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Authors: Carolyn Keene

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“Well, you've come to the right place,” Laura said with a laugh. “We have lots of old stories on those three. Wait right here, okay? I'll go check for you.”

Nancy and George sat down to wait in two wooden chairs with a small table between them. “This place isn't as nice as I thought it would be,” George remarked, looking around.

“I know,” Nancy said in agreement. “Maybe the magazine isn't doing very well.”

Laura returned a few minutes later. “I'm awfully sorry,” she said, looking perplexed, “but any issues with those three seem to be missing.”

“What?” George asked, surprised. “How can that be?”

“I wish I knew,” Laura said. “It's weird. I'm as baffled as you are. The only thing I can think of is that someone else is checking on the same people. But the magazines should have been signed out.”

“Is there anyone you can ask?” Nancy asked.

“I can call Ms. Kristoff. She usually knows everything that goes on around here.” Laura sat down and punched in a single digit on the phone. “Hmm, Ms. Kristoff seems to have left
her office,” she said, hanging up. “I can try her again later. Do you want to wait?”

“No, thanks,” Nancy said. “George and I have to get back to the Media Center. Maybe we'll stop by later.”

“Do that,” Laura said, nodding. “Hopefully, I'll have everything straightened out by then.”

“Thanks,” Nancy said. She and George got up and left the office.

Outside in the hallway, George checked her wristwatch. “Yikes,” she said. “Taping is early today—it starts in ten minutes.”

Nancy and George waited impatiently for the elevator, then jogged back to the Media Center. They slid into their seats just in time. “Why do they tape at a different time every day?” Nancy asked. “It's kind of a weird schedule, isn't it?”

“Susan told me why,” George replied. “It's because they have to work around the guests' availability. It doesn't much matter because the show airs at five every day. Just as long as it's taped by then, it's okay.”

The music came on for the start of the show, and Marcy made her entrance. “We're talking today with people who've stopped talking—to each other,” Marcy told the audience, plopping down on the sofa. Across from her sat three teens and three adults. Nancy thought they all looked pretty uncomfortable.

“Meet Trina Myers and her mom, Barbara. And here are Amy Jeffers and her mother, Linda, and Phil Dugan and his dad, Phil senior. These teens and their parents all have something in common. They don't speak to each other! Phil, when was the last time you talked to your dad?”

“Um,” the boy said, “it must be a couple of months now.”

“It's been over six months, Marcy!” his father corrected angrily.

“Tell us about it,” Marcy said to them. “How did it happen?”

What followed were fireworks and tears. The teens and their parents directed their comments to Marcy, almost as if they were communicating through her. It seemed to make it easier for them all to open up.

“Trina claims you never loved her,” Marcy told Barbara Myers, who was staring stonily in front of her. “That's a heavy accusation.”

“It's totally wrong, too!” Mrs. Myers protested. “Of course, I love her!”

“Hold on to the rest of your thoughts while we break for these messages.” Marcy was reading the rolling TelePrompTer that was off to the side and out of camera view. It contained messages for Marcy, such as reminding her of commercial breaks.

All at once, Nancy saw Marcy's face turn white. “Folks, I-I'm terribly sorry,” she stammered
nervously to the audience. “Please don't panic, but we're all going to have to get out of here right away. I just received a message that there's a bomb planted somewhere in this studio—and it's set to go off any minute!”

Chapter

Six

N
ANCY SPRANG FROM
her seat in the audience and made straight for the talk show host's side. Nancy read the message on the TelePrompTer: “You didn't quit, so now you'll be blown away. Bomb goes off at 11:23 sharp.”

Pandemonium had broken out in the studio as the audience pushed for the exits. Nancy, too, could feel panic rising within her. She quickly checked her watch. It was 11:16.

“Please, don't panic!” one of the ushers warned everyone. The look of terror on her face didn't exactly inspire confidence. Nancy scanned the mob for the other usher and saw him speaking into a walkie-talkie. She figured he was warning security to evacuate the building and call the police.

“George, help everyone get out!” Nancy yelled to her friend. She noticed that the warring parents and teens were helping each other.

Nancy grabbed Marcy's elbow and guided her to one of the wide exits at the back of the studio. There, Nancy recognized the security guard encouraging people to get out quickly.

“Marcy, head for the street!” Nancy yelled, giving her a nudge forward. Across the lobby, she could see George and Brenda Fox holding the doors open to let people exit.

“Do you need help?” Nancy stopped to ask the security guard.

“No, just get out. Please,” he urged. “The police will be here any second.”

Elevators kept opening, discharging hordes of people from the upper floors, and dozens more poured through the fire-stairs doors. The crunch at the front of the lobby was frightening.

Following the last of the crowd out into the street, Nancy noticed one man strolling outside not far ahead of her. Amid all the panic and fear, his step seemed almost casual. It was Vic Molina! “It's the fifth bomb scare in two years,” he was telling the man next to him. “Probably some jerk trying to get attention.”

Just then the police arrived. Six or seven cruisers, sirens blazing, cordoned off the
street, and two vans marked Bomb Squad pulled up in front of the building, along with an unmarked police car. Five uniformed officers surrounded a short, heavyset man with a walkie-talkie who emerged from this last car. He wore a white button-down shirt that was too small for his expanded belly and a stained navy tie.

“Evacuation is in progress,” he said into the device as he strode into the lobby, with his escort clearing the way. “Disposal and I are proceeding to hot spot. Over.”

The police had already put up barriers just off the edge of the sidewalk. In front of one barrier, separating her from the anxious crowd and gathering onlookers, was Marcy. She was talking to a silver-haired couple who appeared to be in their fifties. As Nancy edged closer she could hear their conversation.

