A batty experience
| Going Batty
We walked into the church, my family and I, on a fine Sunday morning. We marched to the wooden pew, with our long-standing reservation written only in the minds of the congregation. The old brick and mortar cathedral inspires with its beauty. Ornate antiquity is sculpted in the one-hundred and fifty-year-old structure. The forty foot ceilings and massive stained glass windows speak of its majesty. This church fills me with awe every time I enter. Today, I sensed uneasiness from the parishioners gathered. They appeared to be doing a stadium wave as they stood, with eyes focused on the rafters. There was a swaying movement in their collective stance. The choir members were exiting the loft in rapid fashion. Devout panic lined their faces. Their jitters transferred to my family and me. We became caught in the dance of the others without knowing the reason.
The sketchy details were revealed, when the dusky varmint swooped low above the crowd. It screeched a menacing cry on its descent, causing the people in the pews to scatter and dive to the floor. With arms flapping above their heads like the creature that threatened, the multitude of church-goers sought cover. On the birds' return flight, it grabbed the feathered hat of a woman in retreat. She released her cap willingly as if donating coins to the collection plate. She promptly made a beeline for the exit with her screams echoing behind her.
Had our safety not been in question, the scene would have reminded me of an old Saturday Night Live skit, complete with the priest shooing the demon away. The bat landed on one of the many statues of Jesus. It caused people to boo at the sacrilegious nature of the winged creature's actions. The bat mocked us from his perch. A plan to capture the bat was circulated in whispers among the few faithful remaining in the church. My husband, John was leading the hunt with our children in tow. I remained, as a mother, a nurse, and an avid idiot. It wasn't often that I had the opportunity to spend my Sunday in pursuit of a monstrous night owl. Bats and church, to me, seemed hideously opposite in their comparison. One hides in the shadows, while the other is supposed to cast light to the world.
The altar flowers were dumped in a pile on the floor to obtain glass vases. Several of the like- thinking men had deemed them worthy of a bat trapping device. Another group went in search of canvas tarps to snare the vermin. I giggled in the corner at the chaos unfolding. My after-church Sunday morning doughnuts would wait, this was drama at its best. My three cherubs pranced around their father encouraging his involvement.
With the direction of the others, one soul stood brave, going in for the kill. John climbed on top of the sanctuary and leaned in to capture the bat. The bat screeched a deafening yelp at the activity, causing the man to fall backward. The statue and the man were thrust forward toward the crowd of male onlookers. The group moved forward to save the fallen, returning man and statue to their precipice. As they scooted the heavy statue back to its perch, the bat was squished in place. John scraped the remnants of the bird into his vase, holding it up for all to see. They clapped in unison as they hailed him a conqueror. The victory was short lived.
The parishioners remaining in the church, whose numbers had dwindled to thirty, were all gathered on the altar. A swarm of cloudy darkness flew from the bell tower in the eves of the choir loft. Bats, too many to count, flew at the targeted crowd. Hysteria ensued, with people face-planting at the altar in an effort to escape. The wingspan of the birds in flight blotted out the beauty of the ceilings mural. Satan-spawned birds were invading the faithful was the consensus. The birds hovered in flight choosing their prey. An ominous feeling of doom traveled among us, with the belief that hell had come to visit. They descended in mass on the fallen at the altar. I pulled my children to the safety of the confessional. We could hear the wicked screams of desperation beyond our wooden confines. I recognized the voice of my husband, as he became victim to the fowl predators. I peeked from behind the curtain to witness a bat ripping at his flesh with its mighty talons. I held the children in place, as I plunged out of the box to offer assistance to my spouse. Grabbing a weighted candelabrum from a nearby table, I swung it in my fury at the beast. I screamed a screeching replica of the bird's song. It turned, attacking me in defense. I struck at it with the heavy metal club. Like a baseball, it soared to immense heights when my bat struck the bat. Its corpse fell with a thud after striking the wall. With one swing of my bat, I had managed to eclipse my husband's heroism and lift my stature to that of a man that once walked on water. The rest of the herd of bats took notice, retreating back to the rafters from whence they came.
The wounded were gathered and treated in the alcove. My husband was loaded into the ambulance to be taken to the local hospital, where he was treated and released. John survived his fight with minor skin tears and bites. The faithful flock of our church's bat combatants was given rabies shots for their troubles. John survived his fight with minor skin tears and bites. Exterminators were called to rid the church of the bat infestation. The surviving night creatures were released unharmed into the wild. The local scouts made bat houses in the woods for the birds to reside.
When we were finally allowed to return to church it was a reunion of weary souls. But the strangest thing occurred as all of the bitten reunited. They spoke in tongue and glowed in the glory of God. Apparently, church-going bats transfuse you with holy water.