Picture a By James Ashcroft cave. A dark Illustrated by Darryl W. Funk and secluded cave amid the trees and ferns of a tropical rainforest. No matter how hot it may be outside, inside our cave it stays cool. And dry, too. And no matter how much it rains or snows...well, it’s not going to snow in a tropical rainforest, but IF it did snow (that’s ‘if’ with a capital I F) the cave would stay nice and dry. This cave would not be easy to find, of course. In fact, if you weren’t creating it in your mind’s eye right now, you’d probably never find it. So, we have our cave. Now this cave is too small for a person. But if you were a ‘kinkajou’, maybe even a ‘spelunking’ kinkajou, you could squeeze through the opening and make your way down the passageway past the stalactites. Or are those stalagmites? Doesn’t matter. What would you see? Bats. Thousands of bats! Now don’t worry, these are fruit bats, they’re not going to hurt you. Besides, they’re sleeping. But there are thousands of ‘em! Thousands and thousands! Hanging every- where. Anywhere there’s a spot to hang on the ceiling, there’s a bat. You might think the goings-on inside a cave full of bats would be rather interesting. Nope. They tend to sleep a lot. But out of these thousands and thousands of sleeping bats, how are we to pick out the hero of our story? Oh, there he is. The chubby one in the corner, snoring. So now that we’ve found Meep the bat, this is the part of the story where we become a more passive audience and switch from present tense to past tense. So sit back and enjoy the tale. By and by, the sleeping bats began to wake. It was getting dark outside and the colony’s collective internal clock said it was time to move. So they stretched and yawned and wiggled their wings 44 Zamoof! about. Many ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry’ and ‘No no, it was my fault entirely’ could be heard echoing through the cavern. You see, for a fruit bat living shoulder to shoulder with ten thousand other fruit bats, politeness is a must. Soon the entire colony was awake and flapping toward the exit. The entire colo- ny, that is, except for Meep. He stayed behind and snored. The bats swarmed into the night air. A giant column of leathery wings and clawed feet swirling to the sky. It was quite a sight when the whole colony would head out to feed. Oh right. The whole colony except, of course, for Meep. He remained, his tum- my protruding slightly from his folded wings, comfortably hanging upside down and sleeping. His eyes moved rapidly beneath closed lids. Before long most of the bats had found a suitable fruit tree in which to hang and eat. They set hungrily to their night’s work. And still Meep snored. But even a bat who loves sleep as much as Meep can’t spend all night dreaming in a cave. His eyes flew open. “Whoah,” he muttered. “Weird dream!” He blinked and scanned the empty darkness. He shivered. It’s a strange thing for a bat to be alone in a cave. With a sigh he dropped from the ceiling and winged quickly towards the outside world. As he emerged, the sounds and smells of the forest smacked him in the face like a warm, wet towel. Night time is when a www.zamoofmag.com 45 tropical forest truly comes to life. All the nocturnal creatures were out now. They yowled and screeched and grumbled and groaned. It was as if Meep was showing up late for a Halloween party where the music was blaring and the whole forest was say- ing, “Meep! Where’ve you been? We’re just about to start the breakdancing competition, you in? Oh here, try some of this spin- ach dip! It’s amazing!” Meep ignored all this. The strange dream was still fresh in his mind and he wanted to find someone to talk to before it faded away. He took a swooping left and hurriedly flapped to the stand of fruit trees where he knew he’d find all the other bats. After a few minutes he located his good friend Beep happily devouring a papaya. Meep settled in beside his friend and nodded. “Soooooo, what’s on the menu this evening?” Meep asked. “Oh, fruit again, huh?” “Well, we are fruit bats,” Beep giggled. He offered Meep a half eaten papaya. “Thanks,” Meep nodded. He took a bite. “You know, Beep, there’s one thing I can’t under- stand.” “Like, why we do everything hanging upside down?” Beep asked. “Well, okay, two things,” Meep said after a pause. “But why is it that you eat so much and stay thin whereas I barely touch my food and stay so plump.” Meep prodded his own belly. “I know,” Beep agreed. “It’s pretty frustrating, I’ve been trying to bulk up but it’s not working.” “Hmmm,” Meep shrugged. “Oh, hey, wanna hear about this crazy 46 Zamoof! dream I had last night?” “Sure.” “Okay, first there was this kinkajou in our cave watching me sleep.” “A spelunking kinkajou?” Beep asked dubiously. “I know, I know,” Meep said quickly, “but then I was dreaming I was a vampire bat! It was amazing! I think it means something.” “What?” Beep asked. “Well, maybe I was meant to be a vampire bat. Not a fruit bat,” Meep suggested. “You know,” Beep began, chewing his papaya thoughtfully, “this sort of reminds me of the time when you dreamt you were a Venus Fly Trap and then you spent a week sitting on a branch waiting for bugs to fly into your mouth. Remember that?” “Bah,” Meep scoffed. “This is completely different.” “Uh huh,” Beep nodded slowly. “Look, Beep,” Meep implored, “don’t you ever get tired of eat- ing papayas?” Beep stared at his friend as though Meep had just grown an ex- tra nose, and then that new nose grew its own nose. “Uhm, nope,” Beep said. He let the mostly eaten papaya husk fall and then grabbed a fresh fruit. “But just think of the freedom,” Meep exclaimed. “No more being stuck in a tree eating boring old fruit. We’d be out there!” He nodded his head in no particular direction. “Stalking our prey! Really living, you know?” “Uh, we?” Beep asked. “And how, exactly, would you achieve this miraculous transformation?” “Well,” Meep said slowly, realizing he hadn’t thought that far ahead, “maybe I’d meet a vampire bat and they’d sort of, kind of, teach me?” Beep stopped eating. “Look Meep,” he said earnestly, “we’re fruit bats. This is what we do. We’re a vital part of the forest’s ecosystem. We eat fruit and help the trees grow and in turn the trees provide us with food.” “Yeah, yeah.” Meep waved a wing vaguely. He’d heard all this www.zamoofmag.com 47 talk before. “I’m sure the trees would get along just fine without me.” “Well, I dunno,” Beep muttered. He resumed the consumption of his papaya. Meep looked at his own three-fifths eaten piece of fruit. All around him other fruit bats hung in branches eating papaya. Was this it? Did all he have to look forward to was a lifetime of eating various tropical fruits? “Blah,” he said quietly to the papaya, “I vant to suck your blood.” With a sigh, he took a bite and chewed listlessly. As he ate, his super sensitive ears constant- ly swiveled to pick up the various sounds from the trees around him. He’d never met a vampire bat before, but he knew they were out there, somewhere. Every once in a while he’d hear their distinctive squeaking through the trees. He looked over at Beep, who was happily munching on another papaya. Well, if he was go- ing to become a vampire bat, it was clear his friend would be no help. But how to get away without drawing too much attention? With an exaggerated stretch and a groan he said: “Well, I’m stuffed.” “You barely ate anything,” Beep noticed. “Ah, well, you know, I’m trying to slim down. Pants are fitting a bit tight these days,” Meep said, patting his belly. “You don’t wear pants,” Beep stated. “Ah, heheh, well, you know,” Meep mumbled hopelessly. “Uh, I’ll catch you back at the cave.” “Okay,” Beep muttered shaking his head, “see you later.” Meep dropped from the branch and flapped away. With his senses highly tuned for night flying, he began his search for some- one to teach him the ways of vampire battedness. z (Continued in Next Issue) 48 Zamoof!
Pages to are hidden for
"Picture a"Please download to view full document