It’s 5:30:ish. Just a bit of gray dawn bleeds through my window. I get out of bed and walk halfway to the bathroom when something goes fluttering by my head.
I think. Without my glasses, I’m blind as a… well, wait for it.
I go back into my bedroom, put my glasses on and head back across my apartment toward the bathroom.
Flutter. Flap. Flight. Right there in my kitchen.
It’s a bat, but it’s the biggest bat I’ve ever encountered. It is big enough to swallow a California Condor without chewing. It is the killer whale, the leviathan of bats and it’s ducking and wheeling through my 500 square foot apartment.
I flick on some lights and run (yes, very much like a small, frightened child) into my bedroom. I grab a blanket and hold it up over the door frame. Our territories defined, I have a chance to breathe and swallow some of the adrenaline swishing between my teeth.
I lower the blanket a couple inches and peer into the living room, which the bat is also exploring by flying in circles. It lands and I can see that it is not, in fact, the size of a ’48 Lincoln.
As it crawls under my oven, I think it’s almost cute. The opening of this mental door allows a flood of other completely useless information: bats are getting killed off by a fungus called “white nose syndrome,” they use echolocation to find their prey and fly skillfully in little light, I’ve done stories about bats, I even stuck my hand – holding a microphone – into a bat house on Fort Drum.
I clearly have no idea what to do. I put on a pair of shorts, my flip flops, grab my cell phone and walk outside.
I leave my door open long enough to watch a swarm of mosquitoes fly in and zero bats fly out. A skunk and rabbit appear in the yard, both transparently ogling my open door.
I am not ready to let the natural world “reclaim” my apartment. I shut the door and call the non-emergency number for the village police.
“Uh, yeah, I didn’t know who to call but there’s a bat in my house.”
“Are you in the home?”
“No, no. I’m outside.”
“Is there a tennis racket in the home?”
“No.” Tennis racket? “Are you serious?”
“I’ll send someone over.”
Sure enough, not 10 minutes later, a member of Canton’s finest pulls in the driveway and gets out of the car, tennis racket in hand.
He goes in, bravely. But comes out a few minutes later and says, “I can’t find him.”
“Did you see him at all?”
“No. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear any peeping either.”
“There is a bat in here.”
“I believe you, I just can’t find him.”
We walk through the apartment as he explains bat behavior when they’re trapped inside. They like to be high, close to the ceiling and usually hang on drapes, clothes or on blinds.
But those three words keep going through my head: I believe you.
I don’t think there’s anything anyone could say to me that would make me question my own senses more.
I did see the bat, right?
The officer got in touch with animal control and wrote down the number for me before driving away.
I saw the bat, I heard it brush against a small wind chime hanging in the kitchen. I heard it crawl under the stove.
Animal control is coming around today to find it. What if they don’t?
All in all, it’s been a most unsettling morning.