Madeline Fitzpatrick stood at her post at the candy counter of the Hotel Tipton in the historic city of Boston, Massachusetts. It seemed as if she was watching life pass her by as figures of industry and wealthy patrons of the arts marched on by without even taking a look upon her. She sighed a bit, leaned a bit forward and propped her head up in her hand with her elbow to the counter. Barely anyone bought candy from her. Maybe it was the high prices, the limited selection of the merchandise or perhaps it was the fact that much of it had already expired. Her only repeating customers was Arwin Hawkhauser, the Tipton's main maintenance man and Zack and Cody, the twin sons of the hotel's local star, Carey Martin. Arwin considered himself a great inventor, but with all those scientific equations going at once in his head, he often forgot the simplest of facts, like looking in front of him. Arwin was almost a lovable uncle to her as much as a surrogate father to Zack and Cody. The two boys loved Arwin and felt he thought a lot like them. In some way, Arwin was an adult with the mind of a young boy.
Zack and Cody often ran loose through the hotel as if it was their private fun land. Weaving around guests, racing around tourists, exploring the ventilation ducts and interacting on a first name basis with the full hotel staff was a license to play around the boys. Their activities continued to forever irk Marion Moseby, the hotel manager. Of the two, Cody was the more rational and grounded to earth while Zack was most likely to tempt your patience. Always disproving of rules and a good education, Zack was fated in Cody's mind to spend his life in prison. Carie had a lot of patience around her boys and loved them as strong as a mother could love her sons. Blonde and beautiful, Carey could also sing like an angel, and it was that same melodic existence she lived that made her enamored through the hotel staff, more so by Arwin who concealed a loving and covert infatuation for her in hoping he could be a husband to her and a father to the boys.
Maddie's occupational family was extended to include Esteban Ramirez, one of the most hard-working Tipton bellboys. Born in a small republic somewhere south of Mexico and north of Panama, Esteban was the archetype of the hard-working man. He was willing to do any job or chore for an honest buck, and it was that honest work ethic that made him the often foil of London Tipton, the daughter of the hotel owner. London was a living contradiction. Brunette and attractive, she was the daughter of an American businessman and a female Chinese diplomat, but she must have been a blonde airhead in a previous life because she was so completely unaware of the real world beyond the rooms of the Tipton where she lived. Raised by nannies and tutors for half of her life, London coasted the rest of her life on her extreme fortune and looks unaware of people like Maddie who had to work just to survive. To London, everyone lived as luxurious as she did, and when the real world reared itself to her, she had someone else deal with it. Yet, in that vacuous pretty package, there pumped a heart - a heart that loved to give even when it didn't understand the problem. Maddie knew that heart was in there, but like Esteban, she was often reduced to being that nameless fixture carrying an umbrella to protect London from the rain or the forgotten escort who followed London through swanky dress stores and expensive restaurants. It was a bitter and self-deprecating pill Maddie often had to swallow, but it sometimes gave her a chance to pretend to be London and live in her life instead of being just lonely and forgotten Maddie, the cute blonde girl standing at the candy counter hoping for someone to come talk to her.
"In-coming!" A voice cried out. Frank the doorman spread two doors wide and hastened aside of the figure in protective armor rolling into the lobby on a skateboard. Under the helmet, Zack grinned his boyhood gleam and turned a sharp corner as his twin brother similarly shot through the doors and rolled over the golden mahogany floor to meet him. One female guest clutched her chest to catch her breath and a foreign diplomat blessed himself with relief he was not sprawled to the floor behind them.
"No fair!" Cody pulled his helmet off. "You didn't make the lamp post."
"But I did sideswipe the trolley in order to avoid the bus." Zack picked apart his brother's complaint. "You gotta give me that."
"Boys, boys…" Moseby hastened through to them while apologizing to his guests. "How many times do I have to tell you? No skateboarding through the lobby!" The vein in his forehead was throbbing with embarrassed hostility.
"Technically," Zack spoke up. "You said no skateboarding in the lobby; we were skateboarding INTO the lobby!"
"Major difference, Mr. Moseby." Cody shared his brother's choice of semantics as the beamed together like identical bookends. Behind them, Maddie finally chuckled at their efforts to bother and perturb her employer.
"Oh," Moseby knew how to out think them. "Well, what if I explain the difference in employing and non-employing your mother here?" That stirred a faint fear in the boys. Their mother loved working here; it was a chance to establish roots and a following in Boston instead of moving from job to job. They were never quite clear if it was a bluff or an empty promise from Moseby, but they did know that if they ruined their mother's job here that it would mean this freedom.
A brief glance of defeated elation later, Cody and Zack turned in unison to the opening elevators on the landing. Spewing from the interior of the lift, expert photographer Frank Manning carried gear ahead of sound expert Steve Barnette and psychic Dawn Rochner. In back, writer Henry Desmond talked with Ed Brannion and William Collins, the last two members of this team from Maine's Collinsport Ghost Society. For the last week, the six-part team had been keeping Suite 613 under observation in hopes of capturing on tape evidence of an alleged ghost: a beautiful brunette woman in a cocktail dress known to the hotel staff as Irene. Supposedly, in life, she had been Irene DeMontoya whose family owned the hotel for a short interim in the Twenties and Thirties before london's father, Wilfred Tipton, got it back. Collins had a good friendship with the Martin boys. Zack loved his ghost stories and Cody was always quick to get into a philosophical debate on the existence of life after death. Right now, Collins just mussed their hair with relished teasing as they headed past him.
