It was four o'clock in the morning and Patience couldn't sleep.
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
What a terrible noise! The loud music went on and on and on. Her neighbour in the flat opposite was having an all-night party.
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
Patience had gone to bed at ten o'clock because she had to get up at six. Today was really important. She had to show her boss her designs for the new beauty cream adverts.
Patience got out of bed and went across the room to the window of her third-floor flat. She looked out and saw her neighbour and his friends. They were dancing and laughing and having lots of fun… and making lots of noise.
'I don't want to be difficult, but I need to sleep,' she thought as she opened the window.
'Hello?' she called. 'Excuse me? Could you please...?' But she didn't finish her question because no one could hear her.
Just then she heard a miaow. She looked down. There, sitting on the seat of her neighbour's motorbike, was the largest cat that Patience had ever seen. It was grey and black, with huge golden eyes. The cat was watching her.
'Hi, cat!' Patience called. 'Some people are having a good time, aren't they?'
'But I'm having a very bad time,' she thought. She shut the window and went back to bed.
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
The music continued and Patience still couldn't sleep. Finally she got up and began to paint. Patience loved painting. She worked as a designer but she really wanted to be an artist. She used lots of colours on the paper: reds, blues, yellows, purples… She started to feel better.
Suddenly the music stopped. The party was over.
'At last!' Patience thought.
Then she heard an unhappy miaow from outside the window. She opened the window and looked up. The cat with the huge golden eyes was on a window-sill above the window next door. It miaowed again. It looked frightened.
'Hello again, cat,' said Patience. 'Can't you get down?'
'Poor thing!' she thought. 'It's too scared to move.'
'Come on, kitty, kitty, kitty. You can do it!' she said. The cat miaowed again and stayed where it was.
'Oh OK, cat,' Patience said. 'I'll come and get you. Wait a minute. One, two, three...'
She climbed out of her window onto her window-sill. She looked down and suddenly felt very frightened. It was a long way down to the street below. She counted to three again and moved closer to the cat.
'Come on, kitty,' she said. But the cat didn't move.
There was a metal box on the wall near the cat. Patience put one foot on the box and then the other. It seemed safe. She reached for the cat.
'Don't do it!' called a voice from the street below.
Patience looked down and saw a tall, slim man with dark hair. The driver's door of his car was open behind him.
'It's going to be OK,' the man continued. 'I'm a policeman. Maybe I can help you.'
'Oh no! He thinks I'm trying to jump out of the window!' thought Patience. She tried not to laugh — a laugh was dangerous up here. She reached for the cat again but it had disappeared. Suddenly the metal box began to come loose. It started to fall away from the wall and Patience almost fell. 'Help!' she shouted.
'What's your flat number?' shouted the man.
Patience held onto the window-sill. 'Twenty-three!' she called.
The man ran into the building and up the stairs. The metal box moved again. 'Oh no!' thought Patience. 'I'm going to fall. Hurry, hurry!'
A moment later the man crashed through the door into her flat. The metal box fell to the ground and Patience started to fall. Suddenly the man was at the open window. He caught her and pulled her back into the room. 'I've got you, I've got you,' he shouted. He fell onto the floor next to Patience.
'Oh thank you,' she said. She looked into his dark eyes and handsome face. 'What am I doing?' she thought suddenly. She stood up quickly.
'Are you OK?' the man asked as he stood up.
'Fine,' Patience said. Her face was going red. 'Never better. And you?'
'Is that all that you can say, Patience?' she thought to herself. 'This man's just saved your life!'
At that moment the cat with the golden eyes came through the window and jumped onto the floor.
'I went out there to rescue that cat,' Patience told the man.
He was amazed. 'You went out there to rescue your cat? What a mad thing to do!'
'No,' Patience said. 'I mean yes, but it's not my cat.'
The man laughed. 'So you went out there to rescue someone else's cat?'
'Well you came out to rescue me!' said Patience. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. He had nice white teeth. He really was very handsome. Patience quickly looked at her watch.
'Oh no! Is that the time?' she cried. 'I'm going to be late. I've got to go.'
She ran to the table and picked up all her designs. She had worked really hard on them for the past four weeks. She couldn't be late for the meeting with her boss.
'I've got an important meeting today,' she explained as they left the flat.
'Good luck,' he said. 'I hope it goes well.'
'Thank you,' she said. She wanted to say more but instead she just stood there.
'Go,' he ordered.
Patience smiled. She turned to go, but she dropped her handbag. She picked it up quickly and left.
The policeman watched Patience as she went. Then he looked down and saw her purse lying on the ground.
He picked it up and smiled.
'Today is getting very interesting,' he thought.
A surprise visitor
Patience worked for Hedare Beauty, one of the biggest beauty product companies in the United States.
She hurried into the office building. There were large photos everywhere of Laurel Hedare, the beautiful blonde wife of the head of the company, George Hedare.
Patience crashed into someone. 'Sorry!' she said. Then she crashed into someone else.
'Oh no,' she thought. 'Things are not going well today.'
George Hedare was a very important man. He had built Hedare Beauty from a very small company into a huge world corporation. He was having a meeting with the other directors of the company.
On a screen behind him were two large photos of the same woman. In one photo, the woman looked ugly and old. In the other photo, she looked very beautiful and twenty years younger.
George Hedare pointed at the photos.
'Women want to look beautiful,' he said. 'They want to look younger. That's good news for us because they will pay us lots of money for our beauty products!'
He laughed. Everyone in the room laughed with him… except his wife.
'In one week,' he continued, 'we will give them a new product: Beau-line. It's the most exciting beauty product since soap. It doesn't just hide the lines on a woman's face — it really makes her skin young again!'
'And we're going to have a new face for our new product, aren't we, Laurel?' Hedare looked at his wife.
Laurel stood up. 'Yes,' she said. 'My husband… and I… have decided that after fifteen years it's time for a new face for Hedare. A younger face.'
She sat down. The photo on the screen changed to a beautiful young woman with long, dark hair, dark skin and beautiful eyes.
'This is Drina!' said Hedare. 'The future of Hedare Beauty.'
Patience stood in front of Hedare's door with her designs.
