The Bat's Pupil(Xyln; 7474 words)

Monday.

Ezra loved writing. He really liked thinking about all the things he’d put on paper; structuring his thoughts and ideas on a particular topic and following a fixed set of rules to provide a good and instructive read. He found the idea of doing all that really appealing, but it turned out, however, that he simply wasn’t quite good at it.

It was Monday. Most people hated Mondays and Ezra could easily see why. It was an easy thing to do: it was what most people did, and as such, it was the perfect example of a convention that people tended to follow mindlessly. But Mondays weren’t as bad as people tended to say and the idea that all terrible things happened on Mondays was pure rubbish. Ezra was strictly against hating Mondays, because he thought it was a symptom of collective idiocy. Instead, he hated Fridays.

But it wasn’t as if he was enjoying that particular Monday either. He hadn’t slept much the previous night — he’d been watching a pretty popular show and later, thinking about all the things that didn’t work in it, and how he might write about it in a review later. Besides, finals were getting closer and their teachers didn’t seem to care too much about it. They had so many assignments for next week that, if Ezra hadn’t been writing the list down in the margins of his calendar, he would have probably forgotten about one or two. And classes that day had been so dry that his head felt as if someone had used it for practice in a whack-a-mole game. But the worst part was that, no matter how much he wanted to get home and slump into bed, he couldn’t leave his department yet.

No. He had an appointment with the bat.

Of all the written assignments he had yet to plan and deliver, the review of Blindsight was the one he had been having the most trouble with. He liked the novel (or at least, what he’d heard about it in the majority of the reviews he’d had the chance to watch or read) but he was hopeless when it came to writing stuff like that. Besides, the fact that he had to write a novel review when he was studying computer sciencew as absurd, no matter what silly explanation their teacher might have given, and he wasn’t feeling particularly enthusiastic. For that reason, he had sought help among his friends, and one of them had specifically redirected him to the bat.

He was a year older, had a difficult name to pronounce, and mostly seemed to keep to himself, but people knew him because, at the end of the day, he was the only bat in a department full of humans. Sure, they had a few wolves, tigers, and foxes among their students, but those were everywhere. A bat, however, was something much rarer and easier to remember.

Sometimes, when he was a child, Ezra had wished he was a furred creature just like some of his colleagues. From his point of view, that seemed like a clear distinguishing feature, something that one could build their personality upon; something that made you unique. He didn’t have that, though, and he’d had to learn with the years that he was just another human. Maybe a bit more rational than most of his peers, but still.

So there he was: waiting for the bat at the old table that stood in his department hall. Most people were going home after a long day, and the place would soon be empty. Which was, of course, why that was a good place to meet.

Ezra had arrived there ten minutes before four, their meeting time. The bat arrived five minutes later, sooner than expected. That was a good thing for Ezra: it meant that they would probably leave early. The mere thought of finally getting home felt like a promise.

“Hey,” he greeted the bat, waving his hand a bit awkwardly after standing up. “Thanks for coming. I’m Ezra, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Oh! Nice to meet you too. Nyeogmi.” The bat walked closer to him and shook his hand. Ezra noticed he had a firm grip — but not too firm. He also thought it would be good if he could just write down the name of the bat, or else he’d probably forget.

Both sat down at opposite ends of the table. After all, it wasn’t that large, and it kind of made the meeting feel official, professional.

“So tell me, Ezra,” the bat began, with a smile. “How can I help you?”

Ezra could see the bat from across the table. Now that they were only a few feet apart, the human could understand why people would remember him so easily. It wasn’t just the membranous wings — which had flopped softly down as he sat — or the grey, almost white fur that covered his whole body and made him stand out in the dark department. It wasn’t those big, pinkish ears on his head, where the fur was thinner.

It was the eyes.

Ezra had once heard that artists made the eyes of their characters bigger because, that way, they looked more appealing. He’d sometimes wondered whether that was true or if it was just some kind of stupid convention. The thing was, now that he had Nyeogmi in front of him, he had to agree that it worked.

The bat’s green, deep eyes took up a lot of space in his face, contrasting the white fur and the small, pointy fangs. Ezra wasn’t sure how that worked, or why those eyes were so big, or whether all bats were like that — he’d always thought bats were basically blind, for starters — but it really made his face look nicer. It was as if all the bad things that one usually associated with bats disappeared right when looking at that face.

Ezra noticed then he’d been staring for too long and that the silence was starting to become a bit uncomfortable. He cleared his throat.

