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Ms (Fantasy, Screenplay Award 2023)
Book Award Sub-Category
Award Category
Golden Writer
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Logline or Premise
What could happen if your cat turned human...when Tiffany, arguing with boyfriend Anthony, accidentally topples a set of Egyptian figurines, ancient forces mischievously grant her wish that men were more like her cat Felix, but - though fun at first - it soon becomes clear this charismatic newcomer spells disruption for Tiffany’s ambitious friends too.
First 10 Pages

‘Well I’m already there now so tonight’s definitely off. I’ll

call you as soon as I get back from Cairo,’ Anthony

snapped, and hung up. Tiffany exploded with rage.

How dare he stand her up? She slammed her mobile

phone down onto the sofa, but it skittered across the taut

fabric and shot into the shrine nestled in the old fireplace,

toppling the joss sticks and tumbling flowers before

smacking into four bronze Egyptian statuettes. Osiris, Isis,

and Nephthys crashed together into a triangular but

delicate balance, while Seth – that old trickster – clattered

dramatically right out of the grate, knocking over the cat

figurine on the hearth. The duo fell sideways, narrow eyes


‘Now look what you’ve made me do!’ Tiffany shouted.

All desire to see Anthony had popped like the soap

bubbles sometimes playfully batted by her tabby cat. She

hated the man tonight, and glared at the mute phone now

resting in the wreckage. It flickered in a panicky blue burst

and went blank. The sleek tabby, woken by the commotion

from his snooze beside a bowl of geological crystals on the

coffee table, sat up bristling. Tiffany reached out a hand to

soothe him, cupping his chin, and bent to rub her forehead

gently against his.

‘Oh Felix, dearest moggy, why can’t some men be

more like you?’ she muttered, but the cat was not

appeased, and jumped down. He stalked to the open

ground floor window. When things got noisy at home, a

neighbour’s cluttered study was worth a sly visit, but as he

dropped down onto the garden path the air outside seemed

as charged Tiffany’s mood, and distant thunder grumbled.

He hesitated on the warm flagstones. Inside, Tiffany knew

she should rescue the tumbled figurines, but her head was

throbbing and now her throat hurt. ‘Shu!’ she sneezed,

ignoring the chaos. ‘And now the blasted cat’s taken off as well.

Ptah,’ she finished, crossly, as if appealing to that

life-giving Egyptian god about whom her great-

grandfather Freddie once wrote his pamphlets. She had

loved playing with these sounds as a small child. ‘I can’t

be getting a cold now – it’s almost summer.’ She stalked

over to a small sideboard tucked into the alcove next to the

fireplace to find her bottle of whisky and poured a shot

into a tumbler, hoping the Elastoplast-y taste and kick of

the peaty malt would numb her sore throat. It made her

gasp – ‘hehh’, another ancient incantation – and she

poured a second shot to savour more slowly. Thunder

muttered again, louder and closer, and the gauzy curtain at

the window fluttered anxiously. Tiffany turned away,

deciding that a deep bath might help to soak her ills away,

with a generous libation of perfumed oils.

As she left the room, bearing her consoling glass, a gust

of wind rattled down the chimney, costing Isis her fragile

balance in the fireplace. The figurine slipped forwards, her

bronze headdress striking the abandoned mobile phone’s

screen with a sharp ‘nt’ sound. Its blue-green flash lit up

the mocking features of Seth, just as a sudden crack of

lightning outside breached the early evening sky and a

violent burst of rain clattered on the garden flagstones, as

if crying the name of its ancient goddess Tefnet, ‘tf-nt, tfnt!’

In the same moment a loud yowl exploded outside,

and an expanding ball of fur hurtled through the open

window into the protection of the apartment, tumbling

heavily onto the floor perilously close to the fallen

figurines. The thud made Seth rock again, while more

thunder growled and the rain cackled harshly.

