April 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

April 13, 2018

Sloppy snow pools like white slush and I realize this so-called return to winter barks but doesn’t bite. It can’t hide the push of life from the exposed patches of earth. In fact, the heavy moisture feeds the burgeoning life. Yellow-green shoots of new grass blades poke up like stubble from the grit the city snowplows left behind on curbside lawns. Most yards still house sagging snow drifts, pocked and dirty. At least the spring snow adds a dash of freshness.

This week, I have two new friends — one a neighbor and the other a long-lost cousin.

I’ll call my neighbor Cranky as long as you realize that’s not her disposition. Cranky is delightful. She’s an antique Singer Sewing Machine shop owner and seamstress who specializes in the same era for which I write historical fiction. How is that for neighborhood serendipity? We met right before winter when a stray cat turned up at her house. She stopped by to see if the cat belonged to us. Then, last week she stopped by to see if I’d go walking with her.

It’s thrilling to get asked to walk with a neighbor. Except for the walking part! Since winter closed off the rock beaches to me, I’ve not walked much or far. My glutes and calves are feeling the burn from the hilly roads we live on, but it feels good to get outside and observe spring. We spotted two red robins on our walk last night and located the neighborhood murder of crows. We even saw two nuthatches and heard a few unidentified birds.

Along one house where the southern exposure to sun melted the snow, we marveled over the spears of daffodils. We plan to walk three days a week and even talked about field trips. Cranky is a real birder, meaning she has expertise in identifying birds whereas I have lots of curiosity. As you can imagine, we have much to discuss about 1860 as we walk.

My second friend found me through Ancestry. We connected when he sent a message regarding errors in my tree. It’s a working tree, thus I appreciate any corrections from others. Then he asked about a lost cousin who had red hair and disappeared when she was seven. I realized he was asking about me. It’s stunning that we have found each other all these decades later. I feel more like I’ve found a long-lost brother. Already, he knows me too well which has made me laugh. He’s got a great sense of humor and a big heart. He’s creative and witty and I’m so pleased to get to know him again.

With ongoing VA appointments, I’m feeling batty this week. How we can be back to square one with the Hub’s knee is mind-boggling, but here we are asking for yet another orthopedic referral. His primary care doctor is lighting fires, but the system is practiced at snuffing them out. While we don’t have complete answers to the memory tests, we did conclude the Hub has an extraordinary memory. It’s his focus and attention that is suffering. With the onset, we are not ruling out traumatic brain injury. At least we have some validation that there is indeed something screwy with his brain.

Considering the ignorance of the military 30 years back, the way Rangers train is similar to American football players. Tough blows made the young man. We are learning more about TBI as these men age.  The Hub’s unit never had medical physicals after combat. Instead, they deployed to another hot spot. Today, or at least beginning with the Iraq War, soldiers are examined, and they deploy with psychiatric units. Let me tell you, that makes a difference. Hopefully, the Hub will get what he needs for a better quality of life.

With all these scattered thoughts beneath sloppy white stuff, I have one more to add — white-nose syndrome. This deadly disease impacts bats and often they become unseasonably active and die in winter instead of hibernating. In Iron Mountain, where we frequently travel to go to the VA hospital, scientists study the bats at Bat Mine, which is considered one of the most significant hibernating and breeding concentrations in the world. They begin to emerge in late April.

Last fall, 47 North Belly Dance Troupe, dedicated a dance to the bats. Before the dance began, they played this creative video as a public service announcement. It includes several of the dancers, and my SIL lends his voice to the narration. The second video shows part of the bat dance.

As we move through life, we become aware of those around us — neighbors, environment, family. Awareness opens us up to curiosity and possibility. The more we learn, the more we grow. We are all part of the web of life, a fitting idea as we connect through the playful activity of literary art in constrained form. Each week, I appreciate how diverse the individual stories are, and how they express a deeper meaning in a collection.

Yes, we are going to get batty this week.

April 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by April 17, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

Lullaby of Bats (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Logs of cottonwood crackled and threw flames toward the night-sky. Most of the travelers had left the bonfire to bed down beneath their wagons. The baby Sarah heard crying earlier had stopped. Night insects chirped, and somewhere near the wagons a horse stomped. Night sounds of camp. Sarah relaxed on a log stool while Cobb played a slow fiddle tune. Back and forth he rubbed the bow. Bats darted in and out of the visible light, bobbing to the gentle lullaby with wings spread. Sarah sighed, looked toward the stars and watched the last of the evening’s dancers fly.

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  1. Annecdotist

    I’m about to get in the batmobile to drive north so hoping for some batty inspiration along the way 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I always wanted to drive north in the batmobile! Safe journey and bring back a batty tale, Anne!

