Lights in the Night

Last night I did something different. It happened by mistake, and I am glad it did. Normally, I sleep in a darkened room, meaning I have my blinds down so the morning light won’t awake me. Last night I forgot to lower the shades. I lay in bed saying my prayers facing the window. What I saw was a magical show. It is mid-July, it is hot, and humid. Just the kind of environment fireflys love. At first I spotted a  single yellow blink, then another, and another and the show went on as the males danced with their lights blinking as they tried to attract a female. There wasn’t just one or two, there were hundreds. The garden was mystical.

Only one other time did I experience such a show, and it was well over twenty years ago. That night inspired me to write a children’s story Firefly AIr Force. It is one of my favorites.

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This is a serialized version of a book written by Grumpa Joe titled Fire Fly Air Force. It has a special message for young and old.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including those yet to be invented or discovered, without permission in writing from the publisher and author.

Dedication

To  Grampa Jim, the only grandparent I ever knew, and to the grandparents I never had the opportunity to meet.

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Chapter 1

Bugs fill the world. Bugs, or insects as we know them, all have a purpose in the grand scheme of life. The ecology needs bugs. A gardener knows that when he plants a flower or vegetable, a specific bug will attack it, and eat it. Other bugs attack different bugs for food.

Bugs provide food for birds and mammals too. They help to break down organic matter to speed decomposition. A healthy forest, for instance, depends on many bugs to keep it growing and thriving. Trees depend on organic matter for their nourishment, and the bugs help produce organic matter.

This story is about a beetle. The beetle’s name is Luke. Luke is a firefly or lightning bug. His real purpose in the ecology is unclear, but Luke eats nectar and other insects.

Fireflies have a very special talent. God gave them a unique chemistry to create light. Luke can excite chemicals in part of his body to make a bright yellow light. On summer nights, Luke and his relatives flash their lights. Luke’s yellow flashes are signals to his friends. Flashing is Luke’s way to communicate.

It was June when Luke was old enough to strike out on his own. Until this time, he spent his chid hood in the ground as a glow worm. Now, his wings were finally strong enough to fly. Luke tried very hard to fly.

He practiced often. Each time he got a little closer to lifting into the air. After several nights of trying, he finally flew.

While he was learning to fly, he was also learning about his tail light. His body had all the chemicals to make the light work, but he didn’t know how to turn it on. From the time he emerged from the larval stage, his body glowed with a weak yellow light. As an adult he could make his body flash a bright yellow light.

One evening Luke took off for a practice flight. He hadn’t flown very high yet, not like his older friends. They seemed to fly to the sky. Luke stayed close to the ground and the safety of the grass. On this night, Luke was determined to fly as high as his friends. Up, up, up he went. He wanted to reach the top of the tall bush. Every time he practiced, he used the bush to measure how high he flew. The bush also served as a safety net. If he got tired, he could land on a branch and rest. This time he pushed harder and harder. He kept reaching higher. He could see the top of the bush. Yes, he was nearing the crown. Luke never saw the crown before. The young lightening bug didn’t know what he would do when he got there, but he wanted to reach the top. His wings were tiring, but he continued to push. Yes, he could see over the top now, and the dark starry sky above. He had to rest, and landed on a leave at the very peak of the bush. His friends spotted him, and blinked their lights in approval.

Luke was excited and happy. He reached his goal to fly to the top of the bush. In his excitement he forgot his light. His heart was beating fast. One of Luke’s friends buzzed by, blinking his tail light as he passed. Luke was still breathing heavy when he flapped his wings in approval. As he did that, his tail light began to glow. At first it was just a faint glimmer. Suddenly, Luke knew how to turn his light on. He took a deep breath then flexed his wing muscles again. His light came on. This time, the glow was brighter. He did it over, and over, and over, until his light was as bright, and beautiful as any of his friends.

The next night Luke was confident that he would join his friends. His flying improved and he could make his tail light blink brightly. He now knew how to switch the light on and off whenever he wanted. Tonight, he would have fun with his friends, Lenny and Jaime. Lenny buzzed him from the top of the bush last night. Jaime sent him flashes from above too.

Luke stepped off the blade of grass that he used as his launch pad. His wings fluttered and he spiraled straight up, to the top of the bush and landed. Lenny was there to greet him. Jaime buzzed both of them with his tail light flashing. Luke and Lenny launched and joined Jaime in flight. Together they spiraled up, dipped, then spiraled up again. They followed each other’s flashes. Sometimes they kept their tail lights dark to hide from each other. Luke became better and better as the night passed. His light was brighter than his friends. He made maneuvers that they couldn’t make. It became clear to Lenny and Jaime that Luke was special.

To be Continued. . .

Chapter 2.

Throughout the firefly world, the word spread that Luke was an expert flier. He also had a special talent. Luke could turn his light on quickly, and often. Most fireflies had a slow light, but Luke’s light blinked rapidly. He also had the energy to make his flashes repeat often.

Luke, Lenny, and Jaime became inseparable. Every evening they flew together doing spirals and dives. They used their taillights to signal each other while they did their aerobatics. Their favorite sport was hunting mosquitoes. The mosquitoes were very jittery fliers, and catching one was hard. Luke flew ahead of Jaime, and Lenny blinking his light to attract attention. When a mosquito came after Luke, Lennie or Jaime would pick it off in midair. The trio then landed to have a snack.

All of the fireflies on the ground watched as Luke led his friends in amazing aerobatics. They wished they could fly and blink the same way.

At the far corner of the yard, a night crawler inched his way out of the ground into the grass. It is a nightly ritual for him. His name is Stretch. Night crawlers are large earthworms that live in the ground. They move about tunneling through the soil by expanding their body to enlarge the hole. After the hole is larger, they stretch. They pull the rest of their bodies forward. As they move, they swallow the soil in front of them. The worm digests the organic matter in the soil while non-organic matter is cast from their long bodies. The skin on an earthworm has many tiny fingers that are sensitive, to heat, light, and touch. Since earthworms do not have eyes, they rely on their sensors to feel their way about.

On this night, Stretch came out of the ground

for two reasons. First, he wanted to eat grass, and second he was to deliver a message. Stretch received the message in his sensors through vibrations in the ground. He did not know where the vibrations came from. He knew the message was special, and he would have to deliver it. Stretch lay munching on grass when a firefly named Torch landed nearby. Torch got his name from his mother. She named him after his tail light, which glowed brighter than any other firefly’s. It was even brighter than Luke’s was. Torch was an average flier, but his light was a bright yellow. They could see his flashes from across the yard.

The worm sensed the glow coming from Torch’s tail, and slowly stretched his way toward him. Torch was snacking on a drop of nectar when Stretch wiggled up to him.

“Hi,” said Stretch, “Don’t be afraid, I eat grass not beetles.”

“What do you want?”

“I have to deliver a message, and I need your help.”

“How can I help?”

“A fire fly can fly and send signals, can’t he?”

“Yeah. So what?”

“Help me find Morty Angel.”

With that, Stretch snapped back into his hole. He was afraid Torch would come after him in anger. Stretch peeped back out of the hole.

“Whom do you expect me to find?”

“Morty Angel,” he said.

“Who is Morty Angel?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then how am I supposed to find him?” asked Torch.

Stretched inched his way out of the hole once Torch had calmed down.

“All I know is that I’m supposed to find Morty Angel. I have to give him a message from God. The vibrations I am getting are clear. You are the first one I found to ask for help.”

Stretch was tired after digging and eating dirt all day. All he wanted was to come out of the tunnel, breath rich fresh air, and to eat some freshly cut grass. The grass was like eating steak after sifting through all that dirt looking for organic matter to eat. Stretch and his friends worked day and night digging tunnels. The tunnels serve as channels for water to feed the roots of the grass, shrubs, and trees.

Torch, on the other hand, lived above ground hiding in shrubbery during the day. Eating nectar from the flowers was his favorite activity. He had to be careful not to let the Phyro family flashes fool him. The Phyros were not friendly like Torch’s family. They mimicked Torch’s flashes to lure him to them. If he fell for the trick, The Phyro fireflies would eat him. Phyros are cannibals, and the Lucerns are not. Torch is a Lucern.

Torch flashed his tail light. Stretch sensed the bright light, and snapped back into his hole. After Torch finally killed his light, Stretch began to wiggle out again.

“Wow,” he said, “that is a bright light.” “Why is your light so much brighter than all of the other fireflies?

“My parents had bright lights too; In fact, everyone in my family has bright lights.”

“Use your light to find Morty Angel., Signal to all of the fireflies to find Morty Angel.”

“What do we do if we find him?

“Send him to see me; I will give him the message directly. I’ll come out of the ground every night at dark, and stay here next to the lilac bush.”

“I’ll do my best,” answered Torch.

Torch flew to the top of the Lilac bush and began signaling. Soon, a small group of his cousins came and asked, “What is happening?” Torch explained and asked them to spread the word, “Find Morty Angel, and send him to Stretch the worm.”

