What you find here is “Bleeding Heart.” And of course it’s an action/vampire’s tale written in comic book script. The format is one of many for the medium. Here I use a version of Dark Horse Comics format. Comics are a multi-person creation. Thus, their scripting is a means to communicate with artist(s) and editor(s). I’m sure this is also navigable for the uninitiated, at least after a few pages. A few points: SFX = “Sound Effects” (or onomatopoeia). I use captions (CAP) instead of puffy thought balloons for a “narration” effect from our hero. Also, please excuse some of the eccentricities between the formatting of this site’s text programming and the original file’s format. I’ll likely be tinkering even after I hit “publish” and post it online. “BH” is offered here as a script sample for a standard 22-page one-shot as well as entertainment. Please only read it in a well-lit environment, perhaps with someone watching your back. If you trust them. Or at least know where they’ve been the night before.
(A prose, short story version of this dark tale is also available in NIGHTMARES AND OTHER VICES, Volume 2.)
Bruce S. Larson
Panel 1. Late night. Bleeding Heart stands atop a streetlamp emitting sulfurous light. Bleeding Heart is a young male, but with taught vampiric features. He wears a black leather jacket and sunglasses. His characteristic T-shirt has a print of the U.S. Revolutionary War snake flag with the motto: Don’t Tread On Me. Under his sternum is a permanent wound that constantly weeps blood staining his shirt.
CAPTION (BLEEDING HEART): Desolation. It’s what you feel after life has been sucked out of you. And I don’t mean after a tough day at work.
Panel 1. From his perch, Bleeding Heart looks down across an asphalt lot between two single-story (retail) buildings. A sedan awaits beside one building. A large van drives towards the lot from an old highway. Light from the street-lamp creates juxtaposing zones of light and shadows.
CAP (BH): Desolation rules the worlds of the old highway, not through the absence of life–
Panel 2. Two men from the car, the Cultists, walk to the halted van whose rear doors are now opened. One Arms Dealer stands inside the van. His gun-toting partner, Nick, stands outside. Above, a crouched Bleeding Heart looks down from the lamp, barely visible above the cone of light.
CAP (BH): –but from what happens in the dark roadsides.
Panel 3. The two Cultists join the Arms Dealer inside the van who kneels beside an opened crate filled with assault rifles. Other crates sit stacked to the sides. Nick stays outside holding one of the doors.
ARMS DEALER: Nick, close the doors.
Panel 4. The three men inside look to the open doors: Nick is now missing.
ARMS DEALER: Nick?
Panel 5. The Arms Dealer looks nervously at the two Cultists who look up wide-eyed at the van’s ceiling and pull out guns. One Cultist shouts.
SFX (VAN ROOF): THUMP! B-THUMP!
ARMS DEALER: Hey! Easy guys–!
CULTIST: It’s him! Just shoot!
Panel 1. All men inside the van fire through the roof.
SFX: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Panel 2. Outside, Bleeding Heart pushes over the van that now has a bullet-perforated roof.
Bleeding Heart: just scream!
Panel 3. Bleeding Heart stands over the pile of the three unconscious men pulled from the van. He crushes one of the triangular pendants in his hand.
CAP (BH): This was easy. I hope it hits their undead boss hard. A little payback for sending the thing that tore my life away.
Panel 1. Flashback. A gorgeous woman and the future Bleeding Heart, a young man dressed for a night out, stand locked in passionate embrace in front of his apartment door. (The woman wears a smaller version of the triangular pendant on her neck.)
CAP (BH): She asked to see my home after five minutes of small talk.
Panel 2. Inside his apartment, the future Bleeding Heart slams back-first into a wall. He now looks battered with ripped clothes. A decorative sword is knocked free from the wall.
CAP (BH): She was full of surprises.
Panel 3. The future Bleeding Heart crawls along his short apartment hallway towards his phone, and looks back to see the woman now changed into a heavily fanged, vampiric form breaking the sword in two.
CAP (BH): Not just super strength: bad,sharp surprises.
Panel 4. The Vampire bites into his neck with savage force.
Panel 1. Cut to a dark, empyreal dimension where terrified souls fall toward a bizarre menace impaling other souls close to it with knurled talons snaking out from a mass appearing like inverted roots of a dark tree. Older victims are withered and partially absorbed into the horror. Bleeding Heart’s soul falls into the scene from a mystical portal.
CAP (BH): For a brief moment I felt my mind falling. I saw screaming souls feed something hideous.