“Oh, right, huh… I wanted you to help me with my Blindsight review. It’s due for next Monday and we have so many assignments to do that I’m blocked on that one for some reason. I asked Jeremy if he knew someone who could help me, and he said you could.”

“I could,” the bat agreed, nodding.

Ezra felt the thread of his thoughts stopping for a second at the possibility of receiving a negative answer.

“Will you?” he asked, perhaps a bit meekly.

“Help you? Of course. That’s why I’m here,” the bat said, widening his grin. His fangs showed a bit more clearly under his furry muzzle and Ezra relaxed a little. The prospect of writing that essay all by himself was a terrible thing.

He wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to do it with Nyeogmi’s help, and in fact, he’d been thinking he might let the bat do most of the work…

“Alright, then,” he began, opening his notebook and picking a pen. “How do you think I should start the review? I’ve been thinking that, since it’s a sci-fi novel…”

“Have you read the book?” Nyeogmi interrupted him, raising an eyebrow.

That question caught Ezra by surprise, although after considering for a brief moment, he thought it was quite a reasonable thing to ask.

“Well, no, I haven’t,” he admitted, a bit embarrassed. “But you see, there are so many assignments to do, and there’s definitely no time for that. It’s a long book and reading it would take me a few days, and writing this essay won’t be easy, so that’s why, instead of reading the book, I thought I could look at some reviews and summaries I found online. I’ve realized that’s been enough for my teachers in the past, though.”

“Ah, I see,” was all that Nyeogmi said. Ezra had the weird feeling the bat was silently judging him, until he said, “Well, that explains it then. No surprise you need my help.”

“Yeah, that’s why,” the human said, with a tired sigh. “I know this isn’t how I’m supposed to do it, but you know how academic work is. They expect you to do a hundred things in a week, and want you to dedicate a month’s time to each of them.”

“Yes, you’ve got a point there,” Nyeogmi admitted. Ezra relaxed a bit more; it was nice having someone agree with him on that.

There was a brief silence again. The bat was staring at him with those big green eyes, as if wanting him to continue. Ezra decided to go back to the point he had been trying to make before the bat had interrupted him.

“So, I’d thought that maybe I could start the review by presenting a few other sci-fi works that I’m familiar with,” he said. “And then I could point out the differences between Blindsight and those other works as an introduction or… maybe for most of the review, if it gets interesting.”

The bat held his gaze for a few seconds. It was difficult to tell whether he thought that idea was a good one and Ezra felt uncomfortable for just a few seconds.

Those green eyes, however, were pleasant to look at. In fact, as silence went by, Ezra had the strange thought that if he looked at them long enough, he would probably start to find it difficult to break visual contact afterwards. That was just a thought; he had no idea where it had come from and it was definitely something he’d never found himself thinking about before, but, for just a second, he…

“That’s not a bad idea,” the bat said, tilting his head. Ezra took a deep breath in as he felt his attention turning back to the novel review he was supposed to write. “However, I think you might be too clear about your intentions if you follow that path. You can do that, but you have to be careful about the reasons why you do it.”

“Huh?” Ezra asked, a bit confused. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

Nyeogmi smiled.

“If you’re going to start by comparing works of fiction, you have to do it because something interesting will come out, not because you don’t have any other option. Or, at least, you have to try to convince your reader that’s why you did it. Reading works pretty much the same way as talking: you might be saying something for one reason, but if you don’t make it look as if you’re saying it for a specific reason — whether or not that reason is the same — then it probably won’t have its intended effect. Are you following me?”

“Uh… yeah,” Ezra answered. He would never have admitted it, but he had gotten lost in the bat’s gaze again. It was a pretty color, after all.

“Good! Then I’ll let you think about that until tomorrow and then we can meet again,” Nyeogmi said as he stood up. “Same time, I’m guessing?”

“Huh, wait, but…” Ezra began. It definitely hadn’t been that much time, had it? He picked up his phone and looked at the time.

It was already half past five.

“I… thought it was still half past four or something,” he admitted. The bat gave him an amused look. “Guess time flies when you’re working, not that we accomplished much.”

“I don’t know, it felt like a pretty solid hour and a half to me,” Nyeogmi answered, with a smile. “And don’t worry, Ezra. I”m pretty sure you’ll see things much clearer now that we’ve talked. And that’s basically why we met, right?”

“Yeah,” the human answered. He couldn’t help but smile back. The bat definitely knew how to calm his nerves.

Tuesday.

Ezra would usually feel nervous knowing he hadn’t started his review when he was supposed to, but in truth, he’d never felt calmer. It was as if his meeting with the bat had given him a new perspective: he’d write the review — of course he would — but he wouldn’t gain anything getting carried away by his anxiety.

He spent all morning thinking about what the bat had said, but didn’t start writing it yet, nor did he feel compelled to. He had the feeling that he could wait until he was with Nyeogmi again, that the bat would help him just like he’d said he would. He could feel a solid trust towards his new acquaintance, and when he stopped to think about it, that actually seemed a little weird.

However, there was nothing wrong with trusting someone who wanted to help him, so he quickly dismissed his worried and decided he would wait. Things were going to be alright and there was no need to rush. The bat had made a good impression on him after all.

On their second meeting, it was Nyeogmi who waited for him. His last lesson had finished later than it was supposed to, so he ended up walking hurriedly towards the table where they had met the day before.

“Oh, hey!” the bat said, once he saw him coming. He had a big smile and his green eyes sparkled just as beautifully as Ezra remembered. “I’d assumed you wouldn’t be coming.”

“Sorry! Teacher kept us too long. He wouldn’t let us go!”

“Mhm, yeah. That happens often in this place.” THe gentle tone made it sound as if he truly didn’t mind the delay, and Ezra relaxed a little as he sat down. The last thing he wanted was to bother someone who wanted to help him. “How have you been? Have you been thinking about the assignment and what I told you yesterday?”

“Sure!” Ezra said, smiling back at the bat.

“Oh, cool. And what were you thinking?” Nyeogmi asked, softly.

“Nothing.”

The answer had come so quickly and naturally to his lips that Ezra felt surprised at first. He was used to being that sincere with people he’d gotten to know — or online — but saying something that could potentially embarrass him in front of someone he’d just met was a bit beyond the line of what he’d usually do.

“You don’t seem very worried, though!” the bat noted, making him leave those thoughts behind.

“I’m not,” he said, shrugging. “I mean, we still have a week to sort this out, right? It’s not as if I need to do the whole thing today.”

“I hope so! If you did, you wouldn’t need my help. You’d be lost.”

They both chuckled a bit at those words. When Ezra raised his gaze again, he met those big, green eyes almost without meaning to. They took up so much space in the bat’s face that it was simply difficult not to see them.

“But it feels nice, doesn’t it?” the bat asked then. “Not needing to worry about that. You’d probably be much more anxious if you had a closer deadline, but since you don’t have one, you can easily relax a bit.” He sighed. “Sometimes, the fact that things aren’t as bad as they could be helps us feel calmer. I bet you feel that way now.”

“Yeah,” Ezra sighed.

“And the good thing is, since you don’t need that done now, there’s nothing wrong with not thinking abot it. When things don’t worry you — when they’re not urgent — you can allow yourself to forget about them for a while. There’s going to be a time for you to come back to them, and being calm in the meantime will definitely help you. Right?”

Ezra nodded. There was nothing unusual about the bat’s voice. In fact, it sounded absolutely natural and normal, just the usual tone he’d been talking to him in since they’d first met each other. It was easy to stare at those eyes, though. There was a part of Ezra’s mind that thought he probably looked ridiculous staring so intently into those eyes, but then again, that wasn’t urgent and he could forget about…

“Right. So tell me again, what were you thinking yesterday?”

“Oh, nothing.” Ezra admitted, one more time. He felt as if the world had been blurred for a second and then come back to normal. “I like bats.”

There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Ezra wished those words had remained a thought, without leaving his mouth.

“Oh, do you?” Nyeogmi said, though. He looked amused. “Cool!”

“I-I mean, you don’t usually see bats around here!” the human argued, trying to regain some composure. “You’re not the most common species and I like it when I see unusual things. Besides, it’s not like you’re just some canine or feline… Bats are different.”

“I see,” Nyeogmi said, grinning. “But you do like bats, don’t you?”

“I like bats.”

The first time had been embarrassing, but on the second time Ezra felt a growing need to punch himself for being so socially awkward.

“Huh, sorry…” was all he managed to mumble, as he turned his gaze to his notebook and tried to hide his face from the bat’s potentially judgmental expression.

“No need to apologize! I mean, there’s nothing weird about liking bats. Bats are cool. I bet many people like them without daring to admit it.”

Ezra knew Nyeogmi’s words had the sole purpose of making him feel better… and to some extent, they did. He still felt embarrassed, though.

Why had he said that? To begin with, it wasn’t actually true that he liked bats; at least not in particular. But if it hadn’t been, why had he said so twice?

He remembered reading somewhere that some people were unsure about how they felt about things until they put them into words. Had that very thing happened to him?

“Yeah, you might be right,” he ended up saying, unsure if he could say much more.

“Anyway, I understand it if you’re too flustered to continue now. We can leave it for tomorrow if you want,” the bat said, standing up. He stretched his wings for a few seconds before looking at his wristwatch. “It’s our time to leave, also.”

Just like last time, Ezra hadn’t realized how quickly time had gone. Maybe because after the previous day he didn’t find it surprising any more — or maybe because he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of Nyeogmi once again — he agreed. An hour and a half of his life had vanished, just like that.

He didn’t think about it for very long. It only occurred to him later, once he was already in bed, after working on different assignments due the following days, that it was actually pretty weird how time seemed to fly when the bat was around him. That and the way he’d so casually admitted that he liked bats, whether itw as true or not. Something he would never have done under normal circumstances.

What was going on?

Be careful, Ezra, he thought, remembering the bat’s green eyes. Maybe he’s hypnotizing you. He had to laugh at the thought, although the slightly appealing suspicion was already there, planted at the back of his mind.

After reminding himself a few times that his life wasn’t a fantasy novel, or one of those weird short stories that people commissioned on furry sites, he decided it was time to get some sleep.

Wednesday.

For most of the following day, Ezra forgot he was supposed to write an essay on Blindsight. He remembered he had to meet with the bat, though. At four, as usual, in the same place. But for some reason the reason he was meeting with Nyeogmi had faded in his mind, and the idea that they were meeting for no reason at all had replaced it.

That wasn’t weird at all. He liked bats — he was certain that was true at this point. Why else would he have said so the previous day? And the one he was meeting with was particularly cute, from his point of view. Probably he had been in denial about it for a while, and having the bat student in front of him had made him realize just how much he liked them.

He only remembered about Blindsight when one of his classmates asked him how he’d been doing, and even then, he only dedicated a few thoughts to it, then moved away. It seemed to be of no importance at all, no matter what their teacher had told them days before.

Besides, he was really more focused on meeting the bat again. Usually he was full of tension and intrusive thoughts, but for some reason it faded away whenever the two were together. He liked how much calmer he was able to feel.

“Good afternoon,” Nyeogmi greeted him. The time had finally come and they were both sitting aross the table. “Did you sleep well yesterday?

“Oh yeah! I really did,” Ezra replied, feeling like no time had passed since waking up. Those fascinating eyes full of green already eased his nerves and his new friend’s gentle smile, little fangs included, had never seemed cuter.

“Good! I’m glad to know you’re feeling better,” Nyeogmi said, casually. “It’s nice to see that you’re so optimistic today. Can you remind me again why we’re meeting here?”

“Because I like bats,” he replied.

This time the answer was natural, not automatic. There was little space for doubt once the words escaped his mouth.

“Sorry if I was weird about it yesterday,” he continued. “I had never told anyone about it. I’m not even sure I knew!”

“That’s perfectly comprehensible,” Nyeogmi said. Ezra could tell his cute smile had widened a bit. Those eyes were sparkling with amusement, and for a second, he had the weirdest feelings that this hadn’t been the first time they had been sparkling. “I’m glad to know you like bats, but you really ought to know, in case it gives you second thoughts, that I’m a vampire bat.”

Ezra thought about it for a second.

“Not really,” he replied, finally. “I mean, that sounds pretty exciting. And I don’t think you’re going to do anything weird, like taking me to your chamber, sucking my blood, are you?”

Nyeogmi chuckled and he felt his attention drawn towards those big eyes. They were more beautiful than anything he’d seen before and then…

He wiped the drool from his chin.

“Pardon, what were you saying?” the bat asked, with the same cute smile. Those words brought Ezra back to the conversation. He realized he hadn’t really been paying attention.

“Huh. I’m… not sure,” he answered, a bit embarrassed. He decided to try something to hide his clumsy mistake, though. “Did we both forget what we were talking about? I hate when that happens.”

“I bet you do,” Nyeogmi said, tilting his head. One of his slightly furred ears twitched almost imperceptibly. “But I think you were telling me about how much you like vampire bats, and how you’re curious about what it feels like to have your blood sucked.”

Ezra bit his lip, not hard, feeling a bit silly. That was right. How could he have forgotten anything that specific?

