It was a woodpecker perched high in the tall pine tree that heard the sound of the car’s horn and turned and watched the car slide down the steep mountainside. The recent rain storms had eroded the narrow road and the side gave way under the car’s weight, causing it to crash into a tree before it began to slide. As the car crashed downward, the driver was leaning into the horn causing the horn to continue to blare and disturb the quiet mountain morning. The continuing noise caused the woodpecker to stop his assault on the pine tree and go investigate. What he saw inside the car caused him to fly away in a panic. The woodpecker knew he must get help or the unconscious mother, slumped against the steering wheel, and her young child, buckled in the back seat, could at any minute continue to crash down the rugged mountainside. The car’s downward path had been stopped by an old tree stump that had been rotting away, and the woodpecker could see the old stump could not hold the car much longer.
The woodpecker heard the stories about the Rescue Girls who lived on White’s farm and how they helped other animals in trouble, and he knew that was where he would find help for the mother and child. The woodpecker flapped his wings to gain height, and when he was above the tree tops, flew in a straight line toward White’s farm. The woodpecker wasn’t a fast flier, but he flew with determination. With a flutter of wings the woodpecker braked and landed on top of the large red barn. He took a couple of deep breaths, just to catch his breath, and then he flew from the top of the barn and into an open window high on the side. “Barney,” the woodpecker called into the dark opening, “are you in there?”
“Whooo is it?” Came from the darkness.
“It’s me Crow. I need your help. It’s an emergency.” The woodpecker answered, relived that the large owl who lived in the barn was home.
Barney stepped from the darkness and blinked his large eyes and grumbled, “What is so urgent that you needed to wake me?”
“There’s been an accident and you were the only one I could think of that could bring help. A mother and her child is in terrible danger.” The woodpecker was talking fast and Barney was having trouble keeping up with him.
“Slow down Crow and explain it to me from the beginning.” Barney ordered, and Crow quickly told him what he had seen, again repeating that the car could slide further down the mountain, and no one would be able to rescue the mother and child. By now Barney was wide awake and asked Crow exactly where to find the car, and then he told Crow to fly back and keep watch on the mother and child. As Crow flew away, Barney flapped his large wings and glided down to Twitter who was sunning himself in the yard. After the heavy rain, all of the animals on White’s farm were outside enjoying the sunshine. Barney appeared suddenly, landing right next to Twitter, causing Twitter to jump up and squawk, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.”
“Settle down Twitter. It’s just me.” Barney said. When Twitter calmed down, Barney explained what Crow had told him, adding, “You need to hurry and bring the Rescue Girls here. We don’t have any time to waste.” Twitter’s head bobbled back and forth trying to get the story right, then he wobbled away on his long knobby legs. Twitter crashed through the gate, jumped on the porch, and began knocking on the door. KFC finally opened the door, holding a bowl of cereal and said, “Twitter I’m eating breakfast, can’t this wait.” KFC never liked to be bothered while he ate his Lucky Charms. He would always eat the crunchy cereal first and save all the marshmallow bits for last.
Twitter was excited and stuttered, “It’s a-a-an emergency.”
KFC knew that most of Twitter’s emergencies were not real emergencies and walked back to the table and sat down to finish his cereal.
“Where’s Gracie and Susie?” Twitter asked. “We must find them. There’s no time to waste.”
KFC decided to humor his agitated friend and asked between bites of cereal, “What is the emergency?”
“Crow said there is a mother and child and the car is going to fall.” Twitter began hopping from one foot to the other and a few of white feathers floated in the air.
KFC yawned and asked, “Who is Crow?”
“He he he is the woodpecker that knows Barney.” Twitter answered between hops.
“Is he a woodpecker or a crow? Twitter I’m not sure I understand.” KFC stood up and placed his spoon and empty bowl in the sink.
“He is a woodpecker who thinks he’s a crow so that is what everyone calls him — Crow.” Twitter yelled, trying to explain.
