Storynory presents Katie and the Catnappers, dedicated to Leonie, with thanks for a great idea. And we introduce a new voice to Storynory - Emma Wilson!
Read by Emma Wilson
Audio edited by Jana
Written by Bertie
Hello, this is Emma, and I'm here with a story about Katie, who is a witch - but that's a secret, and only a few people know about it. Like her entire class at school. And of course her best friend, Isis.
This story is a tale of two cats: one handsome and expensive, the other scruffy and not expensive-looking but definitely unique.
Marc Antony is a British Blue cat with a blue-grey coat and pointy ears above his owl-shaped face. He wears a lordly expression of serene satisfaction with himself and the world, and when he moves, which is not over-often, it is with dignity and grace.
Marc Antony's owner is somebody we know well. Her name is Isis, Katie's best friend, who prides herself on doing things not just well but perfectly. Before she chose a cat, Isis spent long evenings on the internet scrutinising every breed for looks, temperament, and health.
Not long after Marc Antony arrived, Katie came round to see him. He liked her instantly. She scratched his chin while he purred and squeezed his eyes into tightly closed slits of sheer contentment.
Isis asked, "Do you think you could make him talk?" and Katie said:
"Well, I don't know; witches' talking cats are special."
"Oh, go on, do try! I would love to know what he thinks about."
So Katie tried the cat-talk spell on him, but as she expected, the most he said was:
Marc Antony was the sort of cat who liked to keep his opinions to himself - not at all like Katie's own cat, Solomon, who can be pretty mouthy.
As the months went by, Marc Antony matured into an even more fine-looking animal, as befitted a cat of his extended pedigree.
Isis had intended him to remain inside the house. The weather became warmer, and his large, yellow eyes were fixed on the birds in the garden through the french window. His day of freedom came when he jumped through an open window. He chose a sunny spot by the goldfish pond. From then on, he was allowed out into the garden.
Mark Antony was not quite a fully grown cat when disaster struck. Katie was one of the first to hear the news when she received an emotional phone call from Isis:
"They... they took Marc Antony."
"What do you mean, they took him? Who took him?" asked Katie.
"Are you sure? Cats like to go roaming, you know. They usually come back when they get hungry or bored with the menu at the house where somebody is feeding them on the sly."
"No, no. Three expensive felines have gone missing on our street in one week! A police detective came round and told us that there's a gang of catnappers operating in the neighbourhood."
"Oh, dear, that does sound bad. I hope Solomon's okay."
"Katie, I don't think you have to worry. Solomon is hardly worth anyone stealing. Oh, I don't mean to be rude. He is very special to you. Unique. But nobody would pay a lot of money for him. Lookswise, he's just an ordinary black cat without any pedigree at all."
"Yes, I suppose you're right," said Katie, who wasn't offended. She could see the advantage in having a cat that catnappers wouldn't want to steal.
"Listen, Katie, do you think you can help us find Marc Antony?" asked Isis.
"Well, you know, with a magic spell or something."
"Hmmm. If it was Solomon, I could trace him through the Crystal Ball. But Marc Antony isn't a witch's cat or even a slightly magical cat. He's just an expensive pedigree who won't show up in any crystal."
"Surely there's something you can do?"
"Well, I don't know," said Katie, "But I'll consult some books."
Katie picked up a much-loved volume called "Cats through the Ages." She turned the pages but could find few clues from history about catnappers. Then she began to read about a witch's cat that could shift its shape. Back in days of witches' persecution, owning a black cat could get you burned - so witches made their black cats look like tabbies - and that got her thinking.
"Maybe Solomon could tempt the catnappers after all," thought Katie."
She found him curled up in the airing cupboard. He grumbled as she picked him up:
"Mewooh, where are you taking me? Don't you know it's rude to wake someone up all of a sudden?"
And he was not all pleased when he found himself placed inside the cat box.
"Nothing to worry about, Solomon," Katie said, "We're visiting my friend Isis. I know that you like her a lot."
"Yes, I do," agreed Solomon. "She's a classy sort of girl, not like you."
"Thank you, Solomon," said Katie. "I always appreciate your snobby comments."
Solomon was happy to jump into Isis's arms as soon as Katie released him from the box.
"I heard that you bought a kitty-cat of your own," he said as she stroked his head. His eyes looked like they were closed, but there were tiny gaps between his eyelids, and he was watching jealously for signs of another feline.
"Well darling, Solomon," said Isis, "That's why I need your help so very much. My poor cat, Marc Antony, has been stolen by catnappers, and I am so very much counting on you to help me find him."
"But you're such a brave and magical cat, Solomon. A few silly catnappers couldn't bother you."
"You're so purrrrrrrceptive," said Solomon, "But what's in it for me?"
"I'll love you forever,"
"And..." asked Solomon.
"And my dad will pay for an entire day at the luxury cat spa, where you'll be pampered, and pedicured, and cat-massaged, and fed on catnip and wild organic trout to your heart's content."
"How about the lifetime platinum package?"
"Oh, come on, don't push your luck! My dad isn't made of money!"
"Well, ok-aaay," said Solomon, "How can I be of service to you?'
