the Cat and Katie.........
were the child superheroes of the village of 'Burnham' in the Beano comic mainly between 1967 and 1974.
Although some efforts were made to resurrect them, times had changed along with peoples preferences
for more 'cartoony' characters and eventually they were dropped...
BUT.. I have written the origins of Billy and Katie and so I present to the fans of the 'cats'...
'Billy the Cat and Katie - The Beginning'
(in the style of an old Beano novel...
read it like you are 10 years old again)
Like what you read? email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Billy the Cat and Katie"
The origins of Billy the Cat and Katie by David Carman (who was once 8 years old)
A warm orange glow flickered in the windows of a small thatched cottage on the edge of Burnham. The excited voices of young children could be heard as I approached and knocked on the door. It seemed as if I was in a dream. The roses growing in the garden and surrounding the front door seemed to be too perfect, too scented. I could hear footsteps approaching. Which one would it be? Which one would it be?
Amy, Emily, Lucy and Harry sat wide-eyed on the rug in front of the crackling log fire as Granddad continued his story. ‘As he raced across the rooftops Billy the Cat could see the getaway car driven by the jewel thieves racing through the dimly lit streets. Just behind him Katie was ready to swing into action.’ ‘I think that's quite enough excitement for one day. Come along now, it's time for bed.’ Great Aunt Kathleen wasn't one to be argued with, especially after she and Granddad had agreed to look after the little ones whilst their parents were taking a well needed break.
‘You will finish the story tomorrow won't you Granddad, please say you will?’ the children chorused. After good night hugs and kisses and reassurances of finishing the story all four were safely tucked up in bed, very tired but with their heads full of Granddad’s amazing stories.
Emily, the youngest, was the most excited and sat up straight on her bed. ‘Do you think they'll catch the robbers?’ she whispered across the bedroom in the moonlight’s silver shadows. ‘Of course they will, they always do,’ Amy whispered back. She was the oldest and at nearly seven and a half she had heard nearly all of Granddad’s stories before, but now she was beginning to wonder if Granddad knew more about these people than he was telling. Perhaps he was keeping a secret, perhaps he had even met them. He seemed to know an awful lot about them. As they drifted off to sleep they all said how they wished they could be just like them. As they both sat quietly in the glow of the fire, each with a cup of tea in the hands Great Aunt Kathleen and Granddad smiled at each other. ‘Do you think they'll catch the robbers Katie?’ ‘Of course Billy, we always did!’
It really was a long, long time ago when
William and Great Aunt Kathleen were young. Just after the Second World War,
William's parents were both killed in an accident in the middle of
Chapter 1 - Inventions
‘Ouch, not so loud!’ With the helmet on William could hear the neighbours cat scratching at the back door to be let in.’ Turn your head away from the sound William’ his father said. The noise of the scratching went from sounding like an earthquake to a gentle background sound, as if someone was opening a paper bag and putting their hand inside to get a sweet. ‘I will have to adjust it so it's not so loud’. Taking off the helmet William could see that his father had added what looked like cats whiskers to the top. ‘Those are the aerials; they pick up radio signals too.’ Billy looked on amazed. His father was always coming up with strange inventions. He’d invented a torch inside a policeman’s truncheon and being a policeman himself he showed it to the chief superintendent at Scotland Yard who was very impressed. If it wasn't for the war and all the rationing and cuts he could've made a lot of money, but at the moment there just wasn't any money to spend on new things like that. The British government were more concerned with rebuilding the country and providing houses for all of the people who been bombed by the Germans. Still it didn't stop him from inventing things and the new helmet was just one of the amazing things that William's father had been trying out.
The suit was very, very expensive to make but it was a marvel, a miracle in fact and William’s father said it would be his greatest triumph. If only he'd invented it years earlier he could've helped stop the war, maybe even shorten it by several years. His father had returned from the war and was very determined to find a way to help British soldiers. He’d found that the army had to face terrible problems but the worst thing of all was being wet. Often soldiers had to cross rivers without bridges, sleep and fight in the rain and it was very hard to be a good soldier when you are constantly cold and wet. You could catch terrible diseases and die from the cold and so he was going to try and find a way to make the soldiers clothing waterproof while still being able to fight easily. One afternoon he was working in his large shed which he liked to call his inventing room. The table was covered in pieces of material cut up from the soldier’s uniform and William’s father was carefully painting each piece of cloth with different liquids from large glass bottles. Most of them labelled dangerous or poison. William watched through the window as his father carefully lifted each piece up and pegged them onto a length of string to dry. Just then his mother opened the shed door bringing a cup of tea and biscuits for them both. William's dad dropped one of the cloth pieces onto a metal tray containing some liquid and there was suddenly a huge cloud of smoke in the shed. Both William's parents ran out and all three of them waited for the smoke to clear. It took quite a long time and as they waited they ate the biscuits and drink the tea. William’s father looked through the window into the shed and saw that the smoke had cleared and they went in to see if there was anything left of the cloth pieces.
Strangely enough the shed didn't seem to be damaged at all and the piece of cloth that had fallen into the tray of liquid seemed to have soaked up every last drop of whatever was in the tray. Not only had the cloth piece sucked up every last drop, it had also changed colour and seemed as though it had become smooth and shiny as glass but now it was as black as coal, not khaki green as it was before. William's father pulled at the edges and the material stretched like rubber but the strangest thing of all was that it didn't take any effort at all. The cloth had changed into something else and when let go it returned to its original size and shape. He tried to cut it with a large pair of scissors but try as he might he couldn't make any kind of cut in it at all. He tried to push a very sharp penknife through it and the material seemed almost to push back against the sharp point of the blade. It was getting late and William had school the next day so they all went back to the house for dinner. William had a bath after dinner and then it was bedtime. He wondered what had happened to the cloth piece and drifted off to sleep. Over the next week William's father spent almost every minute of each day examining the cloth piece pulling, stretching, hitting, trying to cut and stab it. William was returning home from school on Friday afternoon after a particularly busy day of maths, PE, geography and history and was just walking towards the shed when suddenly he heard a loud bang. It sounded like a gun being fired but who was firing a gun in his father's shed? William rushed to look through the window as his father had always told him not to open the shed door without being told that it was safe. He could see his father had set up a rifle on the long bench at one end of the shed and at the cloth piece was clamped to a large wooden block at the other end of the shed.
