We got off the bus at Samantha's neighbourhood. It was after-school and Sheryl thought that it would be a good idea to check out the so-called crime scene. I didn't know what we were going to find, since we weren't trained criminal scene investigators, but I guess having a look wouldn't hurt.
"Maybe it's some sort of underground cat trafficking ring," Sheryl said as we walked towards Samantha's house.
Samantha's eyes welled up with tears again.
"Uh, or, um, uh," Sheryl panicked, trying to stop Samantha's crying. "Or maybe someone thought that your cat was a stray, since you said the collar broke off, right?"
Samantha wiped away her tears, "R- Right!"
Throughout the neighbourhood, Samantha's posters were up everywhere. Weirdly though, it seemed as though some of the posters used a different picture. I walked up to such a poster and said to Samantha, "You have two different posters?"
"No, just the one," was the reply.
I looked at the poster closer, and Sheryl and Samantha peeked over my shoulders to get a better look. The cat definitely looked like Annabell, but the rest of the details on the poster was different. For instance, the name of the cat on this poster was Maxine, and the owner was an Ellen Sherwood. Most importantly, this cat didn't have a bell on its collar.
"Oh!" said Samantha. "These posters have been up for about a week now. It's for a different cat that's the same breed as Annabell."
"What?" said Sheryl, brewing up another theory, "Another cat of the same breed is missing too? Maybe it's some sicko who likes to 'collect' cats of the same breed."
"Uh," I said, hoping to stop Samantha from crying again, "But we won't know until we investigate, right, Sheryl?"
Sheryl caught a glimpse of Samantha's face and hurriedly agreed, "Uh, yeah, of course."
Just then, a voice called out to us, "Samantha!"
We turned around to see a woman with a squirming cat in her arms heading towards us.
"Mom! You found Annabell!" Samantha ran over to her mother.
"Well, case solved!" Sheryl said giving me a dramatic thumbs up, even though we didn't do anything.
However, as Samantha got closer, the cat hissed at her. Taken aback, Samantha stammered, "W-What's wrong, Annabell?"
"She's been like this ever since I found her," Samantha's mother said as she tried to calm the cat down, "Poor thing must be in shock."
Samantha tried to pat the cat on its head, only to have to pull away in surprise when the cat hissed at her again. Samantha was near tears now. "But Annabell's never been like this! What's wrong, girl?"
"Maybe that's not Annabell," said Sheryl.
We all gave Sheryl a look of surprise before realizing how obvious that was. Samantha's mother began parting the fur on the cat's head, looking for something, "You're right! This cat doesn't have a scar on the back of her head like Annabell does!"
"Hm," Sheryl began pondering now, "So that's not Annabell. Now we have two questions, where is the real Annabell, and whose cat is that?"
We stood there for a moment, pondering together.
Then, the pieces fell into place for me. "Why, it's elementary, my dear Sheryl."
Sheryl gave me a scowl and pouted, no doubt because I had use that phrase and had stolen her thunder. "Okay then, James, why don't you tell us?"
I pointed to the poster with the different cat. "That cat is Maxine, and Annabell is with Ms. Sherwood."