"It'll be so much fun!" Isis declared, clapping her hands. "You'll be an undercover cat—a feline superhero. Katie will do a spell to smarten you up and make you look expensive - and then you will strut up and down our street every evening until the catnappers come along and catnap you. She will trace your location on the crystal ball, and we will rush into the robber's layer and rescue you and all the other cats who've been catnapped, including Marc Antony."
"I don't get it," said Solomon, "Why do I have to change my appearance?
Aren't I tempting enough for a catnapper?"
Isis sighed. "Shall we tell him, Katie?"
"No," said Katie, "just let him focus on the reward for being brave."
Katie's spell took no more than a few seconds. Afterwards, Solomon admired himself in the mirror. He now had a golden coat with dark spots and a shiny, expensive shimmer when he moved.
"Nice," he said, "I'm a Bengal. I like it."
When Katie went home, the newly shimmering Solomon stayed with Isis. Naturally, her mum and dad wanted to know who was the newcomer.
"He looks like a gangster with that coat," commented her dad.
Solomon was not impressed and slipped through the open window into the garden.
"Isn't it dangerous for him to go out with catnappers around"? asked Isis's mum.
Isis would never tell a lie, but you can't always explain to parents about magic, and so she invented a story that was the next best thing to the truth. She told them that he was an undercover police cat who had a GPS tracker under his skin.
Solomon spent the evening patrolling up and down Isis's street, admiring the large six-bedroom villas and the extensive gardens. "Katie's mum could never afford a house on a street like this," he said to himself mournfully. "She has far too many morals to make money and absolutely refuses to dabble in alchemy. But what does she think all the bankers and lawyers and dentists do for a living? Hand out free cash to the poor? I don't think so."
It wasn't until Saturday night that Solomon's feline sense told him something untoward was about to happen.
He could have gone invisible, or turned himself into a tiger, or done any number of things to escape, but his thought of the cat spa remained quite still. A large hand picked him up and dropped him into a box. A lid came down and shut out the moonlight. It was pitch black inside. He didn't like that.
In the morning, Isis was waiting for Katie by the school gate. She was very excited:
"Katie, I've got big news. There was no sign of Solomon this morning. I think he's been catnapped!"
"Oh!" said Katie, "I'd been expecting it, for sure, but even so, it's still shocking. Oh, I do hope he is safe."
She worried about Solomon all day at school. As soon as she reached home in the evening, she ran upstairs to consult the crystal ball. But to her dismay, there was no sign of Solomon.
"How strange!" she thought, "He must be deliberately hiding from the crystal magic, unless, of course… something dreadful has happened to him."
There was no sign of Solomon the next day, the day after, or even the day after that. Katie was increasingly concerned and wondered if she might ever see him again. Then on Friday evening, when she came back home, feeling ever so worried, there he was, sitting on her doorstep with his usual black-cat appearance.
"Solomon! What happened to you?" Katie asked.
"Have I got a story to tell you," he said. "It's like a detective novel. The catnapper's place was a good old dive. I had to live in the kitchen with five other cats. But things were starting to look up. They were about to sell me to a Romanian Billionaire who lives in an actual castle with 45 bedrooms and 26 bathrooms. I was to have a boudoir, and a top artist was to paint my portrait. My flight was arranged - by a private jet, of course - when your silly spell ran out. One minute I was a prized Bengal cat jetting off to a life of luxury, and the next, I was me again. I'm as handsome as any pedigree, but they lost interest right away. They chucked me out! The cheek! What skin-deep superficiality! Looks aren't everything you know!"
"I do know," agreed Katie. "Some people are so shallow! All they think about is money and appearances. But you do realise that we love you regardless of your looks and lack of pedigree?"
"Well, I suppose so," admitted Solomon licking his paw. "The feeling's mutual."
"Well, thanks very much!" said Katie. "Oh! And what about Marc Antony? I do hope he's safe!"
"Mmmm, he's alright. They are sending him to a mega-wealthy family in Shanghai tomorrow."
"Tomorrow!" There's no time to lose!" exclaimed Katie. "Where is this catnapper hide-out?"
"It's not far. It's at number 3 Plunder Road."
"Really!" exclaimed Katie because that address was just around the corner.
She phoned Isis, and Isis told her dad where Marc Antony was being held prisoner, and he told the police detective investigating the catnappings. He insisted on how urgent the situation was. The very next evening, the police called round at the address and rescued the cats - just in time to save Mark Antony, who was packed up and ready to leave for Shanghai.
And several other expensive cats soon reunited with their rightful owners while two catnappers were in the police station's cells.
And perhaps, just perhaps, Solomon learned to appreciate that looks and luxury are nice, but genuine love is more important. All the same, he did enjoy his reward day of pampering at the cat spa.
And that was the story of Katie and the catnappers, written by Bertie and read by me, Emma Wilson, for Storynory.com.
And I'm delighted to dedicate this story to Leonie, who suggested that we write a Katie story about Catnappers. Well, thank you, Leonie, that was a fabulous idea. I do hope you enjoy what we did with your suggestion.
And don't forget, there are loads more Katie stories - and many, many other stories - on our website at Storynory.com. And you can catch our latest stories by subscribing to the podcast. We even have apps for Android and Apple. And there are EVEN more stories if you subscribe to our Patreon account.
For now, from me, Emma, at Storynory.com, Goodbye.