The first thing that was strange about the newly constructed hotel in Belfast was

its lack of stairs. The six-story building stood near the Passagassawakeag Estuary,

closely surrounded by smaller buildings. Across the street was a library, and next to it

was a small restaurant. Both had stairs. The hotel did not.

§ § §

The phone rang. It was 4:47 PM. The desk clerk picked up the receiver.

“Hotel Stravatta, front desk.. anything I can do for you today?”

His face went pale.

“Thank you.”

He set down the receiver and disappeared down the hall.

§ § §

       A professionally dressed woman entered the lobby. It was 5:05 PM. She walked

towards the desk. The desk clerk handed her a small hotel key. She tucked it inside her

coat, crossed the lobby, and stepped inside the elevator. The bell above the nickel

doors dinged its way up to floor 6.

§ § §

       Two men dressed in black suits drove up in a shiny black car. It was a quarter past

five. The driver stepped out, the second man circling around the vehicle to join him at

the door. The first dropped the keys into the valet’s open hand. The valet signaled,

glancing around nervously. A porter quickly appeared, speedily unloading and placing

the luggage on a cart.

“Floor 6?” asked the porter.

The first man nodded. He disappeared through the doors. The luggage was waiting at

their room when they arrived.

§ § §

       They were sitting on what they had found. Why wouldn’t they say anything? He

wasn’t going to wait any longer. She had cancer. He was impatient, and he knew. He

knew they had found something. The conference, the case… why wouldn’t they sell?

§ § §

       It was 5:20 PM. The janitor rolled the cleaning cart into the elevator on the sixth

floor. She pressed the button for the fifth floor. She felt the tile move beneath her feet.

The doors opened. She walked out, pulling her cart behind her, and then stopped.

What was strange about this? Then she realized. She was still on the sixth floor! She

rolled into the elevator once more, passing the situation off as a simple mistake on the

part of the elevator. But why had the elevator bell chimed if it had not passed a floor?

§ § §

       The porter pressed the up arrow to the left of the elevator doors. It was the only

direction you could go at the Stravatta Hotel from the Lobby. Up. The doors opened,

and he pulled the luggage into the elevator, pressing the button for the sixth floor. He

rode silently up. The doors opened, and he stepped out, crossed the hall, and stopped

in front of room 63. He pulled out the key given him by the desk clerk, and inserted it,

quickly pulling it out and turning the knob. He walked inside and deposited the cases

in the closet. The briefcase felt empty, save a few light papers. The man had held it as

if it was very important. The papers slid around in the case. He looked out the

window. Funny. The view seemed to have changed.

§ § §

       The desk clerk had taken note of the hotel’s guests. He always had. He looked once

again through the files on the computer. The reservations had been made a month

before by a man calling on behalf of the American Cancer Cure Foundation, booking a

conference. Those who had arrived had matched the descriptions he had been given.

§ § §

       It was 5:30. The desk clerk sat silently, waiting at the desk. In front of him, resting

on his desk, sat a text book. A medical text book. Hidden between its pages was a

test… a failed test. Next to the test lay a picture. A picture of a young girl.

§ § §

       The three guests went about unpacking and settling in in their separate rooms.

They would not be staying terribly long, maybe a couple of days. They took brief naps.

They watched TV. It had been a long flight. They needed to rest.

§ § §

       It was 7:00. The guests convened in the lobby. The desk clerk spoke to them

briefly, telling them the location of the conference room.

“Down the hall to the right of the lobby from the door. First right.”

The small group followed his directions, taking nothing but themselves to the room.

§ § §

       The meeting lasted longer than expected. The conversation involved numbers,

studies, results, options, and disease. Cancer was the word the conversation revolved

around. It was the reason they were holding the conference. The reason they were

discussing options, numbers, studies, and results. They were also discussing a

breakthrough. So was the desk clerk, working with numbers of his own.

§ § §

       The meeting was over. The guests were tired. It was time to be finished with the

discussions for the night. They filed out of the room, walking down the hall towards

the lobby, towards the elevator. The woman pressed the arrow. Nothing happened.

She pressed it again. Nothing could be heard, not even the humming of the cables as

the car descended on its tracks. A third time. Finally. The familiar sound. The doors

opened, and the three weary guests stepped inside. The doors shut.

§ § §

       The first man stood in front of his room door, fumbling with his keycard. He

finally inserted it correctly, quickly turning the knob and entering. He looked around.

Everything was gone. Including the briefcase. The breakthrough briefcase.

§ § §

       The case (situation) was dropped. No fitting conclusion could be drawn. How

could it have happened? All the staff had been gone… it was after hours. The desk

clerk had been at his post behind the desk, and the elevator was being used by the

guests. There were no stairs for a third person to have used.

§ § §

Who stole the breakthrough papers, and how?

§ § §

       The desk clerk. The picture of the young girl was a picture of his daughter, who

had cancer. He, of course, did not want her to die. His job at the hotel supported his

family, but his attempts to find a cure had failed. When the conference came up, he

saw an opportunity, one he could accomplish right from his post at the hotel. The

company was sitting on a breakthrough cure, and wouldn’t sell their newfound

medication. He was angry. “Numbers of his own”, had to do with floors five and six.

He booked all floors except for the fifth. While the group was in their conference on

the first floor, he switched all the room numbers on the fifth floor to match the

numbers on the sixth floor, making the identical floors interchangeable. He then

jammed the doors on the sixth floor, slowing down the elevator and delaying it’s

reaction when the woman pushed the arrow, ready to get back to her room. They

arrived at the fifth floor, thinking they were at their rooms, while all they’re things,

including the cure, were safely kept one floor above, waiting patiently for the desk

clerk to fetch them. Best plan ever. 

This entry was posted in 8th Grade and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *