Hal was curled up on the couch, clasping Ollie and hugging her tight. "Isn't it hot, Ollie?"
Ollie pawed Hal's face and leaped off the ground, purring gently. Hal peered at the window. The sun was getting out. She was going to have to get out another popsicle then.
Hal worked in those candy factories. She'd bring home a heap of candy packets, her apron dyed and stained bright pink and purple. Her face would be starched odd greens and familiar reds. That was how she lived.
Over the stench of coloring and candy.
"We need to go on a vacation Ollie. I'm bored." Hal sighed, as she drew back the curtains a little.
Ollie balanced carefully over the couch. "Want some water?"
Hal straightened and picked up her phone. "You know what? I'm getting us a vacation."
"Hello. Is this Castle Suites?"
"Erm, yes, hi ma'am. This is Cartel Suites."
"Yes, yes, whatever. I need to book a room."
"Would you like a room near the ocean, ma'am?"
Hal hesitated. Those rooms had to be expensive.
"Will you bring anyone with you? Family? Or alone, Ma'am?"
Hal looked at Ollie. "Are pets allowed?"
The man hesitated at the end. "Yes, ma'am. But we have a more spacious suite near the end, especially for pets. Provided you've signed the pet policy form, ma'am."
"Your pet shouldn't be making loud noises that can disturb other guests staying in the rooms. It shouldn't make too much of a mess, and the owner is responsible for the pet's - pet's..."
"Discardings." Hal tried not to giggle.
The man cleared his throat. "Yes, ma'am. So will you take the suite?"
Hal frowned. "How much would three nights in the pet suite be?"
"Two thousand six hundred and sixty-six,"
Hal spluttered into the phone. "That's absolutely ridiculous." she snapped.
'But, but ma'am. You will be staying in the larger suite. One night is eight hundred and eighty-eight dollars, approximate."
"Make it two thousand," Hal demanded.
The man stammered nervously into the phone, "But ma'am, the price is already on discount. We've been holding that discount for a month now since no one is really coming into our hotel."
"Two thousand and hundred then."
The man swallowed, "I'll discuss it with my boss, ma'am. Get back to you in a minute."
"Good," Hal grinned and stroked the tabby cat's fur. "we're going on a vacation, Ollie."
The phone rang. The deal was made. Two thousand and three hundred dollars for three nights.
A day later, Hal was tugging her dusty pink suitcase out of the attic She stared at it. A little rusty but it'll have to do.
It'd been a long time since she'd seen that suitcase. Or gone on any vacations.
After plenty of cursing, stuffing clothes and cat ointments, she finally picked up her suitcase, blew a layer of dust, and rolled it to the door, beaming.
Five minutes later she was in the storeroom, tweaking Ollie's old kitten cage. She'd never used that before. She didn't know how Ollie would react to being stuck in the cage.
"We're taking the bus, Ollie. Don't wanna waste any money," she whispered, as she lifted the fat cat and pushed him gently into the cage. Ollie miaowed weakly and then stretched to take a nap.
The bus finally stumbled across the bus stop. Hal climbed eagerly into it, heaving Ollie's cage onto an empty seat. The birch trees were bare and branchless. Just as Hal stuck in some earphones, someone nudged her roughly.
She yelped and removed them. A man glared at her. Thin-lipped, bald at the head, striped scarf, pointy nose, stout. He looks a bit like Gru from the Minion movie. Hal tried not to giggle.
"Move your stupid cat outta the way, young lady. I need to sit," he growled.
Hal stared at him. Great, she thought, she'll have to deal with Mr. Gru guy for the rest of the ride.
The bus pulled up an hour later in front of the hotel. Hal picked up Ollie's cage. Finally, some space away from that guy.
Hal tightened her bun, tossed her backpack over her shoulder, and walked to the reception eagerly.
A man, about in his early twenties glanced up. "Hi, ma'am. Are you Ms. Bentley?"
Hal nodded, "Yeah. Pet suite." she reminded him.
The man nodded, "Ah, it's you."
He looked nervous, "I'm Mr. Matt, ma'am. There's been a slight error, I'm afraid. You'll need to share your pet suite with someone,"
Hal glared at him. "What do you mean to share?" she demanded.
"Well, the guest's ordered at a bargain price too, so you will have to share a room."
Hal looked puzzled. "I don't understand."
Mr. Matt swallowed, "Here, follow me, ma'am."
Hal followed Mr. Matt anxiously. Mr. Matt knocked softly on the door. Hal couldn't help staring at the man who'd answered it.
The Mr. Gru guy.
"There's been a slight mistake, so you'll have to share with him, ma'am. We apologize for the inconvenience. You will be given free compliments, of course."
Hal ignored Mr. Matt's nervous chatter and stared at the man.
She was going to have a rough time.