Authors: Martha Freeman
Copyright Â© 2005 by Martha Freeman
All Rights Reserved
HOLIDAY HOUSE is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
ISBN 978-0-8234-2438-2 (ebook)w
ISBN 978-0-8234-2681-2 (ebook)r
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Freeman, Martha, 1956â
Who stole Halloween?/ by Martha Freeman
p.Â Â Â cm.
Summary: When eleven-year-old Alex and his friend Yasmeen investigate
the disappearance of cats in their neighborhood, they stumble onto
a larger mystery involving a haunted house and a ghostly cat.
ISBN 0-8234-1962-2 (hardcover)
[1. CatsâFiction.Â Â Â 2. KidnappingâFiction.Â Â Â 3. GhostsâFiction.
4. Haunted housesâFiction.Â Â Â 5. HalloweenâFiction.
6. Mystery and detective stories.]Â Â Â I. Title.
PZ7.F87496Wj 2005Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â [Fic]âdc22Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2004060560
ISBN 978-0-8234-1962-3 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-8234-2170-1 (paperback)
For my neighbors
in State College, Pennsylvania.
You are always an inspiration.
Cats make excellent friendsâexcept for one thing. They are bad explainers. Yasmeen says this is because a cat's whole vocabulary is only meow, purr, and hiss. She says meow, purr, and hiss are inadequate for good explanations.
Yasmeen is my best friend who happens to be a girl. She is smarter than me, but this time she's wrong. When he feels like it, my cat can tell me a lot with only a lazy blink or a quick swish of his tail. The trouble is that most of the time he doesn't feel like it.
The real reason cats are bad explainers is
simple: They are too impatient. The way a cat figures, if he understands something, you should understand it, too. And if you don't, then you are not worth his trouble.
I was thinking these thoughts on a gray and spooky October afternoon, the kind when the trees look sort of like skeletons and the shadows look like ghosts. Yasmeen and I were running side by side, chasing my cat, Luau.
So far, Luau had not bothered to explain where he was going or why, or whether we were supposed to follow him or what.
“What's your theory?” Yasmeen asked me. “What's he up to?”
Yasmeen is tall, skinny, and fast, while I am none of the above. I was struggling to keep up, gasping for breath. “I only hopeÂ .Â .Â .Â it's not overÂ .Â .Â .Â to St. Bernard's,” I said. “That placeÂ .Â .Â .Â gives me the creeps.”
St. Bernard's is an old church near my street. Behind it is a just-as-old cemetery. I had hardly finished saying “the creeps” when Luau made a right turn and loped through the cemetery gate.
I swear, sometimes my cat has a nasty sense of humor.
Yasmeen laughed. “He's going to St. Bernard's all right.” Then she ran ahead of me through the gate, warbling like some soprano werewolf, waving her arms over her head.
Being cool the way I am, I ignored her behavior. Unfortunately, I was so busy ignoring her behavior that I didn't see a broken headstone and I tripped.
Oh, shootâAlex, are you okay? Oh my gosh, you're bleeding!” Yasmeen had run back and knelt next to me. “I have Band-Aids,” she said.
My hands hurt, but surprise stifled my tears. “You have Band-Aids?”
“I started keeping them in my pocket for emergencies,” she said. “It's a crazy world, Alex. Anything might happen.”
Yasmeen dabbed my scratches with antiseptic wipesâshe had those, tooâand smoothed on three Band-Aids. I expected Luau to be gone by the time she was done, but when I stood up,
I spotted him sitting by a statue of a grumpy-looking angel, washing his face.
“I don't get your feline,” Yasmeen said.
“You don't think maybe he's doing his ace-detective thing again?” I asked.
Yasmeen grinned. “I hope so.”
Luau seemed to be totally focused on personal hygiene, so, all sneaky, we crept toward him. We were about ten feet away when he looked up at us, which meant,
Oh, come on, guys
as if I didn't see you stalking me! I'm a
! We invented stalking!
Then he took one more swipe at his ear and bounded away.
Where was he going? It wasn't so long ago that my ace-detective cat had helped Yasmeen and me solve a mystery. Now he was so stuck-up he expected us to follow him anywhere, even into a deep, dark cemetery.
