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 2020 Winners Anthology Fueled By Fire here.
“Stinkmutt and Trashcat” by Abbigail Park, River Road/El Camino del Río Elementary School
Honorable Mention, Elementary Level, 2020
Stinkmutt and Trashcat
By Abbigail Park
River Road/El Camino del Río Elementary School
Chapter One: The Rat in the Trashcan
One warm summer night, Stinkmutt and Trashcat—a husky and a white cat—were outside their farm in Vermont raiding the trashcan, when they met a rat who said he had traveled all over the U.S. Stinkmutt and Trashcat asked him where there was the most garbage, and he said it was New York City. Then they asked him what the fastest way to get there was.
“There is a garbage truck leaving in the morning. If you get in the trashcan at 7:00 am, you will be dumped into the garbage truck,” said the rat. So at 6:56 the next morning, Stinkmutt and Trashcat got into the garbage can. A few minutes later, they were dumped into the garbage truck.
Stinkmutt and Trashcat liked it in the garbage truck. It was full of garbage to go through. They were also very excited. Stinkmutt could not stop imagining streets with heaps of garbage on them, and Trashcat could not help but think about streets lined with garbage cans overflowing with banana peels, old snack bags, and old soda cans. Then the truck came to a stop.
Chapter Two: New York City
Stinkmutt and Trashcat quickly got out of the truck and onto the street. There were not heaps of garbage like Stinkmutt had imagined. It was more like Trashcat was thinking, except there were not quite as many trashcans as he had been imagining. Trashcat was looking around at the tall buildings and Stinkmutt was looking for the biggest trashcan. Then Stinkmutt saw a person come out of a subway station.
“Hey, Trashcat,” said Stinkmutt. “Let’s go see what is down those stairs.”
“Ok,” said Trashcat. “Let’s go!”
They went down the stairs into the subway station. When they got into the subway station, Stinkmutt saw some garbage on the tracks so he and Trashcat went to check it out. Then Stinkmutt heard the sound of a train. He looked down the tunnel and saw a subway speeding toward them.
“Trashcat, we need to get out of here!” said Stinkmutt.
“Why!?” said Trashcat.
“Because look down the tunnel, Trashcat!!!” Stinkmutt yelled.
“OH, NO!!!!!” screamed Trashcat, “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?!?!”
“I have literally no idea!!!”
“We are going to get hit by the train!!!” yelled Trashcat.
“Wait!” said Stinkmutt, “I have an idea! There is a lever right there. If we pull it, then the train will be sent in a different direction!”
“It’s worth a try,” said Trashcat. Stinkmutt pulled the lever, and the train was sent in a different direction.
“We did it!!!” they shouted together. They quickly got off the tracks and climbed the stairs to the street.
“That was a close one,” said Trashcat.
“Very close,” agreed Stinkmutt.
Chapter Three: Tom the Dogcatcher
It was nighttime; the sky was dark, but the streets were lit from the lights of the buildings as Stinkmutt and Trashcat went through the garbage. Then all of a sudden, a man came running down the street.
“Who are you?” asked Stinkmutt.
“I am Tom, Tom the dogcatcher, and you are under arrest,” he said importantly.
“Why?” asked Stinkmutt.
“Because you are on the street without an owner.”
“So?” said Trashcat.
“It is not allowed in New York, and you are under arrest. Now come with me.”
“Not likely!” said Stinkmutt. He and Trashcat ran.
“Get back here this instant!” shouted Tom.
“Do you really think we are going to stop?” yelled Stinkmutt.
“Well, no. But just stop!” said Tom. “Stop in the name of the law! I SAID STOP IN THE NAME OF THE LAW, AND THAT MEANS YOU NEED TO STOP!!!” But they were already gone, and several people were looking out their windows at Tom.
“WHAT?!” he yelled “I AM A DOGCATCHER AND I AM DOING MY JOB!!!”
“Dogs do not talk to people or understand them!” shouted one person.
“Yeah!” said someone else.
Chapter Four: Central Park
Stinkmutt and Trashcat ran and ran, turning onto new streets or alleys every few minutes. They eventually stopped running and looked all around to make sure Tom was not sneaking up on them. Then Trashcat looked down the street and saw what looked like a forest in the middle of the city.