His father saw William peering through the window and smiled to him, waving for him to come in. He looked very excited and William was astounded when his father told him that despite firing a rifle bullet at the cloth piece it hadn't gone through, in fact it hadn't even marked the surface or damaged the wooden block behind. During the day his father had tried to cut, stab, set fire to and shoot through the material but had no success. He had found out something very exciting though. He discovered exactly what chemicals were used to make the old piece of cloth turn into this fantastic new material. ‘I think I shall call it Janetlite after your mother, after all it was really due to her that this invention was created, purely by accident of course. This new material is almost indestructible William and I think that any clothing made from it would have to be prepared and made to the right size before being soaked in the chemicals to transform it. I think what we will do is make a suit of clothes, a sort of one-piece flight-suit of material and then turn it into a new suit of Janetlite by soaking it in the chemicals. What do you think William? Would you like to try on a flight-suit made of Janetlite?’ William beamed and nodded; ‘Yes please’.
Chapter 2 - The Cat
In a couple of days William's mother had sewn together a strange kind of coverall with a belt and a zip fastener which made putting it on very easy for William. After him trying it on a few times William's mum made some adjustments gave it to his father to treat with the chemicals. It didn't seem as though it was the same suit when William tried it on afterwards because it looked and felt so different. It was as if the suit had become part of William's body because it was so light and close fitting. It stretched when William stretched and it really didn’t feel as if William had any other clothes on top of the ordinary clothes he was wearing underneath. Added to the suit was a pair of chemically treated rubber soled plimsolls that William’s father had made especially for him. These were made with soles that would grip almost any surface in any weather, ideal for running and climbing his father said.
As William put the helmet on the world seemed to change around him. Where as everything was previously all different colours, William could see so much clearer yet everything he looked at had a strange glow about it and it didn't take long to find out why, because as soon as his mother turned out the lights William could still see everything as clear as day. ‘It’s called night-vision, a little something extra I've been working on and as it's built into the visor of the helmet. You can just drop it down to see in the dark. Clever eh?’ Clever wasn't the word and William was astounded to be able to walk around inside the dark shed as if it was broad daylight. His mother had been extra busy too as she had made a backpack to carry items out of the same material which had been chemically treated also. But something felt very strange to William and he told his father so, that inside the suit he was feeling a little odd. ‘We’ll go outside for a walk and get some fresh air; we could do with some exercise after being cooped up indoors for hours.’ As they opened the shed door and his parents walked outside William accidentally brushed against the shelves that held all his fathers glass jars of chemicals. The shelves wobbled, then rocked and then jars and bottles starts to fall onto the floor, whereupon there as an almighty explosion.
Scrambling to their feet Mr and Mrs Grange looked around for William but he was nowhere to be seen. The shed was in pieces on the grass with smoke and flames coming from the wooden wreckage. ‘William, William where are you?’ his mother called out, desperate to find her boy. ‘I'm up here!’ came a voice from above. As they both looked they could see a figure in black, wearing a helmet, perched high up in the huge oak tree at the end of the garden. It was William alright, but he was about 20 feet up in the tree which didn't really have any way to climb up so high without using a ladder. ‘I jumped and this is where I ended up. Hold on, I’m coming down.’ Astounded they both watched as William leaped from the branch up high and landed with the grace of a cat onto the soft grass below. ‘It's what I was trying to explain, I feel different in the suit. I feel like I've got so much more strength and agility, like a gymnast or an acrobat, or…’ ‘A cat?’ said his father. It was extraordinary, with the suit on William could jump higher, run faster, climb easier and even punch and kick stronger and harder than he ever could without it. The suit seemed give William super abilities that soldiers and athletes could only dream of and that wasn't all. Over the next few days William’s father tested the suit to the limit and not without some spectacular and sometimes dangerous stunts involved. He would get William to walk over broken glass, nails and through a carefully made bonfire to test the suit against damage from sharp objects and heat. He carefully pressed sharp knives into the material whilst William was wearing it, then much more forcefully and even as hard as he could with a sharp soldiers bayonet, and yet the suit withstood it all. However, his mother drew the line at the final tests which were the most dangerous. Even his father wasn't prepared to take a chance with his own sons life as he poured concentrated acid onto the suit, repeatedly shot at it with a high powered pistol and also a light machine gun, borrowed from the local army base with the permission of his old commanding officer; Major Brent.
The suit was a success. Many extras were added including
gloves with climbing claws, a high tensile climbing rope with a grappling hook,
police and army radio bands included in the helmet receiver and bright lights
set into the top of the helmet that looked like cat’s eyes. The ‘cat’ suit; as
William’s mother called it was ready to be demonstrated to the military top
brass and an appointment was made for the following week. They would present
the suit to the Colonel in Chief at Military Intelligence in
It wasn't far from Burnham in Surrey to
As they rounded the corner into
It was the next day when William’s aunt Mabel visited him in
hospital and told him what had happened. He'd been lucky, but his parents
weren't so fortunate. A stolen car driven by two men who’d just robbed a
jewellers shop in
Chapter 3 - Adventure
William swayed a little in the hallway of Aunt Mabel's house and steadied himself on the walking stick that the hospital had given him. The train ride from London was a distraction from the aches and pains he still felt and Kathleen had helped him with his things in and out of the carriage. As they neared Burnham station he felt sad and Aunt Mabel and Kathleen comforted him, knowing he missed his parents so very much. He'd not been able to go to their funeral service at the local parish church in Burnham as he was still in hospital at the time, but he was determined to visit the churchyard the very next day. Looking at the cases and boxes in his room that Kathleen and Aunt Mabel had prepared, William's thoughts turned to something else; the robbers. Where were they and had the police caught them yet? According to Aunt Mabel the police had found the car and the robbers hideout, an abandoned warehouse in the east end of London, but there was no sign of them or any clues to their identity. Life started to get back to normal pretty quickly and William went back to school at Burnham Academy with Kathleen. Being the same age they we in the same year and now walked to school together every day. As the weeks went by William thought less and less of the accident but could never forget his parents and their love for him.