The word spread all over the yard, and into the next, and the next. The fireflies spread the word throughout the insect world of the night. Within a few hours, the search for Morty Angel progressed across the town through all of the yards, “Find Morty Angel for Stretch.”

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 3.

Morty Angel took his job seriously. He watched over Ben. God gave him the job, and he wanted to please God with his performance. Whenever Morty needed to leave Ben to go on a special mission, he placed his friend Gracie in charge. When Gracie was busy, he called Max.

On this day, Morty was in charge. He enjoyed watching Ben grow into a beautiful young lad. Ben kept Morty on his toes because he is so smart. Often, Morty had to ask Michael the Archangel for the answers to Ben’s homework. Morty never gave him the answers, only hints. Often, Ben knew the answers but Morty did not. That is when Morty asked Michael for help. As Ben grew in knowledge, Morty’s knowledge increased also.

School was out for the summer, and Morty loved it. He and Ben did fun things together. Of course, Ben never knew when Morty was right there with him because he remained invisible. In the evenings, both Ben and Morty loved to watch the fireflies. Ben called them lightening bugs. He and his friends played in the yard after dark capturing lightening bugs. They put them in jars. Ben loved to watch the beetles light up.

Together, they tried to fill a bottle with tiny yellow lights to make a lantern. The beetles are easy to catch because their taillights give them away. Even when they turn off the light, it continues to glow for a few seconds.

Morty spotted a beetle in the back of the yard with a very bright light. It flashed differently from all of the others. The flashes were bright, and in a distinct pattern; short, short, short, pause, long, long, long, pause, short, short, short. The flashes kept coming in the same pattern; short, short, short, pause, long, long, long, pause, short, short, short. “How odd,” he thought to himself.

To Be Continued  . . .

Chapter 4

By the fourth week of summer, Ben became bored with vacation. He loved school and longed for classes, homework, and science projects. Morty Angel knew what Ben was thinking. He whispered into Ben’s ear, “Start a science project on your own.”

It was not long before Ben asked his mom if he could do a project.

“Sure, honey, go ahead and start a project. Let me know what I can do to help,”

With her encouragement, Ben was off to the library to search for a project. Two hours later, he left the library very confused. He saw so many things that he wanted to do, and he did not know where to start.

Later that evening, Ben played outside with friends. Morty tried suggesting a project again, only this time he said, “Start a project on the bioluminescence of lightening bugs. Study how a lightening bug lights his tail.” This time, Ben heard Morty’s suggestion.


It was getting dark, almost time to go in for the night. The fireflies were beginning to light up all around the yards.

“I know,” Ben, said, “Let’s collect lightening bugs.” He ran into the house to ask Mom if he could have a bottle with a lid, “I want to collect lightening bugs for a science project. Can I stay out to catch them?”

“What a great idea,” she said. “Stay around our house, and when I call, come in.”

“I will Mom.”

Morty raised his arms above his head. He did a victory dance. Again, he made a positive influence on Ben.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 5
Luke, Jaime, and Lenny had not received the message yet.

They were too busy having fun to notice the wild blinking going on around them. The trio was busy practicing their flying. They learned how to fly together, side-by-side much like fighter jets in formation. The wildest trick they learned was to fly and to keep their lights on without blinking. They began to learn aerobatics with their lights on. Their spiraling climbs followed by giant loops and speedy dives were amazing. The show would have delighted any human who saw them. Luke and his team were sky writers in the night.

As the summer days passed, many more Fireflies joined Luke. The new recruits all wanted to learn how to do aerobatics. Luke loved teaching them. Jaime and Lennie coached the new fliers on tail light operation. It was not long before Luke’s air force of fireflies was the envy of the insect world. Thousands of insects came out every night to watch the Firefly Air Force put on a show. Luke did not even know what was happening. He taught and flew too much to notice how much attention he and his friends got.

Luke’s mother Nancy heard about the air force from her friends at the blue spruce meeting branch. Every evening, a group of firefly women met to gossip, and to sip nectar from the tree. They talked about many things, but one story caught Nancy’s attention. Her friend Celia told her about a visit she just had with her daughter Bonnie. Bonnie took Celia to see a show. The show was beautiful, and exciting.

“It was quite a show,” said Celia. “A large group of fireflies did tricks in the night sky with their lights on. They danced, spiraled, and followed each other to form lines of light in the sky. I never saw anything like it. Afterwards, Bonnie introduced me to her friend Luke. He is the lead flier.”

“My son’s name is Luke,” said Nancy.

“You should be proud,” said Celia, “He is handsome, smart, and a great flier. My daughter is in love with him. She couldn’t control her flashes when he was near her.”

Just then, a ladybug landed on the bough where the women were talking. Her body was bright orange with deep black spots scattered on her orange shell in precise alignment. She took a sip of nectar, and asked

“May I join in?”

“Of Course” said Nancy, “come sit here.” The ladybug’s name was Martha. She sat and listened to Celia tell about the Firefly Air Force. All of the women listened with interest. The more Nancy heard about her son’s antics, the more she wanted to visit him.

“I’ve talked all night,” said Celia, “Now it is your turn Martha.” At first, Martha was shy and giggled at the attention that the firefly women gave her. “Let me tell you happened to me this week.” Martha explained that she did not fly much at night. She was more active during the day. Last week though, the heat of the night kept her awake. She was sitting on a hibiscus. It was a native hibiscus with giant white flowers. The nectar was very sweet, and the aphids were tender. Another ladybug landed next to me on the same petal for a sip of nectar, and we talked. Suddenly, I saw a flash of light.

“Did you see that,” asked Martha?

“What,” asked the visitor?

“Those bright flashes on the lilac bush.”

The stranger looked toward the bush and saw a brilliant yellow glow. The glow was the brightest of them all.

“I see it, so what?”

“I have to check it out,” Martha responded and flew off toward the light. The stranger took off with her. They landed on the lilac bush next to the flashing firefly with the bright light. It was Torch!

Torch asked the women if they heard the message yet. “I’ve been spreading the word for many days. I have a message for Morty Angel,” said Torch.

“Who is Morty Angel,” they asked in unison?

Torch told his story again. He told it so often that it was automatic.

He learned from Stretch, the worm, that Morty Angel was a guardian angel who watched a very special person named Ben. Ben is one of God’s favorite people. Morty Angel was going to help the fireflies give Ben a gift. “That is a great story,” said Nancy. Celia and the other women all agreed.

Nancy excused herself and flew off to her forsythia bush to rest. She was so excited about Luke, her tail light blinked.

I have to visit Luke, she said to herself. She prepared for the trip.

The next evening, near dusk, Nancy lifted off the forsythia bush, and flew high. She hoped to catch a breeze that would carry her toward Luke. Her friend Celia told her how to go. The journey would take several days. Nancy flew slower than she did when she was Luke’s age. She made several rest stops during the night. She also stopped to sip on nectar. Each time she did, she repeated the story that Torch told to Martha. Sometimes she spoke to fireflies. At other times, she spoke to earwigs or ladybugs. The earwigs were not very friendly and they frightened her.

They are ferocious looking with those pincers, she thought. Nancy made good progress during the first night. The next night it rained, and she could not fly. She spent the time telling the story to anyone who would listen. That is the way Torch planned it. He would find Morty Angel by spreading the word one insect at a time.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 6

Torch the firefly, and Stretch the worm became good friends. They met every evening under the lilac bush.

 As Stretch ate his way through the earth, his tiny whiskers kept receiving the same signals repeatedly.” Find Morty Angel. Morty Angel is a guardian angel. Morty watches over Ben. Morty will help the fireflies. Find Morty Angel . . . and on it went. Each night, Stretch learned some more about Morty or Ben. He passed the information to Torch.

“I don’t know if we are getting closer or not,” said Torch one night. “I feel so frustrated not knowing.”

“We have to keep trying,” said Stretch, “The vibrations are getting stronger and faster. The summer is almost over and our time is running out.”

Torch was desperate.

“I’m going to fly to a new yard to flash the special signal. I have to spread the word faster. It has to work I don’t know what else to do.”

That night, he flew high above the house to catch a breeze. He let the breeze carry him to a new yard. He dropped down to the top of the highest bush he could find. Using the brightest light he had, he began signaling: short, short, short, pause, long, long, long, pause, short, short, short. He flashed over and over. As he did, many fireflies and insects came to see what was wrong. He told them the story while he continued to flash the message.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 7

          The Firefly Air Force grew larger every night. Luke split the training. It was too much for one firefly to handle. He gave Lennie and Jaime a squadron of fireflies to train. Each squadron practiced separately. At the end of the week, Luke called a meeting with Lennie and Jaime.

“Are your squadrons ready for some games?”

“What kind of games?”

Luke explained that each squad would fly in front of the insect audience. By now, thousands of insects gathered in the lawn every night. They crawled all over the shrubs and trees to get a view of the Firefly Air Force practicing their aerobatics.

