Dawn was beginning to break over the city. As the eastern sky
grew gradually brighter Foxglove, after a night of feeding, headed
back towards the exotic church she had discovered and made her
roosting place for the past week. She swept towards the spire and
landed, carefully spider-walking through a small break in the
beautiful stained glass windows. She had always made it a point to
watch the sunrise before retiring for the day, but the sunrise through
these windows was breathtaking.
She sighed as the disk of the sun sailed free above the horizon,
clinging upside down to a panel as she prepared for sleep to overtake
her. But this morning there was a noise of human voices from below,
the sweet smell of incense, and singing with words she could not
understand. She was accustomed to understanding humans who could not
even hear her voice, much less understand what she was saying. There
had been a single exception: Winifred, by profession a cleaning woman
but by avocation a would-be witch, could communicate with her, usually
by means of much abuse. But Foxglove had taken it because she had
been alone in the world and needed a friend, and was quite fascinated
by humans. This time had been busy but short, culminating at last in
her finding truer friends, and certainly nicer. It had cost her a
broken heart, though. And again she was alone.
She was thinking for the hundredth time of screwing up enough
courage to visit the large tree in the park where Dale lived, together
with the other Rescue Rangers. No matter how many times she had made
up her mind to do this she had always backed down, not quite knowing
what they really thought about her, considering she had been serving
their adversary. As she sighed in resignation of her lack of courage
her attention was distracted once again from below. More humans were
arriving, the singing was louder, the music was quite unlike any she
had ever heard before, and the words were strange. The puzzle of
communication, or the lack thereof, once again flooded her mind,
providing a welcome distraction from personal issues. But she could
not ponder very long, for the daytime torpor was swiftly creeping
over her entire body. With one great yawn and another glance at the
sunlight filtering through the window illustrating Noah's Ark she fell
Morning was breaking as well in the city park, the largest of
whose trees, unbeknownst to most humans, served as headquarters for
the Rescue Rangers. Chip and Dale had arisen early and were watching
the news on television. Monterey Jack and Zipper had in fact risen
much earlier and were in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Gadget
walked in from the bathroom, sipping a glass of water.
"Mornin', guys," she said matter-of -factly.
Chip and Dale looked at each other mischieviously then up at
Gadget as they responded together, "Mornin', Glory!"
"Golly! Stop it, guys," she said, blushing. "You're
embarrassing me. Besides, that line's as old as Katharine Hepburn."
The boys looked at each other again as mischieviously as before
and cried out "We're sorry!" in a singsong that indicated they were
enjoying themselves very much.
"Where are Monty and Zip?" She knew the answer but wanted to
"In there, cookin' cheese," Dale responded, pointing.
A whistle from the kitchen indicated that breakfast was ready
and the three went in eagerly. Monty's use of cheese could get
monotonous at times, but there was no disputing that he was a real
gourmet cook who had picked up countless recipes from his many travels.
"Mornin', lads. Mornin', luv." Monty always appeared cheerful,
no matter how early he had gotten up.
"Good morning, Monty," the three responded together.
"Good stuff today," Monty said as he placed the food before
them. "Noodles with creamed cheese, cheese flambe, French bread with
Philadelphia cream, and for dessert," he continued, opening the oven,
"a liberal serving of --cheesecake."
"It's no wonder we've all put on a little poundage," Chip said,
"You really should check the new labels on that stuff. I'm sure you
can get low-fat varieties or else some sort of substitute."
"Substitute? For CHEESE?" Monty seemed positively shocked. "I
may be foreign-born, but I know enough that that sounds positively
un-American." He puffed out his ample stomach with pride.
"Hey, what's the matter with Zipper?" Gadget wanted to know.
They all looked at him. He had been very quiet all that time and was
not flying around or eating, and he had a worried expression on his
"Oh," Monty responded, "Went out for a fly-about last night and
fancies 'e seen two suspicious blokes around midnight keeping an eye
on our headquarters here. I told him there's no need to worry till
there's cause, but 'e's a bit on edge, 'e is."
"By 'blokes,' do you mean humans?" Dale wanted to know.
"That's what me little pal says," Monty responded.
They were all lost in thought for a moment. Only Nimnul among
humans knew where the Rangers' headquarters was located, and Zipper
would have recognized him at once. These were strangers, and Zipper
had said there were two of them.
"It's strange enough for two humans to be in the park at
midnight," Chip pondered, "but I don't quite like the idea of them
casing our tree. You don't suppose the city is planning to cut it
"Not likely," Gadget responded. "First, I don't think anyone
would want to cut it down, and second, if the city were looking about
anything they wouldn't do it at midnight."
"You don't suppose," Dale wondered, "that any humans besides
Nimnul know about us? We have helped a lot of people."
"And offended a lot of crooks," Monty added.
Gadget seemed to become very uncomfortable. "Do you remember,"
she wanted to know, "the time Nimnul used that shape shifter of his?
First I got turned into a human, then I was turned back into a
mouse--only human -size--and then I was questioned by the FBI. They
seemed to know all about us."
It was perfectly true. They had managed to aid the city police
on numerous occasions without even being suspected, yet they had
apparently somehow attracted the attention of a bureau in Washington,
Everyone felt uneasy now. They didn't know what this meant.
They didn't know if the FBI had appreciated their law enforcement
career or not, or even if they were on a list to be captured and sent
to Washington for some sort of testing or interrogation.
It was Monty who broke the gloom. "There now, mates," he
reminded them, "we don't know who it was. There's no need jumping to
any conclusions. As I told me little pally, it coulda been anybody."
"That's true," Gadget said, "but I wonder if we shouldn't be
working on some sort of escape route or contingency plan just in case.
It wouldn't hurt to have a back-up headquarters picked out, either."
Both Chip and Dale sighed at this suggestion. This tree had
been their home long before there was a "Rescue Rangers." They didn't
fancy leaving it, yet they knew one day it might come to that, if only
because Fat Cat or Rat Capone discovered them.
"Expect the best but prepare for the worst," Chip said half to
Still, as nothing had happened yet, they could only make up
their minds to use extra caution in the future. It could not
interfere with their basic mission, which was to protect the city,
however anonymously, from those criminals who for whatever reason,
were beyond the reach of the police. That is why after breakfast Chip
returned to the television, Dale turned on the police scanner, Gadget
went into her workshop, and Monty and Zipper headed for the police
station to see if they were needed. But the latter two were a little
more cautious this time as they left headquarters. As a matter of
fact, Zipper was still uneasy. He had a strange feeling about this.
Foxglove usually began her evening by awakening in time to watch
the sun set, and after a yawn and some careful grooming she faced the
western windows of the steeple to see the same inspiring sight that
she had witnessed at sunrise. Unfortunately there was no sun. Clouds
had steadily gathered as the day progressed and now it was one of
those early summer downpours without thunder or lightning. *Oh,
criminy,* she thought to herself. There would be no feeding until
after the rain, as no insects would be free-flying in this kind of
weather. As she could not afford to waste any energy without feeding,
her initial thought was to go back to sleep for a few hours. But then
an opportunity presented itself to her mind. If she were to fly to
Ranger headquarters in the park, she could present herself as
unfortunately caught out in the rain while feeding and expect to be
taken in for some supper that required little energy to enjoy.
Furthermore, it would all be an unfortunate coincidence that she just
happened to be flying about the park when the rain began, and she
would not have to appear curious or desperate. It would be all so
serendipitous. This would also be an opportunity to cement her
friendship with all of them, especially Dale, and perhaps make up for
the unfortunate and long-repented part she had played in Winifred's
short-lived criminal career. Anxiety over what the Rangers felt about
her after this episode was a large part of what kept her away. That
and her feelings for Dale.
She knew if she thought it over very long she would chicken out,
so she crawled out the crack in the glass and launched herself towards
the park, trying all the time to keep her mind occupied so she would
not have time to consider what she was doing. In a terrifyingly short
time she was above the lush green city park, mostly clear of humans
because of the weather, and there was the large tree below. She was
almost tempted now to turn back, and reproached herself for being so
foolhardy. *Still, here I am in the rain, and I can't very well
afford to keep flying with nothing to eat, can I?* she rationalized to
herself. *They will understand that, and will at least let me stay
until the rain breaks. I can always avoid the place in the future if
they're really upset with me. And I do need to find out their
attitude towards me. Besides, I can't fly back now. I'd use up too
much energy on an empty stomach.* This wasn't entirely true, and she
knew it, as she could fly quite a distance if she had to, but at least
it sounded good enough to serve as an excuse to herself and to the
Rangers, if they required an excuse.
"Here goes nothin'!" she said aloud to herself, and alighted
outside the main door of the headquarters on a large upper limb.
Inside she could hear every word of conversation. It seemed to be all
small talk, so it had apparently been a slow day, devoid of
adventures. Although her wings weren't really made for knocking on
doors, she swallowed hard and knocked, simultaneously saying, "Hello?"
Chip opened the door, obviously puzzled at first at who could be
requiring them at this time of day and in such climactic conditions,
but on seeing her he smiled with evident mischievious delight. "Oh,
DAY-ULL!" he called out in his singsong, "it's for YOU-OO!" Foxglove
was relieved that at least she seemed welcome.
"Huh?" Dale responded, reentering the living room from the hall,
and then added quickly under his breath, "Uh-oh!"
At this point Foxglove came face-to-face again with a curious
phenomenon. She had no friends or family and had always been quite
alone until she met first Winifred and then the Rescue Rangers, so she
certainly was no veteran at social skills, and certainly not in the
ways of love, but the first time she had picked up Dale's image on her
radar some deeply buried instinct about such things seemed to kick in
from who-knows-where, and she turned into Tina Louise. This had
been more of a surprise to her than to anyone else, but there it was
nonetheless. Now again she felt the fever, and all her caution and
contingent explanations melted away to nothingness. "Hi, Dale!" she
shouted and waved from just inside the door.
"Uh . . . hi, Foxy. Whatcha been up to?"
"Oh, you know . . . stuff," she said flirtatiously. Then she
noticed the other Rangers crowding about her, and fortunately they all
seemed quite happy to see her. With the unfortunate possible
exception of Dale.
"Hi-ya, Foxglove!" Gadget exclaimed with sincere delight, both
because Foxglove had saved the Rangers' lives during their tangle with
Winifred, AND because this would distract Dale at least. Now if only
Tammy would come for a visit.
"Hi, guys," Foxglove returned to earth briefly as well as to her
plans for offering excuses for being there. "I hope you don't mind,
but I was flying and got caught out in the rain, and here was your
headquarters, and . . . I didn't mean to be any trouble, but . . ."
"No trouble!" Chip said ecstatically at the thought of Dale
being distracted and Tammy NOT coming for a visit, "you're always
"Too right, luv," Monty added with a friendly embrace, "any lass
brave as you deserves an honorary membership in this company."
This caused her to blush. She had reproached herself many times
for her short "criminal" past but had neglected to recall to her favor
that she had saved the Rangers on two occasions, and Dale on another,
which had required more courage than she had realized she had. She
was also the one who had foiled Winifred's attempt to obtain
full-fledged occult powers, which she thought was only just, as she
had helped her acquire the necessaries for what powers she did have.
However things went with Dale, the other Rangers had approved of her.
She was a good guy now.
Zipper too seemed to come out of his depression when the visitor
entered and had flown to greet her enthusiastically. Zipper had
befriended her before during her previous adventure with the Rangers
and she really appreciated it. He was, after all, an insect, and it
required courage and a great deal of trust. Zipper would be her
greatest test, both at overcoming her natural instincts and at
assuring him and all the Rangers that she could be trusted implicitly.
Zipper himself understood this dilemma very well and went quite out
of his way to demonstate his complete friendship and confidence in
her. It was a genuinely heartfelt mutual understanding.
"Hi-ya, Zip, old buddy," she giggled as he alighted on her
cheek. Still, she was careful during the evening to very discretely
do a complete echolocation profile of him so that she would always
recognize him and no disasters would occur in the future.
The Rangers had obviously been watching something on TV and
eating popcorn when Foxglove interrupted them, and they now began to
resume their seats. "Sit down, luv," Monty invited, patting the couch
"No, wait! You can have my seat!" Chip said enthusiatically,
vacating the space beside Dale. This was all it took. She was by
Dale's side in a moment, giggling in a very self-conscious way and
putting her wing around his shoulder. In spite of her life of
isolation, or perhaps because of it, now that she had found someone
she had feelings for she tended to express her affection very
physically, with lots of touching and hugs. Although he was happy to
be her friend, this was somewhat uncomfortable for Dale.
"Hey Foxglove, do you think you might like to try some popcorn?"
Gadget asked, springing out of her seat just as Chip had sat down
beside her. "I've built a rodent-sized popper, and it works with no
Foxglove thought her shoulder had been wrenched from its socket
by Dale quickly joining the others behind the couch.
"Golly, guys," Gadget responded, a little hurt. "All I said was
. . . "
"We heard! We heard!" Monty shot back on behalf of all of them.
"Anyway, " Gadget continued in defense of her words, "I know
Foxy's hungry and I thought she might like to try some popcorn to see
if she likes it. Of course, I know it's not part of her regular diet
since she is insectiverous, but . . . " She was sorry she had said it
the moment it left her lips, but she was only stating facts and had
not meant to hurt anyone. Everyone, especially Foxy and Zipper were
looking at the floor extremely uncomfortably. Chip wondered how
someone so intelligent when it came to science and engineering could
be so terribly naive about some very basic things.
Zipper broke broke up the awkward silence by once again flying
over to Foxglove and patting her on the shoulder.
"Thanks, pal," she responded with heartfelt sincerity.
"Golly. I'm sorry, guys, " Gadget said with such a downcast
look that everyone, including Foxglove, forgave her at once. "I just
meant that although Foxy usually eats only . . . "
"A-HEM!" Chip interjected. Gadget got the point and resumed
her original offer.
"Would you like to try some popcorn?" she asked, a little shyly.
"Uh . . . sure." Her hesitation was not due to the previous
social gaffe but to the fact that she simply didn't know if the dish
would suit her.
"Aw, c'mon Foxy," Dale said, grinning sheepishly. He was
terribly sorry that she had been so embarrassed earlier and terribly
glad it was someone else's remark this time. "I always eat popcorn
when I watch the late late show. It's sui generis. Whatever that
"Good!" Foxy responded, all her discomfort forgotten at the
thought of a romantic night of movie viewing with Dale. "Instead of
spending the night foraging, I'll just spend it in front of the TV set
with you! Just think, Dale, we can watch the sun come up together!"
This was a bit more serious than Dale had intended, and he
pulled at the collar of his Hawaiian shirt and shifted uncomfortably.
"Too right, pally!" Monterey Jack responded with enthusiasm,
"Now there's someone who can stay up all night and watch your show
with you while the rest of us get a little shut-eye!"
Except for Dale, everyone seemed positively overjoyed at the
convenience of the arrangement. Gadget went into the kitchen and
returned shortly with two glasses of water and a heaping bowl of
popcorn (apparently this time there really had been no problems) just
the right size for two small mammals watching a night of poorly dubbed
1950's Japanese horror flicks. Foxy was quite glad to find the taste
much to her liking and finally directed her gaze at the television
screen. With her inborn knowledge of and interest in acoustics she
immediately noticed the discrepancy between the words and the lip
movements of the actors. This pipued her curiosity much more than the
plot, even though it was about giant moths and probably would have
made her quite hungry if she hadn't been distracted and reminded of
several questions she wanted to ask someone who knew.
"Gadget, do humans talk that way?" she asked, convinced it must
be some form of echolocation. She had no idea humans were so
naturally talented about such things.
"Naw, Foxy," Dale somewhat rudely didn't wait for Gadget to
answer, "That's just the way it looks when a movie's been dubbed into
another language. If we were to hear it in Japanese we wouldn't be
able to understand a word."
This reminded her of so many things that she forgot about the
movie altogether. "Are we speaking English?" the question was still
directed to Gadget. "If we are, shouldn't we be able to communicate
This little mystery had never really troubled Gadget before, and
her forte was after all mechanics and inventions. But the question
raised some curiosity in her own mind as well and she began to give
the matter some thought. "Well, yes, we are speaking English, but I
think it's a little more complicated than just speaking the same
language as a human."
"I could speak with Winifred." She shuddered a little at
recalling the whole thing.
"Well, yes," Gadget responded slowly, "but Winifred was a witch."
"You mean," Foxglove continued, with a seriousness that quite
surprised all the Rangers, "that an evil human can understand us and
communicate with us but a good human can't? That isn't right!"
No one knew what to say to this, and Gadget could only scratch
her head in complete puzzlement.
"Do you suppose," Foxglove continued, obviously looking on
Gadget as the resident genius on all subjects whatsoever, "that if I
learned another language I could communicate with humans in it?"
"I don't think so." Gadget replied. "I think probably you
could communicate only with animals who spoke that language, but not
humans. Just like us speaking and understanding English among
"Is there an explanation for this?"
"Hmmm . . . " Gadget was thinking about this as she replied.
"My initial guess is that humans and animals speak the same languages
but on a different frequency." Everyone was now thinking about this
and listening attentively, except for Dale who shot angry looks at
them for talking during the all-important pupation scene. "You see,
language is only one dimension of communication, you might say. Then
there's the pitch, the height or depth of the frequency. Humans'
hearing is much less acute than animals', and bats have the best
hearing of all animals. Except for dolphins and whales and such," she
"Right." Foxglove said. "I am keeping my speech at a frequency
where you can all hear it, though I have a much larger vocal range.
But I can make myself audible to humans and they still can't
understand me. Or you, either."
Chip, Monty, and Zipper were now thoroughly caught up in this
discussion, each trying to solve it in his own mind, though quite glad
to let Gadget make the suggestions. Whatever she said about anything
scientific always sounded so right.
"Well," she began slowly, "there's more to sound than just
pitch. Let's call that the vertical aspect of sound. I would say
it's because of another aspect, let's call it the horizontal. Of
course, the analogy isn't perfect, but think of it as a radio dial.
There's AM, FM, short wave, medium wave, and long wave. And on each
one of them there's a frequency. My theory of the moment is that
humans, with their limited (but for them quite adequate) hearing are
tuned to a very small part of the spectrum. We on the other hand are
broadcasting at a different frequency. We can hear them as well as
ourselves, but while we are broadcasting heavy metal, they are all
squished over into the far left end of the dial where all the college
stations are. Probably listening to Michael Franks," she added
The other rangers hadn't spoken in a while, but now Monty let
out a long whistle of admiration at the spur-of-the-moment theory from
Geegaw's little girl. And it wasn't even her field, really.
Chip sprung up beside Gadget immediately and put his arm around
her. "Another mystery of the ages solved!" he proclaimed. "It's
only a matter of time before you really do win that Nobel Prize you
dreamed about. You'll probably make possible the restructuring of
society, and maybe even a whole new civilization, just like Bill and
Ted. I always knew you would." He was giving her that look, but
Gadget was so pleased with herself that she didn't notice. Neither
did Dale, for a change. It was an old movie, before Rachel Carson,
and DDT was saving the day. Just as the new moths were about to lay
eggs in all the Emperor's wool outfits.
"Do you know any other languages, besides English?" Foxglove now
wanted to know.
"No. Monterey Jack is your best bet there. He's been around
the world a dozen times in all directions."
"If I spoke a few words do you think you could tell what
language it is?" she turned to Monty in a wink, an air almost of
urgency in her voice.
"Oh, I don't know, luv," he replied modestly, "I don't really
know any other lingos, except maybe a smattering of an aborigianal
language or two that I learned when I was adopted by a tribe of
kangaroos. But I've been around enough that I might recognize a
phrase or two." He actually had more confidence than he was admitting
to. "Give us a smidgin'."
Foxglove closed her eyes and repeated slowly and carefully:
"Asdvadz . . . tohyootyoon . . . shnorestseh."
Monty's countenance fell at his sudden realization that he would
not be able to show off his acumen as Gadget had. "Never heard any
lingo sounded like that, luv," he admitted. "Are you sure that's
"Oh yes," Foxglove replied, "I'm really quite good at hearing
and reproducing sounds. No doubt about that." She wasn't bragging,
just stating her conviction, which happened to be true.
"Where'd you pick that up, luv?" Monty wanted to know.
"At this really beautiful church I've been staying in," she
replied. "There's really beautiful music, and incense, and pretty
uniforms"--she didn't know to call them vestments--"and some sort of
huge bird's eggs--maybe ostrich eggs--hanging here and there."
"You got me beat, luv," Monty was genuinely disheartened at not
being able to provide the answer. "Probably one of them there Eastern
churches. Only thing I know is it's not Greek and it's not Latin."
