“All these deaths have been mystifying cats and owners everywhere, bewildering everyone. Who is killing these cats? Whoever this maniac is, our fellow cats are mortified by the thought of a feline hater in our midst.” The large, pale grey tom pounded the podium with his paws. “Cats have been disappearing, then turning up dead weeks later. Just last week, we discovered Mr. Fluffybuns lying dead in the gutter. His funeral was this morning, and still we are no closer to avenging him and the other dead cats! This is why I shall take up the case myself, and catch this killer once and for all.”

A cat stood up in the audience. “D-d-detective M-Mittens, another disappearance has been reported. The v-victim was last seen yesterday, outside the C-Cat Cafe on 22nd Street.”

Mittens nodded. “Well, then, I’ll go speak to the cats who live there. Who lives there?”

“M-Mystic and Twilight. The creepy twins,” the cat stammered.

“Then I’ll go talk to them.” Mittens stepped off the center stage and scampered away at once to grab some stuff from his office.

Mittens arrived at the Cat Cafe. Mystic, the white cat splotched with black, and Twilight, the pale twilight-orange cat, sat outside, eyes closed. They appeared as if they were asleep. Mittens prodded Mystic with a paw gently. When she didn’t wake, he sighed exasperatedly, becoming very annoyed.

Mystic winced, shrinking away, and Twilight opened an eye. “Have patience, tom,” she rumbled mysteriously. “The mice may play when the cat’s away, but the cat will return and catch them by their tails before long.”

Mittens was confused. “What? And don’t call me Tom.”

“But you’re a tomcat, hon.” Mystic stood up and stretched.

Mittens rolled his eyes. “I need to ask you about the cat in this cafe yesterday. He’s a jet-black tomcat, and he was with a stone-grey she-kitten.”

Twilight sighed. “Ohh, him. We remember him. The silent one who never speaks, but to whisper his innermost thoughts to the one he feels is right.”

Mystic let out a small purr. “He had the cutest little daughter. What was her name, Twi?”

“He told us it was Willow. Like, the tree.”

Mystic giggled. “Just the most adorable little thing.”

“What can you tell me about him?” Mittens asked.

“His name was Midnight,” Twilight meowed, “but other than that, nothing much, except that he worked with the Kat Treasury. You know, the one that hoards all the hunting taxes. Keeping our hard-earned mice.” She snorted disbelievingly. “They say it’s for future use, but I don’t buy it. The one who deals in deception and succeeds is the one that robs us of our free will.”

Mystic flicked her sister’s ear with a tail. “Of course you don’t, Twi. You don’t believe anything.” She turned to Mittens. “Anyway, everyone who died was in here at one time or another. We know exactly who they are, and all of them are connected in some way to the Treasury.”

“So you think the killer is going after the Treasury?” Mittens mused.

Twilight shrugged. “Probably. Whoever it is must be looking for the key. Like in that great book I read last week off the human’s table, where the dog tries to find the key to the soul. Normally I’m not a fan of dog books, but this one was amazing.”

Mystic giggled again. “But the killer doesn’t know that we have the-”

Twilight slapped her tail over her sister’s mouth, muffling her next words. “Shush! Silence is golden, or haven’t you heard?”

“I hope you don’t mind relinquishing the key?” Mittens asked, trying to hide his amusement.

Twilight gaped at him. “Give it to you? Are you serious?”

“Well-”

“We’d love to get it off our paws! It’s been sitting in the dusty attic for ages.” Twilight dashed inside and soon returned, clutching a bronze key in her mouth. She gave it to Mittens. “A pen has better use in the paws of one with skill than in the paws of one with only paper.”

“Thank you,” Mittens murmured. “You’ve been a great help.”

When Mittens returned to his office, he immediately looked in on the victims and their backgrounds. He soon discovered that Mystic and Twilight were right; they were all connected to the Treasury in some way or another, whether they worked there or had access. He was sure, then, that the killer would strike that night, for Midnight did indeed have a key, and that the killer would go straight to the underground vault in the forest.

The race was on.

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