It is said that the worst kind of terror is that which strikes in
your own home.
It is also said that you should be careful what you wish for,
*since you just might get it*.
One of the Rescue Rangers is about to discover these
BY MICHAEL DEMCIO
Part I - Opening Moves.
Part 1 of 3
It was a sleepy fall morning. Bright and clear, but with a
cool crispness in the air that spoke of the changing of the
seasons. The sun's gentle early rays glistened into the windows
of Rescue Ranger headquarters, dispersing the darkness of the
night, and slowly awakening one of its residents. Chip blinked
against the daylight streaming into the room, his eyes focusing
as he slowly came awake. Contentedly, he yawned and stretched as
far as he could. Then, snuggling deeply once more into the
blankets, enjoying the sensation of their warmth, he rolled over
on his side to gaze out the window.
/Well here it is,/ Chip thought, smiling to himself. /*my
birthday*. Has it really been more than two years already?/ he
mused to himself wonderingly, thinking on how quickly the time
had flown by since he and Dale had met Gadget, Monterey, and
Zipper, and formed The Rescue Rangers. Over that time, each of
them had become as close to him as Dale had been before they all
had met. Each of them was, in his or her own right one of his
best friends, like no other friend could ever be. They had become
like a family over that time. Both to him, and to each other.
Thinking fondly for awhile about the past two birthdays he'd
spent with his teammates, in addition to all the adventures, and
hardships, celebrations and quiet moments they'd shared with one
another, Chip rolled out of bed, a shiver running through him as
his body adjusted to the slight nip in the air. "Better turn the
heat up a bit." he murmured to himself, rubbing his arms.
Glancing up as he removed his nightshirt and cap, he spied Dale's
empty bunk bed, his blanket laying in it's usual crumpled heap
atop it. The untidiness of the unmade bed was no surprise to
Chip, as Dale seldom fixed it without being asked to. His
sloppiness was as ingrained in him as was Monterey's craving for
cheese. The absence of his oldest friend however, *was*.
"That's odd." Chip mumbled, still staring at the upper bunk,
as he reflexively grabbed and donned his familiar bomber jacket
and fedora. Dale was not by any stretch of the imagination, an
early riser. Even when he went to bed at a normal hour, if he
didn't stay up half the night in bed reading comic books, he
still normally needed someone to nudge him awake in the morning.
Without such a wake up call, he would more than likely snooze his
way into midday or even later. Dale was one of the best, all
time, hard core, late sleepers that Chip had ever known. Unless
there was a darn good reason for him to do so, (for Chip, like
the others, knew that when Dale put his mind to something, he
could overcome even his worst fears or habits) Dale would never
have gotten up at this time.........
*Unless something was wrong*...........
A concerned look creasing his brow at the thought, Chip tossed
his nightclothes onto his bed and slipped out the door to
Moving silently down the hallway, he systematically
checked the bathroom, the exercise room, the upstairs outside
terrace, the hangar, and even Gadget's workshop. Normally, he
knew that Dale would have had little or no reason to enter
Gadget's workshop. Remembering as he checked the terrace though,
that they had watched a new Dirk Suave movie last night, he
thought that Dale might have taken up the idea of making more spy
equipment for his use as had happened the last time a number of
months back.* Even this idea though proved to no avail as he
moved to check the forward portion of the treehouse. The living
room, he also saw as he entered it, was empty.
/Must be in the kitchen getting an early breakfast./ He
reasoned after checking the outside landing pad, the eerie
feeling in the back of his mind starting to subside. /Figures.
Though after all the popcorn he inhaled during the movie last
night, you would think that he had enough food in him to last the
winter./ Chip shook his head in amazement, a grin spreading over
his face. When it came to eating, sleeping, and being lazy, Dale
was almost as bad as that cat in the comics! As he passed back
through the living room area, he glanced at one of the watches
hanging upon the wall.
It was 7:00.