Of course she was disappointed, and her disappointment only
sharpened her curiosity all the more. Her frustration must have been
quite visible, for Monty said, "Oh, don't worry, luv. You can always
just read the name out front." Foxy blinked in astonishment. She
had always entered and exited through her crack in the window of the
steeple. "Why haven't I ever thought of that?" she asked herself out
loud, closing her eyes and slapping a wing across her forehead. But
her problem was solved now, and of course her curiosity was sated by
the mere fact that she could find out herself anytime she wanted. But
her ability to read the humans' English writing brought back the
previous topic of conversation.
"Gadget, you're an inventor. Could you invent some sort of
radio gizmo that would enable me to 'broadcast' to humans?" Chip,
Monty, and Zipper leaned forward to hear the response. They were all
intrigued by Gadget's scientific know-how, as was Dale. But the
latter hero was now absorbed in the next Japanese feature, in which a
giant spider, who could be summoned by an old Buddhist priest and
peace-activist, was shooting its web out of its mouth (a tradition
among fictional TV, movie, and cartoon spiders) at a gigantic blister
beetle who had been turned loose against the earth by some planet
known only to the Japanese and to Mexican wrestling women. The beetle
was also shooting its irritant out of its mouth. Obviously a
precedent had been set.
"Golly," Gadget began, thinking very hard about the whole
matter, "I suppose such a device might be theoretically possible, like
time travel, but it's probably just as practically impossible. And
about as bad an idea."
"Gadget, do you know what a bat detector is? It's a device some
humans have come up with to make our signals audible to humans so they
can listen to us like they do to birds. It also helps them find us,
which I think is nice. We don't mind being watched; at least I don't.
Besides, humans draw lots of gnats and mosquitoes. Anyway, do you
suppose you could build one that would do more than just lower pitch?
One that would adjust the frequency, like you said ?"
Gadget was now thoroughly intrigued by the whole idea. She had
dismissed it as an interesting theoretical problem, but the reminder
about bat detectors really had her wheels spinning, Maybe she COULD
build a device that would make inter-species communication possible.
And she would be the first, the inventor. It would not come from a
human but from a mouse. That would open up those Nobel prizes! She
knew she would have to try. It would be more than she usually dealt
with in her work; her specialty was mechanics and engineering, and
this would require knowledge of acoustics and radio technology. It
was out of her league, really, but she had to try. At the same time,
she could not shake the feeling deep inside that this was something
that was best left alone, that to really make human-animal
communication possible was a very dangerous and bad idea. No telling
what the results would be. Monty was not exaggerating when he had
said it would create a whole new world. She even felt somehow that to
do such a thing might even be morally wrong. It would be a change in
the patterns of nature that would make Frankenstein look like the
inventor of bifocals by comparison. But while Gadget was usually very
practical and level-headed (a bit flighty, perhaps), she had already
tasted the forbidden fruit. She didn't want to get Foxglove overly
excited, as she was more interested in conquering a new frontier than
in actually altering reality, but she knew now that she was going to
try to invent the miracle machine. And as soon as she knew it worked
she would bury it so deeply in her closet that no one would ever know
about it. Only she would know what she had done. Of course this
contradicted her fantasy about the Nobel Prize, but right now she was
filled with all sorts of contradictory thoughts.
"Foxglove," she eventually said in a strangely subdued tone that
was not at all like her, "do you suppose you could bring me one of
those bat detectors? I'd like to study it."
"You mean you WILL?" Foxglove asked with a squeal of delight, in
reference to her previous question. But then she suddenly became
downcast. "But how can I bring you one? I don't have one; I don't
know anyone that has one; no one who had one would give it to me; and
besides, I can't communicate with humans. Unless they're evil." she
said, the last part in a tone of almost anger (quite out of line with
her personality) about the injustice of the world.
"Well," Gadget said, hoping to defuse Foxglove's impatience,
"why don't we just write that up as something to investigate later and
not get too worried about it in the meantime." She herself had no
intention of waiting, if she had to build the thing from scratch.
Of course Foxglove was disappointed. But Chip, Monterey, and
Zipper were positively beside themselves with admiration at Gadget's
ingenuity and the prospect of her inventing something everyone else
would shrug off as impossible from the word "go;" they really weren't
thinking of the implications of such an invention. It would be just
another triumph by their girl. Dale in the meantime was watching the
entire city of Tokyo fleeing in panic from an aerial attack by the
giant blister beetle. The thing was raining its acid down on them and
the people looked like they had been victims of the Sixth Plague of
Egypt. Nice effects, Dale thought to himself, if it weren't for the
obvious anti-American propaganda message. "When are those people
going to admit that they started it?" he said, this time aloud. But
no one paid him any attention.
Monty yawned and stretched himself. "Well, I don't know about
the rest of you, but I have GOT to hit the sack and have a ziz," he
said. Chip, Gadget, and Zipper agreed.
"We're going to bed now, Foxglove," Gadget informed her, "You
just stay up and and watch TV with Dale. He won't be finished until
morning, and then he'll be dead on his feet all day. Oh, and have
Dale pop you some more corn. We'll see you in the morning." Then she
waved her hand in front of Dale's face. He paid no attention.
"Good-night, Dale," she said anyway. "Yeah, yeah, good night," Dale
responded briefly without taking his eyes from the screen. The
Rangers shrugged and retired to their respective bedrooms.
Now that they were alone Foxglove remembered that visiting Dale
had been the purpose of her visit. She sat down beside him and began
watching the movie, munching on popcorn all the while. She offered
some to Dale. He was always glad to snack, no matter what else he was
doing at the time, so he gladly joined her in her repast. Just then
he noticed something for the first time. "Hey Foxy, your knees bend
backwards!" he observed with astonishment.
"Well, not backwards for me," she responded slowly, a bit unsure
of what his observation meant in regard to their relationship. "They
bend the same way a bird's do."
"Really?" Dale asked, "I never noticed that."
Now that they were alone, Foxglove felt much more relaxed. She
didn't have to compete with the others--especially Gadget--for Dale's
attention. For his part, Dale found he was not quite so
self-conscious and uncomfortable about being around her with no one
around to watch them. She was quite pleasant company, actually.
Especially now that she could stop trying to attract his attention and
just watch the show with him. Her increased comfort in the situation
increased his as well.
For the rest of the night the two of them watched Tokyo barely
survive attacks by dinosaurs, dragons, pterodactyls, turtles, aliens,
caterpillars, and doodle bugs. And Dale had the distinct pleasure of
answering Foxy's many questions about the whole thing. This was one
of his areas of expertise; he had quite a few but they were not useful
to the Rangers and were therefore unappreciated by them. Foxglove
listened open-mouthed to his explanations of everything, and Dale
himself actually felt intelligent for a change. He found that he
liked that very much. And so the movies ceased, to be followed by
"Passing Parades" and "Pete Smith Specialties," and they watched those
too, though Dale could not answer her questions about these things.
And so they continued to quietly enjoy each other's and the TV's
company until the eastern horizon began to grow red.
The four Rangers who had opted to go to bed the night before
slowly and one-by-one arose and trickled into their living quarters.
They were surprised at first to find them empty, but decided that
Foxglove had left and Dale had finally turned in for three winks at
least. But when Chip stepped out he found them seated very close
together on a large limb of the tree watching the sun rise. Foxy had
pulled a reluctant Dale away from the early news with enthusiatic
cries of "C'mon Dale, you promised," (which he hadn't really) and
"C'mon, it'll be fun!" and "You have no idea how beautiful it is!
C"mon." so that he finally agreed just to shut her up if for no other
reason. He was dumbfounded by what he had always taken for granted
and never noticed.
Chip came up behind them just as Foxy was saying "Enjoy it while
you can. You can't stand to look at it after just a few minutes." He
meant to surprise them and make them both feel embarrassed, but found
he just couldn't. The two of them were enjoying the sunrise and each
other so much, and Dale didn't even mind Foxy's wing around his
shoulder. Chip felt ashamed of himself and attempted to withdraw
quietly but of course Foxy had heard the door open and his footsteps
afterward. "Hello, Chip," she said without even turning round.
Chip was startled of course but so was Dale, who quickly jumped
up in consternation. "Morning, you two," Chip responded, now doing
his best not to make them uncomfortable, "how was the show?"
"It was GREAT!" Foxglove responded with sincere enthusiasm about
her new experience. But then she felt her body sending very clear
signals that it was time for it to shut down and recharge for the day.
She yawned conspicuously and said, "but I really must be getting back
home now. I've got to get some sleep. But thanks for the
hospitality and for the food. At least I didn't have to expend a lot
of energy hunting."
Before Foxy could say "good-bye" and spread her wings Gadget
approached her and spoke up. She was exhibiting some signs of
anxiety. "Wait," she said, "do you think maybe you could spend the
day here at headquarters? Well, not necessarily here inside, that is,
if you don't want to, although you're certainly welcome to if you
think you'd like to. But at least maybe somewhere in our tree here?
Then tonight you could sit up with Dale again, or if he doesn't feel
like it, you could do your feeding right here in the park. The lights
attract a lot of moths."
Both Foxy and the rangers could see that Gadget was anxious
about something and really desirous of Foxy's continued presence. In
truth she was thinking about her questioning by the FBI and the two
mysterious humans Zipper had seen skulking near their tree at midnight
of the night before last. These feelings were intensified by the
thought of making her interspecies communication device; she felt
compelled to do this, yet she also felt terribly guilty for attempting
something that might be somehow forbidden. When her two lines of
thought met each other she found herself wondering if the US
government had somehow read her mind and was attempting to capture and
punish her in no telling what sort of unpleasant way. She knew this
paranoia was totally illogical, but there was more to her than logic
after all, it seemed.
"Sure!" Foxglove responded, daring to hope she might be made a
permanent member of the team, or at least an auxiliary. "Is there a
hole in a limb or in the trunk somewhere, preferably high enough that
I won't be disturbed?"
"Foxy, why don't you just use my bedroom for the day? You'll be
up by the time I need it, and I won't be bothering you in there during
the day. The workshop's my room when I'm up."
"Okay, if you don't mind," Foxglove responded, yawning again.
She really needed to cling upside down to a surface somewhere or risk
losing consciousness right where she was. She started for Gadget's
room but suddenly realized she didn't know where it was. "Gadget,
would you mind . . . (yawn) . . . showing me to . . . ." She could
barely get the words out.
"Sure, Foxy," Gadget replied, upbraiding herself for not
realizing that Foxglove would need to get to bed pretty quickly after
her night of activity. She led Foxy to her room and was somewhat
surprised (though there was no reason to be) to see her climb onto the
wall and assume a head downward position. Just before Foxy shut down
completely Gadget had one more question. "Did you or Dale see any
humans outside our tree during the night?" Her voice had a faint
tremor in it.
"Sorry . . . " It was all she could do to answer. "Never
looked outside. I will . . . tonight." And then she was out. Gadget
was a bit disappointed at this answer, as she had been counting on
Foxglove to keep a lookout for the night, and this had been one reason
she had invited her to spend the night with Dale and then stay on with
them, and it bothered her that they might have been under observation
again without being aware of it. But what was done was done, and she
was sure Foxy would be more alert in the future as she had promised.
Besides, there was no use being angry with her; she had been too
excited the night before just to be there and keep company with Dale.
As usual, the boys (including an overly tired Dale) spent the
bulk of that day in Sgt. Spinelli's office at the police station. But
not Gadget. When they had asked if she would be joining them (which
she did when she wasn't working on something in her workshop) she
responded no, she would be going to the library. This surprised the
other Rangers. Gadget very rarely set out on something outside
headquarters on her own, but they simply shrugged and set out for
their posts in the Ranger Plane.
Left alone, Gadget went to the Rangermobile and very shortly was
negotiating the busy streets to the main branch of the public library.
She discreetly parked her chariot behind the dumpster in the rear of
building and headed for the rodents' and small mammals' entrance which
was located nearby. She found herself in the main aisles of the
library, but small mammals have long known how to conduct their
business discreetly in the presence of humans without being noticed.
Gadget easily and confidently maneuvered herself among the feet of the
browsing humans until she came to the small mammals' circulation desk
cleverly located in the "religion" section, where few humans were ever
"May I help you?" asked the young bespectacled mouse behind the
"Yes. I'm looking for some information on bat detectors. Have
you ever heard of them?"
"Yes . . . " the young mouse librarian responded slowly, "but
I'm not sure in exactly which section you would find your information.
I'm sure there's some in our volumes on chiroptera, but I don't know
how detailed it would be. Perhaps somewhere in the acoustics section
you might find a little more technical information, but I'm afraid it
would be very general in scope. No . . . I believe "Chiroptera" is
your best bet, though the material is generally biological in nature.
There'd probably be no more than a mention here and there in the
chapters on echolocation."
"That's fine," Gadget replied, "I have the whole day ahead of
me, and I'll probably need to look in both sections to get what I
The Librarian gave Gadget detailed instructions as to the
locations of both the mammalogy and general science stacks, and
assured her there would be help available for books located above the
bottom shelf (which is where the ones one wanted usually were).
Gadget thanked her and started to leave when she paused suddenly and
turned back to her benefactress. "By the way," she said very with
great earnestness, "you never saw me here. Okay?"
The Librarian was startled as much by the look on her face and
the unexpected nature of the request as by the question itself. "Uh .
. . sure." Was all she could manage. Gadget smiled in relief and
gratitude and left to do her browsing, leaving the Librarian feeling a
bit confused. "I don't stick my nose into clients' business," she
told herself truthfully.
Gadget now spent the rest of the day investigating tomes for any
information she could find. It took most of the morning just to find
a mention of bat detectors in "Acoustics," and it merely stated that
the purpose was to lower pitch to make bat signals audible to humans;
she had known that already. But she read as much as she could out of
a huge book that attempted to be an omnibus of information about the
science of sound. She digested the information eagerly and realized
that she had neglected to inquire about the radio section. She was
rescued from this dire situation by a young flying squirrel who worked
in the stacks and was soon digesting a book claiming to be an
"encyclopedia" on the subject. Finally she made her way to mammalogy,
found the small chiropterology section, and with some help from a
young male rat with surprising climbing skills examined the contents
and index of each book. She found a reference in each volume, but
they mostly just explained the basic theory behind the device (which
could be purchased for an exorbitant fee, she was told) . Certainly
the authors assumed only specialists were capable of building such a
device; laymen could merely invest the cash if they wanted one badly
enough. Gadget was becoming pessimistic, despite what she had already
memorized on the two related subjects, when she found in an old and
rather small book a section entitled "How a bat detector works." How
often, she thought to herself, such important information about a
subject would be found only in small, dated, and uninpressive looking
She eagerly devoured the information and commited it to memory.
Ordinarily she did not have a "photographic memory," but when she was
obsessed with something her mind became a sponge, and she could copy
even the tiniest details into it. This was partly from her
intellectual talents and partly because she had done it so often.
There was simply no other way a mouse could carry so much information
around. Of course she could have checked out that last small volume
and carried it back with her, but she did not want any physical
evidence of what she was doing lying around anywhere. She still felt
a bit like Dr. Faustus, though she told herself again and again that
she would not allow this new technology she was bringing into the
world to fall into the wrong hands or be misused in any way. She
would build a device merely as a theoretical proof that the thing
could be done and then no one would ever know about it. Ever. And
that was the end of it. Except that she felt compelled to go through
the whole thing again every five minutes or so.
While arguing within herself she made her way back to the
Rangermobile (fortunately it was still there; crime had really gotten
to be a problem among the animal population) and was soon winding her
way through the busy streets of "drive home time" until she was back
in the verdant, almost rural, city park. Then to the familiar tree
where she stored her mechanical steed and finally made her way up to
the front door. She yawned, went inside, and threw herself in mental
exhaustion onto the couch in the living room.
V She must have dozed off briefly, for the entrance of the other
Rangers startled her, and she noticed that some time had elapsed since
her arrival back at headquarters.
"Hi-ya, Gadget!" Dale said quickly on seeing her. It was always
a competition between the two chipmunks as to who would greet her
"Hi, fellows. What time is it?"
"About seven." Chip managed to answer first this time.
"Why so late?" was her next question.
"It was a busy day at the station," Chip said, pausing to smirk
triumphally at Dale, "and there were some indications that Fat Cat
might have been up to something, so we spent some time following up
"Too right!" Monterey interjected, "but if he's up to something
he's coverin' his footsteps smooth as a bunyip."
"Golly. Maybe it's not him this time."
"Well, he's gettin' awful ripe by now, then," Monterey anwered.
The chipmunks nodded in agreement. It had been longer than usual
since their last encounter with the feline kingpin.
The Rangers heard a loud yawn from the direction of the hallway
and turned to see Foxglove enter, stretching and yawning to shake off
the torpor that had possessed her since morning.
"Good evening, Foxglove. Sleep well?" Gadget wanted to know.
"Heavenly!" Foxglove responded, her enthusiasm muted somewhat
by her sleepy tone of voice. Zipper flew up to her and inquired in
his insectal squeak if she had had any daydreams. The pun was meant
to put her at ease and indicate the friendly nature of their
relationship. "Um-hmm," was her deliberate response.
"What about?" Dale asked innocently. He honestly wondered what
kind of dreams a bat or any nocturnal animal had during the day. He
immediately wished he hadn't asked, as her answer was to give him that
look of hers and then coyly point a wing at him. He blushed
noticeably, causing a rude outburst of laughter from Chip.
Fortunately he ceased almost immediately when Gadget elbowed him in
"So. You two gonna watch TV again tonight?" Chip asked in an
attempt to recover himself. Now Dale gave him that look of his.
"No," Foxy anwered much to Dale's relief, "I guess I'd better
pound the old pavement tonight. If I sit around too many nights I'll
lose my figure." Then to Zipper she whispered quietly, "Just stay
inside tonight, Zip." Zipper was only too happy to agree. He was a
diurnal insect anyway, and exhausted after his long day with the other
"Great! When will you be taking off?" This time Dale got one
of Gadget's elbows in the ribs.
This comment made Foxglove feel downcast. Last night she and
Dale had thoroughly enjoyed one another's company. He sure was
fickle. "I--I was hoping you would watch the sun go down with me,
Dale," she answered disconsolately.
"Too busy!" Dale answered at once. Gadget knew only she could
save the day.
"Come on, Dale. You remember how pretty the sunrise was. Go
watch the sunset with Foxy before she leaves for the night." Then she
added quietly, "we won't watch." This comment disappointed Chip no
"Well, I dunno . . ."
"Pleeeze?" Gadget added. It may look flirtatious in black and
white, but it didn't sound that way. She had her teeth gritted
"Uh, sure thing," he responded at once. Then he took Foxy by
the wing and said, "Let's go. Quick!"
They took their same seats on the limb from that morning, but in
the opposite direction. It was another splendid sight, though Dale
didn't enjoy it as much. He knew the others were just inside this
time and felt a bit self-conscious. Foxglove put her wing on his
shoulder again but then quickly withdrew it sadly. When Dale saw the
look of dejection on her face he reached for her wing and placed it
back on his shoulder saying, "Shucks. That's all right, Foxy." It
felt like sheer bliss until she recalled how inconsistently he was
behaving towards her. He WAS fickle.
After just a few minutes Foxy felt she had better take off
before she spoiled the moment. "Well . . . " she said after a while,
"I'd really better get going." But she stayed right where she was,
looking like she was trying to make up her mind about something. She
was in fact toying with the idea of giving Dale a quick kiss before he
could do anything about it and then beating a hasty retreat. Maybe
THAT would twitterpate him. But it might just spoil things for good,
and then her life would be over (she told herself). At any rate, she
would probably be too afraid to ever come back and see how he had
taken it. Matters were complicated by the unpleasant fact that since
they had first met Dale had very deliberately avoided any direct eye
contact with her. At first she had attributed this to shyness (which
was appealing), but as he had continued this behavior and she had come
to know him better she began to suspect a far more sinister reason.
She knew now that Dale was way too fond of the iconography of pop
culture, very much including its dark side. She had thought a few
times about bringing up the subject but was too afraid of what the
answer might be, so she decided to keep her questions to herself and
hope that eventually his coming to know her well would allay any fears
associated with strange ideas and would win him over. It was taking
longer than she had anticipated and now she was becoming anxious.
All this mental activity was the matter of just a few seconds,
though it seemed forever (as it has to you). She finally took a big
chance and compromised by choosing what seemed the best option open to
her. She quickly said, "Bye, Dale," and then shutting her eyes as
tightly as possible to keep from terrifying either one of them more
than was absolutely necessary she gave him a quick nuzzle and took
off like a shot, thinking all the while, *That did it. I'm toast.*
The other rangers were eating supper while watching the news on
television and making small talk when a dazed Dale reentered the
room. "How was it?" Gadget asked.