      • Annecdotist

        I only skim read your post yesterday so glad to have the opportunity to acknowledge the joy for you and your cousin finding each other 🙂
        I’m fascinated and terrified by that “treats them tough to make tough” which I’m afraid I associate with the military all too much. I’m playing with a dystopian novel that takes this to an extreme (or maybe it isn’t the extreme, which is even worse) – but Matilda Windsor is still my nominal WIP from where I’ve taken my batty tale. Perhaps not what you had in mind for the prompt.
        What’s the difference between a draft and an edit? http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2018/04/whats-the-difference-between-a-draft-and-an-edit.html

      • Charli Mills

        Anne, I think what can be scary to explore is how little it takes for that “tough-mindedness” to permeate a culture. It fulfills many false beliefs of security to the vulnerable and can be exploited by the cunning. What an interesting dystopia to explore. If you ever want military insights, the Hub could give you many insights. And thank you, it’s been such a joy to reconnect. I’m happy to see Matilda make an appearance. That’s the fun of playing with flash fiction — we can revive characters or explore other opportunities for them.

      • Annecdotist

        Excellent Charlie. I keep writing scenes thinking “no-one will believe that” but maybe it’s because I don’t want to believe a society can deteriorate into a culture of punishment and paranoia. Thanks for the kind offer of insight into the military, but I’m hoping to be able to dodge that part of it as my main character is only fourteen.

      • Annecdotist

        Damn! I was waiting to get to the end of my comment and then replace “Excellent Charlie” with “Thanks Charli”, although of course you are extremely worthy of the descriptor.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Di! Use the form below the prompt. That way your story goes into a “bucket” which makes it much easier for me to collect. Thanks!

      • pensitivity101

        Aha! Found it and done! Thanks Charli

  2. pensitivity101

    Ah, where do I put my second bit?
    Below is my piece:

    ‘I tell you I’m not going out there!’
    ‘Don’t be so silly. You’ll be fine.’
    ‘No! I like it here. It’s safe.’
    ‘It is for now, but sooner rather than later you’re going to have to trust yourself and take the plunge with the rest.’
    ‘I said no, and I mean no. I’m staying here.’
    ‘OK. I’ve tried being nice. Now, as your mother, I’m going to have to lay the law down. YOU ARE LEAVING!’
    ‘You pups think you know it all. We all have to go before the cave floods, otherwise we’ll die. Your choice. Coming?’

    • Shallow Reflections

      Left a comment on your blog. Excellent flash!

    • Charli Mills

      You took me by surprise, Di!

      • pensitivity101

        Haha! I’m glad!

  3. Sherri Matthews

    Ahh…those night sounds of camp and the sigh towards the stars…I am there. Beautiful, poignant flash Charli. And what a wonderful public service announcement about white-nose syndrome, I had no idea, thank you for spreading the word. Love the ‘bats’ and their dance 🙂 Snow melts and new friends emerge along with the daffodils. A new hope for hubs too, if only those fires stay lit… Your prompt has me batty with ideas, will return on the wing with a flash 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, I’d like to be seeing more stars than snowflakes! It’s concerning how wide-spread the fungus is now. And the bats down by Iron Mountain had their cave vandalized recently. I look forward to your batty response! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh no…that’s awful Charli. Vandalism is the lowest of the low…so sorry to hear that 🙁 Hoping your snow clears and your spring makes it’s sunny (and silly lol!) way to you very soon…bring on those stars and campfires! 🙂 <3

  4. papershots

    He got a punch in the face because he said to his friend he was a bat, at recession in the courtyard. The animal impulse in this (un)usual kid fight, the species gathered round to witness. And now mom is trying her best in discipline-&-living-together parenting, although, well, it’s funny because “why a bat?”, the 5-year-old replies that she used it, to dad, once. “Really?” Surely no adult would… “Yes, in the car, to the airport.” “Sweety, I probably said rat.” “Daddy a rat?” “It’s a long story. Forget it.” Pause. “Rats are cute. Jamie is a bat.”


    • Charli Mills

      Fun play on animal instincts and name-calling!

      • papershots

        Thanks 🙂

  5. Jules

    Charli, I remember the first time my younger son pointed out a bat to me when we first moved into our home. I think some live in the over hangs by the creek. I love bats, though I don’t see them often. I can only hope some are still around. I know that the birds eat the bugs, but the bats do too!

    Your story lets us imagine that wonder filled night on the prairie. I think there’s a badge for a serial 99 word story? I just couldn’t stop – oh, maybe I could have. But I mashed up some prompts and have some definitions at the post for:
    Foolish Follower, Liberated in Loss, and Gilding the Lily

    Foolish Follower
    (99 words, part 1)

    Phillip Ratsbane knew the Lady’s aversion to all things night.
    So it was with staged gravitas, his asset that he made her
    make an incredible Pit Friend Promise. Phillip had already
    convinced her to bribe the bellman for him… so he could easily
    escape over the horizon as easy as pie.