Each squad leader taught his fliers the same maneuvers that Luke taught them. They flew straight up in spirals then they dived down toward the ground pulling up just before crashing. They flew in vee-formations, in straight lines, or stacked one on top of the other. All the time their lights blinking or holding steady.

The three squads competed every week. Their show became better each time. The insect crowds were getting larger too. It was not very long before the insects ate most of the lush vegetation around the show. Soon word got out that the Gardener was upset. The many insects damaged his plants. A Japanese beetle spread the word to everyone that he heard the Gardener say the word “spray.”

Panic ran through the insect world. A spray would kill thousands of families. Some bugs packed up and moved immediately. Others decided to ride out the storm. They were not going to leave their homes because of a “little spray.”

Torch heard the rumors too. He began to panic. He had not found Morty Angel and the summer was ending, and now the threat of the spray hung over him. Soon, Torch and the fireflies would disappear until next summer. His new friend Stretch will tunnel deep into the earth to escape the cold, and he will not be able to deliver the message to Morty Angel.

The vibrations kept coming to Stretch every day. First, it said, “Find Morty Angel,” then it changed to “find Morty Angel and give him the message.” Now it was “This is God, I have a message for Morty Angel.” When Stretch told Torch, he became excited. He became so excited

that his tail light blinked the brightest flash ever. It always blinked extra bright when he was nervous. The bright light caught Stretch off guard. It frightened him. He snapped back into his hole afraid to come out. Stretch did not appear again until the next night.

“Is it safe to come out? Your light is too bright for me.”

“Yes, please come out, is there anything new?”

“Yes,” replied Stretch as he pulled his tail free from the hole, “The vibrations are very clear. I know what the message is.”

“What is it?”

“What was that,” asked Stretch? “It is thunder. A storm is coming. Let’s take cover while I explain what the message is.”

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 8

Summer is passing quickly, thought Morty. Here it is the end of July and Ben still  has not finished his project. What can I do to get him moving, he asked himself?

Each day, Morty watched over Ben like a hawk. He had not taken a day off in weeks. Maybe I should take a break and visit some friends, he thought.

The Sentra Vision belt around Morty’s waist vibrated and tickled his tummy.

“Hello.”

“Hi Morty,” answered Gracie. She just returned from a visit to heaven.

“How was your trip? I missed you.”

“It was absolutely heavenly as usual. I visited all of our friends at the Angel Academy, and talked to Archangel Michael too.”

“Did Michael have any messages for me?”

“No, but he did say that he will give you a mission soon. He asked me to find out how Ben’s science project is coming along.”

“How does he know about the project?

“I didn’t ask him, and he didn’t tell me, I just thought it was something the two of you cooked up together.”

The halo above Morty’s curl lit up. A vision appeared in his head. All summer something he saw was bothering him, but he could not figure it out. Now the picture was clear. He had to act.

“Will you do me a favor?” he asked.

“Of course, what is it?”

“Watch Ben tonight while I take a break?”

“Yes,” she said, “I still have some days before my next assignment.”

“Good, please come to Ben’s house this evening.”

“I’m on my way,” she answered and hung up.

Gracie arrived as the sun was setting. She found Morty on Skye Scooter ready to go. He gave Gracie a few instructions, pushed a button on Skye, and then disappeared.

The sunset this evening was beautiful. Only a few scattered white clouds hung over to reflect the light. The sun was a big red ball just above the horizon. A glow of bright pink and lavender colors spread across the sky, reflecting off the clouds. Some clouds were luminescent with orange on one side and shades of grey on the other.

“I hope it is not too late,” he thought to himself. Morty cruised from yard to yard. As he flew, he kept his halo blinking. He was invisible except for his halo. All of the neighbors mistook his blinking halo for the light of a firefly. I cannot believe it took me this long to figure it out, he thought to himself.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 9

Three days passed since Nancy left the forsythia bush. Celia told her it would be a long hard journey. Nancy did not believe her. Now, she began to tire. She was still two days away from Luke. Her light was losing its glow. Her wings flapped slower than they did in her youth. I have to see Luke before the summer ends, she told herself. I will rest and eat. I must be ready to travel tomorrow.

She landed next to a pond on the leave of a Lady’s Mantle. Beautiful dewdrops adorned the leaves. Nancy took a long refreshing sip of dewdrop. That is good, she thought, and then she fell asleep. (1-Nancy Flies Up)

It was dark, humid, and warm when Nancy awoke from her nap. She drank some more nectar from the dewdrop and felt much better. Maybe I can fly a little bit further tonight. I have to see Luke soon. I miss him so much. She rested a little longer between the dewdrops. She saw the reflection of the night sky above. A star twinkled in the sparkling globes of dew. Her mind shifted to the message that Torch asked her to spread as she traveled, “Find Morty Angel.”

A yellow flashing light twinkled in the dewdrop next to her. It broke her concentration on the message. What is that? It looks like a firefly tail light, but it is not, I cannot tell for sure.

Automatically, Nancy took off and flew straight toward the light. I have to get closer. She flew right up to the light, but did not see a lightening bug. It is a ring of light. The light was larger than any she had ever seen before. Nancy flashed her tail light in response. Nothing happened, so she began blinking in synch with the mystery light.

Morty looked up at his curl and spotted Nancy’s flashing light. He made himself visible. That frightened her, and she automatically dived into the grass below.

Her spiraling dive caught Morty’s attention. He hovered above Nancy. She remained quiet. Her tiny heart pounded with fright. Her tail light went dark.

Morty circled slowly then landed nearby. He walked to where he last saw Nancy and blinked his halo to attract her attention. Morty knew how to talk to fireflies with his blinking light.

“I am your friend, I am sorry I frightened you.” He knew he frightened Nancy when he made himself visible. He saw her reaction, and her spiraling dive into the grass. The dive was the fanciest maneuver he had ever seen. (2-MA-Talks to Nan)

Nancy read the message in his blinks, and calmed down. Morty crawled on his hands and knees across the grass. He continued to flash his message. Nancy finally built enough courage to respond with a weak blink.

“I accept your apology,” she blinked

“I’m Morty Angel.”

“WHO?”

“I’m Morty Angel.”

“Thank God. We’ve been looking for you all summer.”

“Me? How is it that you know who I am?”

Morty gently picked her up, and placed her into the palm of his hand.

“I can’t believe that I found Morty Angel. Can we speak without the lights?” she asked, “I’m getting tired.”

“Of course.”

God gave Morty the ability to talk with all creatures. Therefore, speaking to Nancy either by voice or by halo was easy for him.

Nancy told Morty everything she heard from her the ladybug. She explained how Torch was sending a message from the high bushes in every yard he visited.

“I know,” he said, “I saw his signal, but didn’t think it was for me. It finally dawned on me today.”

“You saw Torch’s signal?”

“Yes, and I was looking for him, when we crossed paths.”

“I can tell you exactly where he is, and then I have to find my son Luke.”

Morty asked Nancy about Luke and she told him all about the Firefly Air Force. She was proud of her son’s accomplishment.

“Wait for me, and I’ll help you find Luke, but first I have to find Torch

“I’ll wait Morty, it’ will give me a chance to recover some energy.” Morty got on Skye and followed Nancy’s directions to find Torch.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 10

          As Morty scooted to find Torch, and while Nancy waited, it began to rain. The rain grounded the air force. It poured down in buckets, and lightening replaced firefly taillights in the sky.

The gardener could not use the “spray” to kill insects when it rained. The fresh moisture combined with the heat forced new leaves to grow on the damaged plants. Almost overnight, the garden started to look good again. The Gardener would not have to spray after all.

The next day it stopped raining. After the sun came out, it became very hot and humid. Gardens love the sun, the moisture, and the heat. So did the Fire Fly Air Force. It was easier to fly and their taillights worked very well in the humidity.

Jaime and his squad were leading the show on this night. The air force moved from the yard in which they lived. They moved to get away from the possibility of the spray. Luke did not get the news that the Gardener changed his plan to spray. Luke would not take a chance anyway. His mother would never forgive him if she found out that he was the reason for the spray. The Firefly Air Force moved to a new yard. They left everything behind. Bonnie followed Luke.

The squadron took off at dusk, their taillights blinking brightly. The insects in this yard were not familiar with the air force, and not many watched as Jaimie and his squadron did their routine flawlessly. They were having lots of fun chasing each other, and practicing their formations, and tricks for the upcoming games. They were too busy to notice that a couple of kids came out of the house onto the patio.

Jaime was flying a slow inverted loop with his taillight on full. He enjoyed the aerobatics. When he flew with the squad, he concentrated totally on the routine. He did not allow any distractions. He was in a zone this evening; the formations came easy to the team. Suddenly, everything went black.

“I got one,” he heard someone say. He felt himself thrust forward faster than he could fly; Jaime blacked out.

When Jaime finally awoke, dozens of fireflies were all around him. All of them were blinking their taillights and crying.

“Let us out, let us go home, I need air,” he heard them scream.