Panel 2. Bleeding Heart’s soul radiates intense light from its center.
CAP (BH): Through pain and disbelief, something inside me exploded. Maybe light. Whatever, it gave my strength.
Panel 1. The future Bleeding Heart bursts free of the Vampire’s grasp and bite.
CAP (BH): I broke free in both worlds.
Panel 2. In front of a window, the future Bleeding Heart clutches his neck wound as the Vampire readies to stab him with a fragment of the sword.
CAP (BH): Then my date got real mad.
Panel 3. The Vampire stabs the future Bleeding Heart in the chest, below his sternum.
CAP (BH): I remember the steel hitting my heart. It still hurts. But I survived. Sort of.
Panel 4. The Vampire writhes in pain and grips her head. The future Bleeding Heart watches while clutching his neck and chest.
CAP (BH): She didn’t just want my blood, but my soul for that spiky monster. I escaped, so it lashed out at her.
Panel 5. The future Bleeding Heart dives out the window.
CAP (BH): That gave me a little time.
Panel 1. View of the future Bleeding Heart lying face down in a deep, grassy drainage ditch. Some blood mingles with water around his body. His skin is now gray.
CAP (BH): I wanted to go to an emergency room. Instead, I collapsed in a ditch and died. Except I woke up again. Luckily before sunrise.
Panel 2. Now fully transformed, Bleeding Heart sits tightly recoiled in a drain culvert like a frightened spider. His eyes glow eerily in the darkness.
CAP (BH): Daylight hurt. I crawled into a culvert and waited with the rest of the detritus to flow out into the night.
Panel 3. Nighttime. Bleeding Heart stands outside the culvert, eyeing his new vampiric hands outstretched in front of himself. He has no neck wound but his chest wound is still present.
CAP (BH): Was I dead? Only, kind of. Some wounds healed, others didn’t. Why? The universe was suddenly seemed different. I was a like vampire without bloodlust. How?
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart wanders across an empty stretch of highway at night. He now wears his customary outfit seen on page one.
CAP (BH): Was something missing? Did I eat too much garlic? I didn’t know. But I was sure my boss would fire me if I showed up like this.
Panel 5. Looking inside a house, Bleeding Heart sees an infomercial of Devon Koenig on a big screen television. (Koenig has long hair interwoven at the ends creating a hood around his head which keeps his bearded face draped in shadow. He dresses in robes and typically wears velvet gloves.)
CAP (BH): Then I saw him: the monster. But here on Earth. It looked different, but I felt the pull and heard the screams again.
Panel 1. Now inside the house, Bleeding Heart smashes the TV in rage. Behind him gapes a hole where he smashed through the wall. In the background, a bloated man in boxer shorts cowers on the floor amid spilled potato chips.
CAP (BH): I felt him reach through the TV and swipe at me. I found my new goal in life: End his.
Panel 2. Back to the present: Bleeding Heart gets out of the Arms Dealer’s van he has parked across the highway. A belligerent driver yells at Bleeding Heart from his car.
Driver: Hey dipstick! Get that out of the road!
Panel 3. Bleeding Heart leans over and smiles at the driver, who looks back at him with startled revulsion.
BH: No problem.
Panel 4. The van explodes into a violent fireball in the highway. Cult pamphlets are blasted at the edges of the shock wave.
Panel 1. On a television screen, a reporter holds a burned pamphlet from the van blast while addressing the viewer.
REPORTER: …the Church of Universal Light again seems linked with these bizarre acts of terrorism. C.U.L. leader Devon Koenig responded to the charges…
Panel 2. Koenig speaks to a cluster of microphones.
KOENIG: This is merely the work of a troubled soul. It will not stop our sacred mission. We bear the perpetrator no hate, and would embrace him.
Panel 3. Koenig addresses an assemblage of reporters in front of his glass office building/church. He is flanked by his identically dressed and groomed acolytes. All acolytes wear the triangle pendant. A neon sign reads CHURCH OF UNIVERSAL LIGHT in the background.
REPORTER #2: You’re cult grew exponentially after the courts allowed your ritual use of narcotics. Isn’t this violence linked to an illicit drug network?
KOENIG: My church is dedicated to peace. Violence has bled away from our being. These acts only illustrate the need of our mission.
Panel 4. Cut to a darkened room where Bleeding Heart sits bathed in the glow of a television as he gives the TV image of Koenig’s face the middle finger.
KOENIG (ON TV): Bless you all. And to whoever is responsible: I forgive you.
Panel 5. Post press-conference, Koenig speaks to his furtive Chief Acolyte.
