BAT CHAT • by Ruby Zehnder

A thought rippled through the formless mass. When it reached Zamba’s being, it tickled. She tried to block it from entering her psyche, but it was too strong.

“Hello, my name is Becky. Will you be my friend?”

Zamba had no idea what friend meant. Zamba was nothing more than a collection of rules that swirled in a dark universe. In her world, mass and energy didn’t exist. There was no sound, heat, or light. Just rules and symmetry.

Zamba reported the alien thought to her Thesis. Thesis had always been definite about what her many points could and could not believe. Thesis had made it clear to Zamba that the possibility of other universes with other thought structures was impossible. The dark universe was the single perfect reflection of logic.

“You are logically in error, Zamba. There is no such thing as Becky friend. In the beginning, the Grand Outline created the universe with the irrefutable laws of Physics and Mathematics. From these, our existence logically derived.”

Thesis hoped this point would outgrow her foolish imaginings.

Zamba understood the creation theory. But sometimes, Zamba felt there might be something more.

“Yes, I will be your friend,” Zamba replied to the Becky.

“A friend, a friend, I have a new friend,” Becky shouted joyfully.

Becky’s sudden outburst upset her mom so much that she momentarily looked away from the road. She worried about her daughter’s imaginary friends and hoped she would outgrow them.

“Zamba is from the Dark Universe,” Becky blabbered as her mother turned into the school’s parking lot. Her mom was half-listening. She was preoccupied with the faulty machine-learning algorithm they were using to interpret the calls of Egyptian fruit bats. Thus far, they had analyzed 15,000 distinct calls and classified them into four categories. The problem was the remaining forty percent. She was clueless about their meaning. She was stuck and needed to rethink the basic assumptions on how to communicate with other species.

“Zamba says there is nothing but logic in her world. What’s logic?” Becky asked her mother.

 “Logic is a word grown-ups use to dismiss things they are afraid of,” she answered without thinking. She wondered where her daughter had heard this term.

“Oh,” Becky replied.

Becky’s mom had an uncomfortable thought. What if imaginary friends were aliens communicating with children, and adults just dismissed them?

But that’s not logical, her adult mind reasoned.

“Have a good day,” Becky said to her mother as she got out of the car. “Zamba says that bats love to sing shanties.”

Becky’s mom watched her child disappear into the school and wondered where that tidbit came from. She had never considered that the bats may not be chatting but were singing shanties — call and response phrases meant to establish cohesion in the group.

Of course, she thought triumphantly and hurried to her lab to explore this new line of study.

Ruby Zehnder is a sham. She’s the disincarnate human version of Schrödinger’s cat. Her existence depends on the actions of a reader. When her words are read — she exists. When her words are ignored — she’s disappointed. Existing in multiple states of superposition gives Ruby the freedom to choose who she is. She may be a Lemurian Starseed with a telepathic cat. Or, she may be young, stunningly beautiful, carefree, debt-free, and socially woke. While technically not alive, she’s been writing stories for most of your life. Some of them are even good.

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Every Day Fiction