Ah, Episode 10! No need for seat belts in this episode, but I do highly recommend a bikini, sun block and a flame resistant beach towel.
This episode of the Asha Chronicles pays a bit of tribute to the heros of the California Wildfires of 2007. Ok, birds really didn't save the day, but there were plenty of angels during the fire that did have invisible wings. My bestfriend Tina, her budgie Huey Lewis (pictured and yes, the love of my Cleo's life), dog Camry (she's either a small sporty model or she was concieved in the back seat of one....), and cat Cricket (aka Franken-Kitty) had the San Diego fire come within 6 miles of their home. They were forced to evacuate and were one of the lucky ones. They got to go home again.
Of course the following story has a bit of 'literary license', but what else would you expect?
Got your sunblock, bikini and flame resistant towel ready? Good, read away and enjoy!
The Asha Chronicles
Flame and Glory
by Julie and Tim
February 23, 2008
Huey Lewis, a handsome turquoise budgie had his face happily buried in a small ‘Huey sized’ dish of Beak Appetite when something caught his attention. His Mom who was sitting and knitting was startled when Huey took off out of his condo and buzzed the top of her head on his way to the flower pot in the window that faced the backyard.
“Huey! A little more altitude next time, please?” Tina said, slightly exasperated at the fact Huey’s ‘lack of altitude’ caused her to drop three stitches.
“Sorry Mommy.” Huey said in English, clear as a bell. Huey, like Cecil, had mastered English and spoke it clearly in front of his human.
Huey landed oh-so precariously on the blossom of a purple petunia and stared intently out the window and off into the distance. He wasn’t sure what he saw, but he knew he saw something. He continued to watch for another moment, the purple petunia bending slightly under his 36 grams of body weight. ‘Was that smoke?’ Huey asked himself. ‘It is smoke. There’s a fire somewhere, I just know it! I need to tell Mom!’ Huey further debated and reasoned.
Huey flew back over to his Mom and landed on her right hand as she continued to knit. “Well, I guess this is better than being buzzed, but it’s not the easiest way to finish this sweater Huey.” She said to him as she got to a stopping point and put her knitting down. “Now what is it Huey?”
Huey knew the English word for ‘fire’, he knew what it was, too, but he also knew it’d be too much of a surprise to his Mom if he just spoke a fluid sentence of ‘Mom there is a fire in the canyon and it’s headed our way, we need to evacuate.’ So, instead Huey took flight again and landed on the top of Camry, big brother dogs head and said several things in budgie to her. Camry, apparently understanding every word, got up and walked over to the window Huey had just vacated, put her paws up on the sill and began barking like crazy.
Tina was first off startled by the fact Huey had actually landed on Camry and then even more startled at Huey riding on Camry across the room to the window, just sat and watched the pair for a moment. She knew Camry wouldn’t hurt Huey, but she watch warily, ready to jump up at a moments notice to rescue him.
While Camry continued to bark at the barely visible smoke plume off in the distance, Huey turned to his Mom and began saying, “Come here you. Come here you. Come here you.”
“What on earth do you see out there?” Tina asked as she got up to see what the commotion was all about. Tina stared out the window as Huey moved from Camry’s head to Tina’s shoulder and began yelling in budgie in her ear. “What?” asked Tina to her Huey.
“Go for a walk.” Huey said clearly in English for the very first time, causing Tina to turn to try and stare at him.
Huey once again resorted to screaming in budgie while Camry’s barking also got louder.
“What on earth…..” Tina began, her voice slowly trailing off as she finally saw what Huey saw, the plume of smoke, which was growing larger and darker by the second. “Oh, my!” was all Tina was able to exclaim while she grabbed Huey from off her shoulder and carried him to his Fort travel cage and popped him rather unceremoniously in and locked the door. Huey, for once, didn’t put up the usual fight. He knew something wasn’t right. He was sure Fire was headed their way.
As Tina quickly grabbed her important stuff, Huey’s important stuff, Camry and Crickets important stuff and stuffed them into her RAV4, Huey closed his eyes and went into a deep meditative state. He and Cleo, Asa’s older sister, had a way of communicating that baffled both Moms, but apparently the pair really did communicate via this deep focus and concentration, so called BSP, for lack of a better term by Tina and Asa’s Granny, Julie.
