This is a story about Tom, and the Cat Lady, and everything that happened when the New Cat vanished. After it went missing, Mom said that me and Tom had to stop talking about the New Cat, and telling everyone how it had been kidnapped by the Cat Lady, and all that. She said, “Anna
,” (that’s my name) “you can’t go around accusing old ladies, and bandying words like ‘conspiracy’ about, which you don’t even understand.” But, like I told Tom, I did
understand what a conspiracy was. Because me and my friend Suzanne looked it up in my dictionary, when we first heard there was one from Graham Roberts at Sunday School. This is what it said:
conspiracy [kun-spir-uh-see] noun
an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret; plot
And what the dictionary said was probably right. Because ours wasn’t the only cat that had vanished. Emma Hendry, in Mrs. Peters’s class, couldn’t find her cat either. And nor could Joe-down-the-street’s babysitter, Brian. And Graham Roberts said he had seen
the Cat Lady kidnapping cats, and taking them into her house, himself. And he said, “With my very own eyes,
” and swore it was true on Mrs. Constantine’s life
. Mrs. Constantine is in charge at Sunday School. She is the Vicar’s wife.
Suzanne said that Graham swearing on Mrs. Constantine might not count, because Graham sometimes lies. And you’re only supposed to swear on the life of someone you like
. And Graham didn’t even have Mrs. Constantine going to heaven when he did his big collage called “IT’S JUDGEMENT
DAY!” Because he made her out of an egg carton and she was too big to fit on it.
Anyway, like I told Mom, me and Tom did know some
things about the Cat Lady, and where the New Cat was, and what had happened to it, and so did Suzanne. Because we were the ones who had sent out the Search Party. And
we were the ones who were actually in
it. And the whole point
of a Search Party is to find things out.
It was Tom who first noticed that the New Cat had vanished. Tom is my brother. He’s five. He’s four years younger than I am. I’m nine. I’ve got another brother and a sister too, called Andy and Joanne, but they’re not in this story because they’re older than me and Tom and they don’t really care about cats or conspiracies or anything like that.
If it wasn’t for Tom, no one might even have minded that the New Cat had gone anywhere. Because, before we couldn’t find it, Tom was the only one in our house who cared about the New Cat, and what it got up to.
Mom said that she
cared about what the New Cat got up to as well because, she said, “I’m
the one who has to clean up after it all the time.”
But that isn’t really the same kind of caring.
Most cats don’t need to be cleaned up after. That’s why Mom said we could get a new one, after our Old
Cat died, and why we weren’t allowed a dog, like me and Tom wanted. The New Cat isn’t like most cats, though. The New Cat makes more mess than anyone’s dog does. It makes more mess even than Tom. And it’s not easy-to-clean-up mess, either. Not like jigsaws, and sticklebricks, and Spider-Man pants, and all that. The mess that the New Cat makes is normally dead
. Because, whenever it leaves the house, the New Cat hunts.
And, after it’s been hunting, it brings the things it has hunted inside, and puts them in places for people to find. Sometimes the things it brings in are still a bit alive. Like the hedgehog curled up in a ball, which it rolled in through the front door. And the greenfinch with one wing, which was flapping behind the fridge. And the frog in the log basket, which me and Suzanne were going to bury, until we got it in the garden and it hopped out of its box.
Most of the time, though, the things that the New Cat brings in are definitely
dead. And sometimes they’re so dead it’s hard to tell what they would
have been when they were alive
. And that’s when you only find a few feathers, or a bunch of bones, or a pile of slimy insides.