ACOLYTE: Master, a, a…man seeks you. A very large man.
KOENIG: I sense him. Prepare the circle, and send him a messenger. An armed messenger.
Panel 1. Inside a room covered with velvet draperies, Koenig sits aloft at the center of a large silver pentagram carried by a muscular cadre of his cultists. His chair’s armrests are made from assault rifles. “Lucifer” smiles at Koenig’s. Lucifer is a huge, menacing man dressed as a hardcore Goth biker from hell.
LUCIFER: Koenig. Protected in ostentation. Though the new name has style, at least.
KOENIG: Thank you, I suppose, coming from someone so original in choosing his own names, Lucifer.
Panel 2. Lucifer pulls an acolyte’s chain tight against the wearer’s neck, examining the pendant. Koenig acts disinterested.
LUCIFER: The consortium is concerned with the successful attacks of your blunder.
KOENIG: I have never recognized the consortium. If an organized group becomes too large it will expose us all.
Panel 3. Lucifer contorts in laughter while gripping the acolyte by the neck, who grimaces in pain. Koenig caresses the necks of two acolytes on opposing sides of the pentagram.
LUCIFER: Ha-ha-ha! Coming from you? The great, public priest?
KOENIG: I hide in plain sight. People look for myths in dark places. I bask in the love and adoration of my true believers.
Panel 4. The acolyte Lucifer gripped now has a cut neck, and struggles to stand. Lucifer holds his fingers under his nose as they drip the acolyte’s blood and eyes Koenig predatorily. Koenig stands militantly towards Lucifer, but still within the pentagram.
LUCIFER: A herd by any other name. I prefer free-range. Fresher. And you must trap your unrestrained nemesis, or the Consortium will hunt you.
KOENIG: Your threats are as faceless as your victims! But I will consume the aberration tonight. My favorite thrall seeks him now.
Panel 5. Cut to Bleeding Heart who skulks across a flat rooftop.
CAP (BH): What triggers memories? I smell perfume, remember a kiss–
Panel 1. The female Vampire from the apartment attack strangles Bleeding Heart with a length of cable torn free from the roof. Bleeding Heart grabs at the cable.
CAP (BH): –and pain!
BLEEDING HEART: S-sorry, I forgot to c-call you!
Panel 2. Bleeding Heart flips the Vampire hard against the roof.
Panel 3. Bleeding Heart and the Vampire grapple.
BH: I didn’t have the greatest life, but it was mine! I didn’t want to lose it!
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart tosses the Vampire into an antenna structure attached to the roof.
BH: And I’m not dead yet!
Panel 5. The Vampire bursts from the antenna wreckage in a more monstrous form, and wields a shard of the structure.
Panel 1. Bleeding Heart, also enraged and bulging, catches the Vampire’s arms wielding the antenna shard.
Panel 2. Bleeding Heart thrusts the shard through the monstrous vampire.
Panel 3. Bleeding Heart stands over the fallen Vampire holding the bloodied shard.
BH: I’d like to say I’m sorry, but there are many urges I’m fighting right now.
Panel 4. The Vampire bolts up at Bleeding Heart, knocking the shard away.
Panel 5. Bleeding Heart now bites the Vampire’s neck as they grapple.
CAP (BH): The urge–
Panel 1. Cut to a dark dimension similar to PAGE FIVE, Panel 1. This time an ethereal version of Bleeding Heart is the central entity consuming the screaming soul of the female Vampire.
CAP (BH): her scream dies inside me.
Panel 2. Cut back to rooftop. Bleeding Heart stands wracked in pain and holding his head. Beneath him the body of the Vampire fractures into shards and dust.
CAP (BH): I severed her link to Koenig, and her body splintered into ash as a storm raged in my head.
Panel 3. Bleeding Heart leans on all fours amid the ashen remains, ripped clothes and bone fragments of the Vampire.
CAP (BH): Her life ended long ago. Her body was just a vessel for his will, a conduit to feed through.
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart rears up as if to take a bite out of the sky.
CAP (BH): Byconsuming her, I ripped away a piece of Koenig. The storm was him screaming. He’d failed to kill me a second time. And now I was twice as strong.
Panel 1. Bleeding heart looks out from the rooftop and sees a billboard of Koenig’s Church. A message written in blood is splashed across it: CONGRATULATIONS, YOUNG ONE. NOW I WILL COME FOR YOU. REGARDS, LUCIFER.