'I'm so nervous,' she said to her friend, Sally. 'These are my first really important adverts and I want everything to be perfect.'
'Don't be nervous,' said Sally. 'You're such a good artist and your designs are wonderful. Good luck.'
'I'm going to need it,' thought Patience as she walked into Hedare's office.
Hedare was sitting at his desk. Laurel was standing by the window.
'Hi, Mr Hedare,' said Patience as she put her designs on his desk.
'Sit down,' said Hedare.
Patience sat down. Hedare looked quickly at her work.
'I don't like these designs at all,' he said. 'I told you clearly what I wanted. Why haven't you done them that way? Look at this red, for example. It's completely wrong. I wanted something darker.'
'But you said...' Patience began, and then stopped. Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to say anything.
'I know what I said!' shouted Hedare. 'Your clothes are terrible and your hair is terrible. It's no surprise that your designs are terrible too.'
'I'm sorry, Mr Hedare,' said Patience. 'Please give me another chance.'
Laurel turned around. 'Give her more time, George. You know she's a good designer.'
'OK,' said Hedare. 'By midnight, tonight.'
Patience got up. She gave Laurel a quick smile as she walked to the door.
'That's the second time that someone has rescued me today!' she thought.
While Patience was working on the designs, Sally was standing behind her. She was putting cream on her face.
'This Beau-line cream is brilliant, Patience,' she said.
Patience looked round. 'You're using a lot of that cream, Sally,' she said. 'You can't buy it yet. How did you get it?'
Sally didn't answer. She offered the cream to Patience.
'No, thanks,' Patience said.
'Well, you don't really need it,' said Sally. 'Ow!'
'What's the matter?' asked Patience.
'I've got another headache. It's OK. It'll go away.'
'There's a man to see you, Patience,' said Lance, another Hedare designer.
Sally looked into the hall. 'Wow!' she said. 'He's really good-looking.'
When Patience looked up, she got a surprise. It was the handsome policeman.
'Hello,' he said.
'Hi,' said Patience. 'Sally, this is...' She stopped. She realised that she didn't know the man's name. 'This is the detective that I told you about this morning.'
'Tom Lone,' said the man.
'Nice to meet you,' said Sally. 'Well, I must go. See you soon.' And she left Patience alone with Tom.
'How did you know where to find me?' Patience asked him.
'You dropped your purse,' he said, giving it to her.
'Oh! I didn't know. Thank you so much,' she said.
'I like your work,' he said. He pointed to her drawing book, which was open on her table.
'Thank you,' she said. Her face was hot.
'Would you like to have a coffee with me tomorrow?' he asked. 'There's an Italian cafe around the corner. Grecio's. On Sixth Street. Is one o'clock OK?'
Patience tried to speak but she couldn't move her mouth. 'Urn… yes. I'd like that,' she said finally.
'Great,' said Tom. 'See you tomorrow then.'
As he walked away, Sally arrived.
'Wow!' said Sally. 'Lucky you! But what are you going to wear for your date? I know! Why don't you wear those leather clothes that Lance and I gave you for your birthday?'
Patience imagined herself in the tight leather trousers and jacket. 'No way!' she thought. 'That's not my style at all.'
Patience worked hard on her designs all day. By the time she had finished, it was half past eleven at night and everyone else in the office had gone home. There was no one to take her designs to George Hedare at the factory. Patience decided to take them to him herself.
She didn't have much time, so she took a taxi to the Hedare Beauty factory. She tried a door but it was locked. She looked at her watch. 'Oh no! It's almost too late,' she thought.
She shouted as loudly as she could, 'Hello? Is anyone there?' But there was no reply.
Then she saw some lights at the back of the factory. She walked towards them and found another door. Luckily it was open. Patience went in.
She could hear people talking in a room not far away. She walked towards the room.
'I don't care if women get terrible headaches when they use Beau-line,' Dr Slavicky was saying. 'I can live with that. And I don't care if women can't stop using Beau-line. That will make me very rich! But I don't want to destroy women's faces. I won't do it.'
Patience looked into the room and saw a video screen. On the screen there was a woman's face. It was an old face, with lots of lines. Then, slowly, the face began to change. It became younger and younger. The lines disappeared. But the face continued to change. It became hard like a stone. The skin began to crack.
Patience turned and ran. She crashed into a table.
'Who's there?' shouted Slavicky.
Patience ran as fast as she could. A door opened and two men came out. Their names were Armando and Wesley. Their job was to protect George Hedare, and they went everywhere with him.
Patience hid behind a big machine.
'Come out,' Wesley called. 'It's OK. We only want to ask you a few questions.'
'Oh good. That's OK then,' thought Patience. She came out from behind the machine. 'I'm sorry. I think I'm in the wrong...'
A bullet from Wesley's gun hit the machine beside her.
Patience dropped her designs and ran. Bullets flew past her as she ran through the factory. She came to a pool of dark water. There were lots of metal bridges over it, but there was no way out to another part of the factory. Patience looked up. Above her were several huge pipes. Maybe she could find a way out up there.
She climbed inside one of the pipes and began to move down it on her hands and knees. Then, suddenly, she reached the end. It felt like the edge of the world. Far below her was a fast river. And between her and the river were 200 metres of nothing.
Suddenly she heard a terrible noise. A huge wall of water was coming up behind her. Armando and Wesley had opened the pipes! The water crashed over her, throwing her down, down, down into the river below.
Everything went black.
Patience's phone was ringing. She woke up. Then she sat up and fell off the cupboard!
'What's happening? Why was I on top of the cupboard?' she thought. Her arms and legs were black and blue and her dirty clothes were all over the floor.
Patience's machine answered the phone. It was Sally. 'Where are you, Patience?' she said. 'Hedare is very angry — and Tom called. He said you didn't meet him at the cafe. I'm worried about you. Please call me.'
'I'm not late for work already, am I?' she thought. 'What time is it?' She looked at her clock. 1.50 p.m. It was the afternoon already and she'd only just woken up! How was that possible?
She heard a miaow. The cat with golden eyes was sitting there. It was watching her.
'It's you again,' said Patience. 'I think there's something very strange about you.' She read the address on the cat's neck.
