I enjoy a bit of irony as well as the next girl, but sometimes life takes it too far. Truth is rarely stranger than fiction when one writes paranormals. Except last week.
As Susannah Sandlin, I write paranormal romance featuring vampires, among other beings. The Penton Vampire Legacy series is set about 20 miles from where I live, out in the wilds of Chambers County, Alabama. But my home's in a bustling small city, a college town where the most frequently seen wildlife is the clueless college student walking in front of my car, oblivious to oncoming traffic, frantically texting as he walks, earbuds jammed into his ears so he can’t hear my furious horn-blowing.
At night, I write, and that was what I was doing last Tuesday night on a rainy evening about 9 p.m. I’d been ignoring the pitter-patter of little feet above my head for the last hour, convinced it was squirrels on the roof
Then I heard a rustle in my second-floor bathroom, adjacent to my office. Huh? A squirrel was in the bathroom?
My dogs are both geriatric cases, and one is deaf, so they were snoring peacefully downstairs as I made my way into the bathroom and saw OMG a freaking BAT. In the tub.
I did what any mature, self-supporting career woman would do. I screamed and ran out the door, slamming it behind me. I paced. I chewed my nails. I gathered up boxes and clothes and anything I could find, eased the bathroom door open, and threw all of it on top of the bat, creating a big Mount Vesuvius of junk, before running back out and closing the door.
I am nothing if not mature and calm and rational, so I barricaded the bathroom door with boxes of books, in case the bat suddenly grew vampire strength and opposable thumbs and tried to escape.
A modern sort of woman, I consulted the Internet and found the number for my county’s animal control office. They didn’t answer the phone—it now being 9:30 p.m., but their message said they did not handle wildlife, only cats and dogs. Next, I found a 24-hour emergency number for wildlife control,
Meanwhile, my resident senior adult, age 88, felt I was being too slow and, without my knowledge until it was too late, called 9-1-1, identified herself as ME, and told the operator I had a bat in the bathroom. Oh, the humiliation. It was almost enough to drown out the fear.
Ten minutes later, Officer Friendly arrived. He stopped his squad car in front of my house, walked into the front yard in the drizzling rain, and looked up. I joined him, apologizing for the 9-1-1 call. He pointed. “You got bats circling your chimney,” he said. “Sh*t,” I replied. Then had to apologize for my language as well as the 9-1-1 call. He gave me the phone number of a wildlife trapper out in Beauregard (i.e., the boonies), located not far at all from where my Penton Vampires live.
Batman, as I’ll call the trapper, arrived a half-hour later, which meant he'd driven like a bat out of hell to get there so fast. It was now 11 p.m., and I had spent the previous half-hour duct-taping a big cardboard box over my fireplace, where I'd heard suspicious squeaking and rustling.
Batman went into the upstairs bathroom after being warned about Mount Vesuvius, and rattled and banged for another half hour before announcing that he couldn’t find the bat and he'd just closed the bathroom back up. In creating Vesuvius, he said, I had provided a ladder for the bat to exit the tub. Awesome.
We walked around the outside of the house in the rain, and I was treated to the sight of dozens of bats hanging from my eaves by little bat toes, taking in the night air. Bats flew in and out of what appeared to be an unscreened attic vent. They circled the chimney. It was a freaking episode of “Dark Shadows” come to life.
“This is bad,” Batman said solemnly between belches, because his tacos hadn’t agreed with him at dinner. “I’ll come back tomorrow and see what I can do.”
Twenty minutes later, I sat with my Kindle, comforted by the knowledge that the AWOL bat was still somewhere in the bathroom upstairs, locked in. My deaf 14-year-old retriever-chow mix, Tanker, raised his head, perked up his ears, and issued a single “woof.” I looked in frozen horror as a bat squeezed out of the fireplace around my cardboard barricade. I unfroze as he took flight straight toward my head.
I screamed, then chased him as he flew upstairs. Until he did a fast 180-degree turn and came back at me, chasing me downstairs. He flew into the kitchen. I slammed the kitchen door shut and called Batman, who did his own 180-degree turn and came back. This bat, he managed to catch, although it took him until 3 a.m. He found another bat, this one dead, in the corner of the living room. He put both in zip-loc bags and said he’d deliver them to the rabies-testing lab. Before leaving, he plastered my fireplace with gorilla tape and cardboard. I spent the rest of the night like Tippi Hedren in “The Birds,” listening to bats bang against the cardboard from inside the fireplace.
On Friday, Batman never showed up. His assistant, Robin, said it was Batman’s birthday and he decided to take the day off. But they’d both be there by 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Friday night, I did my Tippi Hedren impression again. I’d been up for 72 hours.
At 9 on Saturday, Robin arrived—Batman had partied too hard the night before (on the retainer I’d paid him, no doubt) and couldn’t get up. But Robin worked hard, sealed up all entrances to the house, installed a one-way “door” for the bats in the attic and walls, and caught that straggler in my bathroom. They could leave to get food and water, but couldn’t get back in. At some point, Batman staggered in to help. I’m now bat free, poor as a church mouse, but relieved.
Last night, the rabies-testing office called. The live bat tested negative; the test was inconclusive on the already-dead bat. “See what your doctor recommends,” I’m told. Nice. The saga continues.
Oh, and I sold another book in the Penton Vampire Legacy series the day the bats arrived. Because I appreciate irony as well as the next girl.
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