The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.
You can purchase this story in the 2018 Winners Anthology, Secret Keepers here.
“When a Meerkat Seeks the Snow” by Ella Schmeling, Monroe Middle School
Third Place, Middle School Level, 2018
When a Meerkat Seeks the Snow
Monroe Middle School
Oscar, the fanciest meerkat, and Sheila, a loving field mouse, are living their happily ever after with the Royal Family in the perfect house to call home. Oscar and Sheila have been having many pleasant times with the adorable Princess Fiona. Oscar had lived in Africa but realized he couldn’t stay there. As he was trying to find a new home in the great big city of St. Louis, he met Sheila and together they travelled to London in search of their new family in the great big castle. After an incredible journey, Oscar and Sheila had found the royalist family of all the land.
The kingdom was very excited to throw their annual New Year’s Eve ball. Fiona had gone outside to the royal gardens to pick out some of the most splendid flowers for the party. Oscar and Sheila were laying their clothes out for the evening, when Oscar came up with an idea.
They went outside to share the news, but one of the new guards stopped them, thinking they were pesky rodents.
“Gotcha!” the guard yelled. “The kingdom doesn’t want scoundrels like you! I shall send you to the snowy mountains.”
The guard loaded them into the truck and drove them to the mountain. He threw the cage with Oscar and Sheila inside onto the cold, sparkling-white sheet of snow. The guard grinned and drove back to the castle.
“What are we going to do?” Sheila asked while chittering her teeth.
Oscar had tears running through his eyes. They rolled upon his cheek, freezing to ice one by one.
Suddenly, Oscar and Sheila gleamed with hope!
“Over there,” Oscar shouted, pointing to a cave that would keep them from the blaring wind.
They ran with joy to the cave and curled up on what appeared to be a soft and warm blanket.
“This is more like it!” Sheila smiled.
Oscar nodded, but his nod turned to disappointment, “If only the blanket would stop moving!”
Sheila and Oscar looked at each other with fright, “MOVING!?” they screamed.
The blanket moaned because the blanket was really a large, sleepy bear.
“What is all this ruckus!” the bear yelled in his deep booming voice.
“I’m afraid that would be us,” Oscar exclaimed quite nervously.
The bear turned around. Drool was dripping from his mouth as he flashed his big sharp teeth to the unsuspecting visitors.
“Well, I guess it’s time for a snack,” Marty the bear said with a grin, while licking his chops.
“Great, we are starving!” Sheila said with relief, not knowing what the mischievous bear had planned.
The bear started preparing the “food.” Marty stirred the pot and asked if Oscar wanted a taste.
Oscar asked, “What are we to be having?” in his politest voice.
Marty explained, “Oh, it’s fish, and maybe some meer- “
Oscar stopped him right there, “I do not like seafood, especially fish.”
Oscar and Sheila had no idea what Marty’s plan was, but it was probably for the best that they didn’t stay. They left the cave and went on their way in hopes of being found.
As they were walking out, Oscar and Sheila accidentally fell into a hole that someone had dug in the snow. BANG!
“Oh, no! Are you okay?!” a beautiful soft voice called out.
Oscar moaned, “Oh, I’m all right, just a bit of a headache is all.”
Oscar stood up on his feet and was face to face with Lily, a beautiful meerkat who had eyes that sparkled and a smile that gleamed.
“My name is Oscar. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said as he nervously lifted his top hat and tightened his bow tie. “Would you like to join us on our journey, Miss Lily?”
“I’d love to. It seems I have to seek shelter somewhere anyway since someone crashed into my snow cave without any warning at all,” Lily said with a slight attitude.
As Oscar, Sheila, and their new friend Lily ventured on their quest, they stumbled upon an old wise owl perched on a branch of a tree.
“Excuse me sir,” Oscar asked, “Have you see a young girl wandering about these woods?”
“Princess Fiona of course.” Oscar smiled.
“Hoo?” the owl chirped.
Getting frustrated, Oscar cleared his throat patiently, “Fiona!”
Oscar stomped away from the owl. “You owls are not so wise after all, are you?” he shouted. Starting to lose his composure, he knew walking away would be the polite thing to do.
The owl watched Oscar from his tree, “Hoo?”
“Yoo, of course!” Oscar replied sarcastically.
The castle was longing for the safe return of Oscar and Sheila. Fiona stared outside to the wintery storm with worry for her friends.
After hearing from the guard who had taken them to the mountains, the royal family feared what the cold would do to Oscar and Sheila. Guards were sent in search of Fiona’s pets, the pets that were now family. But they were no match for the blizzard about to strike.
Lilly, Oscar, and Sheila were freezing to the bone and needed to find a place to stay. While wandering around in search of warmth, Oscar bumped into a mailbox reading the name “The Smiths.” Behind the mailbox was a comfortable cabin they could stay in.
Oscar jumped with glee, knowing they had found a warm place to stay for the night.