'I'm going to take you home, cat. Now.'
A fifty-year-old woman opened the door.
'Are you Ophelia Powers?' Patience asked. 'I rescued your cat and now it won't leave me alone.'
The woman looked at Patience. 'I think you should come in,' she said.
Patience went into the living room. There were cats everywhere. Ophelia brought her a cup of tea.
'Midnight,' said Ophelia.
'I'm sorry? What?'
'Her name's Midnight. She's an Egyptian Mau. There aren't many cats like her. She can do special things.'
'You mean that she suddenly appears and frightens people?' asked Patience.
'Things like that,' said Ophelia. 'You seem worried about something. Do you want to talk about it?'
'I'm sorry. I can't. I've got to get to work. I'm really late.'
'Then I think you should come back,' Ophelia said. 'Come when you want to. I'm always here.'
'What's wrong with you?' shouted Hedare. Patience was sitting at her desk.
'I needed those designs at midnight. But they didn't arrive. And now you can't even remember where they are. You can't remember?! I've never… Are you even listening to me, Philips?'
'No. You're a lot more interested in all this than I am,' replied Patience. She was drawing in her book. Hedare quickly took the page from her. It was a funny picture of him: fire and smoke were coming out of his head. Hedare threw the paper on the floor and walked away angrily.
Patience was frightened. 'What have I done?' she thought. 'That wasn't me. That was a different person.'
'Mr Hedare, wait!' she called. 'I'm sorry.'
Hedare turned around. His eyes were cold. '«Sorry»? Is that all? «Sorry» isn't enough.'
Patience suddenly became the other person again. 'Let me explain it better,' she said. 'I'm sorry for every minute of my life that I've worked for you. You're a terrible boss. You only think about yourself and your money.'
Hedare spoke coldly. 'Take your things and go,' he said. 'Leave this company immediately.'
Patience became herself again. 'What just happened?' she asked herself.
'Wait, Mr Hedare!' she shouted. But Hedare didn't stop.
Sally came up and put her arm around Patience. 'Well done!' she said. 'That was so cool!'
The new Patience
Patience and Sally were walking away from the Hedare building.
'I don't know how to describe it,' Patience said. 'I was saying those things to Hedare, but I wasn't saying them. Another person was saying them. Do you understand?'
'No, I don't,' replied Sally. 'But it's great that somebody said them!'
'I wanted to hurt him. What's happening to me, Sal?' asked Patience.
As they walked past two noisy dogs, Sally jumped. But Patience turned round and hissed loudly at the dogs.
'What was that noise?' asked Sally.
'What noise?' Patience replied.
They were walking past a jewellery shop. Patience looked in the window and saw a beautiful necklace with diamond claws. 'Oh, how pretty!' she said.
'Oh! I don't feel well,' said Sally, and she fell to the ground.
Patience sat next to Sally's bed in the hospital.
'Do they know what's wrong with you, Sal?' she asked. 'No, but they're doing lots of tests,' said Sally. 'And there's some good news: my doctor is really attractive. What about your handsome policeman?'
'Oh, I don't think I'm going to see him again. I'm terrible with boyfriends,' said Patience.
'Then stop being terrible,' said Sally. 'Go and see him. And go NOW. My good-looking doctor's coming.'
Tom Lone was talking to a group of ten-year-old children. He was teaching them about right and wrong, and telling them about his job as a policeman.
'It's wrong to take something if you don't pay for it,' he said. 'If you steal something, you're a bad person.'
'Can I see your gun?' asked one of the kids.
'Can I touch it?' asked another.
'Are there bullets in it?' asked a third.
Lone laughed and looked up. Patience was standing at the back of the room with two paper coffee cups in her hand. His heart jumped.
'Let's go and play basketball,' he said. The kids shouted 'Great!' and ran out of the room.
Patience walked up to Lone. 'Hi,' she said. 'I called your police station. They said you'd be here. Oh, and you never got your coffee. Here it is.' She gave him a cup. She had written the word 'Sorry' on it.
'Thanks,' he said, laughing.
'I'm sorry I've been so strange. I've had a really bad day,' she said. She thought about her day. She'd fallen off a cupboard, she'd lost her job and she'd hissed at two dogs. At least most days weren't as bad as this!
'Well, my day has just got better,' said Lone. 'I'm glad that you came.'
They went outside. One of the kids threw a ball towards them and Patience caught it. She threw it back.
'Why don't you two play against each other?' someone said.
'Yeah!' shouted the rest of the kids. 'Play against each other!'
Patience and Lone stood opposite each other. Patience got the ball first. Then Lone managed to steal it from her. He tried to get a goal but missed. As soon as the ball was free, Patience quickly took it. But when she tried to get a goal, Lone stood tall in front of her. She jumped up high and hit him with her knee. He fell over and she fell on top of him. They couldn't stop laughing.
At that moment one of the children shouted, 'Can we have our ball back, please?'
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
It was the middle of the night and loud music was playing again. Patience's neighbour in the flat opposite was having another all-night party.
'Not again,' Patience thought as she got out of bed. 'I've had enough.'
She walked over to the window and shouted, 'Please turn the noise down over there!'
A moment later, her neighbour opened his window. 'Get a life!' he shouted back. Then he turned the music up much louder.
Patience was really angry. She looked down at the ground below and saw her neighbour's motorbike. She hissed. Then she smiled. 'I'm going to be a bad person,' she thought. 'And you'll have to take the bus.'
On top of the cupboard was a big box. Patience got the box, put it on her bed and opened it. Inside were the black leather clothes that Sally and Lance had given her for her birthday: tight trousers, boots and a jacket. She put them on.
Then she went into the bathroom. First she cut her hair and coloured it red. Then she drew around her eyes in black pencil. Finally she painted her lips bright red. Perfect.
She went back to the window and jumped out onto the ground below. The motorbike was shining in the moonlight. Patience got onto the seat and rode off into the night.
'It's time to go jewellery shopping,' she purred.
Catwoman drove the motorbike very fast through the streets, with the wind against her face. She was having lots of fun moving in and out of the traffic.
She stopped in front of the jewellery shop and got off the motorbike.
Then she heard a crash of glass.
'Oh no. Someone's robbing the shop,' she thought.
'They can't do that. That was my idea!'
She ran into the shop and saw two robbers. A fat robber was breaking some glass with his gun to reach some necklaces. A tall robber was trying to open a metal box. Catwoman blew in the tall man's ear. When he turned around, she had disappeared.
There was a third robber upstairs. He was a short man and he was putting diamonds into a black bag.
Catwoman quickly put a black mask over her eyes and went up behind him.
'You're not very good,' she said. 'Look behind you!'
The short robber turned around quickly, but she had disappeared.
The fat robber had just opened a glass box. Inside was the necklace with diamond claws. He heard a noise and looked up. When he looked at the box again, the necklace had gone.
Then he saw Catwoman. She was standing next to the tall robber and she was wearing the necklace. 'What are you doing?' he asked, taking his gun out of his pocket.
'I'm having lots of fun,' she said. 'But you're stealing beautiful things. You're taking things that don't belong to you. You're bad people.'
All three men pointed their guns at her and began to shoot. But Catwoman was too quick for them. She jumped away from the bullets and kicked the tall robber in the head. Then she kicked the fat robber's legs and he fell to the ground with a loud thump. The short robber jumped at her from behind but she suddenly sat on the floor. The short robber flew over her head and crashed into a big glass box.
Catwoman looked at the three robbers on the floor.
'Well that wasn't very difficult,' she said. She quickly collected all the jewellery on the floor and ran.
Patience woke up and looked around the room. There was jewellery everywhere.
'Where did all this jewellery come from?' she thought. She looked down and saw that she was still wearing her black leather clothes. And then she remembered.
'Oh no! I can't believe that I did this! It's wrong, wrong, wrong!'
She found a paper bag and put all the jewellery inside. Except the necklace with the diamond claws. 'I can't take that back,' she thought. 'It's so beautiful.'
Tom Lone was head detective on the jewellery shop case. He was talking to the jeweller now.
The jeweller showed him a photo of the necklace with the diamond claws. 'It's a very special necklace,' he said. 'It's from Egypt and it's the only one like it.'
'So what do you think about those three guys that we found here last night, Tom?' asked one of the other policemen. 'Do you believe their story?'
'What are we going to call her?' called another. 'Catgirl? Robbercat?'
'Come and look at this, Tom,' shouted a third policeman, just outside the shop door. He was pointing at a white box with a paper bag on top of it. Lone opened the bag. Inside was the jewellery. And on the box was the word 'Sorry'.
Lone carefully opened the box.
'Is it something important?' asked the policeman.
'Yes,' said Lone. 'Chocolate cakes!'
Patience was standing at the front door of Ophelia Powers' house.
'Please help me,' she said. 'I don't understand what's happening to me.'
'Come in,' said Ophelia.
She took Patience into the library and showed her a large book. The book was called Bast and it was written by Ophelia Powers.
'You're a writer?' asked Patience.
'Yes,' said Ophelia. 'I was a university teacher for twenty years.'
She opened the book and pointed to an Egyptian work of art: a beautiful golden cat, made of stone.
'This is the goddess Bast,' she said.
Midnight jumped onto the table and stood on the picture in the book.
'Midnight looks very like the cat in the picture,' said Patience.
'Yes. Mau cats are very special in the Egyptian religion. They carry messages for Bast,' said Ophelia. 'Bast is the goddess of the moon and the sun. She joins the two sides of all women: good and bad, hard and soft...'
'But what about me?' asked Patience. 'I don't understand how...'
Ophelia stopped her. 'What happened the other night?'
'I can't remember,' Patience replied. She moved towards the window.
'I'll tell you then,' said Ophelia. 'You died.'
'What?' cried Patience. 'I didn't die. I'm here, aren't I? You're mad! You're completely mad!' She jumped onto the window-sill, ready to attack.
'You died,' Ophelia said again, 'but you were reborn. You were reborn by Bast's message-carrier, the Mau. Midnight saved you.'
Patience began to remember. The terrible noise. The mountain of water crashing over her. Falling down, down, down into the river. And then a cat with golden eyes — Midnight — giving her life. She got down from the window-sill.
'You're not alone,' Ophelia said. 'Mau cats have saved lots of others too.' She showed Patience pictures of catwomen from many different countries. Some of the pictures were only a few years old; others were from many centuries ago. Then she gave her a cat mask.
'So what should I do?' asked Patience. 'If I'm not Patience now, I...'
'But you are Patience,' Ophelia explained. 'You're a catwoman. You can see and hear and move much better than you did before. You can do all the things that a cat can do. And at the same time, you're still Patience. You're both. Accept who you are and you can be free.
Patience took all the claws off the necklace and put them on the fingers of her leather gloves. Then she used the claws to cut her leather jacket, her trousers and her boots.
As she worked, she began to remember more and more. She remembered running through the factory. She remembered Wesley and Armando chasing her with their guns.
She put on her new cat mask and the clothes that she had designed. Then she looked down at her work table and saw a picture of George Hedare. She remembered that she had nearly died.
It was time to get some answers.
A head for heights
Catwoman ran and jumped across the rooftops to the Hedare factory. She was wearing her leather trousers and her long black gloves with the diamond claws. She wore two black belts across her stomach and the cat mask over her face and hair.
She saw Armando outside the factory. He was getting into a car. When the car drove away, Catwoman followed, jumping from rooftop to rooftop.
The car stopped at a nightclub. Catwoman followed Armando inside.
The barman looked at Catwoman in surprise. 'What can I do for you?' he asked.
'I'd like a vodka and milk, without the vodka. No ice.'
As she drank the glass of milk, she saw Armando going to the dance floor. She finished her milk and followed him.
Two dancers in black leather were dancing with a whip. Catwoman took the whip from them. 'Excuse me,' she said as she began to dance, circling the whip around her.
She moved towards Armando and cracked the whip close to his nose. Then she put it around his neck and pulled him to the back door. Armando flew through the door and fell on his back in the street outside. Catwoman jumped onto his stomach. Armando tried to get his gun but Catwoman got it first and threw it away.
'You don't know me, do you?' she said. 'Well, I know you. You killed somebody a few nights ago. She was a good person. She was a friend of mine. Why did you do it?'
Armando didn't answer. He was frightened. Catwoman brought her diamond claws close to his face and moved them dangerously.
'I'm going to ask you one more time. Why did you kill that nice girl?'
'They told me to do it,' cried Armando. 'They told me to open the pipes. She heard too much.'
'What did she hear?' asked Patience.
'I don't know,' Armando said. 'Something about Beau-line perhaps. There's something wrong with Beau-line.'
'Of course. Now I understand,' said Patience. 'And Hedare isn't telling people?'
'That's right,' said Armando.
Catwoman got into the Hedare factory through a window in the roof. She went quickly to the room where she had heard the conversation about Beau-line. When she opened the door she saw computers on the floor and papers, broken glass and plastic everywhere. And a body. Dr Slavicky was lying on the floor. Patience could see that he was dead. Someone had shot him.
She heard the sound of police cars and looked behind her. An old man — a cleaner — was standing there. 'Please don't kill me too,' he said. Patience ran past him through the door and escaped.
Sally was watching the news when Patience arrived at the hospital with a bag full of her things.
'Wow, Patience! You look amazing,' she said. 'I love your hair. And those clothes are fantastic. This guy is really good for you.'
'Thanks,' said Patience, smiling. 'Are you going to be OK?'
'They don't know what the problem is, so I'm going home. Have you heard the news? A mad woman murdered Slavicky last night. She was dressed as a cat. Look!'
Patience looked at the television and saw a police picture of Catwoman. She looked horrible. 'I hope I don't really look like that,' she thought.
Then George Hedare was speaking. 'We are all very sad about Dr Slavicky's death. But don't worry. Beau-line will be in the shops next week. We're going to give women what they want. One mad person isn't going to stop us.'
Patience was so angry that she had to sit down.
Sally opened a small pot of Beau-line. 'Oh no! It's nearly empty,' she said.
'When did those headaches start?' asked Patience.
'A few months ago.'
'Then please do something for me. Stop using Beau-line. You're lovely as you are.'
Tom Lone had kept the coffee cup that Patience had given him. It was on his desk. He looked at it now. Then, in surprise, he looked at the box that had had the chocolate cakes in. He picked them both up and looked at them again, more carefully. Then he took them to a detective who knew about handwriting.
'Did the same person write 'sorry' on the cup and the box?' asked Lone.
'Well, some things are almost the same,' said the detective. 'But there are lots of differences too.' He pointed to the coffee cup. 'This person is not very confident.' He pointed to the box. 'But this person is extremely confident.
And she's angry. She may even be dangerous. They're different people.'
'I'm very happy about that,' said Tom. 'It's going to be a great weekend.'
Tom and Patience climbed onto the big Ferris wheel at the funfair. The Ferris wheel went round, and they went up and up until they could see half the city. Then the Ferris wheel made a loud noise and stopped.
'I think we have a problem,' said Lone. 'We could be up here for a long time.'
Patience moved closer to him in the seat. 'I don't think that's a problem,' she said.
Suddenly the Ferris wheel jumped and the seats moved dangerously. People began to scream.
Lone looked down. Black smoke was coming from the machine that turned the Ferris wheel. The machine was breaking! If it broke completely, the Ferris wheel would turn too fast and everyone would fall out.
'I'll be back in a minute,' he shouted to Patience. He climbed out of their seat and down the wheel towards the machine.
Patience heard someone crying. It was a small boy. He was in a seat on his own. As she watched, the Ferris wheel jumped again and the boy almost fell out. He held the seat tightly with his hands, but his legs hung in the air.
'Don't worry,' Patience shouted. 'I'm coming to get you.' Like a cat, she jumped quickly towards the centre of the Ferris wheel and then out again towards the little boy's seat.
At the same time, Lone reached the machine. It was going to break very soon. Quickly he looked for something to stop it.
Patience jumped five metres up to the boy's seat. She held the seat with one hand and the boy with the other.
'It's OK. I've got you,' she said.
Lone found a long piece of metal. He took it and pushed it into the machine. The Ferris wheel made another terrible noise then stopped moving.
Suddenly the seat moved and Patience and the boy began to fall. Patience managed to hold another seat and she caught the boy with her legs. The boy held her tightly as Patience looked for a way to the ground.
'You're OK, Patience. I'm going to bring you down slowly.' Patience looked down and saw Lone. He was turning the machine by hand.
When they reached the ground, Lone took the boy from Patience and gave him to his mother. Then he turned to Patience.
'I don't know how you did that,' he said. 'Well done!'
'You did a good job too,' Patience replied, and she took him in her arms.
A night at the theatre
'Let's celebrate,' said Lone to Patience as they walked away from the funfair. 'Would you like to have dinner?'
'I'd love to… but I can't, not tonight,' said Patience sadly. She really liked Lone, but she needed to see George Hedare tonight.
Catwoman looked up and saw the camera on the wall outside Hedare's big house. She cracked her whip at it and it pointed a different way. Then she climbed the wall and jumped across to a first-floor window. She looked in and saw lots of books and papers and a large desk. It was George Hedare's home office.
With one diamond claw she cut a circle in the glass, opened the window and climbed inside. She looked at the computer disks on the desk but there was nothing about Beau-line. Then she walked into the hall.
Catwoman fell down the stairs and lay on the floor. She didn't move. The lights went on and she could see Laurel Hedare with a golf club at the top of the stairs. Laurel walked down the stairs and kicked Catwoman.
'You can't rob this house,' she said.
Catwoman jumped up, took the golf club and threw it across the room.
'You're that cat person,' said Laurel. 'You killed Slavicky. What do you want?'
'Where's the man of the house?' asked Catwoman.
'My husband? Out. He's always out,' Laurel replied. Suddenly she tried to run up the stairs, but Catwoman jumped on her and they fell down the stairs again together.
'When you see your husband,' said Catwoman, 'tell him that I know about Beau-line.'
'What about Beau-line?' asked Laurel.