    Fog had made the night blurry. There was no margin for
    error on the Lady’s part. She’d have to go into the bat
    cave and find his next clue in order to escape his clutches.

    Would she be lost without Ratsbane? A gentle rustle, the
    bats were leaving.

    Liberated in Loss
    (99 words, part 2)

    Lady sat down on a rock by the opening. Temporarily
    lost in the mystic of the flight of the bats. She momentarily
    seemed to become one of them – once the disorientation
    faded and her sonar vision cleared. Lady saw Ratsbane
    enter the cab – with his leather bag. He was leaving, not
    waiting for her to return. Was there even any clue in the
    cave for her to find.

    Detective Collins had convinced her to place a tracking
    device in Ratsbane’s bag. Then Lady remembered she
    had a similar device in her shoe. Someone would be
    coming to rescue her!

    Gilding the Lily
    (99 words Part 3)

    Lily had nothing left to fear. Having been relocated and
    given a new name. She had told Detective Collins any
    location without rats, but bats were just fine. Perhaps
    she’d even study them. Help in some way to discover
    how to prevent the White Nose-syndrome that was
    driving some of them insane.

    After all the bats, at least one of them had saved her.
    had let her exchange souls just to let her see that
    one horrid man was a true snake in the grass. She
    didn’t want remember any of her time with Ratsbane.
    Maybe that would happen?


    Now with the sun shining (it may not tomorrow…) I’m going for a walk. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’m terrified of mice but I love bats. Go figure because bats are mice with wings. But we had one, Batty, who hung out in our eaves every summer. When we lived in Idaho, we’d stay up on the Pack River late and the bats would swoop around the dogs going after the insects over the water. The dogs would give chase and I’d laugh.

      If there isn’t a 99-word serial, I think it’s a grand idea to introduce one! And what a terrific serial story, Jules. So imaginative!

      Ah, we had sunshine today but I had to cancel my walk. This sinus infection I’ve been fighting turned out to be a cracked tooth in my lower jaw and the infection went through my jaw up into my sinuses. Ugh. So I had emergency oral surgery Monday. Not what I expected. Batty.

      • Jules

        Eek…on any emergency. Hope you are recovering now. The first few days in MA I had a cold….But I couldn’t go out anyway!
        At least I’m back home now and have my spare sets of readers and distance glasses. But I will end up having to get a new set of bifocals.

        For that serial patch… a bowl of cereal with a spoon on one side and a feather pen on the other? Flaky idea 😉

    • Jules

      Hmmm… the thought of a wooden pitching stick never crossed my mind – The animals came first. But I like you story! Though I have no clue about Cricket the game. 🙂

      • Ritu

        I had no choice… my Pops is a cricket freak… my brother played at county level and is now playing for the Finnish national team. My hubby played as a youngster and now my son… cricket is everywhere!
        But thank you! ????

      • Jules

        Yep there are some things that run in the family… like all of my guys and some gals helping with the local vol. Firefighters. One son became a pro as well – there is Nth much difference in training. I even finished off an online first aide/ CPR class. 🙂

      • Ritu

        Yup definitely a family trait!!!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ritu! I’m enjoying my reconnection with my cousin. We are both only children and it fills a lonely hole I’ve had for a long time. Ah, Cranky fell (on the ice!) and I had emergency oral surgery so we are not walking this week. 🙁 I’m glad you went with cricket. I have friends from Trinidad who live and breathe the sport! Sounds like your family is greatly involved!

      • Ritu

        Oh, poor Cranky!
        Hope all is well there.
        Cricket has unintentionally become a bit of a ‘thing’ for my whole family!!!
        Glad you liked the take!

  6. Peregrine Arc

    It was official: I had gone batty. Bats in the belfry, Alfred in the Batcave serving lemonade and bats in the dugout, collecting summer rays and warming their metal handles for the next gloved batter contender. It was summer, the splendid season where sundresses, popsicles and grass stains abound. Need I say more? Summer in America, simplistic and beautiful, trailing on the dresses of fireflies, a brilliant schooner floating off of a child’s eager fingers. We hide the pickle jars with pierced lids back under the kitchen cupboard.

    Let beauty transgress just a little longer, young one.


    • Shallow Reflections

      I love the image of ‘bats in the dugout collecting summer rays and warming their metal handles for the next gloved batter. ‘ I can hear the sound of the ball hitting the bat, smell the new mown grass and see the fireflies in jars. Ahhh! You took me away.

