In Malaysia the Penanggalan detaches its head, leaving its body behind as an empty husk. This flying head vampire seeks out pregnant women to drain their blood. In fact, “Penanggal” or “Penanggalan” in Malay literally means “to detach” or “to remove”. But it’s not just the head. The internal organs dangle below, twinkling like fireflies.
The Penanggalan, who always appears as a woman, looks completely normal during the day. She’ll avoid eye contact and smell strongly of vinegar (a tool of the vampire trade). Typically, Penanggalans take jobs as midwives.
At night, it twists its head off and soars through the air, intestines and organs dangling below it. The Penanggalan perches on the roof and waits for the woman to go into labor. Then it wriggles an invisible tongue into the house to drain the blood from the mother.
Legend has it, the tongue can pass through walls or slither through floorboards to reach its victim. Alternately, it will entwine the victim in its long intestines.
Upon reaching home again, the Penanggalan takes a quick dip in a tub of vinegar. Why, you ask? The vinegar shrinks the organs so it can squirm back into the body suit and pretend to be a person again.
Snag Those Intestines
Want to keep yourself safe from this horrific creature? Your best bet is to snag those dangling intestines. Often people will scatter thorny leaves on roof or windows. Additionally, they might plant a pineapple tree under their house (Malaysian houses are built on stilts).
Still want a little more protection? Slide a pair of scissors under your pillow.
Mess With the Body
If your intent is to stop the Penanggalan for good, you’ll need to track the vampire to its lair (possibly by following anyone with the strong scent of vinegar). When the head detaches for the nightly peregrinations, you go to work.
Fill the empty body with shards of broken glass. Then, when the creature returns to crawl into its body, the glass will shred the vampire’s organs.
If you simply want to mess with the Penanggalan, just flip the body over. These creatures don’t really understand how human bodies work. It will reattach backward. Then the head will be facing in the wrong direction (an easy way to spot the vampire).