Upstairs, Tiffany heard only the water filling the

bathtub. She sat on its edge, alternately sipping whisky to

dispel her throaty feverishness and pouring swirls of

iridescent oils from an array of glass bottles, one after

another, onto the steadily clouding water. Then she leant

across to turn on the radio on the windowsill and prepared

to descend into the waters, unaware of the outraged

creature racing silently up the stairs beyond the closed

door. Badly ruffled and tingling with static, it sped past the

bathroom and turned the landing corner to flee further

upstairs. Gaining the open door of Tiffany’s room, it leapt

straight onto the large bed and huddled into the soft duvet.

All the air seemed humming with electricity. Then the

whole room crackled with vivid white and green light, and

thunder crashed directly overhead. No respite, then. The

creature pressed deeper into the comfort of the duvet,

waiting for the next shock.

Tiffany also heard and felt that explosion of the sky as

she lay in the cloudy water, steam rising above her. She sat

up in alarm, wondering if a bath was really the best place

to be with so much electricity raging directly above the

building. Then her radio, which had buzzed abruptly with

the lightning, resumed its quiet chatter on the windowsill

above her.

‘Some say myths seem to be ancient stories, but they

can actually happen again at any time – it’s like a game

that asks “what if?”, and moves in and out of time,’ a

warm, mezzo and vaguely familiar voice said, and then

softly repeated the phrase: ‘Myth moves in and out of

time.’ It sounded like a mantra. Tiffany relaxed back into

the silky water to listen, as the speaker warmed to her


‘I’ll demonstrate. Look how mythical thinking and

science interact. They both reach us through our

imagination and by following their imaginations –

exploring their curiosity, if you like – scientists have

already brought some things from the world of myth into

our reality. For example, space travel and visiting the

moon, both once only possible in ancient myths. You see

my point?’ The voice was brisk now, commanding.

Yes, Tiffany thought, although I wish I could just

imagine myself up to the moon – so much easier. Or

Anthony to hell.

‘So myths can transform us,’ the speaker warned, ‘and

many modern physicists agree that the border between

science and myth is porous. Things can cross; and in my

view a myth that makes us live more fully today, is still

valid,’ she concluded, her voice rising on ‘valid’ and

challenging the interviewer, who chimed in.

‘I’d like to explore that idea further with you, Iris—’ he

began; but Tiffany’s own imagination had already drifted

too far away, lulled by the perfumed water, and conjuring

visions from the radio’s faint chatter while outside the

thunder receded. Through the dissipating steam images of

a young man with hazel eyes and a sly, inviting smile

drifted behind her closed lids. Trying to remember which

old tale he might have sprung from, she returned to

wakeful reality with a start as the radio crackled faintly

again. More lightning out there somewhere, she thought.

‘That’s why ancient Egyptians used animals to

communicate with the gods,’ the mezzo voice was now

saying. ‘They saw that animals always sense first

whatever’s happening in nature, so they believed the

animals must know the secret language of the gods, which

made them like an interface between humans and the

divine. Cats, for example, being beautiful and self-

indulgent creatures, were dedicated to the goddess of love

and beauty and self-indulgence, Bastet.’

The programme was out of time now. As Tiffany

stretched her limbs and prepared to climb out of her

bathtub, the presenter wrapped up with the detail that next

week the Egypt-based opera, Akhnaten would be explored.

Surely that’s what that old rogue Ozzy’s doing the stage

sets for quite soon, Tiffany thought, as the busy radio

pipped the time signal for seven in the evening and a news

report began about stricken boats of refugees at risk of

capsizing in the Mediterranean Sea. She turned it off.

Stepping out of the clinging water, and wrapping a fresh

towel securely around her, she still felt oddly exhausted

and went rather slowly up the stairs to the bedroom –

where she stopped, in the doorway, in shock.

On her bed, naked and lying stomach-down, his elbows

bent and his face propped in his hands, sprawled a

muscular, lightly tanned young man. Soft strawberry

blond hairs on his back and limbs made his body look

almost stroke-able. He turned his head towards her, and

the expression in his tawny-green eyes – somewhere

between smug, mischievous, inviting, and questioning –

seemed weirdly familiar.

‘There you are,’ he said.

