Belgium, Dendermonde, 2009. Killing at the daycare centre named Fabeltjesland ("Land of fairy tales").
Stripped down to mere cold facts, this is what happened:
The Dendermonde nursery attack was a stabbing attack on the Fabeltjesland daycare centre
in the village of Sint-Gillis-bij-Dendermonde in Dendermonde, Belgium, at 10:00 a.m. CET on 23 January 2009.
Three people were stabbed to death, and twelve were mutilated in the attack.
The perpetrator, Kim De Gelder, a 20 year-old Belgian from Sinaai, has been linked to a separate murder
of an elderly lady and police have suggested he was plotting more nursery attacks.
Kim De Gelder was, in eyes of his friends and colleagues, a silent boy who hardly ever spoke.
He entered the Fabeltjesland nursery through an unlocked side door, claiming he had a question.
He then entered one of the rooms and began attacking small children before moving up some stairs,
where he continued in another room.
The man was reported to be wearing black and white makeup with his hair vividly coloured in red, similar to that of The Joker.
A total of eighteen infants under the age of three and six adults were in the nursery at the time of the attack.
Two infants and one adult were killed.
Six children, between one and three years old, were seriously injured,
another four suffered minor injuries and nine escaped unscathed.
The perpetrator left the scene on his bike.
We have read this Wikipedia-report over and over again,
in order to convince ourselves that this utterly useless mass murder really took place as described in the report.
One cannot help but being overwhelmed by disbelief:
A killer of infants, killing merciless in a nursery called Land of fairy tales ?
No motive whatsoever ?
Riding the streets of Dendermonde on a bike ?
In broad daylight, with his face painted like Batman's Joker ?
Nothing seems to make sense here, yet 3 people died:
Leon Garcia-Mannaert, a six-month old boy
Corneel Vermeir, a nine-month old girl
Marita Blindeman, a 54 year old childcare worker
We felt compelled to write this song about it.
As a perspective, we decided to let two eyewitnesses describe what they had seen on this tragic day.
Although the background of the two men is totally different (atheist versus Christian),
in the end they both arrive at the same conclusion:
It must have been the devil himself riding their streets on January 23rd.
The day started like any other; remains of my dreams
filled with sunlight piercing the curtains, painting walls in stripes of blue
No one conceived of the evil in this shivering man
who at the same time was fixing his garments, for the last time was checking his knives
Yet there he was and no one noticed the fire in his eyes
as he slowly rode through our main street, no one noticed his smile;
Life is strange and blinding this way
Caught in my thoughts, I couldn't tell you the time of his passing,
and I think my clock had stopped as a sign if evil winds
Yet there he was, with his face painted like a ghost
I never noticed the fire in his eyes;
I must have turned of looked down
But what could I have done ? For this demon rode like the wind;
I can still hear the rattling sound, pounding and proclaiming Judgement day
Life is vengeful and terrible this way
Tearing the innocent veil
and spreading this tragedy and all this pain;
The devil rode our streets on a bike
Keeping our faith at bay, fixed on the waterline
but the waterline changed
when the devil rode our streets on a bike