Our story begins with a Project Manager named Clarice, but it doesn’t end with her. The end of her day found her clutching her forehead in her palms, sat down as she was in her classy witch outfit. This project wasn’t going well, although she wasn’t surprised. All of the resources she’d been reaching out to hadn’t responded yet, except for the few that’d told her they couldn’t meet a deadline that short. Right as her desperation was reaching its breaking point, she received a reply. It was from a Project Manager she enjoyed working with, Jacklyn from 1-StopAsia.
Jacklyn had been staring into her crystal ball as Clarice’s e-mail arrived, trying to catch a glimpse of some otherworldly creatures that were surely lurking around. It was Halloween and for her, the Witching Hour had just begun. A fearsome jade Writing Spider lay on top of the crystal ball, subject to her admiring looks. It’s the hero of another story.
After quickly checking out the email, she ran tests with the files and determined she had everything she needed to proceed. Accepting the assignment, she composed and sent her reply, taking on the responsibility of having all of the translations delivered by the deadline – which was next morning, giving her just about 8 hours.
The task at hand was to transcreate and localize several posters providing background information and interesting tidbits about several approaching holidays – the upcoming birthdays of important historical figures; events related to the movements of the Moon; regular cultural holidays and of course – All Saints Day.
Clarice had thankfully specified which files she needed first. The layout of all files was to be kept as closely to the originals as possible, and the delivered files were to be print-ready upon delivery. With that in mind, Jacklyn got to work and canvassed her resources. It was very late – or very early – and while she knew some would respond soon, she was just as sure that others wouldn’t get back to her until it was too late.
An hour later, it was going as well as it could have – that is, at least until she received a call. From Clarice. Stating that all of the files needed to be completed and ready for delivery within the next 3 hours. No extensions possible. Clarice hung up as soon as she heard an incoherent response from Jacklyn, which she generously interpreted as affirmative. Yes, 1-Stop would definitely pull through somehow. No reason to worry at all.
“Sure, this demand seems totally reasonable and meeting the new deadline is definitely possible with all the resources I currently have at my disposal”, Jacklyn thought. We lied, that’s not at all what she thought. Instead, her thoughts wandered towards a piece of advice her mentor had given her towards the end of her training.
“One day, you’ll receive a request that you simply don’t think you’ll be able to handle. When that moment comes, DON’T PANIC. Instead, refer to item 33 of our Master Glossary. The comment, Jacklyn. Your salvation lies inside.”
If there was ever a time for her to make use of that advice, surely it was now. Her hands shaking, she barely managed to navigate to the specified glossary, highlighting the item as instructed. It was odd, she’d never taken note of that particular comment before, and it all seemed as if it was garbled text. She clicked it. Nothing happened. She double clicked it. Nothing continued to happen. She dragged her mouse cursor slowly across the box, going back and forth. The CAT tool purred at her.
Startled, Jacklyn slid her computer chair back as the CAT came to life on her screen, then casually stretched out and jumped off from her monitor, assuming a regal sitting position on the desk in front of her. Its fur was imprinted with all the world’s flags.
“Took you long enough, human. Three hours to complete all of that, huh?” the CAT yawned and spoke to her in her native tongue, motioning towards all of the files that were open on her second monitor.
“Meowthinks it would not be possible for your linguists, nya? For a purrrrrrice, I may be able to offer a solution. Name’s Fel. You may pet me.”
Jacklyn opened her mouth, then thought better of it and closed it, electing to rub her eyes instead. As Fel looked on impatiently, it dawned on her that it wasn’t just a pretty cute figment of her imagination. She cautiously slid her chair forward until she was within petting distance and extended her hand, giving Fel the option to mark it as its possession.
“Y-yes, I don’t think they’d be able to complete it in half the time they agreed on.” She admitted as Fel claimed her hand and encouraged further pets. “Do you know anyone who can? Is there anything I can do to avoid disappointing Clarice?”
“I have a few friends that might be willing to come out and get their paws dirty with this rush business. You’ll need to make it worth their while, and you’ll probably need to do most of the typing. You silly humans never think of cats when designing your fancy keyboards. Why do you think we lay on them?” Fel shook her head as if slightly disappointed, then continued talking as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “You seem to be a nice person. I’ll summon my friends, but you’ll have to prove yourself by setting up that touchscreen monitor over there and petting all of them while they work. They won’t scratch the screen … too much.”
Jacklyn quickly stood up, gave Fel one final pet and got to work setting up the monitor as requested, clearing the desk so several cats could fit on it if necessary. Once she’d done so, she stepped back from the desks and looked on curiously, as the CAT began what was evidently a summoning ritual. One that involved running across all the surfaces in the entire office in a circle, knocking over anything that wasn’t bolted down with the exception of the monitors and other peripherals.
It quickly seemed to have an effect, as a bright red dot appeared in the middle of the circle and moved around it, seemingly at random. A moment later, Jacklyn was nearly tackled to the ground as four ethereal cats brushed past her legs and pounced on the dot, it seemingly disappearing as soon as Fel stopped running around. All four of its companions turned their heads toward it expectantly, then gave it a bothered look for spoiling their fun.
“A trick unworthy of you, Felingua.” said the pure white cat with a red circle on its chest, tilting its head at Fel disapprovingly.
The second cat’s coat was divided equally between black and white, with the exception of a small red/blue tao circle on its forehead. Trigram patterns were clearly marked in inverted colors across its fur. It calmly blinked at Fel, but otherwise appeared indifferent.
The third cat was so orange it appeared almost red, five yellow stars distributed around its fur. “Let me guess, you need something again.” It yawned as Fel as it demonstratively licked its paw.
The fourth cat’s lower body was pure white, while its upper body was a bright red. It rubbed against Jacklyn’s leg, nearly tripping her up as it spoke. “Seems to me that this one needs help, nya?”
“Yes, she does.” Fel replied, then smiled at them. “You’re the only ones I know that can do it in time. Surely you can prove you haven’t lost your touch. She’ll reward you, of course.”
After giving Jacklyn a teasing look, all five cats gathered in front of the large touchscreen monitor and quickly got to work, using the onscreen keyboard and their claws as makeshift pointers. Seated in a chair right behind them, she split her efforts between petting them and typing in the text they occasionally requested. Thirty minutes before the deadline, Jacklyn could hardly believe her eyes as all the files were ready and securely delivered to the client’s server. With a cat on each leg, a cat on each shoulder and Felingua lounging in her lap, she addressed them collectively.
“Thank you all so much! It would have been impossible to do this on time without all your help.” she said to them, her gratitude evident in her voice.
“Glad to help, kid. We’ve been around for a while.” Felingua replied, then playfully swiped her paw at her. “Experience matters.”