The Kalahari Queen

This is a story of three meerkats who are taken away from the Kalahari and sent to a zoo, and of how they must find a way back home, where they meet a new challenge.

It was a warm, beautiful day in the Kalahari. Sethunya (Seth-uun-ya) Avalokishavra (Ava-lo-ki-shav-ra) was leading her family to a Meerkat feast that was about to start. The feast was to congratulate her and her husband, Faraji (Fair-ah-ji), on their fifth year of being the King and Queen of the Kalahari. None of the past Leaders had been King or Queen that long and yet Sethunya and Faraji had. All of the others had either been overthrown, or one of them would die, and all the Meerkats knew that once one of the Leaders died, the other would also lose Leadership. That made Sethunya and Faraji special.

          As Sethunya and Faraji got to where the feast would be held, their two sons and daughter began to get ready. There was Sethunya and Faraji’s oldest son, Benvolio (Ben-vo-lee-o), who was three years old. There was Sethunya and Faraji’s daughter, Shasmecka (Shas-meck-ah), who had just turned three. And last was Sethunya and Faraji’s youngest son, Amiri (Ah-mi-ree), who was still one year old. Benvolio and Shasmecka had both finished their Survival schooling, but Amiri still had one more year of Survival school to go before he passed.

          As the two Leaders got to the Feast, Meerkats from all over the Kalahari also began to arrive. The location for the feast was in the middle of the plains that had a river flowing right through it. It was the perfect location, and Sethunya and Faraji were proud that it was being held here. This was the place where they first met each other and where their Leadership started.

          As all the Meerkats greeted Sethunya and Faraji, their children were also having a good time. Benvolio, who was widely known for his gentleman personality and the fact that he was in line to become the next Kalahari King, was greeted by many of the Meerkats his age that wanted to get to know him better and know what it was like to be in line to become Kalahari King. Many female Meerkats greeted Shasmecka, who was known for her caring and compassionate personality. Amiri, who was only known for being the youngest of Sethunya and Faraji’s children, mostly played around with other yearlings.

          Shasmecka noticed her younger brother’s impish behavior and immediately went up to him. “Amiri you know you are not to act like this, you need to be well-mannered and not playing around like a three-week-old Pup.” Amiri knew that, he knew he wasn’t to act as he was.

“I know Shas, but you are getting more attention than me. Ben is getting more attention. He will one day rule the Kalahari and you, well, you will certainly get some sort of ruling,” Amiri replied. Shasmecka knew how her brother was with this subject. Everyone knew that once her parents Leadership was over that Benvolio, being the oldest, would rule over the Kalahari. She most likely would get some type of ruling, too. Amiri though, it was a different matter.

“Well I know that when Ben becomes the Kalahari King, he will make sure that you are not left out. Right?” Shasmecka told her younger brother.

“Right,” Amiri smiled.

          Later Shasmecka soon departed from the never-ending crowd to get some peace. She soon saw that she wasn’t alone. A young male, whose name was Tupac (Too-pack) Timotheus (Tim-o-thee-us), had also chosen the same location that she was hiding in to get away from the crowd. Noticing he had company he quickly introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Tupac Timotheus.” Tupac said holding up his paw to shake Shasmecka’s paw.

“Hi, I’m Shasmecka Avalokishavra,” Shasmecka greeted, shaking Tupac’s paw.

“Really? You are Princess Shasmecka, Queen Sethunya and King Faraji’s daughter?” Tupac asked getting excited, as he never seen any of Queen Sethunya’s family up close.

“Yes,” Shasmecka replied. Tupac and Shasmecka spent the rest of the time, before the feasting started, talking to each other. Shasmecka told Tupac about what it was like to be a Princess. Tupac told Shasmecka about his life, and it turned out that he was a Messenger in the South Kingdom. Shasmecka and Tupac continued to talk, obviously enjoying their conversations, up till the feast was about to begin.    

Everyone found a comfortable place to sit and soon it was silent. Kgosi (Kay-go-cee), the former Kalahari King, spoke in his loud voice. “Today marks the fifth year of Sethunya and Faraji’s Leadership which, like you know, only happened once in Meerkat History, during the first Meerkat Reign. We had some great Leaders, but only once did we a King and Queen for as long as Sethunya and Faraji. They had been through many types of hindrance, and yet they were able to lead us and raise their Family,” he glanced at Benvolio, Shasmecka, and Amiri. Then looking at Sethunya and Faraji he said, “Happy Fifth year of being the Kalahari King and Queen.” At that all of the Meerkats applauded.

          After the short speech given by Kgosi, the Meerkats went to the food log. While the log was crowded some of the Meerkats went to congratulate Sethunya and Faraji. Kgosi also got attention from the crowd. Although he wasn’t the Kalahari King anymore, he still got more attention than subordinates.

          Kgosi and his mate, Thema (Them-ah), led the Kalahari Meerkats for a little over three years. Sadly, a Martial Eagle killed Thema, which ended Kgosi’s Leadership. That was when his daughter, Sethunya, became the Kalahari Queen along with her mate, Faraji Varachan (Vair-ah-chan). His name was changed to Faraji Avalokishavra after he married Sethunya, however, since the Avalokishavra Family was the origin of the first Kalahari King and Queen.

          Amiri was doing his best to keep “well-mannered” after the short talk Shasmecka had given to him. He loved his sister and brother and wanted to do his best to become like them, but it was hard. He often stole food from others when they weren’t looking and played very rough with them. Benvolio and Shasmecka were the absolute opposite. They never stole food from others and made it their responsibility to make sure others were safe.

          To keep out of trouble Amiri decided to join a small group of young juveniles to see what they were talking about. “Did you here about that one Meerkat? I think his name was Ekwueme, but anyway I heard that he has been wanting to become the Kalahari King,” one of the juvenile’s whispered.

“Ekuuami?” One of the Meerkats asked.

“No, Ek-wu-eh-mee.” The first Meerkat answered.

“Well everyone knows that he, like most of us, can’t become King. Queen Sethunya and King Faraji are the Leaders, and even once they lose Leadership, he wouldn’t become King. Queen Sethunya and King Faraji’s son Benvolio will become King along with his mate. And even if something happened to Benvolio or his mate there is still Shasmecka and Amiri,” another juvenile said. Amiri eagerly listened while the juveniles talked.

“Wait till I tell Ben and Shas!” Amiri thought.

Benvolio was finishing up his meal when Amiri him. “Hey Ben, do you know who Ekwueme is?” Amiri asked his brother.

“Nay, I know not that name,” Benvolio answered, than swallowed down the last bit of the scorpion he was eating. He always spoke Old Meerkat for some reason, although not quite as strong as the actual language since he lived among non-old English speaking Meerkats.

“Well I heard that he is planning to become the Kalahari King,” Amiri whispered to Benvolio.

“Tush, tush. Ne’r.” Benvolio replied.

“Are you sure, Ben?” Amiri asked, a bit uncertain.

 “Aye,” Benvolio answered. Amiri was still uncertain, but trusted his older brother and went off to eat the before it was gone.

After the feast Sethunya, Faraji, Benvolio, Shasmecka, and Amiri headed back to their Burrow. They were tired after all the events and were eager to get back. Shasmecka had told her parents about Tupac and they allowed her to soon meet him again. Benvolio wasn’t much of a ladies man, but he did enjoy talking to the other three-year-olds there, although half the time they had no idea what he was talking about. Amiri had fun eavesdropping into other Meerkats conversations.

          Upon reaching their Burrow, Faraji went below ground to check the Burrow, in case a snake or another unwelcome animal was inside. Amiri decided to join his Father in the Burrow check.

          Above ground Sethunya, Benvolio, and Shasmecka patiently waited for the two Meerkats to appear. Benvolio was doing Sentry, to make sure that no aerial predators attacked. But he suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if he was being watched. He spun his head around and back, checking for what the cause of his nervousness came from. Sethunya and Shasmecka soon noticed Benvolio’s nervous position and crawled up to him. “Anything wrong, son?” Sethunya asked.

“I know not,” Benvolio replied, still checking the area. Sethunya stood up along side him and scanned the area, too. Soon the fur on her back, shot up. She could smell someone, or something, and it made her nervous.

          Shasmecka stood nearby. She also was nervous and she knew something was wrong. Then out of nowhere, Sethunya felt something stab her on her side. She jumped as it shot her. Before Benvolio and Shasmecka could do anything they felt something stab them on their sides. They were startled and ran around nervously.         

          Sethunya soon felt tired and exhausted. She began to stagger around, and eventually she lay down. Then she fell asleep.

Sethunya woke up. For a second she forgot what happened, but she quickly remembered. She, Benvolio, and Shasmecka were waiting for Faraji and Amiri to appear out of the Burrow. They soon felt that something was wrong and then…she was hit. Sethunya jumped to her feet. She looked around. She was in a Burrow of some sort. Benvolio and Shasmecka were asleep right next to her.

“Where’s Faraji and Amiri?” Sethunya thought. She saw an entrance and crawled out. The surface was unusually close to the Sleeping Chamber in the Burrow. Then she looked around. This wasn’t her Burrow, and this wasn’t her home. It didn’t even look quite like the Kalahari. “Am I dreaming?” Sethunya asked out loud. Then she heard noises behind her. She spun around and was confronted with a strange looking animal.

          Sethunya stared confused at the animal before it moved. She bolted back to the Burrow. “I must be dreaming,” she told herself. Below in the Sleeping Chamber, Benvolio and Shasmecka were still asleep. Sethunya nudged them with her nose to wake them up. Slowly both Benvolio and Shasmecka woke up. For a second they just yawned and stretched. Then Shasmecka stared around.

“Where are we?” she asked Sethunya.

“Odd,” Sethunya thought, “This is a weird dream. Even Shasmecka doesn’t know where we are.” Benvolio stared around.

“Dost thou knowest this place?” he asked Sethunya.

“I’m dreaming, this is just a dream,” Sethunya told herself, ignoring Shasmecka and Benvolio’s questions.

“Mother your not dreaming, because if you were we would all be dreaming the same thing,” Shasmecka told Sethunya.

“But this has to be a dream! I don’t recognize this Burrow or this place, and there is a strange animal outside,” Sethunya replied.          

        Benvolio and Shasmecka stared at Sethunya confused before Benvolio then Shasmecka crawled up the Burrow entrance. Not wanting to be alone, Sethunya followed. She and Benvolio and Shasmecka cautiously got out of the Burrow. Sethunya was right; the area wasn’t familiar to Benvolio or Shasmecka. Benvolio saw a broken branch and scurried toward it. He climbed it and scanned the area. Shasmecka and Sethunya went to where Sethunya had confronted the strange animal. While Sethunya stopped upon getting to the exact area she was at when she spotted the animal, Shasmecka kept going. Shasmecka continued to crawl over, and then she felt herself slam into something. She backed up. Sethunya went over to her. Shasmecka continued to stare.

“What was it I bumped into?” Shasmecka thought. Sethunya crawled up cautiously to where Shasmecka had bumped into something. She soon slammed into something, too.

Sethunya and Shasmecka stared at the mysterious, invisible obstacle that blocked their path. Benvolio had watched the two as they bumped into the invisible obstacle and was also confused. Soon as he looked through the mysterious opening in the vicinity he saw an animal of some sort, watching Sethunya and Shasmecka with interest. 