Walking toward the kitchen, Chip's grin spread a bit farther
as he pondered another thought. /In a race to get a chocolate
covered cheesecake,/ he mused, /I wonder who would win, Monty,
Dale, or that cat....*if he were real,*/ he added to himself with
a mental shrug. Lost in the thought of such a race, he almost
didn't notice the closed kitchen door, stopping himself short
right before bumping into it. Staring at the closed door, Chip
quirked a bemused eyebrow at it. The only time the kitchen door
was ever closed was when Monterey was cooking up a new dish and
didn't want to be disturbed. Dale couldn't be in there with him,
since Monterey always worked alone when he was creating something
new. Though if Monterey was in the kitchen,.....*then where was
Dale?* The only place he hadn't checked so far out of the entire
treehouse, was Gadget's and Monterey's rooms, though why he might
be in either place at this hour was beyond him. He was about to
turn from the door to head back in the direction of the bedrooms
when something touched his foot. Looking down, he saw a small
puddle oozing out from under the doorway. A small, thick, *RED*
*Unless something was wrong*...........the thought from a
few minutes back flashed through his mind again as eyes grew wide
with shock, his heart leaping into his throat. Fearing the
worst, Chip seized the door handle and bolted into the room.
The door halted abruptly with a thump a quarter of the way
open as it ran into something solid, followed immediately by an
ear shattering crash. Cringing against the din, Chip hastily
pushed the door the rest of the way open, to discover his
friend laying facefirst on the floor in the dim light...lying in
a dark, red puddle. Chip was by his side in an instant. "Dale!
Dale! Are you alright?! *Speak to me!*" Chip cried, rolling him
over onto his back as he quickly looked him over. A chill ran
through him as he stared at the dark red splotches on Dale's
chest. Weakly, Dale opened his eyes.
"Give me a day and I'll let you know." Dale mumbled,
grimacing. "Oh-no!" he cried suddenly, his eyes lighting up as he
stared up at Chip's face. "Chip?! What're *you* doing in here?!"
he asked in an alarmed tone.
Chip blinked, looking taken aback as Dale slowly sat up.
"What am *I* doing in here?!" Chip stated, repeating the question
in an almost irritated tone, "I'm sa-" Chip broke off as he
looked around for the first time since barging in. Besides them,
there was no-one else in the room. All around them though, were
broken glasses and dishes, as well as spilled food of many types.
"I was making you breakfast for your birthday." Dale stated
as he watched Chip come to the same conclusion. "I was carrying
it out the door to surprise you with breakfast in bed when the
door hit me on the head." he finished, narrowing his eyes and
rubbing the back of his head gently. Chip whipped his gaze back
around to face him, his eyes wide.
"Then you..." he said pointing to the red across Dale's
chest, "and that puddle under you....." Chip stammered
uncertainly, pointing toward the door, "I spilled some tomato
juice." Dale finished for him, rubbing a hand across his chest as
well. "Here too." he added. Chip slapped a hand over his eyes as
his cheeks flushed red with embarrassment.
/I don't get it! I was *so certain!*/ Chip thought. Even
now, a small part of the sensation still remained. "I'm sorry,
Dale." Chip grinned at him sheepishly as he removed his hand.
"For some reason, I had this nagging thought that you were in
some sort of trouble, and when I saw that puddle from under the
door..." Chip broke off once more. Dale grinned back at him, with
an understanding gaze.
"I gotcha, Chip." Dale said nodding, as Chip stood and
helped him to his feet. "Well *I'm* okay." he added with a
chuckle, giving Chip a humorous look as he swept a hand at the
mess around them, "But I'm afraid *your breakfast* is a goner."
The two chipmunks laughed at this, when a few seconds later,
the kitchen door which had closed partially, slammed open once
more to reveal a very alarmed, Monterey Jack, Gadget, and Zipper.
"*What's going on here, mates?!*" Monterey demanded as the three
rangers rushed into the room. "We heard a crash." Gadget added,
looking around at them and the mess. "Are you guys okay?" she
asked with concern.
