Vampire on the Loose

ZAROZJE, Serbia (AP) — Get your garlic, crosses and stakes ready: a bloodsucking vampire is on the loose.

Or so say villagers in the tiny western Serbian hamlet of Zarozje, nestled between lush green mountain slopes and spooky thick forests. They say that rumors that a legendary vampire ghost has awakened are spreading fear – and a potential tourist opportunity – through the remote village.

A local council warned villagers to put garlic in their pockets and place wooden crosses in their rooms to ward off vampires, although it appeared designed more to attract visitors to the impoverished region bordering Bosnia.

Many of the villagers are aware that Sava Savanovic, Serbia’s most famous vampire, is a fairy tale. Still, they say, better to take it seriously than risk succumbing to the vampire’s fangs.

“The story of Sava Savanovic is a legend, but strange things did occur in these parts back in the old days,” said 55-year-old housewife Milka Prokic, holding a string of garlic in one hand and a large wooden stake in another, as an appropriately moody mist rose above the surrounding hills. “We have inherited this legend from our ancestors, and we keep it alive for the younger generations.”

Vampire legends have played a prominent part in the Balkans for centuries – most prominently Dracula from Romania’s Transylvania region. In the 18th century, the legends sometimes triggered mass hysteria and even public executions of those accused of being vampires.

Sava Savanovic, described by the Zarozje villagers as Serbia’s first vampire, reputedly drank the blood of those who came to the small shack in the dense oak tree forest to mill their grain on the clear mountain Rogatica river.

The wooden mill collapsed a few months ago – allegedly angering the vampire, who is now looking for a new place to hang his cape.

Some locals claim they can hear steps cracking dry forest leaves and strange sounds coming from…

READ MORE AT AP.ORG

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