Subtitled: They're not even sure it is a baby!
So today I'm going to natter on about some ideas that came together just now, mostly because I was looking for a place to make a note of them and, apart from a few of my Facebook friends, I don't think anybody reads this page.
I follow this blog called Pharyngula, which is named after one of the stages of embryonic development, and I was thinking this might be a cool name for a monster. "Embryo" and "monster" came together in my mind for two main reasons: (1) David Lynch's Eraserhead and (2) one of my brother's equally disturbing creations. The first one should be obvious to anyone who has seen the film. If you haven't seen Eraserhead, go rent it. There's no reason you shouldn't suffer as I have suffered.
The second one came from Wu Teh, a character Mike created for a comic book we were going to do a few years ago. I suppose this comic book could serve as another embryonic reference because, like many embryos, it failed to attach to its metaphorical uterine wall and was flushed into oblivion without anyone ever knowing it existed. I suppose that's what comes of trying to make H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Kirby have a baby. If you find this metaphor too creepy and disturbing, you're not going to like Wu Teh. Chief Scientist Wu Teh looks like a floating infant with the head of an old Chinese man. He was, in the original concept, a rakshasa who just didn't quite get what humans were supposed to look like, or why they don't like being vivisected. You'll get to meet Mike's latest revision of Wu Teh in POW!erful Tales, to be released in March or whenever we feel like it.
So anyway, my next step was to find out more about this word I'm thinking of using. Turns out pharyngula is a really basic stage, without the "twisted baby" creepiness I was looking for. Maybe I can still go back to the pharyngula as some kind of fishy tadpole demon or something. Maybe some kind of Lovecraftian "ancient roots" background based on the theme of common descent, since that's one of the things you notice in early development. We'll work on that another time.
A little way down the list, however, is "larva." I know there are mythological connections to that one, so I go skipping off to Monstropedia to confirm my suspicions. Roman mythology has two kinds of lemures, or spirits of the dead: lares, or friendly ancestor spirits, and larvae, or wicked and fearful souls. The lemur connection is interesting too. It turns out that the critter got its name from the spirit because of its big eyes, nocturnal habits, and weird calls.
So picture a thing like a human infant with a big head, absurdly large round eyes, and rows of skinny little extra arms waving back and forth all down its sides like a shrimp. It's got a bony little tail curving out of its spine, and it floats in the air as if swimming. In addition to standard demonic nastiness, they sit on your chest while you sleep and send you nightmares like the hags in Germanic folklore. If you've ever suffered from sleep paralysis, you've probably got one of these latched onto you. Not a bad little larva, huh?