He pulled himself together and took off. Wham! He hit something hard, and fell over backwards. Jaime lay there, on his back, stunned and confused. What Jaime did not know is that someone captured him, and placed him into a glass bottle prison.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 11

Early the next night it was dark. The moon was not over the horizon yet. It was hot, and the crickets sang loudly. Fireflies danced, and flew from shrub to shrub, from grass to tree. Their lights blinked magically.

Morty arrived at the lilac bush. He began sending vibrations to Stretch.

“Come out Stretch, its Morty Angel.”

“I can’t believe it,” Stretch wiggled back in excitement. He inched his way out of the soil as quickly as he could. When his head finally popped out of the ground, he spit out a mouthful of dirt.

“Torch will never believe this.”

“Where is he?”

“He’s been flying from one yard to the next. Every night he sends signals hoping to find you.”

Morty began blinking his halo. At the same time, he put his hand on the ground near Stretch.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m sending the fireflies a signal with my halo while I’m sending the same signal through the ground to every earthworm in the county,” said Morty. “I’m thanking Torch for calling me. Now, what is this message?”

Morty listened closely while Stretch told him the story.

“God told me you are to deliver this special message,” said Stretch.

“Please promise to give it to Ben as quickly as you can.

“It’ll be easy,” said Morty, “I see Ben every day. He is my special child.”

Morty thanked Stretch for giving him the message, and for working so hard to find him.

“Now, if I can only find Torch to thank him personally,” said Morty. “I have to go now, please tell Torch how sad I was to miss him.”

“I will, but first, I’m going to take a long nap.”

Morty took off to find Nancy. Along the way, he wondered why God chose to send the message through Stretch. Usually, He just tells Michael the Archangel to reach him by Sentra Vision.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 12

The wait for Morty did Nancy good. She had time to rest, eat, and replenish her energy. She was ready to fly again to see her son Luke. Morty picked her up and let her perch on the dashboard. They scooted to the Gardener’s to find Luke. When they arrived, the garden was nearly empty. Most of the fireflies and insects were gone. The Fire Fly Air Force and the insects fled to get away from the spray.

“Oh my,” Nancy exclaimed, “now what do we do? How will I find my son?”

“Please don’t worry Nancy, we will find Luke.”

“The summer is nearly over, and we don’t have many days left before we prepare for the cold,” she said. Suddenly all of her energy drained again. She began to cry.

Morty reached for his Sentra Vision belt.

“Let me speak to Michael,” he said.

“Hi Morty,” answered Michael, “what can I do for you?”

Michael and Morty spoke to each other for a long time. Nancy waited patiently, sobbing. She overheard Morty tell Michael.

“Please find him for me.”  Morty hung up.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 13

The news that Stretch found Morty did not reach Torch. He kept flashing his message repeatedly. Each night he flew to a new bush. He moved so often that he was lost. Torch could not get back to Stretch at all. He kept flashing his signals from different bushes. He had to find Morty Angel. Torch was tired but very determined. He wanted to go home, but could not.

The night after the rainstorm, Torch landed in a new yard. He began sending his signals when he saw something very special. He saw Jaime and his squadron practicing. “How beautiful they look,” he thought. “I’ve never seen such precise flying and signaling.” Torch knew his own gift of the extra bright light was special, but he wished he could fly like Jaime.

Torch saw some kids come out of the house. He watched as the kids began capturing fireflies. He watched a young girl catch the lead flier. She put him in a bottle. The kids came closer, and closer.

I better shut down and get out of here, he told himself.

Swoosh! A hand swept right under him just as he flew up with his light out. Torch kept flying higher and higher until a breeze caught him and carried him out of the yard.

Torch spread his wings, and soared with the wind. He turned on his light again, and began signaling as he flew. His goal was to find Morty, and he could not stop.

The yards looked smaller from high above. He could see where he just escaped. The kids were still running around capturing lightening bugs. He saw segments of the Fire fly Air Force streaking to the yard next door where the flashing lights of fireflies signaled danger and panic.

The signal lights coming from ahead seemed calm and familiar. Torch decided to drop into the safety of the friendly flashes. What Torch did not know is that a family of Phyro fire flies inhabited this yard. The Phyros are cannibals. They use friendly flashes to lure unsuspecting fireflies to come to them.

Torch dove to break out of the breeze. As he dropped, he let the current carry him toward the friendly flashes. His tail light blinked the message as he flew toward the Phyros. The hungry cannibals continued to blink friendly flashes to guide him to certain death.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 14

“Morty, fly high,” said Michael Archangel.

“Is that all?”

“That’s all I can say. Just fly high.”

“Okay.”

Morty nosed Skye upward and leveled off just below some low clouds. Nancy hung onto Morty’s curl scared.

“This is higher than I’ve ever flown before,” she said. “Everything looks so small from here.”

“Look down,” said Morty. “Do you see the fire fly flashes everywhere?”

“How beautiful they look from above,” said Nancy, “Look over there.”

She pointed with her tiny front leg. Morty spotted what she saw. They were streaks of yellow light from fireflies flying in formations.

“That must be Luke,” said Nancy. “We found him. We found him.”

Actually, it was not Luke. It was Jaime, and his squadron. Ben ran into the yard. Morty and Nancy watched as he captured Jaime, and placed him into a jar. They also watched the beautiful formation break up as the squadron scattered to avoid capture. Just then, Morty spotted the very bright signal again.

Short, short, short; pause, long, long, long; pause short, short, short, then darkness. Ben’s friend grabbed at the light just after it went dark.

“That’s him,” shouted Morty.

“It’s Torch, the firefly whose signal I saw once before, he disappeared just as Ben’s friend went to grab him.”

“Hold on,” shouted Morty. He made himself and Skye invisible, and landed in the yard. He hopped onto Ben’s shoulder. Nancy clung to his curl. They peered into the bottle to look for Luke.

“He’s not in there,” said Nancy. “It’s not Luke.”

Next, Morty went to the boy who swiped at Torch. They looked in his bottle. Torch was not there either. Neither Morty nor Nancy saw the bright light.

“He must have escaped,” said Morty, “I missed him again.”

“Look up,” said Gracie, “there in the sky over the next yard.”

Morty spotted the light too. It was bright. It blinked the same way as before, short, short, short; pause, long, long, long; pause, short, short, short.

Morty pushed the turbo-blaster button. They streaked through the sky chasing Torch. Morty leveled off and slowed just as Torch began his dive toward the Phyros.

“Oh no!” said Nancy.

“What?”

“Look below,” she said, “Those are Phyros.”

“What are Phyros?” he asked. Torch dropped fast, and Nancy could see that the Phyros were ready for him. She lost her husband to the Phyros. Nancy knew, by the way they blink their lights. These fireflies were not as friendly as they looked.

“No time to explain, we have to rescue him, dive, dive, dive,” she screamed.

Morty nosed Skye downward and dropped fast, but Torch stayed ahead of him. Morty pushed the turbo button again. Everything became a blur. Morty leaned to his right, and held out his hand while he used the other to steer out of the dive. Skye pulled up just before hitting the grass. Morty caught Torch in the palm of his hand, and closed his fist around him just as Torch floated in front of the Phyros.

Skye soared upward with Nancy still clinging to Morty’s curl. Torch was safe in Morty’s hand. The Phyros below all flashed, and chased after Morty. They were very angry since they had lost a meal. The scooter leveled off and hovered above the Phyro yard. Nancy breathed more easily, now that they had flown out of the reach of the Phyros. Morty opened his hand to free Torch.

“Where am I? What happened?” asked the frightened Torch.

“Safe in Morty Angel’s hand,” said Nancy, “He just saved you from becoming a Phyro-burger.”

“I don’t believe it,” Torch exclaimed.

“Look down there,” she said. “See the Phyros swarming; Morty caught you just in time.”

“No, no, I don’t believe I found Morty Angel,” said Torch.

“It’s more like he found you,” she said.

“He did find me,” interrupted Morty, “if I had not seen his signal, and his bright light, I couldn’t have known who he was.”

“Thank-you for saving me Morty, I have a message for you.”

“I know. I found Stretch. He told me all about your work to find me to give me the message.”

“Can we go find Luke now?” asked an impatient Nancy.

“Of course,” said Morty. He moved Skye slowly through the air above the yards.

The three of them, Morty flying the scooter, Nancy and Torch resting on his curl, could see that the flurry of activity caused by the children had subsided. All the lightening bugs had shut off their lights to hide from the kids. I am sure Gracie helped with that, thought Morty to himself.

Ben and his friend had gone back into the house for the night. They were in Ben’s dark bedroom watching the fireflies in the bottle. A short time later, the friend’s father came to take him home.

Morty waited until the house went dark and everyone was asleep. He landed by the Arbor Vitae tree next to the house.

“It will be safe here,” he told Nancy and Torch, “Wait for me to come out. I’m going to set your friends free.”

The bedroom was quiet. Ben was asleep. Gracie lay on the pillow next to his head. The jar with the lightening bugs was on the dresser. The lid was on loose. A few of the beetles flashed dimly. Morty could hear them crying softly. Jaime clung to the underside of the lid looking for a way to get out. The bedroom window was open, and a cool breeze swept into the room. The curtains moved ever so gently.

