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There was a time when the world was primitive, ugly: ferocious, just like a hungry wolf.
Man lived close to nature and close to the spirit of nature. Man lived in a world populated by strange and troubling creatures, monsters and demons which sprang from the hidden fears that stalked his primitive brain; he imagined that the forest and dark trees, the silent brooding places were ruled by vampires, witches, and werewolves.
To medieval man, the evils and demons of dread nightmares really DID walk the land with earthly feet. He prayed to his gods (and later God) to protect him from the terror that came in the night.
Unfortunately for him, God did not always listen.
It was to the filth and squalor of the medieval hamlet of Bedburg that Peter Stubbe (alternately Stumffe) was born. He was a sullen lad, quiet and mistrusted by his fellow Bedburgers. No matter; something was brewing beneath the surface of the suspicious, unnerving boy, something absolutely evil.
Pact with the Devil
One night, Peter drew the magic circle on the floor, uttered the incantations, and backed away from the pentangle as he held the book in his icy, quivering clutch.
Suddenly, the candles seemed to dim, and a figure blacker than the black of night began to take shape within.
Pictures he had seen had prepared him for a devil that had bat wings, cloven hooves, a pointed tail, horns, and the snout of a goat (or even a dragon). He was not prepared for the tall, sinister figure garbed like a monk in black, with long, corpse-like fingers and glowing red eyes. But, indeed, here the figure stood.
For a long moment, Peter could not speak. Then, he opened his mouth to utter something that amounted to gibberish. The Devil, however, beat him to the punch.
“Why,” it moaned, “have you summoned me here?”
Peter replied, hesitantly, "I wish to sell my soul for power. The power to take my revenge.”
The hooded figure replied, “Revenge? Against whom, may I ask?”
“Against my neighbor, Nicholas! And that rascal Heinrich! And Hilda Junge! And Fraulein Kirschner! And, well…I guess almost everyone else in this rotten town!"
The figure replied, “You know the price you must pay, correct? Are you prepared to forfeit your immortal soul in exchange for this revenge?”
Peter spat, “Yes! I’ll pay whatever price you ask! I want to dip my teeth in their blood! I want to eat them like… like a hungry wolf!”
The hooded phantom suddenly put its immensely long fingers to the dark, empty space where its face should have been, as if considering. Finally, it said, “Here.”
At his feet, the devil tossed a leather belt.
“This is magical. When you don it, it will transform you, body and soul, into a beast more ferocious than anything your fellow countryman have ever encountered. You will have the strength, cunning, speed, and viciousness—of a wolf!
“But, if the belt should slip off of you as you go about your business, you will be transformed back into your normal self again. Do you understand?”
Peter shook his head slowly.
“Yes, Master, I understand.”
“Good. Then, until we meet again.”
And with a sound like the flapping and whirring of many wings, the devil suddenly departed. The candles began to shine brightly again, the flames flickering upward.
Peter was eager to try his new-found powers out. He put on his magical belt, felt the first hideous tingles of transformation begin to take hold. He crouched over on all fours, his fingers seeming to elongate into pointed, sharp claws; and, suddenly, it was as if he were a man-beast, covered in fur and foaming at the mouth. He felt a hot fire of passion grip his brain, and his jaws began to drip with saliva.
He crept from his hovel, out onto the road. His miserable cottage was surrounded by thick woods, but a solitary road often brought lonesome travelers to and from town and farm. He crept into the surrounding brush, lurking, his red, glowing eyes searching out for a victim in the gathering gloom, peering like burning red coals in the darkness.
Finally, much as in the fabled fairy story, which Stubbe must have partly inspired, a young girl with a handsome red bonnet happened by, unwary and unsuspecting that her lonely walk through the pleasant country lane would end in such horror. In her hands she may have held a basket of goods for her mother; we aren’t sure.
Stubbe felt the beast rear up in him; in fact, now he WAS the very beast he had so often dreamt of being, the ravening, hungry powerful werewolf of his most heated, psychotic fantasies. He leapt upon the young girl, viciously pulling her to the ground. His fingers found the folds of her taut, twisted young flesh; his teeth went to her throat.
There were to be nearly twenty-five years more of such killings in store for Stubbe.
The legend grows.
After many years, local legend told of a werewolf preying upon the area around Cologne. Stolid Bedburgers began to be afraid, very afraid, that such a Satanic phantom lurked among them. There were too many strange killings and disappearances; bodies found savaged by bite marks, chewed to the bone, and strange tracks in the dirt. Villagers began to avoid the woodland roads, or, if necessary take them only when accompanied by trusted friends and comrades. Of course, these winding woodland paths all seemed, oddly, to be in close proximity to the squalid dwelling occupied by Peter Stubbe and his luckless family.
Years ago, Peter had sewn together (like some degenerate medieval Batman) his own “wolf suit,” comprised of the fur of the animal. It was within this costume he brooded, his devilish belt clasped around him while, peering off into the mist-shrouded night, his jaws dripping with blood and vengeance.
One dark day, as the sun was bleared behind low clouds, pregnant with the promise of rain, Stubbe’s youngest son displeased him. (How specifically, we are never told.)
Stubbe stormed around the filthy barnyard, draped in the skin of his totem animal, and felt the fire grow inside, waxing in intensity. He suddenly leapt down to the ground, began to crawl around on his hands and knees, growling like an animal. He drooled, and his lips pulled back from his teeth.
His young son was standing frozen, too terrified to even move, his filthy feet sinking into the stinking barnyard slop.
Stubbe leapt toward the boy, fastening on his throat with his heavy jaws. The boy reached up to defend himself, but it was to no avail; his demented father proved to be too powerful for him. He chewed a hole in the boy’s jugular, and fresh blood began to spurt out like a fountain.
Stubbe killed the boy with his bare teeth but did not stop there. The Man-Beast soon stood on his hindquarters, like a man, and wielded a heavy old axe.
With it, he cleft the boy’s bloody head in twain. (Cut it in half, by today’s parlance.)
But there was the still-warm, pulsating brain. Stubbe dug his werewolf’s claws into the cranial cavity and scooped out the brains as if they were the yolk of an oversized egg. These he devoured.
The Wolf at the Door
One anecdote tells of Stubbe's MO thusly:
Three weary travelers were journeying, despite the warnings of their friends and neighbors, down the haunted woodland roads wherein so many other unfortunates had disappeared over the years. The woman would have been terrified, if not for the fact that her husband and father were traveling with her. They were all returning from church by the quickest route, and the husband even whistled (perhaps a little nervously) as they went.
“I can’t wait to get home and get sat down to supper, Wilhelmina! Why, I’m famished.”
“Aye,” said the father. “As am I, you young scoundrel. But the sun has not yet gone down, and we are nearly there.” Suddenly, the old man put his hand to his ear, and looked concerned.
“Hark! What is that I hear in yonder brush?”
Wilhelmina, who was carrying a pretty basket of flowers, tittered nervously, “Oh, it is nothing Father. Probably just a squirrel or possum rustling around in the brush. Come, our dinner will be getting cold.”
She wished badly for them to continue on their way, but the old man’s ears had pricked up, and his nerves were suddenly tense. His son seemed more gradually to become alarmed but began to slowly unsheath the great knife he carried in a scabbard on his belt.
“Forsooth! Methinks some varmint is stalking us!” the father said sternly.
His son replied, “Probably with a mind towards robbery.”
Just then, they heard the unmistakable crack of twigs under foot and the heavy breathing of what they knew, almost certainly, must be a man. The young man held his dagger aloft, and ran into the brush, disappearing in the growing murk of dusk.
The old man looked stricken, and Wilhelmina dropped the basket of flowers she had so carefully picked only hours before, scattering them underfoot.
They waited in silence for what seemed an interminable long moment.
They heard a strangled cry come from the bushes. The father turned to young Wilhelmina, said, “Stay here!” and then raced into the thick foliage and darkness. Wilhelmina felt herself becoming more and more frantic, retreated from the road, her chest heaving.
“Oh my, there’s blood everywhere!” she heard her old father say.
And then she saw him, dimly, and heard him struggling against someone that sounded like a great, wild beast. She saw dim shadows thrashing around, heard mangled cries, and saw what she knew must be the father fall to the ground, dead.
She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing would come out but whistling air. Her eyes grew wild, and she began to back up slowly, casting her gaze about, wondering in her panic just what on earth it was she should do.