KFC groaned, sometimes trying to understand Twitter gave him a headache, and it was only morning. It’s going to be a long day, KFC thought to himself.
“Come on,” Twitter urged, “we don’t have time to waste.” Twitter hurried out the door and KFC followed. Twitter fast wobbled to Barney and reported, “I found KFC.”
“Good work Twitter.” Barney said and then he looked at KFC and asked, “Where are your sisters? There has been an accident on rural road nineteen and we need their help.”
KFC gasped, there really was an emergency, and he raced back into his house to wake up his sisters. Gracie and Susie quickly changed from their pajamas into their Rescue Girls outfits: Green long sleeved shirts, jeans, and boots that laced. KFC donned his red cape and mask.
Apparently everyone knew about the woodpecker who thought he was a crow. Maybe he was raised by crows, Susie suggested, when the three cats were discussing Crow as they got dressed. KFC responded that Twitter said Crow had pecked on too many tree knots and had scrambled his brains and now thought he was a crow. Gracie said that could be right because they had their own brain-scrambled bird living on this farm. The three cats secretly giggled thinking about Twitter.
All the animals were gathered in the yard to help make rescue plans. Jersey Girl, the cow, said she was too slow to be part of the rescue team, but suggested Tin Can, the old white goat, go in case something needed to be butted. Finally it was decided that the Rescue Girls, KFC, and Tin Can would follow Barney to the crash site. After hearing about the mother and child trapped in the car, Gracie sent Twitter to town to find Master Sleuth and Sergeant and tell them that they would meet them on rural road nineteen and to watch for Crow.
KFC and the Rescue Girls raced down the narrow path through the trees that would eventually run into rural road nineteen. Tin Can was huffing and steam came from his nostrils as he tried to keep up the fast pace, but the old goat didn’t complain. He knew that the mother and child trapped in the car were in danger, and the car could break free and crash down the mountainside any second. Barney floated overhead giving them signals of which turn to take or the way to go. Finally they came to the road and heard Master Sleuth call out to them. “Wait for us.” He barked. Alongside him ran the large German Shephard, Sergeant. “How much farther?” Master Sleuth asked Barney circling overhead.
“We need to get to mile marker thirty.” Barney answered.
Master Sleuth said, “We just passed mile marker twenty-nine. Not much farther, so let’s get going.” The group made better time on the flat road and in a short time reached mile marker thirty.
Crow flew down to meet them and explained, “The old stump is beginning to give way, and the car wiggled a few times. The mother is still unconscious and the child keeps calling her.”
Master Sleuth ran to the edge of the dirt road and looked down; he could see the car below. The mother was still slumped against the steering wheel, but the horn had stopped blaring because the battery had run out. The car’s doors were scratched and dented from the tumble off the road, but it looked like they could be opened. But how to get them open? Master Sleuth thought hard. He looked around and squinted his eyes. He noticed something above that was reflecting the morning sunlight. It was a camera mounted on a utility pole that forest rangers used to watch for fires. An idea began to form as Master Sleuth stared at the camera.
In the look-out tower, Forest Ranger Floyd was wondering how in the world he would get through the summer season without pulling what little hair he had left out. The reason for his distress was the newly hired ranger assistant assigned to his watch named Robbie. Robbie had complained and whined the whole week he had been here, and Ranger Floyd was getting tired of listening to him. Ranger Floyd had spent six years in the army and never complained about anything, no matter how bad things got. That was how he rolled. Robbie had never held a job for more than a few weeks, and those were mostly in fast food burger joints. Besides, he had no real forest experience and it showed. The only thing Robbie liked to do was to play games on the computer that was used to monitor the cameras in the forest for fires. Once every hour during the day, each camera was to be opened on the computer screen and the rangers would look for any sign of smoke that would signal a fire. Floyd wasn’t too worried because of all the rain this past week, but once the forest dried out and the campers arrived, the possibility of a fire increased and depending on Robbie would be a big mistake.