      • Peregrine Arc

        Again–thank you! 🙂

    • Liz H

      Summer daze! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful imagery that captures the spirit of an Americana summer! Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

      • Peregrine Arc

        Thank you! 🙂 Glad to be here.

  7. denmaniacs4

    Ripped from the peanut butter and jam pages of my Friday morning wake-up fest…

    Writer at Bat


    “Why do you ask?”

    “Cause you’re watching Softball instead of writing.”

    “Yup. Indiana at Purdue.”

    “And that helps? What’s the prompt?”


    “Ah! So, being a couch potato watching sports works for you?”

    “Hey, its softball. Women with bats. Bound to shake up the muse.”

    “I want to watch CNN. Comey is driving the Donald batty. There! Better then baseball.”



    “I’m watching softball.”

    “Don’t they both use bats.”

    “Of course.”

    “So, it doesn’t matter. Anyways, let’s watch the news. I want to know what Trump is tweeting from his bat cave.”

    “Fine. I’m overthinking this anyways.”


    • Jules

      The only way one can overcome politicians is to know what they are up to… knowledge as powerful as a ball hit by a swinging bat!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha, Trump’s bat cave…covered by yellow bushes 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      You had me snort-laughing, Bill, with your peanut butter and jam pages. This dialog is likely occurring across many households — which crazy bats to watch!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jack!

  8. dancjulian

    5am paper-route interruption

    I had just pedaled past the house of that kid who looked like a pint-sized John Cougar Mellencamp when the bat landed on my face. It was about a face-sized bat. I couldn’t see crap. To my credit, I did not freak out – much. Nor, funnily enough, did I slow down at all. Just kept one hand on the handlebars while peeling the bat off of me with the other. Little did I know at the time that this experience was to prove to be metaphorically relevant to the rest of my life. Right up to this very day.


    • Liz H

      Why am I hearing “The Authority Song” as I read this? 😀

    • Charli Mills

      That is one cool operator! Great writing, Dan.

  9. Frank Hubeny

    Bat Cave by Frank Hubeny

    “You look like someone kicked you out of your bat cave.”

    “Me?” Brian was used to it.

    “You look like you’d make sense if you had a brain in your bat head.”

    Brian repositioned George to avoid bed sores. George was tired of making points that didn’t matter.

    “Could you open the window and let in some bats?”

    “Sure.” Brian went to the window and opened it wide enough for some imaginary bats to get through.

    Talking to one of the them, George observed, “Brian isn’t as bad as he thinks he is.”

    “You’re not half bad yourself, Georgie.”

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Great dialogue between carer and his elderly charge that showed appreciated the other.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you, Irene. Appreciation takes many forms.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Awwe, such a sweet conversation.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you!

    • Charli Mills

      Such great banter, Frank. The level of appreciation is hidden in their wordplay but easily seen.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sarah. This was a BOTS? Oh, what a memorable mass! I could see it causing “mass panic.”

      • weejars

        ???? lol! I know! I was in Year 2 and have never forgotten it

  10. Nicole

    Emma on Bats

    I’m an optimist. Emma prefers pessimism. When I’m wrong reality is rough; when she’s wrong the news is not so bad.

    I was planning to write about beneficial bats. Emma said, “Bats? Oh yeah, spring’s here. The bats will be coming out to harass people and cows.”

    I was certain she was wrong. I consulted National Geographic.

    “During the darkest part of the night, common vampire bats emerge to hunt. Sleeping cattle and horses are their usual victims, but they have been known to feed on people as well.”

    Next, I’m writing optimistically about politics.

    I’m not consulting Emma.


    • Charli Mills

      Good one, Nicole!

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Eew they are so gross.”
    “It’s hard to believe they’re mammals like us. They’re so creepy looking.”
    “Remember when one got in here? We kept swatting at it trying to get it to leave. Mom, you totally freaked out.”
    “They’re dirty and dangerous; they spread disease. Don’t go near them.”
    “Oh, come on, they can’t all be all bad, they must serve a purpose.”
    “You’d think. But can you think of any good that has come of those hairless apes and their opposable thumbs?”
    “Some of them have been putting up bat houses for our kind.”
    “It’s not enough.”

    • Shallow Reflections

      You fooled me and made me laugh! Love it!

    • Liz H

      Plot twist! Ya got me again…

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Loved it to bats…I mean bits!

    • Charli Mills

      Once I realized the twist, I laughed even harder at the image this line evoked: “We kept swatting at it trying to get it to leave. “

  12. Juliet

    Love it, D!

  13. Shallow Reflections

    Revenge of the old bat

    “Mum’s gone batty,” said Ron, “telling us she sees birds flying all over the house at night.”