“Danger! Danger! Danger!” Benvolio barked. Immediately Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Benvolio ran to the Burrow.

“What did you see?” Shasmecka asked Benvolio.

“I know not,” Benvolio answered. He soon crawled out of the Burrow and, cautiously, scanned the area. He could still see the animal and this time there were four. “Make your leave! Go aroint!” Benvolio shouted to the strange creatures. The animals just stood there, watching him. They made odd noises to each other and tapped on the invisible wall. After awhile, Benvolio called out, “Come hither.” Sethunya and Shasmecka nervously came out.  

          Unknowingly Shasmecka, Benvolio, and Shasmecka had been sent to a new zoo in Miami, Florida. They had been tranquillized and capture by humans in the Kalahari, then were sent to Miami to be put in the new zoo. Faraji and Amiri were still in the Kalahari, waiting for the three to return. The two didn’t know whether they would ever see the rest of their family ever again.

It had been two weeks since Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Benvolio had been sent to The Miami Florida Zoo. It had been two weeks since Faraji and Amiri had seen their family. And it had been two weeks since the Kalahari had “lost” its Kalahari Queen, which led to its lost of the Kalahari King, Faraji.

          Sethunya laid on the sand in her new home. For the first few days upon coming to this strange place, she, Benvolio, and Shasmecka were terrified of the “animals” on the other side of the invisible wall. Now they, for the most part, ignored them.

          Their new home was also much, much smaller than their old home. They had only one Burrow and no Boltholes. There were a couple of fallen branches in their home as well, but no trees or bushes. And since coming here they haven’t seen another Meerkat. They also haven’t seen any predators. No snakes, birds, or jackals. They would dig in the sand to find some food, but the majority of the food they got was from the “animals” that came through an odd opening in the wall. When no one is coming in or out of it, it looks just like a part of the Kalahari environment. But when an “animal” was coming through it, it would open. Then the “animals” would toss some scorpions, beetles, mice, larva, and other food items.

          That was how it was all day. The “animals” would come and watch them behind the invisible wall, and then the “animals” would feed them, then bedtime. A very simple day.

          Benvolio continued to do Sentry even though they haven’t seen a predator in a week. He was often like that. He never took chances when it came to his family’s survival. Shasmecka would occasionally join him, but not as often. Sethunya was often under the same fallen branch everyday. She missed Faraji so much. They had been together for five years, and now she didn’t know whether she would ever see him again.

              Thousands of miles away in the Kalahari Desert someone else was wondering. Faraji hadn’t seen or heard from Sethunya for a week and he was beginning to worry. Since meeting each other, over five years ago, they had never been apart. They always thought that they would stick by each other to the end. And now he found himself without her. He had no idea whether she was alive or dead.

          Amiri was also missing his family. He no longer had Benvolio to talk to, or Shasmecka to comfort him. He did occasionally get jealous of them since they got the majority of attention, but he still loved them. He remembered when they were younger the games they would play. They would pretend that they were lost in the middle of nowhere, and how they always would get back home. Now though, he wasn’t sure whether his siblings would come home.

           Sethunya munched on the larva a Men had given her. She had been listening to the way the “animals” talked and she noticed that some of them would call the others “men”. So now she decided that, that was what they were called…Men. Shasmecka and Benvolio were finishing up their meals and decided to check out the Men.

          Benvolio realized that if the Men came almost every day just to watch them eat, sleep, and do Sentry, then if he did something different, he would get a reaction.

          Benvolio cautiously crawled till he was several feet from the Invisible Wall. They Men stared at him. Benvolio pretended that they were a rival group of Meerkats and did a War Dance toward them. The Men stepped back a few feet making excited noises. Benvolio was also getting a bit excited and tried it again. The Men didn’t back up this time but they continued to make excited sounds.

          Shasmecka decided to try it out as well. “Hey, Ben, can I play whatever game it is that your playing?” Shasmecka asked Benvolio.

“War Dance. They thinks most splendid!” Benvolio answered. Shasmecka crawled up a few feet from the Invisible Wall, and then did a War Dance right toward them. The People seemed to be thrilled. So for the rest of the day, Benvolio and Shasmecka played what they decided to name “War Dance”, with the People. Sethunya watched them, but never joined them.

          Shasmecka and Benvolio knew that their Mother missed Faraji dearly, but they still couldn’t figure out why she acted like this. Sethunya was missing Faraji, but that was only one reason why she wasn’t acting normal. She was thinking of whether or not she should escape this weird place, or stay.

Soon it reached their first month away from home. Benvolio and Shasmecka were getting worried about their Mother. She spent half of her day under the same tree branch with a solemn look. The other half she spent staring at the Odd Opening in the “background”. The Men who came through the Odd Opening would occasionally watch her as if they were worried, too. Shasmecka and Benvolio didn’t know whether Men had those types of feelings or not, but they did know that Men did have some type of emotion.

Benvolio and Shasmecka lied on the sand doing nothing. That day none of the Men behind the Invisible Wall had come, which meant that Shasmecka and Benvolio couldn’t play “War Dance”, making the day seem longer and more boring. Around afternoon, the Men came through the Odd Opening. They have earned Sethunya, Benvolio, and Shasmecka’s trust so none of the Meerkats flew for cover at the sight of them. In fact, Benvolio and Shasmecka were more excited than scared. They quickly bounded up to the Men. Sethunya came out of her normal post to meet the Men. They often came in to give them a meal, but this wasn’t the normal time that they came in. It was a bit too early. Sethunya knew that something was going on, and she was right. Upon coming in the Men put on some sort of smelly material on each Meerkat; then they left.

“What was that for?” Shasmecka asked, but didn’t get a reply. A few minutes later, the Men came through the Odd Opening again and quickly shut it. Benvolio noticed that one of them had something in their paws. After talking to the other Men for a while, he laid it on the sand. Curiosity drew Sethunya closer.

          Then Sethunya smelled something. It smelled familiar, but there was another smell mixed along with it that confused her. That moment one of the Men reached down and pulled off something that was covering the mysterious object. Sethunya could now here a familiar noise. Slowly, a Men opened up one of the sides of the object and a Meerkat came out. It had been over a month since Sethunya had seen another Meerkat other then Benvolio and Shasmecka. The Meerkat stared at them for a while. It was just as nervous as Sethunya.

          After a bit of staring, Benvolio crawled over to the Meerkat. It backed up. This time Sethunya crawled up to the Meerkat. She soon got close enough to sniff it. It smelled just like her, so she knew she must have known him from somewhere. The Meerkat sniffed her back.

“Do I know you?” Sethunya asked.

“I don’t think so, I’m Sam,” he replied, “Who are you?”

“I’m Sethunya Avalokishavra, Kalahari Queen,” Sethunya answered.

“Sethunya Avalo---…lo---,” Sam said, trying to figure out how Sethunya’s last name was pronounced.

“Avalokishavra.” Sethunya said. Seeing that the Meerkats were getting along, the Men went back through the Odd Opening and shut it.

          “So your name is Sam?” Sethunya recalled.

“Yeah, the zookeepers call me Sam after a character from some movie, but I’m not sure which one since there are several movies with a Sam,” Sam replied, “All of my littermates were also given TV character names from movies. Their names are Jack, Charlotte, Tim, Claire, and Charlie.” Sethunya, Benvolio, and Shasmecka were confused by what Sam was talking about. What is a zookeeper, movie, or TV?

“What?” Shasmecka asked.

“Well humans like to give us names,” Sam replied.

“No, I mean. What is a zookeeper or TV?” Shasmecka asked. Sam looked confused, but only for a second.

“Ohh! You weren’t born in captivity were you?” Sam asked, quite sure they must be wild.

“Nay,” Benvolio answered. Sam was a bit confused by Benvolio’s odd way of saying “no” but he ignored it.

“OK then, I’ll tell you what a zookeeper, movie, and TV are. Well, I might as well tell you guys a little more about me and here in the city,” Sam replied.

          “First off, you know my name is Sam. I don’t know who my parents were, but I do know who my littermates were. All of my life I had spent in zoos or in an animal day care center. A day care center is where animals or humans go to be looked after. Zookeepers are those “animals” who walk on their two back feet and who don’t have fur all over their body. But anyways, my siblings and I were named after TV characters, and a TV is like this big box that has a picture inside it. You can watch what someone else is doing from on the other side of Earth! Like I said all my siblings and I were named after characters and soon you guys will get to meet them, or at least some of them. Claire, Tim, and Charlie were sent away to other zoos. So you will only get to meet Jack and Charlotte, but don’t worry, I think you will like them. The zookeepers who looked after my siblings and I from the other zoo were called Savanna and Harry. They took care of us as if they were our parents. So I kind of miss them, but we had our goodbyes and they said they might visit us someday. The zoo I was born in is the Indianapolis Zoo…”

          Sam continued to talk for well over two hours, talking about his life and about humans. Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Benvolio listened closely to every word that Sam said. They learned that the Invisible Wall was actually called Glass, and that the Odd Opening was a secret Door that led from the Meerkat room to the room right next door. They learned about cars as well as zoos, humans, buildings, lights, sinks and bathtubs, movies, dogs and other animals, cities, and a ton of other stuff that they never heard of before.

          A few hours later, Charlotte and Jack were brought over by the Zookeepers. They were just as friendly as Sam and also knew nothing about wild Meerkats. Sethunya found herself telling them all about the Kalahari and how things go about there. She talked about being Kalahari Queen and about Faraji and Amiri, sentries, and everything else she could think of. Benvolio found a particular interest in Jack and Sam, probley cause they were males. Shasmecka enjoyed being with Charlotte, being both females. Sethunya didn’t find herself attached to either Meerkats. Sam and Jack enjoyed talking to Benvolio, and Charlotte was having fun talking to Shasmecka. She soon returned to her post under the tree branch.

“I wish you were here, Faraji,” she whispered.

          Faraji sat under the sky, missing Sethunya more than ever. Amiri was talking to the other Meerkats about the problem of himself being, now, the only heir to Sethunya.

“I can never, not even in a million winters, become the Kalahari King!” Amiri explained. “I was never good enough for something like this! I will be horrible at it! And I haven’t even congratulated from Survival School!” Amiri continued to explain to the Meerkats.

“But you have to, you are the only heir to Sethunya, and Faraji can’t be Kalahari King without Sethunya,” the Meerkats informed. Faraji wasn’t paying any attention to the talking, he could only think about Sethunya.

“Sethunya,” he kept thinking. “Sethunya.”

          Back in the Miami Zoo, Sethunya was still at her post under the tree branch. She was thinking about Faraji when she suddenly remembered her question earlier. She got up and walked up to Sam and asked, “Why is it that I don’t know you, yet, you smell just like me?”

“That is because the zookeepers put a different smell than your normal smell on you guys. They did the same to us so that we would all smell the same, and you guys would accept us,” Sam answered. Sethunya nodded in understanding although she still was a little confused. How did humans know the Meerkat Rules?

