Authors: Franklin W. Dixon
The Object of the Game
“This is the McGuffin,” Zack announced.
“And what's that?” Trisha asked.
Zack smiled. “Whatever caused the mystery or action in Alfred Hitchcock's films, he called the McGuffin. It could be a clue, a person, an eventâ”
Or a really ugly thing,
Frank finished for him silently.
“In our film this is what you'll be looking for,” Zack said. “First you'll have to find it; after that you'll be searching for whichever team has gotten hold of it. Tomorrow evening bring your boats to the Bayport Marina. You'll get a package of charts andÂ .Â .Â . other things that should lead you to where the McGuffin will be hidden. Find it, keep hold of it for three days, and bring itâwell, clues about what you should do with it will be in the package for you too.”
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
First Aladdin Paperbacks edition August 2002
Copyright Â© 2002 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.
An imprint of Simon & Schuster
Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
The text of this book was set in New Caledonia.
THE HARDY BOYS and THE HARDY BOYS MYSTERY STORIES are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2001098778
ISBN 978-1-4391-1445-2 (eBook)
“Exactly what part of âno' don't you understand?”
Frank Hardy didn't even have to open the door into Mr. Pizza to hear his friend Tony Prito's shout. The pizza place was unusually silent. All the customers seemed very intent on the sodas or slices in front of them while Tony glared at Chet Morton.
“But Tony,” Chet said, waving a newspaper, “you've got to admit it's a great chance!”
“Great chance for
?” Joe Hardy asked, his blue eyes glinting. “Is another pizza joint offering cheaper prices?”
“I wish,” Tony said with a sour look at Chet. “It's a chance to act in a movie.”
Joe lost his grin. “Oh,” he said in a flat voice.
Frank smiled. Since Chet had won a walk-on role in a hot science fiction TV series,
he'd been bitten by the acting bug. He believed his role as the Slayer from Sirius had opened the door to a whole career.
Frank had thought it was harmless enough. He'd even suggested some local theater groups where Chet might try out.
But Chet thought little theater was beneath him. He kept talking about a movie role. That hadn't seemed likely to happen around Bayport. But it seemed Frank was wrong.
“It's right here in the
” Chet held up the crumpled newspaper. “Some film students are shooting a project here in town, and they're looking for local talent.”
“And you want Tony to back you up?” Joe asked.
“He wants me because these people want local talent with
” Tony stifled a yawn. “I'm still trying to wake up, and Chet keeps pestering me.”
Frank took in his friend's red-rimmed eyes and droopy eyelids. “Trouble sleeping?” he asked.
Tony shook his head. “More like trouble staying awake. My dad has me playing junior night watchman at this building site. He's a subcontractor on a big jobâ”
“So big he's got you working as a security guard?” Joe asked.
“Some of the guys think they've seen something,” Tony said. “Dad wants to keep it in the family until he has proof.”
Frank leaned forward. “What is it?”
“Supposedly they saw someone on the site after they'd locked up and were driving away,” Tony replied.
“Want us to lend a handâor a couple of extra eyes?” Frank said.
Tony shook his head. “I've spent the last couple of nights on this,” he said. “Nothing's happened.
” He laughed. “You'd have a better time helping out Chet here. After all, you guys have a boat.”
Chet's round face lit up with sudden hope. “That's right!”
was an older-model Chris-Craft boat that Frank and Joe had bought with their own earnings and some help from their dad. Although summer vacation had already started, they hadn't gotten around to getting it out of the boathouse yet.
“What kind of movie are these people making?” Joe asked.
Chet examined the newspaper. “It doesn't say. Just that they'll be shooting on the bay.”
“Shooting on the bay,” Joe repeated with a glance
at his older brother. “I'll bet there's a pretty good chance that there'll be pretty girls in bathing suits involved.”
Frank could see which way things were going. He raised his hands in surrender. “All right,” he said, “I'll dig the
out of mothballs. But you guys will have to help.”
“Fine,” Joe agreed, “provided we get into the movie.” He turned to Chet. “What are we supposed to do to audition?”
“There's a number to call, and they'll set up a meeting,” Chet said. “Oh, and they want a photo.”
Joe raised his head to show his profile. “What do you think?” he asked, turning his head. “Right side, left side, or straight on?”
Chet took another look at the ad. “Um, actually, they want a picture of the
â¢Â Â Â â¢Â Â Â â¢
Joe insisted that they send in a picture that at least showed the boys as well as the
After three days Frank's younger brother was getting as crazed as Chet over not receiving a response to their call. Frank tried hard to rein both of them in. He reminded them that just answering the ad didn't guarantee them parts in this movie. Frank also refused to take the
out of the boathouse until they heard from the film students.
