Monsters and Dust

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At first I gripped it tightly bracing for the sting of its teeth, but presently I loosened my grip as it seemed relaxed and curious about the warmth and smell of my hands. It crawled up my sleeve using thumb-like talons on the tips of its wings, awkwardly it seemed at first, but then I came to see that it really had the hang of it. Its body was covered with fur, and its face was flat, and short, and indeed more human-like than cat or mouse. It had great skin folds about its ears, no doubt for hearing in the cave, and its wings were formed of the same rubbery dark skin. I thought they were hairless but rubbing the wings between my thumb and forefinger, I could feel tiny bumps, which probably formed follicles. The little bat crawled over me for a curious moment, and then took to the sky again, disappearing into his great caravan.

It was then that I realized my task, and how this was the very thing I had been searching for. The Museum Director has no bats. Perhaps he thinks they are vicious, but there is no blood food out here, if that were supposed to be what sustained them. They must eat the fruits of this desert, and bugs, or other smallish creatures such as themselves.

Were I able to capture enough specimens and document them properly, they could form the basis for a whole new collection at the Museum. Chicago would be fascinated by these creatures, like little pieces broken out of the desert night sky.

And my success would be so compounded, a naturalist discovery on top of a completed errand, that even had Elswyth married wrongly, she would see her mistake, and the Director would promote me to the head of my own collection there, or would they not have me I could start my own Museum, and establish myself rightly in the world.

My encounter with the bat, along with my defeat at the onset of the darkness has loosed a new resolve in me, and I am now determined to plumb the depths of this cave, to discover the home of the bats, and the extant of their underground world. Indeed it means I must abandon my solo trek, but returning to a town for water likely would have been necessary in any case, and now I yearn for more lamp oil almost as much as water, and a full meal.

In the morning I shall join the road, and make my way to the nearest town for supplies, and perhaps some hired help. I feel this cave is my discovery, and this whole journey has been leading me to its fateful darkness.