    “I know,” said Marion, turning out the light. “She stays awake for hours waiting to catch them with a net. She says she needs them for her ‘magic spells.’”

    “We’ll have to make an appointment for her to see Dr. Johnson. Maybe her confusion is a medical problem. You know, something treatable.”

    “Or it may be time to reconsider a nursing home.”

    “What is that fluttering sound I hear?”

    Marion screamed, “Something bit my neck!”

    From the next room, they heard cackling.


    • Liz H

      😀 Ended with a cackle and a bang!

      • Shallow Reflections

        We had a bat in the house one time. It was at night and I thought I saw a bird fly past me. That’s what gave me the start for my story and the cackle was where the prompt took me. Thanks for stopping by, Liz!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Haha…love it! Great story, love the ending…and the title! Wonderful flash Molly!

      • Shallow Reflections

        Thank you so much, Sherri. glad you enjoyed it!

    • Charli Mills

      Never doubt a batty old woman can still outsmart them all. Good one, Molly!

      • Shallow Reflections

        That’s what I’m counting on, Charli, as I enter my ‘batty old woman’ phase of life. Haha!

  14. elliotttlyngreen

    Thought I’d swoop in and share a batflash. the Ranch have a new format of entries ..?? I hope I am doing this correctly =]

    That Night We Learned She Can Sing
    By Elliott Lyngreen

    Indescribable patterns flutter through until Eleanore Fairview unravels a roll of toilet paper up soaring to the twilight.

    Near the muddled shadows of forestry two bats sharply twist from, disarray swiftly and smoothly encircles the uncoiling roll.

    Believe you me we did not want, yet had to do which these things made us do.

    She scattered silent screams before the white stream misconstrued the irregular scene from this dystopian future.

    She’s 100 neons beyond, instantly.

    A hologram jukebox performing ages ago and more than ears can handle, she sings ever determined they will follow us. She reveals some talent.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        We used to get bats from time to time in the backyars. In the house, dad would just turn all the lights off. Open the front door. and turn on the porch light. He’d still hav to sweep them out off the ceilings.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        The worst was a squirrel!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        That is something that is never going to happen in this country. I imagine they could hide so easily and probably bite if cornered.

    • Charli Mills

      Hey, good of you to swoop in Elliott! Yes, a new collection bucket that helps me gather the flash to publish. You did it just right! A bat-thwarted TPing project and a newfound ability to hit the high notes in your flash!

  15. susansleggs

    Hi Charli,
    Thanks for sharing the information and videos on bats. The dancers were beautiful. Being raised in the Finger Lakes of NY we loved to see the bats circling, it meant less mosquitos for us to swat. I will be more aware of white-nose disease.
    It’s so sad that the VA keeps our vets limping in circles. Sure doesn’t make sense to me. Hugs.

    by Susan Sleggs

    “Lady, you’ve got bats in your belfry.”
    “I’m not batty. I know I saw your signed bats in the attic.”
    “Those bats better be in my gun safe; they’re worth money. Any bats in the attic better be the furry kind.”
    “If there are, I’m out’a here.”
    “For how long?”
    “Don’t get excited, only until the exterminator is successful.”
    “Darn, I thought I could tell my friends my old bat left.”
    “Buddy, you’re cruisin'”
    “Just kidding darling, you know I love you. You’ll always be my Robin.”
    “Goody, first a bat and now a boy. Where’s my furry cape?”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Susan! I like watching the circling bats, too. I’m glad you enjoyed the videos. In the full bat dance, one by one a dancer left the stage until there was only one bat left. It was profound. Your flash made me laugh, especially the last line!

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Charli. That particular response was one of the easiest I have written. Fun stuff.

  16. odysseyofhappiness

    Bat Cave

    Frank Bilotti looked him dead in the eye.
    “Tell me who bankrolled you for the job, this is your last chance.”
    “Go to hell” Tommy said, tired but defiant.
    “Suit your self” said Bilotti.
    Bilotti walked to the corner of the empty cellar, to a large duffel bag leaning in the corner. He slowly pulled out the end of a wooden bat.
    “Nah, not that one…” he said aloud.
    He reached back in and pulled a short aluminum bat.
    “That’s more like it, now, one more time, who bankrolled the job?”
    “Go fu-
    Tommy screamed in pain.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Sounds like a bit of torture is happening here. Now I want to know is he batted out of existence in the batcave or does he spill the beans. Hopefully he doesn’t end up going batty in the process.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Wonderful setup. But who did it?

    • Charli Mills

      Dark happenings in the bat cave! Great use of tension.

  17. Norah

    What an interesting post, Charli. How lovely to meet new neighbours and form new friendships. You raised a couple of questions for me, though: Why is your new friend called Cranky if it doesn’t describe her personality? Why were you lost, to your cousin at least, at age seven? I’m so pleased you’re found. I think you’re quite a find!
    I enjoyed the videos and was impressed by SIL’s narration. The goal of saving the bats is a good one. I had heard of this horrible white-nose disease before. A couple of years ago, on the recommendation of Patricia Tilton I think, I purchased a lovely picture book by Anna Forrester with illustrations by Susan Detwiler about this problem. The book is called “Bat Count, A Citizen Science Story”. The story explains the effect of the disease on the bat population through the eyes of a family who are involved in the Citizen Science Project, counting the bats. The book also provides information about bats, the disease, and how to become involved in this and other Citizen Science Projects. It’s a great book for anyone interested. Fortunately, our Australian bats are not affected by white-nose syndrome. However, they are affected by other diseases.
    I enjoyed the peaceful evening of your flash. Sarah seems content listening to the violin as the bats flutter in and out of view.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Norah you have taught me something – I thought we did have white nose syndrome as I had some vague memory of a Qld Dept of Ag and Fisheries putting out warnings. I thought it wasn’t the huge problem because our bats don’t hibernate in the same way and our temperatures are much hotter. Lyssovirus was the one they worry about more. However, I’ve discovered that you are right and so far there are no reported cases. We have to be glad about that.

      • Norah

        I think there was a big scare a few years ago with the Hendra virus, too, Irene. It seems it is possible for humans to contract the lyssovirus from bats, but it is rare. Yes, we do have to be grateful for that. We haven enough other dangerous animals to contend with. 🙂

    • Liz H

      Am I right that scientists have found a way to treat and cure white nose? And some prevention efforts?

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my response: Flight of the Fruit Bats. I hope you enjoy it. https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-187

      • Norah

        Now I’ve got some reading to catch up on! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Fruit bats must be amazing to see in a full colony!

      • Norah

        They are amazing. I was disappointed I couldn’t find one of my own photographs, and didn’t have time to go and take one.

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, I could have better explained that my Cranky new friend owns an antique Singer Sewing Machine shop called Sew Cranky! I’ll tell you later about my childhood parting with my cousin. I’m glad you liked the SIL’s narration. He’s great with voices. The Citizen Science Project is such a great way to connect people to science and the environment. The picture book you bought sounds interesting in how it involves a family who participates in the project. White-nose syndrome seems like an awful way to go. Although I’m sure there are also other bad bat diseases in existence.

      • Norah

        Ah! Is that because you used to have to crank up those old machines? My mum had a Singer Sewing Machine that worked with a treadle. The white nose syndrome does sound like an awful way to go. I’d like to just fade away in my sleep – but not for a long time yet.

  18. tintins

    Hey gang,

    My story this week:

    Born Champion

    He was fearless in the ring. Everyone wanted to endorse him; he was the face of Pepsi in his heyday. He was swift. Opponents didn’t see his left hook coming. He was light on his feet; surprising for his size.

    It was his last entrance though, that everyone remembers; the crowd were eating out the palm of his hand. His final 12 bouts, a career spanning nine years. Striding into the ring to Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell, he was confident. He had no reason not to be. He captured the moment poetically. His rival had no chance.


    • Shallow Reflections

      Unique and creative take on the prompt. Enjoyed it!

      • tintins

        Thank you 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Creative take on the prompt, Christina! Every word speaks to the power of this champion at his height. Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” is the icing on the cake.

      • tintins

        Thanks, Charli 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jo!

    • Liz H

      You never fail to surprise! <3

      • anuragbakhshi

        Ha ha ha. Thank you so much Liz.

    • Charli Mills

      You always have a batty surprise, Anurag!

      • anuragbakhshi

        That’s because I am battiest of the lot 🙂

  19. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Your two new friends sound wonderful for you to know. There is nothing quite like having a walking partner that shares interests during the walks – it turns walking into flying. And to find a relative that knew you from years ago – how special. It sounds as though the military have worked out that the way they have treated their vets in the past is not the way to do it. If only they also realised that they could make life better for those vets already not well treated. Hopefully, although the progress seems slow, hopefully it is progress. I love what the dance troupe are doing for BATS and both videos were great. Your SIL did a great job narrating. Bats here also get white nose disease but they get another one which is much worse and is fatal to humans who get bitten by bats. It has made the majority of the population fearful of bats and although protected, much is done to get rid of them from areas.
    Mine this week: https://irenewaters19.com/2018/04/16/bats-99-word-challenge/