          Weeks went by quickly. Sethunya had decided to make a change in her normal daily pattern and went up to the Glass. She tapped, with her paw, on the Glass to see if it was as tough as she thought. She couldn’t break it so her plan to escape was going to need a different approach. She went up to the door and tapped on it. It was just as hard, but she knew that somehow it could open. She looked up and saw the door handle. It was too high to reach. She could wait for the Zookeepers to open it, but then they would catch them. Or she could get some sort of stool and stand on it and open it. But what could she use as a stool? Then she looked at her tree branch, and a smile appeared on her face. 

“What! We can’t leave!” Shasmecka and Benvolio protested. Sethunya had told them her plan on how they could escape.

“But we have to, we need to get back home to the Kalahari.” Sethunya said.

“It is too dangerous Seth. Even if you did managed to get out of the zoo, you will surely be killed once out. There snakes, birds, cars, dogs, cats, and of course humans,” Jack warned Sethunya, but she remained unstirred.

“I’ve made up my mind, and I bet I can make it past those obstacles. In the Kalahari we have snakes, birds, and all sorts of predators, and I’m alive.” Sethunya said.

“It’s different here. You never been outside the zoo… well, not awake that is,” Sam said.

“Mother, we should just stay here. There are no predators, rivals, and no competition from other Meerkats!” Shasmecka reminded Sethunya.

          It was obvious to Sethunya that her son and daughter were not quite as desperate to return. She was going to leave the Zoo to get back home, but she wanted her children to come along, too. She thought that they would be so excited, not so upset.

“Well I just have to convince them to come,” Sethunya thought.

          Later that day, Sethunya crawled over to where Benvolio was. He and Jack and Sam were talking about Movies, as well as saying different lines from them.

“Uh, can you excuse us, please?” Sethunya politely asked Jack and Sam. They looked confused but nodded and went off in the opposite direction. Benvolio watched them for a while before turning his attention to Sethunya, who he could clearly tell was still depressed. Whether or not it was still about his Father he couldn’t be sure.

          How is it that the clouds still hang on you?” Benvolio asked. Sethunya looked slightly confused before saying, ignoring Benvolio’s question,

“Do you remember what it was like back home? Do you remember how you and Amiri used to play together and you and Shas would always teach him how he should behave and all?” Sethunya asked Benvolio. Benvolio nodded as he slowly began to remember. “Well don’t you want to go back home? So that you can be with Amiri again,” Sethunya said to her son. Benvolio now knew why Sethunya wanted to talk to him. She wanted him to come with her when she left to go back to the Kalahari.

          “Tis most splendid but nay.” Benvolio told Sethunya. Sethunya sighed and went to try to convince Shasmecka.

          Shasmecka wasn’t any better. She reminded Sethunya about the hazards they could face. Sethunya didn’t understand. She was sure that she could convince Shasmecka and Benvolio to come. She was obviously wrong.

I guess I’m going to have to go home alone,” Sethunya thought to herself.

          The next morning she decided that it was time. The humans were to come feed them soon and she wanted to make sure that she ate before putting her plan to work. The humans eventually arrived and gave each Meerkat a generous portion.

          Sethunya ate her food away from the others. She was upset that they didn’t want to come with her. She also wanted to be alone while she decided what and when the best time to leave was. She was going to leave today but when?

          Benvolio watched his mother eat her food in a solemn mood. He knew that she wanted him and Shasmecka to come with her, but he didn’t know that she was still going to leave.

“I will see thee anon,” Benvolio said to his friends and then headed toward Sethunya. He knew that she was really just upset, but she must miss Father, too.

          “How fare thee, Mother?” Benvolio asked Sethunya. Sethunya nodded even though she wasn’t. Benvolio knew she was lying so he stayed. Then, as one of those rare moments in his life, he spoke in plain Meerkat. “Mother, I know your upset that Shasmecka and I don’t won’t to go with you back to the Kalahari, but I think you’re also missing Father,” Benvolio told Sethunya. Sethunya was surprised that he actually spoke in plain Meerkat, but she nodded and this time she was honest.

“I need to get back…I didn’t get to say goodbye,” Sethunya said forlornly.

“Well just saying goodbye isn’t sufficient, remembering that person, or as in this case Meerkat…is what really matters,” Benvolio told Sethunya. Sethunya knew that Benvolio was good at these things and that what he said was true. But either way she was going back home, whether they came or she went alone.

          That day, after dinner, Sethunya got her escape plan underway. She found her chosen tree limb and pushed it toward the Door. The day was Sunday so there weren’t any humans on the other side of the Glass. That is why Sethunya chose today to be the day, so that no one on the other side of the Glass would see what she’s doing.

          As Sethunya pushed the tree limb, Benvolio and Shasmecka were distracted from their conversation and watched her. Jack, Sam, and Charlotte also watched Sethunya as she shoved the tree limb to the Door. They knew what she was up to, but they didn’t think that she would still go, since none of them were going with her.

          “Are you still going to go, Mother?” Shasmecka asked Sethunya. Sethunya didn’t glance at Shasmecka but she nodded. Shasmecka gave her friends a worried look. Sam decided to try to persuade Sethunya from going. 

          “Sethunya, you don’t have to do this. I know you miss Faraguy, but you need to stay here. It is of no use to try to leave, you will never see Faraguy again,” Sam knew that that was the last thing Sethunya wanted to hear. But he didn’t realize that he pronounce Faraji’s name correctly, which made Sethunya want to correct him, but she didn’t. Even though she was determined to get home and see Faraji, she still had to admit it, even she didn’t think she would ever see Faraji again. It was such a perilous journey to get back home. How could she ever do it?

          “I’m not quitting. No matter what you say, I am not quitting,” Sethunya doubted she would get back home, but she was going to try.

“Mother, don’t do it!” Shasmecka beseeched her Mother. It didn’t faze Sethunya. She wasn’t stopping.

          Finally, the tree limb was right next to the Door. Sethunya climbed up it till she was at the Door handle. She was glad that it wasn’t a knob; it would have been too hard to turn. She laid her front paws on the handle and pushed down. It was hard at first, but she was able to do it. Soon the group heard a click, and the door opened up a bit. Everyone had a surprised face; even Sethunya didn’t think she could do it. 

          Sethunya hopped back down her tree limb and went to the Door and nudged it with her nose. It opened up more and soon it was wide open. Inside it was dark, but the Meerkats could see, having night vision. Knowing that this was it, Sethunya took a last look at her young and friends. They all gave her a solemn look. A moment of silence filled the room. Without a last farewell, Sethunya left.

Sethunya quickly found her way around the room. There was the food they ate in containers. She also found other curious objects that she would have loved to investigate, but she had a mission to complete. As she got to another door, she realized that it was a knob.

“No,” Sethunya thought. She saw a desk next to it, and climbed on top of it. She laid her paws on the knob, or tried to that is. Her paws kept slipping and when she finally got them steady, the knob proved too much of a problem. It didn’t budge “No, no, NO!” Sethunya kept thinking.   

          That is when Sethunya saw a light move across the wall. She leaped down and scurried away toward the Door with the knob. She looked to where the light flashed on the wall. It didn’t look suspicious. Then another light flashed on the wall. This time Sethunya only backed up a few inches. She stared at the wall again. Then she noticed in the corner of her eye another flash of light. She looked and saw an opening. She smiled.

          Sethunya jumped onto a desk and headed toward the opening. She ran toward it and slammed into glass.

“It’s a Window,” Sethunya whispered to herself, remembering one of the objects Sam had told her about. She doubted that she could break it. She paced back and forth, thinking of some way to get through. The light flashed again and she saw moving objects outside the Window. She had never seen them before and kept watching them in amazement.

          “It’s a car.” Sethunya turned around to meet the speaker. It was Jack. Sethunya looked back out the Window. She remembered Sam talking to her about cars. She still couldn’t believe that what she was seeing was real.

“I never seen such a thing,” Sethunya said. Jack hopped onto the desk next to Sethunya. After a bit of silence Jack replied,

“You weren’t kidding when you said you were leaving,” he sighed, “Are you still sure you want to do this?” Sethunya looked at him and nodded. Jack jumped off. Sethunya looked back out the Window.

          “Watch out!” Sethunya heard someone shout behind her. Without checking to see who it was, Sethunya dodged to the right. Then a sharp object hit the Window and it shattered to pieces. Sethunya stared out the Window, which now had a large slash through it. She then looked for the owner of the shout. It was Charlotte, along with Sam, Jack, Shasmecka, and Benvolio. Sethunya couldn’t help but to smile. The five joined Sethunya on the desk.

 “What are you doing?” Sethunya asked.

“Helping you,” Charlotte answered.

“Thanks,” Sethunya smiled.

          She crawled up to the shattered Window and looked down. It wasn’t that high off the ground. She jumped down and landed with a thud on the grass.

“Are you still sure you want to do this?” Jack asked again. Sethunya looked up at them and nodded. At that, all of them jumped out the Window onto the grass next to Sethunya. Sethunya was shocked that they actually did that. Before she could ask any questions Sam told her,

“We couldn’t let you go alone.” Sethunya gratefully smiled.

          The Meerkats had no idea where to go so they just had their instincts guide them. They didn’t dare go near any of the streets, and, since it was night, they had no problem being seen by any Humans. They soon found themselves at a Human neighborhood near a small lake. They weren’t sure where they could sleep, since they hadn’t seen any Burrows, so they kept on going. They were too afraid to stay in one place for too long. But before they left the Human neighborhood, they went to get a drink at the lake. It was huge compare to the watering holes that Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Benvolio had seen, but they still found the water as refreshing as always. Sam told them to keep a wary eye for Alligators. He said that they blend in easily with the water.

          They didn’t spot any Alligators and were able to drink in peace. After that the Sun began to rise above the horizon. “We better get going,” Sam told everyone. The group headed onward, still having no idea where they were going.

          Soon Jack looked at one of the many signs and grew excited. “Guys, do you know what that says?” He shouted excitedly to them. They others looked at the sign and shook their heads.

“No,” Charlotte replied.

“It says that the Miami Airport is not to far away from here!” Jack said excitedly.

“How do you know?” Sethunya asked.

“During my life with humans, I have learned their language. Or at least I can read it, I can’t understand it when they speak it,” Jack answered. Everyone fell silent. “Umm,” Jack said questionably.

“We’re waiting for you to read it!” Charlotte told him, as he obviously didn’t know.

“Oh…Oh! O.k. I’ll read it,” Jack replied and then took a good look at the sign. “It says”, he began, “Miami Florida Airport…13 miles,” Jack read.

“What does that mean?” Sethunya asked.

“I think it means that we are near the Airport. And that is a good thing,” Sam answered Sethunya.

“Well I guess that we better get going,” Charlotte said. The Meerkats headed in the direction the sign seem to say to go. They were near the highway, which made Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Benvolio a little nervous. They kept to the bushes and shrubs to keep from being seen, but they weren’t able to hide from one observant tracker.

          Night came quickly. They continued to keep next to the road, but with night coming in they had to find somewhere to sleep. Leading the way, Sam and Jack led the group deeper into the forest. Every noise made Sethunya feel funny. She had a feeling that they weren’t alone, and it wasn’t just the local birds.

          Benvolio and Shasmecka caught their Mother’s anxiety had soon they felt the same. As Charlotte turned to check that all Meerkats were here, she noticed that her friends were very nervous.

