CREATURE FEATURE: YARA-MA-YHA-WHO

It was a summers day in the outback and the heat was starting to get to me. I stopped beneath a fig tree to rest my legs, but the cool sensation of the shade quickly sent me to sleep. I woke a few hours later and opened my eyes to find two wide eyes staring back. A creature with a large red face, a massive grin, and short frog-like limbs sat crouched in front of me. I later learnt that this was a Yara-Ma-Yha-Who.

A creature of Australian Aboriginal mythology, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is a small red-skinned man with octopus suckers on its hands and feet. Its head is the same size as the rest of it’s body, which means it would be hard to miss in the open - but Mr Yara-Ma-Yha-Who has a thing for fig trees. It looks a lot like the Australian red-eyed tree frog, except far larger, fleshier, and deadlier.

Now be honest, have you ever checked the canopy of a tree before resting beneath it? Well, it’s time you started. The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who lurks in the branches waiting for people to pass below. he’ll let you get comfortable - he’s in no rush - then just as you’ve unpacked your sandwiches he’ll drop down from above and grab you with his leech fingers.

There’s no fighting it. The suckers are as tight on your skin as muscles are to bone. Then the sucking starts, and you watch in horror - helpless - as he sucks every last drop of blood from your body. You want it to end there, but it doesn’t. Passed out and as dry as a dried fig, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who then swallows you whole, and wanders to a nearby body of water to quench his thirst. Sucking blood is thirsty business. This is followed by a long nap, then after he’s woken he regurgitates up your body, and you’re good as new.

 Well, almost as good as new.

You’re a little shorter than you were before. Your skin is just a little redder than before. This happens every time you’re caught by a Yara-Ma-Yha-Who; you become a little shorter, and a little redder - until you too become a Yara-Ma-Yha-Who.

There are ways of avoiding this foul creature. Playing dead, for one - he only likes the taste of fresh blood. He’s not too keen on adults either, and tends to attack children, because children are oh so tasty.