On a warm summer afternoon when the school term had finished William was sitting in the garden with Kathleen and Aunt Mabel when there was a knock at the door of the house. It was Mr Gordon, his father’s solicitor who'd come over to speak to William and Aunt Mabel. It was now official that William would be adopted by his Aunt and the money from the sale of his parent’s house would be put into a trust fund for him, whilst the interest would be paid to Aunt Mabel to help her look after him. So now William had a real home again and for the first time in ages he felt as though he was part of a family again. A celebratory tea was called for and although Mr Gordon couldn't stay, he did take away a large piece of homemade ginger cake wrapped in a paper napkin to eat on the train back to London.
The very next day all three of them helped to unload the lorry that contained everything from William's old house. Just the weekend before William had made sure that his father’s secrets had been carefully boxed up and labelled ‘William's bedroom’, just to make sure that no one would accidentally come across his inventions and all the plans that had been meticulously typed up by his mother. William carried the boxes upstairs and placed them in the bottom of the large cupboard in his room, covering them with blankets and jigsaw puzzle boxes. It was lucky that Aunt Mabel had such a large house and a lot of the furniture had to be stored in the basement and in one of the large potting sheds. William had asked if he could keep his father’s tools and work boxes in the largest toolshed and it was a perfect hiding place for the special chemicals and material for the catsuit. There was even a lockable tool chest to store the helmets in. William's father had kept several at different stages of completion and to the untrained eyes they looked very much like motorcycle helmets.
It was a quiet summer evening when something very unexpected happened and it was to change William's life forever. The holidays were nearly over and after a long day at the local swimming pool with Kathleen and a big tea, William sat watching the television with his new family. The newsreader looked very serious as he reported that ‘there had been another large theft of jewellery in the centre of London, possibly carried out by the same gang who’d previously been involved in the hit and run accident a few months ago, that resulted in the death of Mr and Mrs Grange of Burnham.’ William listened intently as the man read on. ‘Witnesses describe the 3 men as armed and dangerous as they’d held a security guard hostage whilst robbing the Bond Street shop of £75,000 of diamonds.’ The same men who’d been involved in the accident? So they were still around and still up to no good.
In bed later that night William couldn't stop thinking about the robbers and where they could possibly be hiding. As he lay in bed, suddenly he heard a noise like the kitchen door being opened. He recognised the creaking of the hinges as Aunt Mabel had never been able to get anyone to fix the door which led to the back garden. He slipped slowly and quietly to the bedroom door and peeped through the crack between the door and the frame. A beam of light from a torch passed across the hallway downstairs and the shadowy figure of a burglar passed from the kitchen towards the dining room where Aunt Mabel kept her prized dinner service and cutlery in a large glass fronted cabinet. William only paused for a fraction of a second and turned towards the bedroom cupboard.
The young man downstairs was somewhat surprised when William jumped on his back, dressed in his black catsuit. His helmet was stored in the toolshed so William had to be very careful not to be seen. The man was very shocked when he was knocked cleanly off his feet and realised that if he stayed he was likely to be caught by the police so tried to make a run for it. The suit gave William enormous strength and agility and the man struggled to free himself. They tussled along the hallway back towards the kitchen where William momentarily lost his grip and where the burglar suddenly grabbed a large knife from the rack on the table, throwing it straight at William. It all happened in a fraction of a second and the burglar’s face told the story. The knife didn’t hit its intended target, instead it stopped in mid-air as William caught it by the blade in his gloved hand. In the shaft of moonlight coming through the kitchen window the stunned burglar could just make out a figure dressed in black, his face partially lit by the moonbeams reflected in the long blade of the kitchen knife. He didn’t hang around to find out who the mystery figure was and turned and ran as fast as his feet could carry him.
Standing in the dark holding the knife William quickly surveyed the scene. The burglar had forced the back door open with a large screwdriver and dropped a small bag containing gloves, a glass cutter and a small leather-bound notebook. Slipping the notebook into a zip pocket in his catsuit William replaced the knife into the rack on the table and turned to slip quietly back upstairs but he was surprised to find another figure in the kitchen doorway.
Switching on the light Kathleen was standing directly in William's way, very determined to ask her cousin exactly what he was doing dressed like that and who she saw running away across the garden. She was just about to say something when they both heard footsteps coming from upstairs, it was Aunt Mabel who'd heard the commotion and was coming to see what was happening. To Kathleen's amazement William sprung from the floor in the dark straight up to the top of the stairs in one bound, a distance of about 20 feet, just in time to dive through his open bedroom door and narrowly avoiding his aunt coming the other way.
A few moments later he arrived in the kitchen wearing his dressing gown, pretending to have just woken up and looking surprised at the scene of an attempted burglary. Seeing there was more to this than could be explained straight away Aunt Mabel telephoned the police who arrived only 15 minutes later. Bill and Harry, constables Wright and Baker knew Aunt Mabel very well as her husband had been a police sergeant in Burnham before he was killed in an air raid during the war. They looked around and found the bag and its thievery contents, footprints in the flower beds leading to and from the house and also a small leather-bound notebook that William had quietly slipped back into the bag after reading through the contents very quickly. If the name inside the notebook was to be believed the burglar was known to the police as Charlie Robins, a small time villain with previous convictions. They'd go straight over to his house and confront him with the evidence.
Back at the police station, Charlie couldn’t stop talking about the figure in black. He'd already admitted the attempted burglary and described the other figure as best he could, the way that he'd been knocked off his feet and held so tightly by someone who couldn’t have been much taller than himself, just 5 feet 10 inches. Charlie was stocky and very muscular, a very strong person but his opponent was slim and slightly built and yet just as strong as he was. When Charlie described how the figure in black caught the knife in mid air the police Inspector was very interested. It seemed to him as though the mystery man also didn’t belong in the house and sent his constables back to look around again and ask Aunt Mabel, Kathleen and William some more questions.
On the way home from school later that day Kathleen walked with William and he explained about the suit and his father's inventions and promised to show Kathleen everything the next day. The coming weekend was when Aunt Mabel went into Burnham to get her hair done and as today was Friday they'd be alone for most of the following day. Kathleen would find out exactly what her cousin was hiding.
As they approached the house they saw a police car outside and hurried inside to find Aunt Mabel sharing tea and biscuits Bill and Harry. They'd been looking around and hadn't found anything else but would like to ask William and Kathleen if they'd seen anything at all. Both said they'd been asleep and had been woken by a noise so really didn’t see anything at all. Harry explained to them all that Charlie Robins had said he was jumped upon by some kind of have-a-go hero who'd stopped him in his tracks, in fact he'd been scared out of his wits and had run away looking over his shoulder all the way back to his house. William had to smile at this and kept his face turned away from the adults but Kathleen could see the look on his face. It was William who'd chased away the burglar, but how?