Meanwhile, in Springdale Arkansas, Cleo sensing Huey’s presence and receiving his message of their plight loud and clear, began shrieking her siren noise at the top of her extremely powerful lungs.
Asa got her big sisters message loud and clear and immediately popped the lock on her cage and went to go start up her Granny’s computer. Her Granny and Grandpa, fortunately, had taken Tyson Parker and Edgar Allan to Tulsa to the avian vet for their yearly physical. Asa, Worthington, and Cleo had gone for their physicals last week. Her Granny wouldn’t be back for 5 hours, since Tulsa was a good 2 hour ride away.
While the computer warmed up and Bird Channel came into view on the screen, Asa quickly popped the locks on both Worthington and Cleo’s cages. “If Huey is right about the fire…”
“…And you know he is.” interrupted Cleo.
“Of course he is. I wasn’t implying anything, just explaining.” Asa snipped back at her sister before continuing, “ As I was saying, we’re going to need the Feathered Four and probably all of their fiblings who are willing to help us with this one. I’ll message both BC and Flocktalk…oh, and Granny has another site, Tailfeathersnetwork.com that she has book marked for bird information. There are a lot of others on there, too.”
“Why do we need to contact so many?” Asked little Worthington. He was the baby of Asa’s flock at just 1 year old. This was also the first time he’d even been asked to join in one of his sister Asa’s adventures.
“Because it’s a fire and fire is a really scary thing. It eats everything in its path and nothing ever survives. There are going to be animals that need help getting away from Fire and humans as well. There is only four of us in the Feathered Four and we can’t be everywhere at once. We are going to need EVERYBIRDIE” Asa ended with emphasis on the word ‘everybirdie’ as her talons flew over her Granny’s computer key board. She left message after message on as many BC pages as she could before sending one seriously odd message via Flocktalk, ‘toast your feathers in sunny California, we need everybirdie now.’ She knew it’d make sense to Maude, head of the Bird Underground, but since there were humans reading, sending and receiving messages on Flocktalk, she had to remain as mysterious as possible. Then off to Tailfeathersnetwork.com to leave a human thing called a thread and post with the same mysterious message as she’d left on Flocktalk. Her Granny had told her that Tailfeathers was a rather cliquish, but she figured if someone could get past she and her Granny weren’t part of the ‘in crowd’ and join in and help, it was worth all the effort it took her to make the computer keys work on their own. Especially since her Granny’s space bar stuck and would leave paragraphs of space before inserting the next word if she didn’t yank up on it with her beak now and then.
“Ok, everyone is messaged and alerted.” Asa concluded as she shut her Granny’s computer down and turned to Cleo before saying, “Did you try to reach my Daddy?”
“I said a prayer the best I could. I do hope he heard me.” Cleo answered as the three fiblings left Springdale for California.
Out in California the freeways were jammed with residence trying to escape north; just to find out their only escape was west, to the Pacific Ocean. The small plume of smoke had grown into billowing putrid black clouds that rained hot embers down on all it could. The ravenous appetite of the fire grew as it consumed more property, wilderness and lives, both human and animal.
Huey and his family, thanks to Huey’s early warning, had managed to take the freeway north to Julie’s Uncles house in San Pedro long before the evacuation of the San Diego area went into effect. Tina knew San Pedro was well out of any normal burn paths the yearly fires took and that she, Camry, Cricket and Huey would be warmly welcomed. Once there, Huey’s travel condo was placed on the back sun porch with Jason a 40 year old cherry headed conure, and Icarus a 50 year old lilac crowned Amazon. The birds had met once before and were friendly with one another. Huey still just wasn’t sure what to think of their large beaks, but he knew the two seniors were too old to do much more than sit and tell stories about their younger days.
“I need to get out there and try and save my Grandma’s house!” said Huey to the Old Timers.
“We’ll cover for you youngun. No worries, the humans will be way to busy with the TV and human news to pay any attention to us as long as we’re quiet. Go save your home, Huey.” Said Icarus to his little turquoise friend as Huey popped the lock on his travel cage (a trick taught to him by Asa herself. Huey was a very fast learner) and flew out the open window and headed toward home.
The flames leapt and stretched themselves skyward over the dry San Diego canyon they were currently having for an afternoon snack, as if the sun itself was also on its menu. The air was densely thick with smoke and every firefighter and police officer within a 200 mile radius had been called in to help evacuate the humans too stubborn to leave their homes, mostly due to the fact the evacuation shelters didn’t allow pets.
As the police and firefighters both battled the flames on the ground, desperately trying to get to the last few obstinate humans who were still alive, the Feathered Four, Huey, Cleo and Worthington set to work from the air. Their first mission was to guide the terrified, confused and unwillingly abandoned animals to safety.
“Baby Asa, there is an old human school building with a bomb shelter in its basement. Lead who will follow there and they’ll be safe. Rosalie and I will talk to those too scared to move. For some, it’s their time, for others it’s not. She and I will do as we can.”
Asa, Asha, BabyGirl, Worthington and Cecil were startled for a moment at the speech coming from a Yucca plant just to their left.
“I’m glad you got Cleo’s message and mine.” said Huey, who like R.B. Bird and Rosalie, was a special being sent to earth to watch over the humans they’d been assigned to by the Great One. Huey had also messaged R.B. Bird and Rosalie for their help in saving his Grandma’s home, the home is Mom loved and had grown up in, during the long ride to San Pedro.
“Daddy?” asked Asa, knowing full well only one ever called her ‘Baby Asa’, and that was her Daddy, “I’m so glad it’s you and you’re here with us.” Asa paused to look around for a moment before adding, “Where’s Rosalie?”
“She’s inside talking to Bootsie and Muffy, the Siamese cats under the childs bed. They’re too scared to leave what they think is safety.
“Only problem with rescuing cats is they look at you like you’re they’re lunch! We’re alive and breathing, not spirits like you, how are we to get those ‘beasties’ into the shelter?” asked Asha logically.
“Rosalie and I will lead the cats, you seven go head east to the clearing. There is a team of firefighters there and I think they’re going to be in trouble soon. We’ll catch up in a minute.” R.B. Bird concluded as Rosalie appeared with Bootsie and Muffy from around the left side of the house.
Fire was approaching fast, the Seven feathered rescuers could feel the heat of its breath breathing deeply in their faces and R.B. Bird and Rosalie led the cats to safety.
“Cleo, you, Huey and Worthington head north east, but stick close together. Help the other wildlife up there. I think I heard a raccoon family crying in the distance.” instructed BabyGirl.
Team Huey followed BabyGirl’s instructions without argument. It was getting way too hot in their present location to remain put and discuss matters further. The Feathered Four headed east to where the firefighters were battling the heart of the fire.
For what had to be hours, the Chelmsford Group, the Oklahoma Gang, Eva’s Flockily, Knuckles family, and about a dozen other flocks of BC and Flocktalk Birds, proudly spoke fluent clear English to the weary smoke filled firefighters and policemen, guiding them free of the ambush Fire kept trying to set up. Not one life was lost due to the efforts of the BC and Flocktalk birds.
Those wearied by the fire flew to Vegas to Dolly’s house, one of the many humans in the Bird Underground who knew the birds secrets and guarded them closely, where Dolly would feed them nutrition and energy packed bird goodies and, of course, offer those interested, a plate of her famous tomato gravy and noodles. They were allowed to rest up, too before heading back to the San Diego fire.
After a break and an almost too large a plate of Dolly’s tomato gravy and noodles, the Feathered Four found themselves flying a bit too close to the heart of the beast Fire. They were led there by Rosalie, who’d told them of two firefighters who were trapped by Fire and were nearing death.
As the Feathered Four grew closer they thought they could hear Fire laugh in triumph of yet another kill. Fire, in too soon of a celebration, as the firefighters at this point were still very much alive, shot its flames up a good 100 feet in the air and belched out a deep thicker than pea soup cloud of acrid black smoke. The Feathered Four lost their way. The smoke was too thick for them to see. Cecil coughed as he tried to take in a breath, but got nothing but dense smoke instead.
“What now?” asked Asha as she bumped into a tree branch and for her safety, alighted there.
“Not sure.” said BabyGirl as she perched next to Asha.
“My Daddy will find us and so will Rosalie. We’ll be fine.” Asa said hopefully as she, too sat down on the branch to wait.
Then, as if someone had turned off the smoke machine, the air cleared as Rosalie appeared in her normal spirit form before them. “This way, the firefighters are over here.” she said simply and her translucent form turned and let the Feathered Four through the now miraculously clear air, dense, all consuming black smoke still everywhere but the bubble of ‘clear’ that Rosalie had created for them.
Upon reaching a small area barren of anything but the two smoke encrusted men in firefighting gear, Rosalie approached them and spoke clearly to them in English, “Please, I know this is unusual for you Humans to see me and hear me, but please follow my flockily to safety.” Rosalie pleaded as The Feathered Four caught up to her.
“Hi, I’m Cecil, the King of All Budgies.” Cecil politely introduced.
“Cecil!” scolded Asha, “All that matters is that they listen to us and follow us and Rosalie out of here!”
“Yes, please get up if you can and follow us and we’ll lead you out of here.” Asa reaffirmed.
“Clyde, do you hear what I hear or have I eaten too much smoke?” Said the bigger of the two firefighters to the smaller.
“If you mean that there are four live parrots in front of us talking and a ghost bird, also talking, telling us to follow them out of here to safety. Yeah, Mark, I hear them, too.”
“You know, this reminds me of that Star Trek episode…um…The Tholian Web, I believe it was called, where they thought Kirk was dead but his ghost kept popping up but it turned out he was really alive.” said Mark.
“Yeah, me too. In that episode they strapped Uhuru down in the sickbay when she saw Kirk. They thought she was crazy and that’s exactly what they’ll say about us, too. Birds talking, ghost bird talking. I think I’d strap us down right now if I was sure this was all really happening.” said Clyde.
“But, we’re both seeing all this, so does that make us both crazy?”asked Mark.
“Well, which is crazier, seeing a Dead Captain Kirk or a ghostly bird and her flock?” Clyde asked Mark right back.
“I don’t know, Clyde. Kirk was just a television character but talking birds are really weird. I’d say we’re more likely to see Kirk.” Mark reasoned back.
“Do firefighter humans always act so weird?” Asked BabyGirl to the rest of the Feathered Four. “You’d think they’d just want to get out of here and would just simply get up and follow us!”
Clyde and Mark continued their debate, completely ignoring BabyGirls comment.
“Too bad Spock isn’t here to tell us what the logical thing to do would be.” Clyde added as he looked from Marks smoke caked face to the four live bird and one ghost bird perched on a small bush directly in front of them. Fire trying, without success to penetrate the bubble of clear clean air that Rosalie’s spirit had created around them.
“We don’t need Spock to deal with talking birds, we need Dr. McCoy and a good shot of burbon.” Mark added with a faint smile, his white teeth peeking out from in between black soot covered lips.
“You know, you two can continue this debate from now until the cows come home, or you can just get up and follow us.” Asha interrupted, fed up and tired of the conversation and beginning to feel the heat of Fire as Rosalie’s strength began to slowly fade. “Now, get up off your tail feathers and MOVE IT or I’ll be forced to Ninja me some firefighters into next week!” Asha ended a bit louder and a bit angrier than necessary.
“Rosalie can’t hold this bubble of clean air for long. She doesn’t have a lot of strength back her over the Rainbow Bridge. For all our safety, please just come with us.” Asa prodded.
“Follow me! The King Budgie of the Great Budgie Divide!” Cecil chimed in in his most macho tone as he took flight and led the way out of the heart of Fire.
Once out of the heart of Fire and into the safety of one of the evacuation centers set up especially for firefighters the Feathered Four caught their breaths on a branch of a dogwood tree just outside. They’d only perched for about 2 minutes when Huey, Cleo and Worthington flew up to them in a total panic.
“MY HOUSE!!” Huey cried, “THE FIRE IS ALMOST UP TO MY BACK FENCE!!! WE’VE GOTTA SAVE MY HOUSE!!” the little turquoise budgie cried.
“Asa, we don’t know what to do.” Cleo explained in a tone not much calmer than her bonded forever mate, Huey’s.
“Let’s go!” said Asha as she took off for Huey’s home.
Once there, the Feathered Four, Huey, Cleo and Worthington were greeted by the second spirit bird from over the Rainbow Bridge, Asa’s father, R.B. Bird. His ghost like form was perched in stately form on Huey’s back yard fence. As the seven parrots approached they could hear R.B. Bird actually talking to Fire.
“This is my family you’re threatening. It was my daughter, my only surviving daughter, you tried to take the life of back in the canyon. Those are her special friends you singed the feathers of. And, nobody, but nobody messes with my family, you got that Fire?” R.B. Bird said in his most and very intimidating tone.
Fire’s spirit flickered for a moment, unsure of what to think. It’d never been spoken to like that before and especially not by a silly bird. But, something told Fire spirit that this particular bird was not one to mess with. Fire spirit had, for the first time in it’s current life, a life given to it by an 8 year old arsonist who just wanted to see the pretty posy burn, felt a twinge of fear.
That twinge of fear Fire spirit felt was very real. R.B. Bird, when he was alive, was willing to give his life without question for his human and his flock. Being spirit himself hadn’t lessoned his desire to protect. R.B. Bird knew if he could once again give his life to save Huey’s home, he would. He had no life left to give, so he called down his elder sister, Moana, also a resident of the Rainbow Bridge, and Rosalie. With the three spirit birds on Huey’s back yard fence and Fire spirit directly in front of them, daring them to even try to stop it, they began to flap their wings as hard as they could.
Asa, being very much her Daddy’s little girl, understood exactly what her father had in mind and flew up to the fence and began flapping too. Fire spirit millimeters from her breast feathers and millimeters from taking her life.
Undaunted, but totally terrified at the same time, Asa called to Asha, BabyGirl and Cecil, “Come on! It’s going to take all of us to save this house!”
“Bonzai!!!!” Yelled Cecil as he, too threw caution to the wind and landed on the fence and began flapping.
BabyGirl sensed Asha’s fear and said to her as comforting as she could, “You’ve just stared death in the face twice and survived. What’s once more?”
With a deep sigh, Asha and BabyGirl joined the others on the fence and began flapping as hard as they could. Fire spirit refusing to give up and continuing to lick their breast feathers in an attempt to send the heroes over the Rainbow Bridge.
“You’re not taking my Mom and Grandma’s house!” yelled Huey and Cleo at the exact same time as they and Worthington also alighted on the fence and began flapping.
Undaunted, Fire spirit continued to fight.
A moment later a thunderous flapping of wings could be heard as the Chelmsford Gang, Eva’s Flockily, Stubby, Asha’s fiancé and his flock as well as several other flockilies of parrots all joined them on the fence, flapping as hard as they could. Fire spirit couldn’t hold on. Slowly but surely Fire began to back away from Huey’s home. As the massive flock of parrots continued flapping with all their might, Fire spirit began to grow smaller. Then, just when the massive flock began to feel fatigued from all the flapping, the Fire spirit gave up the ghost and extinguished itself. Nothing was left but a small puddle of smoldering embers. The San Diego Canyon fire was out.
The army of parrots soon scattered. Some returned to their homes while others went back to the fire lines to make certain that all abandoned animals had been rescued. After a while the only parrots left were Huey and the Feathered Friends.
“Thank you for saving my home,” Huey said. “It was a wonderful thing you did. How can I possibly repay you?”
“Well, that is kind of the same question we have too,” came a human voice from around the corner of the house as Mark and Clyde walked up to the seven birds.
“You saved our lives,” said Clyde. “Everyone else had abandoned us yet you birds risked your lives to save us. Why did you all do that?”
The birds looked at each other, none of them really having an answer to the human’s question until Asa cleared her throat. “My Daddy always told me that, deep down, the only difference in all of us is that some have feathers and others have skin,” Asa said. “As for what you can do to repay us, just remember that one fact. All life is sacred.”
Clyde and Mark shook their heads in agreement and turned to leave. As they walked away Mark grabbed Clyde’s shoulder and asked: “Didn’t Kirk say something like that in one of those second season episodes?”
“No, you idiot,” scoffed Clyde. “It was Spock and it was in the third season.”
Asha shook her head as the two walked away. “Well, as those humans would say, it is time for us to boldly go where no parrot has ever gown before,” she said with a grin.
“To heck with that,” said Cecil. “I’m going home and I sincerely hope it is very cold there. I’ve been too warm for too long. Anyway, scorched feathers stink.”
The Four with Cleo and Worthington took off for their respective homes as Huey surveyed his home with a smile. It had survived Fire. Huey flew over the now no longer smoldering embers of Fire, just to make sure it was really gone before taking off for San Pedro to get his Mom, Camry and even Cricket and tell them it was time to go home.