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German Werewolf

Submitted by: Jay Rohr

Part I

At the City Wall

I will try to tell this story as close to as it was told to me. Although it has been some time since then, I doubt I will ever forget the details. To tell it though I must bring you to where I learned it.

I was on holiday during the year 1892 and had decided to travel across Europe. My trip was hardly a lonely one as I was accompanied by four close friends. However, it is my conjecture now that young men traveling in packs is a dangerous thing. When a person has no need to return after he or she has left, there is no telling what mischief can ensue. Paris certainly does because of us. But I digress.

We had just come out of France and were heading along through the Germanic regions of Eastern Europe. Our carriage was on the road to the Magdeburg village of Eggenstedt, close on to Sommerschenburg and Schoningen. By this point in the journey I had become weary of only seeing the countryside through a carriage window. So I stated my intention of walking the remaining distance. My friends laughed at first, but decided it was best to let me have my way. Informing me that they would wait at the next town for however long it took me to catch up, they had our driver slow the carriage. I climbed out while the rig was still rolling. My feet had barely touched the ground before my friends had the driver whip up the horses.

As soon as the dust cleared, I took in a deep breath. Surely this was the way to see the world. Traveling the roads in a speeding box may be quicker, but there is more satisfaction to be had out in the great wide open. At least that's how I felt for the first mile or two. Poetic fascination with nature's splendor is only as great as one's own comfort. Beauty is hard to see when hampered by aching feet. And I'm sure even Messrs. Whitman and Emerson would agree, a storm is best viewed through a window than out in it.

Fortunately, I had ample time to pick up the pace before the first few fat drops came falling. The darkening sky was more than a subtle indication of what was coming. Despite the throbbing protests of my feet, I pushed on at a pace that broke a sweat. It was not long before the surrounding forest began to close in on the sides of the road. Just as the rain started to roll off of the clouds I could make out in the near distance a light in a window. The closer I came to it, the more lighted panes came into view. The size of the place hinted that it must be some kind of establishment such as an inn or tavern. As I came round to the entrance I noticed a hanging wooden sign. My German is, as it was then, a bit rough, but I'm sure it read, "Die Stadtwand," which means the city wall.

Hung on the front entrance was a wreath of curious flowers whose smell suggested nothing but inviting. Now at the doorway I could hear the sound of many voices conjoined in the rumble any good tavern possesses. Though muffled and distorted through the door, no one might mistake the good cheer resonating in the patrons' words. With a smile I opened the door. Anyone who has ever entered a room where they are clearly not wanted will know the situation in which I found myself.

All conversation ceased as soon as I set foot in the place. Every eye turned in my direction. Some stares were outright, while others peered out of the corner of their sockets. I kept my smile in place although, it wanted nothing but to retreat. I made my way to an empty table, smiling and nodding at those whom I passed. It was quiet enough to hear the growing speed of every drop pattering the outside of the building. The creak and groan of chairs suggested some were turning to watch my movements. When I sat down, I situated myself with my back to the wall. Looking out over the room I could see the only gazes now were furtive glances.

The establishment was not crowded, but it did have a fair share of customers at the moment. They were a wide assortment of people ranging from those one might avoid on the road at night, to a few very finely dressed gentlemen. Almost everyone sat on benches at long rectangular tables. Though there weren't many, I managed to seat myself at an empty circular table. It was a wonderfully crafted piece of furniture I wouldn't have minded owning, if it weren't for the many stains from spilled drinks and splattered food.

Low murmurs began to circulate around the room, and I hoped it would not be long until that cheerful rumble I'd heard before returned. After a time, a man came over to my table. He had a build that suggested bears figured somewhere in his ancestry. His forehead was damp with sweat, which he wiped away with his palm, using it to slick back the few thin hairs on his head. Besides a white shirt and dark pants, he had on a leather apron. I figured him for the proprietor.

Standing beside my table he said, "Heißen Sie Willkommen Zum Stadtwandgasthaus."

Sheepishly I replied, "Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut. Sprechen Sie Englisch?"

With a smile that took a weight off my chest, he answered, "You are in luck. This a main road, so I find best to learn English."

"I don't mean to be a bother," I said.

He shook his head, "None at all. Welcome to the City Wall Inn. Ich bin Herr Wirtz."

I introduced myself to Wirtz and ordered a pint of the house's finest. He came back promptly, setting before me a towering stein I'm sure was more than a pint.

In the midst of my first, exploratory sip, he asked, "Are you well mein Herr?"


"Your look is not well." There was a rumble of approval from all those present.

Briefly, I explained my hurried trip down the road. I could hear low conversations as the crowd considered what I had said.

"Das ist gut," Herr Wirtz nodded his head. He smiled broadly, "With the look, there is concern you had an encounter."

"Just avoiding the rain." I raised my glass and placed a few coins on the table. He scooped them up and headed off to mind the other tables. It was not long before the rumble of conversation started to pick up speed. Soon I was sitting in the tavern I had expected to enter earlier. I wondered for a period what he meant by 'an encounter.' However, my curiosity drained along with my stein. It was nearly empty when Herr Wirtz came back over to my table.

"All good?" he asked.

"Yes, indeed. I was wondering, are we far from Eggenstedt."

"Not far. Perhaps little over a mile through the woods. Why?"

"I have some friends waiting for me there. As soon as the rain lets up I plan to join them."

"A coach is coming for you then?" he asked. His tone was odd. It was as if he didn't want to hear me say what he knew I would.

I chuckled a bit to put him at ease, "No. I don't mind. It's not much of a walk."

My chuckle had the opposite effect. His face developed a stony disappointment as if I had made light of some gravely important matter.

"You can't travel this road after dark." Wirtz spoke with a conviction I found unsettling. My sense of comfort lessened as I noticed the volume in the inn die down to whispers. Pricking up my ears I did manage to catch a few phrases. Most I ignored either because I could not translate them or they made no sense. However, I did catch one. It was easy enough to notice as it was being repeated by several different voices. I couldn't quite translate it, so I asked Herr Wirtz if he would do so for me. At first he was hesitant, but with some persistence I managed to convince him.

"Das Heulen des Hirten is the shepherd's howling."

Still confused I said, "I don't understand."

"It is why you can't travel at night."

Coming Soon!

Part II

The Shepherd

Dr. Vanwolfen

Submitted by: Amy

Dr. Vanwolfen

Thanks go out to our resident Creepy Illustrator for this original, illustrated story sumission.

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