Stories from the countryside, presented by Derek Nacre.
Location: The Netherlands, Overijssel.
So I spent the last week in a nice Bed and Breakfast in Ommen and went around in my car visiting all the smaller townships in the area in search of interesting stories. It was in Junne, a township with a population of around 75 that I found something worthwhile.
I met a man named Henk, bald and missing a few teeth, who told me about his most interesting neighbour John.
“We don’t really live that close to each other, so it wasn’t until he started selling honey that I even knew he had bees. I was curious since I kinda was thinking about getting bees myself, so I asked him about them. We talked for a while, he showed me the hives—and boy where there a lot of them—and then I bought a jar of honey and I went on my way.
“It was curious really, I’d never known he had an interest in bees, and then suddenly he had his land full of hives. Had to be at least ten of them. There was no way he was going to sell all of the honey to just the people going through Junne, but he said he didn’t have any plans to sell it to any supermarket or something.
“But, not my business you know? I just let him get on with it.
“The next time I visited, a month or two later, he’d bought even more hives. I wondered if there were even enough flowers to support them all, but he just said the colonies weren’t very big at that point so it was fine. I thought, ‘but what about when the colonies get bigger?’ but I didn’t bother asking. Still not really my business, and the bees weren’t bothering me or anything.
“It was like that for a couple years. Kept it to those fifteen hives and let the colonies in them grow nice and big. I never learned what he did with the excess honey, but he probably had a deal with some store somewhere.
“So it’s now five years ago, and he probably thinks the hives have grown big enough or something, I don’t know, but he buys more hives! I’m starting to think he’s gone mad at this point, but I don’t say anything, happens sometimes when people lose their spouse you know? I continue to visit him, and I ask about the bees, as you do, and he gets this smile on his face, very satisfied. He tells me he almost has enough. Enough for what? I ask, but he just straight up doesn’t answer me and asks me if I want some more coffee.
“Two more years, and every time I come by he seems happy with his bees, until suddenly his grin is just that bit wider you know. And so I ask him if he has enough now, and he nods and mumbles something about tonight.
“I’m thinking I don’t want to be anywhere near whatever he’s been planning, so I stay inside the next couple of days just to be sure. Doors locked, windows closed. You don’t want to know what kind of screeching I heard, a banshee’s got nothing on it. I heard the bees too, heard them bumping against the windows, heard them buzzing.
“So two days later, it’s been silent, and I’m thinking I have to check on John to see if he’s not been murdered or whatever. But I get there and he’s fine, gives me a mug of coffee like always. I ask him what happened, and he leads me outside to the middle of the hives. There’s scorch marks everywhere and thick lines of honey crisscrossing all over the grass, and I squint at them, and sure enough, he’s drawn a huge fucking pentagram on the ground with honey.
“’Stung him right dead’ he says. And I ask ‘stung who dead?’ because I’m thinking I have to call the police. But no, he says ‘the demon’. And I don’t know what to do or say at that point. Is the man delusional? But there’s this pentagram on the ground, scorch marks everywhere, and now that I’m looking closer there’s a whole lot of dead bees in the grass as well.
“So I decide to do what I’ve been doing ever since he started raising these bees, and I mind my own business and finish my coffee. Next time I’m there he’s got some horns on his mantle like I’ve never seen before, so who knows? Maybe the man killed a demon with an army of bees. I just know to stay on his good side.”
John was not available for comment. I wanted to get a picture of those horns Henk mentioned, but without John’s cooperation that wasn’t possible. I’ll be honest, I was slightly relieved John was out of town.
I did find out that when John’s wife passed away ten years ago, it wasn’t a peaceful death. Police reports call it a violent murder, but Henk said John had been talking about Hellhounds and that kind of thing.
It will always intrigue me how stories of magic and demons are so much more prevalent in rural communities. I’ll leave you to decide for yourself if you believe them or not, but I, for one, like to believe a little bit of magic could be real.
Just maybe not demons — for my peace of mind.