‘What the hell are you doing in here?’ she snapped. Her

anger at this intrusion fused with alarm. In the electric

moment Tiffany did not know whether to turn tail and flee,

or to hit him over the head with the nearest suitable object,

but nothing solid enough was within reach. All she could

see was him, and although his presence was alarming, his

pose was utterly relaxed. So she stood there tensing for

flight and waited, almost aggressively, for an answer. He

rolled on to his side, revealing a lightly furred chest, and

well (but not excessively) endowed genitals, and smiled

cheerfully before replying.

‘Apparently you invited me! Downstairs.’ He paused,

but she could only stare, uncomprehending. ‘You don’t

remember?’ Now he sounded slightly hurt. He was not

physically aroused, which made her feel a fraction safer.

She noted the toned and downy body, the well-muscled

legs and arms. Some sort of athlete?

‘No, I do not. Nonsense.’ She almost growled the reply.


I am looking, she thought.

In one quick movement he was off the bed and

standing in front of her.


Cupping her face in his hands, he held her gaze with

those tawny eyes, then gently rubbed her forehead with

his. Now she could not turn and run; her shocked mind

was quite unable to command her body.

‘Like this, barely half an hour ago. Remember now?’

he said, and then he actually purred.

‘Felix?’ She was nonplussed. ‘Don’t be ridiculous!

Cats don’t turn into people. You must have been listening

outside – and broken in somehow...’ She wanted to tell

him to leave immediately, but astonishment constricted her

throat and for a moment she could say nothing more. He

released her, to reassure her that no menace was meant,

and shrugged.

‘No, no, the garden window was still open,’ he said. ‘I

was spying when you were rolling all over the floor in here

with the dreadful Anthony, though!’ Appalled, Tiffany

suddenly could step back from him, and hastily did. A

peeping tom! Embarrassment and fury gave her a new


‘Well you must either leave right now or – or turn back

into a cat!’ she spoke harshly as she tried to gain control of

the situation. Far away, faint thunder still rumbled and

echoed, and the air was heavy, as if the storm might roll

back around and return.

‘’I don’t think I can go back,’ said the invader, glancing

briefly over his shoulder towards the bedroom window,

whose panes had rattled softly as if echoing the thunder.

‘I’m not sure I know how to, yet. You’re being very

ungracious, considering it was your idea, and you’re not

the only one who’s just had a huge shock. Anyway, as

you’ve noticed, I’ve no human clothes. I can’t just walk

out of your home like this.’ He indicated his nakedness

with a sweep of his hand from head to thigh. ‘Where

would I go? No, I’d definitely like to stay on for the time

being. It’s been a pretty good home so far, apart from

having to put up with the dreadful Anthony taking over

most of the bed, including my corner.’

Tiffany thought that she might faint, but fought it.

Everything in the room but the naked intruder seemed out

of focus. The bath oils on her skin felt cloying, their

perfume overwhelming. Fever, or the aromatic whisky, or

both, must be catching up with her. The young man

studied her stunned expression and wondered if his nicely

muscled, slightly downy forelimbs could still catch her fast

enough if she did fall.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘I’m not a stalker, or no more so

than most cats, of course. Rather a good one, in that

context. I’m genuinely just a “pussycat”, as you and your

girlfriends do like to say about some men, you know.’ He

folded his arms across his chest, and waited. Tiffany

breathed out shakily but her alarm was ebbing, like the

thunder, somewhere into the near distance. In its place a

weird curiosity tapped lightly like the rain on the window

pane, and whispering through the leaves of the garden. He

seemed quite peaceable. How could he know all this? She

considered. Not by peering through windows. Her

bedroom was too high up and its white voile blind was

almost permanently drawn, with floor-length gossamer

drapes pulled across it every night. Parkour, perhaps? She

blinked, trying to clear her thoughts, but all she could

picture was how frequently her tabby cat found a space on

the large bed regardless of any other occupant. Anthony

had kicked him off more than once, to Tiffany’s (and the

cat’s) indignation. As she hesitated, words from the radio

programme came whispering seductively again in her

mind: “Transformation myths... are valid”.

