There were seven bats in my bedroom when I got home from the pub. Five of them hung in a little bunch, like fruit, from the curtain. The other two were doing drunken loops around the lightbulb I’d switched on. My hands went instantly to my head, trying to cover my hair to keep them from becoming tangled. I’d never seen a bat tangled in hair, but the idea had been somehow planted in me.
I closed the door and ran to Donal’s room for a tight-knit beanie. With my hair covered I felt better, but still unnerved reentering my room. Now there were three bats orbiting the light.
You can’t kill bats. They’re a protected species. It’s not that I was considering killing them, particularly, but removing them alive seemed impossible. I was very aware of my loose wool jumper, which i imagined would also entangle the bats. I removed it and put it in the hallway.
The bats alternated between crowding one another on the curtain and circling the room. I pulled a pillow from the bed and removed its case. With the mouth of the pillowcase held open, I slowly approached the resting group and attempted to enclose them in the white fabric. They scattered around my head and I danced backwards, feeling one of them flit against my cheek.
Watching them swirl, I became extremely uncomfortable with the idea of the bats catching themselves in my remaining clothing. While the slap of wing on my face was not pleasant, it seemed infinitely preferable to a bat enmeshed with my t-shirt. I removed my shirt, jeans and socks, and went to the washroom to find a pair of nylon swimming togs to replace my boxer shorts.
For an hour I held the pillowcase up and threw myself into their flightpaths. The bats struck my arms and chest, but I managed to get all seven of them, one by one, into the bag. Each time I caught one I leaned out the open window, gently turned the case inside out and flicked off the clinging bat. They were small, dark and quivering. As I ejected the last one Donal shouted at me from the street below. ‘Is that my hat?’ he asked. ‘Why are you half-naked dancing around with a sheet at two thirty in the morning?’
‘Bats,’ I called down.