Once upon a time in Serbia: The Tale of Sava Savanovic

In a small and quaint village, in the beautiful countryside of Serbia sits a lonesome windmill with a big story to tell. The windmill was once in use, but now it stands in disrepair, a dilapidated shell of its former glory.

The windmill was once the home of Sava Savanovic, a well-respected livestock trader. Unlike his brother, Stanko, Sava had never married and had never had children.

However, he wanted that to change. He had met a beautiful young girl, the daughter of a tradesman, whom he knew was the one he wanted to marry. It was love at first sight, and for Sava, a man that was used to getting what he wanted, being rejected was something he did not take well. Her father had refused the marriage, arguing that Sava was far too old for the girl, and he would not allow it.

Sava was a changed man after that day, he never quite recovered from the battering his ego had taken. He was angry and mean, bitter and spiteful. Even towards his own brother and his bother’s family, he could not muster a smile. People started to avoid him on the streets, and tradesmen started to refuse doing business with him.

One day, on a warm Summer’s day, Sava had found himself watching the girl he had desperately wanted to marry tending to her sheep. She had been unaware of his watchful eyes from behind the treeline, until he came over the field and greeted her with a smile. “Take a walk with me”, he coaxed her with a charming smile.

The girl was interested in Sava, but resisted due to the fear of upsetting her father. When she turned her back to Sava, he aimed the gun he had hidden underneath his shirt to her back and fired three shots. She fell to the ground instantly, and laid lifeless like a ragdoll that had been forgotten in the grass.

Sava was unaware that his brother had followed him that day, suspecting bad things would happen. Stanko lunged at Sava and the two began to fight, only to be interrupted by the distant sounds of nearby sheepherders fast-approaching after hearing the gunshots. Stanko got scared, and tried to run away. At this point, one of the villagers had seen the girl’s life-less body, and shot at Stanko thinking he was trying to flee the scene.

Sava hurled himself at the man, but was too late, Stanko had died instantly. When the villagers realised they had killed the wrong brother, they took out their anger on Sava, beating him with their herding sticks until he too laid lifeless in the grass. With his last breath, the herders witnessed a black moth fly out of Sava’s mouth, but they were unable to catch it.

In a mere few hours, three lives had been taken. The villagers did not want to bury Sava in the cemetery because he was a murderer, so they dug a shallow grave not far from where he had been killed. They started to regret their decision to bury such a shallow grave when Sava could be seen wandering around in the darkness of the night. The villagers were terrified and planned to dig up his body and pierce a stake through his heart.

Stanko’s wife heard of their plans to exhume Sava’s body. She couldn’t allow this to happen, so with the help of her brothers in the darkness of the night they dug up Sava’s body and moved him to the windmill. Ever since then, legend has it Sava roams around the area, feeding on any victims he can find in the darkness of night.

Even in the brightness of day, the area is eerily silent and lifeless. To this day villagers approach the area with caution in day, and know better than to go there at night.

Recently, the old windmill collapsed and people started seeing Sava appear again, looking for a new home. Villagers were advised to put garlic on their front doors and arm themselves with crosses and hawthorn stakes.

Written by: Philip Dainton