The Abbey’s Secrets Revealed – Part Three
I didn’t think I would or could go to sleep, hanging as I was with hundreds, no, thousands of bats, from the ceiling of this huge cave. And why didn’t I feel the need of a blanket, the temperature being just a cool fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit? At home, I would have the thermostat cranked up to a night-time temperature of sixty-five, at least ten degrees higher than here in the cave, but there I would be snuggled into the warm cocoon of a blanket and eiderdown. Here, it didn’t seem to matter. Was there warmth being given off by the furry flying rodents snuggled around me? And certainly the squeaking and chattering did not keep me awake. On the contrary, it was like listening to soft music or surf rolling up on to the beach. I slept like a baby until I was awakened to a restless shuffling of the creatures around me and finding myself flanked by two large bats, one of whom seemed to be in charge.
“It is dusk,” he said in a throaty squeak, “time for us to head out into the night and clear the area of insects…those little critters that you so dislike, the ones that destroy your crops and generally bother you humans, but who are for us, a nightly feast.”
“Dusk! Oh, my gosh, I’ve been here far too long. I have to get back or I’ll be late getting to the Valley of Bones. L’Enchanteur will be on my case for sure.”
“You have expressed your respect of the Bat People and to reward you, she wishes you to join us in tonight’s sweep of the countryside.”
It made sense, something that L’Enchanteur might do to expand on our experiences. You never know what plans she has up her sleeve. And, after all, anyone can pick through bones, though I still wanted to do that, but to fly with bats—now that is something rare and to my mind exotic.
* * *
Restlessness was growing among the bat population until it sounded like a heavy surf with intermittent chirping and chattering. Then, without warning, I was flying, aided by the two boss bats that guided me and kept me from closing my wings and flopping to earth in a most ungainly manner. My companions were gobbling up insects by the thousand. I wondered how it would be without the bats and their night-time forays? We would surely be overrun with nasty, biting, critters whose only purpose in life, or so it seemed, was to harass the human race. I flew with my guides, swooping, diving, and feeding—only I didn’t fancy the feeding so I kept my mouth shut and abstained from the feast.
While my companions feasted, I watched in awe at the scene passing below me. Homes showed only as darkened shadows except for their windows, some of which glowed from interior lights. It’s amazing, I thought, how many humans burn the midnight oil. Streets were marked by straight lines of light, pulled tight like short necklaces on fat necks. Curved roads and byways showed up artistically as jewels showcased on black velvet.
A sliver of light appeared on the Eastern horizon heralding the coming of dawn. The bats surrounding me thinned down to just a few, and then to just my two guides. They gripped my outstretched wings and held fast as we glided downwards like skydivers, having pulled their cords and were enjoying the last leg of their adventure. I was deposited lightly on my feet in front of the abbey. My furry companions chattered a brief farewell before fading into the now brightening sky. I saw them dive into an unseen, from my vantage, bat-sized opening beneath the eaves on the shadowed side of the steeple. They were gone from my sight and I was saddened by that fact.
I stood rock still, somewhat dazed, and a whole lot amazed. I had been where no other human had been. I had slept most of yesterday, roosting with the bats before flying with them into the night to clean the sky of unwanted pests. How could I tell anyone of this and have them believe me? I could buy myself a bat tee shirt and hang bat earrings from my ears, but that wouldn’t mean a thing to anyone other than to let them know that I felt a need to protect these wonderful creatures, not that that wasn’t important…it was very important. But how could I relate my story? Write about it perhaps, in a children’s book. The little ones believe. At least they do until their imaginations and daydreams are clouded and dulled by the onset of adulthood. I know the truth of it though. For one day and one night, I lived as a bat with other bats and that experience will remain with me forever.
©May 9, 2009