"How was WHAT?" he responded testily.
"The sunset," she responded, taken aback.
"You know; the one in the SKY," Chip answered in sadistic
"Oh, it's still up there." Dale's manner was quite subdued and
remained so for the rest of the evening. After the other Rangers had
watched the late night news and then retired for the night Dale
settled down for another marathon of "B" movies. But it didn't take
long to notice that for some reason it didn't seem as enjoyable as the
night before. He had never had that feeling before, as his movies had
always been his closest thing to bliss. Strange. But as he had a
lot of sleep to catch up on anyway, he surprised himself by turning
off the TV and the lights and discreetly going to his and Chip's room
and climbing into his upper bunk.
Dale awoke groggily the next day and lay in bed for some time
before getting up. When he did he noticed that it was up in the
morning and the other Rangers had long since eaten breakfast, though
they hadn't left headquarters. That was unusual in itself, not to
mention the fact that they seemed to be lounging around as though it
were a holiday--all except Gadget, that is, who looked a little
anxious about something.
She cheered up when she saw Dale enter the living room and
greeted him warmly. "Good morning, Dale! Are you ready to hit the
road?" Gadget was very fond of all the other Rangers and was always
careful to greet each of them, but her enthusiasm this time was such
that it attracted the notice of all.
"Why didn't anyone get me up?" Dale queried.
"Are you kidding?" his roommate answered. "You must have pulled
another all nighter. You were sleeping so hard I didn't have the
heart to wake you." It seemed an uncharacteristic display of
consideration, as the two always seemed to be fighting about
something. Appearances were deceiving, however, as the two had been
best friends since long before the Rescue Rangers.
"Maybe you four could go on without me today. I'm pooped."
"Don't worry. We've decided to take the day off. We're all
overworked and you need some rest." Chip wasn't being as careful as
usual to conceal his real friendship for Dale, perhaps because his
conscience was bothering him for all the teasing he had been giving
him lately. "Besides, things seem pretty quiet right now."
This announcement relieved Dale considerably, and he perked up a
bit just from hearing it. After all, one is never as sleepy when one
has nothing to do. But the same announcement had an unexpected effect
"What? You're not going to police headquarters? What if Fat
Cat is about to pull something big?"
"Steady there, Gadget luv," Monterey comforted her, "you need to
take things a little more easy. Still, if you're that worried about
it, you can always drive one of your inventions there and back. Can't
none of us stop yuh."
"Me? I can't! I have something very important to do right
here. If you four don't go then nobody's going to know if something's
brewing." The cause of her reaction was that she was ready to begin
prying into secrets best left hidden, and although the other Rangers
never disturbed her nor even entered her workshop without her
permission, she didn't want anyone around this time. This was a bit
unrealistic though, as it would take her several days or even weeks to
finish. She was treading on unexplored territory.
"Hey," Dale broke in suddenly, "did Foxy ever come back this
"Too right!" Monterey Jack responded, "Didn't say much though.
Came in a little late at that, and just headed straight for Gadget's
"Yeah," Chip put in deliberately, "she seemed really upset about
something. She wouldn't even look at any of us. Did you two have a
fight or something?" This type of enquiry was usually from Gadget,
but now she seemed preoccupied with other matters.
"Of course not!" Dale answered his question. "She didn't say
that, did she?"
"She didn't say much of anything," Chip said. Zipper nodded his
"Well, I gotta have some breakfast," Dale said testily. He
resented the suspicion and the implied accusation that he had been the
initiator. So saying, he headed for the kitchen.
Chip was sorry he had hurt Dale's feelings over something of
which he had no knowledge, but all he could do was sigh and turn on
the TV. He was determined to watch only entertainment shows today.
With a "Scoot over, mate!" Monty and Zipper joined him on the couch.
Gadget watched them disappointedly for a minute as she pondered
what she should do.
Finally she said, "I've got to work on something today. Please don't
"That last plane you had that little accident in?" Dale's voice
drifted out of the kitchen.
"That was not an accident! It was an ANOMALY!" Gadget raised
her voice in a tone of aggravation that was not like her at all. "How
many times do I have to explain that fact?" Then she stalked off to
"What's the matter with her?" asked Dale, coming to join the
others on the couch with his hands full of junk food as they stared
mutely after Gadget.
"I dunno," Chip answered. "She certainly seems to have
something on her mind. I'm going to stay out of her way today though,
that's for sure."
In her workshop Gadget reproached herself for taking her very
confused feelings out on her friends. They had never bothered her in
her workshop before. But the nature of this project made her wish
they would spend the day somewhere else. She was also worried about
Foxglove, sleeping next door in her bedroom. Gadget expected no
interference from her during the day while she was sleeping, but this
whole idea had been hers to begin with. She was obsessed with the
idea of communicating with humans. Gadget knew she must never let her
find out what she was doing. Maybe she could pull the whole thing off
without anyone finding out. She was going to try.
She spent the remainder of that morning translating the data in
her mind into blueprints, a procedure she always followed when
building anything. When Dale knocked to inform her it was lunchtime
she asked to have hers brought to the workshop. This request was not
unheard of but it was infrequent. When he returned with her lunch and
knocked (Chip had decided for a change to let Dale deal with her that
day) she opened the door just long enough to take the tray and thank
him, a little apologetically, and returned to the task at hand,
leaving him scratching his head in puzzlement. She ate only a little
of her lunch while continuing to work on her project. The next step
was to collect the necessary parts from various storage areas
(Gadget's storage system was a strange mixture of order and chaos) and
then begin a frustrating and time-consuming process of trial-and-error
The day passed quickly for the other Rangers, as days off
usually did. Dale had actually had enough of television for once and
spent most of the afternoon lounging in the warm June sun on a large
limb of the tree and watching human children play nearby.
Occasionally a child would spy him and have a screaming fit of delight
at such a close experience with "nature red in tooth and claw" (Jack
London). Dale was always careful to wave at them, which prompted the
toddlers to squeal and clap their hands and the older children to run
and fetch their mothers, who would address a stream of human "baby
talk" at him. This was so ridiculous it was amusing, though one time
he was quite caught aback by the young "new age" mother who instead of
baby talk addressed him quite seriously and reverentially and praised
him for his "otherness." He wasn't sure he wanted to experience that
feeling again. Chip, Zipper, and Monty joined him a little later and
each would have thoroughly enjoyed himself if one of them hadn't been
missing. But Gadget occasionally acted like this when an idea came to
her, so they made the best of it.
Suppertime came and the four returned inside. They were a
little worried when Gadget still had not left her workshop and in fact
asked to have her meal brought to her again. "Still," Monty said, "an
all day project's not that unusual. Machines is gettin' awful
complicated." The others agreed and had supper, with Chip this time
doing the honors. Gadget thanked him and promptly closed the door
again, moving Chip to remark that she had been working on that thing
an awful long time and she really should close up shop for the day.
"I'm almost finished for now," she responded, "but I'll have to
do some more work tomorrow."
Chip was puzzled as well as disappointed. "Just what is it
you're working on in there?" he wanted to know.
"Oh, nothing," Gadget answered in a way that indicated she knew
he couldn't believe it, but she could think of nothing better to say.
There was nothing to be done but to return to the dining room to take
his evening meal with the others.
They were quite delighted when, just as they were finishing up,
Gadget joined them at the table, carrying the tray Chip had brought
her with its contents still untouched. She had taken time out to wash
up after her labors, as she always did, but it was evident that she
was exhausted, and not just physically. Naturally it was a scramble
between Chip and Dale as to which of them she would sit by.
Ordinarily she pretended not to notice such behavior on their part
(though she always did), but today was different. She was too tired
to keep up the usual appearances, so she said, "C'mon guys. Don't
fight over me. It's been too long and hard a day." The chipmunks of
course weren't the least bit tired after a day of relaxation and were
in fact aching to expend some stored energy now that the air was
growing cooler. But they respectfully settled down as she took a
seat by Monterey Jack and began eating. They all maintained this
silence until she had finished and then, as she sighed and pushed the
tray away, Dale, ever the daredevil, asked the question they all
wanted to. "What were you working on in there today?"
She wanted to say "nothing" as she had earlier to Chip, but she
knew that that answer was not only wearing a little thin but was
obviously not the truth. She was trying as fast as she could to think
up an answer that would sound plausable when she got relief from an
almost forgotten source. From her seat she could see into the living
room as Foxglove, having awoke from a day of oblivion, was making her
way to the front door. She was moving very quietly and as quickly as
she could, almost as if she were hoping she could get away without
drawing attention to herself. If this was her plan then it was
frustrated, for Gadget immediately called to her to come join them for
a few minutes before flying off. This move had its effect, as the
other Rangers turned their attention from Gadget and her project to
their guest, adding their voices to hers in asking why Foxglove was in
such a hurry to leave.
This development was good for Gadget but bad for Foxy, who
indeed had been hoping to sneak off quietly and perhaps return to
roosting in her church, where her sadness and solitude seemed mystical
and comforting, rather than coming back here to make a fool of herself
and lose the only friends she had ever known. She reasoned that she
had already lost the one that mattered most by her forwardness the
night before. She was all butterflies (the metaphorical, non-filling
kind) already, but when they called to her she began trembling all
over like gelatin, she got a terrible lump in her throat, and her
pulse quickened considerably. When the Rangers shifted their
positions in the dining room to see her they beheld a pitiable lump of
furry misery. She seemed unable to move and Gadget was wondering if
she was actually sick. They quickly went into the living room to see
what was the matter with their friend.
She was looking straight down at the floor when they came up to
her and her legs, backwards bending knees and all, were shaking and
knocking against one another. The Rangers, not knowing the feelings
she was experiencing or the reasons for them, became alarmed.
Obviously she was ill.
"Foxy, what's wrong? Are you alright?" Gadget asked, all
thought of her project vanishing temporarily.
"One side, mates! Let's have a look," Monterey Jack said,
putting his paw to her nose and forehead. "Nothin' yet," he
continued, "Now let's have a feel of the ol' peepers. Easiest place
to check the old Fahrenheit," and he attempted to raise her head with
his paw. He had some small success, though Foxy still had her eyes
half closed and would not look at them. Monty felt her eyes as best
he could and then checked under her chin for swolen glands (Monty had
been around and had some rudimentary knowledge of physical symptoms
and folk remedies). When he was finished he scratched his head,
shrugged his shoulders, and said, "Well, I'm stumped. Less'n it's a
touch o' the didgeridoo distemper. One hundred percent fatal within
minutes, it is, and no cure. And contagious! The Wangalara tribe has
a legend about it wipin' out the entire original population of
Antarctica in a single day."
"WHAT!?" they all, except for Gadget, exclaimed in one voice.
Gadget by this time understood that the only plague here was one of
the heart. She brushed past the four males and said kindly, "Don't be
silly, Monty. You're scaring her." Then to Foxy, "Come on and we'll
talk about it." Foxy brushed away a tear and actually looked up at
Gadget (who, being a fellow-female, didn't make her feel quite so
uncomfortable) and accompanied her back to her bedroom for the
equivalent of a daytime TV talk show.
Chip, Monty, and Zipper understood what this meant and looked at
Dale, whose only reaction was to demand "What!?!" and then stalk off
to turn on the television. The others winked at each other but
decided not to give Dale a hard time over it, then quietly joined him
at the TV set.
"What happened last night, Foxy?" asked Gadget, placing a
sympathetic paw on her shoulder.
"I was too forward," Foxy sniffled in reply, "and I'm afraid he
hates me now."
"What did you do?" Gadget asked as delicately as possible. Foxy
covered her face with her wings in shame. Gadget gave her a minute
and then patted her shoulder. "C'mon," she encouraged.
"I . . . I n-nuzzled him. You know, Eskimo style." And she
buried her face on Gadget's shoulder and sobbed audibly.
Gadget gave her another minute before responding. "Foxy," she
said gently, "what's wrong with that? You didn't honestly think you'd
done something morally wrong, did you?"
"It . . . it's not that exactly," she said, drying a tear, "I've
done everything I could to show Dale what I think of him and he's
never noticed, except to be embarrassed. I was afraid if I kissed him
he'd tell me to go away and never ocme back again, and now he acts
like nothing happened at all. I don't know which is worse." She
paused again to regain her composure. "I can't evade it any more.
Dale doesn't like me. I'm crazy about him but he doesn't like me at
Gadget kept her voice as soft and comforting as possible.
"Foxglove, that's not so. He likes you a lot. He's just shy, that's
"So am I, but I can't help myself around him."
"Foxy . . . I know Dale quite well, better than you do. I'm
sure he's teetering but is fighting against it for all he's worth.
You see, he has really low self-esteem. Deep down inside he's
convinced a pretty girl like you couldn't possibly really be in love
with him. He's telling himself you're only teasing him and if he does
fall he'll get his heart broken."
"WHAT?!!" Foxy was positively shocked. "I'd never do that to
anyone! I can't believe anyone would! How could he think that?
About me or himself? I mean, he's so HANDSOME! I don't see how you
can stand it actually LIVING with him. It must be murder controlling
"You have no idea," Gadget muttered ironically under her breath.
And then aloud, "It's true, Foxy. His low self esteem, I mean. The
boys are always flirting with me. I wish they'd stop. They think I
don't notice because that's how I act, but I do. Chip feels good
enough about himself to actually mean it. As a matter of fact,
sometimes he's so arrogant it's hard to take. But Dale only does it
because he thinks I'm so far out of reach that my rejecting him won't
hurt him. Poor boy. I'd give him a lot more hugs if I could without
Foxglove didn't relish that thought at all. She figured if it
came to that she wouldn't have a chance against Gadget. "Are you in
love with him?" Foxy's request for the unadorned truth sounded like
one asked by the world's leaders in the event of imminent collision
with a comet.
"I love all the Rescue Rangers, and you too for that matter,
Foxy. But I've never had any real romantic feelings for anyone yet
and don't know if, when, or with whom, I ever will. But you love Dale
right now and he needs you. Go for it!"
Foxglove slowly dried her tears and began to cheer up. "Did you
really mean what you said about my being a pretty girl? I don't think
"Well you are, and you should put any doubts about it out of
your head permanently, starting now. As a matter of fact, it seems to
me that you and Dale were made for each other. You have different
personalities but the same doubts about yourselves and the same need
for confirmation. Sorry to use a word like that. Anyway, Dale's
going to fall for you soon if he hasn't already, and fall darn hard at
that. Oops! Sorry about that word too. Just quit worrying and
don't try so hard. Relax. It's going to happen. You'll understand
Dale before long. And, oh . . ." she hesitated a bit as though she'd
just thought of something unpleasant. "There may be something else,
though I think it's mostly subconscious on his part. I'm afraid Dale
reads way too many comic books and watches too many old movies. And
some of them are about vam--."
"PLEASE!!!" Foxy fairly shrieked with her wings wrapped around
her ears at the mention of the word no bat will ever speak or ever
wants to hear.
Gadget was sorrier than she had ever been at a mispeak before in
her life. "Sorry," she said in a subdued tone as she looked at her
feet. "That's the third word I'm sorry about using."
"That's all right, I guess," said Foxglove deliberately, more
out of courtesy than conviction, "you were only trying to help me
understand him." The two females hugged each other and returned to
the male-dominated living room.
They found the four males seated on the couch before the
television, though they weren't paying much attention to it. Monty
appeared calm and philosophical. Zipper sat on Monty's shoulder with
a worried expression on his face. Dale was drawn up and feeling like
a heel while Chip glared at him angrily. "You heartless Casanova,"
Chip said, "I oughta bonk you." Dale only drew up more and glared
angrily at his feet while Monty assured Zipper, "Don't worry, Zipper
me lad. Seen it a zillion times. It's the way of the world.
Everything'll work out."
"Ahem!" They all sat bolt upright at Gadget's announcement of
her and Foxy's return. Gadget led her to the couch and seated her
beside Dale, causing them both to look uncomfortable. Then she said
to the disinterested parties, or at least those who should have been
disinterested, "Guys, don't you think we should hit the hay and get an
early start in the morning?"
"Too right!" Monty answered with a wink to Zipper, who was
relieved considerably. It seemed Monty always knew what he was
Even Chip was feeling guilty about his rough words to Dale, and
said quietly, "Sorry, Dale. Stay up as late as you want. G'night."
A hasty retreat seemed the best reparation.
The couple that was the object of all this consideration felt
considerably relieved and more comfortable with the imminent departure
of their audience and began to settle down when Gadget, just about to
go into the hallway, suddenly stopped and asked a question.
"Foxy, did you notice any humans last night? You promised to
Foxglove recalled this promise with a gulp of panic. "I'm
afraid I forgot, Gadget."
"WHAT?!" Her confidante of a few minutes ago now seemed upset
out of all proportion to the offense. Indeed, Dale would have
protested except that her tone was so uncharacteristic that he didn't
dare do anything but keep his mouth shut. He reproached himself for
"I--I was so upset and afraid that I didn't even do my feeding
here last night. I'm sorry!"
Now it was Gadget's turn to feel like a heel. That honor seemed
to be making the rounds lately. She came back up to the terrified
couple and gently put her paw on Foxglove's shoulder.
"Golly, I'm sorry I reacted like that, Foxglove. And after our little
talk, too! I'm afraid I'm awful scatterbrained sometimes. It's just
that they know about me and I'm afraid of what might happen if . . . "
she trailed off.
Dale and Foxy forgave her at once. "Don't worry, Gadget," Dale
finally had the nerve to speak up; "we'll both check every now and
again tonight. I promise. I understand why you're worried." The
look on his face was one of those reasons Gadget wished she could feel
free to hug him more often, but that would be Foxy's job now. She
thought too much had been said already, so she just smiled at them and
retired for the night.
Dale turned to Foxy a little shyly. "Want some more popcorn?"
Fortunately for her, the movies that night were devoted to the
topic of robots.
The next morning no one disturbed the young couple as they
watched the sunrise, even though the others were up early enough to do
so had they wished. Dale happily anounced that no humans had been
visible when they had checked during the night. Gadget was careful to
thank them both very politely. Foxglove gave Dale a small hug and
retired for the day as the Rangers prepared breakfast.
The boys spent that day doing their shopping at a local
supermarket (a bit tricky, but doable if one were used to it), leaving
Gadget happily alone to do her work. They returned just in time to
provide her lunch tray and have their own meal. Monty and Zipper
volunteered to stake out the police station by themselves for the
afternoon while the chipmunks monitored the television and police
Gadget had begun her project on a Tuesday and continued into the
next week, taking the weekend off as the Rangers usually did. During
this time the other Rangers politely refrained from voicing their
enormous curiosity. Most days they posted themselves in Sergeant
Spinelli's office listening carefully for indications that their
anonymous services were needed. June was usually a busy time for
them, but this year was different. There was plenty for the human
police, of course, but nothing as yet that required the Rangers'
attention. In fact, Chip was beginning to remark that everything
would probably "bust loose" during their annual July vacation. Each
night the Rangers would relax in front of the TV with Gadget, who was
careful to end each day's activity by the time they returned.
Foxglove continued to board with them, sitting up with Dale when he
pulled his all-nighters and feeding outside when he actually decided
to sleep or when the movie theme seemed ominously Gothic. Either way
she remembered to keep her radar peeled for suspicious humans during
Over that weekend Gadget realized she would need something to
present to the others as her project so that their curiosity would be
satisfied while her secret remained protected. On Monday morning she
beagan assembling the rejected parts during lulls and breaks into a
"toy" that should impress all of them. It wasn't going to be pretty,
but it was going to be a very adequate shortwave radio set. She could
have finished this very quickly but stretched it out so that it would
appear to be the fruit of her protracted labor. It was really an
obsolete device, with transistors, a clumsy and unmarked tuning
indicator ("Too bad I can't make it digital!" she thought to herself),
and an old car radio aerial to facilitate reception. It wouldn't get
the entire spectrum, and the frequencies on what it would pick up
would be horribly bunched together, but she knew that this concept,
quaint and old fashioned as it was, would fascinate the others no end
and provide the perfect cover.
On Wednesday morning, just eight days after she had begun, she
was near enough finished to devote her labors to finishing the radio.
"I'm almost done!" she told the relieved Rangers when she actually
ventured out of her lonely cell to eat lunch with them. This created
quite a stir among the others, and Dale wanted to call off the
afternoon shift to be there when she finished, but Monty and Chip both
suggested there was no need to be impatient this close to the finish.
Dale accompanied them reluctantly back to the Ranger Plane, but they
at least abandoned the police station for an aerial surveillance of
the city. This was not done very thoroughly; in fact it was mostly
intended to make the afternoon pass quickly for them while giving
Gadget the opportunity to finish once and for all.