'It makes people ill,' said Catwoman, 'and it can kill them.'
'That's not true,' said Laurel. 'I've been using it for years.'
'Well, someone killed Slavicky. They wanted to stop him talking.'
'Are you saying that my husband is a murderer?' said Laurel, surprised.
'Tell me where he is. Then I can ask him myself,' said Catwoman.
Laurel went to a table and picked up an invitation. She gave it to Catwoman.
'This is where you can find George,' Laurel said. 'If you're right about Beau-line, I'll help you. How can I find you?'
Catwoman thought for a moment and then picked up Laurel's mobile phone from the table. 'I'll take this,' she said. 'I'm so sorry about everything.'
'I've lived my life for him,' said Laurel.
'Now it's time to live your own life,' said Catwoman.
There were crowds of people in the theatre when Catwoman arrived. She walked around the building and saw an open window on the second floor. She climbed up to it and got in.
She soon found George Hedare watching the show from a private box. He was sitting next to Drina, the beautiful girl in the Beau-line adverts. Suddenly Drina stood up and left her seat. She looked angry. Catwoman smiled.
Catwoman sat in Drina's seat. 'Hello, George,' she said. 'Do you like my claws?' She quickly cut him across the face. The music was very loud, so nobody could hear his scream.
Catwoman pushed Hedare against a wall. Her diamond claws cut his skin.
'I know all about Beau-line,' she said. 'I know that it can kill people. Patience knew about Beau-line too. So you killed her.'
'What?' shouted Hedare. 'I didn't kill her. I told her to leave the company.'
Suddenly the door opened and several policemen with guns ran in.
Catwoman jumped out of the box towards the dancers in the show. Everybody clapped. They thought that she was one of the dancers. Then she jumped up towards the theatre lights.
Suddenly she heard a voice. 'Stop right there!' It was Tom Lone and he was pointing a gun at her. He climbed up towards her but then he began to fall. Catwoman jumped to save him. She threw his gun away and then kissed his nose.
'You're under arrest,' he said, but Catwoman escaped from him. Lone went after her and kicked her in the stomach. Then Catwoman saw a rope. She jumped onto it. The rope took her to the other side of the theatre. Lone tried to catch the rope but he fell. Catwoman caught him and held him tightly, with her legs under his arms. But Lone pulled suddenly. The rope broke and a moment later they were falling very quickly downwards. Luckily Catwoman caught an electric line and they were safe. They crashed onto the floor of the theatre. Catwoman looked up and saw lots of policemen all around them. They were all pointing guns at her.
'You're under arrest,' said Lone for the second time. He reached for her mask. But Catwoman was too quick for him. She jumped towards the electric line and pointed it at the back of the theatre.
All the lights went out. Nobody could see anything. Except Catwoman. Cats can see in the dark.
'This is terrible! Really terrible!' Hedare was shouting into the telephone in his office. 'Who is she? And how does she know everything? What can we do?'
'It's OK, Georgie.' Laurel was standing at the door. 'Don't be frightened.'
'Don't be frightened?' shouted Hedare. 'We're going to lose everything and you tell me not to be frightened?'
'No, George,' said Laurel as she moved towards him. 'I'm telling you to be a man. For once in your life… be a man!'
Hedare hit Laurel across the face. Laurel didn't move, but Hedare screamed. His arm hurt badly. His wife's face was really hard… like a rock.
'You stupid man,' she said.
A wanted woman
Patience was looking in the mirror. She was holding a long dress in one hand and a very short one in the other. 'Which one should I wear tonight?' she asked Sally.
'Wear the long one at church, the short one at the beach. I'm taking you shopping,' said Sally.
In the end, they found the perfect dress that was neither long nor short.
Patience was waiting for Lone in the Japanese restaurant. She was watching the fish swimming in a big fish tank next to the table. Her face was close to the glass.
'I'm hungry,' she thought.
'Pretty,' said Lone behind her.
'Thank you,' said Patience.
'Well, you are pretty,' said Lone, 'but I meant the fish.'
Patience went red.
They sat down at the table and ordered dinner. 'Have you heard of Catwoman?' he asked as he poured her a drink.
Patience felt cold. 'Yeah,' she said after a moment. 'She carries a whip, doesn't she?'
'She kissed me,' said Lone.
'Really?' said Patience. It was exciting when Lone talked about Catwoman like this. 'I think I'm a little jealous,' she thought. 'How strange.'
'So what do you think about me and Catwoman?' asked Lone.
A waiter arrived and put a huge plate of fish on the table. Patience quickly took a piece of fish and put it in her mouth.
'That depends,' she said. 'Do you like bad girls?'
'I'm a policeman,' he said. 'I put bad people in prison.'
'Perhaps you don't always know who's good and who's bad,' said Patience.
'You're different,' he told her. 'You're special. And I want to know more about you.'
'Do you really?' she asked.
'Yes, I do,' he said.
Lone looked at Patience. She was asleep on the sofa and she looked beautiful. He went to the bathroom for a glass of water.
As he was walking back across the room, he stepped on something hard. It cut his foot. 'Ow!' he said quietly. He didn't want to wake Patience up.
What was it? He picked it up to see. It looked like a diamond claw. Lone looked at it for a moment. Then he began to realise the truth.
'Oh no!' he thought. The cup and the box with 'sorry' on them. The way that Patience had saved the boy on the Ferris wheel. He was beginning to understand everything.
He sat down with his glass of water and tried to think. How could he get proof that Patience and Catwoman were the same person? He looked at the glass. Patience had drunk from the glass last night and left a red lip print on it. And Catwoman had left a red kiss on his nose at the theatre. There was a photo of it at the police station.
Patience woke up. Her mobile was ringing. 'Hello?'
'It's me,' said Laurel. 'I can't believe it, but you were right. I've got proof. We have to stop George. Beau-line will be in the shops by Monday. Can you come to the house immediately?'
'OK,' said Patience. 'I'll be there as soon as I can.' Patience looked around the flat. 'Tom?' she called. Where was he?
She saw a note on the chair: 'Sorry. I've got to go. T.'
'That's not very nice,' she thought. 'Oh well. I've got more important things to think about.'