CAP (BH): Looks like I’ve picked up a fan. Interesting. Well–
Panel 2. Long after closing hours in the middle of a shopping mall, Bleeding Heart stands behind a rectangular island counter marked INFORMATION. One of his hands is lowered behind the counter. He faces the approaching Lucifer.
CAP (BH): –Follow the leader.
BLEEDING HEART: You’re Lucifer? Give me a break.
Panel 3. View of Lucifer sizing-up Bleeding Heart behind the counter.
LUCIFER: I started life named Welbertass. Lucifer is an improvement.
BH: No argument.
Panel 4. View of Bleeding Heart behind the counter where he grips the handle of a 20‑millimeter Vulcan mini-gun aimed at Lucifer through the counter. Two shot guns, a grenade-launcher, a shoulder held anti-tank missile, and other weapons are also tucked under the counter.
LUCIFER: An interesting location you’ve chosen.
BH: I used to work here.
Panel 5. View from above as Lucifer paces in front of Bleeding Heart.
LUCIFER: And now you seek information, correct? You must have many questions.
BH: There’s a few blank spots. I sense a pull from some people, but they’re rare. I was one of them, wasn’t I?
Panel 1. Lucifer explains with a sinister smile.
LUCIFER: Yes. You have the spark that magic or evolution, whichever you choose, kindled within you. It can burn intensely, fed properly. We, and now you, harvest this spark to become stronger.
Panel 2. Bleeding Heart gives Lucifer a look of disgust.
BH: Like parasites.
LUCIFER: I prefer: hunters. Nature creates balances. We are the dark side of the scale.
Panel 3. Bleeding Heart now looks angrier. Lucifer grins back with chilling encouragement.
BH: But I wasn’t born as some creep hunter. I was made this way!
LUCIFER: Yes. You escaped death and the spark developed around the dark influences grasping your soul. It is how we are all born.
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart looks as if to spit out his fangs. Lucifer gestures as if conducting an orchestra of demons.
BH: Then we’re monsters! Freaks!
LUCIFER: No, boy. We are the lions and hawks. There is a saying: “Whatever cannot harm you makes you stronger.” We are the dark masters. We can become invincible!
Panel 5. Lucifer moves closer. Bleeding Heart eyes him cautiously.
BH: That’s why we scud around in shadows and suck blood like bugs?
LUCIFER: Blood is not the goal, only a means to weaken your prey so they release their soul and the spark it contains.
Panel 1. Lucifer’s face takes a nefarious, demonic look as he motions to Bleeding Heart who cringes in pain.
LUCIFER: You have your answers, boy. Now, come to me.
Panel 2. Bleeding heart fires the mini-gun, totally devastating a mall wing and Lucifer (though he isn’t dismembered) with its discharge.
CAP (BH): So much for invincibility.
Panel 3. Holding the two shotguns, Bleeding Heart looms by Lucifer’s shredded body as it rises from the floor.
BH: You didn’t say the stronger vampires enslave others! How many slaves are you sucking up now to stay alive, punk?
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart barks at Lucifer and blasts him into a display of chattering teeth with dual shotgun blasts.
BH: It takes a mind to become stronger! I’ll keep my own!
SFX: BOOM! BOOM!
Panel 1. Bleeding Heart stands over Lucifer in a pile of chattering teeth and levels his shotguns at him.
BH: But thanks for the info. Knowledge is power. Ever hear that expression?
Panel 2. Lucifer backhands Bleeding Heart through the information booth, obliterating it and scattering the weapons.
Panel 3. The shredded Lucifer crushes the shotguns as he approaches Bleeding Heart among the wreckage, who reaches for the anti-tank missile launcher among the debris.
Panel 5. Bleeding Heart leans up on one knee aiming the missile launcher at the looming Lucifer.
BH: You can kiss-off my brain, Welbert-ass! And the rest of you can–
LUCIFER: There is still much you don’t know, little man.
Panel 1. Lucifer has burst into wing-like sheets of flame with a huge dragon’s skull at the center created from many screaming human skulls. Bleeding Heart is blasted backwards.
LUCIFER: Ignorance is weakness!
Panel 2. A smoldering Bleeding Heart rises from a charred blast circle.
CAP (BH): I feel like flipping him a bird, but it might make him come back.
Panel 3. Bleeding Heart looks up through the burned ceiling hole made by Lucifer’s exit.
CAP (BH): I must’ve blown away enough of him to use up his reserves. Whatever that was, I made him run. So what if I’d torched more of him sooner?