It was 1950, just five years after the war and Burnham was thriving. It was quite a large Surrey town and remarkably unscathed having being more or less overlooked by the efforts of the Luftwaffe. There was only one large crater in the municipal park where a huge bomb had been dropped by a German plane, which had it delivered its cargo just a few hundred yards to the North would have destroyed the railway yard which was on the mainline to London. The town itself was always busy and Burnham was full of families with children whom attended the numerous local schools, including Burnham Academy where William and Kathleen went. It was a nice and safe town usually but recently there had been a spate of thefts and burglaries which the police had put down to the prosperity of the area. Wealthy areas apparently attracted undesirables who wanted a slice of the cake but weren’t prepared to earn their income in an honest way. It was this situation that William and Kathleen found themselves in when they returned from school on that Friday. The police obviously had an interest in the hero figure but believed him to be an adult and so there was no suspicion of William or Kathleen being involved. Bill and Harry finished up their tea and after saying goodbye they went back to the police station, none the wiser as to the identity of the mysterious figure in black. The whole thing was put down to Charlie Robins making up a story to cover up the fact that he’d left evidence of his own identity at the scene of the crime, but William knew better.
Chapter 4 - The Secret
Aunt Mabel had left the house on Saturday morning when William and Kathleen went down to the bottom of the garden to the large shed where William’s father’s things had been stored. The shed itself was made from an old railway carriage and still had all the doors and windows in it, all of them with blinds that could be pulled down to keep out the light. Kathleen’s father had it put there before the war when she was younger as a playhouse for her to keep her dolls house, large toys and bicycle in but now it was used mostly for storage and as it was waterproof and dry inside it was a perfect place to keep things safely. There were even good locks on the doors on the inside as Kathleen’s father was obviously very security conscious, probably due to the war and the possibility of German paratroopers hiding in there, at least that’s what he told Kathleen. The garden backed onto the municipal park and boys would often kick their footballs over the fence and Kathleen was sure it was mostly to keep the local schoolboys from getting in there and making a nuisance of themselves. There in the corner of the shed sat three large chests marked with the initials ‘W.G.’ each with a brass padlock on the front. William produced some keys from his trouser pocket and opened up the first chest which was full of handwritten books and folders of his father’s work. The contents of the second chest was a surprise to both William and Kathleen as it contained not only several suits, helmets and other items that formed part of the catsuit but also a small box labelled ‘Danger – Explosives’. They both agreed that this box should probably be left for another time, maybe when Aunt Mabel went off to see her sister in the nearby village of Cobbridge. She usually stayed there the whole Saturday and that would give them plenty of time to explore the contents of the box more carefully.
William lifted the rucksack that he’d brought with him from the house off the floor and emptied the contents onto the lid of the third chest. Holding up his catsuit he smiled. ‘What do you think?’ Kathleen smiled too, realising that William really was keeping a secret from everyone. ‘What does it do, I mean, what’s so special about it? It looks just like my fathers overalls except his were blue. It looks just like any other kind of clothes.’ William winked and decided that the best thing to do was to demonstrate the suit and everything it did. Firstly he showed Kathleen that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t possibly lift one of the chests on his own, not even one end off the floor. Slipping off his shoes and putting on the suit, plimsolls and gloves he stood before her and watched her face change, from surprise to disbelief and back to surprise again, as he picked up the whole chest with apparently no effort at all. Then he put down the chest and picked her up along with the chair she had sat down into, not believing what she had just seen. Kathleen laughed ‘I want to try it, let me try it please.’ Kathleen proceeded to lift William off the floor almost without trying and jumped for joy, which presented her with another shock as she banged her head on the ceiling of the shed. ‘I forgot to tell you, that’s another thing it does, you can run, jump and climb faster and better than you could without the suit and its also waterproof and bulletproof.’ Kathleen looked shocked. ‘You mean you’ve been shot?’ William laughed and shook his head. ‘No, my father tested the material of the suit with knives and guns, even a rifle bullet fired at close range. The bullet just sort of stopped when it hit the material as the fabric is treated with chemicals that change it. He said I probably wouldn’t have even felt it although I really wouldn’t want to find out for sure.’ Kathleen lifted on of the helmets out of the chest and put it on as William helped her adjust the chin strap to fit. ‘Now hold on while I turn out the light and prepare to be amazed even more.’ It was like a miracle to be able to move around in the dark and still be able to see everything and William explained that the visor had been covered in a chemical that made the wearer able to see the faintest of light and even body heat, so even in the darkest room you could clearly make out furniture and people. ‘It’s amazing’ Kathleen was totally shocked at everything that she had discovered but just as she was about to take the helmet off there was a sound from inside the lining that stopped her. ‘William, I can hear people talking!’ Slipping on another helmet William listened to the voices. ‘It’s radio chatter. My father put two-way radios into the helmets and what you can hear is on one of the radio frequencies. It picks up police and military signals but it doesn’t sound like either of those. I know; I’ve heard both of them before. Let’s listen and see what they are saying.’
As they sat in the kitchen eating toast and marmalade both William and Kathleen came to a big decision. No one must know about the special suits and no one must ever know about William’s secret, but now it was a secret that both of them must keep and on top of that there was this latest development. The voices they’d heard were criminal’s voices and they were using stolen military radios to listen in on the police whilst planning a robbery in Burnham high street in just a weeks time. What were they to do? If they told the police their secret would be out, but if they didn’t the robbers would get away with the goods and Burnham would become an easy target for villains. William looked at Kathleen and Kathleen looked back at William. It was up to them, they would have to stop the criminals on their own, or at least ‘someone’ would have to!
Each day after school William and Kathleen would go down to the shed, explaining to Aunt Mable that they had some practical school homework to do and it would be noisy and messy to do it in the house, so rather that get under her feet they’d go somewhere out of the way. As William had already had plenty of practice with the suit it was Kathleen’s turn and whilst she learned what she could do William listened into the robber’s conversations. They obviously didn’t think anyone else could hear them as they discussed their plans quite freely and could be heard talking to members of the gang, some of whom were hiding out above a shoe shop next door to their target, Burnham Provincial Bank. It appeared that they’d been tunnelling into the vault of the bank from the basement next door for weeks and this Sunday was the day they’d break in. Burnham was pretty quiet on Sundays as lots of people went to watch Burnham Town FC play football whilst others would go to the park or just do odd jobs at home. The shops were closed and the robbers believed they had the perfect plan but they’d not considered that their plans would be overheard by two very special and very determined people.