"Mr. Collins…" Moseby looked with subdued anticipation to the amateur ghost hunter. He had kept the ghost of Irene a secret from the public for years, but now that it was added to the lists of other Boston ghosts, it was doing wonders for the hotel's business. "Do you know that every time you come for an investigation that our phone goes off the hook for people wanting to check into Room 613? Our reservations go up almost three hundred percent!"
"So you finally got permission to rent out the room?" William stopped at the checkout desk to pay for the rooms of his crew.
"Actually, no…" Moseby reacted with saddened regret. "I've never had a chance to contact Irene's heirs about obtaining the deed to the room. I think they live somewhere in France, but that's not absolute. Did you see Irene this time?"
"Some ambiguous readings, balls of light on video and maybe an odd shadow or two on tape." Collins mumbled under breath as he signed his bill. "Just need to examine the tapes."
"Godspeed." Moseby sighed off as Collins turned away from checkout stuffing his receipt to his pocket. Lifting his head, he pretended to notice Maddie for the first time and grinned to her like a proud father. His feet strolled to her direction as she broke from her depression to her cheery mask.
"Hi, Mr. Collins." Maddie grinned ear to ear. "The usual?"
"Two chocolate bars for my girls…" Collins pulled a five-dollar bill from his wallet. "You know, Maddie, Ally and I would love it if you could baby-sit for us again sometime soon."
"Baby-sit?" Maddie so wanted the money, but she also recalled the Collins girls with hesitant dread. Tiny Lainey could be such a darling, but controlled by her older sister Georgia, the two of them were merciless. Memories of being bound and gagged inside a closet, or of waking to find her body drawn upon with permanent markers still haunted her.
"I'd rather jump off the roof into a pool full of leeches." Maddie found another choice. Collins continued staring at her with irked frustration.
"Those little monsters have a bit of a reputation, don't they?"
"Oh, yeah…." Maddie confirmed. As he departed, Collins told her to keep the change, but he also passed Esteban a five-dollar bill for helping his crew load up the van. Left alone again, Maddie took a deep breath and shifted her weight to her other leg. Suddenly deciding to re-do her inventory, she started to reach to her merchandise list.
"Maddie," Moseby was returning across the lobby. "London called down. Has Ivana's Doggie Yum-Yum's arrived yet?"
"Doggie Yum-Yum's?" Maddie shrieked in distaste. "I thought they read Douggie Yum-Yum's! I've been charging myself seventy-five cents for each one I ate!"
"Yes, well…." Moseby shared in their common frustration with London's elitist life style with over-pampering that dog. "It's the only treat the dog likes. Just…." He franticly shook his arms trying to cover for her. "Take to her what's left."
"That dog lives better than I do!" Maddie clutched the opened box upset and pressed it to her chest with hostility. Marching with angry steps and boarding the empty elevator, she hit the button for the twenty-fifth floor penthouse. The doors closed on her and she felt the lift pull her against gravity up through the hotel. Above her, a light moved through numbered lights past the floors of the hotel. As she counted along to those floors, Maddie lost a bit of her anger as usual and fell silent to what seemed a lonely fate. It wasn't that long ago that Zack and Cody had described to her a dream they had where she was the stuck-up hotel heiress and London was the under-appreciated candy counter girl. Oh, if that could be made a reality. Instead of shopping, she could donate money to charity and use her prestige to make the world a better place – all the things London wasn't known for.
The elevators doors opened and Maddie nearly stepped forward. This was the sixth floor, not the penthouse. Pressing the button again, the doors closed and Maddie was on her way once again. The floors counted again - seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and then hesitated at twelve before the doors opened again. Maddie's eyes looked up to the empty hall and the placard for the sixth floor.
"Who keeps hitting the button?" Maddie wondered out loud and again hit the button for the penthouse. Once again, the elevator closed and started again. Her brown eyes watched as the ascending elevator moved up once more for the penthouse. Upon trying to pass the thirteenth floor, the elevator suddenly stalled and came to a stop.
"Why does this happen to me?" She whined and reached for the elevator phone to call Arwin, but as she clutched the phone she heard something else. It wasn't from the elevator. It was from the elevator shaft around her. Filled with fears of the elevator crashing or stalling, her head turned up to the noise of a wind wafting down through the building above around the cables and the pulleys of the lift. There was a sound of a breath beside her, an incoherent whisper and then the noise of someone beside her unseen.
Maddie's heart now cringed with fear and pain and the dog treats in her hand hit the floor by her foot as she grabbed her chest. Gasping for breath, her eyes rounded with fear and she stumbled backward; her back hitting the rear of the elevator and sliding down to the floor. She struggled for a breath, a scream she couldn't make and her voice trapped in her body. A tear dropped over her face as she stared up to the flickering lights over her.
The elevator started moving again. Returning again to the sixth floor, the doors opened to the empty hall. From the floor, the body and image of Madeline Margaret-Genevieve Miranda-Catherine Fitzpatrick lifted herself up. Trancelike and unyielding, her eyes were determined and her poise defiant. She marched forward with the personality of another person in her body. The sleeve of her blue hotel uniform was lightly ripped at the collar, and one of her socks dropped to her ankle. Rounding the corner with a determined glare, she moved toward Suite 613. It's door opened on its own to her coming presence and she continued into the suite beyond it as the mistress to its interior. Once inside, she gazed back outward as if she were mildly reconsidering what she was doing and gestured to the door out of her touch. Obeying her will, it closed shut and locked itself to her mental demands.