The wind made the dry leaves dance and rearranged the clouds. It also gave me goose bumps. Or was it being in a cemetery a week before Halloween that did that? Sometimes my imagination gets carried away. Everywhere Yasmeen
and I ran, we were stomping on dead people, weren't we? And where there are dead people, there are ghosts and ghouls and zombies.
Yasmeen said. She stopped under an oak tree and pointed at Luau. By now, he had doubled back and was sitting next to a big, elaborate headstone beside the grumpy angel. It wasn't the stone that caught my attention, though. What I noticed was what was stuck to the back of itâsome kind of flyer with a picture. Why would somebody attach a flyer to a headstone, anyway?
Luau stretched and swished his tail and looked at us, which meant,
Why don't you read me what it says?
If I had been by myself, I would have called Luau to come, then turned around and gone home. But Yasmeen was never going to let me get away with that. She just loves a mystery, the stranger the better. And guess what? The flyer on the gravestone was the start of another big mystery, one that would get me, and Yasmeen, and especially Luau into grave, grave trouble.
Yasmeen was disappointed.
“A flyer posted on a gravestoneâ
would have been mysterious,” she said. “But I guess it was only the wind holding it there. It must've blown through the fence or something.”
She held the paper up. Under a photocopied picture of a sleek black cat were the words:
Please bring back Halloween!
Beloved pet, last seen October 22.
Call Kyle Richmond.
No questions asked!
Then there was a phone number and an address on Groundhog Drive.
“Isn't that near Ari's house?” Yasmeen asked me.
“Yeah,” I said, “and I think I know Kyle from schoolâwho he is anyway. Uh, can we go now?” The sun had sunk behind Mt. Lyon, and the light was fading fast. You can imagine how eager I was to be in a graveyard in the dark. “Come on, Luau. You ready?”
Luau side-rubbed my leg and looked up at me, which meant,
Can I have a ride, please? All that running has left me exhausted
. I picked him up and heaved him over my shoulder, which isn't as easy as it sounds. Luau is one of those big-shouldered, muscley cats. He's not fat, but he weighs a ton.
We started walking. Luau purred. Yasmeen lectured: “There's no such thing as ghosts, you know. They are merely figments of a vivid imagination.”
Yasmeen talks like that a lot. Her mom is a librarian, and her dad is an English professor.
Her family lives next door to mine, so we've been friends since we were babies. It's only because I've had so much practice that I, a regular kid, can even understand her.
“That's your opinion,” I said. “But plenty of people have seen ghosts. Plus there's that house on Main Street; everyone knows it's haunted.”
By now we were walking back through the cemetery gate. The moon had come out, and three bats flitted overhead.
“The Harvey house?” Yasmeen shook her head. “Mr. and Mrs. Blanco bought that, did you know? I bet they never have seen any ghosts thereâand neither have I.”
Mr. and Mrs. Blanco live on the same street as Yasmeen and me, Chickadee Court. “Are the Blancos moving?” I asked.
“Uh-uh,” Yasmeen said. “They didn't buy the house to live in. They're opening some kind of fancy store. My dad calls it a health boutique.”
I laughed. “Makes perfect sense. A boo-tique!”
Yasmeen didn't laugh.
“It's a joke,” I explained. “Ghosts? Boo?”
“I get it,” Yasmeen said.
“Then you should have laughed,” I said, “to be polite.”
“Ha-ha,” Yasmeen said.
“Thank you,” I said.
Luau shifted his weight, and his whiskers tickled my ear. Only two blocks and we'd be home. My arms looked forward to putting him down. But Yasmeen had another idea. “Let's do some detecting,” she said.
“Oh, come on,” she said. “Just a teensy-weensy bit of detecting.
detecting. I promise.”
This was not a promise I could trust. And I definitely did
want to get involved in another mystery.
Still, I couldn't help but wonder what Yasmeen was thinking. So I asked her, and she answered with a question: “Didn't you notice something unusual about the flyer? Aside from its being on the gravestone, I mean. Here, look.”