On the fourth day Frank came into the Hardy house and was almost tackled by Joe. “Where've you been?” Joe demanded. “Chet called! The film people want to meet us. It's all set for tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Frank shrugged. “Did they say to bring anything?”
“Like what?” Joe asked.
“Like a sedative,” Frank replied. “If you and Chet are going to be this hyper, you'll sink us before we even get in the boat.” Frank smirked at his brother.
â¢Â Â Â â¢Â Â Â â¢
The meeting was going to be in one of the classroom buildings at the university. Frank and Joe picked up Chet at what Frank thought was a ridiculously early hour. But when they got to campus, they found this was the day students were clearing out their dorm rooms. The campus was overrun with cars, and it took awhile for them first to find a place to park and then to reach their destination.
Even with the traffic jam, Chet worried about not being on time.
“Chill out,” Joe finally said. “Everyone else coming here will have the same problem.” Joe was obviously past being starstruck. Frank didn't know whether to be glad or worried at his brother's change of heart.
“I don't think that's the reason for this jam-up.” Joe rolled his eyes. “We may be the only ones coming.”
That only set Chet off worrying again. As soon as they got into the right building, Chet veered off down a side corridor toward the men's room. “Got to check that I'm looking my best.”
Now both Hardys rolled their eyes. “Could we have the letter you got?” Frank asked. “We'll try to find the classroom where we're supposed to be going.”
Chet's answer was prompt. “Room 107.” He had it memorized!
Frank glanced at Joe. “Don't you want to make sure your hair is okay?”
“Shut up,” Joe replied.
They headed back to the main corridor, looking at room numbers. A slim girl with curly black hair came walking toward them, carrying a pile of papers.
“Excuse me,” Joe said, giving her a smile. “We're looking for room 107.”
“For the film?” the girl asked.
Both boys nodded.
She held up her papers. The top one was a sign:
FILM MEETING SHIFTED TO ROOM
“Thanks,” Joe said. “Will we see you there?”
“Later,” the girl said. “I have to post these first.”
They headed for the stairs and encountered another girl. This one had sandy-blond hair and thick-framed eyeglasses perched on a snub nose. She carried a clipboard.
“Here for the film?” she asked. “Room 107 is down this way.”
“I thought the meeting was shifted to the second floor,” Frank said. “This girlâ”
“I don't think so,” the girl said. “I'm the writer on the project.”
She paused. “And I'm also the the only female on the production team.”
Joe and Frank exchanged a quick look. Could this be some sort of interview test?
“Maybe we misheard,” Frank said with a smile.
But I'll certainly be keeping my eyes and ears open from now on,
he promised himself.
Chet Morton came rushing down the hallway. “Did I miss anything?”
Joe shook his head. “I think you're just in time for the excitement to begin.” They followed the girl with the clipboard to Room 107.
She opened the door to reveal a classroom with three girls sitting in the front desksâa blonde, a redhead, and the slim brunette whom Frank and Joe had already encountered.
“Nice to meet you,” Joe said as if they'd never met before. “I'm Joe Hardy, this is my brother, Frank, and that's Chet Morton.”
The dark-haired girl stared at them with her mouth open, not sure what to say. But the girl sitting beside her had no problems thinking of things to say. She was tall, with auburn hair and a gorgeous tan. “As I said in our letter, we were hoping to get a look at the script, or at least the film treatment, before this meeting,” she said sternly to the film student with the clipboard.
Her dark-haired friend shook her head, making her curls bounce. “I told you to find out what the deal was before we got here,” the brunette said, and turned to the boys. “Hey, this is Willow Sumner. I'm Trisha Eads, and our blond friend is Christy O'Hara. Willow wants to be a movie star. The rest of us are just helping out.” Trisha shot a look at the boys as she said this.
“I'm Melody Litovsky,” the girl with the clipboard said. She pushed her glasses up on her nose and consulted a short list on the top sheet.
“Okay. We've got the Sumner group.”
I guess Willow has enough ego to be a movie star,
Frank thought as Melody took a pen and made a check mark.
“You're Morton and friends?” Melody asked
them, glancing from her list to the boys.
“And friends?” Joe had some thoughts about Chet's ego.
But Frank had just gotten a glimpse at how short Melody's list was. “Wait a minute,” he said, peering. “Are we all there is?”
Melody's face went pink. “There's one other group. They're late.”
“Only one more?” Trisha shot a glance at Willow, who shrugged.
Suddenly Trisha shot up from her seat. “'Scuse me a minute,” she said, looking embarrassed.
Melody probably thought Trisha was headed for a bathroom. Frank suspected she was scampering off to get rid of her room-changing signs.
Willow ignored her friend's dash for the door. “What about the script?” she demanded again.
Looks like she's read too many newspaper stories about stars getting approval over the films
they're supposed to act in,