Our Pages

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tales from the Bat Cave: Life Imitates Art

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,
and it rolled over to the animal control office, which doesn’t handle wildlife.

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.

Have a bat story of your own? Leave a comment to win copies of Redemption and Absolution, the first two books in the Penton Vampire Legacy series. Open internationally.




48 comments:

  1. Holy Escapades, Batman!

    We have bats around here and they do hang about our dusk to dawn light at night, feasting, but have never ended up in the house. Knocking on wood!

    Ava is the one with the critter in the house stories. We have garbage can chewing possums and deer that walk right up the front walk to eat my flowers, but I'll take those any day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deer would be cool! I think the garbage-eating possums would kinda freak me out too, though at least they'd be outside. I was very happy to get rid of the bats!

      Delete
  2. Oh, Suzanne!

    When you thought it was just squirrels on your roof, I suffered a small episode of PTSD involving the unwed, pregnant squirrels that turned my attic into a half-way house. Whenever it rains, the rain on the roof sounds like the squirrels did and I have a slight panic attack.

    BUT BATS! I don't know how you stayed in the house. I'd have had to check into a local hotel until Batman was done. You could hear them hitting the cardboard? Chills just raced up my spine. Serious "nightmare fuel" as my teen is fond of saying!

    I do have one bat story. My bed is near the window in my room, about a foot from the window, actually. One morning, I opened my eyes to find a bat had squeezed itself between the screen and window of my room. So when my eyes first fluttered open it was to find a bat a foot from my face, pressed against my window. Yeah, I screamed too. I wasn't prepared for that first thing in the morning.

    My heart goes out to you. (BTW, I called the man who had to trap my squirrels Squirrelman, LOL)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unwed pregnant squirrels, Ava? Why would you allow such harlots on your property?! Can't you find virtuous maiden squirrels around there?!
      :D

      Delete
    2. If you find me a virtuous squirrel... Blasted things. I hate a squirrel. :(

      Delete
    3. Yikes! A halfway house for unwed pregnant teenage squirrels does SO not sound good. In some ways, except for the "flying at your head creep factor," well, and the potential for rabies, bats aren't nearly as destructive as squirrels. They have NO interest in chewing up your wiring!

      Delete
  3. LOL. I know this was not funny, but it is when you tell it. I live near an old abandoned mine shaft that houses bats. I can sometimes see them flying around the trees at dusk. Only once did I have one in my garage. That was an easy fix though, just opened the door and the little guy went home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. I know, Roger. It's one of those things that is miserable while you live it but makes for some good story-telling afterward! I just wish the rabies vaccine saga was settled!

      Delete
  4. Oh, Suzanne! That would freak me out! I don't mind bats in general. We have several that live in our yard and they go in the garage at times. It's not a big deal because they leave on their own and they are only after bugs, which I hate much more than bats. But in my house?!? NO THANKS!!! I don't know if I could have stayed in my house while until all the bats were gone.

    Congratulations on signing a new contract! If only a handsome duke would show up in my bathroom after I sign a new contract... LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Oh yeah, a handsome duke would be VERY welcome in my tub :-)

      Of course my mom's "baby sister," who just turned 83, told her God sent the bats to eat up all the money I'd made off my books as punishment for the type of books I write. Sigh. I wish God had gotten the memo that I haven't made that much money.

      Delete
  5. Bahahahaha! I mean, that must have been traumatic. Bahahahaha! Ahem. Acid reflux, sorry. ;) I have no doubt your weekend was miserable, but you must admit makes for entertaining reading. Maybe the bats were so excited for you to write the next Penton book, they wanted to give you a house party?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. I'm figuring out a way to work them into the story. I think my big Scottish vampire Mirren is going to be afraid of bats. Yeah....I can have fun with that!

      Delete
  6. Oh geez! I don't know what I would do in that circumstance but LOL oh I have to agree with Andris, it makes for a great blog. And the irony just tops off that story like a cherry. LOL oh that's classic. I love it. I'm glad you survived and now you have this great story to tell lol. Great blog, Suzanne!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suzie! So far, I've gotten a blog post and a flash-fiction story out of it, so I guess the bats provided some inspiration!

      Delete
  7. Geez Louise! My only bat issue was a cute little bat sleeping near my door. I don't know how I notice, because we normally go through the garage. Maybe the bats were a sign. Hopefully you haven't suffer any more bat problems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they've all moved on...probably to my neighbor's attic. Aren't I the good neighbor :-)

      Delete
  8. I see bats flying outside of my house in the evenings and I was a little freaked out when I realized they weren't birds. I still think they are going to fly into my hair while I am outside. Ewww!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I honestly don't think I'd ever seen one before. I thought they were bigger, for one thing. And man, are those little buggers fast! Especially when they're zooming through the living room!

      Delete
  9. OK I'm sorry but I found the whole story most amusing. Admittedly I've never had a bat episode before. I'd probably be more sympathetic otherwise :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, it's okay, Linda. I'm laughing about it too...now. Last week? Not so much!

      Delete
  10. We found a bat in one of my son's bedroom about 8 years ago. Because it flew out and we couldn't catch it-the whole family had to get rabies shots. Good times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. Yes, I'm so glad they were able to catch one of the live ones to test! Even though the dead one they found was untestable, my MD says forget it. Ready to move on from the batventure!

      Delete
  11. I'm so glad you have fixed the problem... and I LOVED the short story that you shared at another site that was inspired by this story. TU!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda! At least I got a story out of it!

