>IT WAS LATE AND I WAS TIRED

>Taking the long way around the park, I decide to keep on jogging, but only where people can see me. When I disappear behind a tree or shrub, and my only audience does not have opposable thumbs and the ability to gossip about my lack of fitness, I slow to a gasping walk.

I’m just in the process of contemplating what sort of darkness the day has turned into when the bat hits me right in the back of the head. I know it’s a bat because it screeches like a banshee, right in my ear, and I feel the rabid scrabbling of claws against my scalp. While never really having had the irrational fear of bats so many of my friends do, this is, to be perfectly honest, one of the more frightening experiences of my life.

Aren’t bats supposed to have some sort of internal-sonar-inner-ear navigation system to let them avoid just this type of situation? The number of bats that fly above this city on these long summer nights, and not once have I heard about one thudding into someone’s skull.

I realise that I have had my eyes closed the entire time, and that the bat has apparently gone on its way. I open my eyes, and it’s as if they have to readjust to the dark again. The world seems so much more shadowy than the one I’ve just left. Streetlamps seem to have abandoned their purpose, preferring instead to bow their faded heads. Sounds of traffic and city ambience have retreated too. I try to look up to find the moon, but the arms of friendly park foliage have muscled up above me, shielding any comforting reference to the night sky.

I reason with myself that the bat must have knocked me harder than I’d thought. I feel my head, and my hair sticks together in grimy clumps. I feel a slick wetness between my fingers. It’s then I hear the jangling. I turn around. A little man, covered with razorblades, is running towards me. Again, says my leaching brain. Again.

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