"It's nothing guys. We're okay." Dale said with an assuring,
humorous look, before stooping to pick up some of the broken
"I thought he was in trouble." Chip said with a shrug, his
cheeks reddening as he started to help Dale clean up.
"From making breakfast?" Zipper said, scratching his head,
"Never mind." Chip replied, shaking his head, wishing that
this whole had scene never happened. "I just had a bad feeling
that something was wrong. I rushed in and crashed into him at the
Remembering a conversation that he'd had with Foxglove soon
after he had first met her, about how the other Rangers wouldn't
let him cook because they were afraid he would break too many
dishes** Dale remarked to the others as they joined in the
cleanup, "Looks like we're going to have to worry about *Chip*
breaking dishes for me now." Chip blushed once again as the
others laughed. "Great way to start your birthday, huh, Chip?"
Dale teased his best friend, grinning at him.
After cleaning up the kitchen an warmly wishing Chip a happy
birthday, everyone reluctantly sat down while Dale insisted that
he make breakfast for everyone as well as Chip. Fully expecting
Dale to burn and/or ruin the fruit, the juice, the main course,
and everything else in between, but being too polite to say
anything after their gentle attempts to disuade him, the
four Rangers all gave each other silent looks of remorse as they
waited to choke down another one of Dale's charred repasts. They
had suffered through one once before, and to say the least, it
hadn't been pleasant. Chip was given the majority of the
sorrowful looks, for all thought that such a meal was an even
more bitter pill to swallow if it was made on one's birthday. To
the surprise of all however, their fears were proved unfounded
when Dale served up a fantastically mouth watering breakfast,
that was as good to look at as it was to eat, including a new
dish that he had dubbed "Triple fruit flapjacks". This curious
new concoction turned out to be one of the best things that any
of the Rangers had ever tasted in quite some time. Needless to
say, the four teammates were all more than sufficiently shocked.
"What did you *do*, Dale?" Chip asked, reaching for his
forth serving, having wolfed down his first three as though he
hadn't eaten in days, "Start reading cooking comic books?"
"Very funny." Dale replied from the stove as he made up
another batch of the flapjacks for everyone.
"Seriously though, mate," Monterey added to Chip's statement
as he and Zipper each grabbed for another stack of the pancakes,
"what *did* happen? Beside breaking dishes, you couldn't *boil
water* before without burning it. Cooking was *not* your best
"Everyone's a critic!" Dale said with mock sarcasm as he
rolled his eyes. "If you really want to know, I've been
taking cooking lessons from Tammy^ on the sly for the past few
weeks, to give Chip a little extra treat for his birthday."
"Ah." the others intoned, the realization sinking in as Chip
grinned with fond warmth at his friend for his consideration.
Tammy was one of the best cooks they knew. A natural with food,
if anyone could have taught Dale a thing or two about cooking,
she would have been the best choice.
"I wanted to surprise Chip with it today," Dale said
continuing,"but he ended up surprising *me* instead." he finished
with a laugh.
Finishing the bite he had taken, Chip swallowed hard, not
from the food, but from embarrassment.
"You should taste some of the things she's made!"
Dale continued as he sat down with another batch of flapjacks and
proceeded to take some. "This is practically nothing compared to
some of the other stuff she's shown me!"
"Speaking of nothing," Gadget said, spearing another
flapjack, "We did agree to take a break from case work and just
relax today, right?"
"Right." the others chorused.
"Good," she continued as she poured herself another glass of
pineapple juice, "because there's an invention I'd really like to
get started on today and I'm going to need your help bringing
some parts up to my workshop."
"Sure." Zipper said as the others simply nodded, their
mouths still full.
"Just as soon as we're done here......." Monterey
added, swallowing, as he took yet another stack of flapjacks
while Chip and Zipper sat, waiting to follow suit.
"......which....... might be a little while yet." Gadget
realized, looking around with a grin, as she too, started on a
new batch of hotcakes. "I don't think anyone's anywhere *near*
MORE TO COME...