Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who

Among the Aborigines of Australia are tales of many strange and dangerous creatures. Australia has always been home to strange creatures, such as the platypus, the kangaroo, the cassowary, and many others. But perhaps the strangest of all is the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who, a short, red-skinned demon with a vampirelike thirst for human blood. It is described as being a small red man, approximately four feet in height, with very large head and an enormous, gaping mouth (which is toothless). The creature appears to be bipedal (although crawling about on all fours like a lizard is not unheard of), but the monster’s toes and fingers are tipped with toothed suckers (like those of an octopus or a squid), which it may use for clinging onto trees or for holding onto its victims. However, the primary purpose of these suckers is to drain the blood of the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who’s unfortunate victim.

This monster dwells in large, leafy trees, particularly fig trees (although some sources say that the creature lives in caves near a water source). But unlike other monsters, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who does not actively hunt for its prey. Instead, it waits for food to come to it. When a weary traveler pauses to rest under its tree, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who makes its move. It drops itself on its victim, surprising them and ensuring that the struggle is brief. While the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who may be diminutive, the creature possesses supernatural strength that makes tackling fully-grown men easy. Using the toothed suckers on its fingers and toes, the monster then proceeds to drain the victim’s blood. Like the Vampire of Central and Eastern Europe, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who rarely kills its victim outright. It leaves just enough blood in the victim that they are still alive, but too weak to make an escape. The creature then goes off on a walk in an effort to burn off some of the blood it has consumed (like people may do after a large meal) in order to regain its appetite. Eventually, the creature returns to its victim.
Once the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who has returned, it lies down on the ground while facing the victim. It then proceeds to crawl over to its prey in the manner of a lizard, and swallows the victim whole. The creature then stands up and dances about, attempting to move the still-living body of its victim down into its stomach. After some time has passed, the monster drinks some water and vomits the unfortunate person back up. The victim, however, is still completely intact and alive However, because the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who only hunts during the day, the creature must seek a bush in which to sleep for the night. The victim, if they’re still alive, can then try to escape. Even if the monster awakens and goes after them, the creature’s prey still has a good chance of getting away, as the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who has a slow, wobbling gait on the ground. But if the unlucky human doesn’t escape, he is swallowed whole a second time. Then, once again, the creature throws the victim up. However, the victim is now shorter than before and has a reddish tinge to his skin. If the victim is still unable to escape, he is swallowed and regurgitated a third time. Now, he is not only almost the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who’s height, but his skin is smooth and hairless as well (conversely, in some stories it is noted that the victim’s body grows an excessive amount of hair during its transformation). If this disgusting process is repeated enough times, the victim himself will eventually become a Yara-Ma-Yha-Who.
In other stories, it is said that the monster only swallows its victim twice. It will, however, return to savor that particular victim’s taste again and again until they become a monster themselves. It is said that if the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who fails to release its prey, the spirit of the fig tree it hides in will enter the creature’s body through an ear, and the spirit makes a sound so loud that it causes the monster’s own spirit to flee its body, which is transformed into a form of tree fungus. Other than that, there seems to be no way to kill the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who. Within the Aboriginal tribes, children are told by their parents that if they are ever attacked by the creature, they should not struggle or offer any resistance. This way, their chances of surviving the encounter are much greater.

Bane, Theresa. Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires. Randleman, NC: NeDeo Press. Copyright ©2007 by Theresa Bane.

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayers’ Field Guide to the Undead. Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Strider Nolan Publishing. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

Yara-Ma-Yha-Who (Monstropedia)

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