming me, were I to be spotted. I didn’t have to search long before finding my brother. He’d fashioned a ramshackle lean-to in the rocky sand, made from an overturned rowboat and a number of coats, shirts, and other garments. The boat’s oars had been discarded next to the boat.
“Sebastien?” I whispered, peering into the structure. I saw a man gone wild, asleep on the ground. His hair had grown long and was matted with wet sand, and his beard stuck out in all directions. He wore loose-fitting pajamas, which I recognized as a birthday gift I’d given him, though they were now torn and stained.
“He won’t wake up,” said a heavy voice behind me. I turned and saw a man standing with his arms behind his back, eyes glowing red. He looked different from how I remembered him. Though he appeared elderly, his face was no longer withered. All traces of visible weakness had been replaced by tightened skin and sculpted musculature. “I’ve put him in a deep slumber.”
“You…” I said slowly.
“Yes, Gauthier Moreau. I have returned with another gift for you.”
“Gift?” I scoffed. “What gift did you ever grant me?”
“The gift of power,” he said, smirking. “The gift of longevity.”
“You made me into a monster!” I spat. “You drove my brother mad!”
The vampire shrugged. “If you choose to believe what the mortals say.” I stood to look him in the eye. “But that’s neither here nor there,” he said. “You’ve not eaten in months, Gauthier. You must me on the brink of madness, yourself.”
At his words I felt the gnawing in my chest return. My body cried out for human blood.
“And I supposed you’ve brought an innocent here for me to prey upon?” I asked. “I won’t do it.”
“I’m afraid you’re mistaken, my friend,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve brought you to the innocent.”
I looked to where my sleeping brother lie.
“I—” I stammered. “I won’t do it.” But my feet had begun moving of their own accord. I approached Sebastien, driven forward by my dark thirst. “I won’t…” I remembered his face on the night when I turned, when I tried to prey on him in an outburst of rage. I had to stop this.
“Good, Gauthier. Let the feeling fill you.”
“No!” I shouted as I came to my senses. I reached for one of the oars on the sand, and spun around, swinging it at the vampire’s head. It landed with an earsplitting thwack. I struck him again. And again. And again. Until he began laughing.
“You should know by now you cannot kill me, Gauthier, just as you cannot die!”
I hit him again.
“But by all means, keep trying! I do love a fun game!”
I jabbed the oar at him like a spear, knocking him off balance. He stumbled backward and fell onto the sand. I leapt at him, pinning him beneath my weight. “If I cannot kill you, I’ll just have to make sure you’re incapable of cursing anyone ever again.”
“And how do you plan to do that?” he asked, flashing a smile, revealing his fangs.
I looked around me, and laid eyes on a palm-sized stone half-buried in the sand. Its edged looked sharp enough.
I began cutting.
“Gauthier, Gauthier,” the man chided as his blood sprayed into my face. “These are the pitiful actions of a desperate man!” I continued hacking until I reached bone. “Cease this, now.”
“No,” I growled, placing both hands on either side of his face. My own strength surprised me. I removed his head with a sickening crunch.
“See?” the head said. “Even now. Still alive and well.” The body lay bleeding out on beneath me.
“Good,” I snarled. “That’s my plan.” I detached a coat from the structure of Sebastien’s shelter and carried it and the head with me as I patrolled the beach. When I found a rock that looked suitably heavy, I used the garment to bind the head to it.
“Hang on,” it said, a hint of panic seeping into its tone. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”
“Of course, I do,” I said. I returned to Sebastien and knocked down the rest of his shelter, careful not to let anything fall on him. I dragged the boat and both oars to the head and the rock, putting them in the craft before climbing in and disembarking. When I felt I had rowed far enough from the shore, I tossed the head and the stone into the water. Returning to the shore, I buried the body in the sand.
“Who’s there?” I heard my brother’s voice call behind me. The vampire’s sleeping curse must have finally broken.
I turned to my brother. He was too far away for me to clearly see his face. I felt the hunger stirring in me again. I took a deep breath to calm myself, then called, “Nobody. Go back to sleep.” I felt power flowing from my eyes, and Sebastien lay back down.
I left Harperdeen Heights after that.
And I believe you can imagine the trajectory my life took on after that.
But that is a story for another day. What matters is that I began to cooperate with the Jonson Group. They promised me a mechanism by which I could revisit that fateful day when I was cursed, and when I became a curse to my brother. I failed to capture the Llewinson man, and was given a second chance with Kirk Osipov.
And through a twist of fate, Kirk Osipov is the one who to bless me with that gift I’d been seeking for so long.
And it was through another twist of fate I realized the worst was still ahead of me.
For you see, when I activated the so-called Clock of Misery, I was not transported back to the moment that damned me and my brother.
I opened my eyes to a moment that existed outside of my centuries-long recollection.
I awoke in a time that was yet to come.