This was the hardest part of the whole process for the
mouse-prodigy. What she had built looked like one of the bat
detectors out of the chiropterology books, but it contained a built-in
mic that with the help of the dial could theoretically transform
animal speech into something understandable to a human. The key word
was "theoretically." She had no way of knowing if it would work and
did not dare test it. It was only a personal challenge, anyway, she
told herself again. But the project could not be officially concluded
without a test. A failure would mean her theory had been flawed and
send her into repeating the whole tiring process over again, and this
time without a "cover." But aside from the fact that she was afraid
of the consequences of either failure or (especially) success, she
could not even be sure it would work with a mouse's voice. It was
based on a bat detector and might only work with a bat. She didn't
dare try it with Foxglove, whose desire to communicate with humans
could easily spiral out of control into an obsession once she saw even
a possibility of its fulfillment. She could slip off that evening and
find other bats throughout the city, but the problem was the same. As
much as she wanted to be sure she had solved the problem of
inter-species communication, she was terrified of what the solution
might mean to the world. She felt like Dr. Frankenstein again.
Gadget looked a long time at the innocent looking little device
in her hands. Finally she sighed and took it to a little-used cabinet
she had brought from her old home when she had joined the Rangers.
Her father had built it for her when she had first begun tinkering as
a little girl, and had fitted it with a combination lock whose
combination was known only to the two of them. She had used it quite
a bit at first to "hide" her treasures, which meant everything she
hammered together in those days. She had brought it mostly as a
reminder of her father, who had carved their names into a "secret"
place underneath. Since growing up she realized that not that much
that she built was really a treasure or a secret. But this definitely
was both. And so she spent a few minutes recalling the combination
and then opened it for the first time since childhood. She placed
her invention on the bottom shelf, looked at it, and then scooted it
all the way to the back. She was about to close the door when she
hesitated and then quickly picked up as many spare parts and old
pieces of junk as she thought she wouldn't be needing anytime soon and
placed them throughout the cabinet, taking care that the "voice box,"
as she was beginning to call it, was obscured as much as possible.
Then she stared for a while and slowly closed the door and spun the
combination lock. Then she stared another minute at the cabinet.
She sighed and shook her head sadly. Then she picked up the
shortwave and stepped out of the shadows where forbidden deeds are
committed and back into the world of living things to rejoin her
IX Dale was pacing back and forth before the hallway door. He was
consumed with curiosity about what had taken Gadget away from them for
a solid week. Whatever it was, it had better be big. Chip was
reclining on the couch before the television set, paying no attention
to it whatsoever and peridocally inviting Dale to sit down and relax.
Monty and Zipper, of course, were in the kitchen preparing supper.
But everyone instantly bolted to attention and ran to the hall door
when Dale eagerly announced the arrival of the Omega Point by a loud
chirrup when Gadget entered with the humble-looking box between her
"That's IT?" Dale asked in a disappointed tone that betrayed the
reaction of all four, even though this blatant honesty earned him a
cuff on the head from Chip.
"That's it!" Gadget answered in his own words, though feeling
guilty for the half-truth.
"It's wonderful, Gadget! Whatever it is," Chip said, taking
advantage of Dale's lack of etiquette to rack up points with her.
"What is it, Gadget-luv? Some sort of radio?" Monterey asked.
Before Gadget could answer they heard "Evenin', folks!" as
Foxglove joined them. This was a little earlier than usual for her
but she had discovered that the Rangers' bathing and shower facilities
eliminated time-consuming self-grooming sessions upon awakening.
"Oh hi, Foxy!" Gadget was sure here was someone who would
appreciate the modest little device. "What do you think of this?"
Foxglove's face lit up with interest. "Is that what's going to
let me talk to humans?"
Gadget started suddenly but suppressed it as quickly as she
could. "Don't be silly, Foxy! It's something you'll really like, a
shortwave radio set." But all the while she was asking herself, "Why
did she say that? Does she know?"
Foxy's ears drooped noticeably. Not only was it not what she
was hoping, but a radio struck her as singularly unimpressive. "Gee,
thanks, Gadget," she said, trying her best not to hurt her friend's
feelings, "I'm sure it's a very nice radio. I'll be sure to listen to
"But Foxglove, this is a SHORTWAVE radio."
Before she could explain what that meant Monty exclaimed
"CRIKEY!" and turned it on. "Always wanted one o' these things," he
told Gadget. "Had one as a nipper in the Outback, and it helped give
me the wanderlust. That and the tales of Mum and Dad. Wonder if we
can pick up Melbourne."
"You mean this thing'll pick up foreign courntries?" Dale asked.
"Too right! Foreign stations, clandestine broadcasts, Morse
code, hams ('course you can't understand them unless ye got a ham
radio yerself), and the weirdest and most excitin' noises you could
think of. It's a hoot!" Monty turned the tuner and treated them all
to a variety of such beeps and pulses as they had never heard or saw
any use for. They still didn't.
"It could put us in the international crimefighting business!"
was the ever-practical Chip's contribution to the conversation.
Foxglove was considerably more interested now. "Can I listen to
foreign languages on it?" she asked.
"Sure!" Gadget replied, glad to see her mind off the previous
subject. "In fact, all the foreign countries have English-language
broadcasts and have shows to teach you their languages."
Foxglove was now fixated completely. This was the most
wonderful thing she had ever heard of. There would be no hunting
tonight or for many nights after.
Monterey continued to turn the dial until he came upon a human
voice speaking in Spanish. This was fascinating enough, but a little
further on he picked up French, German, something that sounded very
much like German (Dutch, he told them), Chinese, and finally the BBC
world service in English. They all thought this was the grandest
thing Gadget had ever invented, even though she had provided the
Rangers with all their transportation vehicles and all their weapons.
She blushed at their compliments and said one day she would mark the
tuner so they could memorize the locations of programs. As it was it
was just a dial and pointer.
Of course eventually they had to eat supper, however
reluctantly. But Foxglove refused to leave the wonder box, playing
with the dial and becoming more excited with each new discovery.
Monty brought her a tray of some of his cheese creations just to see
if she would like them, along with some popcorn and a bowl of the
famous "glop" made from bananas which insectiverous bats in captivity
are sometimes fed. She could hardly be made to pay attention to
anything else, but when she did try them she decided the popcorn and
glop were much more to her liking than cheese was, though it would do
in a pinch. When the Rangers rejoined her she was listening
transfixed to a language program and trying to repeat the strange
words after the radio voice, whose thickly-accented English was hard
enough to understand. "Guess what!" she told them exitedly, "I'm
picking up Radio Vientiane, and this is their program 'Let's Learn
Lao!' I'm going to listen to it every night until I become FLUENT!
It's only Lesson Sixty-Seven. That's not too late to start, is it?"
Gadget chuckled under her breath at Foxy's naivete, and assured her
that she had begun right on time. One couldn't really learn that much
on these programs anyway, sometimes even with the accompanying lesson
book, and one only came upon them at Lesson Sixty-Seven, it seemed.
They all sat up a little later than usual that night but eventually
turned in--all except Foxy and Dale, that is. Gadget pleaded with a
completely preoccupied Foxglove to please check outside occasionally
and left the two to their privacy but Dale did not delay his
retirement very long. Foxy was monopolizing the radio and paying no
attention to him whatsoever, and the all-night movies were no fun
alone anymore, and especially not with all that noise and gibberish
from the new toy. Soon an oblivious Foxglove was spending the night
alone riveted to this new and heretofore unknown world.
This is how the next few nights were spent at Ranger
headquarters, with Foxglove listening to the radio and Dale becoming
more and more jealous. When he had been the sole object of her
attention he had wanted her to leave him alone. Now that she was, he
was surprised at the resentment welling up within him. In fact, on
only the third night he asked her if she still liked him.
"Of course I do. I'm IN LOVE with you, Dale! Now let me listen
to my program, okay?"
Dale certainly had mixed feelings about that one. It had been
the first time Foxy had expressed her feelings to him so forthrightly,
but the last part sent him off to bed in a huff.
Foxglove now didn't feed at all and instead was adjusting her
eating habits to match those of the rangers. She had also been rising
earlier and retiring later than formerly and completely forgot about
watching the sun rise and set, formerly her most awesome experience
(Dale was missing these moments with Foxy most of all). She was
constantly discovering new stations and new language lessons but
thought it wise to learn only one language at a time and so commited
herself to listen to every installment of "Let's Learn Lao!" It
turned out that there was only one unit per week but it was repeated
each night before the next one commenced, providing an excellent
opportunity to burn the lessons into one's mind. She was confident
that before Lesson Sixty-Eight she would have "The man on the horse is
not my mother" down pat.
Gadget meanwhile was dealing with her own obsession. From the
first night after she had completed her "voice box" and stashed it in
her cabinet she found herself fighting the almost irresitable urge to
try it out. But how? Aside from the fact that it was built with a
bat in mind, she could hardly simply walk up to a human and begin
speaking. Even if it didn't work she might be spotted carrying the
device around, which would surely startle any human except perhaps
for Professor Nimnul. And if it did work . . . There was that
thought again, that what she had built was terribly wrong. Chip and
Dale were both uneasy about the behavior of the two girls, one
obviously addicted to her new radio and the other growing continually
more moody, secretive, and depressed. Gadget once agained joined them
for daily surveillance duty, but her mind and heart were obviously not
in it. Even Monty was becoming concerned about Gadget; sometimes he
would speak to her and she wouldn't even hear him. And as for Zipper,
he found the uneasiness he had felt upon seeing the two strange humans
two weeks before returning, though he had no idea why.
It was on the Sunday following Gadget's inventions that things
began to come to a head. None of the men were enjoying themselves
with Gadget so silent and moody and Foxglove almost transformed into
another person by a little black box. This had been the night for
Dale's biggest all-night movie binges but now he and Chip were waiting
for bedtime with a strange feeling of dread that seemed to have no
basis. Even the TV wasn't on. Nothing seemed as it should be.
Foxglove joined them about 7pm and Monty decided to try to get
some old-fashioned friendly conversation started. "Did you ever find
out what that language was, Luv?" he asked her.
"You mean the Lao?" she asked. "I know what that is; they told
that the first night I listened." Her recollections of her interests
prior to The Radio were very fuzzy.
"No Luv, the one you asked me about. You know, the one they use
at that church of yours?"
Foxy paused suddenly. What with moving in with the Rangers and
now having the whole world at her wingtips she had almost forgotten
it. She closed her eyes and tried to visualize the sign. Then she
said, "Oh yes, I remember now, Monty. I went back there the night I
was so upset and read the sign out front before I came back." She
closed her eyes again and tried to see it. She was so small she had
had to hover before and read one letter at a time, and not having
heard the words she was not quite so sure of herself. But she tried
her best to repeat it. "It said: 'St. Ner-ses Shnor-hal-i . . .
Ar-men-i-an . . . Apostolic Church!" She was proud of herself for
remembering, and Dale was hoping it might make her a little more like
her old self.
Monterey Jack slapped a paw across his forehead. "Armenian!"
he exclaimed. "Why didn't I think of that? It should've been
"You've heard of it?" she asked him.
"Too right! Not that uncommon, really. Been to some of their
churches in Australia and France. Never been to Armenia, though. But
I don't know the language and didn't recognize it."
"Where is Armenia?" was her next question.
"Oh, up in the Caucasus in southwestern Asia. It's where the
Ark came to rest."
Something deep inside her responded to the information and she
began to visibly quiver with excitement. "Ark? THE Ark? The real
"Never heard of another one, Luv."
They all thought the old Foxy was almost back with them until
she cast an addict's eye at the radio. "I wonder if I can find that
language on the shortwave?"
"I'm sure you can, Foxy." He turned to find Dale glowering at
him. "Still, it's a small country. I wouldn't set my heart on
finding it right away." Dale was appeased, but just barely.
Gadget was unaffected by any of this. She sat there in the
living room eating her supper off a tray, very slowly and apparently
with great difficulty, and sipping on her glass of water. Finally,
with the sun barely down she announced, "I'm going to turn in now,
fellas. Good night." With that she took her tray back into the
kitchen and then reemerged with her glass of water to retire to her
bedroom. "Good night," they all called after her, though without much
"Do you suppose that's actually Luwainie?" Dale wondered.
"No way. She'd be a lot friendlier," Chip answered.
Before much longer the four males also retired, leaving Foxglove
with her radio and her thoughts. She was determined to listen to
"Let's Learn Lao!", though her enthusiasm and resolution concerning
learning that language was beginning to wane. Perhaps she had heard
Lesson Sixty-Seven once too often. When she tuned it in she was
relieved to be at last at Lesson Sixty-Eight, "Donating One's Buffalo
to the Party." Perhaps this would be more exciting. But then she was
going to spend the entire night trying to locate a signal from
Armenia, even if success wasn't very likely.
Gadget lay awake for some time, tossing and turning. She had
been having this difficulty ever since completing her fiendish device.
But tonight she was even more restless than before. She could almost
hear the thing calling to her from her workshop next door. "Come,
Gadget," she fancied it saying, "Try me out. You know you want to."
And in fact she did. She also wanted to disassemble it, but could not
bring herself to do either one. For all her feelings that she had
invented an evil and forbidden thing, it was still one of her
inventions, which were like children to her. "After all," she thought
within herself, "it didn't ask to be invented."
After an indeterminate period of being unable to shut her brain
down for the night Gadget seized the flashlight at her bedside and
shined it at the clock. It was already 1 am. She felt disgusted.
"Obviously, I'm not going to get any sleep tonight," she told herself
out loud. "Might as well join Dale and Foxy. Maybe a little TV or
world band radio will clear my head." As soon as she had said this
she froze solid. "That's IT!" she said, snapping a finger, and she
took the flashlight with her as she quietly opened her bedroom door
and tiptoed to the door of her workshop. Looking around, she entered
as noiselessly as possible. Of course she could have turned on the
light (she had wired headquarters herself so they could get the news
and so Monty could cook his famous creations), but she chose instead
to stick to her mouse-sized flashlight. She used this to unlock her
cabinet, to find the "voice box," and then to gather up a small radio
set and a cellular phone (of course she had built them both). Tuning
the radio to a local FM station she listened for the request line
number, dialed it, and with the "voice box" on and the mic held up to
her mouth said, "I'd like to request 'IGY' by Donald Fagen, please"
when the dj answered. There was only a puzzled silence in return, and
then a click. He had not understood her. But there were plenty more
stations in the city. She would keep adjusting the tuner on her
invention until she found a setting that worked. She wasn't the least
bit sleepy, she was not likely to be disturbed, and she had all night.
Foxglove looked at the clock. It was 1 am. Lesson Sixty-Eight
had been a little more exciting because it was new material, but that
had been hours ago, and though she found many interesting stations and
many strange languages she had not found the one she was looking for,
at least as far as she knew. The English broadcasts took FOREVER to
identify themselves and she probably would not have recognized
Armenian if she heard it. She had just grown bored with listening to
Albanian (she knew what it was only because she had caught the end of
Radio Tirane's English language broadcast and they had announced the
next program) and was turning the dial when suddenly she heard
something that sent a tingle all over her small body. It was
music--strange, exotic music that was somehow familiar.
"Koo-hoort kho-rin an-has a nug-iz-bun . . ."
Where had she heard that before? She should be able to
remember. It was on the tip of her mind, so to speak. Then she
recalled the week prior to her moving in with the Rangers and the
beautiful church she had roosted in. THAT'S where she had heard that
music and those words, sometimes while awake and sometimes while
asleep. St. Nerses Shnorhali Armenian Apostolic Church. This was it!
She was listening to Armenia, and she waited eagerly for an English
broadcast that would offer her Armenian lessons. But this was not a
news program. It was a church service, probably taped that Sunday
morning. She was listening to the Armenian liturgy. It wasn't
exactly what she was looking for, but it would do. She was certainly
curious about it, and an English program would surely be coming up
before long. She sighed and relaxed while she listened.
"Megha, megha, megha Asdoodzo . . . ."
Suddenly Foxy got another strange feeling, and a very unsettling
one. Ever since being introduced to her new hobby she had neglected
to keep a lookout for the humans Gadget was so worried about. Now all
of a sudden something told her to go outside and take a look. She
opened the door gingerly and looked around the base of the tree. The
park was very well-lit, and she suddenly remembered the tasty moths
she used to enjoy catching around the lights. Then she saw them. She
didn't need her radar to tell her that two humans were standing at the
foot of the Rangers' tree and looking up intently. A sudden fear
surged through her and she ran back inside reproaching herself for her
recent neglect of duty. She turned off the light and the radio and
wondered what to do. Perhaps it would be best to awaken Gadget and
tell her; the humans were there and she might as well know about it.
It was no trouble negotiating the hallway and coming to Gadget's door.
She knocked on it and said "Gadget!" in what amounted to a loud
whisper, seeing no need to arouse the others just yet. There was no
response. Then her ears picked up something--the sound of speech
coming from Gadget's workshop. Who could she be talking to at this
hour? One of the fellows, perhaps? She sure hoped it wasn't Dale.
She came quietly before the workshop door and listened.
"Yes, I'd like to hear 'IGY' by Donald Fagen, please."
"Oh, a Baby Boomer, eh?" This voice was unfamiliar. "Well, I
believe we've got that one around here somewhere. What station gives
you the most of what you want to hear and the least of what you don't?"
"Uh . . . this one?"
"That's right! FM 98.6, the station that's as hot as you are!"
Gadget sighed with satisfaction at hearing the playback of the
conversation of a few minutes before and turned off the set as her
record began to play. Success! And with no risk whatsoever. Now
maybe the thing's power over her would be over and she could simply
put it away and ignore it. It seemed a morally neutral device,
certainly not evil. There was certainly no need to destroy it. She
suddenly felt a wave of exhaustion sweep over her as her tenseness
left her and her lack of sleep made itself known. She went back to
the cabinet and tossed the thing in without even trying to hide it,
and then shut the door and spun the lock. Then she went back to bed
and slept like a baby.
Foxglove was back in the living room. She had heard the whole
thing. Gadget had called in a request to a human radio station and
had been understood. How? Had she always had this secret talent?
Why would she keep it hidden from the Rescue Rangers? It made no
sense that Gadget should have this power. Then it hit her. Of
course! So that's what Gadget had been working on all that week. She
had expressed interest in such an idea after Foxy had suggested it
and had even asked if Foxy could supply her with a bat detector. But
then she had blown her off with a remark about saving that project for
some time in the future. And then she had turned right around and
built the thing! The shortwave . . . that must have been a cover. Of
course! To keep anyone from asking questions. How could Gadget be so
mean as to keep this to herself when she knew how much Foxy wanted to
be able to speak to humans? It hurt her to think that . . . .
Humans! What about those two . . . ?
She quickly opened the front door and looked out again. No one.
They were gone, whoever they were. Maybe it was nothing. Two
sweethearts out for a late-night stroll. Foxy looked again in all
directions. She was afraid to fly down and examine the area with her
echolocation system, but that wasn't necessary. They were gone
without a trace, as if they had never been there.
Foxglove went back in and closed the door, but did not turn the
light back on. She didn't need it, and she didn't want to attract the
attention of anyone of any species. A wild, uncontrollable feeling
came over her that made her addiction to the shortwave seem like a
taste for coffee in comparison. Suppressing any doubts about the
morality of what she was doing she quietly crept back into the hallway
and made her way past the Rangers' bedrooms back to Gadget's
workshop. She could hear them all snoring like a sawmill, especially
poor Gadget, who was exhausted. Foxy turned the latch and the door
opened; Gadget had never seen the need to lock it. Once inside, she
shut the door quietly and this time did turn on the light. She was
not familiar with this room and was too obsessed to worry about an
outsider seeing a light. She looked about for the device she had
never seen, hoping somehow to recognize it by her sheer disire for
it. At first she was discouraged; there was junk everywhere. Then
she remembered distinctly hearing the tumblers of a combination lock
when she had been outside the door listening to Gadget's phone call.
There was only one piece of furniture with such a lock, a large and
very old-looking wooden cabinet in the back of the room near an
alcove of some sort. She went to it at once and with her excellent
hearing was able to click all the tumblers correctly even without
knowing the combination. Inside was more junk. Which contraption
could it be? Then her eyes fell on something right in front of her,
where Gadget had carelessley flung it before retiring. Although it
was home made and crude looking, she recognized a bat detector at
once. Gadget had asked her if she could provide her with one when she
had first suggested such an invention to her. Gadget may have done
the work, but the original concept had been hers. That made her half
owner of the intellectual property rights, she figured. Well, since
Gadget had tried it out, it was only right that the other partner have
a go at it.
