A thrilling amusement park ride turns diabolically deadly in this Hardy Boys adventureNa fresh approach to a classic series.
Joe and Frank Hardy are attending the season's opening night at Funspot, a local amusement park that's been declining for years, but that recently got new owners and a facelift. Their friend Daisy's family has everything riding on Funspot's success: If the revamped park is a failure, her family will be broke! At first, an exhilarating new attraction is a huge hit-but when one of the riders disappears into thin air, fun and games turns into spine-tingling danger. Will the Hardy Brothers find the missing rider and restore Funspot's reputation, or is the amusement park doomed for disaster?
-->Franklin W. Dixon is the author of the ever-popular The Hardy Boys (All New) Undercover Brothers and The Hardy Boys Secret Files series.
-->Scott Burroughs started his career at Disney and has illustrated everything from children's books to advertisements and editorials. He is also the published author of several children's books. He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and sons.
The Vanishing Game G-FORCED 1 FRANK DID YOU KNOW THAT COTTON candy depends heavily on the molecular construction of sugar?" I asked brightly, grabbing a hunk of my brother Joe''s fluffy pink confection and popping it into my mouth. "The cotton candy machine uses centrifugal force to spin hot sugar so quickly and cool it so rapidly, the sugar doesn''t have time to recrystallize!" My date--or so I''d been told, because she didn''t seem super attached to me--Penelope Chung, rolled her eyes. "That''s fascinating, Frank," she said, shooting a glare at her best friend, Daisy Rodriguez, who was Joe''s date and the glue barely holding our foursome together. "Please tell me more about molecules. Or force times acceleration. Or the atomic properties of fun." Joe coughed loudly, grabbing my shoulder and pulling me close enough to hear him mutter, "Ixnay on the ience-scay." I couldn''t help it. Joe is always telling me science isn''t romantic, but come on. Isn''t "romance" itself a scientific concept? Attraction, biology, all that stuff? Daisy smiled, a little too enthusiastically. "Shall we head over to the G-Force?" she asked, looking hopefully from Penelope and me to Joe. "My dad said the first ride would be at eight o''clock. And it''s just about quarter of." "Yes!" Penelope cried before Joe or I could respond, grabbing Daisy''s arm and pulling her ahead of us toward Funspot''s new ride, G-Force. Penelope leaned close to Daisy''s ear, and while I couldn''t hear what she was saying, her tone did not sound warm. Joe met my eye and sighed. "I don''t think she likes me," I told him. Joe just shook his head and patted my back. "I think your powers of detection are dead-on true." We started walking. "Sorry," I said. "I know you''re really into Daisy." Joe nodded. "It''s okay, man," he said, holding out his cotton candy for me to take another hunk. "I just don''t think you''re Penelope''s type." I nodded. "But it''s pretty cool that we get to be some of the first people to check out G-Force, right?" "Very cool," Joe agreed. G-Force was the new, premiere attraction at Funspot, a small amusement park that had been a staple of Bayport summers for generations, but had been getting more and more run-down over the years. Last fall, Daisy''s dad, Hector, had used their entire family''s savings to buy the park from its longtime owner, Doug Spencer, who had fallen on hard times. Hector wanted to build Funspot into a top-tier amusement park--the kind of place people would drive hours to visit. His first step toward making that happen had been to install G-Force. The ride was a new creation of Greg and Derek Piperato, better known as the Piperato Brothers--the hip new architects of premiere amusement rides all over the world. They built the HoverCoaster for Holiday Gardens in Copenhagen, the Loop-de-Loco for Ciudad de Jugar in Barcelona, and the ChillTaser for Bingo Village in Orlando, right here in the USA. These guys are seriously awesome at what they do. They know their physics, they know their architecture, and they keep coming up with new ideas to revolutionize the amusement industry. They don''t work cheap, though. According to Daisy, Hector had to take out a major loan to afford G-Force. And unfortunately, right after Hector signed the contracts--Funspot had exclusive rights to the ride for five years--Daisy''s mom had been laid off from her job as a manager at some big bank in New York City. If Daisy and her family had hoped Funspot would be successful before, now their whole future was riding on the park''s success. "Wow," Joe breathed as we turned a corner, and there it was: G-Force! For weeks, Hector had paid for advertisements on all the local radio stations: "Come to Funspot to ride G-Force! What does it do? You''ll have to ride it to find out . . . but one thing''s for sure"--here the voice got deep and creepy--"you''ll never be the same!" I had been sure that seeing the attraction would be a disappointment. I mean, how