“We can't stop here, this is bat country!” - Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
It’s the only thing that keeps me going sometimes, the realization that I’m in bat country. I can’t stop here. It’s the threat of them, you see. Those sleek, fat-gutted, kitten-faced, leather-and-vein-seraphim that can shit all over you if you stand still for too long. They come out of the dark, deliberately, honing in on the breathing of the ones who stop, screaming their echolocation aria into the bones until the whole body is mapped, string-bagged, and strung-up. You daren’t stop just in case, when you do decide to move on, it's too late and you just...can’t.
Those of you who have been in bat country will know exactly what I’m talking about. The memory of tiny teeth gnawing on your brainstem and the comfort of fetid air turned over like a fog on the tip of cold wing will stir in you just as you read this. The temptation to stand still long enough for bat shit to harden around you until you are nothing but an unrecognizable remnant, like a Pompeian blitzed by the pyroclastic surge, is powerful. They can chip out the hollow that used to be me in some future archaeological dig and say: “This one stood still too long.”
For those of you who have been fortunate enough to avoid bat country, I suppose a definition may be in order. Bat country is that dark, dark place where you become hot-dry and cold-damp at the same time; where limbs are nightmare heavy and strangely disobedient; where things that would frighten children nestle like loved ones in the nook of your sadness; where you dream of sleeping long and deep enough to dream again. It’s the place re-visitors grow to fear and expect; the place distortion rivals reality; the place decisions scatter like froth; the place pharmacological fortunes have been made.
But we’re not supposed to talk about bat country. We’re supposed to wade through it, even as our strength precludes the ducking and weaving we are renowned for and bats torpedo us like June Bugs. Wipe away their greasy innards and move, move, move. Don’t stop. Never stop in bat country.
It’s the only thing that keeps me going sometimes, the realization that I’m in bat country.