Welcome to the twilight zone
“Birds really eat a tremendous lot. But — I … I — I don’t really know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things. You know — taxidermy.” Norman Bates, perfectly normal proprietor of the
BatsBates Motel, in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”
In a clearing deep in the woods stands a simple, windowless shack. Behind it, gnarled oak branches silhouette against the darkening sky, skeletal arms and fingers reaching from the grave.
Oddly, it’s on 15-foot stilts. Must be a hunter’s blind, you think.
But, in the gathering gloom — tonight’s full moon hasn’t risen yet — you notice there’s no ladder nearby. Weird. So this is no hunter’s blind.
As you puzzle, it dawns on you with a cold shudder that makes you smile self-consciously: A witch wouldn’t necessarily need a ladder to get in the hovel. Although you’ll have plenty of moonlight before long, you have to fight the urge to run back to the main road. Funny what your imagination will do.
You hear only a couple of crows cawing unseen — and now your quickening breath. You’re filled with irrational dread. Get a grip!
And then: Flutter. A soft flutter-flutter. Louder, right past your ear. You flinch, your pupils widen. Your heart skips a beat as you search frantically for the source of the eerie sound.
Bats! Hundreds of them pouring out of the shack. Run!
Nothing to fear from bats
Good evening, students of the macabre.
So said the great horror film director Alfred Hitchcock when introducing one of his productions.
Forgive us if we’ve given you a little fright in this Halloween season. We feel it’s good to get the blood moving every so often, yes? Reminds us we’re alive, etc., etc.
But really, there’s nothing at all to fear. You’re perfectly safe. You have merely entered the twilight zone, and everything is fine, just fine, in the presence of bats.
So, won’t you take a seat here next to our shared digital campfire? You shall hear ranger Ali Famalett regale you with tales of the seven bat species known to live in the humble wooden shack in Santa Clara County’s Calero Park and Reservoir.
Perhaps you’ll come to appreciate them for the cute little devils they are. Click here. (Bonus points if you can ID the furtive figure in this video.)
- Story: Chuck Carroll/Newsbeat
- Video: Arnel Cayabyab and Rabih Chahine