“It’s okay guys. Nothing is…” Charlotte didn’t have time to finish her sentence before the group heard a low, yet, frightening growl. They looked to find a large Panther getting ready to pounce on them.

“Danger! Run!” Sethunya yelled. Immediately the small group ran in all directions. Sethunya called to the others to follow her, but only Benvolio and Shasmecka came after her. She led her two remaining family members to the highway. She knew that the highway wasn’t a very safe place, but she was hoping the panther wouldn’t come after them if they went there.

          As the three Meerkats got to the highway, they noticed that Jack, Charlotte, Sam, and the Panther were nowhere to be seen. Benvolio got onto a broken branch and stood on his hind legs, searching for his missing friends. Sethunya and Shasmecka soon joined him. The small family continued to search for their missing friends throughout the night. They didn’t dare go into the forest, in fear that the Panther would be waiting for them.

          Dawn finally came and the area began to brighten up. The highway, which had remained mostly quiet throughout the night, began to come alive as more cars and trucks came. Benvolio, Sethunya, and Shasmecka continued to wait, but as the morning advanced they began to grow inpatient.

          “What if they never come back?” Shasmecka asked Benvolio.

“I know not. It harrows me with fear and wonder,” Benvolio answered. He wished he knew, but he didn’t. Soon Sethunya made a choice.

“Come, we have to continue our mission. If they were still coming they would be here by now,” She stared at Shasmecka and Benvolio.

“What do you think Ben?” Shasmecka asked her older brother.

“Methinks…nay.” he answered.

“Well than…what should we do?” Sethunya asked. Benvolio headed toward the forest.

“Let us go,” He told Sethunya and Shasmecka.

“Out there?” Shasmecka asked fearfully.

“Aye,” Benvolio answered and continued walking toward the forest. Sethunya and Shasmecka hesitantly followed. Soon they found themselves once again in the forest.

          After keeping in the same direction for several minutes, the Meerkats stopped and stood up.

“Do you see them?” Sethunya asked her children.

“Nay,” Benvolio replied, sadly. Then he suddenly lifted up his head and leaned toward some shrubs several yards in front of him. Shasmecka, noticing Benvolio’s position, also leaned toward the shrubs. Her ears quickly picked up a familiar sound.

“You hear that?” Shasmecka asked Sethunya. Sethunya leaned toward the shrubs.

“Yes,” She smiled. The Meerkats quickly headed off toward the shrubs. As they drew closer, the sound became louder and they were beginning to smell an all too familiar smell.

          As they crossed through the shrubs, they came to a small lake. They kept a cagey eye for any Alligators and for their missing friends. Benvolio noticed a broken tree and climbed on top of it. He scanned the area for his friends, and, under a bush, he saw movement. He kept staring at it till he saw the creature crawl out from under the bush. It was Jack.

          “Jack!” Benvolio cried out. Sethunya and Shasmecka quickly turned in the direction Benvolio was facing. Jack looked up at his friends a bit surprised. Immediately, Sethunya, Benvolio, and Shasmecka started to run toward Jack. Jack didn’t run toward them but stood still.

“We kept waiting for you and Sam and Charlotte to come to the highway! Where were you?” Shasmecka asked, as she, Sethunya, and Benvolio got to Jack. Jack stared at her and Benvolio and Sethunya for a while before he spoke.

“I would have gone to the highway…but I couldn’t find Sam and Charlotte. I searched for them…but I only found Sam, and he has a severe wound on his neck.”

          Jack led Sethunya, Benvolio, and Shasmecka to where Sam was. As the four got to where their friend lay, it became clear that Sam’s wound was indeed, very severe. It was hard to believe that he was even alive. His neck had a large slash in it. Sethunya had seen some bad injuries in her life, and this was one of them. Sam lay perfectly still on some fallen leaves. He was just barely breathing. Sethunya went over to check him out. The wound was deep and she could tell he was having hard time breathing.

          “Where is Charlotte?” Shasmecka asked, noticing the Meerkat was missing.

“I don’t know, I haven’t found her,” Jack solemnly replied.

“Goodman, how fare thee?” Benvolio asked Jack.

“I’m fine,” Jack answered. Sethunya then stopped examining Sam and began to walk back toward the highway. “Where are you going?” Jack asked.

“Back to the highway,” Sethunya straightforwardly answered.

“But what about Sam?” Jack asked. He was reluctant to leave without his brother.  

“Sorry, his wound is too bad, there is nothing we can do,” Sethunya told Jack

“Verily, it is so,” Benvolio agreed.

“B-but we can’t just leave him!” Jack shouted.

“Well what do you assume we do?” Sethunya asked Jack. Jack kept his shocked; yet, angry face, but he didn’t say anything. Sethunya then continued back along the path to the highway. Shasmecka and Benvolio wanted to follow their Mother, but they didn’t want to leave Jack.

“Sorry Jack, but we need to go,” Shasmecka sadly said. Jack sighed. Shasmecka went over to where Sam lay. “Bye Sam. Thanks for your help,” she said.

“Fare-thee-well, my Goodman. Grammarcy,” Benvolio told Sam. Then both Benvolio and Shasmecka headed toward the Highway.

          The two siblings met their Mother at the Highway. By now it had lighten up and they had to stay next to the forest. After a few minutes, Jack caught up with them.

“Are you sure you want to come along with us, Jack?” Shasmecka asked him. Jack nodded. Sethunya smiled, knowing that this was best for not only her and her children, but also for Jack, who on his own would be in big trouble if the Panther returned. She knew he was alive, and that Sam most likely will die within a few hours, but where is Charlotte? She kept a wary eye for her missing friend, but the Meerkats never saw Charlotte again.

That afternoon, Sethunya and her gang had crossed a couple miles. Sethunya, Benvolio, and Shasmecka were used to walking miles everyday, but Jack was beginning to find it harder to keep up. The Meerkats hadn’t eaten much since there wasn’t much that they were used to eating. Several times they would catch a gecko or wild lizard and eat that, but otherwise little else. Water they were able to go without.

          Soon they came to another sign. “What does that say Jack?” Sethunya asked. Jack stared at the sign for a moment before he answered,

“It says, ‘Miami Florida Airport…8 miles’. Well were 4 miles closer.” Sethunya nodded in approval. She was clearly proud of how much ground they had covered.

          Sethunya led the small group onward. They had little problem being spotted by any Humans, but after the Panther attack they now had a new worry. Benvolio was always keeping a good lookout for anything suspicious. Shasmecka soon noticed though that he was beginning to look poignant.

“What’s wrong Ben?” Shasmecka asked her forlorn brother.

 “Amiri,” he simply stated.

“Oh…I miss him a lot, too. I also miss Father, and…” Shasmecka sighed, “Someone I promised to meet again.” Benvolio stared at Shasmecka.

“What be name?” Benvolio asked. Shasmecka smiled as memories that seemed like years ago flooded in.

“His name is Tupac Lazuli,” she answered. Then she grew a confused look. “What do you think I should tell him when I meet him again?” Shasmecka asked Benvolio. Benvolio thought for a moment.

“Thy shall say, ‘Ye art quite handsome,’ and, ‘I have been admiring thee.’” Shasmecka smiled, giggling a bit. She enjoyed Benvolio talking in his Old Meerkat language. Then she thought of another question, “How do you greet a warrior in Old Meerkat?”

 “Your Honor,” Benvolio answered. Shasmecka decided to stick with simply greeting Tupac by his name.

          Soon night began to draw in again. Sethunya noticed it and began to search for anything that could be used as a potential sleeping den. Then she saw a fallen tree. It had a small gap in it that looked secured. She led the group over to it. Benvolio sniffed it and Shasmecka joined him. It was safe and the four Meerkats spent the night in it.

          The next morning, Sethunya got the group up at dawn. She was in a big hurry to get the group moving. As soon as everyone got up and ready, Sethunya set off toward the highway. Her followers unquestioningly followed. They were now used to having to wake up as soon as Sethunya told them too and follow her. Before, in their first days away from the zoo, Jack had a problem with doing whatever Sethunya told him to do. Now though, he did it without any questions.

          The group continued to follow the highway. They had now become experts at not getting spotted by the Humans in the vehicles on the highway. While Sethunya didn’t care to explore the area, Benvolio and Shasmecka were almost always looking at everything around them. The trees, plants, birds, and even the dirt looked different. Jack had explained to them, which birds he knew were possibly dangerous and which ones were safe. Shasmecka was surprised at how many different birds they had here. Benvolio found that the birds here were so unique in differences between each other. Sethunya paid little attention to the birds around her, except when they looked possibly dangerous.

          Soon the group came to yet another sign. “Miami Florida Airport 4 miles,” Jack read.

“Four more miles to go,” Sethunya said, “We may get there today.”

“But it would be late,” Jack reminded.

“Then we can wait for tomorrow to leave this place, but today we should do our best to get as close as possible there,” Sethunya replied. Benvolio nodded at his Mother’s idea in agreement.

          By afternoon, the Meerkats had crossed a lot of ground. They had did there best to find as many food items as possible, but they mainly had to settle for lizards and geckos. They tasted a bit more different than the lizards and geckos they ate in the Kalahari, but otherwise, the same. Sethunya had noticed that her group, as well as herself, has lost some weight since they left the Zoo. She knew they had to find more food soon or they wouldn’t be strong enough to continue the journey.

       The Meerkats continued their journey without much talking. They were all very tired and hungry, so they all expected themselves to be silent. Thus, like always, the silence seemed to make the day last forever. By afternoon they felt as if the whole day should have gone by.

          It seemed like two days had gone by, by the time the Sun started setting. Benvolio was tired, but he was still vigilant. He looked back into the, now, colorful sky. No predators. He went on.

          Then Sethunya saw another sign. “What does that say Jack?” She asked Jack. Jack stared at it and read,

“Miami Florida Airport…Next Left.”

“What does that mean?” Shasmecka asked.

“It means that we have to take a left on the next turn and that will lead us to the Airport,” Jack answered. Sethunya smiled at her small group and said,

“That means our ticket home is just around the corner.”

          At the next turn the Meerkats turned and went along the road that went left. They continued to keep in the shrubs and bushes; they were well hidden from any Humans. Sethunya looked forward and saw that the road curved at the end, which was only several yards away. Sethunya’s mouth dropped open slightly as she realized that where it must lead. Without a word, Sethunya darted around the curve.

“Hay, Mother! Wait up!” Shasmecka shouted.

“Wilt ye wait?” Benvolio shouted. Sethunya didn’t stop and as she came around the corner, in the distance, she saw a large building. From somewhere behind it, a large bird came flying up into the sky, making a loud uproar.

“Wait a second…” Sethunya thought, “that’s not a bird. That’s a plane, an Airplane!”  Sethunya couldn’t believe herself. They made it! They really did make it! “We’re here! We’re here! We’re HERE!” Sethunya shouted. Benvolio, Shasmecka, and Jack eventually came around the corner and found Sethunya in her thrilled state. They soon joined her in the celebration.    

      Night came finally and Sethunya led the group back into the woods to find any place to sleep. She knew it would be their last night here and as she thought of it she grew more excited.

“I’ll see you soon Faraji,” Sethunya thought.

