Chapter 13: Day Care Crisis

July 17th, 1996

          "Hey, you kids be careful!" Ashley exclaimed as two kids ran past her with foam swords.  They were pretending to be the Red and Blue Power Rangers.  Billy sidestepped the two 'mini rangers' as they flew by.  Apparently knocking over toys, chairs, and a stack of cups was all part of their 'battle against evil.'  Billy's brows shot up in amazed confusion at the pandemonium.  He shook his head and pushed his blue glasses higher on the bridge of his nose.  "You was chaos like this that made me glad to move away from Sunny-Dale," Billy said laughing.  Ashley turned to look at Billy, her chestnut hair all helter-skelter in what was a ponytail at the beginning of the day.  "A little help here Billy!" she replied, trying to remove the young girl who now clung to her leg.  Her jeans were now wet with the young one's tears.  Billy quickly came up with an idea and switched on the TV.  He flipped through the channels and stopped on a re-run episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.  Ashley sat the little girl down in front of the television.  Upon hearing the melodious sound of the Trolley and the opening theme song of 'Won't you be my neighbor,' the other children quickly joined her.  Billy began pouring cups of Kool-Aid for the kids and Ashley passed out the oatmeal cookies and napkins.  As soon as she was done, Ashley joined Billy in the back of the room.  Ashley crossed her arms and leaned against the wall with a sigh.  Billy sat at Ashley's desk and swiveled back and forth in her chair, his fingers interlaced together behind his head.  Ashley turned to face Billy in the somewhat darkened room.  She made her way toward the desk and leaned against it.  Billy looked up at her, "I couldn't do this every day, how do you manage?"  Ashley sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know Billy.  Maybe because I love kids."  She smiled down at him while trying to place all of her hair back together.  She rolled her brown eyes upward and blew a strand of hair that hung down in her tired face.  Billy leaned back to check on the kids behind Ashley.  He looked back at her and smiled.  "They're asleep," he said triumphantly.  Ashley turned to see for herself and then looked back at Billy.  Jerking her thumb behind her and smiling, she said, "THAT'S what makes it all worth it."  Sharing a quiet laugh, the two continued to speak quietly of their busy summers.

          On the moon, a storm began brewing over the Sea of Tranquility.  Zedd's red visor glowed an eerie crimson.  "She's arriving..." Zedd said with delight.  Just then Rita entered the room and joined him on the balcony, "My lord...there's a problem..."  "What is it NOW!?!" Zedd growled.  Rita looked up at Zedd, "This storm...I didn't cause it.  I hadn't even begun the spell to summon Scorpina yet."  Turning to face the storm, Zedd slowly placed his fist down on the railing of the observatory.  His metal-clawed hand gripped the railing as the storm grew. 

          Billy woke up and straightened his glasses as he looked up at the clock.  The time was 2:13 p.m.  Billy looked over at Ashley who was watching the weather report on the television.  Billy craned his head to look at the captions on the bottom of the screen.  She had the volume muted as not to wake the kids.  The man on the screen was using a telescoping rod to point out a swirling mass of clouds over the area of Angel Grove.  Wide-eyed Billy read the caption on the TV as it scrolled by:

          'Three tornados are currently forming over the area of Angel Grove...Seek shelter immediately.  If there is not a cellar or a basement near your location, seek the nearest Mutant Shelter right away.  Do not gather your personal belongings...usher yourself and any others into the nearest shelter immediately.  Doppler Radar is showing the appearance of three F5 tornados forming directly over the area of Angel shelter now.' 

          With that, the meteorologist ran off-camera, presumably to find his own shelter.  Ashley flipped on the lights to wake the sleeping toddlers.  "Everyone wake up now!"  Ashley screamed.  "We have to get to the Mutant Shelter NOW!"  Billy stood up and helped calm the kids, telling them that it would be alright and that the Power Rangers would keep them safe.  The toddlers were surprisingly calm through all this, having had to get to a Mutant Shelter at least once in their young lives.  Once Billy got the last of the day-care's kids into the shelter, he closed and locked the heavy steel doors.  Ashley found the generator and activated it.  She then made her way through the sea of children
over to Billy.  She had a worried look in her eyes, but she said
nothing.  Billy looked around the shelter.  He saw nothing but
white walls, the ventilation system, a small restroom, and a
pantry bolted to the back wall.  He was surprised that the entire
day-care was able to fit into the small shelter.  The pair stood
near the latched door listening to the sound of the wind getting
louder.  The shelter's latched door began to rattle and was
followed by what sounded like an explosion just outside.  The
frame around the door began to crack.  With a look of terror in
his eyes, Billy quickly grabbed the door's handle in a vain
attempt to keep it from ripping open.  He turned back to Ashley
and grit his teeth, using all of his strength and energy to hold the
door shut from the suction of the tornado.  Ashley moved to  join
him, but her petite body didn't do much to help Billy's cause.
The two teens shut their eyes and Billy spoke quietly through his gritted teeth, "Wish I could morph."  He knew he couldn't let go of the door or the suction would reach in and pull everyone out of the shelter.  Muscles on fire, both teens continued to hold the door down, "Billy!  I don't know how much more of this I can take!" Ashley cried.  As she said that, the metal door began to contort.  Billy knew all too well that there was only a few seconds left before everyone would be killed.  In a blast of colored light, the Red and Black Rangers appeared in the shelter and ran towards the door.  Morphed Zhane and Adam were able to hold the door closed without any trouble.  The tornados' gale force stopped just as quickly as it had begun and the two DinoRangers let go of the door.  Billy rubbed his sore, muscle-torn arms and looked at Ashley.  She had tears in her eyes.  "Oh Billy," she cried, reaching out to hug him.  "It's going to be okay, Ash," Billy said as he rubbed her back, but he wasn't so sure.  DinoRed pushed open the shelter door.  The teens, Rangers, and a few of the other day-care workers climbed outside.  Ashley burst into tears and buried her face in Billy's shoulder, not wanting to see the damage that surrounded them.  The Red and Black Rangers quickly joined Billy and Ashley.  Zhane leaned in close to the pair and whispered to them so as not to be heard by anyone else, "Get it together guys...we need to go NOW."  Ashley quickly composed herself as the four ran out of sight behind some rubble and teleported away from the devastation.

To be continued...