Catwoman arrived at Hedare's house and climbed in through a window on the first floor.
'I'm so pleased you came,' said Laurel.
'What did you find?' asked Catwoman.
'Enough proof to put someone in prison for a very long time. Come and see.' She turned and walked into her husband's office.
Catwoman followed her. 'I know it's difficult for you,' she said. 'But you're doing the right thing.'
'Yes,' said Laurel. Then, almost to herself, she continued, 'I did everything that they wanted. Hedare Beauty was nothing before I did their adverts. But then, when I was forty, they didn't want me anymore. I was too old.'
They went into Hedare's office. 'It's all there,' said Laurel. 'Behind the desk.'
Catwoman looked behind the desk and saw George Hedare's body on the floor. It was full of bullets and there were claw cuts everywhere.
'What do you think? The claw cuts were quite difficult, but I think they work,' laughed Laurel.
'You killed him!' said Catwoman.
'Yes, I did. Nobody's going to stop Beau-line. Not Slavicky. Not George. And not you.' Laurel gave Catwoman something in a scarf. 'Take this. And can I get you anything? Some nice fish? A glass of milk?' She laughed again.
Catwoman looked inside the scarf. It was a gun.
Suddenly Laurel pressed something on the desk and an alarm rang out loudly. 'Oh no!' she screamed. 'George!'
Armando ran into the room.
'It's the Catwoman! She's got a gun!' shouted Laurel.
Catwoman pointed the gun at Laurel.
'Sorry, Kitty. There aren't any bullets in it,' Laurel said. 'You used all the bullets when you killed my husband.'
Catwoman miaowed and ran out of the room. The front door opened downstairs and crowds of policemen entered the house. Catwoman ran into Laurel's bedroom. When she saw the cupboards full of clothes, she had an idea. She took a bag and threw some sports clothes into it.
She looked out of the window and saw policemen and police cars everywhere. Two men were carrying George Hedare's body to one of the vehicles. When the body was inside, the men got into the front seat. As soon as they started to move, Catwoman jumped. She landed on the roof of the vehicle and lay down flat.
When they went under a bridge, Catwoman jumped up and held on tightly. Then she climbed down to the road. She took the sports clothes out of the bag and quickly put them on.
'Why was I so stupid?' Patience thought. 'Why did I believe Laurel?'
She walked past some shops. Suddenly she saw a large screen with the words: 'CATWOMAN KILLS AGAIN'. It was the news.
'Oh no,' thought Patience. 'Catwoman has got to disappear fast!'
'Why don't you believe me?'
Patience opened the door of her flat. Lone was standing inside, pointing a gun at her.
'I'm sorry, Patience,' he said. 'I've come to arrest you.'
Patience was at the police station. 'I don't like this room,' she thought. There were no windows, just a table and two chairs. How long had she been here now? It seemed like hours.
Lone sat opposite her.
'I've told you again and again,' she said. 'Slavicky had proof that Beau-line was dangerous. Laurel killed him to keep him quiet. George discovered the truth and she killed him too. Why don't you believe me?'
'The gun was in your hand,' said Lone. 'The gun that had killed Hedare a few seconds before. The gun that killed Slavicky. You murdered them. Why should I believe anything different?'
'Because you know me. And because sometimes things aren't as they seem. Do you remember the first time that you saw me?
'Yeah,' said Lone.
'What did you think?'
'I thought you were rescuing a cat.'
'No, you didn't. You thought I wanted to kill myself. But you were wrong. And you're wrong now. Please believe me, Tom.'
'I'm trying to believe you, Patience,' he said. 'But I just can't. I'm sorry.'
He called to a policeman outside the door. 'Lock her up again.'
As she followed the policeman, Patience started to cry. But then she stopped feeling sad and began to feel very angry.
'Be a good kitty,' laughed the policeman as he locked her door.
Catwoman hissed at him.
At the Hedare office building, Laurel Hedare was talking to a crowd of newspaper reporters.
'My husband dreamed of a world where every woman could be beautiful,' she was saying. 'I'm going to make that dream come true. Tomorrow I will give you Beau-line.'
'And nothing is going to stop me now,' she thought.
'It's time to turn out the lights, prisoners,' shouted the policeman in the hall. The moon was shining through the window into Patience's room. Midnight the cat squeezed through the bars.
'Hello, Midnight,' said Patience. 'You've given me an idea.'
She got up and put her arm through the bars. Then she turned her head completely around and put that through too. Finally, she squeezed her body through the bars.
Catwoman found a window and looked out. It was a long way down. Ten floors! She saw a car — a Jaguar — coming down the road. She smiled. She jumped out of the window and landed on her four legs. The Jaguar stopped suddenly with a loud scream of its wheels. The driver got out. 'Are you OK?' he asked.
'Never better, thank you,' said Catwoman, as she jumped into his car and drove off.
Laurel Hedare was giving pots of Beau-line to female reporters.
'After they've started using this, they won't be able to stop,' she was thinking. 'And I'll make lots of money.' She smiled to herself.
'Excuse me, Mrs Hedare.' Lone appeared from nowhere. 'Have you got a moment? I'd like to ask you a few more questions.'
Laurel felt cold but she smiled. 'Yes, of course, Detective Lone. Please excuse me, everyone.' She walked with Lone to her office.
'I saw Catwoman with a gun and my husband's dead body on the floor,' Laurel said. 'There were claw cuts all over him.'
'But there weren't any claw cuts on Slavicky's body,' said Lone. 'And Catwoman didn't have a reason to kill either Hedare or Slavicky.'
He remembered Patience's explanation at the police station. And there was something about Laurel Hedare that he didn't like. He decided to test her.
'I know who really killed your husband,' he said. 'I know about Beau-line too. And I've got proof. It was you.'
'Me? Well, if you've got proof, why haven't you arrested me?' she asked.
'You're a rich woman. I thought perhaps you would pay me for my silence,' he replied.
She looked at him coolly. 'How much do you want?' she asked.
'You've just given me the only thing that I want. You've just told me that it was you.'
Laurel took a gun out of the desk. She pointed it at Lone. Lone tried to take out his gun but Laurel was too quick for him.