“Yeah. It probably feels pretty weird,” he said. Then he did something he did often when he was talking about something completely unknown to him: he tried to link it to something he knew about. “I mean, I bet it’s not that different from donating blood, right? Even though it’s coming out, you probably don’t notice it at all.”

“I don’t think it’s the same at all,” the bat said, pointing with one of his fingers. “These aren’t hollow. They’d be deep in your neck and you’d feel the suction. They don’t have much in common with needles, even though, seen outwardly, they might seem to work in a similar fashion.”

“I see,” Ezra said.

He had a weird thought. Why were they even talking about this? He’d gone and met with the bat to do something else, hadn’t he?

He tried to follow that thread for a second, but it seemed difficult to reach and, for some reason, his mind was feeling kind of lazy, so he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to find the answer or not.

“I can see that you’re thinking,” the bat said then, his eyes glowing softly. Their color caught Ezra’s attention once again and he had to contain the urge to let out a pleasured sigh. “But I think it might be better if you just…”

The rest of the sentence trailed off somewhere. Probably the same place the thought about having that weird conversation had gone to: somewhere Ezra didn’t want to reach it any more. There was something good, some kind of floaty feeling when he wasn’t trying to reach those things.

“Yessss…” he heard himself say. When he recognized the strange, drowsy intonation, he cleared his throat and tried again. “Yes. Huh.”

“Yes to what?” Nyeogmi asked, grinning widely.

“To what you were saying,” Ezra replied. That was obvious, wasn’t it?

“And what was that?” The bat leaned forward a bit, his pink nose and small, pointy fangtips fully visible now. His green eyes were also there, of course, but those were always visible.

“I want you to suck my blood,” Ezra replied.

If there was anything weird about saying that, his mind didn’t register it. In fact, it almost felt liberating. Might it have been the same as his passion for bats? Maybe he had been hiding it too long. He wasn’t fully sure at that point.

Thinking itself was foggy and confusing, as if someone had been dragging him upwards and downwards and he didn’t fully know where he was any more.

“That’s a very bold proposition,” Nyeogmi said, giving the human a charming half-smile. “And you should know it’s not in my power to refuse. Are you sure about that?”

“Yeah, I think so.” In fact, Ezra wasn’t fully sure about it, but thinking about whether he was sure or not was a lot of effort and he was not willing to take it.

“Well. There’s no turning back then,” the bat said. His smile became wider before he stood up. Was he really going to do that here?

He thought about what it’d feel like and a shiver went down his spine.

“But you see…” The bat stopped halfway, licking one fang teasingly. “The thing is that it’s almost seven thirty and we should have gone home by now. So, if you don’t mind, we’re going to leave this for another time. The experience will be just as pleasing as you anticipate.”

“I… I guess so,” Ezra said. His thoughts made him feel as if he was in some kind of a haze.

“I won’t be able to meet you tomorrow,” Nyeogmi said. “I have… things to do. You don’t mind waiting until Friday, do you?”

Ezra could feel the urge even then, building inside him. This weird desire he hadn’t even known he had until that afternoon. It was stronger now than he would have thought possible, but he didn’t find that weird. People sometimes didn’t know what they liked until they had it in front of them, a part of his mind told him with the same tone someone would use to explain something really simple to a silly child.

He really wanted to know what having his blood sucked by the vampire bat felt like. He knew he wouldn’t be able to wait until friday.

“Yeah, sure, no problem,” was all he managed to say, as he felt those big, deep eyes staring right into him. “I’ll see you on Friday.”

“Of course! See you, Ezra.”

And with that, Nyeogmi walked straight to the exit and left the building.

Ezra remained in that chair for a few seconds, trying to understand what had happened. After a while, he realiezd he understood perfectly well.

He had met the bat. He had admitted he was curious about having his blood extracted. Nyeogmi had agreed that the two of them would try it. It was pretty simple, actually. Was there really any room for doubts about it?

Going home, his mind still felt dizzy and malleable. It felt like that until he collapsed on bed that night and closed his eyes, drifting into a deep, pleasurable sleep.

He had a dream that night and he could see only the bat, staring at him as everything else came to a stop, and those magical eyes seemed to swirl…

Thursday.

When he awoke, his mind was clearer.

He stood, had breakfast, and took a shower, with the usual slowness that came after a long night of sleep. He had the weird sensation he’d been dreaming about something important, but he couldn’t remember what. A part of him was positive there wasn’t anything to worry about: most people forgot their dreams as soon as they awakened. He even remembered that happening to him.

