The B.A.T. invasion
The early evening air gathered thick outside, the kind of air welcomed with open arms by electric companies as people hide behind closed doors and windows and happily crank up their air conditioning units to escape the summer scorcher.
While my husband Bob and my then six-year old daughter Melissa, now 14, quietly watched cartoons, I crept up to my room in our modest town home, turned on the ceiling fan and placed my head gently on the pillow, hoping to close my eyes for a few minutes before Melissa's night time bath routine brought me out of my slumber.
In the distance I heard a low rumble, alerting me to the inevitable approach of the kind of thunderstorm that strikes at the heart of humidity.
I had barely had time to drift into REM sleep when I heard Bob call my name, caution in his voice. Bleary eyed, I sat on the edge of the bed, trying to comprehend his cryptic message.
"Lisa, there's a B. A. T. in the house," he spelled with forced calm, hoping Melissa wouldn't catch on.
As I walked into the hallway and watched a scene of horror unfold before my eyes, I quickly deduced that Bob had not been talking about bats of the baseball kind.
A black creature with a wing span of 4,000 feet flew up the stairs, his goal to attack and turn me into a vampire! With my cat following close behind (although I've never been quite sure what the fearless feline would have done if he had caught the darn thing) Mr. B. A. T. flew into Melissa's bedroom. Thinking fast, I raced to close her bedroom door and trap him in there. Her sleeping quarters not being an issue at the moment, I naturally assumed she'd just bunk in my bed for the rest of her life.
Unfortunately, Mr. B. A. T. had other plans. No sooner did he enter Melissa's room did he fly back out again, straight for my face! So, in an effort to stay calm so as not to upset my daughter, I did what all mature, grown up, rational adults do in moments like this.
In my effort to escape my impending death, I turned, tripped over my cat, nearly fell down the stairs (breaking my toe in the process) and ran into the living room where Bob still tried to convince Melissa that our friendly neighborhood B. A. T., still in hot pursuit, was, in reality, just a bird.
Bob opened the sliding glass doors that led to our small back yard and hurried Melissa and me outside. Still screaming, I ran into our yard, then around to the front of the house where our next door neighbors Angelica, Louie, and their two young sons Chris and Brandon had come outside to find out why the normally quiet Weinstein family had seemingly lost their minds.
As the thunder rumbled a bit louder in the distance, and the westward sky darkened, we caught our breath and, together with our neighbors, tried to develop a B. A. T. coping strategy more effective than "spending the rest of our lives in a hotel."
Just then, another neighbor pulled up in his car, a young single guy named Don who seemed to think we should just go into our house and trap the B. A. T. in a paper shopping bag, bring the bag outside and release the creature back into the wild, if you can call a New Jersey suburb "the wild."
Hmmmm, should we choose Holiday Inn, Hilton, Sheraton, or Marriott?
Fortunately, Don offered to play the "catch the bat in the bag" game for us.
The long wait ends
Angelica volunteered a paper shopping bag, handed it to Don, and wished him luck as he entered the B. A. T. lair of doom. A few minutes passed with no word from Don. The thunder grew a bit louder and flashes of lightening were now visible on the horizon.
Still, in the still air we waited, and waited, and waited.
Finally, Don emerged with "bat in bag" and, as Melissa, Chris, Brandon, Bob, Louie, Angelica, and I all let out blood curdling screams loud enough to rival the approaching thunderstorm, Don released the B. A. T. from the bag of captivity.
End of story.
Or so we thought.
Fast forward to "B.A.T. Invasion - Day Two".
The next night, with Melissa bathed and tucked snugly into bed, I noticed the cat staring intently at our air conditioning vent. Knowing full well that cat ears hear things that human ears can't decipher, I became concerned.
THEN THE UNIMAGINABLE HAPPENED!
Bob and I watched in horror as claws appeared gripped onto the inside of our living room air vent, looking for an escape route.
Not wanting to wake Melissa, I kept my screams to a minimum and instead, frantically dialed the local animal control office who informed us that bats eat pesky insects like mosquitoes and are therefore a protected species. Their hands were tied. The B. A. T. would have to stay. Quite frankly, I didn't care if bats ate mosquitoes, grass hoppers, locusts, dogs, cats, pigs, bears, or killer sharks. I WANTED THE CREATURE OUT OF MY HOUSE!
Willing to risk any punishment animal control forced upon me, I took a can of RAID flying insect killer and sprayed it into every single air vent. Then, drawing on super human strength that only appears when confronted with creatures of the dark, I positioned heavy furniture so that it covered nearly every air vent. Just let that B. A. T. even try to attempt escape! Not on my watch.
Do they know?
The next day, we had a guy from a pest control service check out our home. He quickly determined that Mr. B. A. T. had either died, escaped or evaporated, either way, no sign of the winged wonder existed in our air events, or anywhere else in the house, for that matter.
We had survived our terrifying encounter unscathed. But sometimes, during that brief time of day when daylight transforms into the grey skies of dusk, I see bats flying about in the distance and I wonder, do they know I probably killed their cousin?
Lisa Weinstein is a South Jersey mom who blogs about parenting a teen, coping with middle age and celebrating nearly two decades of marriage. This post was adapted from her blog, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein.