Once upon a time, Halloween came and passed. Following the traveling, the visiting, and the collecting, an argument occurred on the bed in a room full of aircraft models dangling from the ceiling.
An argument so full of pettiness, self-righteousness, and both optimism and cynicism in equal measure that there could only be one source.
“With this pile of candy properly divided, this concludes the night of… THE ELVEN RANGER!”
“That’s dumb. Rangers are dumb. You’re not even an elf.”
“How about if I put my ears back on?”
Rita and Maisy are two little suburban girls with two very different views on what they want to be when they grow up.
“But you lost one back at Jessie’s house.”
“Oh yeah. Least I got my real ear back… Maisy, what are you supposed to be?”
Rita likes jumping on the bed, climbing trees, and playing periscope with her arm and an eye. Rita is an (actually) eleven year old blue-skinned yet still bright blonde zombie who grew up on her mother’s fantasy novels and her father’s science-fiction model kits.
“I’m a pilot! You couldn’t tell?”
“That’s the jacket you always wear.”
Maisy likes swing sets, dangling off monkey bars, and not bumping her ears into anything. Maisy is a brunette and peachy-skinned eleven year old elf who grew up watching her mother pilot cargo planes and her father work on cars.
“It’s a pilot’s jacket! My mom’s boss got me one ‘cause I’m mom’s co-pilot!”
“Oh, so that’s not just because it’s cold tonight. You had your special pointy earmuffs on tonight too.”
And they have both just finished dividing all the candy that they’ve collected tonight. Rita, despite being undead, has nut allergies and prefers gum. Maisy, against all efforts by her farmer grandmother, hates dried fruit and loves chocolate.
“You don’t get to talk about the cold! You’re always cold!”
“I wasn’t complaining, I was just thinking how sad it was you didn’t have a costume tonight. But you did! So that’s great!”
At this point, any other children would be devouring their piles of candy, what with the parents being downstairs and having tea together to cap off the night. The adults are quite thoroughly engrossed in conversation about all the childless couples and single people that they’ve seen tonight.
“It’s better than YOUR costume. Rangers don’t even do anything anymore.”
“They do too! They find lost hikers and deliver stuff and put out forest fires.”
Meanwhile, the two girls would rather argue about their costumes.
“Pilots and planes can find MORE lost hikers and can deliver MORE stuff and can put out MORE forest fires. They can do everything rangers can but bigger!”
“Can pilots talk with wolves and tell which mushrooms are safe to eat?”
They want to be what they’re dressed up as after all.
“Uhhh… They don’t need to!”
“Pfff. Why not?”
Smug in, smug out.
“‘Cuzzzzzz… They can see everything from their planes by just looking down! They can call people on radios! They’re just faster!”
“But they can’t get herbs from the ground or make traps or fire arrows like shew! Shew! Shew! Bullseye!”
And then it can slow down sharply with the limited knowledge, memories, and attention spans of children.
“Uhhhhh…. … Rangers can’t fly.”
“Pilots can’t do small stuff.”
The two settle into angry silence and candy eating, the latter if only for something to do with their time and hands. The only noises are when they crinkle wrappers or chew.
“… … Hmph.”
Rita yanks out the stitching from one of her fingers and tries to sneak it into Maisy’s candy pile. Three times. Maisy sees that and pelts Rita’s face with the severed appendage. Also three times.
“Rita! Stop already!”
“Nyeh! … Wait, Maisy, do you hear that?”
Their stalemate forgotten, the two turn to the window, focusing their ears to hear an increasingly loud and curious noise from outside. Beehives. Sounds like beehives anyway with its constant buzzing.
“That’s a helicopter.”
Maisy’s seen a few of them before at the airfield where her mother works. She’s been told that helicopters are for smaller deliveries and quicker air travel to nearby areas. Also, in her own words, “They’re planes that can land anywhere they want as long as it’s flat and big.”
“Why would one come here though?”
The two go up to the window, staring out above the street lamps, trying to use what light they gave off to see the helicopter. It’s perfectly visible above Maisy’s house’s lawn, whipping the grass and bushes around, spotlights on and pointed straight down, making so much noise that other houses all across the street are snapping their lights on and neighbours step outside to see the commotion.
“That’s so cool.”
“Pfff, not as cool as a rang- Is that a ranger?!”
From the right side, the side that Rita and Maisy can see clearly, a white-haired pale elf lingers there. Clad in the fluorescent orange of safety workers but also a well-worn green cloak, shortbow, and a quiver full of arrows, she jumps out from the helicopter. Her landing is completely graceful, slowed and cushioned by magic that sparkles blue in the spotlight. With all haste, she approaches the door to Maisy’s, a woman on a mission.
The two girls could very well drown out the helicopter with more effort!
Maisy’s dad arrived before them, opening the door with all the other adults looking on and keeping the children back from their visitor.
“Excuse me, sir. I’m Natalia Thornrow with the MGSR, McGrathus City Search and Rescue. We just got a missing persons report for Rita Pollenard and Maisy Peachmint. Are you Ronald Peachmint, Maisy’s father?”
A good deal of surprised sputtering and pointing on every adult’s part followed, exclaiming how their children were not lost and that the report is false. Rita’s mother elected to crouch behind the children and hold them tight, as if they would disappear on the spot from something or the other just to prove Natalia right.
Rita and Maisy however are too busy staring at the ranger, confused. The little zombie and slightly shorter elf can’t get over how much the ranger and the helicopter clash. They don’t really mesh as a whole image.
“Well,” started Natalia with a huff, “I apologize for the panic. Clearly you two,” crouching at the doorway and turning to face Rita and Maisy, the elvin rescue worker smiles, “are not missing. Don’t eat too much candy now you two.”
“‘Scuse me! Miss Thornrow!” Both Rita and Maisy call out at the same time, eager to ask about the same thing before Natalia can even begin to rise.
“Why are you wearing orange?” Rita.
“Why are you riding in a helicopter? Maisy.
Natalia smiles at them and their costumes in amusement, as if she’s heard similar questions many times before. “You both think rangers are nothing but storybook characters that stay in one place all day don’t you?”
“No! They’re cool and awesome and still have forests to protect.”
“I know they’re still around, but pilots can do everything better.”
The search & rescue worker laughs lightly, “Did you two know that rangers and pilots work together now?”
“Really?” Maisy is astounded at the idea of two mismatched groups uniting.
“Oh yes. Pilots can bring rangers to far away places quickly and then go high up in the sky to check for more places to search. Rangers can move better in crowded areas and protect whomever they find on the ground. With a ranger looking for people to rescue and a pilot to get them to safety quickly, the two groups are very important to the world.”
“The WHOLE world?” Rita can barely comprehend how cool both sides must be to save the world on a regular basis.
“Yep. Why don’t you two visit the search and rescue center sometime? It’s halfway up Mount Snowberry and we have a museum and shows all the time. Now, please excuse me, my pilot has been waiting long enough. Glad to see the report was false, we’ll deal with the person who called it in later. Happy Halloween!”
And with a dash, Natalia is off, snatching a ladder dropped out of the side of the helicopter and leaving with it without bothering to climb more than a few rungs. With the way she left, turning and waving goodbye as widely as possible, glowing green leaves scattering in the wake of her hand, everyone who saw could swear the elven ranger was showing off for someone. Or rather sometwo.
The adults and children watch the helicopter and ranger depart in concerned silence and complete awe respectively, watching a roaring machine become a humming star before disappearing into the night.
Rita and Maisy look at each other, eyeing each other’s costumes up and down, grinning before they declare,
“I wanna be your ranger!”
“I wanna be your pilot!”