Case 3 - Annabell
As Sheryl and I were walking to school one day, we heard a wail charging towards us, "Sheryyyl!"
"Holmes," said Sheryl, in an annoyed tone, as she turned around, "Call me Hol-"
However, Sheryl's insistence on being called by her surname was interrupted by a girl tackling Sheryl into a hug. The two of them almost fell over from the force of the tackle-hug, but Sheryl managed to keep her balance somehow.
Hugging Sheryl tightly, with tears welling up in her eyes, the girl managed to sputter out some words, "Sh-Sheryl, Annabell's been kidnapped!"
"Sa-Samantha?" Sheryl was surprised to see our usually bubbly classmate so upset.
"You have to help me!" cried Samantha.
"Um," I chimed in, hoping to make sense of this situation, "Who's Annabell?"
Samantha loosened her grip on Sheryl and wiped her tears, "Oh! Sorry, I didn't see you there, Watson."
"It's James," I replied, annoyed. Ever since Sheryl made that announcement in class, some people have taken to calling me that whenever I'm with Sheryl Holmes. Focusing on the main subject again, I asked, "So who's Annabell?"
"Annabell's her cat." Sheryl answered for Samantha, who was trying to calm down. Samantha managed to somewhat recompose herself before Sheryl asked the next question, "So what happened?"
"I was in the front yard playing with Annabell on Saturday, when her collar broke off, so I went into the house to get her a new one. After I got the collar, I saw a woman outside the window. She walked over to Annabell and- and," Tears were starting to well up in Samantha's eyes again, "And then she took Annabell into her car and drove off!"
Samantha was crying now. Sheryl and I backed away a little, not knowing what to do. Sheryl shot me a look that said that I should go and comfort Samantha, so I shot a look back at Sheryl that said that she should do it, since they were friends.
Sheryl got the message and sighed. Slowly she walked up to Samantha and patted her on the back, "Uh, don't worry, Samantha. We'll help you."
Samantha's crying was reduced to sobbing as she looked up at Sheryl, "You will?"
"Of course!" Sheryl gave Samantha a smile, "The After-School Detectives are on the case!"
Samantha's face brightened up, "Thank you, Sheryl!"
"Wait," I said, "If this really is a kidnapping, shouldn't we tell the police?"
"Well, I told my parents, but they didn't believe me and they think that Annabell just ran away, so we've been posting these up around the neighbourhood since yesterday." Samantha reached into her bag, took out a poster, and handed it to us.
On the poster, it had the standard "Missing" headline, along with the cat's name, Annabell, and the standard details, such as address and phone number. In the middle, of course, was a picture of a cat with a bell collar.
"Annabell?" I noted the somewhat uncommon spelling of the name.
"Yeah," Samantha said, "Because of the bell!"
I smiled at the innocent pun.
And then I realized that we had been standing on the sidewalk for about fifteen minutes now. "Uh, guys, shouldn't we be heading towards the school?"
Sheryl and Samantha's eyes widened. Then, without a word, Sheryl took off in the direction of the school like a speeding bullet.
"Uh, here you go." I handed Samantha the poster back and started running too.
"W-Wait!" yelled Samantha as she struggled with putting the poster back into her bag quickly. However, her hand slipped and she dropped her bag, causing the contents to spill out on to the floor and causing Samantha to cry out desperately.
I sighed and walked back.
"Let me help," I said, crouching down to help her put her things back into her bag.
After we finished, she stood up and slung the backpack on to her back, then, giving me a smile, she said, "Thanks, James!"
The both of us ran all the way to the school, but we ended up late anyways. Luckily, Ms. Grey only gave us a minor warning before telling us to take our seats.
***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."
***"Thank you both so much!" said Samantha's mother as we walked out of Ms. Sherwood's driveway, with Samantha happily carrying Annabell in her arms.
"No problem!" Sheryl gave her a dramatic thumbs up. "That's what we After-School Detectives do!"
Sure enough, the woman that Samantha saw take away Annabell was Ms. Sherwood. Ms. Sherwood had mistaken Annabell for her missing cat, Maxine, since the two looked nearly identical, especially when Annabell didn't have her collar on. When we arrived, Ms. Sherwood knew that something was wrong, since Annabell was jumping all the over place, as if in a strange new environment. Sheryl (enthusiastically) explained what was going on, and everyone ended up with the right cat.
We reached the bus stop, and Samantha and her mother turned to leave. Samantha, her usual bubbly self again, said to us, "Thanks, Sheryl! Thanks, Watson! See you two tomorrow!"
"It's Holmes!" said Sheryl at the same time that I said, "It's James!"