My apologies, dear WordPress folk, for the delay in posting this conclusion, and also for my scarcity as a blog follower. I’ve been adjusting to a new medication these past two weeks, and it’s worked some strangeness with my motivation and energy. Indeed, for a time, I wondered if it hadn’t robbed me of the ability to write at all. This portion of the story was written on meds. I’ll let you judge whether it still sounds like me.
The Cute Bat
By Samuel and Lucas Draeger
Reggie found a quiet corner of the woods, where he sat and cried. After Oscar and Sal had told him about the people of the lighted city – how they were mean and how they attacked and injured innocent creatures like Stanley the Crow – Reggie felt his dreams were falling apart. He was full of despair – a sadness of the most awful sort – that flows more bitter than tears and settles deeper than butterflies in the stomach. It was the sort of sadness that does not easily go away.
While immersed in this deep sadness, Reggie was suddenly startled by a rustling from a group of nearby bushes. Something was there, and just as Reggie was about to flap away, a dome shaped head, coated in black feathers, poked out from the bush.
“What are you crying about, little bat?” came a strange voice from the dome shaped head. The voice sounded like it was bursting through a pipe full of gravel. Reggie recognized the head and the voice to be Stanley, the one-eyed crow himself.
“Oh! You scared me, Mr. Stanley!” Reggie yelped.
“Sorry, little bat.” cawed Stanley. “I have that effect sometimes. One eye and all.” He flashed a smile toward Reggie, but since his mouth was a beak, it didn’t look much like a smile. “I was just digging in this bush for some berries when I heard you crying. What’s wrong? Would you like to talk it over with an old crow like me?” Stanley extracted himself from the berry bush, fluttering his black, feathery wings as he did so. Those feathers covered him from dome to legs, and the shiny darkness of them reflected the small amount of light that still shone among the trees. He was a fine looking crow, but for a silvery scar where his right eye ought to have been.
It seemed to Reggie that Stanley was a decent enough creature; indeed, unlike most other forest creatures, he didn’t seem interested in teasing him. “Mr. Stanley, sir? Is it true that you…” Reggie became quiet, too embarrassed to ask the crow about his injury.
“You want to ask me about how I lost my eye, don’t you, little bat?” Stanley cawed.
“Well, yes. If it’s OK with you, that is.” said Reggie, sheepishly.
“Oh, I don’t mind! The fact is, I wish more creatures would ask. The rumors are so much worse than the truth, as is often the case with rumors.” Reggie didn’t know what a “rumor” was, but he was quite glad he hadn’t offended the crow.
“Stanley, is it true you lost your eye when you visited the lighted city?” asked Reggie.
“It’s true, indeed!” he replied. Reggie instantly broke again into sobs. Stanley fluttered his wings wildly. “Oh my! But that was a long time ago, little bat! No need to cry for old Stanley!”
“It’s not that! I’ve dreamed of flying beyond the tall tree, to visit the city, and now I know my dream will never come true!” cried Reggie.
“Mercy!” squawked the crow. “What’s all this talk about broken dreams? I have but one eye, and even I can see you have a fine set of bat wings! Why, I suggest you start flapping and go make that dream come true!”
“But the people! Those mean people – they’ll turn me into bat stew!” Reggie exclaimed.
“Jeepers!” blurted Stanley. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Sal the Fox and Oscar the Squirrel told me the city people are mean – that they attack creatures who leave the forest!”
“Poppycock!” blurted Stanley.
“But Mr. Stanley, your eye! The city people attacked you, and you lost an eye!” said Reggie, confused.
“What did I say about rumors, little bat? They’re almost NEVER true!” The crow flapped his wings up and down for emphasis. “Sal and Oscar have been picking on you!”
“So you didn’t lose your eye in the city?” The bat’s voice squeaked with hope.
“Listen, little bat. This injury was an accident! The city people didn’t attack me!” Stanley said. “Believe me, those human types are FAR too preoccupied with these little glowing screens they carry around to pay attention to a silly crow! This happened because old Stanley is clumsy!”
“Why yes! It happened on a night that was very dark, when the moon and the stars were covered by the clouds. I’d stayed in the city later than I should have, and by the time I started flying back toward the woods, it was so dark, I couldn’t see my own beak!” Stanley chuckled.
“So you crashed?” asked Reggie.
“Smacked right into a tree branch, and my eye caught the brunt of it! I’ve been bound to the forest ever since!” With that, Stanley hopped from the bush and flapped over to sit beside Reggie. “So don’t let some silly rumor about a clumsy old crow like me keep you from your dream, little bat.” The crow gently patted Reggie’s little head with his wing, then gazed up toward the darkening sky as a cool night breeze floated across his ebony feathers. With a hush in his gravelly voice, he said, “Nights like this one, they were made for exploring. You’re an explorer, aren’t you, Reggie the Bat?”
The crow’s words sung like music in Reggie’s sensitive bat ears and caused the fur on his head to prick up. Another breeze snaked its way through the woods – a breeze ripe with the scent of adventure, the scent of the unknown, and Reggie’s heart, tiny and bold, started to flutter.
“It seems to me, little bat,” Stanley whispered, “those humans could use a visit from an explorer like you. They need a reason to look up at the sky again.”
“You really think the humans would notice a simple little bat like me.?”
Stanley breathed deeply, closing his one eye as he appeared to grope at the air with his beak. Facing Reggie, he said, “I think, dear bat, your dreams are there for a reason.”
Reggie’s fluttering heartbeat pulsed more rapidly, with an intensity that ignited fire through his arms and legs and wings. The night breeze crescendoed to an uplifting wind, and Reggie extended his skinny arms, opening his wings, allowing the air to move him from the branch. As he elevated, he heard Stanley caw from below, “Fly away, little bat! Fly away!”
In seconds, Reggie was soaring high above the forest floor. The day’s sun was nearly depleted, but pale light was perfect for a bat. Detecting the tall tree at the forest’s edge, Reggie knew he was on the verge of his life’s grandest adventure, and though he felt the thrill of exploration coursing through his body, in his heart, he’d never felt more at home. A rustling through the branches of the trees below told Reggie that a creature was jumping along, perhaps following his course, and a squeeky voice ascended, picked up by the bat’s powerful hearing. “Reggie! Where are you going?!” came the voice of Oscar the squirrel. Reggie did not answer, but soared even faster toward the edge of the wood, the edge of all he’d ever known in the world. His ears picked up more and more rustling among the trees, and Reggie sensed that several other creatures, disturbed by Oscar’s chattering, had joined in the chase. Soon, there were other voices, a chorus of warnings – “Slow down, Reggie! You’re flying too far! You’ll soar past the tallest tree!!” – and Reggie registered, among the dozens of shouts, that of Sal the Fox, “You’re crazy, you dumb bat!!”
With his inborn radar piercing the cloak of night, Reggie sensed the unyielding presence of the tallest tree just yards before him. Like an ancient monolith, it stood proud and solemn. He set his course on the space beyond the tree and beyond the clearing and the scurrying cars, where he would spread his wings wide across the city sky. By the change in the updrafts, Reggie knew that the massive tree was below him; he let loose an empassioned skree!; it echoed, bounced across limbs of evergreen and down among the rocky crags and thickets and all the way down into nighttime burrows, stirring the attention of still more forest dwellers.
Punctuating Reggie’s powerful exhalation, the familiar, gravelly caw of Stanley the one-eyed crow, who perched himself upon a branch near the center of the wood, exclaiming, “Behold, The Bat! The Cute Bat is zooming over the tree!”