          Sethunya then saw a burrow. She led the group in and the group spent the night in it. They hadn’t seen a burrow in a while and it felt nice to sleep in one again. She was tempted to explore it, but she was tired and laid down on a pile of leaves not too far from the entrance. Jack, Benvolio, and Shasmecka slept around her and the group soon looked like a little fur ball.

“Give you good night,” Benvolio said before falling dead asleep. Everyone else slept just as hard, due to the tough, never-ending several days they had.

          The next morning couldn’t come soon enough for Sethunya and as soon as she woke up, she woke everyone else up and started to head outside.

“Good morrow, Shasmecka. Good Morrow, Jack.” Benvolio said to Shasmecka and Jack.

“Good morning, Ben,” Shasmecka and Jack replied. Benvolio was about to say good morning, or as he said, “Good morrow”, to Sethunya, but she was already near the burrow entrance. Jack quickly followed right behind her, with Shasmecka and Benvolio right behind. Sethunya was too excited in her state to pay much attention to what was waiting for her outside the burrow.

          Sethunya leaped out of the burrow, but didn’t notice the danger till it was too late. Immediately, a bird lunged at Sethunya with its talons.

“Aaaaaahhhhhh!” Sethunya screamed.

“Sethunya!” Jack shouted.

“Mother!” Shasmecka and Benvolio shouted. Sethunya hit the ground with a thud, and the bird immediately went for her throat, but Sethunya managed to swipe at it with her paws. The bird tried again and Sethunya swiped at it again, but this time the bird caught a hold of her paw.

“HELP!” Sethunya screamed. Jack quickly leaped at the bird and knocked it off Sethunya. The bird fell next to Sethunya, but was back on its feet in a flash. This time, Benvolio lunged at it. Benvolio knocked it back down and sank his teeth into its wing. The bird screeched in pain. Shasmecka scurried over to Sethunya and helped her get back up. Jack went to help Shasmecka as the three headed toward the road. Benvolio, noticing they were leaving, let go of the bird and headed off toward them. The bird, tired and beaten, left.

          “What was that?” Shasmecka asked, panting.

“I think it was a hawk called the Ferruginous Hawk,” Jack answered.

“Wow, you know your birds well,” Shasmecka, replied. Jack smiled bashfully.

“Well when you have groups of Human children on field trips visiting you all the time, you learn a lot,” Jack said. Benvolio finally came out of the woods and joined the group. He was panting, but he soon spotted a lizard, which he caught and ate. Sethunya was also panting hard and was quivering all over.

“It’s okay Mother, your safe,” Shasmecka comforted.

“Aye,” Benvolio agreed. Sethunya was still in a bit of shock. Shasmecka and Benvolio gently groomed their Mother in their best effort to comfort her. Jack groomed a little too, but he then looked at the Airport.

“You want to continue, Seth?” He asked. Sethunya quivering slowly started to fade and she nodded.

          The Sun began to rise higher and higher into the sky. Sethunya and her small group were foraging around the edge of the forest. Sethunya had now calmed down and she had begun to search for food. After she caught and ate a gecko she made a “Lead Call” for the group to follow. It was time.

          Benvolio, Shasmecka, and Jack followed Sethunya as she led them to the Airport. Sethunya hadn’t quite expected to make it this far and a question just now enter her mind.

“What now?” 

Sethunya, Benvolio, Shasmecka, and Jack stared at the Airport as if waiting for something to happen. Sethunya, to be honest, didn’t have a plan. She never thought about what they would do once they reached the Airport.

“What should we do now?” Shasmecka asked Sethunya.

“I don’t know.” Sethunya answered honestly. There was a moment of silence as the Meerkats stared at the Airport. Finally, Jack broke the stillness.

“Well, I suggest that we at least go into the Airport, or maybe we should go find someone, and by someone I mean a Human, who will take us back to your home. I mean, they know we belong there so they may just take us there if we show ourselves to them.” Jack suggested.

“But, wouldn’t they know that we escaped from the Zoo? They may take us back if we show ourselves.” Shasmecka said. Sethunya thought it over before she said anything.

“I think…it’s worth a try. Even if they did know that we escaped from the Zoo, they may take us back home. I mean we came so far. Couldn’t they realize that we are trying to get back home?”

          Sethunya led the group toward the Airport. They had all decided that they would show themselves to anyone who looked like they may take them home, and hope that it would work. Shasmecka and Benvolio’s hearts were racing even though they weren’t in the Airport yet.

“What if we find someone who won’t take us back home, but back to the Zoo?” Shasmecka thought.

Nervous as he was, Jack decided to talk a bit. He often felt better when he talked.

“So Ben…have you ever just spoke plain Meerkat?” Jack asked Benvolio. Acting as if the talk he had with Sethunya never happened, Benvolio answered,

“Aye, a goodly length in times past.”

“Does that mean you have, but a long time ago?”

“Aye.”

“Will you ever speak plain Meerkat again?”

“Mayhap.”

Jack thought that Benvolio’s unusual, but unique, way of speaking was quite interesting, but he would like to be able to actually understand him easier.

Soon they reached the edge of the bushes and shrubs. In front of them was the Airport entrance. Sethunya was glad that they were able to get around the parking lot without trouble. She stopped at getting to the edge. She was still just as nervous as everyone else, but she couldn’t stop now. Humans were constantly coming in and out, which she didn’t like. Even if she stepped just one paw out, she would be spotted. Jack moved up alongside her.

“Can you identify anyone who is most likely to take us home?” Sethunya asked Jack.

“I’ll try.” Jack answered. The Meerkats waited for hours. Benvolio and Shasmecka were growing uneasy, and they began to search for some lizards and geckos.

Soon it was the middle of the afternoon. Jack hadn’t been able to identify anyone who may take them home. Sethunya was tired, but she was still attentive. Benvolio and Shasmecka were taking a minute to play around.

Benvolio and Shasmecka hadn’t got to play since leaving the Zoo and it felt good to unwind their alertness and play around. Than Shasmecka shoved Benvolio, who had her pinned down to the ground, off and he stumbled out of the bushes. Shasmecka gasped, along with Sethunya and Jack who had turned around having heard some bushes rustle. Benvolio quickly dashed back into the bushes. He turned around; worrying that someone had seen him. Someone did, but the Meerkats didn’t need to worry.

“Mommy, I saw a giant rat run into the bushes!” A little boy told his mother.

“Oh, that’s nice James. Now hurry up, we’re going to miss our flight.” James’ mother told him.

Jack was getting tired, he normally was taking a nap at this time of the day, but he continued to watch the Humans. Then he noticed a couple of male Humans with special clothes on. He remembered seeing Humans with those types of clothing on in the Zoo. They often were teaching to the children on field trips or to adult Humans who had questions. They were talking to some other Humans about something.

“I just don’t understand how that Meerkat we found was so far away from the zoo. How did it get that far?” One of the uniformed Humans asked.

“Well, it was dead.” His partner replied. Jack couldn’t quite understand them, but he did understand the words, “Meerkat” and “Zoo”.

          “They are our best hope, Seth.” Jack said to Sethunya. Sethunya gave the Humans a short inspection before she let out a quick, soft bark. The Humans twirled their heads around, but mostly just ignored the sound.

“Louder,” Shasmecka whispered. Sethunya made another bark, this time it was louder and longer. This time the Humans asked each other something and looked around. Benvolio swallowed and then slowly walked out of the bushes. It took a minute for the Humans to spot him, and when they did, there was a lot of commotion from bystanders.

“Aaaaaahhhhhh!” “What is that?” “Run!” Scared from the loud uproar made by the bystanders, Benvolio backed up into the bushes.

“Stop! Quiet down, its OK!” One of the uniformed Humans shouted. The other Humans quieted down and stopped in their tracks. Slowly, one of the uniformed Humans bent down in front of the bushes. He pushed the bush twigs out of the way and was face to face with Sethunya and her small group of frightened Meerkats. He had a shocked look on his face. Sethunya didn’t know what to expect so she just stood her ground and stared at the Human. Behind him, some onlookers were taking pictures of the Meerkats.

          The uniformed Human slowly reached his hand toward Sethunya. Sethunya sniffed it and went back to her staring.

“Nick, I think these are those escaped Meerkats from that zoo,” the Human said to his companion.

“Really?” The other Human, Nick, replied.

“Yeah.” The Human replied. He rubbed the top of Sethunya’s head. It felt odd to Sethunya, but she allowed him to do so.

“But, two are missing,” Nick said.

“Well do you expect six Meerkats to get this far and still all live?” The Human replied. Nick shook his head.

          Nick and his companion, David, then gathered up the four Meerkats and took them to their vehicle. After talking they called someone on their cell phone. Sethunya wished she could understand them, but she knew that was impossible. Once done on his phone, David put each Meerkat in a small pet cage and put them in the back seats.

“What’s going on? Why aren’t we going into the Airport?” Shasmecka asked Sethunya. Sethunya didn’t answer, she was afraid she made a wrong choice.

          The Meerkats stayed quiet in their cages till the vehicle stopped. Nick and David got out and took the Meerkats along with them. Sethunya wanted out of the cage, it was so small she couldn’t even jump. They took the Meerkats to what looked like a very small Airport. They talked with some other Humans and then paid them. Then they headed toward a small Airplane. Sethunya began to grow excited.

“Maybe they are taking us home,” Sethunya whispered to herself. Nick and David went in the back seats and put Sethunya and the other Meerkats on their laps. They wanted to be able to watch the Meerkats. Two other Humans went to the front where the controllers were. They said something to David and Nick and then flicked a few switches. A loud noise shook the Plane and Sethunya grew very nervous. She had never been on a Plane, awake that is, and she was scared.

          Soon, the Plane began to move forward. It was slow at first, but it got faster and faster and faster. Sethunya was against the cage wall with the widest eyes she ever had. Then she felt the Plane lift off the ground and it headed up. She began to whimper. It was too loud, though, for David or Nick to hear her. After going upward for some time, the Plane became horizontal with the ground, which was very far down.

          Sethunya calmed down along with the noise of the Plane. She couldn’t see Jack or her children, but only the sky in front of the Plane, as well as a couple of seats and a control panel. She felt almost as if she was floating. She had stopped whimpering and soon realized how tired she was. Without a fight, she fell asleep.

          Sethunya woke up as she felt the Plane head downward. It was beginning to fasten up. Sethunya, once again, found she pressed into the cage wall and she began to whimper again. Then the once blue sky in front of her turned into a long road of dirt, which looked very familiar. Then the Plane skidded across the dirt ground. It bumped up and down a several times before it slowed down and eventually stopped. Sethunya’s heart was now racing.

“That was worse than when we took off!” She thought. Nick and David said something to the Humans with the controllers before opening the doors. Sethunya could hear the noise of the spinner on the plane still spinning. Nick picked up her cage and lifted her out. He had another cage in his other hand. He and David waved to the Plane as it took off. David and Nick got in a car and put Sethunya and the others in the back seats.

          They drove for some time. Sethunya listen to David and Nick’s conversations, but she couldn’t understand anything and eventually stopped and took another nap.

“It looks like they’re tuckered out,” Sethunya suddenly heard Nick say. He was saying it loud enough to wake her up. That was when Sethunya realized that it was not only Nick who had woke her up, but also that the car had stopped moving. Both David and Nick were looking at her.