Gracie was almost asleep when Morty entered. He put his hand gently on her shoulder not to startle her.

“Morty, what are you doing here? I thought you would be gone longer?”

“I’m here just for a moment,” he said. “I have some friends waiting for me outside. I came to free the fireflies.”

“Ben will be disappointed if they disappear,” whispered Gracie.

“I’ll make it look like they escaped,” said Morty.

“How will you do that?”

“Watch me.” Morty gently tipped the bottle on its side then turned the lid just a bit. The lid came off and fell next to the jar.

“Come out little beetles.” Jaimie, who was on the underside of the lid, was airborne and heading into the breeze that came from the window.

“Thanks,” he flashed to Morty. Morty blinked his halo in response.

“Go to the arbor vitae. Friends are waiting there.”

Morty lifted the screen further for the beetles to escape. One by one, the fireflies flew out to the arbor vitae. While they left, Morty told Gracie the whole story about Nancy, Torch, Stretch, and the Phyros.

“Gosh,” said Gracie. “You have been busy.”

“I have to go now. I have a special message to deliver, but I need your help to deliver it.”

Morty explained his plan to Gracie. He would be gone with the fireflies. She was to bring Ben to the patio behind the house on the night when there was no moon.

“Please have all of the house-lights out too,” he said. “It will make the delivery more special.” He blinked goodbye then disappeared into the night.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 15

Morty arrived at the arbor vitae to find the fireflies waiting for him.

“Let’s talk,” he said. “Does anyone here know Luke?”

“Yes,” answered Jaime. “He is my commander. We fly together. Luke taught me aerobatics and gave me a squadron of fliers. We grew up together from the time we were glow worms.”

“I know him too,” answered Torch. “So do all of the others here.”

“This is his mother, Nancy,” Morty said. “I’m taking her to see Luke. Does anyone know where he is?”

“Yes,” answered a young firefly from the back of the crowd.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Flash.”

“Where is he?” asked Nancy.

“I can only vouch for where he was just before they captured us. I am one of his students. He sent me to study with Jaime and his squadron. Follow me.”

“Better yet, jump on my scooter and show us the way, we will all go together,” said Morty.

Flash sat on Skye’s nose while Nancy rode on Morty’s curl. Torch and the others rested on the dashboard. Morty drove Skye by watching signals from Flash. They were flying over the yard where the Phyros lived when Flash signaled to land in the next yard.

“Oh my,” exclaimed Nancy, “I hope there aren’t any Phyros here. They live very close by.”

“I grew up here,” said Flash. “We fight with the Phyros all of the time. They always come to our yard hoping to capture us.”

“Why would Luke live here?” said Nancy. “I taught him better than to flirt with danger? He knows how dangerous the Phyros are, ever since they killed his father.”

Morty landed at the edge of the yard near the cover of a pivot hedge. Immediately, Flash turned on his light to signal his friends. It was only a short time before a squad of three fireflies buzzed by blinking their lights.

“Follow them,” instructed Flash. Morty hovered with Skye then slowly inched forward after the trio.

“They are a new squad just out of school,” said Flash. “Watch how shaky they are when they make a turn. They haven’t learned to trust each other yet, but they will.”

“How do you know that?” asked Morty.

Flash explained that when he graduated from flight school a month ago, his squad was equally shaky.

“We spent hours every night practicing. When we gained confidence and trusted each other, our squad was good enough to compete in the games.”

“They surely did,” answered Jaime. “Flash and his team became the best.”

The trio flew into the dark space between two boughs of a Pfitzer tree. Morty hovered next to the tree as Jaime, Flash, Nancy, and all of the others from the scooter flew into the same dark space.

“I’ll wait here,” Morty said.

Inside the dark recesses of the tree were hundreds of fireflies. The tree was like a busy skyscraper. Beetles milled about on every bough. Some flew from one branch to the other. Some just walked up the trunk. Others rested on the foliage.

Nancy followed Jaime and Flash to the very top of the tree. They flew up, zigzagging to miss the branches sticking out of the trunk. Their taillights were dark.

Near the top branch, Luke and Bonnie enjoyed a feast of aphids and mosquitoes in a nectar sauce.

“Mom,” shouted Luke when he spotted Nancy. “What are you doing here?” Mother and son flashed their taillights in a dim glow as they hugged each other.

“I was worried about my son,” said Nancy. “I had to see you to know you were okay. I heard through Celia that you put on some fancy shows. Most of all, I heard that you are dating Celia’s daughter Bonnie.”

“That’s true Mom,” said Luke. “Mom, I want you to meet Bonnie. Bonnie, this is my mother Nancy.”

“I’m so happy to meet you Nancy,” said Bonnie. “My mother has talked about you often.”

“We’ve been friends for a long time,” said Nancy, “ever since you and Luke were glow-worms.”

“You girls talk while I check in with Jaime and Flash.”

Luke listened while Jaime told the story of his capture during their aerobatics routine. Torch told him about his rescue from the Phyros.

“Did you ever find Morty Angel?” asked Luke.

“Yes, I did, he is the one who brought us here.”

“He did?”

“He is waiting for us outside,” said Torch.

“Take me to him.” Torch led Luke out of the Pfitzer to meet Morty.

Morty liked Luke immediately. Luke had a way about him that endeared him to anyone he met. Perhaps it was his robust personality, or his youthful good looks, or his shining yellow tail light that made him so popular. Whatever it was, it did not matter. Morty liked him.

“Torch told me about your aerobatics skills.”

“They aren’t that good.”

“Why don’t we put on a show for Morty?” said Flash.

“Yes,” said Jaime, “we could regroup the squads and have a competition.”

“That would be great,” said Torch. “I never saw a complete competition before. I was too busy looking for Morty all summer.”

“Luke,” said Morty, “I would love to watch the air force put on their show, please?”

“Oh, all right.” replied Luke. He asked Torch to have Air Force meet at the Pfitzer yard the following night. Torch flew off immediately, his bright tail light blinking the signal that was the call to the air force. Luke told Jaime to find Lenny, and to tell him to get the squads ready to fly.

“Will you stay and dine with us Morty?” said Luke.

“Yes, I will.”

Bonnie and Nancy came out of the Pfitzer with a legion of ants. The ants brought the fireflies a feast.

After they finished eating, Morty spoke.

“Luke, I have a big favor to ask.”

“What is it?”

“I want your help to deliver a special message.”

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 16

The Phyro King Gandor received flashes from his spy, Prince Lex. Lex told him the story of Torch’s rescue. The king became furious. He was upset that an outsider interfered with his business. A complete stranger stole a meal right out of his hands. He wanted revenge. The angry king planned an attack on Luke’s Lucern clan. Gandor sent flashes to his subjects. “Go immediately to where the air force is performing for Morty.”

Phyros sneak into the crowd at the fire fly competitions often. They loved to capture insects to eat. This time though, Gandor’s plan was to capture the air force. Gandor called for his Phyro fliers to hide in the grass to watch the show for Morty. On King Gandor’s signal, the Phyros were to fly up to capture a Lucern. He pictured thousands of Phyro’s, flashing in midair, and catching Lucerns. His tribe would meet afterward for a great feast. One by one, the Phyros took off to the meeting place with their taillights off.

To Be Continued . . . .

Chapter 17

The Fire Fly Air Force demonstrated their flying skill for Morty as planned. They were magnificent. Morty was pleased.

“Your fliers will be the perfect way to deliver the message,” he said.

“We can begin practicing immediately,” said Luke.

Morty felt like the conductor of an orchestra. He stood in one spot and raised his hand to start. The fireflies responded just as he directed them to do. Luke’s fliers were so well trained that the job was easy. Morty taught them the message in one night.

“Your fliers are fabulous. They follow direction very well.”

“They have to fly well to avoid capture by the Phyros,” said Luke. “Gandor and his tribe are always after us.”

“Have you lost manyvfliers?”

“So far we have been lucky; we only lost one flier to a Phyro. Most of the casualties are on the ground. Phyros sneak into the crowd and catch our citizens off guard.”

Lex returned from his traitorous mission to tell Gandor about the games. He arrived just in time to begin rehearsals with Morty and Luke. No one in the air force suspected Lex as a Phyro, not even Luke. Luke was good at recognizing a Phyro because Nancy taught him all of the Phyro’s traits.

“Watch their tail lights,” she told him. “Just as it turns on, the color is a pale yellow for a moment, and then it becomes normal. Their flashes are not as sharp as ours.”

Luke studied these traits on his many secret trips into the Phyro yards. As a young firefly, he took short trips into the Phyro’s yard. He knew it was a dangerous thing to do, but he wanted to study them. His trips were always in the daytime when most fireflies rested. He kept his light off to stay undetected. When he was in Phyro territory, he walked through the grass, staying low and hidden. If Nancy ever knew what he was doing, she would have beaten him. Luke’s father had gone exploring into Phyro territory, and never returned.

