Your Heroine and humble scribe are in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
By dark, I mean it is the blackest ink of night.
We're walking by the river.
There are very few lights, and the night sky seems to suck up luminescence like a fountain pen inhaling a reservoir of ink.
But, we are near the International Press Club, so there is some back light for us to pick our way along the broken pavement, and there are a few scattered light bulbs on poles, straining to light up the ink.
We stop at a park bench to look up and to appreciate the stars valiantly trying to glimmer up the night.
Suddenly, a small bat swoops from one tree, to another.
No. It couldn't be a bat. Its a rat. It's running swiftly along a branch.
Wait. It's a small monkey, it's too big to be a rat.
But there must have been an owl after it...
Then if flies to another tree...
Then a troop? A pack? Herd? Swarm? What? Of what?
A swooping den of flying foxes are playing on and between the trees! Soaring here, running there, chittering and squeaking as they play tag across the inky slick of night.
We watched these flying foxes run on the branches and fly from tree to tree, true as arrows, soaring as far as 30 m (100 ft). They might have been going farther, but there was so little light that we couldn't make out the extreme ends of their flights.
We watched, legs outstretched and heads craning back behind the park bench, until our necks cramped.
We kept watching until our necks' spasmed.
I took no pictures, but I found some pictures in the public domain through the Wikimedia Commons.
This pup, shown to the right, is a Lyle's flying fox, commonly found in Cambodia from Siem Reap down to Phnom Penh.
I don't know if we saw Lyles's flying fox or a large Vampire bat (another variety of flying fox) because it was so dark, but both varieties are found there.
Flying foxes are found in the air, on the trees, in kitchens, and on plates...
Plates? These beautiful creatures are on the CITES endangered species list.
Still, both varieties are eaten as food, though their idea of a good meal is fruit; even the vampires are vegetarian...
I was not able to take any pictures because it was (a) too dark and (b) I had not brought a camera with me due to the fact listed under point (a).
Just looking at these public domain images, though, shows you why they are called flying foxes.
These are the biggest bats in the world. Sub-order Megachiroptera. For a while, some people thought they represented a primate species that took to the air (from the trees) instead of going back too the ground.
Evolutionary evidence, however, does not support that contention.
The next image was taken from Australia and shows a flying fox in the daytime.
Apparently not only are the seasons backwards, down under, but the diurnal/nocturnal patterns are reversed too!
Finally, the last flying fox image is another diurnal shot from Australia....
Imagine squirrels or chipmunks, the size of foxes, gamboling and playing the night away.