Bang went her gun. The bullet hit him in the shoulder. He dropped his gun and fell against the wall.
'Don't be stupid,' he shouted. 'You don't want to kill a policeman.'
'Don't I?' she said. She hit him across the face and he fell to the floor.
'Now I'm going to kill you.' She pointed the gun at his head.
Suddenly there was a hiss and a whip cracked. The gun flew from Laurel's hand. Catwoman jumped into the room.
'Did you really think that you'd win?' she asked. 'Well, think again.'
She helped Lone to get up and walked with him to the door. She didn't see the gun on the floor.
As soon as they had left, Laurel ran over to the desk and picked up the phone. 'Come up here,' she shouted. 'Now!'
It was time to kill Lone and Catwoman.
Like a stone
Catwoman helped Lone down the stairs. She knew they were in great danger. They had to escape fast.
Armando ran up the stairs towards them with a gun.
They turned back and went up again. They found a door and went through it. It was a large, dark room. The only light was the light of the moon. There were photographs of Laurel everywhere.
Armando ran into the room after them. Laurel and Wesley were with him.
Catwoman and Lone hid behind a huge photo. Lone was very weak. He had lost a lot of blood.
'Listen,' he said. 'I'm sorry I didn't believe you.'
'It's OK,' she said. 'Stay here. I'll be back when it's safe.'
She disappeared into the darkness.
Catwoman jumped up and sat on top of a wall of photographs. She could look down on Laurel, Armando and Wesley. She saw them go different ways.
She decided to attack Wesley first.
She jumped on him and hit his face with her knee. He fell to the ground then lay still.
'One down, two to go,' she thought.
At that moment, Armando found some blood on the floor. He followed the blood to the place behind the huge photo… but Lone wasn't there. Suddenly Armando heard someone behind him. He turned and Lone hit him in the face. Once, and then again. Armando fell and everything went black.
Catwoman was sitting on top of the wall of photographs again. She was watching Laurel below.
When Laurel was exactly under her, Catwoman dropped a large box. It missed Laurel by a few centimetres. Catwoman jumped to the floor. Laurel shot at her again and again, but Catwoman was too quick. Then, suddenly, Catwoman was on the floor and Laurel was standing over her. She was pointing her gun at Catwoman's head.
'Goodbye, Kitty,' said Laurel with a smile. She tried to shoot, but nothing happened. There were no bullets. The gun was empty.
She threw the gun away and jumped on Catwoman. Laurel hit Catwoman again and again, pushing her back towards a huge window. Catwoman tried to hurt Laurel but she couldn't. Laurel's skin was as hard as stone.
'You can't hurt me,' said Laurel. 'If a woman stops using Beau-line, her skin falls off. But if she continues using it, her skin becomes perfect. I've been using Beau-line for years. My skin is like a stone. I can't feel anything. But you can.'
Laurel hit Catwoman again. Catwoman fell and a piece of metal cut her leg. She couldn't stand up.
'Who are you anyway?' Laurel asked. 'A madwoman? A robber?'
'I'm Patience Philips,' said Catwoman. 'You killed me.'
'Patience Philips, the designer?' Laurel laughed. 'You're nobody.' She kicked Catwoman. 'You're nothing.'
Patience was suddenly frightened. 'She's right,' she thought. 'I can only paint. I can't fight.'
Laurel took a metal pipe and brought it down hard on Catwoman's head. Blood ran down her face.
'And now everyone will believe that you killed a policeman too.'
'A policeman,' thought Catwoman. 'Lone. The man that I love.' She became very, very angry.
At that moment Laurel brought down the metal pipe against the window and it broke. Catwoman began to fall. It was thirty floors to the street below.
'I can't let this happen,' she thought. 'No way! I can't let Laurel win.' She suddenly became strong again and jumped into the air. She hung from a pipe high above Laurel. Then she jumped down.
'Beauty isn't only about skin,' she said. Then she gave a very loud miaow and jumped on Laurel. Laurel escaped but Catwoman cracked her whip and caught her again. She hit Laurel across the face and cut her skin with her claws. Laurel's skin began to break like a glass mirror.
'No,' she screamed as she fell towards the window. 'Please help me. Don't let me fall.'
Catwoman caught her with her whip and started to pull her back into the room.
Just then, Laurel saw herself in the glass of the window.
'No!' she cried. 'My skin!' She touched her face. 'I'm not beautiful now.'
There were some pieces of glass under the whip. They were cutting through it. Suddenly it broke.
'Laurel!' Catwoman screamed. She reached for Laurel but it was too late.
Laurel was falling back into the darkness — falling to her death.
Patience looked down sadly at Laurel's body in the street below. Lone walked up behind her.
'I saw you,' he said. 'You tried to save her.'
'Are you surprised?' she asked.
'No,' he replied. 'Not at all.'
Catwoman kissed Lone. It was a kiss that felt like a new start.
Then Catwoman ran off into the darkness.
Lone watched her go.
Patience walked through the building. She was very happy. On the walls were lots of pictures by new artists. She stopped and looked at one of the pictures. The artist's name was next to it: Patience Philips.
'I discovered this artist a long time ago,' said a male voice behind her. 'Before she became famous.'
Patience turned around and saw Lone. She smiled.
'Well done, Patience,' Lone continued. 'I'm really pleased for you.'
'Thanks,' she said. 'Your opinion means a lot to me.'
'Do you think we can ever be happy together?' he asked.
'I don't know, Tom,' she replied. 'I'm just starting to understand who I am. I think I need to be on my own for the moment.'
'Well, maybe you won't want to be alone forever. I can wait.' He gave her a kiss. 'Be good,' he said, and turned to go.
Patience watched him as he walked away. 'Who knows?' she thought.
A woman came up to her. 'Your work is very special,' she said. 'Your colours are wonderful. They're strong and dangerous. I think you have a great future ahead of you.'
'Thank you,' said Patience. 'I think I agree.'
She walked through the crowd with her head high. 'For the first time in my life, I believe in myself,' she thought. Everything was perfect.
In a corner, Ophelia watched her, smiling. Midnight sat next to Ophelia and purred.