Prince Lex was a Phyro, but he learned all of the Lucern habits. He had to know their traits well to be a spy. In fact, he was more like a Lucern than a Phyro, and they did not recognize him.

Lex became a spy to please his father. King Gandor did not give his son much love at all. Lex longed for his father’s love and would do anything to get his approval. Each time Lex brought information, Gandor made the same comment.

“Is this all you have for me?”

**********************************************************************

Lex learned the special message from God during the rehearsal. What a beautiful message, he thought. I wish God would send me a message like that.

After rehearsal, Lex went to see Morty.

“Morty, I understand you are the one who rescued Torch from the Phyros.”

“Yes, I am, but I only snatched Torch from capture. It was Nancy who recognized that he was in danger.”

Lex told him how much he enjoyed practicing.

“I am a spy,” he blurted to a shocked Morty.

“My father Gandor is king of the Phyros. Gandor made me join the Lucern tribe to spy on them, Luke does not know it, but his air force has been providing the Phyros with food all summer. I tell Gandor where the air force is performing, and he sends the tribe to watch. They capture unsuspecting Lucerns while they watch the games.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“I only want my father to love me, but he doesn’t. I can never make him happy enough. When I learned the special message during practice, it changed me.”

“Does your father know about the message?”

“He doesn’t know about the message, only about the games.”

“We have to tell Luke,” said Morty.

“He will kill me when he finds out what I did.”

“No, he won’t, I will talk him into sparing you.”

*******************************************************************

Luke’s tail light glowed so bright, it nearly became hot. The news about Lex displeased him. Morty calmed him and spoke to him in a gentle tone.

“Luke, use this information to your benefit. Listen, I have a plan.”

The two of them huddled alone as Morty explained his plan. Luke came out of the meeting smiling.

“Flash,” he said, “Go get Lex, and bring him to me.”

Flash brought Lex before Luke. Morty sat by quiet. Luke angrily scolded Lex.

“I should kill you, but I won’t. Instead, I want you to take this message to your father.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t have to understand, just do as I ask. Take the message, or I will tell your father that you confessed,” commanded Luke. “Gandor will banish you, and the Lucerns will shun you. You will be in exile all alone. Take the message, and I will accept you as a Lucern.”

Lex flew off to find Gandor. Morty excused himself. As he left, he said,

“I’ll be back on the night when there is no moon. Meet me in Ben’s yard.”

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 18.

Morty raced home, and found Gracie on guard on the pillow above Ben’s head.

“I need your help.”

“What can I do?”

“I need a bed sheet, two clear glass bottles, and some twine.”

The two of them scurried about the house looking for materials.

“If we do this right, my idea will work,” he said, “If we do it wrong, well, we can’t do it wrong, we have to succeed.”

“Michael called while you were gone, and the night of no moon is tomorrow.”

“Oh great,” said Morty, “nothing like a little pressure. I have to finish this gadget before then.”

The two guardian angels worked through the night.

“This looks like it might work,” said Gracie.

“Thank-you,  I got the inspiration while I watched you and Max fly.”

“Really?”

“Yep,” he replied without any more explanation.

Gracie decided not to pursue him with any more questions, but her curiosity was growing. When Morty is ready, he will tell me, she thought. They finished the invention just before dawn.

“Let’s test it,” said Morty, and off they went.

Gracie sat on the back of Skye Scooter right behind Morty. Her back was to his. She held the invention in her lap.

Morty sped up and then gave Gracie the signal.

“Now,” he shouted.

Gracie tossed the invention into the air behind the scooter. She watched a large parachute open. It had a bottle tied to the center of it. A hole in the chute opened into the bottle.

“It opened smoothly,” she hollered to Morty.

“Great.” He landed Skye just as the sun began to make the morning sky glow red.

“Let’s get some rest before Ben wakes up.”

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 19.

Gandor held his order to the tribe, until Lex came to tell him where the games were to be.

“Something special is going on,” said Lex “Luke had every squadron move to Ben’s yard. He is planning the games for the night of no moon.”

“Good,” said Gandor, “I will make it extra special. We will be waiting for him.”

“The games will begin when the brightest firefly light he has ever seen, flashes. The entire air force will fly in when they see the light.”

“You did a Great job son.”

The comment stunned Lex. It was the first time Gandor had ever paid him a compliment, and called him “son.”

“Thanks Dad. I have to leave now.”

“Why are you leaving?”

“I’m going back to spy on the Lucerns. Don’t you want me to get more information?” Lex had to think fast because Luke counted on him to help deliver the message.

“No, my son, I need you here with me tonight. Besides, after tonight I won’t need to know what Luke is up to.”

“Why not?”

“When the bright light flashes, our tribe will be waiting. Our lights will be off so they will not see us. When Luke flies into our space, we will capture him and his air force. Now, come with me.”

Lex could not leave Gandor now, that would reveal his secret. Gandor believed Lex was spying from a distance.

Gandor will kill me if he finds out that I confessed to Luke. I told Luke that I was sorry for spying, and he forgave me. I promised to be true to him. I cannot let Gandor know that. What do I do? If I leave now, I risk losing Gandor’s approval that took a long time to get. If I stay, I betray Luke. What should I do?

“Quickly,” said Gandor. “We are wasting time.”

*************************************************************************

The sun dropped, and the night of no moon finally arrived. Morty scooted to where Luke waited for him with the air force.

“Is everything ready?”

“Yes it is. Except one thing, Lex didn’t return yet.”

“Hmm, he must have a problem.”

“I hope for his sake that you are right, I don’t like pilots who don’t keep their word.”

“Let’s get started. I want Torch to come with me,” said Morty.

Torch came forward and settled on Morty’s curl. Morty touched the turbo button on Skye, and they were gone.

“Leave your light out until I say it is okay.”

They landed in Ben’s yard. Gracie met them outside.

“Ben is still inside,” said Gracie.

“Good,” said Morty, “this is what I want you, to do. . .”

Morty explained his plan to them.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” replied Gracie.

“Nervous, but ready,” answered Torch.

“Okay, climb into the jar and go with Gracie, remember to keep your light off until she tells you to flash.”

“Yes sir.” Torch saluted.

The two angels became invisible, and took off in different directions. Gracie held the jar with Torch inside. She hovered in place high above all the bushes in the center of the yard…

Gandor and the Phyro tribe waited in the darkness of the grass below. The tribe was loyal to Gandor. He kept them in food all summer, and protected them from attack. They knew the plan well, and were anxious to get started.

High above them, a single Lucern firefly hovered in a glass container. He was waiting to play his part. Gracie got her queue from Morty, he was in position and ready.

“On the count of three,” called Morty over the Sentra-Vision, “one, two, and three.”

“Go Torch,” she commanded.

Torch lit his tail in a magnificent long bright flash. It was so yellow it was like the sun. He pushed so hard to make the light bright that he thought he would burst. He held it for as long as he could. He took a quick breath, and then flashed again. Over, and over he flashed. His flashes lit up the whole yard like lightening.

“There it is,” said Gandor. “Go get them.”

The Phyro tribe rose out of the grass. They spiraled upward covering the yard from one end to the other. Gracie saw them, but Torch was too busy to look

“Keep flashing,” she said. “Come and get them Morty.”

Morty remained invisible, but started blinking his halo mimicking a firefly. He was in the next yard when Gandor spotted the blinking halo coming toward them. Thinking it was Luke and the air force approaching, Gandor ordered, “Hold your lights until he is in the yard.”

The tribe obeyed.

Morty reached the edge of the yard.

“Stop flashing,” she said. She took off and left the yard. She remained invisible while still holding the jar with Torch in it. With Torch secure in the jar, he was out of the hands of the Phyros. Morty’s halo continued to blink, but he and Skye were invisible. They entered the yard with the dark Phyros.

Gandor watched as Morty’s light crossed over the line.

“Turn on your lights,” he ordered.

All at once, thousands of blinking lights covered the yard. The Phyros were anxious to capture Luke, the air force, and the Lucerns. Instead, Morty’s flying scoop shuttled them into the bottle. Morty’s invention worked beautifully.

“That is beautiful,” said Torch.

He and Gracie watched as Morty flew a snake pattern around the yard.

“Look, he snared Gandor and Lex,” he said.

They struggled to get out, but the momentum of the chute moving forward pulled them to the center. The harder they tried to get out of the chute, the faster they moved into the glass jar.

Morty finally made himself visible on his final flight around the yard. The jar glowed bright yellow from the flashing Phyros. Together, they gave off a light as bright as Torch’s. With the Phyros all in the jar, Gracie capped it. She wore sunglasses because the light was so bright.

Confused and bewildered, Gandor and Lex thought they were going to capture the air force, instead, they were the ones trapped.

Skye landed, and Morty unhitched the chute, and removed the capped jar. He used duct tape to paste the jar onto Skye Scooter’s nose.

“They can help light my way through the night.”

Just then, Gracie landed next to him with Torch.

“Let Torch out of the bottle now.”