A tall, hideous form crept from the brush.
Were her eyes deceiving her? She couldn’t tell whether it was man or wolf!
She turned and began to run into the woods, into the darkness, and the Man-Beast loped behind.
It reached out a claw, taunting her, testing her; it was only a few steps behind. Soon, it fell upon her, brought her down to the carpet of earth, its hungry jaws dripping blood into her face.
It blew the fetid stink of its hideous breath up her nostrils. Then, it devoured her.
There were not even bones left behind.
For many years, packs of trained dogs and posses of stout village men sought to capture the “Werewolf of Bedburg,” but it was to no avail. Finally, after another spate of killings, Stubbe (or the “Man-Beast,” or whatever he was by that point), found his luck finally run aground.
He was foolhardy enough to attack a rather large party of travelers, and, while most of them ran away, Stubbe was finally cornered by the stoutest and best of them, all the while dining on what would prove to be the last of his victims.
Imagine the surprise of the men when, instead of finding a supernatural beast battening on human remains, they found only the degenerate Stubbe, clad in his wolf skin cloak and no doubt wearing the belt he would later confess the Devil had given him. Stubbe was taken into custody. And this is where the fun for him really began.
The Torture of the Damned
We can well imagine the hideous torture Stubbe was put to in the dungeons of Cologne. Likewise, his daughter, the long-suffering Beell, and his lover, a woman name Kate Trompin, were also arrested and put to the rack and the boot (or worse).
The scene might have been something like this:
The hideous, ogre-like executioner licks his filthy grey lips, running his tongue over crooked, broken, rotting teeth, sweating from beneath his skullcap. He reaches toward the fire, grabs the end of a hot pincer, says, “Now don’t you worry, Mr. Stubbe. I’m an old hat at this sort of thing, and I’m always very professional. I promise, I’ll be as gentle as a lamb…”
Stubbe is stretched out on a table, bound with heavy iron chains. Above him, a thin, angular priest eyes him with cold contempt.
“Confess! I advise you to confess! It will go hard with you if you do not.”
Soon, as the torturer begins his tedious job (licking his lips eagerly as he torments every twitching nerve ending in Stubbe’s body), the priest flies into a rage, pointing his finger as if it is a holy scepter, and shouting, “You practice murder and witchcraft, have sold your soul to SATAN! Confess, and God may have mercy on you!”
The torture must have seemed endless.
When brought back into court, the wretched man (now physically broken), readily confessed to being in league with Satan; could do little else, as a matter of fact, as his signed confession was read for all the witnesses, who gasped in trembling fear to hear a record of Stubbe’s crimes, both earthly and supernatural. The sentence was a forgone conclusion.
Beell Stubbe, as well as Stubbe’s mistress Katherine Trompin, were quickly burned at the stake; one supposes they were mercifully strangled first, but perhaps not. For Stubbe, a more fitting end was prepared by executioners who probably enjoyed their chosen avocation to a great degree.
Broken, Beheaded, Burnt
We can imagine, then, the smoke from the burning bodies. Stubbe is bound hand and foot to a great wheel, screaming in agony as his body is turned over a slow-roasting fire.
“Mercy! Mercy! I beseech thee, in the name of—”
The peals of indignation from the crowd drown out his piteous screams. To his right and left, two men, each wearing grim and terrifying masks, reach over with rusted pincers.
They take hold of his hanging flesh, twisting and prying it free from the bone, pulling strips of it away slowly, oh so slowly. The pain? Well, it must have been beyond anything the minds of most of us could conceive.
Stubbe did not die, reportedly, until his head was finally severed clean from his neck. His body was taken down from the wheel, and burnt to ashes. His head was placed upon a pike, under a brightly-colored banner depicting the werewolf he had been.
Later, several villagers might have scoured the woods, thusly:
“Blimey! We’ve got to find that magic belt!”
The great fat one begins to search the bushes and tall grass, looking hard for the miraculous treasure.
His companion, a tall skinny man with no front teeth and a dirty face, spits, and says, "Aw, it ain't no use, Gerhard. You know as well as I do that such a thing is not to be found again. Not by man nor beast. Why, that thing belongs to the Devil, and to the Devil it's returned!"