‘What if we can’t stop them William? I mean, there seems to be four of them and only two of us and we’re not used to dealing with this sort of thing.’ Kathleen did seem to be nervous but as William said, ‘Who else will stop them? We can’t let them get away with this and besides, you and I have a secret weapon and now we have secret identities. I’ll call you Katie and you can call me Billy.’ ‘Billy the Cat’ laughed Kathleen, ‘that’s what I’ll call you, Billy the Cat!’
Aunt Mabel was fast asleep when William and Kathleen crept from their beds on Saturday night and changed into their catsuits. Kathleen switched on the helmet radio and put down the night vision visor. ‘We must test that everything works first and also make sure that we’re not seen, so we’ll have to stay off the streets.’ William put his helmet on and opened the bedroom window. ‘Let’s go Katie!’
As they made their way across the rooftops Billy and Katie could see that Burnham was as still as could be and there was no one about. Billy could make out a solitary figure in the distance and used the magnifying lenses in his helmet to pick out a policeman walking through Burnham at the other end of the high street. ‘He might come in handy later on’ Billy thought to himself as they jumped from rooftop to rooftop and eventually came to rest on top of the shop next to the bank. Lifting the skylight window Billy and Katie slipped inside and lowered themselves down to the floor with their climbing ropes. These were fitted with a weighted claw that could be thrown to climb up onto things and they proved very handy. Listening with the helmet microphones they could hear the robbers in the basement below and they crept silently towards the door to the stairs leading downwards. ‘We should wait until they come up with the loot and then grab them, so the police have all the evidence they need’ Billy whispered. Katie nodded in agreement but as she did so the claw from her rope fell from her belt onto the floorboards with a thud. The noise startled the crooks, one of whom came quickly up the stairs to see what the noise was and as he appeared through the door Billy suddenly threw a punch right at him, sending the man flying across the shop floor where he landed unconscious in a heap of old shoe boxes. Not waiting to be caught out a second time Billy and Katie jumped the entire length of the stairs down into the basement to the astonishment of the men who were just filling up large bags with money and jewellery. Billy jumped at the men who scattered from their huddle and grabbed anything they could to fend off these two figures dressed in black who’d surprised them in the middle of robbing the bank vault. Katie leapt up and grabbing hold of a pipe that ran across the ceiling swung her legs and kicked one of the men to the ground. Two down, two to go. Billy was wrestling one of the other two men when he heard a shout from Katie. Whilst still hanging from the pipe she’d been hit across the legs with a chair causing her to fall and the man had escaped up the stairs with a bag of money. Seeing his cousin in distress Billy let go of the man he was fighting and went to Katie’s aid. The second man seized this opportunity and grabbed another bag, fleeing as fast as his legs would carry him, pausing only to lock the door at the top of the stairs. Billy helped Katie to her feet, all the time keeping an eye on the man that Katie had knocked out with her swinging kick. ‘That was very brave of you, well done Katie.’ Billy turned around and tied up the man who was lying on the floor whilst Katie looked around at the huge amount of money and jewellery that had been left behind. ‘At least they didn’t get away with much.’ Billy turned to her and smiled, whilst pressing a button on the side of his helmet. A flash of light went off and Billy explained that his father had built a camera into his helmet. ‘We can use this picture as evidence that Billy the Cat and Katie stopped the robbers and this time there’s two of us.’
The basement door smashed from its hinges and crashed to the floor of the shoe shop as Billy and Katie kicked it down. The robber who had previously been knocked out by Billy had almost regained consciousness when he realised he was being tied up by his masked attackers. Billy took another photo and the pair climbed up the ropes out of the skylight and back onto the rooftop. Katie was already looking through her night vision visor to see where the crooks had run to and in the darkness she could see something rather strange. There appeared to be glowing footprints on the road leading to more glowing tracks but this time made by a car. The night vision was also picking up the heat from the shoes of the robbers and from the tyres of the car. All they had to do was follow the tracks to the crooks hideout. Meanwhile Billy had tuned into the police radio wavelength and had broadcast the fact that there was a robbery in progress at Burnham Provincial Bank. As they skipped and jumped across the rooftops they could hear the police cars racing to the scene and the police were surprised to find the other two robbers tied up very tightly indeed. As they were bundled into the back of a police van they kept shouting that they’d been attacked by two giant cat-people to which the policemen just laughed as it seemed to them that other robbers had turned on their mates and left them to their fate. No one believed their story of being thumped and kicked and then tied up by giant cats. But that was all about to change as Billy and Katie swung on their ropes across the road towards the railway yard where the escaped crooks had fled. The lone policeman they’d seen earlier at the end of the high street was hurrying towards the commotion when he happened to look upwards and see the cat-like crime fighters bathed in moonlight as they swung through the night air. This sight caused him to stop dead in his tracks, not really believing what he’d just seen, but all the same he would report it to the Superintendant as soon as possible.
Billy and Katie could hear the robbers on the radio and the signal was getting stronger the closer they got towards the old railway sheds at the back of the sidings. An old guards van was lit from inside by torchlight as Billy and Katie landed silently upon the roof. Just as they were about to jump down and confront the escaped men Billy’s foot fell through a rotten plank on the roof of the carriage and the men realised they’d been found. The noise of a gunshot rang out as one of the men shot at the leg poking through the roof but Billy was too quick, smashing his way out and landed on the ground next to the railway line. Katie wasn’t so quick and fell through the hole onto the carriage floor whereupon the two men jumped on her and tried to hold her down. Katie struggled but when she saw the gun pointed at her she stopped trying to get away. As the men grabbed her and lifted her off the floor there was an almighty flash and a huge explosion. Unknown to Katie, Billy had taken one of his father’s explosive charges with him and had set it off on the end of the carriage causing the whole wall of the guard’s van to disintegrate, just as Billy swung down from a nearby railway signal and kicked both men squarely in the chest sending them flying backwards out of the now open carriage door and onto the railway line below. Needless to say the noise of the explosion was heard by the police in the high street who immediately raced to the scene, to find two very blackened and very dazed robbers tied up lying next to the stolen money and jewellery. Again they told the police that they’d been attacked by giant cats but this time the policemen were a little more believing as one of them had actually seen what he thought were two giant cat-like figures running across the rooftops of Burnham. ‘What is the Chief Inspector going to make of all this?’ the desk sergeant exclaimed when the crooks were bundled into the cells back at the police station.
