Areas around the world have their own cultural names for things that go bump in the night. In South Carolina, a cultural group called Gullah (African Americans in South and North Carolina that ranged from the coastal plains to the sea islands) had their own called the Boo Hag.
The boo hag, as legend tells it, was similar to a vampire. However, they sustained themselves on the breath of their victims by doing what was known as riding. Basically, when a person went to bed, the boo hag came along and sat on top of the sleeping victim, stealing their breath. Boo hags are often known to not have any skin, and appear red because of this. They hide themselves by stealing their victims skin, and wearing it like clothing, thus being able to walk around during the day without anyone suspicious of them.
Boo hags will hunt their victims, choosing them very carefully. When they’ve found a suitable one, they’ll often gain access to the victim’s homes through some small crack or crevice in the house. Once the hag is inside, they’ll ride their victim when they sleep, stealing their breath. They don’t kill the victim, but send them into a deep, dream filled sleep. Should the victim struggle, however, the hag will take their skin leaving them to suffer. Once finished, the hag will leave the home, flying off with their skin before dawn. If they don’t, they will be trapped without skin forever.
Most often when a person affected by the boo hag awakens they feel short of breath or very, very tired. A common saying in the region is “don’t let the hag ride you” which may be similar to “don’t let the beg bugs bite”.
There is a way to ward off the boo hag. Simply by leaving a straw broom beside the bed. The boo hag will become so entranced by the broom, that they would have to count the straws, often this takes them until past dawn, saving the victim from having their breath stolen.