“Wow, can we do that again?” asked Torch. “That was fun to watch.”

“Please bring Ben onto the patio,” said Morty. “The air force is ready to start the message.” Torch signaled Luke to start.

“I have some business to take care of,” he told Gracie. “I’ll be back in a flash.”

***********************************************************************

He flew North at warp speed. In a very short time, he landed on a farm field in Minnesota. He carefully removed the jar from Skye, and gave the lid two turns. The jar was open.

“You are free to go,” he said. At first, they did not make a move. Slowly, one, by one the fireflies found their way out of the bottle. Soon, a steady stream of fireflies spiraled from the jar into the night sky. They blinked a beautiful magical pattern as they escaped.

Gandor and Lex were among them. Lex stopped in front of Morty.

“Thanks.”

“For what?” asked Morty?

“Thank you for giving my people another chance and for keeping my secret.”

“You belong with Gandor. He needs someone to teach him how to be trustworthy. Now go, and start a new life together.”

Lex blinked a final thank-you and flew off.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 20

The air force arrived, just as Ben came out to the patio. They had hundreds of squads now. All because a single firefly had a dream to be the best that he could be.

Luke led the squads into the yard. All taillights blinked in unison. The sky sparkled with thousands of flashing yellow lights. It was a magical evening. Luke’s show went for most of the evening. First, the squads flew by the patio in a single file. Each pilot followed the other in a magnificent spiral. Next, they flew up to the rooftop with their light out. On a signal, all the squads began a spiral dive with lights blinking.

They looked like a waterfall of light. The waterfall transformed into a giant spiral. The leader flew up in a large arc, and then turned downward ever so slowly. He swooped downward in the same arc, picking up speed. At first, it looked like he would crash into the fliers that were waiting at the bottom.

Flash started to turn inward a foot above the waiting line. He continued the arc inward and upward to form a second loop inside the first. Each time he finished a loop he tightened it, and formed a new one. He flew faster as he did. When he reached the center of the spiral, he turned off his light and disappeared. The string of fliers followed him. They landed to rest.

Morty flew into the yard, just as the giant spiral began to shrink in size. The last of the fliers spiraled into the center and turned off his light. He sat down between Ben and Gracie.

“Where did you take them?” asked Gracie.

“I took them far enough away that they won’t bother Luke, Nancy, or the Lucerns anymore.”

“You are just in time for the finale.”

“Great,” said Morty, “I want to see the look on Ben’s face when he gets the message from heaven.”

Luke assembled the fliers for a talk while they rested and sipped nectar.

“You did a marvelous job this summer,” he lectured. “We had fun and learned how to fly in new ways. Soon you will all return to your families to prepare for the winter. Before we do that, we have to deliver a very important message for Morty Angel. He trusts us with the job.

It took Torch all summer to find him. Torch delivered the message from God. Now Morty wants us to deliver it to Ben. You can do it. You are ready.”

Luke gave the sign and all the fliers scurried into position, each squad in place behind its leader.

“Torch, “said Luke. “ Give us the light.”

Torch flew straight up into the center of the yard, and blinked his light three times. On the third blink, the squads all rose like helicopters. They peeled off behind Luke with their lights off. When the entire force was in place, Torch blinked again. Luke turned on his light. As he flew, the squads followed in single file. Each flier turned on his light at the exact same spot. The effect was a line of lights. Luke was the tip of the pen, his fliers the ink. He flew slowly and deliberately. He turned in a loop then back into another.

Ben watched from the patio in amazement as the letters of light appeared in the sky over the yard.

“Mom, Dad,” he shouted, “Come out quick.”

“What is it?” asked his mother. Dad ran out to see what the commotion was.

“Look in the sky in the back of the yard, the fireflies.”

They watched in amazement as the line of lights continued to form letters. Slowly the letters became words. . .

“GRANDMA LOVES YOU.”

“There it is,” said Morty. “God sent Ben a special message, and he used his creatures to do it. He also gave me a wakeup call.”

“How,” asked Gracie?

“Normally, He tells Michael the Archangel to send me instructions. This time, he used another route. At first, I missed the signal, and Torch had to keep looking for me all summer. I saw his signal weeks ago. Remember, how they taught us at the academy, that God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, he sends us signs, and we are not alert enough to recognize them.”

Luke and the fliers hovered in place blinking their lights to keep the message alive for as long as they could. Eventually, they tired and their lights began to dim, one by one. Torch sent a series of flashes to let them know they were finished. The air force scattered around the yard into a mystical display of twinkling lights everywhere.

“Mom, Dad, did you see it?”

“Yes, it was beautiful.”

“Please come in now, it’s getting late,” said Dad.

Ben followed them.

“Thanks Gracie,” said Morty. “I couldn’t have delivered the message without your help.”

“It was my pleasure.”

“Before you leave, I have another thing to do,” said Morty.

To Be Continued . . .

Chapter 21.

Exhausted after the big performance, the air force wanted to get home. Before he dismissed them, Luke thanked them for delivering the message in such a beautiful way.

“No fire fly in history can repeat what you just did.”

“No, they won’t,” chimed Morty from behind. “You were outstanding, thank-you for the great performance. Your delivery was perfect. God is pleased.”

Morty thanked Luke again before Luke joined Bonnie, and his mother Nancy.

Next, Morty found Torch to thank him for being so patient and so diligent.

“God is pleased that you gave yourself so completely to deliver his message Torch.”

“I thank you,” said Torch, “for saving me from the Phyros.”

Morty wished Torch well and bid him goodbye. I am going to miss the fireflies thought Morty to himself. Their lights have cheered me all summer. I can hardly wait for next year.

Morty returned to the house, and said thanks and goodbye to Gracie and Max.

It is time to watch over Ben again, he said to himself as he waved goodbye..

The End

For the loyal readers who read all twenty-one chapters of Fire Fly Air Force, I thank you. I wrote the story for my seven grandchildren to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their Grandmother’s entrance into heaven. I wanted them to know that she is still involved in their lives. For the three kids that were born after she was gone, I wanted them to know that she loves them too.

The setting for the story came from a recollection of one magical night in July. I just shut off the light to get into bed. I looked out of the bedroom window and saw something special.

“Barb, come here, you have to see this.”

Reluctantly, she got out of bed and looked with me. We stood and watched a million fireflies blinking all around the garden in the back yard. There were thousands of them. We stood and stared. The magic of it all mesmerized both of us. We had never seen so many lightening bugs in a single night, ever. We never saw that many again.

Next month marks the sixteenth anniversary of Barb’s death, and now with Peggy’s death and another magical night of blinking lights I thought it appropriate to publish the story again. I believe Barbara is in heaven and eternally happy. I refer to her as Saint Barbara of Prestwick. Peggy is also in heaven and eternally happy I have decided to call her ST. Peggy of Frankfort. Every time I see a lightening bug blink its light, I think of her and one magical night in July. Now I can add the magic to Peggy’s story as well. She is step grandmother to three of my grandchildren born while she and I were together, and her own two great grandchildren, Sydney and Allie

Morty Angel has a special message for you from God…

 

 

 

 

Fire Fly Air Force-Chapter 19

Chapter 19.

Gandor held his order to the tribe, until Lex came to tell him where the games were to be.

“Something special is going on,” said Lex “Luke had every squadron move to Ben’s yard. He is planning the games for the night of no moon.”

“Good,” said Gandor, “I will make it extra special. We will be waiting for him.”

“The games will begin when the brightest firefly light he has ever seen, flashes. The entire air force will fly in when they see the light.”

“You did a Great job son.”

The comment stunned Lex. It was the first time Gandor had ever paid him a compliment, and called him “son.”

“Thanks Dad. I have to leave now.”

“Why are you leaving?”

“I’m going back to spy on the Lucerns. Don’t you want me to get more information?” Lex had to think fast because Luke counted on him to help deliver the message.

“No, my son, I need you here with me tonight. Besides, after tonight I won’t need to know what Luke is up to.”

“Why not?”

“When the bright light flashes, our tribe will be waiting. Our lights will be off so they will not see us. When Luke flies into our space, we will capture him and his air force. Now, come with me.”

Lex could not leave Gandor now, that would reveal his secret. Gandor believed Lex was spying from a distance.

Gandor will kill me if he finds out that I confessed to Luke. I told Luke that I was sorry for spying, and he forgave me. I promised to be true to him. I cannot let Gandor know that. What do I do? If I leave now, I risk losing Gandor’s approval that took a long time to get. If I stay, I betray Luke. What should I do?

“Quickly,” said Gandor. “We are wasting time.”

*************************************************************************

The sun dropped, and the night of no moon finally arrived. Morty scooted to where Luke waited for him with the air force.

“Is everything ready?”

“Yes it is. Except one thing, Lex didn’t return yet.”

“Hmm, he must have a problem.”

“I hope for his sake that you are right, I don’t like pilots who don’t keep their word.”

“Let’s get started. I want Torch to come with me,” said Morty.

Torch came forward and settled on Morty’s curl. Morty touched the turbo button on Skye, and they were gone.