      Delete
  12. One year we had a raccoon family living in the attic. Somehow they chewed a hole in siding on the house up by the roof. It took a while to catch all of them. But I remember the scritching sounds against the bedroom wall as,they made their way up to the attic. It was creepy!

    I can see the big Scott being afraid of bats!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, so I can. I think they'd freak him out :-)

      Raccoons are so darn CUTE but they're ill-tempered beasts. I'd hate to have them in the walls!

      Delete
  13. Well, I have to thank Sara Humphreys for sharing the link to your story, which was really fun to read. My neice is a biologist living in Texas caring for bats in their natural habitat. Now I must check out your books as well since I had never heard of your series until today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathryn! Yes, bats are really good for the environment--they eat pesky insects and their guano makes good fertilizer. I was glad they were able to "relocate" them (i.e., drive them to my neighbor's house, probably) and the only one that had to be euthanized was the one that had to be tested for rabies. Hope you like the books!

      Delete
  14. We have bats in our garage all the time. It does get to be a hassle when you're trying to get out of the car and get inside without them dive bombing you! lol For the most part, it's all good though. Thanks for the chance to enter. I wasn't aware of this series until today, so I'm definitely going to be checking them out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kirsten! Yes, those little guys fly fast and right at your head! My books as Susannah are darker and more R rated than the books as Suzanne. Hope you get a chance to try one out!

      Delete
  15. I was sitting here laughing the whole time I read this. So sorry to had no sleep for so long and that the bats terrorized you like that. Bad bats! I don't mind wildlife, *as long as they stay outside* and have rats as pets which some people see as viscous scary animals.

    My only run in with bats was one time when my hubby took me and our 7 year old daughter to some caves here in Nevada and we walked back into one that was just big enough for us to walk into and at the end of it was one, single solitary bat, hanging upside down sleeping.

    I kept thinking that hey, it's just one bat no biggie...until it moved!

    There was just enough room for me to turn around and push my daughter who had been behind me *now in front of me* out the cave, while my hubby was now in back of me laughing the whole time.

    The bat just went back to sleep. But I wasn't taking any chances.

    miztik_rose@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL--I'd have been running along with you, probably shrieking!

      Delete
  16. We had a bat in the gym, one time at school. You really don't want to ever be in a gym with a whole bunch of girls screaming and the boys laughing their butts off. evamillien at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Yes, at least no one witnessed the screaming except my dogs, and one of them is deaf! A gym full of screaming girls would make anyone deaf!

      Delete
  17. I've gone to Carlsbad Caverns at dusk to watch the mass bat exodus but I've never had a close encounter with one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now that would be pretty cool (as long as they didn't exodus in my direction)!

      Delete
  18. Wow, what a story with bats flying into and around your house! I'd be so freaked out. I'm glad that you were able to get rid of them, although poorer in the pocket.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it wasn't cheap to get rid of them, but worth it. So so worth it!

      Delete
  19. One morning i woke up something flying in my room...i thought i was dreaming and my dog was inside with me and not moving so no problem until it came a little above me and i didentified mimi the bat... now that's still a mystery as how she came in my roopm because no window had been opened even shortly, the door was closed, ( and between the roff and my room they are 3doors at least)... up to this day still no answer.

    I wasn' afraid for me but for the bat, i knew i jhad to catch it before teh cat saw it... for him when iside the house it's free game ( either it's a spider, cricket etc) after perhaps 1h i managed to catch her ina serviette and i went oustide, afraid it was already too sunny to free her...we still see some in the evening flying around but none inside

    still i'm glad to have met mimi because in my country they are perfectly save ( no rabbies etc) and i got one week without any mosquitoes one week of peaceful dreaming and it was well worth the hour to free her ( but now if they had been several i ghuess i would have been a little suprised to say the least)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, bats are really great animals--killing insects, pollinating plants. But..ummm...not in my bedroom. You're much calmer than I would have been!

      Delete
  20. I was reading in my screen porch one night. When I saw something out the corner of my eye. Looked over just as the bat swooped at me. I preceded to attempt to run and duck and ended up tripping over my own feet going face first into one of my kids toys. Dogs thought it was all hilarious. They were barking while I tried getting up and getting them out. By the time I managed to finally get up it flew out the open screen door. Ended up with a black eye and sprawled ankle. I never leave the door open anymore lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG--at least I didn't get a black eye! Although when I was chasing it with the broom it's a miracle I didn't end up with a broomstick in the eye :-)

      Delete
  21. My family lives way in the country in Southern Indiana. We see lots of animals but I have yet to see a bat. I've always thought it would be helpful to have some around for the bugs >.<

    Kassandra
    sionedkla@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be helpful, Kassandra...unless they decided to move into your house!

      Delete
  22. No bats in this part of the world but we do have cockroaches, flying ones mind you, when the weather gets a little too hot. You do not, I repeat DO NOT scream because these dastardly creatures will then start to stalk you. What is a terrified lady to do except to grab the aerosol, close your eyes and let the spraying begins.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Suzanne! Oh. My GAWD. Holy, or rather, UNHoly @#!!! Never had a bat problem over here. Had a mice problem once but two cats solved that very quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow! Im pretty sure I'd act that way too! The movie The Birds still freaks me out. I generally like bats too but at a distance. We usually get mice at my house. I freak out insanely whenever we do. I put an insane amount of traps everywhere. I dont like hurting them but those little demons need to stay outside! We do on occasion get this scratching noise in our second attic. Now im wondering if its bats? I always thought a squirrel or something had gotten in up there but Im to afraid to look. We dont use it anyways but when it starts scratching it freaks me out.

    ReplyDelete