Floyd hitched up his forest green pants, that matched his forest green shirt with the forest service emblem sewn on the pocket, and wondered how could he get rid Robbie? Floyd knew that if a fire or another crisis happened, Robbie would run away from any danger and would be no help at all. The only reason Robbie got the job in the first place was because of his grandmother. Apparently she knew the governor or someone important that owed her a favor, and now Ranger Floyd was stuck with Robbie the whiner for the summer. Ranger Floyd looked at the clock on the wall and told Robbie, “It’s time to check the cameras.” He pointed to the chair in front of the computer.
Robbie sighed heavily, pulled the chair from under the desk, and plopped down. He was so skinny that he barely filled the middle of the chair. Robbie pulled out the keyboard and mouse, and then clicked on the icon for the camera program. One by one he brought up each camera. There were six cameras posted on utility poles that ran along the forest road. Robbie grumbled to himself, one more stupid tree to look at, and then he opened camera number six. Camera six was mounted by mile marker thirty and Robbie leaned close to the monitor. His eye sight wasn’t that good, and he refused to wear the glasses the eye doctor prescribed. Suddenly a huge black eye filled the monitor, staring straight at Robbie. It took a second for Robbie’s brain to process what he was seeing, then he let out a loud high-pitched scream and leaped backward, knocking over the chair. As Robbie back-stepped to get away from the huge monstrous eye, he tripped over the chair and went rolling across the floor startling Ranger Floyd. “What in blazes is going on?” Ranger Floyd exclaimed.
Sprawled in the middle of the floor, Robbie pointed at the computer and stuttered, “There was this huge eye looking back at me.”
Ranger Floyd looked at the monitor and saw only trees filling the screen and then down at Robbie sprawled on the floor. He stood there for a minute, shook his head, and walked back to his desk to finish the cup of coffee he just poured from his thermos.
“I couldn’t see anything inside that camera.” From the tall pole, Crow peered down at Master Sleuth. Master Sleuth had asked Crow to fly to the camera and determine if the camera was working.
“I don’t think that is how it works Crow. The forest rangers can see out of the camera, but we can’t see in.” Master Sleuth was trying hard not to grin.
Master Sleuth was worried; time was running out; the old stump looked ready to break free and send the car tumbling down the mountain. Sergeant came over, leaned down, and whispered something to Master Sleuth. Master Sleuth is a Bassett Hound and his head barely reached Sergeant’s tall shoulders. Someone had described a Bassett Hound as a big dog with short legs. But don’t be mistaken thinking Master Sleuth wasn’t fast or strong, because when he reached full speed trying to stop him would be like trying to stop a charging bull. And Master Sleuth was very smart and the president of the NGA Club.
“It could work if the rangers are looking at camera six.” Master Sleuth told Sergeant, and then he called up to Crow, “I need you to follow these instructions very carefully. On the camera peck three short pecks, followed by three long pecks, then three more short pecks. Wait for a minute and do it again in the exact same order. Do this as long as you can.”
Up on the high pole Crow shrugged, pecking was his special skill and he knew he was one of the best peckers of trees in the forest. He leaned over to reach the camera and began pecking on it just like Master Sleuth said. Crow kept repeating the series of pecks, over and over. He could keep this pecking up for hours and had many times before.
Back at the ranger station, Ranger Floyd finished his coffee and walked over to Robbie who sat huddled on the chair. “I swear I saw this big black eye looking at me out of the monitor.” Robbie repeated the same story once again.
“Give me that chair.” Ranger Floyd order and sat down and said, “Scary things happen in the forest all the time, and it’s our job to check them out.” Ranger Floyd had never seen anything in the forest that he couldn’t explain, like the Bigfoot monster, but he wanted to show Robbie he wasn’t afraid. Ranger Floyd scooted the chair closer to the computer. The chair groaned, because Ranger Floyd completely filled the chair’s seat with some extra on both sides.