“Leave your light out until I say it is okay.”

They landed in Ben’s yard. Gracie met them outside.

“Ben is still inside,” said Gracie.

“Good,” said Morty, “this is what I want you, to do. . .”

Morty explained his plan to them.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” replied Gracie.

“Nervous, but ready,” answered Torch.

“Okay, climb into the jar and go with Gracie, remember to keep your light off until she tells you to flash.”

“Yes sir.” Torch saluted.

The two angels became invisible, and took off in different directions. Gracie held the jar with Torch inside. She hovered in place high above all the bushes in the center of the yard…

Gandor and the Phyro tribe waited in the darkness of the grass below. The tribe was loyal to Gandor. He kept them in food all summer, and protected them from attack. They knew the plan well, and were anxious to get started.

High above them, a single Lucern firefly hovered in a glass container. He was waiting to play his part. Gracie got her queue from Morty, he was in position and ready.

“On the count of three,” called Morty over the Sentra-Vision, “one, two, and three.”

“Go Torch,” she commanded.

Torch lit his tail in a magnificent long bright flash. It was so yellow it was like the sun. He pushed so hard to make the light bright that he thought he would burst. He held it for as long as he could. He took a quick breath, and then flashed again. Over, and over he flashed. His flashes lit up the whole yard like lightening.

“There it is,” said Gandor. “Go get them.”

The Phyro tribe rose out of the grass. They spiraled upward covering the yard from one end to the other. Gracie saw them, but Torch was too busy to look

“Keep flashing,” she said. “Come and get them Morty.”

Morty remained invisible, but started blinking his halo mimicking a firefly. He was in the next yard when Gandor spotted the blinking halo coming toward them. Thinking it was Luke and the air force approaching, Gandor ordered, “Hold your lights until he is in the yard.”

The tribe obeyed.

Morty reached the edge of the yard.

“Stop flashing,” she said. She took off and left the yard. She remained invisible while still holding the jar with Torch in it. With Torch secure in the jar, he was out of the hands of the Phyros. Morty’s halo continued to blink, but he and Skye were invisible. They entered the yard with the dark Phyros.

Gandor watched as Morty’s light crossed over the line.

“Turn on your lights,” he ordered.

All at once, thousands of blinking lights covered the yard. The Phyros were anxious to capture Luke, the air force, and the Lucerns. Instead, Morty’s flying scoop shuttled them into the bottle. Morty’s invention worked beautifully.

“That is beautiful,” said Torch.

He and Gracie watched as Morty flew a snake pattern around the yard.

“Look, he snared Gandor and Lex,” he said.

They struggled to get out, but the momentum of the chute moving forward pulled them to the center. The harder they tried to get out of the chute, the faster they moved into the glass jar.

Morty finally made himself visible on his final flight around the yard. The jar glowed bright yellow from the flashing Phyros. Together, they gave off a light as bright as Torch’s. With the Phyros all in the jar, Gracie capped it. She wore sunglasses because the light was so bright.

Confused and bewildered, Gandor and Lex thought they were going to capture the air force, instead, they were the ones trapped.

Skye landed, and Morty unhitched the chute, and removed the capped jar. He used duct tape to paste the jar onto Skye Scooter’s nose.

“They can help light my way through the night.”

Just then, Gracie landed next to him with Torch.

“Let Torch out of the bottle now.”

“Wow, can we do that again?” asked Torch. “That was fun to watch.”

“Please bring Ben onto the patio,” said Morty. “The air force is ready to start the message.” Torch signaled Luke to start.

“I have some business to take care of,” he told Gracie. “I’ll be back in a flash.”

***********************************************************************

He flew North at warp speed. In a very short time, he landed on a farm field in Minnesota. He carefully removed the jar from Skye, and gave the lid two turns. The jar was open.

“You are free to go,” he said. At first, they did not make a move. Slowly, one, by one the fireflies found their way out of the bottle. Soon, a steady stream of fireflies spiraled from the jar into the night sky. They blinked a beautiful magical pattern as they escaped.

Gandor and Lex were among them. Lex stopped in front of Morty.

“Thanks.”

“For what?” asked Morty?

“Thank you for giving my people another chance and for keeping my secret.”

“You belong with Gandor. He needs someone to teach him how to be trustworthy. Now go, and start a new life together.”

Lex blinked a final thank-you and flew off.

To Be Continued . . .

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including those yet to be invented or discovered, without permission in writing from the publisher and author.

Fire Fly Air Force-Chapter 13

Chapter 13

The news that Stretch found Morty did not reach Torch. He kept flashing his message repeatedly. Each night he flew to a new bush. He moved so often that he was lost. Torch could not get back to Stretch at all. He kept flashing his signals from different bushes. He had to find Morty Angel. Torch was tired but very determined. He wanted to go home, but could not.

The night after the rainstorm, Torch landed in a new yard. He began sending his signals when he saw something very special. He saw Jaime and his squadron practicing. “How beautiful they look,” he thought. “I’ve never seen such precise flying and signaling.” Torch knew his own gift of the extra bright light was special, but he wished he could fly like Jaime.

Torch saw some kids come out of the house. He watched as the kids began capturing fireflies. He watched a young girl catch the lead flier. She put him in a bottle. The kids came closer, and closer.

I better shut down and get out of here, he told himself.

Swoosh! A hand swept right under him just as he flew up with his light out. Torch kept flying higher and higher until a breeze caught him and carried him out of the yard.

Torch spread his wings, and soared with the wind. He turned on his light again, and began signaling as he flew. His goal was to find Morty, and he could not stop.

The yards looked smaller from high above. He could see where he just escaped. The kids were still running around capturing lightening bugs. He saw segments of the Fire fly Air Force streaking to the yard next door where the flashing lights of fireflies signaled danger and panic.

The signal lights coming from ahead seemed calm and familiar. Torch decided to drop into the safety of the friendly flashes. What Torch did not know is that a family of Phyro fire flies inhabited this yard. The Phyros are cannibals. They use friendly flashes to lure unsuspecting fireflies to come to them.

Torch dove to break out of the breeze. As he dropped, he let the current carry him toward the friendly flashes. His tail light blinked the message as he flew toward the Phyros. The hungry cannibals continued to blink friendly flashes to guide him to certain death.

To Be Continued . . .

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including those yet to be invented or discovered, without permission in writing from the publisher and author.

Fire Fly Air Force-Chapter 12

Chapter 12

The wait for Morty did Nancy good. She had time to rest, eat, and replenish her energy. She was ready to fly again to see her son Luke. Morty picked her up and let her perch on the dashboard. They scooted to the Gardener’s to find Luke. When they arrived, the garden was nearly empty. Most of the fireflies and insects were gone. The Fire Fly Air Force and the insects fled to get away from the spray.

“Oh my,” Nancy exclaimed, “now what do we do? How will I find my son?”

“Please don’t worry Nancy, we will find Luke.”

“The summer is nearly over, and we don’t have many days left before we prepare for the cold,” she said. Suddenly all of her energy drained again. She began to cry.

Morty reached for his Sentra Vision belt.

“Let me speak to Michael,” he said.

“Hi Morty,” answered Michael, “what can I do for you?”

Michael and Morty spoke to each other for a long time. Nancy waited patiently, sobbing. She overheard Morty tell Michael.

“Please find him for me.”  Morty hung up.

To Be Continued . . .

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including those yet to be invented or discovered, without permission in writing from the publisher and author.

Fire Fly Air Force-Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Early the next night it was dark. The moon was not over the horizon yet. It was hot, and the crickets sang loudly. Fireflies danced, and flew from shrub to shrub, from grass to tree. Their lights blinked magically.

Morty arrived at the lilac bush. He began sending vibrations to Stretch.

“Come out Stretch, its Morty Angel.”

“I can’t believe it,” Stretch wiggled back in excitement. He inched his way out of the soil as quickly as he could. When his head finally popped out of the ground, he spit out a mouthful of dirt.

“Torch will never believe this.”

“Where is he?”

“He’s been flying from one yard to the next. Every night he sends signals hoping to find you.”

Morty began blinking his halo. At the same time, he put his hand on the ground near Stretch.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m sending the fireflies a signal with my halo while I’m sending the same signal through the ground to every earthworm in the county,” said Morty. “I’m thanking Torch for calling me. Now, what is this message?”

Morty listened closely while Stretch told him the story.

“God told me you are to deliver this special message,” said Stretch.

“Please promise to give it to Ben as quickly as you can.

“It’ll be easy,” said Morty, “I see Ben every day. He is my special child.”

Morty thanked Stretch for giving him the message, and for working so hard to find him.

“Now, if I can only find Torch to thank him personally,” said Morty. “I have to go now, please tell Torch how sad I was to miss him.”

“I will, but first, I’m going to take a long nap.”

Morty took off to find Nancy. Along the way, he wondered why God chose to send the message through Stretch. Usually, He just tells Michael the Archangel to reach him by Sentra Vision.

To Be Continued . . .

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

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