    • Charli Mills

      I’m enjoying both my walking partner and long-lost family. Though, as he tells it, I was the one lost. It validates much for me, but I’ll tell you later. My walks are long outdoor talks! Although we had to cancel this week on account I had emergency oral surgery Monday. It’s put a cramp on my week. Guess it wasn’t a sinus infection, after all. Your bats bite? I think US bats only bite humans if rabid, or at least that’s what I believe. Your bats are so amazing, though! I’m glad they are protected.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Hope your mouth is repairing. They seem to improve quickly but at the time can be painful as you know. I often say it is toothache when in reality it is sinus so I guess you had it in reverse. They probably only bite if cornered. We rescued one once and we had to take it to a specially trained bat person because of the risks and they were so emphatic that we mustn’t handle it. I’m glad they are protected also and hate that people who live near colonies of them aren’t so pleased and do everything they can to move them to a new location.

  20. Miriam Hurdle

    I wish I had a walking friend like you. I’ll join you when I’m in the area. I love watching birds. I have been feeding House Finch, Mourning Doves, Red Throat hummingbirds, and White Crowned Sparrows. You must have an interesting tree. Congrats on finding a “brother” and a cousin. My SIL also found two cousins and an 84 years old aunt through Ancestry.
    Here’s my batty story.


    • Caitlin Gramley

      Very cute story. Cool that a writing prompt not only made you think but turned out to be a great lesson for your grandson!

      • Caitlin Gramley

        I am sorry! this comment was meant for another story! but I will promptly read yours and comment! sorry again!

    • Caitlin Gramley

      Great little story. Animals and their territory…dangerous. 😉

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Thank you, Caitlin. I think a lot of animals in the wild fight for their territory, sometime the fight is fatal. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Any time you want to walk the Keweenaw, Miriam! I think it’s good to have birding friends as not everyone appreciates birds. You have hummingbirds now? I love the little birds! We had Calliope hummingbirds in Idaho and their wings sounded metallic. I love the coo of a Mourning Dove! We never know what we might find on Ancestry! Thanks for your batty story!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Thank you, Charli! I was watching the red throat hummingbird all morning. Only the male bird came. I wonder if the female is incubating. I love the coo of mourning doves. It sounds like singing rather than chirping. My SIL may send us all a copy of her discovery and the tree.

    • Charli Mills

      I had no idea about white bats! How cool!

      • jenanita01

        I wonder what you will give us next?

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Tony, good to see you! Oh, what an episode that must have been!

  21. Juliet

    Hi Y’all,
    I’m off on a completely different tangent with this one today. Don’t ask me why. It’s not about something I do. Honest!????


    James swore he wouldn’t let her do it again. But deep down he knew he didn’t stand a chance.

    She batted at him day in, day out.

    Sometimes her batting made him wash up the dinner dishes alone. Sometimes it dragged him into town on a busy Saturday afternoon. Often it made him change channels in the middle of a match.

    His beer buddies warned him endlessly.

    “You need to make her stop, James. She’ll be the ruin of you one day.”

    He knew they were right, but how could he resist the bat of those perfect black eyelashes?

      • Juliet

        Thanks, Irene. Not sure where that one came from. Who is this James? Not my Hubby anyway 😉

    • Sherri Matthews

      Isn’t it great what flash makes us do? Or rather, our writing do? I can see her now, flutttering away at poor, doesn’t-stand-a-chance James. Great take on the prompt Juliet! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Wow! That was definitely not one I had thought of but works so well, batting her eyelashes!

  22. LucciaGray

    Hi Charli! Great to hear about your friendly, not_ Cranky, new neighbour! Your walks sound fantastic. Your long lost cousin is also good news, but one day, you’ll have to tell us how you got lost at such a young age. I’m glad the military now have better health treatments and I’m sorry your husband is having to deal with issues that should have been addressed while he was working. Hope that all works out.
    Nice flash, bats dancing to the music, however Imust admit, I don’t like bats at all, mainly because I’m afraid of them… So is my grandson, who has a present for you on my post!

    • Caitlin Gramley

      Very cute story. Cool that a writing prompt not only made you think but turned out to be a great lesson for your grandson!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Lucy, I was so touched by your grandson’s gift! Even if you both are afraid of bats, you worked through the fear and found something to be curious about. Thank you!

  23. Kerry E.B. Black

    Death Comes With Wings
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Sadness draped Carole. Medical charts and inconclusive connections conspired against her until dread deadened her thinking. She lit a candle and said a prayer. “Will she be okay?”

    As though in answer, a strange, irregular flapping and pounding echoed from the chimney. Carole’s heartbeat altered. She squeezed her eyes against the inevitable.

    Something burst from beneath the confines of the mantle. It buffeted her hair, pandemonium on leathery wings. The bat turned, dove, beat an unsteady dance through her living room. It bumped the candle against her friend’s photo.