But something was bugging him.

He only had two hours of class on Thursdays. It was already apparent to him that he was going to skip them.

His theory on those particular classes was that the teacher seemed unhappy with his job and, as a consequence, the students were unhappy too. He didn’t go to school to waste time and, besides, he had plenty of stuff to do at home, so he definitely couldn’t waste it on classes that didn’t interest him.

He didn’t do much at home. He’d had the thought of working on his assignments, but when he tried, he opened the files and stared for what felt like hours, closed them, came back after a few minutes of doing nothing, again and again. After a while he realized he was just distracting himself from the real question he had in mind.

Why did time go so quickly around the bat?

It had happened many times now. Three? Yeah, three. Right?

Why did it feel like they’d been talking for a few minutes when, in fact, they’d been trying to work for an hour and a half?

And what had they been supposed to be working on?

I like him, though, he admitted to himself.

It was a strange thought. Not because it wasn’t true — of course it was — but because it had come to him too easily. Most of his own opinions were vague and volatile, even though the way he verbalized them might make them seem stronger than they actually were. Thinking about his own opinions was always a fuss, no matter how clearly he might defend them. So then, why?

There was a possibility. Ezra had been thinking about it for a while, but he truly didn’t want to admit it. Partially because it would mean he’d been entertaining an irrational, fantastic theory — which was something no one should do — and partially because he might find he liked it. He didn’t want to think about it, and still…

… maybe he really has been hypnotizing me?

That possibility seemed absurd. Not because he would have known about it, which he wasn’t too sure about, but because of how little advantage the bat had taken of him if that had been the case. If Ezra had hypnotized someone, he would have forced them to do pretty wild stuff… not worked with them on academics.

In the end, all Nyeogmi would have managed was to make him feel comfortable enough to admit his interest in bats, and his curiosity in the bloodsucking thing. Those weren’t a big deal.

Maybe Nyeogmi was trying to be his friend? That seemed like an option, but why would anybody want to be his friend to begin with? He wasn’t popular. Nyeogmi, on the other hand, could have chosen anyone to hang out with.

He skipped the subsequent thoughts. They were depressing and this line of thought had him feeling good for a change.

If the bat was hypnotizing him, how was he doing it?

The eyes, Ezra thought immediately. Of course! How could he have ignored that for so long? A shiver went down his spine when he remembered them. Those big, bright eyes had to be the answer. He couldn’t look away when he was in front of them, and they seemed to draw his attention even deeper into the bat’s discourse.

He turned to his computer and began searching “vampire bats.” A lot of pictures appeared on the screen, mostly of bats that looked a lot like Nyeogmi did, but there wasn’t anything about them having hypnotic powers.

They all had big eyes, though.

A flash of green made him feel floaty, but he shook his head and kept looking. He added “hypnosis” to his search and erotic stories and pictures appeared.

He closed the window, a bit disappointed, and decided it was time for lunch.

As he ate, slowly, he thought he might have been imagining it. Sure, the bat had huge eyes and they were beautiful to stare at, but that didn’t necessarily mean he had hypnotic powers, right?

But then, he thought, again, why would I admit I like bats so easily? It doesn’t make sense.

He washed the dishes in silence, still giving it thought. He had only met the bat a few days ago and already he had shared some of his deep secrets with him. Secrets that would definitely damage his reputation if they became public, and secrets which he had kept secret for that specific reason. So, if Nyeogmi wasn’t hypnotizing him, why?

Maybe I just want him to suck my blood that badly.

He got rid of that thought.

Maybe I just like being hypnotized replaced it.

He let out a long sigh as he tried in vain to escape those intrusive thoughts. He hadn’t thought about that, but… Maybe he was projecting his own fantasies onto Nyeogmi?

He felt bad for a few seconds. If the bat knew what he’d been thinking, he’d probably get angry… and Ezra didn’t want one of the few people he talked to getting angry with him, although he wouldn’t easily admit it.

He had to apologize, he thought. Or at least, try to get rid of all those strange thoughts that had been interrupting his regular thread of rational, analytic consideration. He had to go back to normal.

For most of the remaining day, he tried hard not to think about the bat. He played some video games, watched a few shows. He even tried doing homework, to no avail.

When it became apparent that he couldn’t just ignore his obsession, he stopped trying to distract himself, and decided to plunge into it until his thirst was sated.

He spent the rest of the evening searching for pictures of vampire bats, obsessively. He loved looking at them and their big, perfect, hypnotic eyes. At some point he started fantasizing and he just couldn’t stop.