“You were threatened
before
this morning?” the woman was saying in a shocked tone. “Why didn't you tell Jeff and me immediately? We're your producers, Marcy!”

From what they said, Nancy guessed that the couple were Janet and Jeff Stern, of Stern Productions, the people Marcy most wanted to hide the threats from.

“I'm sorry, Janet. All I can say is that I didn't want to put the show in jeopardy,” Marcy said.

“Marcy,” Jeff Stern said firmly, his voice rising as he spoke. “A lot of people have a lot of money invested in you and this show, and Janet and I are responsible to them. We have to think about things like lawsuits, security, insurance! Do you realize that if anyone could prove we had reason to anticipate this threat, we could be liable if the Media Center were blown up?”

By then Nancy reached Marcy's side.

“Hi, Nancy,” Marcy said weakly as the Sterns turned their attention to the building.

George made her way up to them, too. “Brenda's amazing,” she said. “She really knows how to deal with people.”

“Has anyone seen Susan?” Nancy asked.

“I'm here,” came Susan's voice from behind them. She was with the officer in the civilian clothes. “There's Marcy, Lieutenant,” she told him, leading him over to their little group. “Marcy, this is Detective Lieutenant Dunne. He wants to speak with you.”

“That's right, Ms. Robbins,” said the lieutenant, extending his stubby hand.

Marcy shook it and said, “These are my producers, Janet and Jeff Stern, and these are friends of Susan's, Nancy Drew and George Fayne.”

“Nancy Drew, the detective?” the lieutenant asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Yes,” Nancy admitted.

“I've read about some of your cases,” the lieutenant said. “You're pretty good for a kid.” Turning to Marcy, he asked, “How'd you get hooked up with Nancy Drew?”

“Susan suggested I send for her,” Marcy explained. “She's been helping me out with a little problem I've been having.” Looking around, she asked the lieutenant, “Can we go where it's a little more private?”

Just then two uniformed officers came out of the building, one of them carrying a box, which he brought over to the lieutenant. “Lieutenant Dunne, sir,” said the man with the box, “look what we found backstage. It's a phony. One of those party store jobs.” Using a handkerchief, he pulled out a round plastic toy bomb with a thick rope sticking out the top and the word
Kapow
written in big letters.

“There was a note, too, sir,” said the other officer. He handed it to the lieutenant.

“ ‘Next time it's for real,'” Lieutenant Dunne read aloud. “Done with a laser printer. Oh, well. As soon as you're finished scouring the premises, let these people back inside. Meantime, I'm going into the lobby with these folks.”

Lieutenant Dunne led the small group over to the security guard's desk. Sitting on the edge
of the desk, he spoke to Marcy. “So what was this problem that caused you to contact a detective?”

“You called in a detective?” Jeff Stern broke in. “Without telling us?”

“Jeff, let the lieutenant ask his questions,” Janet Stern told her husband. “We can talk to Marcy later.” It was clear to Nancy that the talk would not be friendly.

“I'd been receiving threats,” Marcy began. Soon she'd told her whole story up to that point, including reading the message on the TelePrompTer. The lieutenant listened carefully, taking notes. The Sterns listened, too, their faces growing darker by the moment.

“I see,” said the lieutenant. “Anything you can add, Nancy?”

“The sign-in sheets for yesterday had several pages missing,” Nancy told him. “The guard said he stepped away for only a minute. So, it's not a sure thing that the picture was torn up by someone who works at Stern Productions.”

“Well, thank goodness for that,” said Janet Stern under her breath.

“Let's have a look at today's sheets, while we're here,” said the lieutenant, reaching for the clipboard. After flipping through the first two pages, he stopped short and offered it to Nancy.

Nancy read the name he was pointing to.

“ ‘Adam Bomb.' Hmm. Somebody has a black sense of humor.”

Just then the doors to the Stern offices opened, and out came Jack Cole with two officers. “Lieutenant, this is Jack Cole,” said one of them. “He led us through the backstage area. He acted very bravely.”

“Jack!” Marcy said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I'm impressed!”

“Aw,” Jack said, his face reddening just a bit. “It was nothing. These guys were back there, too.”

“Mr. Cole, did you give a statement to the officers?” Lieutenant Dunne asked.

“Yes, I did, Officer,” Jack said.

“Okay, then, you can go,” Lieutenant Dunne told him. “But I may want to call you later.”

“Anything else, Nancy?” Dunne asked her as soon as Jack followed the two officers out of the building.

“I think I may have found the marker that was used to write the threat,” she said. “It might have fingerprints on it.”

Nancy reached into her bag and handed it to the lieutenant. “We'll check it for prints,” he said, pocketing it. “We'll be talking again soon, eh?” Nodding to them all, and taking the clipboard with him, he walked briskly to the front doors. “You can get on with your taping now,” he called back to the Sterns. Opening the door, he shouted to his men, “Okay, they
can come back in now. The place has been checked out.”

As people began reentering the building, the Sterns and Marcy went inside to the offices. Nancy, George, and Susan remained behind. It was obvious that the Sterns wanted to talk to Marcy in private.

• • •

When the taping did start up again, half the audience had gone home. By the time it ended, it was almost five o'clock. Nancy, George, and Susan drove back to Old Town in Susan's car and had dinner at a little corner restaurant.

“That was great,” George groaned happily as they paid the check. “I'd forgotten how hungry I was.”

“Me, too,” Susan agreed. “What a day!”

“By the way, I checked out the TelePrompTer before we left the studio,” Nancy told them. “Anybody could have written the bomb threat on it. It's all computerized, very user-friendly, and connected to every other computer in the place.”

BOOK: Let’s Talk Terror
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