Monday 11 June 2007

The Vampire Bat (a home-grown horror story)

There’s a horror film being re-enacted in our house right now. Every night as the sun goes down I lock myself in the far bedroom, jamming tight the windows, slamming shut the door, lying quivering in bed, listening for the slightest sound, the merest disturbance in the air. Praying. Hard. I cannot rest until dawn breaks through and the hope of the new day emerges. Then, at last, I can fling open the windows and fall into the deepest slumber. Safe at last.

It’s bat season.

I have absolutely no idea why but, every June, we get bats in the house. Funnily enough, when it first happened, I wasn’t that bothered. I’d merely open the windows, slam off the lights and wait for them to figure out the Exit and leave. But as the years have passed, my nerves have worn thin and now I am very nearly phobic. I don’t mind them outside, flitting round at dusk. But I cannot abide them in the house or – more particularly – in the bedroom.

The first one of 2007 arrived a couple of days ago. I was sitting in the living room, feet up with a large glass of Pinot Grigio, watching The Holiday (execrable film), when a large one started doing its wild circling routine. Squawked a bit and hauled in Adrian to deal with it.
Then, several hours later, in bed I woke with a sense that Something Was Wrong. Lay there, heart thudding, listening. Nothing. Checked on James – fine. Came back, turned on the light and read a bit (Gardens of the Dead – not great). Adrian, having partaken of cheese (makes him snore) was in the back guest room. Felt tired, turned off light. Lay there in the dark, wondering what was wrong. Then a low sort of ‘thrum’ and my heart sank. Sort of lost it, I’m afraid and let out an involuntary wail. Which, of course, woke up James.
‘What’s up Mum?’
‘Oh, only a silly bat. Don’t worry.’ Pause. Duck. Small scream.
No response. Adrian sleeps like Dracula at noon.
‘DAAAAAD!!’ James not remotely worried but smartly figuring his higher-pitched cry might wake his father. Frankly a stake to the heart might be a better idea.
Finally he stumbles out, looking quite like the undead, sort of takes in the situation and calmly lets the bat fly into his end of the house and shuts himself in with it.
I don’t like this cavalier attitude. I like to see things disappear. I like to know for good and certain that the trespasser (be it bat or spider or whatever) has been returned to its proper place (ie NOT in my house).
Last year it reached epic proportions. I didn’t sleep for a month. One memorable night Adrian turned the bedroom upside down and did that sort of pained male thing of throwing up his hands and saying, ‘Well, it’s not here.’
‘But it hasn’t gone. Ergo it must be here.’ Muffled from under the duvet.
‘But I can’t see it and I’ve looked everywhere. So it can't be here.’

How stupid and typically male is this? I thought back over his running commentary on everywhere he had looked and realised that the one place he hadn’t checked was - horror of horrors – the bed. I peered down the back of the (headboardless) mattress and – Oh My God – yup, there it was….all curled up all but three inches from where my head had been for the last half hour. Cue total hysteria and a severely chastised husband.

This year we were prepared. The chimneys had been blocked solid with paper. The doors were all shut as were the windows (even as the temperature soared). Yet still the puggers get in somehow.
‘Like a mist through the keyhole,’ muttered Adrian. Not helpful at all, Van Helsing.
I meanwhile, have taken to barricading myself in the far room, crucifix firmly round my neck, garlic at the windows, muttering prayers and imprecations. I jest – but only just.

PS – great responses to my blogging question – thank you all…


countrymousie said...

I think you probably have a bat nursery there - I have one here - every year the mums all come to the same place to have their young and rear their offspring in giant Montessori bat nurseries! They will be desperate to get back - they will not harm you -honest - I have no idea where they go when they have weaned them though - someone else's house! love mousie

countrymousie said...

I forgot to say look at I think for details of what is happening.

Zoë said...

I was going to ask , do you know where they roost?

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

know just what you mean about bats. They fly here but dont come in the house (fingers crosssed here) and i can manage them outside fine. the thought of one inside is not good, and i am not a nervy person about such things, fine with palm size spiders which roam the corridors here, but bats, something else.

bodran... said...

Yikes Elizabeth didnt mention ginormous spiders in her corridors when i went to
Did i tell you how i cooked a bat once?

Suffolkmum said...

When I first started reading this I thought 'oh bats aren't so bad, I like seeing them flying round at night.' Then the more I thought about them inside, the more I didn't like it - by the time I'd got to the bit about the one behind your bed, I was horrified!
BTW - the Newcastle connection - I bang on about it quite a lot - I'm from there originally, lived there until I was 7 and we moved down south, all extended family still in Northumberland, go up several times a year etc.

DevonLife said...

Ugh hideous. Come and stay until they've flickered off somewhere else.