Fortunately for Foxglove there was a strap on the little box
which enabled her to wear it around her neck with the mic, clearly
visible, on the topside. Now she turned off the light, closed the
door, and made her way quickly to the main entrance of the
headquarters. Upon exiting she launched herself skyward without a
thought of the humans whose sight had terrified her just a short time
Foxglove experienced a feeling of elation as she flew about the
park and then the environs with her new toy, which would give her what
she most wanted in the world--the ability to communicate with humans;
and not evil humans studying witchcraft, but good humans or humans in
trouble who might need her help. She would make up for her short
career with Winifred by being a hero, and a much bigger and more
famous hero than the Rescue Rangers, as everyone could communicate
with her and would know about her. She'd be famous! And that meant
never being alone and isolated again. She would have all the friends
in the world.
It was with these thoughts in the mind that she began to fly
over the greater city, away from the general area of the park. There
was no danger; there was no part of the city she had not visited
before on her foraging expeditions. She was also beginning to resent
Gadget's course of action more than ever. She had BEGGED the young
prodigy to invent such a contraption and even suggested the means, a
bat detector. Gadget had then gone ahead and built the thing in
secret with apparently no intention to share it with her. Sometimes
the most beautiful people could be the most cruel! She told herself
that she would never have behaved in that fashion if she had invented
it. Well, Gadget would get her come-uppence when she woke up to find
the gizmo missing and realized who had taken it. Foxy smiled at the
thought of how easy it had been to take it from the genius' workshop.
She was really feeling proud of her natural abilities. Why, Winifred
would have been impressed at how easily she had . . .
She banked and hovered suddenly, feeling as if a proverbial
cartoon anvil had been dropped on her. What had she done? A feeling
of horror spread all over her. She had stolen. She had robbed her
best and only friends in the world. And for what? For a little box
that she did not invent and could not have in a million years. Just
who did she intend to try it out on, anyway? She remembered
belatedly that humans are diurnal creatures, and what humans were out
at night might not be the nicest people to strike up a casual
conversation with. There were policemen on patrol at all hours, but
what would their reaction be to the first human-animal conversation
since the days of King Solomon? It was also possible that Dale was
not the only sentient being to form an impression of bats from ghastly
horror pictures. She couldn't talk to anyone! She had committed a
CRIME and had abused the natural gifts she had been given to do it,
and for no purpose whatsoever. She felt lower than she had ever felt
before in her short and sad life.
"What kind of person am I?" she asked herself. "I could never
be a hero. I'm a terrible person. No wonder I helped Winifred. I'm
nothing but a common criminal, a bad seed from the word go. I don't
deserve any friends." She reproached herself with thoughts like
these, literally too bitter and shattered inside even to cry. All she
had ever meant to be was a good and kind person. She had never had
bad intentions. Why was she always doing such evil things? Well,
this would be the last time. She would return to Ranger Headquarters
and use her talents to return the accursed thing to Gadget's cabinet.
Then she would disappear without a trace. She would live out the rest
of her days as a renegade shunned by every creature at some isolated
spot where she would never hurt anyone ever again. The Rangers would
never know what she had done or what had become of her. Oh, they
would wonder for a short while but then she would fade from their
memories and they'd all be better off for forgetting that she'd ever
existed. Maybe Dale would remember a little longer than the others,
but . . . She could not continue her mental self-flagellation at
this point but broke out in long protracted sobs, though of far too
high a frequency for any but a bat to hear, or at least so she
thought. She headed with an unbearable burden back to the Rangers'
tree for one last time. It was a good thing she had radar, for her
eyes were now so full of tears they would have been useless to her,
even if her eyesight had been better than it was.
She had been flying around for about two hours when her
self-revelation came to her, so it was just after 3 am when she was
back in the park. Even though days were at their longest at this
point in June it was still dark. She sensed the tree up ahead and
approached with unutterable sorrow. She only hoped they were all
still asleep. She had rather not face them after what she had done,
and with the contraband around her neck like the Mariner's albatross.
Still, she had to do this no matter what. If they did confront her
then whatever they did to her would be better than she deserved. What
she deserved probably didn't even exist, at least not in this life.
This self-hatred came to a sudden halt when she unmistakably
detected two humans once again standing at the foot of the Rangers'
tree and apparently studying it with great intensity. Could these be
the same two she had seen earlier that very night? Maybe the very
same that Zipper had seen just before she had arrived that night two
weeks ago and who had Gadget so dreadfully shook up? With all
thoughts of guilt or of fear suddenly dismissed she flew right at the
humans, something she had only done before to catch insects, and
hovering in their very faces squeaked at them, "Who are you? What are
you doing? What do you want here?" By the glow of the park lights
she saw their facial expressions change to stunned surprise followed
by absolute horror as they looked at each other and then back at her.
She looked down at the box around her neck. She must have somehow
turned it on. They had heard her and understood! This was the moment
she had always thought she wanted, but she was too afraid right now to
appreciate it. Then one of them pulled his hand from his coat pocket
to reveal something tiny she could not make out by sight or
echolocation. Another communication device perhaps?
"What do you want with the Rescue Rangers?" she finally got up
the nerve to say. If they had a communication device as well then she
might as well continue the conversation. Maybe they had spent their
lives wanting to communicate with animals. It was their turn now, if
they were to continue. The human pointed whatever it was at her. It
was still too tiny to make out, but she definitely saw a metallic
shine from the surrounding electric lights. She grew impatient.
"I said what . . . "
"Can you guys help me?"
Both Chip and Dale were at Gadget's side in an instant. Already
they could tell she was more her old self.
"What's wrong, Gadget?" Chip queried.
"My workshop seems to be locked. I've never locked it before.
I guess I was just so tired last night that I did it absent-mindedly."
Chip and Dale looked at each other knowingly. It was a wonder this
didn't happen more often, considering the inventor's sometimes chaotic
way of thinking about everyday things.
"No problem, Gadget," Dale comforted her, "just unlock it."
"The keys are kinda inside," she admitted sheepishly.
The boys looked at each other again, albeit a little less
good-humoredly. "Well, we'll just have to persuade it to open for
you!" Chip said chivalrously, taking off his hat and making an
"Gee, thanks, Chip!" she smiled at him. He put his shoulder to
the door and began to push and was immediately joined by Dale.
"And what do you think YOU'RE doing?" Chip asked him.
"I'm helpin' you get the door open!" he snapped back.
"And just what makes you think I can't handle this alone?"
"On account of I'm stronger than you!"
"Am too!" And then more vehemently, "Am too! Am too! Am too!"
This was followed by the indecipherable gibberish the two always used
when arguing. This always depressed Gadget. And this time it
attracted the attention of Zipper and Monterey.
"What's the commotion, mates?" Monty asked them, and when he had
been told, exclaimed, "One side, buckoes!" and crashed into the door
with his ample shoulder. On the third try the door opened, although
the lock was now broken. It would be no trouble for Gadget to repair,
though, if she wanted to. "Thanks, Monty!" Gadget beamed as the two
chipmunks glared at him. As far as they were concerned it was a good
thing that she looked at the burly Aussie as a second father.
"What was the big idea?" Chip asked Dale as the two returned to
the living room. "I thought Foxy was your girlfriend." This caused
Dale to feel a little guilty for his "infidelity" in playing up to
Gadget, so after shooting a dirty look at his best friend he went to
Gadget's bedroom door and knocked, assuming that Foxy had returned
early that morning before he had gotten up. There was no sound in
return, but that probably only meant that she was sleeping soundly.
While he was still in the hallway he heard an uncharacteristic "Oh
NO!" that came from Gadget's workshop. He stepped up to the open door
and peeked in, asking "What's wrong, Gadget?" in a voice that
indicated he didn't think it could be anything really serious.
Gadget was not one bit calmer. "It's GONE!" she said in a
distracted tone Dale had never heard her use before.
"What's gone?" he asked, his own voice showing his growing
uneasiness at whatever had upset Gadget so terribly. By the time she
replied the other Rangers had arrived to find out what was going on.
"My . . . invention," she said as though going into shock, "I
put it right in here after I tested it last night. What could have
happened to it?"
They were all used to Gadget's absent-mindedness and calmed down
considerably at finding such a minor situation. "Now, Gadget-luv,"
Monterey comforted her, "whatever it is, it'll turn up. No use
gettin' yerself all in a tizzy over nothin'."
"No Monty, you don't understand!" The original panic returned
to her voice. "I can't lose it! I can't! And I KNOW I just laid it
right here in Daddy's old cabinet!"
Mony looked grim. It must have been some invention for her to
put it in Geegaw's old handmade wooden safe. Her memories of her
father were still tender and she didn't ordinarily go rummaging
through his old things. "What was it, Luv?" he asked in a comforting
"I--I don't know if I can tell you what it was. It was
something terrible; I know that now. I thought I had done with it
forever after I tested it successfully last night, and now it's gotten
away from me! No telling what harm it could do!"
Now they were all upset, and all the more so because for the
life of them they could not imagine Gadget inventing something like
what she had just described.
Chip took her by the paw to comfort her. She was in such need
of it that Dale did not resent it a bit if Chip could get the job
done. "Now calm down, Gadget," Chip said, "it can't possibly be as
bad as all that. You just haven't been yourself lately. You've been
so stressed out ever since you took a week to build that shortwave
radio, and . . . "
"You don't get it, do you?" She turned on him with an
expression that gave him chills. "Right under your noses, and none of
you understand! Don't you remember what Foxglove and I were
discussing the very night before I started?"
"I don't," Dale answered truthfully. He had been absorbed in
his all-night Japanese sci-fi classics while the others were listening
with rapt attention to the girls' conversation. But Chip would have
given him a bop with his hat if he hadn't been pretty terrified
himself by now.
"I went ahead and built the thing!" she continued, almost
hysterical. "That's what I went to the library for that next day!
And then I drew up the blueprints and built it!"
"I don't understand any of this! Built what?" Dale wanted to
It would have been obvious to everyone but Dale if they hadn't
been so on edge. But Monty turned his memory back to Foxglove's first
night with them and snapped his finger at his recollection.
"That's it, Luv! You've invented that communication gizmo! The
one to communicate with human blokes! Why, you should be proud.
That's the most wonderful thing that's ever been thought up, and by a
mouse, too! Why, your old man would . . . "
Gadget grabbed the lapels of his coat and would have shaken him
silly if he hadn't been so much bigger than she. "No, Monty! You
don't understand! None of you understand! I've done a terrible
thing! We were never meant to communicate with humans or we'd be
doing it already! And now that that thing's out there somewhere
they'll come for me, Monterey! They'll come for me and this time
there'll be no escape! I'll . . . I'll be dissected! DISSECTED!"
And she buried her head in her forepaws and cried in a sudden fit of
Chip put a grim look on his face and went up to her, tapping her
gently on the shoulder until she sniffed and lifted her head to look
at him. None of the Rangers had ever seen her look so vulnerable and
afraid. "Gadget," he said to her, "don't you worry about a thing.
Remember, we're the Rescue Rangers. We've outsmarted humans before,
including criminals who'd eluded the police for years, and we've
foiled the most ingenuous animal criminals time after time. No one's
going to dissect you. They're not even going to capture you. Now put
that thought out of your mind and let's concentrate on this case. A
crime has been committed here. We can solve it. Who would have
stolen something from your workshop? NImnul's still in the
psychiatiric hospital, and Fat Cat and Rat Capone don't even know
where we are."
Gadget seemed to come to herself at Chip's words and dried her
tears. She looked at Chip and thought she had never seen him look
more heroic. She threw her arms around him in a most distressed and
un-romantic fashion while he continued to pat her shoulder and exort
her to pull herself together. Dale might have been jealous but could
not bring himself to resent Chip if he could make Gadget feel better.
Besides, he had a girlfriend now. "How was Foxy this morning?" he
asked after a respectful silence to enable Gadget to regain her
"I never saw her this morning, Dale," Gadget answered him, "and
I slept a little late myself. Maybe she's spending the day somewhere
else." Chip, Monty, and Zipper looked at each other in puzzled
agreement. None of them had seen her. Then after a few more sniffles
Gadget froze solid for just a moment. "Could it be?" she said aloud
to herself. Then she went to her bedroom and pushed the door open.
"Dale, Foxglove's not here. Do you have any idea where she
"If I did then why would I have to ask you how she was doing
this morning?" he said with more impatience than he really should have.
Gadget's look suddenly became grim. "Guys, I think I know who
took my voice box."
One by one Zipper, Chip, and Monty started, then looked at Dale,
who remained blissfully curious as to why. Then it came to him. "No!
You don't think Foxy would have . . . How could you suspect her of
such a thing? She's gone straight! " He folded his arms in a most
obstinate and conclusive manner, "I won't even hear of it!" And for
him, that settled it.
"Dale, I'm afraid it looks that way," Chip said in as gentle and
sympathetic a voice as he could manage. He hoped the two most
emotionally unpredictable members of his team weren't about to fall
apart at the same time. He didn't think he could handle that. As a
matter of fact, he knew he couldn't.
"Now take it easy, pally," Monty assured him, "we don't know for
sure it was her took it. Even if she did, there was no malice in it.
She was just curious is all. You know how much she wanted to be able
to communicate with humans."
"That doesn't give her the right to steal from us and to
endanger all our lives!" Gadget responded angrily.
"Stop talkin' that way about her!" Dale demanded.
"You should talk! You're not the one they're after!"
"You didn't seem in such terrible danger last time!"
"Last time I was human-size thanks to that invention of
"Yeah well, you're not the one they've got!" They both stopped
suddenly, much to the relief of the others who hadn't dared interrupt
the spirited exchange. Neither of the chipmunks had ever quarrelled
with Gadget before.
"Foxy!" Dale said quietly. "We've got to find her!" Gadget was
also softening her attitude toward their lodger. She knew very well
that Foxy had no malicious intentions but was merely obsessed,
compulsive, and lonely. Her absorbtion with the radio had been an
indication of that. How much the more would be her lack of control
with the thing she wanted so much and which she had in fact first
suggested. Gadget recalled that she herself knew of the thing's
attraction. This didn't excuse what Foxglove had done, of course, but
there was no need to feel so enraged towards her. She had to get her
emotions back under control and be Gadget Hackwrench, Rescue Ranger.
"I have a theory as to what happened last night to trigger
this," she told them. "I finally figured a safe way to test the
device, or so I thought. I used it to call in a request to an FM
radio station. The dj understood me and we talked just a few seconds,
and he played my request."
"How would Foxy have known?" Chip asked.
"Well, sometimes an FM signal will come over the shortwave band,
especially if the station is close by. That's the only thing I can
"Chip, we gotta save her! She must've talked to some humans and
been captured or hurt or maybe even . . . " Dale couldn't finish.
Gadget was by this time feeling very worried for Foxglove. If
Foxy had endangered their lives, then she had endangered the
lightheaded bat's by bringing such a temptation into the world.
Gadget now felt that if something had indeed happened to Foxy, it was
ultimately her fault. This was quite a change in her feelings from
just moments earlier, but forgetting about herself and thinking about
someone else in danger and needing her help made her feel herself
She walked over to a device with a horizontal antenna laying on
a workbench. "I always install a homing device in really important
inventions," she explained, "although someone has to activate it
before I can trace it." She flipped a switch and it beeped as a small
light blinked on and off in a slow but regular patttern. "It's on!"
she exclaimed excitedly. "I don't know how, but she turned it on, or
else I did before putting it away. Now all we have to do is follow
it!" She suddenly became very solemn. "I'm afraid it's stationary,
though." No one cared to comment on this at the moment. They didn't
even want to think about what it might mean.
Gadget turned to Dale. "Dale," she said softly, "I'm sorry I
said those things. I've just had such a fear of being recaptured by
those people who know about me. I let it make me forget what my job
"I know you're sorry, Gadget," Dale responded, "and I hope you
know that I'm sorry, too."
"I do." Then Gadget and Dale hugged, and it was Chip's turn not
to feel a bit jealous.
After their hug Gadget turned to the others with a look of
determination on her face. "Did everyone have enough breakfast this
morning? It could be a long day." They nodded that they had. "Then
follow me!" she said and led the way with the tracing device in her
forepaws. They followed her down the trunk of the tree and into the
crevice where the Rangermobile was kept.
"Gadget, do you think you're up to this? You were quite a bit
upset a few minutes ago, and this thing's tricky enough as it is. We
don't want there to be an accident." Chip was glad to see Gadget
coming out of it, but he considered himself their leader. He had
trouble following another's directives.
"There'll be no accident," she said with confidence, "there
won't even be an anomaly, which is what I usually have, and I wish you
all would learn to distinguish the two." She put on her helmet,
hopped into the driver's seat, and buckled up. The others looked at
one another for just a second and joined her (even Zipper had a seat)
with Chip sitting next to Gadget. She turned on the ignition. The
motor revved. She put it in gear and the Rangermobile began to move
forward. Zipper gave his trademark trumpeting sound.
"Rescue Rangers away!" the other four called in one voice.
Then slowly in the darkness a consciousness began to form. At
first very fuzzily, but little by little the consciousness became
aware that it was a personality of some sort. Then there was a
feeling of soaring through the darkness. There was not only no light
but also no atmospheric force of any kind to form a resistance to the
flight. Whatever it was could not recall any past experience of any
sort, and so the flight was everything. It seemed right to always and
only fly through the empty darkness. Then there was a jolt of
*I'm Foxglove,* it thought.
Foxy looked down and though she could see no ground of any sort
she was relieved to find that she could once again see herself. This
made her realize that there was now a light coming from somewhere.
She was startled to find that the source of that light was two snowy
white bats of indeterminate gender flying on either side of her.
They both looked at her with friendly, smiling faces but said
nothing. After a time (she couldn't tell how long it was) she thought
she might as well break the silence. Her company certainly seemed in
no hurry to do so. She cleared her throat and asked "Who are you?"
*Who do you think?* She could not tell which of her two
companions had spoken, as the voice seemed to come from within her own
mind. Her memory of a past life was still almost nil, but she knew
that this was strange.
*Oh my! Not that!* she said to herself.
*Not what?* It was a different voice, obviously from the other
bat. She was quite consternated to find that not only could she not
tell who was speaking, but her strange escort seemed to be able to
hear her thoughts. *No need trying to conceal anything from you,* she
continued, *so let's hear it. You're taking me to judgment, aren't
*Why would we do that?*
*Well, if you were birds instead of bats, I'd say you were
angels.* She was in a bit of a huff that such superior beings were so
ignorant of such obvious things.
*Birds? Why should angels look like birds?* the second voice
continued. *All those scaly, reptilian feathers! Eeuw!*
*It's those self-hating humans,* the first voice put in, *Just
what's wrong with being a mammal anyway? Actually, I think we're all
very cute, thank you very much!*
"Well, I'm glad someone thinks so," Foxy said aloud, sick and
tired of all the thinking back and forth, "but what are you going to
do with me?"
"We're not going to do anything with you," the one on her left
said, this time actually speaking with a real voice, "are we?"
"No. Nothing." This time the one on her right spoke. "You
see, we're not really angels. We're just creations of your own
subconscious imagination to help you deal with this situation."
"That's right," said "Lefty," "You're not even dead. Why don't
you relax a little bit, Foxglove?"
"Yeah," his (?) counterpart said, "If you don't watch it you'll
worry yourself into an early grave one of these days. 'Bye now!"
Then they vanished and she was alone once again. "Well that was
weird!" she thought quite truthfully to herself.
Suddenly the darkness ceased, replaced by phosphenes (honest;
that's what they're called) as she regained consciousness. And with
consciousness came memory, memory of who she was and all that had
happened. Then came a sharp pain in her tummy.
*Oh no,* she thought, *That human! He shot me! Now after that
experience of subconsciously assuring myself I'm not dead, I'm going
to die anyway. I know it happens to us all eventually, but did it
have to be so weird in my case?* She lowered her head and prepared
for the inevitable, which judging by her pain could not be long in
coming. It was then, at this moment of fear, that words began to form
in her mind and to emerge from her lips. She did not understand them
and could not for the life of her remember learning them at any time.
In the truest "A Elbereth! Gilthoniel!" fashion she found herself
saying in a language she did not understand:
"'Al chet' shechata'nu lefanekha
ve'al chet' shechata'nu lefanekha
be'imutz-ha lev . . . "
Then suddenly she opened her eyes and saw a bandage around her middle.
The bullet, or whatever it was, had been removed and her injury had
been tended to. She might not die after all.
Foxglove blinked as she lifted her head and tried to take in her
surroundings. She was in a small cage of very fine wire mesh, though
fairly transparent. She guessed from her vantage point that the cage
was on a table or desk of some sort. Then looking up she saw them.
Two humans. Foxy knew humans were large, but these seemed enormous,
like the monsters from one of Dale's movies. They were halfway
across the room from her with their backs turned, apparently studying
something very intently before them on another table. Foxy shuddered
at the thought that a needle might be being fitted to a bicycle pump.
