The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with like a bat out of hell
Moving extremely fast, as in She ran down the street like a bat out of hell. This expression presumably alludes to the rapid darting movement of bats and, Charles Earle Funk theorized, their avoidance of such light as might be cast by the fires of hell.
[ c. 1900