“Well now she’s awake.” David said. Sethunya was now feeling very cramped and scratched at the cage door. “Looks like she wants to be let out,” David told Nick. They got out of the car and opened the back doors. They got all four cages out and settled them on the sand.

          In front of her, Sethunya saw a familiar scene. It seemed like so long ago that she had seen it, like a distant memory that she was now reliving. She then heard Nick and David tell her and the others something.

“Well you are now home, little guys. You deserve to be here after all you went through.” Nick said.

“This is close to where you guys were picked up so you should be able to find your way home. Well, you’ll be missed. I haven’t even known you for long and I’m all ready attached to you,” David added.

“Yeah, we’ll miss you,” Nick said. Then Sethunya and the other’s cages were opened. Sethunya was uncertain about what to do. Did they want her to just run off? She slowly crawled out of her cramped cage. Benvolio, Jack, and Shasmecka followed her. They looked at their homeland as their excitement grew. “Okay now. You can go,” Nick told Sethunya. Sethunya couldn’t understand him, but she had a good idea of what he said. Sethunya gave her two Human friends a farewell look and then gave a lead call. She dashed across the desert as never before.

“Farewell little friends!” She heard David and Nick shout.

          With her little group in tow, Sethunya led them to where she last saw Faraji and Amiri. Now, they were finally home.

Sethunya ran like there was no tomorrow. Even Benvolio, Shasmecka, and Jack were having a problem keeping up with her. She then saw her destination, the burrow that she last saw her love, Faraji.

“Faraji! Faraji, we’re back! Faraji!” Sethunya yelled at the top of her lungs. There was no reply. Sethunya went into the burrow, calling out Faraji’s name. There was still no reply. “Where are they?” Sethunya asked Shasmecka as she crawled out of the burrow. Shasmecka shrugged.

“Maybe they went somewhere else. To another burrow or something like that.” Shasmecka replied.

          Sethunya and her gang looked everywhere. They went to every burrow Sethunya could remember, including the boltholes.

“Faraji! Faraji!” Sethunya shouted as she crossed the desert. She couldn’t understand. Where were they? Soon she got tired and went to an empty burrow to rest. Her friends followed right behind her.

“I bid you, shall we go there?” Benvolio asked Sethunya, nodding toward something behind her. Sethunya turned around and a nervous look grew on her face. In front of her was the area where her ceremony as the Kalahari’s Queen was taking place. It looked empty and deserted. Sethunya got up and headed toward the abandoned area of desert.       

          The place looked like it had been deserted for years. Then Sethunya heard a noise. She looked behind her. Jack and Shasmecka joined her. Benvolio stood up on his hind legs. He couldn’t see anyone, but he knew there was someone there.

“Stand, ho! Who’s there?” Benvolio asked. Nothing happened. “Answer me! Stand and unfold yourself,” Benvolio commanded. Slowly, a Meerkat came out of his hiding place. Sethunya immediately recognized him. It was her father, Kgosi.

“Father!” Sethunya shouted and scurried toward him. Kgosi looked shocked and surprised. Sethunya got to him and cuddled with him. Shasmecka and Benvolio quickly joined her and ran up to their grandfather. Jack went up to him but didn’t join in the celebration. After being snuggled with, Kgosi looked at the four Meerkats with a shocked look. Then he looked at Sethunya.

“Sethunya?” He asked. Sethunya frowned.

“Father, you know it’s me. You, you didn’t forget me, did you?” Sethunya asked her father.

“But…but you died. You and Shasmecka and Benvolio,” Kgosi protested.

“No father! It’s me, it’s really me!” Sethunya was getting frustrated.

“You know it’s us, grandfather!” Shasmecka nearly yelled. Then Kgosi got teary eyes. “What’s wrong?” Shasmecka asked.

“Your not dead. We couldn’t find you and…everyone thought you all died,” Kgosi explained.

          Kgosi then explained everything that happened since Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Benvolio have been gone. Every Meerkat in the Kalahari searched for them for nearly a week. When they finally decided that Sethunya must have died, they dethroned Faraji. Benvolio was their first option for the Kalahari King, but since both Benvolio and Shasmecka were also missing they had to have Amiri as their new Kalahari King. Sadly though, Amiri hadn’t finished Survival School and was too young to marry anyone so he couldn’t really become King. That was when a Meerkat named Ekwueme took over. He had forced all other Meerkats to crown him as Kalahari King, even despite the fact that he wasn’t going to marry anyone and he wasn’t “Royal Blood”. Since then, the Kalahari hasn’t been the same. Any Meerkats who denied Ekwueme as their leader was killed, so that was why Kgosi was hiding. Ekwueme had chosen Kameeldoringboom, the largest Camel Thorn tree in the Kalahari, as his “palace”. He had changed the name to Ekwudoringboom’s Palace, as well.

          Sethunya was astonished. How could all of this happen while she was gone? Shasmecka was also shocked. Ekwueme has no right to be the Kalahari King! Benvolio had another thought on his mind. Ekwueme, the same Meerkat Amiri talked to him about during the ceremony so long ago. Amiri was right.

          After arguing to herself about the matter, another question popped into Sethunya’s mind.

“Where’s Faraji?” Sethunya asked Kgosi. Her worried look told Kgosi that she was expecting the worst.

“Um…well, he denied Ekwueme as his King, just like me, but don’t worry, he managed to escape from Ekwueme’s guards, He and Amiri are also hiding. I can’t be quite sure where they are, but as far as I know, they are safe,” Kgosi told Sethunya. Sethunya’s heart was relieved. Kgosi then noticed Jack, or at least, he finally asked about him. “Who’s this?” Kgosi asked examining Jack.

“His name is Jack and we met him when we were in the Miami Florida Zoo. He helped us get here,” Shasmecka answered. Kgosi was immediately confused at those words. Shasmecka forgot that they still haven’t told him about where they were the whole time. She and Jack quickly took turns explaining to Kgosi all they have endured. That was when Sethunya noticed Benvolio.

          “What’s wrong Ben?” Sethunya asked her troubled son. Benvolio wanted to tell her about what Amiri had told him at the ceremony, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He had told Amiri that there was no need to worry and that Ekwueme could never become King. He was wrong.

“I know not,” Benvolio lied. Sethunya knew he wasn’t telling the truth.

“Ben, what’s wrong?” Sethunya asked again. Knowing it wasn’t polite to not answer his mother

“Amiri knew,” Benvolio finally said but had to force himself to do so.

“Amiri knew what?” Sethunya asked.

“Ekwueme,” Benvolio simply answered.

“He knew that Ekwueme was wanting to become King?” Sethunya asked. Benvolio nodded. Sethunya didn’t understand why Benvolio was upset about the matter as much as he was, but she knew that they had to find Faraji and Amiri.

          Kgosi led the four to where he was hiding. It ended up being a small bolthole near a fallen tree. He was always cautious, as if he thought that he was getting closer to Ekwueme or his guards with every step. When he got to his bolthole he climbed up the fallen tree first and got a look around. With no sign of Ekwueme or his guards, Kgosi led Sethunya and her gang below ground. It was now dark outside and Sethunya knew that she would have to wait till tomorrow to search for Faraji.

          The next morning, Kgosi got up at first light. Sethunya was next, followed by Benvolio, Shasmecka, and then Jack. They five groomed each other and cleaned the bolthole entrance. Except for Kgosi, Sethunya and her group weren’t used to cleaning burrow, or bolthole, entrances. It had been what seemed like a long time since they have.

          Sethunya, being the “late” Queen, decided that she would just show herself to the public. She knew that if they would find out that she was alive, they would dethrone Ekwueme and her and Faraji would, once again, be the Kalahari King and Queen. It seemed perfectly simple. Once the chores and grooming session was over, Sethunya led the group toward Ekwueme’s Palace. She knew it would be risky, but it had to be done.

          They were a couple of miles away from Ekwueme’s palace and Sethunya quickly got the group moving. Benvolio, Faraji, and Jack kept a lookout for any guards, as Sethunya led the way.

          Within two miles of their destination, they passed a bolthole when Shasmecka, while expecting the bolthole, discovered that there was something hidden inside. She didn’t want to scare anyone so she decided to take a quick look inside. She would warn the others if it were Ekwueme’s guards. Benvolio noticed Shasmecka and went up beside her. Shasmecka went inside with Benvolio right behind. Once inside, it took a moment for Shasmecka and Benvolio’s vision to adjust. Then Shasmecka heard a hiss, and then a hidden predator lunged at her. Shasmecka backed up into Benvolio. Benvolio quickly backed out of the bolthole. When they got out Shasmecka warned everyone not to go near the bolthole.

          Afternoon arrived and the area grew intensively hotter. Sethunya was forced to let the group take a break in the shade of a large drie doring bush till it cooled down. The group would have taken this time to search for food, but they were too hot and tired from their traveling to do anything. When it cooled down the Meerkats wasted no time searching for food. They were practically starving.

          After finding enough food to continue their journey, Sethunya once again led the group toward Ekwueme’s Palace. She was determined to get there before nightfall. An hour later she and her group went over a dune and finally found what they had been searching for. Below them was Ekwueme’s Palace. Sethunya wasted no time in leading her group to their destination. She kept to the drie doring bushes for cover. She was still unsure about how her plan would turn out. She was hoping that once everyone knew she was alive she and Faraji would get their leadership back, but if they were now turned to Ekwueme, she could be getting herself into bigger trouble than she already was in. Besides, who would want to mess with a leader who would kill anyone who didn’t accept his ruler ship?

          Soon Sethunya and her group were only several meters away from the tree. Sethunya could see many guards around, but she couldn’t see Ekwueme. The guards didn’t really look friendly. They had stone hard faces, and were completely silent. It seemed as if they were expecting someone to being arriving soon. Sethunya began to wonder if they somehow knew she was coming. Then she reconsidered. If they knew she was coming, wouldn’t they have been excited?

“They surely would have been,” Sethunya thought.

Sethunya then took a deep breath, whether she was ready for it or not, she was showing herself now. But before Sethunya could step out, a Meerkat being escorted by some guards appeared out of nowhere. She could tell it was a captive, but that wasn’t the first thing she noticed. It was Amiri.

His guards shoved him to the large tree where the chief of guards was. They weren’t being very easy with him and shoved him roughly up to the chief. Benvolio, seeing his beloved little brother being roughly shoved, wanted to go right up to the guards and tear them apart. He had to crunch his teeth to keep from shouting, and Shasmecka had to hold him down to keep him from charging.

          Once Amiri was in front of the chief guard, whom Sethunya finally recognized as Captain Duna, took a minuet to stare at Amiri. He finally spoke.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you Prince Amiri.” Amiri nodded. “But now the situation is a bit different…” Sethunya was listening very carefully to what Captain Duna was saying, “King Ekwueme has commanded that any Meerkat that didn’t accept him as Kalahari King was to be brought to him immediately.” Sethunya thought they were supposed to be executed, or at least that is what Kgosi said. He must have just been talking about Meerkats of lower status, not her and her family. She turned her attention back to Amiri, who was looking quite nervous at the thought of being taken to Ekwueme. With that Captain Duna concluded, saying to the guards, “Take the young “Prince” Amiri to Omuramba. King Ekwueme should be glad to see him.” Sethunya had a feeling that Ekwueme wasn’t actually glad in a friendly way.