‘Are you really expecting me to believe that you are

Felix? My lazy moggy?’ she asked. ‘Made man, and—’

Recalling that she had never got round to having the cat

neutered, she paused. Was it relevant? This man was

certainly all there.

‘Exactly,’ he replied calmly, still trying to soothe her.

‘Your idea. I merely took it up, although I dispute the lazy

bit.’ Thunder growled again. ‘OK, you could say it rather

forcibly took hold of me. I was nearly electrocuted out

there you know, which was your fault. If you hadn’t

thrown that silly tantrum over the ghastly Anthony, I

would never have been outside when lightning struck. I

raced to the safety of our room in a fearsome state.’ Our

room! Tiffany shivered a little.

‘I was definitely not myself, half-stunned, totally

confused,’ he continued, watching her reactions. ‘Couldn’t

tell if I were beast or man, as I think your saying goes?

Anyway, I fled up here and collapsed on the bed with your

words ringing in my mind at the height of that awful

storm, and woke up as you see me now. Rather splendid,

don’t you think?’ He grinned. ‘It’s not the first time I’ve

made myself comfortable here, but I might need a bit more

space now.’ He glanced past her at his reflection in the

cheval mirror. ‘You’ve always been perfectly willing to

share the bed, and to give me a cuddle in the morning so

far, Tiffany dearest.’

He knows my name, she thought, and Anthony’s. Not

just a random intruder then. As she continued to stare

wordlessly at him, he spoke again.

‘In fact, no-one has been a more constant or

affectionate companion than me. Frankly I think you owe

me a bit more respect for my devotion, and for my

willingness at least to pretend to tolerate your latest

appalling boyfriend.’ He stopped, partly to assess the

effects of his words, but mostly to rest after so much

conversation. Hoping he hadn’t gone too far and has

finished on the right sort of note, he casually brushed his

left cheek with the back of his right hand and then rubbed

just under his left ear, while he studied her expression. She

looked less alarmed, but still confused. He cleared his

throat, and tried again.

‘But right now I think we could just settle for a spot of

supper. I take it that all cat food can be dispensed with?

I’ve always preferred the look and aroma of what you

prepare for yourself, as you may have noticed.’

Tiffany was too astounded to reply but a tactic was

taking shape in her reeling imagination. Unsure, like a

feline’s cornered prey, of which way to turn before a

pounce came, she took the best gambit that seemed

available. Moving this weird intruder from the bedroom to

the ground floor, and its escape routes, somehow felt

logical in this fog of confusion.

‘You might at least put something on first,’ was what

she said. He was delighted, and immediately asked if he

could wear her white Egyptian cotton robe, whose cool

lines and elegant folds had always appealed to him. As the

robe was currently out of sight, inside her wardrobe, the

request somehow seemed to support his tale of

metamorphosis (and associated voyeurism). Tiffany

stepped backwards cautiously to the wardrobe, felt for its

handle, keeping her eyes on him at all times as she pulled

its door open enough to reach for the folded robe on a

shelf inside. Then she silently moved towards him,

opening the garment and holding it out like a gift whose

bounty in return was her own physical safety.

Opening his arms in acceptance, he let her slide one

sleeve over his right forearm and then turned so that she

could sweep the garment behind him to manoeuvre his left

arm into the other sleeve. The fine material felt cool on his

skin, and made the golden and russet hairs on his limbs

and body tingle and fluff up. As she drew the garment

across his torso to tie the belt, the folds of material eased

into a flattering fall that also hid a dropped thread in the

fine fabric. She stepped back and studied him. They

looked at each other silently. The process of wrapping him

in the robe seemed to have transited them into a fragile co-

conspiracy. He considered. Should he rub his cheek

affectionately against hers now? Not yet. He waited.

Are his eyes greeny-gold, or mostly hazel? Tiffany was

wondering, intrigued against her better judgement. The

more she stared into them, the harder it was to tell. He

studied her eyes too. One was a deep blue, the other dark