Suddenly she remembered the wretched device that had been the cause of
all this torment and looked down to see it missing. She was a
prisoner of humans whose intentions she did not know, and she had no
way to communicate with them. But her hearing was as good as ever,
so she listened very carefully.
First was a male voice. "Look at this!" it said admiringly,
"Can you believe the complexity? And look at the compact structure.
No human could do that. We are definitely dealing with alien
Next was a female voice. "Now you know that's not in line with
the evidence, and it's not the conclusion reached by the Department.
If you'd get space aliens out of your mind for one minute and recall
the photos we found in the vault you'd realize we're dealing with
something much stranger here, and a lot more disturbing."
"Photos can be faked," the man said.
The woman looked toward Foxy's cage in evident exasperation with
the man and noticed her inside, blinking groggily and still wincing a
bit from the pain in her tummy. Whatever had gone in there had done
some damage, even if it had been taken out. "Well, it looks like our
friend is waking up," the woman said.
"Just in time," the man responded, "I found what I was looking
for. There!" After another minute or so of toying with the
whatever-it-was he approached Foxy's cage with Gadget's contraption in
his hands. He had also slipped on a pair of very thick and clumsy
gloves, making his grip a trifle unsure. He opened the cage door and
reached in a gloved hand, then removed Foxglove from the cage. But
after hanging the device back around her neck he slipped her into the
cage and closed the door once again. As he removed the gloves Foxy
said, "What's the matter? Don't you want me to give you the gift of
eternal life?" She winced and rubbed her tummy.
"That sounded very much like sarcasm," her target responded.
"I certainly gave it my best shot."
Then all three started as they realized what was happening. An
interspecies conversation. This had to be the biggest breakthrough of
"Wait until I get the recorder on," the woman said, picking up a
small device from the other table and sitting it in front of Foxy's
"I apologize for wounding you," the man began, "but we were
expecting a larger animal than a bat. Of course it was only a
tranquilizer dart. Rodent-size, but still a little big for you. It
made a bit of a hole, but no major damage. You'll just have to take
it easy for a while. You can thank your doctor here for seeing to
that," and he nodded toward the woman.
"Thank you," Foxy said, though not in the most appreciative tone
"Are you . . . female?" The woman seemed surprised.
"What's wrong with that? You appear to share that honor." She
was being sarcastic again, as she didn't think very much of herself or
her captors at that point.
"Well, let's not waste tape," the woman said. "Let's get on
with the serious business at hand. First, I suppose we should
introduce ourselves. We are agents of the government of the United
States of America, the human nation of this land. We work for an
agency called the Federal Bureau of Investigation. What that means is
. . . "
"The FBI?" Foxy asked uneasily. She thought she remembered
Gadget saying something about being questioned by them previously,
though she had no idea how it was done without some sort of
"You've heard of us?" the woman asked incredulously.
"Everyone's heard of the FBI," Foxy responded, "I'm not that far
out of it. And I know what country I live in, thank you very much."
"You know about the United States? The human country we're
"Listen, Lady. A whole group of Mexican free-tailed bats were
ready to lay down their lives for this country during World War II."
She was angry that her loyalty seemed to be in question. "Don't you
ever listen to Paul Harvey?"
Then the man spoke up. "Who and what are you really?" he
demanded. "If you could build something like that device you were
wearing when we captured you and have been monitoring human radio
broadcasts then you're certainly not one of our animals!"
"What do you know?" Foxy asked very grouchily. She was in no
mood to be cooperative. "For your information, we animals have always
been able to understand you humans. You just can't understand us,
that's all. The only thing this is for is to decipher our talk for
"I can't believe that!" the man said.
"What did I tell you?" the woman said with satisfaction, "We're
onto something that makes all our cases up to now look like
purse-snatchings. A complete parallel society has coexisted with
humanity all through history and we knew nothing of it, while they
have had a perfectly good knowledge of us. And it's our fellow earth
creatures we have always taken so for granted, too! That for your
'space aliens!'" and she snapped a finger triumphantly. Then turning
back to Foxglove she said, "You are a memeber of an organization
called the Rescue Rangers. Correct?"
Foxy sniffled at the mention of her former hosts. "No," she
"No? Then what were you doing at their headquarters?"
"And what are you doing with such a device? Did you build it
yourself?" the man asked.
"No," she said sullenly. These humans seemed to know more than
a little about the Rescue Rangers. "I had been staying with the
Rangers for a couple of weeks, that's all. I'm in love with one of
the leaders." And she blushed a little. "I was hoping to marry him
"One of the leaders of the Rescue Rangers is a bat?" the man
"No. He's a chipmunk."
"A bat marry a chipmunk?" he asked.
Foxglove fairly glared at him. "Hey, what is this? The
"Sorry!" he said. "Back to you," he said to his partner.
"We would like to ask you some questions about the Rescue
Rangers," the woman said.
At this point Foxy became unhinged. "Oh, why don't you leave
them alone?" she asked, "they've never hurt anyone. They only do
good. They've helped humans out zillions of times, including your
police when they couldn't get the job done. They're not criminals."
Then she lowered her head and said in a very subdued tone, "I'm the
criminal. Take me instead. Only please leave them in peace."
The two agents were speechless for a while, and then the woman
started to ask something. "Just what kind of criminal . . . ?" she
said, but her partner motioned for her to be silent before she could
finish. "I think we're going about this the wrong way," he said very
quietly, although Foxglove could hear every word. Then he turned to
"Who are you?" he asked.
"My name is Foxglove."
"Foxglove? That's an unusual name. Did your mother give it to
"I guess I gave it to myself. I don't remember my mother.
Well, I remember clinging to something soft and warm as it flew, but
just barely. I was just a baby."
"So why did you give yourself that name?"
"Well, when I fell from the warm thing I landed in some kind of
plant. I do remember that. It was daytime and there was a human
child in a stroller who saw me and started laughing and reaching for
me. His mother looked up from reading a paper and said, 'Oh, see the
pretty foxglove.' I thought she meant me but I learned later it was
the plant. It was in a park or something." Foxy's tone was sad and
resigned and she spoke slowly. She had no idea what her captors would
do with her after the interrogation and she didn't care very much, at
least at first. But as the interview proceeded she began recalling
more and more things she had long forgotten and her tone improved a
little. She also began to hope she could manage to get away somehow.
"How did you manage to survive?" the man continued.
"I'm not really sure. Instinct, I suppose. I had to learn to
fly and hunt on my own. At first other bats would occasionally come
by and share their food with me."
"Really?" The man's voice was incredulous.
"Sure. We do that," she said matter-of-factly. "But I never
hooked up with any of them. I always roosted by myself. I'm not sure
why. I guess I just always felt that I didn't belong any place." She
sniffled a little here. "And then," she continued after a pausing
reluctantly, "I met Winifred."
The male agent looked at his partner who produced a dossier from
a brown envelope and began to read. "It's right here. Winifred
Cadwallader was a strange woman who was hired as a cleaning lady for
the night shift of the main branch of the public library about two
years ago. A grouch too, apparently. For some reason she got to
spending less and less time cleaning and more and more time in the
stacks on witchcraft and the occult. She was finally fired. She
swore she'd get even and began living in an old abandoned laundromat
after she was kicked out of her apartment for non-payment of rent.
About a year ago she reemerged with some sort of flying machine she
had invented and invaded the annual policemen's picnic and snatched
the Chief's toupee right off his head. Nothing serious, but it was a
misdemeanor. But then she went big-time. Stole a moon rock on
display at the local museum. Two mornings later the police
apprehended her and the rock after receiving an anonymous note on a
sergeant's desk at headquarters. They found the old girl almost
catatonic, in some sort of trance, like one of her spells had gone
awry. It was an open-and-shut-case, and now she's in the state
women's prison. She should probably be in the mental hospital,
though. The museum theft was a felony, so it's going to be a while
before she gets out."
"I should be in there with her," Foxglove said forlornly, and
before either human could contradict her she looked up and said, "how
do you know so much about Winifred?"
The woman held up the dossier and the envelope she had drawn it
from. "Just one of many unusual cases mysteriously solved by our
mutual friends," she answered. "We assume that's how you met them?"
"You haven't told us how you met this Winifred," the man said.
"Well," Foxy continued, "I was roosting in a shrub one day when
I woke up in the evening just in time to see a big snake coiled and
ready to strike. Some kind of constrictor; a rat snake or pine snake
or something. I was so scared all I could do was scream, and before I
knew it a human hand grabbed the snake and put him in a bag and then
it came back and grabbed me. I was terrified, or course. The hand
belonged to Winifred, and she took both of us to that laundromat and
put us in cages. Separate ones, fortunately." She shivered at the
recollection. "She fed us for a while--there were lots of poor rats
and juicy bugs around the old place--and all the while she was mixing
up this really smelly stuff. It was horrible! And then one evening
after making some sort of explosion she came over to talk to us and
when I said something she understood it! I thought that was the most
terrific thing in the world. Now I had a friend to talk to, and a
human at that! Humans always fascinated me, especially after that
little kid and the mother who said 'Look at the pretty foxglove.' But
it didn't take long to realize what kind of friend she was." She
became downcast again at the thought but continued.
"She let us out of our cages--she said she was a witch and
didn't need them to keep us from getting away, and we believed
her--and then she started ordering us around and threatening us with
all sorts of terrible things if we didn't fetch and carry for her.
She even rented a movie and showed it to us on the old TV and VCR
she'd brought with her to the laundromat. I think it was called 'The
Secret of NIMH' or some such weird title. She told us it was a
documentary and threatened to turn us over to NIMH if we didn't
behave, along with turning us into everything we'd ever heard of and
several things we hadn't. I was deathly afraid of these people,
whoever they were, and until you said you were from the FBI I was
afraid you might be them."
"Did Winifred start you on what you consider to be your criminal
career?" her interrogator continued.
"Well, it's not really her fault. I must have had bad
inclinations from the beginning. I can see that now."
"I doubt that," he said, attempting to comfort her, "please
"Well we were all terrified of her, so much so that I became
acquainted with the snake (his name was William). Besides, she kept
him fed pretty well. I wouldn't have trusted him too far, though."
"This snake--she also communicated with him?"
"Sure she did. If you can call that communicating." She rubbed
her head at the memory of the screeching voice.
"You mean reptiles are part of this parallel society as well?"
He sounded genuinely surprised, even after all he had already learned.
"Of course. Why does that surprise you? There was a spider,
"A spider?" This time the woman sounded surprised. "But
they're so nice!"
"I know," she said, "There's one in every bunch, I guess." She
was obviously thinking of herself again.
"Whatever became of this snake and spider?" the man asked next.
"I don't know. I haven't seen or heard from them since Winifred
was captured, and good riddance. But I don't really know how much of
their meanness was natural and how much came from simply being afraid
"And just what criminal activity did you engage in personally?"
This time he tried to sound sarcastic to indicate he didn't think she
was nearly as bad as she believed and to get her to thinking about
what she had just said about the others.
"Well, I can't recall anything too specific. I was just a silly
girl and got yelled at a lot. Mostly it was Bud (that's what the
others called William) and Lou (that was the spider) who did the work.
Even as a criminal I was irresponsible. Can you believe that?"
"But that was a good thing!" the woman put in. "It sounds to me
like you didn't do anything wrong."
"Oh, but I did. That moon rock . . . remember? Well, after
William and Lou stole it from the museum I grabbed it in my feet and
carried it up to Winifred."
"But you've repented of it long ago," the man said, "and I don't
think you'll ever do anything like that again."
"But . . . but I HAVE done it again, don't you understand?
Where do you think I got this horrible thing?" She lifted the bat
detector slightly. "I STOLE it! From the only real friends I'll ever
have! First I helped Winifred and then when I thought I was actually
a good person after all I stole this and flew away with it. You
certainly don't think I built it?"
The man looked at his partner and dropped his head slightly.
"Actually, I think we have a very good idea of who built it," he said
in as quiet a voice as he could manage. Then he asked Foxy, "So did
we . . . uh . . . apprehend you right after you'd stolen it? You were
just outside their tree."
"No," she said quietly, obviously trying to sort things out in
her mind, "I was bringing it back."
"You don't sound like a criminal. Maybe a delinquent, and a
very mild case at that," the woman atttempted to comfort her. But
Foxy had finished sorting and had made the decision to come down
solidly on the side of self-pity, so she would have none of it.
"But I AM a criminal! Maybe not so much by what I've done, but
I definitely have criminal tendencies. I can't deny it any longer.
The world would be much better off without me! Take me to the bicycle
"They don't use the bicycle pump in this state anymore," the man
said. "It's considered cruel and unusual punishment." He had tired
of trying to comfort the yound bat and decided to try the
cold-and-disinterested treatment. Besides, she had recalled enough
good things about herself to realize she wasn't that bad. It was
mostly just emotional masochism now, a very pleasurable drug.
"Well then, lock me away in one of those boot camps for
incorrigible women. Or have the namby-pambies done away with those,
"Don't worry about your fate just yet," he said, "it's too
"Too early?" she moaned.
"Your turn," he said to the woman. She stopped the tape and
turned it over, and then began the second phase of the questioning.
"Just what kind of bat are you?" she began.
Foxglove wasn't sure she understood the question. "Well . . .
I'm not a very good one, I suppose."
"No, no! I mean, what kind of bat are you species-wise. Do you
"Oh. Well, I'm the kind that eats insects."
"I don't know much about the names you humans have come up with."
The woman wrote something in her notebook and then said into the
mic "Species--undetermined. Probably Myotis lucifugus or Pipistrellus
subflavus." Then she turned back to Foxy.
"Now we want you to tell us about your culture," she said.
"Culture? What culture?"
"This parallel culture of animals we've been coexisting with for
all these millenia without knowing about it," the man put in a bit
impatiently. He was not so much angry with Foxglove as curious and
anxious to learn all he could.
"Well," Foxy replied after taking time to think, "I can't really
tell you very much. Like I said, I've always been a bit of a loner.
All I know about for sure comes from my time with Winifred" (she
shivered again here) "and with the Rescue Rangers."
"Rescue Rangers," the woman repeated looking once again through
the dossier, "two chipmunks and two mice, we believe. Headquartered
in that giant oak tree in the city park. One of the mice, apparently
female, seems to have some knowledge of mechanics and electronics.
And we know that's where your translator came from, by the way. We
suspected as much even before you confessed to stealing it from them.
At least I did." She gave her partner an "I told you so" look and
then continued. "I assume the tree is wired for electricity?"
Foxglove was really confused now. These human total strangers
seemed to know almost as much about the Rangers as she did. What more
could they possibly want to know other than some way to capture them
or to do them some kind of mischief? "One of them is a fly," she said
in a low voice, afraid not to cooperate and yet afraid of what might
happen to her friends if she did, "I don't know why you don't know
about him. We're friends." She was sure the last statement would
provoke some comment, but it did not. The agents were already
prepared to find out any number of unlikely things.
"A fly? Is that what this is?" the woman asked and then showed
Foxglove some blown-up pictures of her friends, apparently on
vacation. The woman was pointing to a green blur that appeared over
the heads of the others.
"Yes." Then she looked up at them. "You don't seem to need any
information from me on the Rescue Rangers," she said, "What do you
"She's right," the man said, "we'll know all we need to know
about them soon enough." Foxy didn't like the sound of that at all.
"I'm way ahead of you," the woman said, and then turning back to
Foxglove continued, "Why don't you tell us what you know of animal
culture in general? This is a great and unprecedented opportunity for
us humans to learn about it."
"But I don't know that much about it, really!" she said,
frustrated at having to repeat this information yet again.
"Well then, tell us about bat culture. I know you said you've
been relatively isolated, but you must have some instincts that will
tell you these things."
Foxy just looked puzzled and a little afraid of what these
humans might do to her if she didn't obey them. She was also
wondering what they would do with her when they finished their
questions. The woman saw her troubled expression and suggested, "Do
you have a moral code of any kind? A taboo, for example?" She added
the qualification because she didn't want to trigger another orgy of
"A taboo?" Foxglove thought for a while. "Oh, a taboo. Well,
I won't eat lightning bugs."
"What is the reason for this?"
"Oh, I don't know. I suppose I'm kind of afraid that the stuff
that makes the light might be poisonous. But I'm not sure that's the
reason. They're so pretty and harmless. Eating them just seems wrong
somehow. But that's just me; I don't know about other bats."
This disappointed the woman; she wanted to learn about the
culture of bats in general. So she made another suggestion. "I
suppose bats don't think much of Bram Stoker?"
"Well, let me put it this way," the woman began uncomfortably,
"about a hundred years ago he wrote this book called . . . "
"Don't say it!" Foxy interrupted, covering her ears with her
wings, "as a matter of fact we DON'T think much of him, and we don't
think a heck of a lot of Meatloaf, either!" After a few seconds she
blushed beneath her fur and said penitently, "I'm sorry I used a curse
word. I've never done that before. I'll try never to do it again."
"Don't worry about it," the woman said, "I've used worse words
than that when I've broken a nail. But you used another word, and one
that's much more important. Do you know what it was?"
"No," Foxy said honestly with a confused look on her face.
"You said 'we.' Do you realize what that means?"
"As I said, it means that despite your relative isolation from
other bats, you have instincts inherited from untold generations of
your species that provide you with a frame of reference--a heritage,
if you will. You yourself said that you survived as a young orphan by
instinct. And just now you told me how bats in general feel about two
individuals. Herbert Spencer explained the whole thing."
"Who's he?" Foxy asked.
"You don't like him either," the man said, "He wasn't very nice."
Foxy said nothing at this, but deep inside she knew that he was
"Do you have holidays?" the woman asked quickly, hoping to take
advantage of the breakthrough into Foxglove's subconscious knowledge.
"The Fourth of July is coming up; that's our second favorite
holiday," she answered, barely skipping a beat.
"Why is that?" The woman knew this still might be just a
"Oh, the time of year. There are lots of pesky insects, and the
big crowds of humans at picnics and such make it a regular feast. And
we have fun chasing the Roman candle balls and bottle rockets--not to
catch them, you understand, but just for fun. Besides, it's a
tradition. We've celebrated July Fourth from the beginning, ever
since . . . ever since . . . " A look of surprised recognition came
into Foxy's face.
"You said it's your second favorite holiday," the woman said,
afraid her detainee might be losing her primal connection, "which is
Once again the light of recognition came into Foxy's face, but
she just lowered her head and said, "You wouldn't understand."
"You see, Foxglove," the woman continued, a bit disappointed
but not wanting to push their informant too far, "you know far more
than just what you have learned through your own limited personal
experience. That is why I'm asking you these questions. Now take
your time and think deeply . . . does your species have any
distinctive cultural beliefs?"
Something deep inside Foxy's mind seemed to click in at this
point and she thought deeply for a moment. "I . . . I don't know
where this is coming from, but I have this feeling . . . ."
"Good!" the woman said cheerily, still trying to put their
captive at ease, "what is it telling you?"
"Well, on the one hand I'm getting the idea that this corrupt
material universe is perishing and will be replaced by a purely
spiritual one, but I'm also getting the assurance that 'There's always
one more bug!' I guess that's kind of contradictory, huh?"
"Don't worry about it," the man comforted her, "religion is like
that." His partner shot him a dirty look for that remark and then
asked Foxy to continue.
"There . . . is . . . a . . . balance," she said after another
moment of deep thought, "a balance between good and evil in the world.
That explains the State of Texas!" she added triumphantly.
The woman's mouth fell open. "Wha?" is all she could manage to
"Well, you see," Foxy continued, flush with her new-found
authoity on the subject, "good and evil being in balance, where there
is little of good or evil there is little of its counterpart. But
where there is an abundance of one, there is also an abundance of the
"You mean . . . Texas?" her questioner asked incredulously.
"Sure! You see, Texas has the most bats of any state in the
Union. Understand? Now we bats represent goodness and light and
stuff. That is why Texas also . . . " and here she dropped her voice
very low, " . . . has the most of . . . those other . . . things."
And she gulped audibly.
"What other things?" the woman wanted to know.
"You know. They come out at night. And eat ants and stuff.
And . . . and get killed on the highways."
"Opossums?" the man asked.
"No! Remember, this is TEXAS. I suppose they're kinda like
possums, but they . . . look like giant . . . woodlice or something."
She was obviously very uncomfortable talking about this subject.
"Armadillos!" the woman excaimed in sudden recognition.
"SHHHHH!!!" Foxy reacted vehemently, and the terror on her face
and in her voice took her captors by surprise. "That is an EVIL
word!" she said in as loud a whisper as she could manage, "Never . . .
NEVER say it out loud!"