could you live up to that ad? Put aside the basic scientific impossibilities of its promises (Never be the same? What, would it change your molecular structure?); it was hard to imagine a ride so impressive that it could stand up to weeks of wondering what it might look like. But the structure in front of me was, in a word, awesome. It was sleek and silver and had the curved, aerodynamic shape of a spaceship. "Wow," I echoed pointing at it like a kindergartner. "That thing is cool!" Joe looked confused, then followed my gaze and nodded. "Oh, sure. It does look cool. But I was talking about the crowd--check it out!" I looked around. Joe was right. The line coiled around several times before stretching all the way from the ride, through the "kiddie park" (where Joe and I had spent countless hours on the helicopter ride as kids), down the row of food stands, and nearly to the parking lot. When we''d arrived at the park hours earlier, it hadn''t been nearly as long. But it looked like all those radio advertisements worked! "Looks like a lot of people want to be g-forced!" I said, smiling, as Daisy and Penelope slowed their pace and we caught up to them. Daisy looked thrilled. "I guess so!" she said, looking around at the crowd like she couldn''t believe it. "It looks like the whole student body of Bayport High is here!" Joe nodded, surveying the huge line. "We--uh--don''t have to wait in that, do we?" "Of course not." Daisy smiled and shook her head, gallantly taking Joe by the arm. "Follow me, mister. The four of us are skipping this line. It pays to have friends in high places!" Penelope glanced at me warily, but we both fell into step behind Joe and Daisy. She''d been right: The line was crowded with our classmates from Bayport High. Some smiled and waved at Daisy as we passed, or called out their congratulations. But as we walked by one sullen-looking group of boys, a dark-haired kid stepped out and blocked Daisy''s path. "Well, well, well," he said, giving the four of us a not-very-friendly once-over. "What have we here? The kings and queens of Funspot?" As Joe shot her a questioning glance, Daisy frowned at the kid. "Let us by, Luke." He didn''t move, but met her gaze without a smile. "Is this your new boyfriend?" He scowled at Joe. Joe stepped forward, holding out his hand. "Hey, man . . ." But Daisy just shook her head. "What do you care?" she asked, looking from the boy to his chuckling friends in line. "Joe, Frank, this is my ex-boyfriend, Luke." "Emphasis on ex," Penelope piped up, stepping forward to give Luke a withering stare. Luke glared at Penelope for a moment, but her words seemed to wound him, and he quickly looked down before stepping aside. Daisy hesitated for a moment, then turned around and walked briskly past. Penelope followed, her head held high, and Joe and I and began to follow. "Hey!" Luke called after us when we were a few feet away, and Daisy was almost at the ride. "Congrats on the turnout tonight!" Daisy paused, turning slowly to look back at him. Luke''s expression turned to an ugly smirk. "Guess you can go to college after all!" he shouted, loud enough for the crowd to hear. His group of friends erupted into loud chuckles. Daisy cringed. Joe was furious. I could tell he was upset on Daisy''s behalf and would have loved to teach Luke a lesson. But instead he pulled out his smartphone. "Smile," he said to Luke, snapping a picture. Luke was taken aback. "What did you do that for?" he demanded angrily. Joe just smiled. "When we go to security and tell them a group is being rowdy and disruptive, this way they''ll know who to look for." Luke glared at Joe. I had to smile. I seriously doubted Joe had any intention of going to security--but the look on Luke''s face made it clear he didn''t know that. Joe touched Daisy''s arm. "Shall we?" he asked, gesturing to the ride. Daisy looked like she wasn''t sure what to do. Penelope shot Luke another icy look, then moved toward Daisy. "Let''s go, Daze," she said, pushing her forward. "He''s such a jerk." After a moment, Daisy moved on, and the three of us followed close behind. At the head of the line, an older, gruff-looking guy with ruddy skin and dark hair and beard stood behind a narrow metal gate. He looked at Daisy and nodded. "Miss." Without another word, he opened the gate, and the four of us walked through. "Thanks, Cal," Daisy said, smiling brightly. "Do I have time to quickly show my friends the ride before it starts?" Cal nodded, not making eye contact. He locked the gate, then led the four of us up a metal gangplank toward the shining, brushed-chrome ride. A small rectangular door was embedded in the side, and Cal easily pulled it open, gesturing for us to enter. Behind us, people were hooting and hollering, clearly eager to get onto the ride themselves. Inside, small purple lights recessed into the ceiling and walls provided just enough light to make out a circle of huge, cushy seats, each with a sturdy restraining bar, surrounding an open center. I strained to see the ceiling
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