Billy and Katie watched the proceedings as they sat on the rooftop across from the police station and felt quite satisfied that they’d managed to catch a gang of crooks single handed but as they left to silently return home a very faint voice could be heard inside their helmets. It sounded like someone trying to contact the robbers so it must have been another gang member, but just as suddenly the signal disappeared. ‘We’d better be getting home or we may be seen’ Billy breathed quietly, little knowing that earlier that exact thing had happened and a credible source would be reporting their sighting the very next day.
Chapter 5 - The Cats In The News
Back home they quickly slipped out of their outfits and hid everything away so as not to be discovered by Aunt Mabel. It was Sunday morning and neither William nor Kathleen had gotten any sleep yet so they went off to bed for a few hours. Aunt Mabel woke them a little later with tea and toast on trays in bed, a special Sunday treat she always did for them. Little did she know that they’d been up almost the whole night and they were awfully tired for the whole day. ‘Now I know what a night shift at work must feel like’ William yawned through his steaming cup of tea. ‘I certainly wouldn’t want to do that too often’ Kathleen yawned back from her bedroom next door. All day long they chatted about what had happened whilst pretending to be reading in the back garden. It was a beautiful sunny day and the branches of the apple tree in the garden swayed gracefully in the breeze. Jumping up, Kathleen whispered ‘Let’s go for a bike ride down the high street and see if anything’s happening’. As the rode their bicycles along the main road they could see a group of men with notebooks standing outside the police station, about six of them in total and one had a camera slung around his neck on a strap. They were listening to the police Superintendent standing on the steps outside who looked very pleased with himself as he was telling the men, who turned out to be reporters, that a robbery had been foiled and a gang of thieves had been arrested at the scene in possession of large amounts of money and jewellery. He went on to say that the crooks were well known to Scotland Yard and were all looking at long prison sentences. By the time he’d finished a large crowd of onlookers had gathered, all asking questions about the raid and how the police had caught the gang. The Superintendent looked rather quizzically at the Chief Inspector who was trying hard to avoid being dragged into the conversation. ‘What about the reports of strange cat creatures in the night?’ shouted one of the reporters. Someone had obviously tipped them off and they weren’t going to give up and go away without an answer. ‘We can confirm’ the Superintendent announced, ‘That the police were in some small way assisted by two members of the public whose identities are unknown to us at the moment, but rest assured that when these people come forward they shall receive our thanks and a reward of £1000 which has been offered by Burnham Provincial Bank. That is all, thank you all for coming.’ At this the policemen quickly went back inside and the reporters ran off to find a phone box to telephone their newspaper offices with the stories.
‘Well, a £1000 reward’ exclaimed Kathleen. But William’s mind was on something else, something the Superintendent had said and resting his bicycle against the railings went into the police station. Sitting at his desk the Chief Inspector could see that nothing but the truth would satisfy William’s curiosity and proceeded to explain. ‘One of the men arrested has confessed to being involved in the London robbery that resulted in the accident that killed your parents. I can assure you William that he will go to prison for a lot longer than had he just been involved in this case, but his accomplice in that robbery is still at large. Don’t worry, we’ll find him eventually.’ William shook the Chief Inspector’s hand and went back outside where Kathleen was waiting patiently. Riding back home he told his cousin about the man and what the police had said. ‘I think I’d like to see this crook and have a little talk with him.’
By Wednesday the papers were full of stories of masked heroes, giant cats and of course the robbers who’d been caught red handed with the help of two people with secret identities. It was at this time that one of the reporters tracked down Charlie Robins who’d got off with only a fine for attempted burglary as he’d not actually stolen anything. He’d been telling people that he was the first to see the cat-person and had actually been caught due to being chased from the scene by the figure with amazing strength and agility. Charlie was no slouch and was an ex-football player but even he was easily overcome by the ‘cat’. The reporter arranged to meet Charlie in the local pub, The Bull and Gate where he’d already had a few pints before the reporter Terry Marsh got there which made his job even easier. A few more pints and Charlie was talking non-stop about the ‘cat’, about the house where Mabel Grange and her children lived and how he’d been jumped upon by this superhuman attacker and had only escaped by sheer luck. When he described how the ‘cat’ had caught a kitchen knife in mid-air, Terry dropped his drink and nearly fell off his chair. It was an amazing story and would make great headlines the following day so it was well worth the £10 that he paid Charlie, even if he’d only spend it on drink but that was the deal and Terry wanted this exclusive really badly. Charlie had gotten off lightly compared to another villain who was about to receive a very big surprise.
Back at the police station in Burnham one of the custody
officer’s duties was to accompany a single prisoner to and from the exercise
yard at the rear of the building, where each one would get 15 minutes to walk
around inside walls that are 20 feet high topped with barbed wire. Listening every night to the police radio
William discovered that every day the crooks were left alone to their exercises,
as the police officers knew that there was no way that any of them could escape
but they weren’t expecting anyone to break into the police station. The crooks were to be transferred to Scotland
Yard in two days time so William and Kathleen only had one day in which to carry
out their plan. William and Kathleen had
also learned that the man who was part of the
Chapter 6 - "London Calling"
Tea and crumpets was one of William and Kathleen's favourite treats after school and just as they sat down at the kitchen table there was a loud knocking at the front door. Aunt Mabel got up from her chair and went to answer and was surprised to see three men waiting impatiently for her. They introduced themselves as reporters and would like to hear more about the attempted burglary and especially about the newly discovered heroes Billy the Cat and Katie. Aunt Mabel just shook her head as she hadn't time to read the paper and didn't know whom they were talking about. 'And just who are Billy the Cat and Katie?' she inquired. The reporters explained but poor Aunt Mabel was none the wiser but invited the gentlemen in for a cup of tea. Seeing they'd get nowhere with this kindly but uninformed old lady the men declined and went on their way, asking everyone they met in the street if they'd seen these secretive characters. William and Kathleen quickly scurried back to the kitchen as they'd been listening in the hallway, and so as not to appear interested they started chatting about the school trip later that month. When Aunt Mabel sat down and had taken a sip of her tea which was nearly cold, Kathleen reminded her mother that they'd be going to London for the day on a history trip and that the coach would pick everyone up at the school gates at eight o'clock. Aunt Mabel noted it in her pocket diary and next to it wrote 'sandwiches – meat paste, cheese and pickle, ham.'