Panels 1. In the back of a limousine, a pensive Koenig sits with his Chief Acolyte and angrily answers his cell phone.
PHONE (BH): Yo, Dev. You know those anti-tank missiles you wanted? They’ve got a helluva range and warhead.
Panel 2. Outside view of the limousine exploding (hit by a missile).
Panel 3. A badly toasted Koenig looks out from the limo wreckage to see a smiling Bleeding Heart holding the missile launcher.
BH: See what I mean?
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart carries the ravaged Koenig across his shoulders bound in chains through the C.U.L cult’s inner sanctum. Rows of drugged-out cultists lay across pads on the floor holding white tubes that extend from the walls. Some have the tubes in their arms as IVs. Only a few cultists notice Bleeding Heart and Koenig through their hallucinatory haze.
BH: These are your followers, Dev? I can see why they worship you. You move; they don’t.
Panel 1. Bleeding Heart holds a match to a sprinkler head.
BH: Maybe I can inspire them to a new level.
Panel 2. Bleeding Heart smiles as the drugged cultists scramble and tumble out of the C.U.L building to escape the indoor rain storm from the sprinklers.
Panel 3. Through a torn-open trap door, Bleeding Heart descends a stairwell carrying Koenig into a sub-level chamber. The chamber is filled with large canisters marked “FLAMMABLE!” (The canisters are connected to hydraulic pumping systems and pipework sending their contents to the floor above.) Water drips in from the sprinkler deluge. Koenig’s body now looks less charred.
BH: Nitric-cannabolin. Strong drug, but flammable stuff.
KOENIG: What you’re planning isn’t a very heroic act.
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart turns a large valve wheel marked WATER SHUT-OFF. Koenig lies tossed in front of the pipework and machinery.
BH: Depends on your heroes. Thor killed giants in their sleep. At least I let you wake up. He was a god, too, by the way.
KOENIG: Aren’t you tempted to try and consume me?
Panel 5. Bleeding Heart stands over Koenig rubbing some of the blood from his chest wound in his fingers.
BH: No. I’ve seen the size of your ego. I’d probably be crushed beneath it. Then you’d get a new slave body. Slightly used.
Panel 1. Bleeding Heart has ripped away the top of a canister, releasing a dark fluid. Koenig flexes harder against his chains and now shows more signs of healing.
BH: But you aren’t as powerful as Lucifer. Otherwise those chains couldn’t hold your crispy ass. That’s what this cult was about. You were trying to beef-up before someone crushed you.
Panel 2. Koenig twists to avoid the flow of liquid splashing out of the ripped-open canister dumped on its side. His body is 50% healed. Bleeding Heart grabs another canister.
BH: But what if you aren’t consumed, and the body dies before you can suck up more power to heal?
KOENIG: You haunt the area where your temporal body falls.
Panel 3. Several canisters are now torn open and dumped. Bleeding Heart stands at the foot of the stairs. Koenig thrashes on the wet floor like an angry shark on a boat deck. He is now 80% healed.
BH: And if you don’t have a body, then your soul is pulled tight across where your remains are scattered. Am I right?
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart walks back up the stairs. Koenig writhes at the bottom of the stairs bearing his teeth in a hideous expression. His eyes look as if they’ve caught on fire.
KOENIG: You are dead! DEAD! DEEAAAD!
BH: Well, sort of.
Panel 5. Now upstairs in the inner sanctum, Bleeding Heart drops a burning cult pamphlet through the trapdoor to the chamber below.
BH: If you denied me life, I deny you death. At least a final peace.
Panel 1. Bleeding Heart’s hand is at the end of an arc of ashes tossed into the air against the backdrop of the starry night sky.
CAP (BH): How many lives did Koenig destroy to make himself a messiah? Probably as many as the grains of his ashes.
Panel 2. At a sprawling cemetery, Bleeding Heart tosses out Koenig’s ashes from a jar. He stands at the peak of a tall, star-sculpture at the crest of a gentle slope.
CAP (BH): Is this justice for those lost souls? I don’t know. I leave that to a higher judgment, if there is any. In its absence, I’ll have to do.
Panel 3. With arms held wing-like, Bleeding Heart descends from the star-sculpture.
CAP (BH): Is that why I’m here? No way. I’m here because a monster tried to eat me. But I bit back. The rest I’ll think through.
Panel 4. Bleeding Heart walks from the cemetery towards the old highway.
CAP (BH): Somehow,I’ll end my desolation—and get some new clothes. I will walk in sunlight again. The future is mine.