The name itself should cause shivers to roll down your spine. (How many G’s are in it? N’s? My god, where do they all go?)
The penanggalan is a type of vampire/witch mixture from Malaysia. She’s a witch who is able to separate her head from the rest of her body so that she can go flying around in the night, trailing her intestines behind her. What? Oh yeah, you read that right. Trailing her intestines behind her.
Now why does she do this floaty-aroundy-thing? Why, so she can feed on pregnant and birthing mothers. Duh. She’s often said to be a midwife who either defied local taboos about eating meat at a certain time or a woman who used black magic to make herself beautiful. Because, as we all know, beauty is a curse.
Far less often, the penanggalan is created due to a curse being placed on a woman. Apparently it’s much more likely that a woman would use black magic than have it worked on her.
The penanggalan can be spied out when walking around as a regular human because they smell like vinegar. After a hard night’s flying around as a head and intestines, one has to soak one’s innards in vinegar in order to shrink them enough to get them back into the lower half of the body. If you smell someone who reeks of the tart stuff, watch out! She’s probably a penanggalan.
Locals have different ways of protecting themselves against this flying sorceress, who has fangs and will drink the blood of young mothers and their babies. Scattering around the thorny leaves of a local plant can snag up the soft and jiggly intestines, thus catching them up long enough to machete them to death. Also, planting pineapples under one’s house can catch them up the same way. I’ll betcha won’t look at a can of pineapple quite the same way again, will you? I mean, there’s garlic in a can right there. Or the sweet, sweet fruit of the same.
According to the Malaysian mythology surrounding the penanggalan, they can only be women. Until now:
This is Nex. He kicks ass, even without feet.
Meet Nex. He once was a fleshcrawler king, ruling in the Swamps of Midia until Devany Miller came along to kill him. Of course, she didn’t want to hack his head off but she also didn’t want to get drained by Nex’s queen. Luckily for them all, they were able to make a deal … and Devany ended up with his head anyway.
According to the mythology in my story, once a fleshcrawler’s head is removed from his body, it becomes a penyang, a floating magic 8 ball, basically. Yes, he has his intestines trailing behind but he has a certain majesty about him that cannot be denied. His queen took his body to regenerate it into another fleshcrawler king–but that’s going to take a while.
Until then, Nex becomes something more than just a strange creature that insults Devany to keep her mind on business and her mind off the nauseating smell of the Swamp.
There you have it, folks. The penanggalan and my own creation, the penyang.
What do you think? Would you want one as a companion? Do you think you’d ever become one and under what circumstances?
Have spooky dreams.