          Captain Duna’s guards then took Amiri away toward Omuramba (Oo-mer-am-ba), which was an old farm that Sethunya finally realized must have belonged to Humans at one point. Sethunya wasn’t sure if she should follow the guards or go to Captain Duna. She decided to ask her father what was best.

“Father, what should we do? I want to go rescue Amiri, but I think it may be best to go Captain Duna. He can order the guards to release Amiri and then we can go to Ekwueme.”

 “I don’t quite know Seth. Captain Duna may do as you said and release Amiri, or he may capture us too and have us taken to Ekwueme. Do you think he’s should trustworthy?” Kgosi asked. Sethunya thought about it. She wasn’t sure herself if Captain Duna would do as she said or not, although she was quite sure he would be on her side. It seemed like forever since she has seen Captain Duna and all she could remember was that he was quite devoted to his master. That meant that her idea could go either way. Captain Duna could either accept her since she was his master before, or he may do as Ekwueme commanded since Ekwueme is his new master. She decided to take the chance; besides, she outnumbered him now that his guards have left.

          Sethunya slowly, and cautiously, led her small band out of the drie doring bushes near Captain Duna. At first he didn’t notice her, but then he turned around. His face was in shock as he recognized who was standing before him.

“Queen Sethunya?” Captain Duna asked in amazement. Sethunya nodded. Captain Duna looked at Benvolio and Shasmecka. “Prince Benvolio and Princess Shasmecka too?” Benvolio and Shasmecka nodded. He looked at Jack and Kgosi but mostly kept his glance on Sethunya, Benvolio, and Shasmecka. “But…but you guys were said to have died months ago.” Captain Duna said.

“Surely it hasn’t been that long.” Sethunya thought.

“Well if they have died, could they be standing here right in front of you?” Jack questioned.

“He is right.” Captain Duna thought. “But…but…it doesn’t make any sense. Queen Sethunya, Prince Benvolio, and Princess Shasmecka disappeared on the anniversary of Faraji and Sethunya’s fifth year as Kalahari King and Queen. There wasn’t any trace of them or anything…they just disappeared,” Captain Duna said.

“Well actually we were Meerkatnapped but we escaped,” Shasmecka replied. Captain Duna looked confused so Shasmecka recalled all the events that had occurred over her, Sethunya, and Benvolio’s absence. Captain Duna listen very carefully, still surprised that they were even alive. At the end of her story Shasmecka added, “So we were hoping you will have Amiri released and help us stop Ekwueme.” At this Captain Duna looked a bit uncertain. Sethunya than took her turn to speak.

“Captain Duna…we really need your help if we are to stop Ekwueme. He doesn’t deserve to be Kalahari King that position was to go to Benvolio. So will you help us or not?” Captain Duna thought it over. He wanted to help Queen Sethunya, but that would mean he would have to go against King Ekwueme. It was a tough decision. If he sided with Queen Sethunya than they had a chance to be able to stop King Ekwueme, but he would also be risking his life. If he sided with King Ekwueme than he wouldn’t really be risking his life, but he would be betraying Queen Sethunya, who he had grown fond of as being his master. Soon he made his decision.

“Yes. I’ll help you defeat “King” Ekwueme.” Sethunya smiled. She knew Captain Duna wouldn’t fail her.

          The Meerkats made the decision to go to Omuramba. It was where “King” Ekwueme was, and that is where the guards were taking Amiri. Captain Duna was escorting them, although Sethunya kept going on ahead of him. She knew the way to Omuramba and besides; she was after all the Queen of the Kalahari.

          The Meerkats got to Omuramba at nightfall. Sethunya looked around, searching for Amiri, but she couldn’t find him; or anyone else for that matter.

“It looks like everyone has gone into the old farm for the night,” Shasmecka said.

“I guess than that we need to wait till morning,” Jack replied. Benvolio didn’t want to wait for morning to search for his missing brother though. He decided that if what Shasmecka said was true, which he was certain she was, than if he went into the farm without waking anyone up, he could rescue Amiri. Kgosi and the others were getting nervous though, they didn’t want to be out in the open during the night.

“Come on guys, we’ll come tomorrow and see what we can do,” Kgosi told everyone. He led the group away, to where an old bolthole was. That’s when Jack noticed that Benvolio wasn’t with them.

          “Uhh, guys…where’s Ben?” Jack asked. Everyone looked around. They didn’t know where Benvolio was either. Than Shasmecka figured out where Benvolio was.

“He must have went into the old farm to rescue Amiri!” Everyone gasped.

“He can’t do it on his own! What if he is seen by Ekwueme or his Meerkats?” Jack asked. Sethunya thought it over for a second before saying,

“Than we’ll have to help him.”

“But we can’t Queen Sethunya! Than we may be seen too!” Captain Duna exclaimed.

“Well I want to be seen.” Sethunya said, believing that if they would see her they may dethrone Ekwueme. 

“That may not be the best decision Seth.” Kgosi warned.

“Yes it may not be, but I think it will work.” With that Sethunya ran back to Omuramba. Not wanting Sethunya to go on her own, Jack and Shasmecka ran after her. Captain Duna and Kgosi wanted to go too, but they still didn’t think that Sethunya’s decision was the best. Thus, they stayed, leaving Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Jack to go after both Amiri and Benvolio.

Sethunya soon made it back to Omuramba. She knew that Shasmecka and Jack had decided to join her, but she was a bit disappointed that her father and Captain Duna didn’t come. The Meerkats stood in front of the old farm. They were nervous about what they were about to do. Sethunya gave her daughter and friend a “let’s do this” look before climbing a fallen tree up to the broken window, which was the same window Benvolio had gone through. Shasmecka and Jack followed her. Once inside, Sethunya and her posse made sure to be as quiet as possible. But they couldn’t see Ekwueme or his guards, or Benvolio and Amiri.

          Sethunya had to adjust to the darkness before she went any further. She was glad to have night vision; even though Meerkats don’t go outside at night, they need night vision for when they are in their burrows. Once she could see she led Shasmecka and Jack toward the main room. As she got to the door, which led to the main room, she heard some noises. She tried to hear what it was, but she couldn’t quite tell. Shasmecka and Jack also tried to hear what the noise was, but they couldn’t tell either. Than, for a moment, Sethunya thought she could hear Benvolio and some other Meerkat.

Was it Amiri? Or could it be that Benvolio had been caught?” Sethunya was going to find out now.

          Sethunya shoved the door open and saw Benvolio, staring at her in disbelief. For a moment she wondered why, than she saw that she had awoken everyone else who was in the room. Shasmecka and Jack eyes grew wide while Sethunya stood still, wondering what she should do next.

          “Sethunya!” Sethunya heard someone shout out her name, but she couldn’t recognize the voice. She looked to her side, where the voice came from, and saw the speaker. It was a Meerkat who had a scar that ran down from his right ear to his shoulder. Sethunya had no doubt that was Ekwueme. Sethunya grew fierce with anger. Ekwueme was just as angry. Ekwueme’s four guards, Abarafo (A-bar-a-fo), Buru (Ber-oo), Gotto (Got-to), and Tau (Tah-oo), were just as shocked. Ekwueme was the first to speak after the silence, “I thought you and Benvolio and Shasmecka disappeared months ago?”

“No, we were just Meerkatnapped by some Humans,” Sethunya answered. Amiri and Benvolio were just inches away from each other, but Buru got between them, thus keeping Benvolio away from Amiri. “Now, I will give you a warning, stop this and give me and Faraji back our Leadership!” Sethunya barked at Ekwueme. Ekwueme smiled sinisterly.

“So, you think you are going to be Kalahari Queen that easily?” Ekwueme asked Sethunya.

“Yes! And no matter what I will be Kalahari Queen because the rules clearly state that the Kalahari Queen/King can’t be moved unless they had died. And I haven’t died so that means I am still the Kalahari’s Queen!” Sethunya barked at Ekwueme, again. Ekwueme didn’t like what Sethunya said and shouted,

“That’s enough! Guards!” Immediately Abarafo, Gotto, and Tau lunged at Sethunya. Buru was still busy trying to keep Benvolio at bay to get Sethunya. While Abarafo pushed down Sethunya, Shasmecka was caught by Tau. Gotto aimed for Jack, but Jack ran out of his way. Instead of running into Jack, Gotto ran into the wall.

“Haha!” Jack shouted. That made Gotto even madder and he quickly lunged at Jack again and this time, he caught him.

          Gotto and Jack distracted Buru, and Benvolio took advantage of it. He went around Buru and got to Amiri.

“Benvolio!” Amiri shouted happily. Buru quickly realized that he had let Benvolio get to Amiri. Buru lunged at Benvolio and ended up grabbing Benvolio’s hind legs. By that time Benvolio had already cut Amiri’s rope and yelled to Amiri, “Run!” Amiri obeyed without hesitation.

          Sethunya and Abarafo were rolling around, biting, kicking, and scratching each other. Soon Abarafo had pinned down Sethunya. She tried to get back up but she couldn’t. Than she noticed Abarafo’s right paw, which was within her reach, and she moved her head toward it and bit it, hard. Abarafo immediately let out a yelp. He got off of Sethunya and held his injured paw close. Sethunya wasn’t finished with him and charged at him, knocking him down. She than shoved him into a wall. There was a loud thud as Sethunya slammed Abarafo into the wall, which caused a pot, which was sitting on a shelf, to fall. Sethunya saw it on time and jumped out of the way and the pot ended up falling onto Abarafo’s head and shattered. Abarafo looked dazed for a second before collapsing onto the floor. Sethunya smiled proudly at her hard work.

          Gotto had pinned down Jack and he was now doing his best to crush him. Jack kept trying to bite Gotto but he wasn’t able to get a good grip on Ekwueme’s guard. He than found his opportunity and bit Gotto on the snout, and he didn’t dare let go. Gotto kept trying to get Jack to let go, but Jack wouldn’t till the large Meerkat got off of him. Once Gotto jumped off Jack, Jack made a quick getaway with Gotto right behind him. Then he decided to make a quick turnaround as to surprise Gotto. He was hoping he would be able to bite Gotto’s muzzle again. Instead as he turned around he slammed into Gotto at full force. The impact sent both the Meerkats flying backward. Jack could feel his snout bleeding, and it even felt as if it had shifted a bit, but he got up and ran away from the confused and dazed Gotto.

Tau was still attacking Shasmecka; he was trying to pin her down but she kept slipping out from underneath him when he nearly did so. Eventually Shasmecka ran off near the open door, and Tau ran after her. Shasmecka ran for her life as she headed for the door. But than Gotto appeared and slammed the door shut. Shasmecka stopped immediately as she stared, frighten, at Gotto. When she turned around she was faced with Tau. Shasmecka lowered her head and cowered. Than she saw Sethunya, Jack, and Amiri coming to her rescue! Shasmecka smiled while Gotto and Tau looked displeased. Sethunya and Jack rammed into Gotto and Tau as Amiri led Shasmecka away from the four ferocious Meerkats. Sethunya quickly took on Gotto while Jack was left to take on Tau. Once Shasmecka gained her confidence both she and Amiri joined the four Meerkats. Against four fierce Meerkats was too much for Gotto and Tau and they tried to escape, not that Sethunya was about to let them get away that easily. She led her group as they ran after the two getaways. Gotto and Tau were large and weren’t able to outpace the four Meerkats and they were quickly attacked by Sethunya and her gang. This time Sethunya slammed Gotto into a wall. He looked dazed and she did it again, this time harder. After that slam he got knocked out. Jack, Amiri, and Shasmecka chased Tau to the wall where they all four ended up slamming into it. Thanks to their “cushion” Amiri, Shasmecka, and Jack weren’t dazed, too badly that is. But Tau was immediately knocked out by the impact and slumped onto the ground.     