Robbie was glad to get away from the computer and went to the other side of the room, as far away from the computer as he could get. He knew what he saw and he didn’t want that scary eye to look at him ever again.
The camera on pole six seemed to be shaking, making it hard to focus on the trees, so Ranger Floyd picked up the mouse and shook it to try to stop the camera from moving. “It doesn’t work that way,” Robbie grumbled from across the room, “something must be wrong with the camera.”
Ranger Floyd stared at the computer; a pattern seemed to come from the movement of the trees in the monitor. The shaking trees reminded Ranger Floyd of his army days. Dot dot dot. Dash dash dash. Dot dot dot. Suddenly he realized the camera’s jerking matched the Morse code signal for SOS. SOS was the distress signal used around the world to signal that someone was in trouble. Using the mouse, he began to move to camera around staring closely at the monitor. Ranger Floyd yelled at Robbie, “Call the Sherriff to scramble a car and ambulance to rural road nineteen, mile marker thirty. A car has gone off the road and it looks like there are injured passengers.”
When the camera started moving in different directions, Master Sleuth said, “Good work Crow. The rangers have received the message.” Crow wasn’t used to getting compliments, especially from the leader of the NGA Club, and he stepped backwards and fell off the tall pole. Luckily for Crow, he was able to spread his wings in time and avoid crashing into the road.
Gracie and Susie were sitting beside the car watching the child, who was watching them. They would wave to the small girl in the car and she would grin and wave back. Susie worried, “I hope help gets here soon. She is being so brave trapped inside the car.”
Gracie added, “I’m worried about her mother. She has been unconscious for a long time, but if she wakes up and becomes frightened, she might try to get out and send the car crashing down the mountain.”
From the road Sergeant yelled, “I can hear sirens.”
Gracie and Susie jumped up on the road, just as a large vehicle with lights flashing came barreling down the road, followed by a rolling cloud of dust. “Let’s move to the trees. We don’t want to hinder the rescue of the mother and child.” Master Sleuth told the others and led the way to the side of the road.
It only took the emergency team a minute to assess the situation and climb down and secure the car with a cable before they opened the doors. Carefully they unhooked the small girl from her car seat, lifted her from the back of the car, and carried her to the ambulance. The mother slowly opened her eyes when they pried open the driver’s door and carried her to safety. The men unhooked the cable and the old tree stump heaved; its roots let go, and the car crashed down the mountainside.
Two weeks later there was a special award dinner for Ranger Floyd for saving the lives of the mother and daughter. Ranger assistant Robbie didn’t attend. He had resigned, saying that he didn’t trust the new computer system because it was full of bugs with big black eyes and ghosts that made the camera shake. Robbie’s absence only added to Ranger Floyd’s happy night. Ranger Floyd was awarded a special medal. Afterwards, the mother hugged and told Ranger Floyd how thankful she was for his help. The small girl asked Ranger Floyd where were the cats with the green shirts like his, which confused everyone but the girl and Ranger Floyd.
From camera six, Ranger Floyd watched the rescue take place and the car crashing down the mountain. Then he turned the camera to watch the sheriff’s car and ambulance drive away. But what caught his attention, causing his mouth to gape open, was from the trees came two dogs, three cats dressed in costumes, and one old white goat. Then an owl and woodpecker flew down and landed on the road beside the other animals. It seemed to Ranger Floyd the animals were discussing something, and he was stunned to see the cats all high-five each other. As the animals started down the road in the opposite direction the ambulance went, it looked like they were marching or maybe dancing. Step step and a butt wiggle. Step step and a butt wiggle.
If Ranger Floyd had been able to hear he would have heard:
Gracie and Susie sing: Rescue Girls are the best. Rescue Girls pass the test!
Then KFC and Tin Can sing: Tin Can and KFC gets it done just watch and see!
Then Master Sleuth and Sergeant sing: The NGA Club is who to call. When you need help we do it all!