He imagined them using their power to hypnotize and control him. He wondered how it would feel to have his blood sucked, to feel those sharp fangs in his helpless neck. The thought reminded him of the conversation he and Nyeogmi had held the previous day and he felt much more excited.

I might find out soon, he thought.

But the need felt too insistent, too intense to resist. He tried to picture himself with his friend, deeply hypnotized, having his blood sucked. He felt his heart beating faster, his mouth getting dry…

A rush of guilt came back to him when he remembered again that he wasn’t supposed to project his fantasies onto Nyeogmi. What would he think if he knew?

He turned his computer off. Then he went to bed.

He tried to sleep for a long, long time, and when he did, he dreamt of green eyes.

Friday.

The classes on the last day of the week took place in a haze. Ezra was aware of what was going on, and he would answer correctly when asked a question, but it felt as if that was only part of him.

A different, hidden part of his mind was thinking about the bat, even though he didn’t want to; his green eyes and all that they could mean, about the silly theory he’d made up, and his green eyes, and about how he had to apologize for thinking that way, and his green eyes. It was as if he was very, very far from there, but at the same time very close.

The real Ezra was just watching a very believable interpretation of his persona right before him, and it was an impeccable performance, but he was focusing more on other things, even thuogh with all the hassle of the play going on it was difficult to know for sure what it was.

When he arrived at the table at four, he still felt as if he was in some kind of a dream. Nyeogmi was already there, waiting for him patiently, and the bat gave him a long look once he got to their meeting place. They both remained silent for a few seconds, and then Ezra remembered his theories from the previous day.

He blushed a bit, knowing that if the bat knew, it would give a pretty bad impression.

“So, it’s finally Friday,” he said, trying to get rid of the weird tension that he felt building around the room. Why was he feeling so embarrassed anyway? “Do you have any plans for tonight?”

He shouldn’t have asked that, but he did anyway. Hadn’t they come there to discuss something important? He had the feeling he was forgetting a relevant thing, but he just couldn’t put his finger on what, exactly, that was. He glanced at the bat, fearing that the question would be badly received, but Nyeogmi just smiled. His green eyes twinkled.

“I do,” Nyeogmi answered, simply. “And you know about them already!”

Ezra had to think about it for a few seconds. There was something wrong with that assertion, but he knew it was true.

“I… think I don’t understand,” he began.

Nyeogmi tilted his head.

“Oh, but you do. You know perfectly well what’s been going on all these days. Isn’t that why you wanted to apologize?”

“Yeah!” How could he have forgotten about that? Silly Ezra, he told himself. “I’m sorry I thought you were hypnotizing me. I shouldn’t have been suspicious of you.”

“But I was hypnotizing you, wasn’t I?” Nyeogmi’s voice was calm and natural, as if he were only stating a fact.

“You were!”

There again was that feeling he was saying anything that came to mind. But he couldn’t quite identify it until it was too late and he had already spoken aloud. It was weird. So weird that he felt confused again.

“So, why are you apologizing, then?”

“Huh…” he said, trying to remember what his reasoning for that had been, exactly. “I…”

“I was hypnotizing you, right?”

“Yeah, you were.” Ezra rubbed his temple, looking down.

“So there’s no reason you should apologize for thinking so, since that was actually happening, and seeing as you had no choice but to follow — right?”

“Uh-huh…”

The human felt the logic of the conversation slipping away to somewhere else, but for some reason, he couldn’t go there.

“What are my plans for tonight?” Nyeogmi asked.

Ezra knew the answer. He didn’t want to say it, but then again, he really wanted to say it.

“You’re going to drink my blood.”

“That’s right. And you want that, right?”

“Yeah.”

He knew that was true as soon as he said so.

“So why don’t you look into my eyes, then?”

He didn’t have an answer. He couldn’t say no.

So he did.

He let himself become lost in those deep, swirling green eyes as a sigh escaped his throat. Had they been swirling before? He didn’t remember them doing so, but again, he perfectly remembered it. Staring into them felt so good that it was difficult to tell which memories were for real and which ones weren’t.

He was so floaty and safe and comfortable and then he was following the bat. They got in his car and he drove home and then they were there, and Ezra felt as if time wasn’t particularly important and it was just dripping to another place through his fingertips. He didn’t need to stare into those eyes again because the green was already inside his mind. He just needed to follow the at, do as he was told, and feel perfectly calm, all sleepy and warm, and sleepy.