Sheila knocked on the door of this little cottage, but no one answered. She knocked again, and again, and again. All of the friends decided to go in; they knew they couldn’t stand the cold much longer. The door creaked open and they quietly peered in.
They carefully tip toed inside. Tip toe, tip toe, tip toe. Inside there was a warm crackling fire for them to curl up next to. Across from the fire was a kitchen full of yummy snacks. Oscar stared at all the food waiting to be eaten, his mouth watering in delight. Soon, all of them were starving and had to get just one bite of deliciousness.
“Just one teeny taste!” Sheila said with anxiousness as her tummy rumbled.
“I’m starving,” Lilly moaned.
Oscar, Sheila, and Lilly promised each other to only have one bite of food. Just one bite became a full course meal that could feed an entire kingdom!
Stuffed from the delicious cuisine, the friends snuggled by the fire. Oscar noticed the time: they had to find a way back to the kingdom before midnight to make it to the New Year’s Eve ball.
The mountains were just too big for the guards to find Oscar and Sheila before the New Year. The sun was setting, and the storm was about to come.
When the friends were about to leave the house, they saw the door creak open. They heard footsteps that made the floor squeak. As the footsteps got closer the light switch flicked on.
“Ahh!” A woman shrieked with fright.
The woman grabbed a broom and started whacking at the “rodents.” Luckily, they ran fast enough out the door to not get beaten by the tail end of a broom.
“That was a close one!” Sheila yelped. Oscar and Lily nodded with relief.
The wind and snow were making them shiver. Thankfully, they found another shelter! For the first time, Oscar was excited to see a… trashcan! A trashcan that would keep them from the blaring cold, even though the trashcan might not help Oscar keep in his lunch.
The friends were getting very sleepy—after all it was dark, and they didn’t usually stay up this late. They took a little meer-kat nap, until they awoke to the rustling of the trashcans. Oscar, Sheila, and Lily peered out one by one looking for the cause of the ruckus.
They saw a dark, mischievous shadow all big and bulky. Digging in the trash, was a giant pit bull! They shrieked and ducked their heads back in. The pit bull scampered over to the can where Oscar, Sheila, and Lily were hiding.
The dog flung the can open with his wet drippy nose.
“Hello, there!” the stray dog said with a kind, excited voice as drool went dripping from his mouth onto Lily.
Oscar handed Lily a handkerchief from his back pocket. Lily had a sweet smile, and thanked Oscar for the kind gesture. The kind moment between the two meerkats had ended in fright when they realized they were all alone with the dog.
“I’m Milo!” the pit bull exclaimed with his friendliest voice. “And you are?” Milo asked with a kind face.
Oscar, Sheila, and Lily shrieked in worry trying to find a way to run away as they saw his big mouth full of the sharpest teeth. But Milo wasn’t trying to hurt them; he wanted to make a friend.
“I am not scary, I promise,” Milo exclaimed with a gentle, saddened voice.
As Oscar and Lily were still trembling with fright, Sheila realized they were in no danger. Sheila scampered to the lid of the garbage can and gave him a friendly pat. This big tough dog was no threat, but just a kind gentle pup who wanted to be loved and have a family of his own.
“Let’s go eat some yummy food!” Milo exclaimed. “I know a great place to go!”
Oscar sighed in relief, knowing he wouldn’t be staying in a pile of garbage anymore. They all carefully hopped onto Milo’s back as he showed them the way to food.
Finally, they arrived at the best breakfast restaurant in town that was open all day and night: IHOP! IHOP has pancakes loaded with even more pancakes, one of Oscar’s favorite meals! Inside, it was warm and cozy and filled with lots of people.
The customers seemed a little surprised to see animals walking into the restaurant but gave in to their cuteness. Especially when they practiced the trick Milo taught them, puppy dog eyes! One look and the people couldn’t resist, so they shared little bites of their meal.
Oscar, Sheila, Lily, and Milo were heading out the door after their nice dessert when they spotted a tall tree with long branches all around. Coming down from the tree was a young and playful squirrel. He scampered his fast-little legs across the tree and jumped from branch to branch.
“Hi, I’m Sammy! Sammy the Squirrel,” Sammy said as his tail flung about.
They all greeted their new friend. He was very eager to lead them to the backyard of a small house nearby. In the yard were bird feeders filled with corn and seeds. Sammy the squirrel looked up at the feeder while tapping his little fingers and licking his lips.
Sammy wanted to teach them to steal the bird’s food. The squirrel skillfully climbed up on top of the fence, grabbing handfuls of food and stuffing it in his mouth.
“Do you want some?” Sammy asked while throwing some down at their feet.
The friends thought you’d have to be nuts to steal from a bird.
“We cannot be stealing other’s food!” Oscar exclaimed, “That is not how a polite young squirrel should behave.”
Sammy had a frown on his face, “What am I supposed to eat now?”
