Backstory Biernes #2, May 15th 2015: Bleeding Heart
Today, I will be discussing one of my favorite stories, Bleeding Heart, and some of the transformations it has gone through. If you haven’t read the final version yet, do so now. It might help you understand what follows, and there are some serious spoilers in here. This backstory is split into two parts. Part A is about the setting of the story, and Part B is about the characters and plot.
Bleeding Heart is set in a fictional state of Vermont. I occasionally like to use the Northeastern United States in my work because of its fascinating history. I also like to read about Native Americans (whom I call Early Americans) and world religions. The setting is a mash up of these histories with a little bit (or maybe a lot) of fiction sprinkled on top.
When I was revising this story, I had been reading about the Abenaki and the Acadians. The character Cartier is an Acadian descendant who uses an Abenaki ritual to revive his dead wife (who he probably murdered).
In the final version, I don’t mention the Abenaki or the Acadians. In the original drafts, I went into more detail about them. I took all that out, because I thought it got in the way of the story and the characters.
So, the characters: It’s interesting to note that the original Bleeding Heart was a love story. The original concept didn’t focus on Rutherford or Cartier but instead on two of Cartier’s captives.
Two strangers, Kevón and Katherine, are both depressed after being jilted by their respective lovers only days before Valentine’s Day weekend. That weekend, they end up at a ski resort in the Vermont mountain town that Cartier pretty much owns. They are approached by the generous and charismatic Cartier at separate times. He offers them a better place to stay and dinner at his mansion on the top of a giant hill with an amazing view of the valley. They agree, and he roofies them when they get there.
Cartier keeps Kevón and Katherine in a dungeon deep within the mountain. At this point, they haven’t met. Rutherford comes to feed them each day as they await their unknown destiny. They both beg him for freedom, but he claims he can do nothing. He is obviously reluctant and has some regrets. Katherine seems to be creating a plan to escape, while Kevón recovers from the drugs and alcohol of the night before.
Several nights pass punctuated by horrifying screams coming from somewhere in the dungeon. Soon it’s Kevón’s turn. Cartier drugs him again and brings him to a sacrificial altar. The long story short is that Rutherford stops Cartier from sacrificing Kevón to revive a strange creature which is presumably his wife. Both Rutherford and Cartier are killed in the same way as they are in the final version. Kevón is freed but injured and is about to be eaten by the creature. Luckily, Katherine had been devising a way out since the beginning, and she rescues him. After they report it all to the police, they kiss. The End.
I took out all that, because I saw it as a separate story. I thought the more compelling story was that of Rutherford and Cartier.
Compare the above story that contained four main characters and the slimmed down final version below that focuses on two main characters.
Cartier, an obviously wealthy man, gets his manservant, Rutherford, to help him move his wife’s seemingly dead bloody body. Rutherford begs Cartier to call the police, but he refuses and threatens Rutherford to stay quiet, which he does reluctantly.
After days of witnessing Cartier’s strange behavior and begging to see Mrs. Cartier, Rutherford finds out that Cartier is using an ancient forbidden practice that involves human sacrifice. Soon, he stops Cartier in the middle of the ritual, and they are both killed by an earth-demon that seems to be wearing the face of Cartier’s dead wife.
So that’s the backstory behind how Bleeding Heart went from being one of the most insane How We Met stories ever, to becoming a story about one man’s struggle to do the right thing.
That’s all for this Backstory Biernes. Stay tuned until next Friday when I present–Backstory Biernes #3: Life Is a Death Sentence.
Thanks for reading.