Hector woke with an awful start. He had been dreaming again. Really, it was more of a nightmare than a dream. Well, maybe not quite a nightmare nightmare, but it sure wasn’t a dream in the usual sense. Hector never remembered this particular dream. He always remembered how it made him feel, though. He felt like crap. His head hurt, and his mouth tasted like it had three pounds of fake, polyester fur trapped inside. Dreams didn’t make you feel this way. Nightmares did. Yep. Definitely a nightmare. Maybe.
When he dropped to the floor Hector landed in a pile of guano. Oh, great. Why he didn’t just spread his wings, and do his usual midair backflip before flying out of the cave, and into the fading daylight, he’d never know. Hector could never go out in this condition. Now he was going to have to clean himself up before he left the cave.
Hector was a small brown bat. He dined exclusively on small bugs that gathered in gossip groups around the outdoor lights that people left on to ward off unwanted visitors. Hector was an unwanted visitor. Most people thought that bats stayed away from lights, so they left those incandescent bulbs aglow after sunset in hopes that the small flying mammals that called the neighborhood home would stay away. Little did they know. Hector, and his family, loved the lights on the houses and businesses in the area. That was where they found the best tasting insects. It was a smorgasbord straight from heaven.
The past three weeks were a blur for Hector. He vaguely remembered his mother reading him the riot act about staying out until all hours of the day. His father gave up on trying to make Hector fly the straight and narrow. His sisters and brothers laughed at him. Hector was seriously thinking about finding a new place to call home. He didn’t need all that harassment. Hector was real close to setting off on his own, but leaving the colony was not an easy task to accomplish. He’d be all alone in the world, and Hector really liked being around other bats. He’d have to think it over. He didn’t want to make a rash decision. He’d decide tomorrow. Tonight Hector had other plans.
Twenty-two days ago Hector discovered that there was more to satiate his hunger than the bitter tasting bugs that flew in and out of the light. He had been chasing one of the quickest gnats he’d ever encountered when he flew headlong into the flowering stalk of the agave plant. Hector’s pudgy little nose was smeared with the sweetest substance he had ever tasted. The nectar of the agave plant was fantastic. It was something his grandfather had told Hector about when he was very young, but Hector didn’t think anything of it. The old bat was suffering from dementia at the time, and young Hector thought that his grandfather’s mind might be flying on its last wing. Two days later the old bat dropped from the ceiling of the cave—dead. That was 318 days ago.
Each night for the past three weeks Hector had been feasting on the flowering succulents that grew in the desert. He loved the taste of the nectar that dripped from the flowers of the agave plant, but the liquid didn’t fill him up. He would sip up as much as he could hold, then it was off to the lights for a feast of flying insects.
The problem with the agave nectar was that it made Hector a little woozy. He discovered that no matter how hard he tried he could not fly a straight line. He’d dip and weave, soar high, fall low, quick left, short right, up, down, and all around. Hector was drunk, and he liked being drunk. Until he woke up the next night, that is. That was when his mouth felt like he’d been dining at a furry convention.
Tonight, though, would be different. Hector cleaned himself up, and then lazily flew over to the nearest blooming agave where he had just a sip. He began to fly off, and realized that he wanted just one more taste. So he returned to that sweet tasting plant where he drank his fill. He shouldn’t have done that. Not tonight, that is. The little building where he usually fed was a bit different than it had been in days past, but Hector was too loopy to realize there was a problem. Actually, he didn’t care. The bugs were out and he was ready to eat.
The fluorescent lights around the building attracted more insects than Hector could ever hope to eat in one flying, but he was not about to tell any other bat about his spot. He could pick and choose the best of the best, and if he had competition…well, he didn’t have competition, and that was that.
This particular night, though, one of the fluorescent tubes was acting up. It flickered off, then on, then off, then on. The flickering confused poor Hector. It was bad enough that the agave nectar had found its way to his little brain, but the lights were really messing with his sonar, more than the agave ever did. He flew his regular circuitous route, always clockwise, never counter-clockwise, but the bugs were just not cooperating this night. The light was bothering them, too. So, Hector and the insects were locked into a dance routine better than anything ever seen on Dancing With The Stars. If anyone were to watch the show of bat chasing bug for any length of time, they would have thought that the choreography came straight from the LSD infused mind of Dr. Timothy Leary. Oh, what a show it was: Hector flying a darting clockwise path through the flickering light chasing bugs that didn’t want to be caught.
It was a long night, and poor Hector flew home hungry. He was tired. The high of the agave nectar had worn off about three hours previously, and left Hector feeling that the furry convention was not far behind. Oh, why didn’t he listen to his mother? Mothers always know best. Isn’t that what the other bats say? Tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow he’d listen to his mother, really listen to what she had to say. This morning, though, he needed sleep.
Hector flew into the cave, and attached himself to the ceiling, closed down his sonar, and began to drift off into dreamland. In just a matter of moments his little brain became quite active again, his stomach rumbled, and the floor began to spin. Hector didn’t feel good at all. The more he tried to hang still, the faster the floor spun. The faster the floor spun the weaker he felt, and the sicker he became. He let go and fell. He fell, and fell, and fell. Splat. Guano again. Oh, to hell with it, he thought.
“I’ll think about it tonight,” me mumbled, closed down his sonar again, and ….