"That is simply ludicrous," the man said, "Why, when I was a boy
. . . "
"No!" Foxy said, covering her ears again, "I don't want to hear
about it! Horrible, unnatural things! They're creatures of darkness,
I tell you! Supernatural monsters! They belong to The Other Side,
and you don't ever . . . EVER . . . want to meet one!"
"Okay," the woman said after an uncomfortable pause, "we'll put
that in the 'prejudices and superstitions' department." It was a good
thing she was writing in her notebook or she would have seen the look
Foxy gave her. Then looking up she said, "We really need to be
bringing this thing to a close. Is there anything else you can tell
Foxy was still sore about that last remark about
"superstitions," but after a while she resumed thinking. Then she
looked up at them and said, "Of course! That 'balance' again! Each
of us has a proportional amount of good and evil in our natures.
Where one is weak so is the other, and ditto for where one is strong.
It's up to us to choose which one we'll follow. I suppose I haven't
done a very good job there, have I?"
"Go on," the woman said. Even though the tape was running she
was now writing furiously in her notebook at every statement Foxglove
"Well," Foxy continued, a little disappointed at getting no
pity, "that means that really really good people are potentially the
most evil, and really really evil people have a potential for doing
the most good. Hmmm . . . ."
"I don't know where all this is coming from, but this next one
is really crazy. I'm getting the idea that all the evil in the world,
and especially arrogance (Oh, I know this isn't making any sense!)
comes from a failure to esteem oneself properly. Isn't that crazy?"
"Not really," the man said.
"And that means that you humans . . . You humans . . . Oh my
goodness!" And then a look of awe came over her and she crept back
into the far corner of her cage and cringed. "I--I'll try to do
whatever you say, but please don't hurt me!" she said.
"Now calm down, honey!" the woman said, trying to comfort her.
She also felt she needed a little comforting herself at this sudden
and unforseen change in Foxy's demeanor. "No one's going to hurt you!
We're almost done with you, and then we're simply going to let you go
free. Isn't that right?" she asked her partner.
"Absolutely," he answered.
"Y--yes ma'am," Foxglove responded, still unnerved by whatever
it was she had thought of.
The man was becoming very time conscious and was looking at his
watch quite often, obviously a silent hint to his partner to speed
things up. She on the other hand was now upset at their guest's new
groveling attitude and seemed reluctant to continue the interrogation.
Again, the man did not mean to be cruel but was simply consumed by
curiosity and anxiousness about the time. Finally he snatched the
notepad away from his partner, took out his own inkpen, and asked in a
hurried and deadpan manner, "What do you advocate as a way to cure the
ills of society?" The woman shook her head. She hadn't really
thought to ask a question like that, and she wasn't sure this was the
time, but her partner had a tendency to go off on these tangents.
*He's listened to that Frugivores album once too often* she thought.
"We advocate a non-corporative organic society as a cure for the
atomism, rootlessness, and alienation of modern life," Foxglove
answered, still hunched down in the far corner of the cage and
trembling. Then she got the courage to look up again at her captors
and asked, "What does that mean?"
"It means you'll probably be deported," the man answered in an
annoyed tone of voice. Then without a second's pause he asked, "Are
you right wing or left wing?"
"Actually, I have one of each," she said meekly, stretching out
her arms and looking at them, "but we don't endorse specific
candidates or parties."
"What's your favorite kind of music?"
"One morning just before sunrise Dale--that's my boyfriend, I
hope--and I saw this weird image on television; it was a bunch of
circles of different colors with an Indian's head in the center. I
liked the music that was playing, but Dale said it was corny. Who is
"You liked him until he started singing. Believe me."
"Now that's enough of this nonsense!" the woman finally
interjected, snatching the notepad back again, "We can't possibly
learn it all, and we probably don't really need to! She's scared, and
you're not helping things. I think we should call it quits right now.
I'm not sure I really want to learn these things, anyway."
The man looked at her disgustedly. "A surprising lack of
curiosity for one trained in the scientific method," he said, "but
you're right about one thing--we probably have very little time to
prepare for our . . . "
"Shhh!" the woman cautioned him. Then she turned to Foxglove
and said, "Honey, we know this has been a frightening experience for
you, and we apologize. But we're getting about ready to let you go
now, so don't worry about a thing. We never intended to harm you."
Then she walked over to the other table, put on some very thin rubber
gloves, and took a bottle and a syringe out of a bag and began to fill
the syringe. Foxglove was still cringing and looking down at the
floor of her cage, or else she would have been even more frightened
than she already was. As she approached Foxy's cage with the syringe
the woman spoke again. "Now honey, you've been under a lot of stress,
and that's not healthy. So I'm going to give you just a little shot
of something to relax you. It won't put you to sleep, but it will
make you just a little drowsy until your body calms down again. And
this time the needle's an appropriate size, so it won't hurt you like
Foxglove heard this too late to do much about it (and really she
was still too sore to do much of anything), as when she looked back up
the woman was already opening the cage door. One hand seized Foxglove
firmly (though the woman tried to be as gentle as she could) and the
other inserted the needle down beneath where she had been wounded.
This time there was only a little sting that stopped almost
instantaneously with the needle's removal, but that didn't keep Foxy
from squealing in a really heartrending fashion. "Now, now," the
woman said, really distressed at the fear displayed by their helpless
captive, "it's all over now. See? Now it doesn't hurt anymore, does
it?" Then she gently put Foxglove back down on the floor of her cage
and closed the cage door.
"That should do it," the woman said to her partner.
"Then let's get out of here," he said, and turning off the
lights of the room, the two humans made a hurried exit.
Foxglove was alone again.
Foxglove yawned. The humans were right; the drug did not put
her to sleep but it did relax her considerably. Even the fear she had
begun to display during the questioning drained away from her, leaving
her with a strange feeling of contentment. She did not even think too
much about how this fit in with the agents' promise to release her
when they were finished.
She did not have a good sense of time in this state and so had
no idea how long it lasted; it could have been hours or only a few
minutes as far as she could tell. But finally she heard a strange
humming noise from outside the room that gradually grew louder. She
wasn't really afraid, thanks to her shot, but she was curious. Then
the sound seemed to fill the room and to echo off the walls. Then it
stopped suddenly and she heard voices. There was a pop and something
landed on the edge of the table her cage was on. Next she heard a
familiar female voice say, "There she is!"
As you may remember, the Rescue Rangers had been tracking Foxy
in the Rangermobile by means of a signaling device Gadget had
installed in the "voice box." It had taken them about twenty minutes
to weave in and out of city traffic until they came to an industrial
park on the outskirts of town. In this industrial park was an old,
abandoned warehouse that had been built to store "Bonkers"
memorabilia. The building was decayed enough that it supplied several
rodent-size access points (known technically as "holes") both into the
building itself and into just about every room. The signal quite
naturally guided them into the very room in which Foxglove was
located. It was smaller than the actual storage area; it must have
been an office or break area of some kind, but really it was larger
than one of these, and there were no windows. The room was of course
very dark, but rodent eyes see well enough after adjusting that there
were no accidents. When the signal indicated that they were "hot,"
Gadget cut off the motor and, carrying the tracking mechanism in her
forepaws, came to Foxy's table, one of two in the room. She shouted
to Chip for the grappler, handing him the tracker when he brought it,
and aimed at the ledge of the table. A hook on a cord shot out of the
gun barrel and attached itself to the ledge, providing a way up for
the four Rangers who could not fly. Gadget climbed up first, and it
was her voice that Foxy heard.
Dale was not far behind Gadget, and upon seeing the lump of fur
in the corner of the cage excaimed, "What have they done to her?" and
ran up to her. Foxglove recognized his voice and answered, "Is that
you, Dale? I'm all right, really. Just a little sleepy. But I don't
think it's safe for you to be here. Maybe you'd better leave!"
"We're ALL going to leave!" he said, at which point he was joined by
Chip, Monterey, and Zipper.
The wire mesh was too small for Zipper to fly into the cage, but
Monty calmly walked around it until he found the door. "This
shouldn't be a problem!" he said confidently as he rolled up his
sleeves. Then he gripped the door with both forepaws and gave a
mighty pull, and slammed himself into the cage wire as the door opened
without the slightest struggle. It had not even been latched!
Foxglove could have opened it herself if she had known this and hadn't
been drugged. As he recovered himself Monty said, "Blimey! Who puts
somebody in a cage and then doesn't lock it?"
"Lucky for us!" Chip said impetuously, "Foxglove, the door's
open. You can come out now." But she just lay in her corner and
"She's been drugged," Gadget said, "we'll have to go in and
carry her out."
Of course it wouldn't have taken all of them to do this; two of
them could have accomplished it easily enough, and certainly Monty
could have done it by himself. But they had been so worried about her
that they all went in to have a look at her, Zipper included (as he
considered himself her sponsor). But as they crowded around her the
cage door suddenly snapped shut and the lights came back on. Monty
pushed on it but this time it WAS locked, and not by any lock on the
inside that he could find. Then a door opened on the other side of
the room and two humans entered, one male and one female. They held
out badges and the man said, "Hold it right there; FBI."
Gadget reacted in perfect horror. She could only stare at the
approaching humans with a frozen look of terror on her face. Chip and
Dale suddenly left Foxglove and positioned themselves in front of
Gadget, facing the agents with fury written all over their faces.
There was nothing romantic or physical about this; their friend was in
danger and they were both willing to sell their lives dearly to
protect her. Monty positioned himself in front of the boys and again
began rolling up his sleeves. Foxglove, still too drowsy to be really
very afraid, simply looked at this display of pure friendship. *I
wonder if anyone will ever feel that way about me,* she thought,
"Please remain calm," the man continued, "we're from the
government and we're here to help you. Let me rephrase that," he
began again after a pause.
Dale now ran up to the front of the cage directly in front of
the agents and shouted, "You big bullies! What have you done to
"We're sorry, but we can't understand you," the woman said, "
but we know you can understand us. Be assured that we mean you no
harm whatsoever. None of you is in any danger. Please gather around
your ingenuous translator device and perhaps we can converse."
On hearing the compliment about her invention and the agents'
assurances Gadget actually began to calm down. "We might as well
try," she said, "it's built to translate a bat's speech, but I was
able to make that radio request. I'm sure I can find a setting where
it'll work for all of us, except maybe Zipper." So saying, she
approached Foxglove and removed the device from around her neck. She
found it still on its original setting and assumed that a bat's voice
was versitile enough to use the entire dial, so she simply spoke into
the mic. "Can you understand me now?"
Both agents showed astonishment upon hearing the voice,
indicating that they had indeed understood. "Another female," the
woman said smugly to her partner. "Of course I am," Gadget continued,
"my name is Gadget Hackwrench, and I'm a member of the Rescue Rangers."
"We know," the man said, once again producing the enlarged
photos and showing them to the captives, "we've been expecting you.
Now that we're all here, I suppose introductions are in order. I am
agent Fox Mulder, and this is my partner, agent Dana Scully."
"Partner?" a still somewhat sleepy voice asked as Foxglove
listened intently to the names, "I assumed you two were married." The
agents looked at each other in horror. "Heaven forefend!" they
exclaimed in one voice.
Gadget responded by introducing the other Rangers. When she
came to Zipper the agents had to approach the cage and look very
carefully. "Oh, so that's him," Agent Scully said finally, "he's very
unusual-looking for a fly, isn't he?"
Zipper "humphed" and thought *So sue me. I came from another
planet and passed through nine different radiation belts,* which, if
Agent Mulder knew, he would have taken it seriously and detained him a
"I said, what have you done to Foxy?" Dale demanded, even louder
and angrier than before.
"She's fine," Scully answered, "the bandage is from a
tranquilizer dart that was just a mite too big. But I attended to her
myself and she's going to be perfectly all right. We gave her another
shot about ten minutes before you arrived just to keep her drowsy
enough that she wouldn't escape too soon and so we'd have all of you
"Which of you invented the translator?" Mulder asked.
"I did," Gadget responded in a subdued tone. "Are you going to
take me away from my friends?" and she teared a little at the thought.
"Absolutely not!" Mulder assured her, "we're going to ask you a
few questions and then you're all perfectly free to go."
"You mean," Gadget said, with her relief showing in her voice,
"that the government didn't send you to abduct me and force me to use
my vast natural talents to create machines of mass destruction?"
"Absolutely not!" Mulder said, "we were making a little
unauthorized search of the Bureau archives and came upon your file
from that time you were questioned before. That's also how we got
these"--referring again to the photos. "As a matter of fact the
government doesn't even know we're here, and they'd probably
assasinate us if they found out."
"But," Foxglove asked hesitatingly, "but I don't get it. Our
government is good, isn't it?"
"NO!" he thundered at the little bat, "It is NOT good! It
CANNOT be trusted! As a matter of fact, the only thing worse than the
government is those right-wing kooks who don't trust the government!"
"But you don't seem to trust it," she protested.
"We're left-wing kooks who don't trust the government," he
explained. "That's different."
"Oh," she said, not really understanding, but not really wanting
"But that can't be true!" Chip protested, "By what you've said,
we can trust you!"
"NO!" the man said again, "Don't trust ME; don't trust HER (he
pointed to his partner); don't trust EACH OTHER; don't trust
YOURSELVES! TRUST NO ONE!!!"
This really bothered Foxglove. "Is there no one or nothing that
we can believe in?" she asked earnestly.
"There is only one thing," Mulder said.
"What is that?"
He answered without hesitation. "Professional wrestling!"
"The very best in sports entertainment!" Scully said in a rare
moment of agreement with her partner.
"It can't really be fake because evil always wins--the true mark
of reality," Mulder continued.
"See it soon at an arena near you!" Scully added.
"I will!" Foxy said, a sound of awe in her voice.
Mulder walked over to the Rangermobile and picked it up
carefully, examining it with wonder. He noticed the tracker and the
grappler as well. "More of your inventions, Miss, uh, Hackwrench?"
"That's right." She wasn't quite as apprehensive about
answering questions after their assurances.
"You have an enormous intelligence," he told her, "The tracking
device you installed in the translator shows an extraordinary
workmanship. Of course we half expected such a thing, but we had one
ready to install in it ourselves just in case. We couldn't have been
sure that you had a device to track it, though. Your foresight saved
us a lot of anxiety. Now what about that invention that enlarged you
to human size?"
"That wasn't mine. That was Professor Nimnul's," she confessed.
Agent Scully pulled another page out of the envelope and skimmed
it. "Norton Nimnul. Earned two master's degrees from MIT but was
expelled shortly before presenting his doctoral dissertation. The
reason isn't clear; the school hushed it up and refuses to talk about
it. Probably had to do with unethical conduct or really
unconventional theories. Apparently he's one of our friends' regular
clients. He's in his usual suite in the psychiatric ward right now.
Seems he keeps seeing chipmunks."
Mulder's face suddenly became darkly paranoiac. "Scully," he
said, "do you realize something? WE'RE seeing chipmunks! What if
they put US away? Those photos could have been planted! These
animals could have been sent by the higher-ups to entrap us and keep
us from discovering THE TRUTH!!!"
"Down, boy!" she said, putting down the papers and massaging her
partner's face and neck. She turned to the Rangers. "Don't worry
about it. He gets this way sometimes. Now why don't you tell us
about your organization? Don't worry, we'll keep it confidential."
Indeed, the agents weren't taping or taking notes on any of this.
So all the Rangers, with the exception of Zipper, told of their
lives before they met (which means the two agents knew more about Chip
and Dale themselves than anyone else in the world). Next they told of
their first adventure together, that of Claudaine's theft of the ruby
and his framing of Detective Drake. Then they reviewed for the
agents some of their most exciting cases since that time. Both Scully
and Mulder were astonished at how many human crimes would have gone
unsolved had not these supposedly "lowly" rodents taken an interest,
and they were especially intrigued by the idea of an animal criminal
element with its own kingpins and small-time hoods (someone named Fat
Cat seemed to be the most prominent of the former). They knew that
these cases would always be beyond the reach of human law. Finally
they heard the Rangers tell of their travels to various parts of the
world and their adventures there. Of course the agents were prepared
to hear of things beyond their previous ideas of the lives of rodents
and flies, but even so they were awestruck at learning the full extent
of this ancient and yet unknown world they had discovered. And
Foxglove simply glowed as the Rangers recounted their adventures,
imagining that Dale was the hero of every single one of them.
Then came the question from Mulder that Scully had been
expecting, and she shook her head as she heard him ask it. "Have you
encountered extraterrestrial life forms?"
"What?" Monty asked. "Oh, you mean space aliens. Dale there
was abducted once."
That did it. A look almost of madness came upon Mulder's face,
and he picked up the notepad and began writing again.
"Where were they from?" he asked.
"Fleebledrox or something like that," Dale answered. "I never
heard of that planet before. It's probably further away than the
"What were they like?"
"Kinda stupid," Dale recalled. "They thought I was one of them.
The food was terrible."
"What did they look like?" he asked next.
"Like just about anything they wanted to," Dale answered. "At
the time I thought it was pretty awesome, but looking back, they don't
seem to be any great shakes. I don't think we'll ever have to worry
about them conquering the earth or anything." Foxglove's mouth was
wide open. She had never heard this one before. She had picked
someone so beyond her to fall in love with!
Then came the finale. "Did you see a woman on board? Who
perhaps looked similar to me, only four years younger?"
Dale looked a little surprised by the question. "No. Of course
not. Should I have?"
Scully could see tears forming in her partner's eyes, and it
pained her. She thought he was a little strange sometimes, but these
were emotions that she respected. After all, it had not happened to
her family. Mulder whispered under his breath, "I swear, Samantha, I
will find you one day." Scully heard him because she was so close,
but among the animals only Foxglove heard. She was consumed by
curiosity as to what this meant, but she saw the emotion Mulder was
going through and sensed it must be some deep and intense personal
pain. She did not want to intrude.
After a while Scully asked another question: "Do you have any
idea what makes those crop circles?"
Foxy and the Rangers simply looked at each other, but Monterey
Jack looked down at his feet and seemed very uncomfortable. Finally
he cleared his throat and said in a low voice, "Them ain't no space
aliens makes those, luv."
Suddenly everyone's eyes were on him. "What does make them?"
It was a few minutes before he would speak again, and once more
it was in a low voice with his eyes towards his feet. "Why, you know,
luv," he said, "That's the Good People that do that. I'd put the
whole subject completely outta my mind, if I was you." The way he
said this made a cold shiver run down the backs of everyone in the
room, and they somehow knew he was right.
After another moment of uncomfortable silence Gadget spoke up.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a question."
"Shoot," Scully said.
"Exactly how did you trap us in here? And I'd really like to
know why a decayed and abandoned old place like this still has
"I'll answer that," Mulder said, beginning to recover from his
dark thoughts. "We monitored the room with an infrared camera that
can see in the dark, which we had planted there." He pointed to a
hole in the wall behind the other table. "When we saw all of you had
entered the cage we turned on the electromagnet in the cage door."
"Simple yet diabolical," Gadget commented.
"As to the lighting," he continued, "it's really amazing. When
a city expends public funds on an industrial park, it can't bring
itself to simply admit a business has failed. When the 'Bonkers'
thing fell through--which was about ten seconds into the opening of
the first episode, you will remember--the city didn't want its
investment of the people's tax dollars to be a waste. So they
expended even more public money to buy the property and keep the power
connected. Your tax dollars at work. Well, not your tax dollars.
But don't ask me how old abandoned laundromats still manage to have
electricity. I can't help anybody out of THAT dilemma, no siree."
"Mulder," Agent Scully said quietly.
He looked at his watch. "You're right," he said, "Time to put
this little project to bed." Then he reached into the envelope and
extracted the small original photographs from which the enlargements
had been made. "I believe these are yours," he said, "Be more careful
in the future."
He turned of the electromagnet on the outside of the cage door
and handed them in to Gadget, who accepted them. "We will!" she said.
It appeared to her that these humans were friends, after all.
"As to these," Mulder held up the enlargements, the dossier, and
the notes and tape recordings they had made, "be assured that we will
destroy them so that no one from the Bureau bothers you again. Just
remember that your local boys in blue got a look at you the last time
you were questioned. As to the Bureau archives, fortunately they are
now all computerized. We happen to have some close friends who are
hackers, and I can assure you that in a very short time no trace of
your existence will remain in any files whatsoever of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation."
This all sounded too good to be true, and the animals'
expressions showed their relief and gratitude.
"Now allow me," Mulder said as he picked up the Rangermobile
onto the table and placed the tracker and grappler in it.
Dale prepared to help the now recovering Foxy to her feet when
the agent spoke again. "Please, if you don't mind. May I . . . ? I
mean, I've never held a bat before, and we do sort of have the same
first name . . . you wouldn't . . . do anything to me, would you?"
Foxy, now with complete trust in these people despite her
earlier fears, merely looked at him slyly. "We must recruit
disciples!" she said.
