Next morning, Cally and Marna rushed as quickly as they could through serving the cats’ breakfasts and cleaning out the pens, so that they could devote an hour at least to organising the open day.
“Let’s see what kind of response we’ve had so far,” Cally said, opening up the e-mail program on her computer. Over the last few days she and Marna had sent out an e-mail invitation to every single one of the clients who had used Cally’s Cats’ Hotel since it first opened.
“Oh, my word!” Cally stared at the screen in astonishment.
“What is it?” Marna asked, glancing up from the laptop she had opened on the other side of the desk. She was making up a quiz to sell at the open day to raise funds for their local Cats Protection branch.
Every so often she would fire a random question at Cally, like “How many Bond movies have there been?”, or “Who starred in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’?” She was trying to decide whether she was making the film quiz too easy or too difficult.
“Of course, you’re the wrong person to ask,” she complained, as Cally answered every question correctly. “As the local pub quiz queen you’re hardly typical of our average punter, are you?”
“Leave that for a minute. Come and look at this!”
Cally’s e-mail inbox had almost 100 new e-mails in it.
“At least they haven’t just ignored us, then,” Marna said. “I was a bit worried about that. I delete most messages from shops and businesses without even reading them.”
“Now you tell me!” Cally said, looking scandalised. “But look – it’s not just how many there are. Look at the subject lines.”
Marna stooped over to peer more closely.
She raised her eyebrows.
“That sounds encouraging.”
Cally clicked on the first one to open it.
Dear Cally, we’re so sorry we haven’t been to see you lately, but sadly Fluffy died a few months ago. However, we have recently taken in a rescue cat and wonder if you can accommodate her when we go on holiday next month.
The girls exchanged sad faces.
“Oh, poor Fluffy,” Marna said. “She had such a sweet nature. A good age, though. What’s the next message?”
The next e-mail was from a couple who explained that since the husband had been made redundant they’d had to curtail their holidays and therefore hadn’t needed to use the cattery.
But Dave starts a new job next week so hopefully we’ll be back soon, it finished.
Another told of a couple who had moved away from the area, but they had recommended Cally’s Cats’ Hotel to the family – with three cats – who had bought their home.
And so it went on. There were apologies, dozens of reservations, messages of support, and, of course, some sad stories where much-loved pets had, like Fluffy, passed on.
By the time they finished reading the girls didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“This is amazing,” Cally said, getting up to put the kettle on. “And we haven’t even had the open day yet!”
“Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it?” Marna agreed, but she’d barely finished speaking when a look of absolute horror came over her face.
“No! Don’t you dare!” She was staring at the screen of Cally’s computer.
“What is it?” Cally hardly dared look, yet at the same time knew what she was going to see.
Sure enough, when she leaned over the desk, the screen had gone dark and no amount of key tapping would bring it back to life.
“It all just disappeared!” Marna wailed helplessly.
Cally slumped into the desk chair, staring in defeat at the electronic contraption on the desk.
“Do you think we’ve lost it all? All those contacts? All those bookings?” Marna whispered.
“I don’t know. I hope not, but I really don’t know,” Cally returned hopelessly.