Jack, Shasmecka, and Amiri joined Sethunya as they realized whom they had defeated. That’s when they also realized that neither Benvolio nor Ekwueme were around.

“Benvolio!” Amiri and Sethunya shouted. They were answered by a series of violent attacks. They gasped as, in another room, Benvolio and Ekwueme were furiously attacking each other. “Benvolio!” Amiri yelled as he and the other three ran toward their friend-in-need.

Ekwueme shoved Benvolio as the Meerkat bit him on his arm. Benvolio tried to not let go, but he wasn’t able to take the-shoving-into-the-wall business and let go. Ekwueme stopped his shoving to look at his arm, which had a large, and deep, cut in it. Benvolio took the brief moment to catch his breath. Than the fighting continued. Benvolio had chased Ekwueme up a shelf, which was in the room wall, and the two had to be careful as to not fall off. That’s when Benvolio decided to try to push Ekwueme off the shelf. He wasn’t sure whether or not he actually wanted to kill Ekwueme, part of him wanted to and the other part didn’t want him to, but he knew that Ekwueme had killed innocent Meerkats and definitely was evil. It was quite possible that a Meerkat of Ekwueme’s size could withstand the fall. If he were to drop, though, he probley would die. He shoved Ekwueme near the edge of the shelf. That’s when Ekwueme understood what Benvolio was trying to do. He swirled around, causing Benvolio to almost fall off the wall himself. Benvolio only had his front paws on the shelf; it was the only thing keeping him from falling to his death. Ekwueme stood above him, with a satisfied look on his face.

“Benvolio!” Amiri shouted again as he started to climb some boxes that led to the shelf. Ekwueme, seeing his enemies coming after him, pushed the top box down, causing the others to tumble and fall. Amiri quickly leaped off the collapsing boxes but realized that now he couldn’t get to Benvolio. All he and Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Jack could do was watch, as Benvolio would fall to his death. But than many things happened at once.

A thin piece of glass shattered as some Meerkats jumped out of the window in the other room where the previous fights took place. Sethunya twirled around and saw Captain Duna, her father, and…Faraji!

“Faraji!” Sethunya cried. Seeing his long lost love again Faraji cried, “Sethunya!” The two Meerkats ran for each other and were soon in each other’s graces. They nuzzled each other’s muzzles and purred in happiness. “Sethunya,” Faraji cried. “Faraji,” Sethunya cried in return. That’s when Shasmecka noticed another Meerkat…Tupac! Like Sethunya and Faraji, Tupac and Shasmecka ran toward each other and embraced one another. For a moment the two pairs felt as if they were the only ones their, but their happy reunion was cut short.

“Well, well, isn’t this a couple of touchy reunions? Too bad they need to end right now,” Ekwueme said with a growl as he than got ready to push Benvolio off the shelf.

“NOOO! DON’T EKWUEME!” Ekwueme looked up, or actually down, to see Sethunya with her paws in the air and with a pleading look on her face.

“Why ever not minion?” Ekwueme scoffed.

“Be-because you shouldn’t! Why are you doing this? All of it.” Sethunya asked Ekwueme, still with a pleading look in her eye.

“Because I deserve to be Kalahari King and for me to do so I had to get rid of you and Mr. Shakespearian and Miss Shasmookie!” Ekwueme barked. Sethunya suddenly realized something.

“You—you did that? You were the reason why me, Benvolio, and Shasmecka got sent to that Zoo?!” Ekwueme looked at her with a stuck-up face and said,

“Who else you think did it? I led the Humans to you, although I didn’t get caught.” While he talked Faraji and Captain Duna sneaked out the window and went toward a window, which was open since its glass had long ago shattered, that was next to the shelf. By the time Ekwueme realized that two Meerkats were missing, Faraji and Captain Duna had leaped out of the window onto the shelf and faced Ekwueme with enraged faces. “Even if you do win I’ll make sure it ain’t a happy victory,” Ekwueme growled to everyone. Than he looked at Benvolio and said sinisterly, “Too bad you never got to become the Kalahari King.”

With that Ekwueme shoved Benvolio off the shelf. “AAAHHH!” Benvolio yelled as he fell.

“BENVOLIO!” Everyone, except Ekwueme, shouted, although Captain Duna shouted “PRINCE BENVOLIO!” but mostly the name Benvolio was heard. At the same time Faraji and Captain Duna leaped onto Ekwueme. Amiri lunged to catch Benvolio, but fell a bit too short. Benvolio hit the ground at full force.

Amiri couldn’t believe what just happened. He also wandered why it seemed so quiet. Faraji, Captain Duna, and Kgosi, who had joined the two shortly before Benvolio fell, were giving Ekwueme a good beating and Sethunya, Shasmecka, and Jack were sobbing terribly. All he could hear was the dust that was fluttering around, which Benvolio created when he hit the floor. His brother didn’t move a muscle and hadn’t made a sound since he hit the floor. Amiri couldn’t even cry; he just stared at his brother with traumatized eyes.

Faraji soon gave Ekwueme a smack that sent the Meerkat falling onto the boxes, which put him out immediately. Than the three Meerkats on the shelf ran out the window and went back through the one they smashed and joined their mourning friends. Faraji and Sethunya cried in each other’s embraces, and Tupac comforted Shasmecka as she sobbed miserably. Jack cried in his own paws, while Captain Duna and Kgosi cried silently to themselves. Amiri stood in position, but he soon began to crawl toward Benvolio. Once he got close enough he reached his paw out to touch his brother, but he hesitated for some reason. He reached his paw out again and this time he touched Benvolio. He immediately drew his paw back. Benvolio didn’t feel cold, but than exactly how long did it take for a body to cool down? Amiri looked at his brother again and leaned his head toward Benvolio’s head.

“Ben?” Amiri whispered. No reply. “Benvolio?” Amiri asked, this time saying it in Benvolio’s ear. No reply…but suddenly Amiri saw Benvolio’s whiskers quiver. Or was that just the wind? How could there be wind? There’s no wind in here cause the room has walls. Than that means…

“Amiri?” Benvolio asked hoarsely. Amiri wagged his tail as fast as he could.

“BENVOLIO!”  Amiri cried out. Hearing the name Amiri cried out all the other Meerkats stopped their mourning and looked up to see Amiri embracing Benvolio. Benvolio slowly opened his eyes and let out a series of hoarse coughs.

“He—he—he’s alive!” Shasmecka whispered. Yet everyone somehow heard her. Everyone cried again, but this time in happiness. They quickly scurried over to Benvolio and Amiri and joined in the celebration. Benvolio felt a bit dazed and was a little confused at what had just happened. All he could remember was that Ekwueme had pushed him off the shelf and he fell and hit the floor, everything else blacked after that.

“Wh-what happened?” Benvolio asked, still a bit disorientated.

“You fell off the shelf and we thought you were, well, dead,” Kgosi told Benvolio.

“Yeah,” Jack said. Benvolio swayed his head side to side for a moment till he didn’t feel lightheaded. Than he looked around nervously and asked,

“Whither is Ekwueme?”

“Right there,” Faraji answered, indicating Benvolio to where Ekwueme was still laying, unconscious, on the pile of boxes.

“Are you alright Ben?” Shasmecka asked.

“Aye, methinks.” Benvolio replied.

“Well we’ll make sure you feel better in no time, Prince Benvolio!” Captain Duna said. Benvolio couldn’t help but to chuckle at the fact that Captain Duna never addressed anyone by just his or her first name.

“I’m glad to see that you are okay,” Jack told Benvolio. That’s when Benvolio and Shasmecka, who was standing right next to Jack, realized that their friend’s nose snout seemed to be slightly tilted to the left. Jack stared at them both for a second as the two Meerkats looked at him, staring at his battle injury. Jack than giggled and said to Benvolio in a slurred voice, “Yo Mick—he broke my nose—how’s it look?” Benvolio smiled and replied,

“Ahh, it’s an improvement.” Than the two Meerkats laughed, at their joke.

“What’s so funny?” Shasmecka asked.

“That’s a line from a movie with Rocky Balboa!” Jack laughed.

Sethunya stood among her reunited family, and friends, as a sense of victory came over her. Ekwueme was right that they would be victorious, but he was wrong about it being a sorrowful one. Instead her and her love Faraji were together again, and not as Kalahari’s wanted Meerkats but as the Kalahari’s King and Queen.

News broke out that Ekwueme had been dethroned and that Sethunya and Faraji were back to being the Kalahari’s King and Queen. All the Meerkats were happy about that, since none of them liked Ekwueme. Over the next several months Sethunya and Faraji fixed up what Ekwueme had destroyed and brought harmony and safety back to the desert. Shasmecka and Tupac continued to meet each other and Sethunya could see a promising relationship between them two. Amiri grew more responsible and made sure to not let his sense of fun get in the way of more urgent stuff. He soon turned two years old and graduated from Survival School. He tried to find himself a girl, but for now, Sethunya thought he should wait till the right girl came around. Benvolio fully recovered from his near-death fall and was back to his responsible self. At the moment he wasn’t looking for any future females to become his wife or Queen of the Kalahari but Sethunya knew he soon would, eventually. She put Captain Duna above all the other guards and also as the guards’ personal adviser. Kgosi continued to live in his old Burrow but Sethunya made sure that he was always in a protected area. Jack didn’t return to the city and, instead, became a teacher at the school, where he taught about Humans and the outside world as well as how to read and write. His nose turned out to be permanently shifted. So it always was a bit tilted to his left. Ekwueme’s guards, Tau, Abarafo, and Gotto, ended up getting sent to the Miami Florida Zoo, after the Humans decided they wanted their Meerkats back.

          Sethunya and Faraji soon had their celebration for being the Kalahari’s King and Queen for six years. And the celebration double when Tupac proposed to Shasmecka. The happy couple got married two months afterward. Benvolio still needed to find himself a mate, but he wasn’t in a rush. Amiri was still a bit young himself but than, so was Shasmecka when she fell in love with Tupac. Tupac and Shasmecka also nearly became Kalahari King and Queen, but that was still something that Benvolio was to receive since he was the oldest. Shasmecka didn’t care though, she was perfectly happy with what she had.

          All in all Sethunya was proud of her family and herself. She had successfully helped Benvolio, Shasmecka, and Jack escape the Miami Florida Zoo, got them back to the Kalahari, defeated Ekwueme, got her, and Faraji’s, crown back, and saved the Kalahari’s residents for whatever Ekwueme had in store for them.

 She truly was the Kalahari Queen.

 The End

 

The End

0 comments about this story Feed