The stone cat sits outside the veterinary sciences building, a serious sandstone sentinel guarding the entry.
Every student rubs its nose as they walk past. They have been doing it absently for 30 years.
Massey was less absent than most. She walked up to the stone cat and said “you’d love a big belly scratch, wouldn’t you?” and scratched her nails against the exposed sandstone belly.
The stone cat let out a stiff meow. She arched her back, stretched her legs, gave a tremendous leap and disappeared.
Massey scraped the sandstone flecks out from under her fingernails and flicked them into the garden.
“Hm,” she said.
For days, no one could talk of anything else. Where was the stone cat? Lurking in the gardens? Fouling the cafeteria kitchens? One thing was certain: the laboratory mice were vanishing. By the end of the week, there were none left. Soon the frogs, the pigeons and even old Blossom, the retired lab chimpanzee, were all gone.
The stone cat was enjoying such freedom as she hadn’t had in years. The vet sciences building was a treasure trove of nooks to hide in and small things to kill. She gleefully killed them all.
Soon, however, she ran out of live things to eat. Unease began to breed. Students hurried across the yard in groups, looking over their shoulders. Hard golden eyes peered out from shadows, unblinking. Oh, she was patient. She was coming; everyone knew it. It was a matter of when.
Massey didn’t suffer nerves but she did value her skin; so she thought of a solution. She raided the wet lab jars and took all the specimens out of the formaldehyde, laying them out like a buffet. The stone cat happily devoured the lot and developed a monstrous stomach ache. She crawled outside onto her old familiar podium. She felt awful.
The stone cat in front of the veterinary sciences building sits hunched up, an angry snarl on her face. The students look at her with great sympathy, but no one scratches her nose anymore. Occasionally, Massey gives her a rub behind the ears.