I had one of those 'somefinks not right' moments last night when I walked into the bedroom. Not a bat, but a great big flying beetle, as big as a clenched fist. Honest. Squealed until D came and caught it in a carrier bag and hid it in saucepan until the morning, when Stanley took it to school for show and tell.

Oh am shivvering with the thought.

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Poor you it must be terrifying. I love bats and used to spend hours as a small child gazing at fruit bats in the hot house at the local zoo! Here we watch them outside in the evening. You know you can trick them by throwing a pebble in the air and they will come down to investigate ?

Sadly living in the country I think this is a fear you need to face. perhaps at the new house it might be worth putting up bat houses away from the main house to attract them away from you.

Glad you liked the painting, It is one of my favourites and called I think"Lillies" or Tiger Lillies or something simular, though God knows what Lillies grow that big!


I'm with you on bats in the house - not right at all. But their little bat radars really won't let them fly into you however much it feels as though they're going to. Which is just as well, as I think they're protected and you can't get the ratcatcher man to do anything about them.

Cait O'Connor said...

Your songs are on! I haven't read the blog yet, just your CCW query,
I wouldn't interfere with the marriage thing, it would backfire. I am afraid they have to follow their own path and all that. Discouraging them would make them all the keener I think.

Bluestocking Mum said...

We have bats roosting in the 750 year old oak tree!! And they swoop across the gardens and courtyard, but never been in the house yet!!

I HATE anything that flaps around my head, even nice things like butterflies-a real phobia. A couple of years ago I took the Boys to West Midlands Safari Park and went into the BAT CAVE-I didn't realise they were all 'free' to fly around!! Thought I would just go in and 'view them' They were all flying at me, seemed like they were getting stuck in my long hair as I was thrashing my arms around and screaming!-I got in SUCH A STATE! In the end I put my eldest sons hoodie on and continued screaming throughout. The boys were mortified. I was crying by the end and it was a really big chamber and no quick way out..and the worst thing was I don't think a single one actually went into me-it was just do dark and my imagination took over and heard the flapping, I just panicked.

So I pray to god the they never come in our house too!!

warm wishes

snailbeachshepherdess said...

have had the odd bat in the bedroom and the cats have caught the odd one or two but we dont seem to have that many anymore up here...there has even been a bat survey done to count job jane?

Frances said...

Hello Jane,
I am having an evil thought that your house buyer will be in for a delightful evening or two, himself.

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Re your comment re my comment re journalists.. I told you I'm just paranoid but thanks for teh reassurance! But its ok I even manage to miss the bits about me or the family in the French papers here so am hardly likely to notice something on me in the telegraph although my sister reads it so would be pretty dire if she saw it as I would never live it down. I am afraid I am a Times on Line reader only although I do read foriegn papers on line, in englsih I hasten to add!!!I used to read the Guardian years ago but gave up when I realised I was the only one who never noticed their spelling mistakes! Anyway I can not imagine that anything about me would be at all news worthy.

Milla said...

yes Frances is right, not your problem for long, love! We have bats aplenty in the garden but not, yet, in the house. Mind you, it's soon going to be so beyond gorgeous that who knows ... My best friend had a freak-out bat moment when we were 14 hysterically sure that she had a plastic bag in her bed (er, why??) and still in a hell of a state, and, yup, it was a bat, which, in comparison she found oddly reassuring.

Sally Townsend said...

We have them outside circling around the old barn but if they flew round my head whilst I was in bed I would go HYSTERICAL !

CAMILLA said...

Knowing me I would be running around the room like a deranged woman. Eek,they sometimes circle around our house with their little sqeaky voices, but luckily have not entered the cottage, thank goodness. It must be very unerving though Jane, not nice. Hopefully you wont have them at your new house, not unless they are next door at THE RECTORY, bats in the belfry and all that! Any luck on agents yet? BTW, your book is helping me over my dilemma's, if I can call them that, trouble with me is I can never be able to do the most constructive thing.

Maggie Christie said...

I was slobbing out on the sofa once with a plate of steak and chips, whilst babysitting Mum's (sadly late) Miniature Schnauzer. Suddenly a bat flew down the chimney and started circling (we have very low ceilings). I shrieked, fell off the sofa onto my knees and nearly dislocated my neck while Bri herded the bat out the window. Schnauzer, meanwhile, spotting an opportunity, leaned forward and snaffled my steak into his beardy mouth. Little pugger!

Anonymous said...

There's loads flying about outside our house too. I can't imagine what I'd do if one came in! Is there something you can put out for them? Like a mince pie or something, maybe laced with poison?

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Oh Jane - poor you - I love bats . . .so that is all the sympathy you are going to get from me.