"Well then, never mind," he said quickly.
All the Rangers gathered round to assist Dale, but he would have
none of it. "This is my job!" he insisted.
Agent Scully approached and looked the couple over carefully.
"Is this one your boyfriend?"
"Why not the cute one?"
"Well, there's more to Dale than meets the eye," she explained.
"Besides, you should see his echolocation profile. Rrrrrow!" Dale's
ears became very hot.
It is now that we come to the climax of this story. If you will
remember, poor Dale had avoided any direct eye contact with Foxglove
since he had first met her due to his over-familiarity with popular
culture. But as he reached down to help her to her feet it happened.
A direct hit. He felt as if he had been smashed in the head with a
"Lu-CEEEEEEELLE!!!" he finally managed to exclaim.
"Dale, are you all right?" she asked him, her voice full of
concern as he froze there with his tongue hanging out. "What
"Foxy . . . for cryin' out loud . . . !"
"What is it, Dale?" she cried.
"You . . . you're BEAUTIFUL!" he exclaimed.
"I'm WHAT?" she exclaimed, wondering what had happened to the
lovable chipmunk who had ignored her for so long.
"You are!" he said. "You're gorgeous!"
"Dale," she said with distess in her voice (it was her turn now
to have hot ears), "I'm not gorgeous. You're gorgeous!"
"Well what do you think you are, cod liver oil?"
"You're not cod liver oil. I'm cod liver oil."
"No, Dale, you're not cod liver oil. You're . . . you're a luna
moth!" She had a look of ecstasy on her face at this thought.
The translator was still on and in the midst of the animals, so
it was not only the other Rangers but the two agents as well who
gawked and blinked at the conversation. This was whoopee of a kind no
one in the room could recall ever hearing being made before. But
finally Chip reminded them that they really needed to go, so they got
to the business at hand, though Foxy thought she was going to faint
just from being held by him. But the job got done; Foxy had recovered
sufficiently from the tranquilizer by now that she could walk; she
just needed Dale to steady her. And the wound from the dart was still
The Rangers and Foxy got into the Rangermobile, after which
Agent Mulder gently lowered them back onto the floor. Gadget turned
to the agents with a smile on her face. "I faithfully promise you,"
she said, "that as soon as we get back to headquarters I will destroy
this terrible thing!" referring, of course, to her "voice box."
"No, wait! Don't do that," Mulder suddenly said. "Just make
sure it's turned off before you go to conversing after you get out of
here. And when you get back home, be sure you lock and bury it away
where it will never have the opportunity to do mischief again. I
promised we'd erase your records from the archives, and we will, and
we'll keep what happened here today a secret. But I was thinking . .
. just in case Agent Scully and I ever run into a problem that's too
much for us. Would you consider maybe lending us a paw? I promise no
one else will ever know."
The Rangers looked at each other. Finally Chip spoke. "We'll
be glad to!" he said, and they could tell he really meant it. "Just
make sure no other humans see you hanging around our tree for a
"Understood," he agreed.
"There is just one more thing." This time it was agent Scully.
"Foxglove, I'm afraid there is still the matter of your stealing the
translator, as well as your part in the theft of the moon rock. You
have yet to pay your debt to society."
"Foxglove's heart sank to the soles of her feet and all the
Rangers' jaws dropped. "What?!" Dale exclaimed in anger, and even
Mulder looked at his partner like he had no idea how this woman he had
come to know so well had suddenly become a heartless cad.
"I'm afraid there's no way out of it," Scully said. Then she
looked directly at the little bat. "Both these crimes took place
within the United States, did they not?"
Foxy could only nod.
"Foxglove, do you consider yourself a citizen of the United
"Yes, I do," she said straightforwardly, but with tears in her
"Then as a duly appointed law officer of the Government of the
United States . . . "
"And don't ever trust it!" Mulder reminded them.
" . . . I hereby place you in the custody of the Rescue Rangers,
and of your heartbreaker there in particular. Personally, I recommend
a life sentence."
The relief of everyone can easily be imagined, Mulder's not
being least among them. "You devil!" he said to his partner.
"I try," she replied.
"Ready, guys?" Gadget asked as she put on her helmet and
"Wait!" Foxy cried suddenly, to everyone's surprise. Turning to
the two humans she said, "The Rangers here can tell you how badly I've
always wanted to be able to speak with humans. That's kind of what
brought us all together here." She blushed a little. "I just want
you to know I'm glad it was you two."
"Why, thank you, Foxglove," Scully said. "We're glad we met
"And I think you both should know something," Foxy continued,
"I've been listening to a shortwave radio set Gadget built for me and
. . . well, I don't know if the US Government knows this, but Laos is
still a Communist country. Maybe you two should look into it."
"We will!" Mulder assured her, and when Scully looked at him he
explained, "Hey, there've been reports of a rash of UFO sightings by
rural Laotians in pickup trucks."
"NOW is everyone ready?" Gadget asked impatiently. Foxglove
nodded to her.
"Ready!" Chip responded as everyone buckled up. It was a bit of
a squeeze, but Dale and Foxy managed to share their belt. They didn't
seem to mind.
The motor roared. Zipper gave his trademark bugle call. Gadget
put her finger on the button of the translator to turn it off, but
before she did she made sure their new friends could hear them all
shout "Rescur Rangers, away!" Then they exited using the same hole
they had entered through and began weaving through the busy streets
homeward. It was late afternoon now.
Dale turned to Foxglove. "Foxy . . . that remark about
recruiting disciples. Did you really . . . ?"
"Oh, for crying out loud, Dale, I was only kidding!" she said.
"Who'd have thought he would take it seriously? He's spent way too
much time obsessed with dark things. He should take a night off just
to go out and watch the lightning bugs." The Rangers laughed at this,
but gently and respectfully. Foxy continued.
"Something's eating at him, and whatever it is it must be
horrible. There is some great pain he's going through. Poor man. I
feel sorry for him."
"Me too!" Dale said.
*I hope one day he finds what he's looking for,* she thought,
*and that he stays out of Texas.*
When they got back to headquarters and put the Rangermobile away
Dale helped Foxy up the internal passage to the living room. He
insisted on having her lie down on the couch, even though she assured
him she would be far more comfortable hanging by her feet.
Time passed. Foxy recovered quickly enough from her wound and
would have been happy to resume hunting, but Dale said it was too
early yet and insisted on waiting on her hand and foot. This was
embarrassing, but of course she enjoyed it. He also insisted (against
her initial reluctance) that she resume listening to the shortwave,
but advised moderation this time--something he had never advocated
for anyone before. When the Rangers returned to solving cases (Chip
decided that September was as good a time as any to take their annual
vacation) Dale remained behind to look after his patient until he was
convinced of her complete recovery. The other Rangers naturally
missed his presence, but they had to admit that there were fewer
foul-ups than when he was along.
In addition to the Ranger cuisine for which she had a
newly-acquired taste, Monty treated Foxy to a supply of mealworms from
a local pet shop. They were nothing she would have caught for herself
while hunting, but she found them scrumptious. And when July 4 came
along not long after their adventure they pulled out all the stops.
She could have hunted for herself just fine by that time, but they had
gone to such trouble for her that she merely joined them outside the
tree as they leisurely viewed the human throngs below and the
fireworks above, while Dale stuffed her so full of ice cream that she
thought she would burst. Then came the coup de grace. Dale presented
her with a small envelope Zipper had found at the base of the tree
early that morning which had "TO FOXGLOVE ON HER SECOND FAVORITE
HOLIDAY" written on it in distinctively human handwriting. She opened
it eagerly to find a small-mammal-sized photo portrait of Dr. Merlin
Tuttle, suitable for framing. She clutched it to her and whispered
"Thank you, Fox and Dana," and when a frame had been found for it
insisted on hanging it herself--upside down, of course, as a sign of
So the time passed, and Dale rejoined his comrades on their
cases, but there was something different about him now. He was less
foolish and more thoughtful than before, and not as inclined to take
needless risks. Chip observed these changes in his lifelong best
friend with mixed emotions. It was good that Dale was not so annoying
as before, but he didn't seem as much fun, either. Chip realized
that he should be thankful that he now had a green light to work on
wooing Gadget, but even this bothered him a little. He realized that
while Dale's friendship with him had not decreased an iota, and never
would, there was this difference--Dale was now well on the way to
acquiring a new very best friend. Chip sighed. Things would never be
completely the same ever again.
EPILOGUE--Dale was alone in his room with the most beautiful girl in
the world. At least that's how he had always felt about her, and he
supposed objectively it was still true, but his mind was on someone
else as she fussed over his Hawaiian shirt and bow tie.
"Come on, Gadget. I'm not goin' to an inaugural ball or
anything!" he complained as she shook her head in disapproval and went
back to the chest of drawers to look at the selection. There wasn't
much, as all Dale's shirts had the same pattern and there were only
two bow ties.
"Now, Dale, it's your first real date and you should take some
pride in your appearance," she told him as she removed the black tie
and replaced it with the red one. "There. That's better."
"I want the black one!" Dale said fractiously.
"When I put the black one on you you wanted the red one," she
said. "Besides, the black one clashes."
"If no one's gonna see it, why wear it?" he asked.
Gadget stepped back to look at her handiwork: one chipmunk, one
Hawaiian shirt, one red bow tie, and a red clover blossom as a
boutonniere. "Perfect!" she said, admiring him.
"Well I don't feel perfect!" he said.
She noticed that he was shaking like a spilled bowl of Jello.
"Nervous?" she asked.
"Why?" she asked him. "You're surely not afraid she's going to
reject you? She chased you for a long time before you returned her
"It's not exactly that," he said, looking at her with an
exasperated expression that showed he wished he could put it into
"Remember, Dale, she's lived here for two months now, and you've
spent as much time with her as you could manage. I haven't seen you
nervous around her in all that time."
Dale only looked at the floor.
"Come on," Gadget said, "it's almost time."
"Gadget?" he asked.
"I realize it's a moot point now, but . . . you know how Chip
and I have competed for your attention ever since we first met you. I
was just wondering . . . was I ever formally rejected by you at any
point?" He had wanted to ask this question for a long time but could
not bring himself to until another girl had come along to really mess
up his already fragile emotional state.
"No. Never." She answered with great sincerity.
"I . . . I had to know."
"I know you did. I had to tell you."
He brightened considerably.
"And in case you're wondering," she continued, "I still like you
very, very much," and she kissed him on the forehead.
The old mischievous Dale sparkle came into his eyes. "Too late,
kiddo!" he said, "You waited too long and now the balloon's gonna take
off without ya!"
She laughed and hugged him. "Barney Fife!" she said.
"Yep," he said, confidently.
"Now let's get you out there!" she said, at which point his
entire nervous system collapsed all over again. Finally she managed
to push him into the hall and then into the living room where the
other Rangers waited in anticipation. Zipper gave a buzzed equivalent
of the wolf whistle that was quite embarrassing, and Monterey simply
said, "Lookin' good, mate!" Even Chip could only smile at him. "Lady
killer!" he said to the perspiring Dale, whose nerves were still
trying to convince him that he had thrust his finger into a live
Outside the familiar door to what was now her own home (where
she had been first a guest, and then a patient, and finally what she
termed an "Alfred") Foxglove's innards were wobbling like she was
standing in line for the Final Judgment. She gulped audibly and
thought *Oh no, I shoulda gone to the bathroom; I REALLY shoulda gone
to the bathroom; I just know I'm gonna go to the bathroom right there
in front of everybody as soon as I lay eyes on him!* She was so
nervous she forgot that, being a bat, there was nothing wrong with her
going to the bathroom right where she was. Instead she waited
futilely for the world to come to an end, but the world that night was
as cruel as always and showed her no pity. *Typical,* she thought.
Finally she decided that the only way to end the torture was to
get it over with and knocked on the door. The door opened and Gadget
greeted her with a smile. "G-good evening," Foxy said to her, "I am
here for my appointment. Is the young gentleman whom I am to escort
prepared?" Gadget swung the door wide. "He's all yours," she said,
pointing to Dale.
Of course the instant they saw each other it was as if Dale and
Foxglove had been replaced by Valentino and Theda Bara. All nerves
suddenly calmed and a look of assurance came into both their faces.
And at that point neither of them would have cared if the entire
Mormon Tabernacle Choir were watching, listening, and reading their
thoughts into the bargain.
Foxy looked at Dale. "Hi-ya," she said.
Dale looked at her mischievously and exclaimed in a low voice,
Foxy blushed and turned aside. "Stop that!" she said, "I don't
know what it means but I get the distinct impression that it's
Gadget looked at her two friends with the greatest satisfaction.
She took Dale by the paw and led him up to Foxy, and while placing
his paw in her wing, said in a very good upper-south hillbilly
dialect, "Now you be good to my little bubba here, caus'n he's a young
an' innocent boy, y'hear? So don't you be a-usin' none o' yore
feminine wiles on him--ye si-reen." The three other Rangers--the
ones still cognizant of external reality--were astonished at this
heretofore unknown talent of hers. She could really have been a voice
artist for animated cartoons. They also enjoyed the irony of a girl
whose figure was most probably condemned in the platform of the
Republican party referring to anyone else as a "si-reen."
Gadget turned to Dale. "Now Jeter," she continued, "don't you
be a-doin' nothin' that I wouldn' . . . " But she laughed so hard at
this point that she could not continue with her moral guidelines.
Finally Foxy remembered that they had an extremely interested
audience, and she turned to them and said, "Madam and Sirs, I thank
you for this opportunity. I assure you that my intentions with regard
to the young gentleman are purely honorable and that I will return him
safely to you first thing in the morning." Whereupon the two managed
to exit the room safely and successfully shut the door behind them,
even though they never took their eyes off each other.
Monterey rubbed his chin and looked up at Zipper as Gadget
continued to stare thoughtfully at the door. A supremely satisfied
Chip approached her and put his arm around her.
Without shifting her gaze she finally spoke.
"Chip . . . why don't you invite TAMMY to come over for a visit?"
Once outside Dale removed the bow tie and presented the blossom
to Foxglove who sniffed it admiringly. Then the two companions jumped
into the Ranger Plane which had been made ready for their use. Dale
felt great as he strapped himself into the pilot's seat; Gadget had
insisted that they all learn how to operate it but he very rarely got
the chance. Foxglove was full of admiration at the assured way he
operated the controls, and as they took off the rush of the night air
in her face (and the realization of how much weight she had put on
through weeks of feasting and inactivity) led her to remark that it
was high time that she resumed her nightly mission.
"What's that?" Dale asked her.
"You know," she said, "to consume . . . mass . . . quantities of
nocturnal flying insects."
"And what, Dale?"
"And to CORRUPT the WORLD!" he said, in his best "voice of doom"
"I'm gonna corrupt you!" she told him.
"Not while I'm driving," he said, and they both laughed and
blushed at the unexpected direction of their conversation.
Their first stop was the carnival that visited the city each
August. As they stepped onto the ground Dale wondered aloud if
Cassandra was around. Foxy was intrigued until she learned that this
Cassandra was a fortune-telling Gypsy moth. In addition to feeling
that it would be very uncomfortable to meet her favorite food
socially, her experience with Winifred caused her to want absolutely
nothing to do with fortune tellers or even to be in the same room with
them--even if it was only a joke. She didn't even want to see card
Dale respected this and dropped the subject, and they made the
rounds of the games of the carnival's small mammals' counterpart.
Dale made several attempts to win a prize for Foxglove,
unsuccessfully, and she returned the favor with the same results.
They were both thankful that small mammals didn't use money. They
would have gone broke.
Finally Foxglove saw something that seemed to beckon her
irresistably, and she took off for it. "Where are you goin'?" Dale
shouted after her, and he finally found her fluttering before the
human-size glass house. "C'mon, Dale, let's go in!" she shouted and
negotiated the entry. Dale wasn't too crazy about this but he
followed her inside and immediately became too confused to move. But
this attraction seemed specially made for Foxy's echolocation talents
and she flew with ease up and down every passage, and then landed
beside Dale so he would not be able to miss all the reflections of her
that surrounded them. *I hope this puts an end to THAT problem* she
Just then they heard a human voice outside. "Hey, there's a bat
flying around in there!" it said. Someone--obviously the ticket
taker--responded non-chalantly, "Yeah, happens all the time. They
seem to like it. Don't worry, it'll get out all right." Foxglove
was amazed. *What do you know?* she thought, *No wonder I was drawn
to this place. I guess I really do have instincts, after all!* Then
with a bit of an effort she grabbed Dale with her feet and managed to
fly him back out right in front of the two startled humans. "Now that
IS a new one!" the ticket taker said, scratching his forehead.
Their next stop was very special. It was the drive-in theater
where they had first met. It was also the only drive-in left in the
city and showed classic old "B" movies exclusively. The first feature
was "Them," one of Dale's favorites. During the intermission he asked
if she wanted anything from the snack bar, but she said, "Just a glass
of water, please." After he left she put in some time with the moths
and mosquitoes and after her repast rejoined her escort. Dale still
treated food with great respect, and until he was finished neither
Foxy nor the movie got much attention from him. Finally he looked up
at her, his two eyes showing through a confused mass of catchup,
cheese, and chocolate. With the most earnest look she had ever seen
him with he gave her an old Arnold line from "Green Acres."
"Foxglove," he said, "this is madness!" She thought she would
never recover from that one.
The second feature, "Earth vs. the Spider," obviously brought
back painful memories for Foxglove, and as the sky in the east was
beginning to lighten anyway Dale asked her, "Ready to go home now?"
"Yes," she said. The Ranger Plane slowly rose into the air.
But suddenly she exclaimed, "Wait! Dale, will you take me to just one
more place first? I'll tell you how to get there."
Dale was agreeable, and soon they were flying to a part of the
city he hadn't spent much time in. This was not because it was a bad
or dangerous neighborhood, but because it was in a residential area
that was so quiet that the services of the Rescue Rangers were not
needed there that often. Ahead of him lit by the lights he saw a tall
and exotic spire approaching. He used Gadget's suction cup landing
gear to attach his craft to the side of the building and Foxglove
helped him out.
"Where are we?" he asked.
"St. Ner-ses Shnor-hal-i Ar-men-i-an Apostolic Church!" she
recalled carefully. "Come on inside."
She could still spider-walk into the break in the glass, though
with more difficulty than formerly, but Dale's entry proved to be much
more problematic. Foxglove wanted him to come in but in no way wanted
him to get cut by the glass, so she suggested he forget about it. But
Dale was not to be frustrated in this, and by carefully working one
part of his body in at a time he finally made it and sat down beside
his happy host. The church was empty. The sun still came up early
enough that they would be back home before matins.
"The sunlight will come through there," she said, pointing.
As they watched and waited for the display Dale appeared very
thoughtful. "Foxy?" he said.
"There's something that's been bothering me lately, and I can't
get anybody to understand it. I'm not sure what it is. I'm not
scared of you anymore or anything, but . . . "
"Dale, there was never any reason for you to be scared of me,"
she said, putting a wing around him reassuringly.
"Well, I'm scared of something, and I don't know what it is."
Even in the darkness he looked frustrated.
Foxy thought for just a moment. "I think maybe I know what it
is," she told him. "I went through it before you did, when we first
met and again back in June when I came to visit you for that first
time. Are you sure you want to hear it?"
"Sure!" he said earnestly.
"Well, Dale," she began, "you and I are about the same age, and
we'd never been in love before. At least I hadn't," she corrected
herself, remembering Gadget. "Up to now we've been kids, but when we
got these feelings, wild as they are, they told us that we were
growing up and that we wouldn't be kids much longer. And they
reminded us that we're going to keep on entering new stages of life
until, well, until one day we're both going to get old and die."
Dale frowned. "That's a bit of a come-down, Foxy," he said.
"I know," she said, "but I'm afraid there's no getting away from
it. The way I see it, you have two choices. You can go through it
all alone, or you can share it with someone you love and who loves
you. That's about the only solution I can think of."
Dale was quiet. It wasn't pleasant, but he realized she was
Finally Foxy was glad to break the train of thought. "Look,
Dale!" she said, "The sun's coming up!"
And it was, right through the picture of Noah's Ark. If it was
beautiful to Foxy, who had seen it before, to Dale it was simply
awe-inspiring. "That's a picture of a time when we were all friends,"
she told him.
As she took it all in she wasn't sure which was the biggest
thrill: the picture itself, the sunlight coming through it onto
Dale's face, or the serious, studied way he watched it. He certainly
seemed to be thinking deeply. Finally he turned to her.
"Do you think it'll ever be that way again?" he asked her. It
was the most serious and philosophical question she had ever heard
"You know what, Dale?" she said. "I think I'm going to give you
a great big WET one!"
And you know?