Over the next two weeks the local and even some of the national newspapers had stories about Billy the Cat and Katie, although none of them actually had any photos of the pair. An artist had drawn some cartoon figures of what he thought they may look like and William and Kathleen had to laugh when they saw the leopard skinned figures with teeth and claws. 'That looks nothing like us' Kathleen sniggered as they read the story in the Burnham Evening Argus. 'They'll be saying we eat raw meat next!' As they read on Kathleen noticed something that William had missed in the column next to their story. The robber Big Sid had confessed to being part of the London jewellery gang and was being sent to prison for a long time, but as part of his confession he'd named two other men as being the ringleaders who were still at large. William gasped at the names as he'd seen them before in the notebook he'd taken from Charlie Robins as Kathleen read the rest of the headlines out loud. 'Police are anxious to speak to anyone who may know the whereabouts of either Max 'Buster' Driver or Harry 'The Fence' Lime. Anyone with information should contact Scotland Yard on Whitehall 1212. And look there's some photos of them here!" William and Kathleen studied the photos carefully and later cutting them out of the paper to keep, just in case. Kathleen had an idea, 'Why don't we go and see Charlie Robins and find out where he got those names from? It may help us later on.' William nodded and that night would see Charlie cornered in an alleyway behind the Pig and Whistle pub just down the road from the canal bridge in Burnham. Charlie had decided he'd try his luck again by breaking into the pub and stealing the takings but hadn't realised that he'd been followed all the way from his home by two shadowy figures leaping from roof to roof across the town. Tied to a drainpipe next to the beer cellar trapdoor Billy the Cat and Katie questioned him about the other two men. 'I was looking for a job to do, you know a big un, coz I needed the money and I was told these two geezers had an inside man on a jewellery heist that'd make the Bank of England look small!' Billy and Katie looked at each other and pressed him for more information. 'Look, all I know is that it's in London on Thursday, nothing else, I swear. I couldn't do it coz I've got to look after me old mum, she's poorly you know.' He seemed to be telling the truth and seeing that he was in no position to cause any problems Billy and Katie let him free. 'I'll tell you what' said Billy, 'You go and see Mr Potter at the park keepers house tomorrow and ask him for a job. I know he needs a labourer and we'll make sure that no-one finds out that you've been talking because it might be bad for you if these other villains found out you'd spilled the beans to us.' Charlie nodded quietly and with that they leaped up into the air and raced across the rooftops back to the centre of Burnham and home.
Thursday was the day of the school trip and according to Charlie Robins also the intended day for the robbery, but as William and Katie were going to be surrounded by at least forty other children and two or three teachers there was no way that they could try to track down two robbers in a place as large as London. Where on earth would they start? Sat on the coach about halfway to the back William pushed his and Kathleen's large rucksacks onto the luggage rack above their heads. 'What have you got in there? The kitchen sink?' laughed Annie who was sat in front of them. 'Just how many sandwiches did your Aunt Mabel make you? We're only going for the day not a fortnight!' William sat down next to Kathleen. 'Ha ha, very funny' he pulled a face at Annie 'We've just come prepared for any eventuality' and quietly read his comic book. Kathleen chatted to Annie all the way to London which took about an hour and William looked up as they passed Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column who seemed to be looking down over the whole city. Passing St Pauls cathedral William glanced out of the windows watching the city pass by and eventually the coach drew into a side road and stopped just next to Tower Bridge. Everyone picked up their belongings and stood on the pavement next to the coach where Mr Wood read out the names of children's groups and where they were to go to on the rota. Each group had ten children and a teacher and they would visit three places in turn, Pudding Lane and the Monument, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. William and Kathleen's group would be with Miss Nuttall, a new teacher would joined Burnham Academy the previous month. She was a good teacher, William thought she was about thirty years old and she said that her husband was a manager who worked in the local fruit packing factory. She wasn't very good at organising and as they set off towards the Tower of London she started walking in the wrong direction from the children, who'd already taken a fair lead so she had to hurry along to catch them up.
Standing beneath the walls of the Tower of London William, Kathleen and their school friends gazed at the magnificent entrance to this huge stone castle where many bad people had been imprisoned, the Kings and Queens of England had lived and of course where the Crown Jewels were kept, locked away and guarded by the Yeoman Warders, more commonly known as the Beefeaters. The small gathering was escorted by a nice man with a moustache who told everyone about how the White Tower was built by William the Conqueror in the eleventh century and also how it had been expanded by Kings such as Richard the Lionheart. The children shivered when told of the beheadings and the ghosts such as Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII who supposedly walked the corridors with her severed head tucked underneath her arm. Rounding a corner they approached Wakefield Tower where they were to see the Crown Jewels housed in all their ceremonial glory. Excitement grew as they climbed the stairs to the upper floor and their guide beckoned them forwards into the viewing room.
Much to their surprise the scene that greeted them was not what they'd expected, in fact it was not what anyone had expected. The door slammed shut behind them and two men with pistols pushed them forwards into the centre of the stone room. The men were stealing the Crown Jewels, something that hadn't happened since the time of Colonel Thomas Blood in 1671. The man whose job it was to care for the jewels had been tied up and gagged and it looked as though he'd been hit over the head as there was blood on his face. The children huddled together around Miss Nuttall but very soon she realised that not all of the children were there. Looking upwards she could see the glass skylights above and silently wished that someone would come to save them all. William and Kathleen had been at the back of the queue climbing the stairs and looking at the paintings and displays when they heard the door slam shut just ahead of them. Carefully and quietly climbing the few remaining stairs they could hear men's voices coming from behind the huge steel door. "Look 'ere, don't you make a sound or else the old bloke gets it! OK? So just you keep quiet and ' will be fine, ?" Another voice could be heard in the background but it was very quiet, although William and Kathleen could just make out the man saying "Hurry up, we've only got five minutes before anyone notices he's not clocked in downstairs. Get the loot in the bags quickly."
