Anyone that was familiar with the Tipton Hotel in Boston would agree that it was a fine establishment. But those same people would not agree that it was an ordinary hotel. Anyone that was truly familiar with the Tipton was well aware that outlandish, and usually amusing, happenings were par for the course there. But the chain of events that began on a recent afternoon in May were more outlandish than usual.
It started innocently enough, when a few phone lines in the hotel began malfunctioning. One of those affected by this technical snafu was Carey Martin, the Tipton's lounge singer and a long term resident. While a broken phone line was not that big a deal in the age of wireless communication, Carey still thought the problem should be fixed in short order. But since she couldn't call downstairs with a broken phone, she made the journey down from her suite to the lobby...and traveled down further to the basement of the Tipton to find the hotel engineer, resident handyman and amateur inventor, Arwin.
"Carey," Arwin greeted the singer happily, clumsily dropping a wrench and a few other objects as he did so. It was a well-known fact that Arwin was quite infatuated with the lovely entertainer, and he could sometimes become quite befuddled in her presence. "What brings you down here?"
"My phone," Carey answered. "The phone in my suite isn't working."
"Oh, well you can count on me to fix it," Arwin replied enthusiastically. "I'm always at your service. That's me. I'm your man."
Carey smiled slightly and shook her head. She'd tried a number of times in the past to explain to Arwin that she only liked him as a friend...but nothing seemed to diminish his crush on her. She'd learned to just accept it, though she kept hoping that he'd get over her and turn his attentions to someone else.
"I just need the phone fixed Arwin," she said. "Get to it when you can."
Carey then turned to leave, but found her way blocked by the last person she expected to find entering Arwin's basement workroom...London Tipton.
"Hey Carey. What are you doing here?" the young heiress asked in her usual direct manner.
"I was going to ask you the same thing," the older woman responded. "But I just came down to ask Arwin to fix my phone."
"Yours isn't working either?" London asked. "That's why I came down. None of the lines in my suite are working."
"Oh really?" Arwin chimed in. "Well, it's probably just a loose connection somewhere. I should be able to get both of your suites connected again in no time." He began to gather up a number of tools from his table and put them in a carrying case. A frown came to his face as he looked over the table. "Now where did those go?"
"Something wrong?" Carey asked.
"I swore I had some cable splicers here a second ago," the engineer responded, as he bent down to look under the table. "Maybe I dropped them."
Carey and London both began to look around the room as well in an effort to assist Arwin, although they didn't really know what to look for.
"Oh, this looks like a kind of cable," London said as she reached for a loosely coiled red wire in the corner of the room.
It's not a cable I'm looking for," Arwin said as he crawled around on the floor, continuing his search. "It's a cable splicer. I..." His words died in his throat when he glanced over to what London was reaching for. His eyes grew wide and he yelled out in a panic. "No! Don't touch that!"
Carey was standing only a step away from London when Arwin yelled. Hearing the frantic tone of the engineer's voice, Carey could only conclude the cable London was about to grab was highly dangerous. Fearing that the young heiress could be electrocuted, Carey reached out to grab London and pull her back.
Unfortunately, London also reacted at the same time. Frightened by Arwin's yell, she tried to jump backwards and collided with Carey. Both women lost their balance and they fell forward...right onto the red wiring.
The good news was, neither of them were electrocuted. The red wire actually turned out to be perfectly harmless. The problem lay in the bizarre metal box covered with dials and light bulbs that the wire was hooked up to. When Carey and London landed in a heap on top of one another, tangled in the red wiring, the box lit up...and then things got strange.
Carey looked at London. London looked at Carey. Their eyes locked. Everything got blurry.
The next thing Carey knew she was flat on her back, on the floor, and someone who sounded a lot like Arwin was talking very loudly near her face.
"London? London?" Arwin repeated. "Are you okay?"
Carey opened her eyes to see Arwin leaning over her. He had a very worried look on his face.
"Why are you calling me London?" Carey asked, and then wondered why her own voice sounded so odd. She turned her head to the side and saw...
She saw her own body on the ground next to her. She saw that body turn it's head toward her and open it's eyes. And then that Carey Martin's mouth opened up and screamed.
Watching herself, or her double as it were, scream in panic was very unsettling to Carey. She tried to get to her feet and back away from the screaming imposter, but she was still feeling a bit woozy and couldn't move that quickly. As she sat up, strands of long raven hair fell across her face. She reached up her hand to brush the hair away before she realized that her hair shouldn't be that long or that black. Also, her hand...the one she was right now holding in front of her face...was NOT her hand. It was smaller, the nails were longer, and it had an entirely different skin color and tone than her hand should have.
After taking a few deep breaths, Carey turned to face Arwin.
"What is happening here?" she demanded.
"I'm not sure, London," he answered.
"She's not London!" the imposter Carey shouted. "I'm London!"
Arwin looked over to the shouting woman and then shifted his glance back and forth between the two women.
"Oh boy," he said. "This is not good."
To be continued...