My name is Anna. I’m nine. I’m supposed to be writing my What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation Story for school, but I’m going to write this story first because you should always write a Real Investigation up straight away. I’m not supposed to talk about the hamsters and what happened to them anymore because Mom says it’s best to try to forget about it all, and stop exaggerating, and making it worse than it actually was. But I couldn’t do that anyway because massacres can’t really get any worse than they are. That is the point of them.
Tom is my little brother. I’ve got another brother too, and a sister, but they’re older than me and Tom and they don’t really care about hamsters much, so they’re not in this story. Tom is four years younger than me, except for a little while every year after he has his birthday, and before I have mine, when he is only three years younger. But most of the time he’s four years younger so it’s best to say that. Tom doesn’t look after the hamsters as much as me because sometimes he wants to go out outside and do other things like hold the carrier bag for the litter for Mr Tucker, or walk in a straight line with his eyes closed, or collect gravel.
Suzanne lives next door. Her last name is Barry. Our bedrooms are right next to each other. Me and Suzanne have got a Knocking Code. When I go to bed, I knock three times on my bedroom wall and, if the coast is clear, Suzanne knocks back three times, and then we both go to our windows and we open them and crawl out and sit outside on the ledge in the night. Suzanne’s watches all the police dramas on telly, even the late ones that I’m not allowed to watch, and that’s how Suzanne knows everything about Real Investigations.
Most of the time, if you ask Mom for something, especially if you follow her around and do it in a voice that goes, “Oh PLeeEAse, Mom… PLeeEAse…” In the end she will say, “Oh, for Goodness sake, alright.” But with the hamsters Mom just said, “No” and put the vacuum on, and turned the radio right up. Mom says that hamsters are all bad news. Nanna told me and Tom that when Mum was young she killed two hamsters. She said it was by mistake but me and Suzanne put her on the suspects list in the Hamster Massacre Investigation.
Suzanne’s Dad shouts all the time. We hear him through the wall. And he always says, “NO” whenever Suzanne asks for anything. He won’t let Suzanne have any pets because he says he’s allergic to pet hair. But the real reason he did it is because he hates pets. That’s why he is a suspect in the Hamster Massacre Investigation. Suzanne’s Dad is bald. He’s got piles. Sometimes he sits on the toilet for hours.
Mrs. Rotherham lives up the road. She used to be in the police. About a million years ago. She always has biscuits, and ice cream, and she knows exactly what you should do in a murder investigation. Her house smells of old things, and mothballs, the same as Nanna’s used to. Most old ladies houses smell a bit the same when they are really old (like the old cupboard upstairs at Sunday School).
Mr. Tucker lives across the street. He stands at his window, looking out for people doing things he doesn’t like, like burgling, or fighting, or dropping litter. Then he comes out of his house and tells them to stop. Especially if it’s litter. Mr. Tucker’s got a lot of medals from The War. One of Tom’s best things is when him and Mr. Tucker give each other the salute. Mr. Tucker is one of the suspects in the Hamster Massacre Investigation.
Hamster 1 & Hamster 2
The Small One: body 56 mm long, tail 7 mm. Tom likes Hamster Number 1 best because it’s small, and it will sit still in your hand if you’re quiet, and it doesn’t mind being stroked if you give it the crumbs from your biscuit.
The Big One: body 62 mm long, tail length unknown (couldn’t measure it because it kept biting). Tom doesn’t like Number 2 because it’s too fast, and its feet scratch, and it bites all the time.
The New Cat is not an ordinary cat that sits by the fire and lets you stroke it. It’s a Wild Cat, from a farm. The New Cat hunts. Outside, it hunts birds, mice, and Joe-down-the-road’s New Rabbit. It also hunts spiders, stones, and the wind.
Inside the house The New Cat hunts feet. It likes bare feet best, then in socks, then in slippers. If all the feet in the house are in shoes, and it is raining outside, it will hunt the vacuum, spider plants, and the sound of the Barrys’ toilet flushing. Mom said that wherever we might put a hamster, in whatever kind of a cage, with however many guards, if the New Cat couldn’t scare a hamster to death it would hunt it and kill it some other way.