William and Kathleen wasted no time and ran down to the next landing, opened their rucksacks and pulled out their catsuits and helmets. "This could be tricky" William whispered, putting on his helmet "As we'll be missed by Miss Nuttall. We'll have to make up an excuse that's believable." Kathleen nodded in agreement and pulled on her own helmet. Rucksacks thrown over their shoulders Billy the Cat and Katie jumped out of the window onto the wall that ran across the courtyard and throwing their lasso ropes upwards to catch the railings at the top of the tower they climbed upwards. A party of tourists was walking below when suddenly they saw two figures dressed in black scaling the side of the wall. They started yelling and taking photographs as Billy the Cat and Katie leaped onto the roof of the jewel house. Beefeaters rushed from everywhere towards the tower whilst one of the warders telephoned Scotland Yard to report the incident.
Looking out of the windows to the scene below Max shouted over to Harry "For God's sake lets go" and they fled through the door on the opposite side of the room down the stone spiral staircase towards the yard at the rear of the tower. Just at that moment Billy and Katie crashed through the glass skylight into the jewel house room, landing of the floor at the feet of the stunned teacher and her children. Katie ran to untie the man who'd been attacked by the robber. "Which way did they go?" Billy pleaded as the group all pointed towards the other door, all too shocked and amazed to say anything at all. Seeing that the man appeared to be just a little shaken Katie called Miss Nuttall over. "Here, you take care of him, we've got robbers to catch" and just as quickly as they'd arrived Billy and Katie raced after the escaping men. Miss Nuttall wiped the blood away from the poor man's forehead with her handkerchief as the children suddenly burst into life. "That was Billy the Cat and Katie! We saw Billy the Cat and Katie!" they all shouted and cheered. They were still shouting and cheering when the Beefeaters unlocked the main door and hurried in. They were startled to hear about what had happened and their colleague wasted no time in describing how he'd been overpowered by the two robbers and hit over the head, but were amazed when he told them that two others had crashed though the roof in pursuit of the crooks. "I never seen ' like it in me life, they was like giant cats landing on the floor. It must be twenty feet from the roof skylight and they jumped as if they were stepping off a bus."
Billy could see that the fugitive men were nearing the yard where a car was waiting and waved to Katie just behind him to follow him and jump down from the window onto the roof of the building below, just alongside where the crooks would appear. As they landed gracefully onto the roof they could hear the ringing of bells and Billy suddenly could hear the police radio inside his helmet.
# "All cars, all cars, be advised men are armed, take action to apprehend" #
Katie heard it too as they both ran across the roof towards the car which had it's engine running. Someone was sitting in the drivers seat and had seen them coming towards him. In the distance the sound of the bells was getting closer as the police cars raced towards the scene. Groups of tourists were being herded away by Beefeaters but as soon as one of them saw Billy and Katie they turned and tried to take photographs. A news reporter who'd been part of the tourist group used his camera with a powerful telephoto lens to capture the action as it happened.
Jumping from the roof Billy and Katie were met with a volley of gunshots as the man from the car suddenly opened fire on them. It was Charlie Robins, the burglar and he was firing at them through the open window from inside the car. The bullets bounced off the catsuits that Billy and Katie were wearing and just as soon as it started the bullets stopped. Charlie had a revolver and it only had six bullets. He didn't have time to reload as Katie somersaulted across the yard and punched him squarely on the jaw, knocking him clean out of the drivers seat. Billy heard a door crashing open behind him and leaped over the car to see Max Driver and Harry Lime running towards the car but as soon as they saw Billy and Katie they too started shooting, this time with a shotgun and an automatic pistol. More bullets and more danger but that didn't stop Billy who threw himself into a ball and rolled himself straight at the crooks, knocking them over like skittles. Max tried to grab the shotgun that had been knocked from his hands but was felled by Katie who kicked his legs away and he crashed to the ground banging his head on the floor as he fell. She quickly bound his hands behind his back with a length of rope and looked up to see Billy chasing the other man. Harry had tried to make a run for it but Billy was too quick, throwing his claw rope out and hooking Harry's feet to trip him up. He fell forwards dropping the gun and the bag, spilling the loot all over the ground and in a second Billy had tied him up by his hands and feet.
"Time to go" called Katie as the police cars raced into the yard to be confronted by three unconscious tied up crooks, guns and the crown jewels scattered all around the place. Billy and Katie quickly raced away, doubling back on themselves to make sure no-one saw which way they went and certainly to avoid any more photographs being taken. The reporter ran across to the scene and introduced himself explaining that he'd seen the whole thing and had photographs to prove what had happened. The police Inspector was astounded to learn that he'd been beaten to the chase by two masked heroes known to the press as Billy the Cat and Katie but wasn't about to condone the actions of 'have-a-go types in masks'.
William and Katie changed out of their catsuits and sat on the steps of the Wakefield Tower as Miss Nuttall and the rest of the children came downstairs with the Beefeaters. Pleased to see they were unharmed she believed them when they told her about taking a wrong turning and ended up getting lost. The rest of the class were shouting and cheering and telling William and Kathleen how they'd seen Billy the Cat and Katie and how they'd crashed through the roof and so on and so on. William and Kathleen acted surprised yet disappointed that they'd not witnessed all of this but at least they were all safe.
The whole place was alive with gossip and talk of how the robbers were caught, the gunfight and so many people including Beefeaters had seen the crime fighting duo that it had to be true and it didn’t take long for the reporter's story to make the front pages of every newspaper in England. "Billy the Cat and Katie – They're Real", "Masked Crime Fighters Save Crown Jewels", "Queen Gives Thanks To National Heroes." Even the police in their statements to the court when Max, Harry and Charlie were convicted of the theft of the most famous jewels in the world had to tell of the sheer heroism of Billy the Cat and Katie. Newspaper stories spoke of how the two were bullet proof and could jump from huge heights, climb sheer walls and had amazing strength. The press offered great rewards of thousands of pounds for information about the identity of these unknown heroes but no-one ever came forward. Billy the Cat and Katie were anonymous and were going to stay that way for a long time. Their adventure and exploits became the stuff of legends for over ten years and then they suddenly disappeared, never to be heard of ever again.
Granddad William and Great Aunt Kathleen both looked at the young reporter, "Young man, you are now the only person apart from us in the whole world who knows the full story. As you have already told us, you've been researching Billy the Cat and Katie for five years and when we read your story in the paper we decided it was time to tell the world. So, just what are you proposing to call this book of yours?"
The End ????