    Carole groaned. She knew the portents. Death comes with wings.

    • Charli Mills

      Such ominous writing, Kerry! Great action and tension building up to the last line.

    • Jules

      There is something similar with birds down the chimney.

    • Gloria

      Enjoyed this one!

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you could join us, Caitlin! We realized we had a vein of dark humor running through the Ranch the first time we wrote about unicorns!

    • Jules

      Humor is always good… dark like chocolate can be good too 🙂
      Welcome. I’m a tad late in visits – I was away and then yard work called.

  24. Liz H

    A bit of nostalgia, as BOTS:

    Summer, Early ‘80’s

    Indiana Summer, in cheap housing with no a.c., a mixed neighborhood of blue collar, elderly, and our houseful of assorted grad students, temporary sublets like me.

    [Continue ]

    • Sherri Matthews

      Great flash Liz, have commented over at your pad 🙂

      • Liz H

        Thanks for the visit…We have cheap red over there!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Great…I’ll be right over 😉

    • Charli Mills

      You caught that nostalgic vibe just right, Liz.

      • Liz H

        Feeling a bit of longing as I wrote. Grew quite fond of my 4 male housemates, and the new friends I met through them!

    • Charli Mills

      When inspiration hit, it came up golden, Robbie!

    • Charli Mills

      Those who do seasonal work must be going batty with this unseasonable weather! Good take on the prompt, D.

  25. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Hi everyone. I am having technical difficulties with this response, here’s hoping. These machines drive me batty.I am also being kept busy with family this week, so I apologize for not making the reading rounds. I will try to read and comment later. This response has a picture that goes with it, if you’re interested click on the link.


    The steady snowfall created a classic Christmas card scene.
    “No!” Myrtle complained, “Christmas cards don’t have sap buckets hangin’ off the trees. This isn’t even a damn Easter card, that was two weeks ago!”
    Her husband, whose hobbies had only been enhanced by nature’s disregard for the calendar, took a swig of his drink. Without taking his eyes from the TV, he shared his recurring thought that Myrtle might be going batty.
    “Hey,” he continued, “Does summer fall on a weekend this year?”
    “I’m leaving this bat cave.” He didn’t look up when Myrtle trudged out to her garden.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi D.! I hope you are focusing on the family, friends, and landscape and that the weather and technology are not driving you batty.

  26. Sherri Matthews

    Hi Charli, here’s mine on the hoof, or should I say, wing… that kind of week… !

    Bat Out Of Hell

    ‘I heard it…fly in through the open window, so fast, wall to wall…it touched my hair and I screamed. I…’ Emma bit her lip.

    ‘You’re doing fine. What happened next?’

    ‘Well…he heard me scream and came into my room, annoyed. I told him about the bat, asked him to help get it out safely.’ Emma stared down at her hands, then looked up. ‘But he got my tennis racket and killed it. I hated him, for the bat and for me. I wanted to take the racket and beat that bastard dead.’

    ‘Now we’re getting somewhere,’ nodded Dr Harper.

    • Liz H

      Uh oh…

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sherri! Uh-oh, there’s more to this story by Dr. Harper is getting there! Wonder where the body is…lol! Great twist from victim to suspect!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…thanks Charli! I can think of a few places for that particular body 😉 <3

  27. paulamoyer

    Going Batty

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean was five months pregnant with the baby that would become Lydia. Halfway there, nausea going away. Starting to love the kicks from the inside out.

    Then Moira, their roommate, came down the attic stairs. Eyes bugging out like Groucho Marx.

    “A bat.” Her words eked out, toneless. “It. …” She stopped and gulped. “It flew into my hair. Got stuck in my hair before it got out.”

    Jean and Sam looked at each other, then at Moira, and then at each other again.

    Jean started. “What should we –”

    The creature, looking for home, swooped down the stairs.

    • Charli Mills

      What a fright to have a bat in one’s hair, worse, being pregnant and seeing the bat swoop down the stairs. What a story, Paula!

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Charli — another BOTS!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for joining us with a fun batty story, Gloria!

      • Gloria

        Thank you Charli! It’s great writing practice.

    • Liz H

      Heavy, moody stuff, yet so vivid!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kay! And I did get your story. I’m not sure why the form is not showing up. It’s being batty perhaps!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks for sharing!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Reena!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Michael!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Joelle!

  32. Liz H

    I chuckled over this one!

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Nicole!

  34. Liz H

    They really are cute and useful!

  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Denise!

  36. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Lisa!

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!

  38. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Lucy!

  39. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Colleen!

  40. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  41. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  42. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Wallie!


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