“Hey, Stinkmutt, look at that forest.”
“We could spend the night there. If Tom is still following us, he could not find us in there. It looks very big,” said Trashcat.
Stinkmutt and Trashcat ran down the street to the forest. When they got to the forest, they saw a sign that said CENTRAL PARK.
“That forest is called Central Park,” said Stinkmutt.
“Cool,” said Trashcat.
They followed a path that led them into Central Park. The park was very dark and a little creepy. Stinkmutt and Trashcat stayed very close together on the path. After a while they saw a big lake and went over to it. They were very thirsty from running so much. After drinking from the lake, they went back to the path and kept walking. Soon they saw a nice clearing in the woods that was surrounded by some big rocks.
“Let’s spend the night here,” said Trashcat.
“Okay,” said Stinkmutt. They went to the center of the clearing and lay down, but they could not sleep; they had so much on their minds. All of a sudden, they saw a big shadow in the trees.
“Oh, no,” said Trashcat.
“Who is there?!” said Stinkmutt. “Are you friends or foes?”
“It is ok,” said a voice. “We are friends.” A dog and a cat emerged from the trees.
“Oh!” said Trashcat. “I’m so sorry. You scared me for a minute.”
“It is ok,” said the dog. “My name is Olivia.”
“It’s nice to meet you Olivia. My name is Trashcat.”
“And I’m Stinkmutt.”
“Nice to meet you, Stinkmutt and Trashcat,” said Olivia. The cat, who was fluffy and white, walked up to Stinkmutt and Trashcat.
“My name is Snowy,” said the cat. “It is nice to meet you.”
“So why are you hiding out in the forest?” asked Olivia.
“We are visiting from Vermont and are hiding from a dogcatcher named Tom.” Stinkmutt explained.
“The dogcatcher’s name is Tom?” Snowy asked.
“Yeah. Why? Do you know him?” asked Trashcat.
“Oh, we know Tom all right,” said Olivia.
“How do you know him?” asked Stinkmutt.
“We were walking down the street, and he came up and tried to arrest us because we didn’t have an owner, which is NOT a rule by the way,” said Snowy.
“Ha ha! That’s pretty much what he did to us,” said Trashcat. Olivia and Snowy showed them how to make a fire by rubbing sticks or rocks together, and then they all went to sleep.
Chapter Five: The Statue of Liberty
Stinkmutt and Trashcat woke up the next day and walked around Central Park with Snowy and Olivia. It was a very warm and sunny day, so they decided to splash around in one of the lakes in the park. Then they snuck into a bagel shop before it opened and stole some bagels.
“These are the best bagels I’ve ever had!” exclaimed Stinkmutt.
“New York is known for its bagels,” said Olivia.
“Oh! Olivia, we should show them the Statue of Liberty!” said Snowy.
“Oh, yeah. Good idea!” said Olivia.
“I would LOVE to see the Statue of Liberty!” said Trashcat.
“We would not just see it, you can go to the top of it,” said Snowy.
“What’s the Statue of Liberty?” asked Stinkmutt.
“Come ON, Stinkmutt. You have never heard of the Statue of Liberty? You MUST have,” said Trashcat.
“Well I’ve HEARD of it. I just don’t know what it is.”
“We’ll show you, come on!” said Snowy.
“How will we get there?” asked Trashcat.
“We’ll show you that, too!” said Snowy.
“Wait!” said Olivia. “I need to get the rope!”
“Oh, yeah! Hurry up!” said Snowy. Olivia went to the side of the bagel shop and got a rope from behind one of the trashcans.
“Why do we need rope?” asked Stinkmutt.
“You will see,” said Olivia.
They all started walking down the street. After a half an hour or so, they reached Battery Park where there were people boarding ferryboats.
“This way,” Olivia whispered. She led the others through the crowd of people to one of the ferries.
“All right, Snowy, you know what to do,” said Olivia. Snowy took the rope in her mouth, climbed up the side of the boat, and tied the rope to the handrail that was on top of the boat.
“Got it!” Snowy called.