He was on his way upstairs somewhere as he followed Nyeogmi, the dimly lit hall they had entered barely visible in the twilight. When they reached the bat’s bedroom he said something about waiting for the night, and even though Ezra wasn’t sure he understood what Nyeogmi meant, he found he couldn’t move a muscle.

But it was good. He stood like that, frozen in the same position, paralyzed, unable to move. His body wasn’t the only thing stuck in place. His mind, too, couldn’t escape from the imagined sight of the green, those eyes, that deep gaze staring into the private corners of his awareness, making him feel so good. Even if they weren’t there, they were there, keeping him in place. Making sure he wouldn’t get away. He didn’t want to get away.

He just wanted to stare into the green. He wanted to…

Nyeogmi came back, if he’d left to begin with, and put some words in his head. He nodded absentmindedly. The orange light from outside had begun to melt into the sky, much like his thoughts and resistance had melted into the green.

It was getting darker. The bat said so. That was important, for some reason Ezra didn’t know. But Nyeogmi looked into his eyes again and then he didn’t need to know.

He followed his host elsewhere, in a sleepwalking dream. It was difficult to move, but he did so because he was supposed to. They reached a chamber that looked like a living room, and the fog in his mind seemed to clear a little. He blinked a few times, trying to go back to awareness. How long had it been?

Nyeogmi stood before him.

“Are you scared?”

The flames from the fireplace made his white, pointy fangs glint in the darkness.

“Yeah,” he said, gulping. He could move, but he didn’t feel like running away. “I think I am.”

“Why?” Nyeogmi asked, tilting his head. Those green eyes sparkled with interest. Even then, Ezra thought, he looked cute.

“Because you’re going to suck my blood,” he answered, with a shiver.

“And do you want that?”

Ezra closed his eyes, only to open them after a second.

“I think so,” he said. “But I can’t know if you’ve hypnotized me into that.

Nyeogmi smiled.

Then Ezra took a step closer. Whether that was voluntary, he couldn’t know for sure.

“You seem really eager.”

He nodded. His body was shaking a bit, due to fear, excitement, or both.

The bat’s pink muzzle was getting closer. Those big eyes looked at him with hunger and interest as the distance between their bodies decreased.

“I want to hear you say it,” Nyeogmi said.

It didn’t feel like a command, but it could have been one. He couldn’t know. He wasn’t supposed to know.

“I want you to suck my blood,” he whispered, as a new shiver went down his spine.

Nyeogmi nodded. He looked satisfied.

Then he opened his mouth. Ezra momentarily saw small white fangs flashing in the firelight before they disappeared from his view. There was a sharp, brief pain in his neck that quickly faded into something else. Discomfort. He gasped and felt a rush of adrenaline running through his body, but then the bat enclosed him with his wings and he felt much calmer, much safer, much warmer.

The uncomfortable feeling faded as he began to hear a gurgling sound. It was darker, or maybe it was already night, Ezra wasn’t sure. He only felt himself becoming more and more tired with each passing second. The touch of the wings around his body, holding him gently, more and more pleasing.

He gave into the feeling and let himself rest against the bat. Another soft sigh.

He was small. He was powerless.

He felt the blood being sucked from his body, everything getting darker and warmer, fuzzy and heavy. Had he wanted that? He didn’t know. But he felt… happy.

Happy as what felt like the final drops of blood escaped his body, and his mind sank into the deep unknown darkness, where the only thing fully visible was those big, green…

He woke in the middle of the night

It took a couple seconds to understand what had happened, and it took him an effort to regain his breath. His mind felt wonderfully confused for a couple seconds, and then he tried to put his thoughts in order.

It seemed as if he’d gone through some sort of nightmare, but he wasn’t sure it had actually been a dream. He was terrified and, at the same time, very pleased.

He took a sip of water from the glass he kept on his nightstand. The cold liquid rushing down his throat gave him back some memories of what that experience had been about.

He sighed and looked at his table clock. It was three and he had a lot of assignments for the following days.

He placed the glass on his nightstand. If he’d had the eyes of a wolf, or any other nocturnal species, he might have noticed a few bound sheets right next to the spot where he’d set the glass. The front page read “Blindsight review, a comparative approach,” and on top of it was a note.

Hey! Thanks for letting me help you. Don’t worry about the payment; everything’s been sorted out. And it’s OK if you don’t remember what we did in detail — it was pretty boring. You just need to know: working with you was a delicious experience.

Warm regards from your bat friend,

Nyeogmi