The Abbey’s Secrets Revealed – Part Two
The Abbey’s Secrets Revealed – Part Two
I pushed at the door and pulled at it. I ran my hands over the ancient wood and around the edges looking for and hoping to find a secret panel that would open the door. My immediate reaction was panic. How was I going to get out? Was I doomed to be trapped in this dank passage forever? This was not what I had planned for myself. I leaned against the rough stone wall and slid down into a sitting position on the cold stone floor. After a few minutes the dampness began to seep into my clothes causing me to chill. I stood and managed to push the panic aside, regain my sanity, and think logically. The oil lamps still flickered telling me that there was a draft coming from somewhere up ahead. A draft meant another entrance or at least a window or a crawl space leading to the outside. I would crawl through the eye of a needle if I had to.
I walked slowly down the passage, stopping at side passages and checking the direction of the flames. It was hard to tell because the flickering was slight at best. I dropped to my knees as a flight of bats passed over me. A good sign, I thought, there has to be a way out for the bats. I hoped more would come by allowing me to follow them. But I wasn’t a bat and the few that did fly over were too fast for me. I had to move slowly for fear of slipping on the damp, slippery stone floor. I wondered what this part of the abbey had been used for in olden days.
I thought about my friends wandering the main part of the abbey and its gardens. I wondered about my own stupidity; wandering off alone to seek, what—adventure? Well, I got that whether I wanted it or not.
By now I was chilled to the bone. I sat down and dug into my pack for my wind breaker. I put it on and shoved my hands deep into the pockets where I found the walnut. How could I have forgotten about that? I opened it up and among other things I found a tiny ball of what looked like black parchment. Where was this? What was it for and where did it come from? I did not remember seeing it before. I stored the walnut shell away in my pack, but tucked the ball of parchment-like material into a small coin pocket in my shorts.
I made my way around a bend in the passage and into a cathedral-like cavern with a high ceiling. I knew I had moved beyond the basement of the abbey and was in a large cave reminiscent of caves I had explored in New Mexico. I shuddered a little when I saw the amount of guano on the floor. Looking up again, I could make out the shapes of literally hundreds of bats hanging upside-down from the ceiling. My initial reaction was to move away, return the way I had come. But there was no way out behind me. I had no choice but to move forward. Now, despite the good they do, bats aren’t exactly popular with humans. But I figured that if I left them alone, they would leave me alone.
I felt some movement in my pocket and remembered the tiny parchment-like ball I had tucked away in my shorts. I pulled it out but it was no longer a tightly wadded ball. I was knocked to the ground as it overpowered me and fastened itself onto my back between my shoulders. Before I could comprehend what was happening I was being met and flanked by two of the largest bats I had ever seen. Without a sound, I was being guided upward supported by what was now a pair of functional bat wings. It appeared that by magic the ball of black parchment had metamorphed into strong wings. My guides led me to the center of the vast ceiling. And the next thing I knew I was hanging upside-down and surrounded by several hundred, maybe even a couple of thousand bats. Ugly little fellows they were, but cute too, in a way, and they appeared friendly. Their squeaking from this vantage point was so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think. I understood though they seemed though to be trying to get through to me…to instruct me. Although I did not understand their language, I knew enough to remain still.
After what seemed like hours hanging there upside-down, I examined as best I could, my wings. They rested between my shoulders and when stretched out were attached to my wrists. Although I did not remember repositioning it, my pack was slung crosswise over my chest. I was concerned that I had lost it but it was safe and seemed secure enough. I was surprised too, that the blood hadn’t rushed to my head and that I felt quite comfortable in what was rather an rather unnatural position. I did though find my unique vantage point fascinating. More than that, the draft I had felt below was now a strong current of air—fresh air.
I could see that close up bats were really quite cute, much as a baby rabbit or squirrel, or puppy. So why did we dislike them so? I remembered reading an article that stated bats were given a bad rap. They did not try to get in one’s hair and that their eyesight is actually very good. It is true though that they do rely completely on their built-in sonar. Their gift to us is that they devour millions of insects during their nocturnal flights.
Our lives would be much more uncomfortable if the bats went away.
To be Continued……
Vi Jones (Woodnymph)
©April 18, 2009