“Okay, now follow me and do exactly what I do,” said Olivia. She climbed up the rope to the top of the boat, and Stinkmutt and Trashcat followed.
“That was cool,” said Trashcat.
“It took us about ten tries to figure it out,” said Snowy. Then the boat started to move.
“I’m so excited!” said Trashcat.
“Me, too!” Stinkmutt said.
“Look! There it is!” Olivia exclaimed.
“Oh, THAT’S the Statue of Liberty? Yeah, I’ve seen pictures of it. I mean who hasn’t?!” said Stinkmutt.
Trashcat rolled his eyes.
After ten minutes or so, they got to Liberty Island.
“Now, let’s climb down this rope,” said Olivia.
Stinkmutt, Trashcat, and Olivia climbed down the rope, then Snowy untied the rope and jumped down.
“Wow, what a great view!” exclaimed Trashcat.
“It is even better from the top,” said Snowy.
They walked around the island for a few more minutes and then found some trees to hang out by.
“So what is our plan?” asked Trashcat.
“We’ll wait around here for a few hours. At six o’clock they close and lock the doors, so around five-fifty, we’ll go inside and hang out in there until everyone leaves and then go up,” said Olivia.
“All right,” said Stinkmutt. “Sounds good.”
It was already four-forty; they only had an hour and twenty minutes until six o’clock. They lay down and talked for a while. Then at five-fifty, they made their way over to the statue. They found the door and went inside the base of the statue. The inside was a small museum; there were models and pictures of how the statue was built.
“Over here,” said Snowy. She led them over to one of the tables that was covered with a light blue cloth. Snowy crawled under the table and the others followed.
“What time is it?” asked Trashcat. Olivia poked her head out from under the table.
“Six o’clock,” she responded. They heard a soft click as the door shut, and the turning of a key as the last person exited the building. They got out quickly and climbed up the stairs. When they reached the top of the base, they took another much narrower, steeper, longer, and winding staircase to the top. When they reached the top, they all gasped; the view was breath-taking. They could see the whole city.
“It’s beautiful,” said Trashcat.
“It really is,” Stinkmutt agreed.
“We have been up here many times, and it always looks more spectacular every time,” said Olivia.
“Wow,” said Snowy.
They stayed up there for a few more minutes then headed down.
Chapter Seven: The Brooklyn Bridge
The next day they got on the ferry and rode back to land, and then walked around for a little while. Then Stinkmutt saw a very big bridge
“Hey,” said Stinkmutt. “Do you see that big bridge?”
“Yeah,” said Snowy.
They walked down the street to the bridge. Stinkmutt saw a sign pointing to the bridge; it said THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE.
“Hey,” said Stinkmutt. “That bridge is called the ‘Brookleen’ Bridge.”
“It is pronounced ‘Brooklin,’” said Olivia.
“Oh yeah. But then why does it have a ‘y’ in it?”
“The English language is crazy,” Olivia said.
They walked down the street a little bit farther and up on the bridge.
“I wonder why there are so many bike locks on the bridge,” said Stinkmutt.
“They are called love locks,” Olivia explained. “If someone is in love, they will put a lock on the bridge.” Then they walked across the bridge.
Chapter Eight: The Dogcatcher’s Revenge
When they reached the other side of the bridge, they saw a sign that said, “You are now entering Brooklyn.”
“So we are in a different city?” asked Stinkmutt.
“No,” said Snowy. “We are just in a different part of New York. The city is broken up into five parts: Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. The parts are called boroughs.”
“Wow,” said Stinkmutt.
“Oh, no,” said Snowy.
“What?” asked Olivia.
“It’s Tom!” Tom the dogcatcher was running down the street towards them, but this time he had five other dogcatchers with him.
“Run!” yelled Stinkmutt. They ran and ran. Then they came to a bridge with some empty trashcans under it.
“Let’s hide in those trashcans!” said Trashcat. They hid in the trashcans. Thankfully the dogcatchers had not seen them hide and ran past. They stayed in the trashcans for a few minutes to make sure they were safe and then climbed out.
“You know,” said Trashcat, “I am getting kind of tired of New York.”
“Where should we go next?” asked Stinkmutt.
“I know,” said Trashcat, “Let’s go to Oregon.”