Oscar had told them to share with the birds and collect acorns and nuts from the trees he was playing in. The friends told young Sammy the squirrel that sharing is caring and is the mannerly thing to do. Sammy was very thankful to have learned this valuable lesson.
The friends went on their way to find warmth, when they stumbled upon a frozen lake. Without noticing, Lily walked onto the lake. She slipped and fell from the icy ground. Sheila came to help, but she slipped as well! Soon, everyone was on the ice sliding around! They had a very fun time giggling at each other, making jokes about their own special way of ice-skating. Sheila was just glad there were no catfish around!
Lily picked up a piece of snow from the ground, playing with it in her small delicate paw. She threw a snowball onto Oscar’s top hat. Milo saw and threw one onto her.
“Snowball fight!” Sheila shouted with a giggle.
Laughs and smiles were brought about. They made snow angels on top of the glistening snow. A snowman was built that looked like Oscar with its very own top hat and bow tie. For a small moment in time, the friends didn’t even remember they were lost.
While they were all playing, Oscar noticed a random flower popping through the snow. It felt as if it were a miracle, and that he should pick it for Lily as a nice surprise. As he reached down into the bush, a horrid smell came!
“Pee Yew!” he coughed. The friends noticed this awful stench and plugged their noses as best they could. Out of the bush scampered a small skunk.
“I am so very sorry and embarrassed, Mister Meerkat, I feel awful for making such a stink,” Flora the skunk apologized, feeling bad because of her mishap.
“No, dear, don’t be sorry,” he exclaimed while wiping the smell away.
Flora was very ashamed at what she had done with Oscar and all his friends. Unfortunately, when she got nervous this would often happen. Flora was a very gentle young lady in need of friends. She was very smart too, probably because she had a lot of scents!
They promised that whenever the kingdom found them, they would return so they could visit with her as often as possible. Sheila also welcomed Flora to visit the castle whenever she liked. The friends had to say goodbye and keep traveling on their journey to find the royal princess, and to get back to their happy home.
Oscar, Sheila, Milo, and Lily were ready to venture on their way in search of the royal kingdom. It was just hours until the clock would strike midnight and bring in the New Year. After a long day, the friends were exhausted and needed to take a break, especially since their earlier nap was disrupted by Milo. But Milo was all worth it. He was the most kind, fun, outgoing, yet slobbery friend anybody would ever meet.
All of a sudden, gusts of wind were brought from the distance and the snow was blowing hard. The blizzard was coming, and they didn’t have much time. They feared the Kingdom wouldn’t be able to find them…or worse!
The four friends were getting cold and filled with worries. Milo looked down at Oscar, Sheila, and Lily.
“Stay here, I’ll be right back,” he said with great bravery.
Milo ran with all of his might to find the Kingdom. He ran as fast he could through the blistering winds and blowing snow with great courage. He began to hear faint voices that grew louder and louder, and just beyond the trees, Milo could see the Kingdom. He had found them. It’s a good thing too, he thought, because Milo was about to turn into a pupsicle! He ran to King Clarion and his daughter Princess Fiona, barking as loud as he could.
“What is it boy?” King Clarion asked. Milo directed them to where Oscar, Sheila, and Lily were hiding from the cold. Milo ran towards where his friends were, followed by the guards and the whole kingdom. Everyone was running fast with great might through the worsening storm.
Oscar, Sheila, and Lily were hiding behind a large tree to block them from the harsh winds. Sheila jumped with attention when she thought she heard a commotion. Her round mouse ears perked up as she listened with hope. Her smile grew brighter and brighter, realizing it was no ruckus, but the kingdom on their way to rescue them.
Milo led the Royal Family to the tree, and found the poor friends hiding from the winter snow storm. They were being saved! Oscar and Sheila looked up at Fiona with pure joy. The happiness in the young princess’s eyes warmed their hearts. Fiona’s smile made them feel as if it had melted the snow completely off the ground. Happiness was brought to the kingdom with the safe return of Oscar and Sheila, but there was even more to be happy about! Fiona bent down onto her knees, hugging them all.
“How I missed you so much!” she said with a loving voice as she gave each of them a big squeeze, including Milo and Lily, as if they had been part of the family all along.
The Royal Family was on their way back home to the castle when the storm started to settle. The wind calmed down and became a relaxing breeze, as if it were preparing for this moment of wonder. The snow came down softly to the ground. The friends looked up at the stars in delight, remembering it was still New Year’s Eve and the Royal Family had fun plans ahead. There was so much to celebrate.
They all smiled at each other and laughed while they shouted, “Three, two, one! Happy New Year!”
Lily giggled with joy as she kissed Oscar on his cheek. Oscar’s face turned as bright as a rose. Blushing, his face lit up with love. Up in the sky, the castle’s fireworks sparkled throughout the kingdom, shining in the darkness. Memories of the year the family had spent together warmed Oscar’s heart. He felt so very lucky to have all of his great friends by his side. On this first day of a splendid New Year, Oscar realized an important lesson in life: your true friends are the family you choose.