Omir the Storyteller

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Birds, The Beasts, And The Bats


Many many years ago, the bats thought they had it made. Whenever there was work for the beasts to do, the beasts would go to the bats and say, "Hey, come give us a hand here. After all, you look very much like beasts to us."

"Nope, can't do it," the bats would say. "See these wings? That makes us more like birds than beasts." And they would go off and leave the beasts fuming and working.

Then, when there was work for the birds to do, the birds would go to the bats and say, "Oh bats, can you come help us with our work? We would be glad to number you among us."

"No, I'm afraid not," the bats would say, "because after all, we are more like beasts than birds. See these?" and the bats would point to their chests. "They're mammary glands. Only mammals have them, and mammals are not birds."

In this way the bats managed to avoid the work of being either a beast or a bird. The birds and the beasts didn't like it much, but there was little they could do about it other than grumble.

Then one day, a rumor started sweeping through the kingdom of the animals, a rumor of a creature who was definitely not a bird, but neither was it truly a beast. This creature had a stick that made a loud noise and shot fire, and caused whatever it pointed the stick at to fall down and die.

"Come join with us!" the beasts asked the bats. "We have heard these new creatures are coming into the woods, and we can use all the help we can get in defending our homes."

"Pffft," the bats would say. "We don't think these creatures actually exist. Besides, like we said, we're more like birds than beasts."

Later the birds approached the bats. "You must help us fight these new creatures," the birds said to the bats. "We birds must band together."

"How many times do we have to say it?" said the bats. "We are more like beasts than birds. And besides, we doubt there is such a thing as a creature with a firestick."

Well, sure enough, one day the creatures with the firesticks came into the forest to hunt. And as it happened, they came to hunt, not the beasts, nor the birds, but the bats.

The bats fled ahead of the new creatures. "Help!" they called to the birds. "You were right! We birds must band together."

"What do you mean, 'we'?" the birds asked. "We distinctly heard you say you were more like beasts than birds. Go fend for yourselves, or go join with the beasts."

So the bats flew away to the land of the beasts. "Save us!" they cried. "The creatures with the fire sticks have come! Help us, fellow beasts!"

"Excuse us?" the beasts sniffed. "'Fellow beasts'? Did you not say you were more like birds than beasts? Begone; you can't be a bird one minute and a beast the next."

And so the bats were on their own against the intruders.

Woe to those who are neither one thing, nor another.


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