When you are on ghost duty, getting away with only a bat encounter comes as a relief. At least, it did for me.
There are other times in life, I’m sure, when a bat encounter would not be a welcome surprise.
Sitting in the near-darkness in a cabin deep in the woods, I prepared myself for anything that might happen. By prepared I mean I had a pair of fresh undies nearby and a bottle of vodka.
I was on edge. When I began hearing a faint fluttering sound coming from the ceiling, followed by the screech of nails on metal, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing at attention. Louder flapping and then a flash of something inside the wood-burning stove had me off the couch and in my special attack stance. (Quivering, wide-eyed, with hands over my head.)
Since I am most certainly the girl who WILL go in the basement when the deranged killer is prowling for fresh meat, I grabbed the nearby flashlight and aimed the beam in and around the stove. Inside the stove I found a scared and frantic little brown bat, bouncing off the sides of the firebox, up into the chimney and back to the hearth again. When the light hit its face, the creature retreated to a dark corner and tucked its head under a wing.
I tested the latch on the glass door. Engaged. I examined the chimney and cast iron stove body for openings. None.
Next, I wrote a note and secured it to the hearth with a glass candle holder: Live bat inside. Do not open door.
Then I went to bed and pulled the covers over my head just in case.
The next morning, I checked the stove and found the bat still inside. Feeling all “Go, Diego, Go” we grabbed our animal rescuer gear (fishing net and spatula) and began coaxing what looked like a big-eared, winged mouse out of the coals and ashes.
It cooperated and flopped into the waiting net. We carried the net outdoors. Knowing the hot sun was probably torture to the nocturnal creature, we overturned the net on a bed of leaves in the shade. It wouldn’t let go. More prodding, poking, and a little shaking and finally it hopped to the ground.
Then it spread its wings and began shrieking, exposing a fine set of teeth, including little fangs. I asked myself: Are these teeth really necessary for eating mosquitoes? At that moment I was immensely grateful the bat didn’t find a way out of the stove last night.
We stood nearby, watching as it shivered and screeched but did not spread its wings and fly away. Eventually we grew bored and walked away. Within five minutes, the creature had gained enough strength to flap its dark wings and set off on a jagged path deep into the forest. Mission accomplished.
Where’s my drink?