Mr. Batty Twist

June 16, 2011

Ripple dozed in front of the gatehouse, in the shadow of a bush. His habit hood was pulled over his eyes. His tail lay strewn over the grass, tip twitching. He yawned, and then licked his whiskers because his breath had coated them in mussel taste.

The sound of the gatehouse door closing roused him. After a good (cautious) stretch, he rose and knocked.

“Come in, come in.” Ripple opened the door. “Ke ke ke.”

Ripple dragged himself inside and sunk onto a chair without looking around.

“Mornin’, Brother Alooooo – ” the yawn could not be stopped – “ysius.”

“Another late night?”

“Aye, Brother.”

“My apologies, apologies. Were it not for the storm, they would not have been keeping you.”

“Umm… who, Brother?”

“My family? Were they not a bother?”

The scratching, the keening, the shuffling… Ripple blushed a little, feeling foolish for letting his imagination take such hold of his reality. A perfectly logical explanation for everything! It had just been a few more bats than usual. He would have rather preferred Andrew’s Things, but he wouldn’t admit that to Aloysius.

“Oh… oh no, sir! Weren’t at all. I uh, I slept in Skip’s room…”

“Ah. I see.” The bat stopped what he was doing and sat opposite Ripple. Ripple blinked at him. Aloysius looked more weary than usual. Ripple wished he had a beetle in his pocket to cheer him up. “We shall not be doing any lessons today.”

“Oh… alright.” Well, gosh, what had he woken up for, then?

“But I did want to talk to you, so I am glad you came. You left the feast early last night, before I could give you the book you were interested in, interested in.”

After some shuffling about, the bat passed the book to Ripple: Two Treatises of Government. Ripple glanced a few pages in and tried not to sigh. Obviously, he had been on an entirely different page than the one Saskia had been on yesterday. He’d been hoping for something about tactics or strategy. This didn’t look interesting at all. It looked worse than Aloysius’s usual required readings.

It was perfect. Skipper wouldn’t suspect a thing, and Ripple wouldn’t have to figure out how to come clean a second, sober time.

“Thanks!” he said, trying perhaps too hard to inject cheer into his tone. “I’ll be sure to, um, take good care of it.”

“I’m sure you will, as you always do. Ripple, why did you leave the attic? I fear it was not my family’s restlessness at all, at all.”

“Um, they were only half the reason, Brother.” Ripple fidgeted, then hid his paws beside his legs, pinning them to the sides of the chair. “It’s Brother Raimun. He… he died up there, an’ it don’t feel right no more.”

“Mm-hm. Hence your coming to the gatehouse for studies. Well, do not fear, young Ripple. Brother Raimun was a kindly soul, a kindly soul, and I’m sure that will persist wherever he has gone. The Abbey has no history of being haunted, despite the many famous deaths that have occurred. Why, Cluny the Scourge met his end in the bell tower, and there has never been any instance of him possessing somebeast. I like to think Martin’s spirit keeps us all safe, all safe – those living, and those who have gone to rest in an uneasy state. On that note, the funeral will no doubt begin shortly. Will you be attending, be attending?”

Ripple wagged his footpaws, stirring up dust.

“Do I got a choice?”

“I should think so, should think so.”

Last night felt so much like a dream. Had he really seen Tamarack? Was she really alright with him now? She had such startling questions, and he wanted the answers. Could he brave the forbidden graveyard to see her before the funeral?

He could not. Not yet. It was still too early.

“Nuh-uh. I don’t… don’t want to see him again like that…”

Aloysius patted his shoulder with a wing tip.

“I understand. And now I must bid you good morning, for I have a eulogy to see to. Go rest, Ripple, go rest.”

Ripple returned to Skipper’s dormitory. By then it was empty. He placed the book on the bedside table and rolled under the covers again. With any luck, Bludd would not think to check for him here. Maybe she would be busy bothering Foweller. That was a good plan… bothering… yawn… Foweller…

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