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Authors: Franklin W. Dixon

Skin and Bones

BOOK: Skin and Bones
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A Stranger in the
Shadows

Joe climbed up until he could see over the edge of the roof. Through
the darkness, he could make out someone kneeling in the shadow of the chimney.

Joe felt all his muscles tighten as he boosted himself up on to the
roof. Crouching, he crept toward the kneeling figure. He held his breath as he moved
nearer.

“Joe! What are you doing up there?”

When he heard Cody's voice from below, Joe was distracted for
just a second, but that was one second too long. In a single fluid movement, the person
beside the chimney stood up, wheeled around, and kicked.

Pain washed over Joe as the kick caught him in the stomach. Unable to
catch his breath, he crumpled to the roof.

Joe gasped for air, then pushed himself to his feet. But his attacker
had already scrambled down the fire escape and disappeared into the bushy woods behind
the house.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any re semblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is en tirely coincidental.

A MINSTREL PAPERBACK
Original

A Minstrel Book published by

POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

www.SimonandSchuster.com

Copyright © 2000 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Front cover illustration by Jeff Walker

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

ISBN: 0-671-04761-2

ISBN 13: 978-0-7434-3723-3 (ebook)

First Minstrel Books printing November 2000

THE HARDY BOYS MYSTERY STORIES is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

THE HARDY BOYS, A MINSTREL BOOK and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Contents

 

Chapter 1:
A Nasty Surprise

Chapter 2:
Roof Rage

Chapter 3:
An Enemy Is Loose!

Chapter 4:
Clang, Clang . . . Crunch!

Chapter 5:
The Suspect Slips

Chapter 6:
Ride to the Rescue

Chapter 7:
Busting Out

Chapter 8:
The Clue in the Claw

Chapter 9:
A Bloody Visit

Chapter 10:
Two Heads Are Better

Chapter 11:
Another Suspect?

Chapter 12:
The Skull in the Forest

Chapter 13:
A Werewolf Warning

Chapter 14:
Fear in the Fog

Chapter 15:
Rock On!

1 A Nasty Surprise

A hollow
click-clack
sounded above Frank
Hardy as he pushed open the door to the shop. Eighteen-year-old Frank, who was six feet,
one inch tall, felt something brush the top of his dark brown hair.

“Cody doesn't miss a trick,” Frank's brother, Joe,
said with a grin. His blue eyes focused on the bones hanging over Frank's head.
Joe was an inch shorter and a year younger than his brother.

Frank reached up and tapped the mobile hanging above the doorway. Narrow
white bones dangled on clear plastic cords from a small skull with hollow eye
sockets.

The Hardys stepped inside the San Francisco shop called Skin & Bones
and put down their travel bags.

“Hey, guys, you made it.” Cody Chang strode
across the room to greet the Hardys. He was twenty-four years old, with black spiky
hair. He had a wide smile, and his dark brown eyes flashed with pride as he swung an arm
in a wide sweeping motion. “So what do you think? Pretty cool, eh?”

“Who buys this stuff, anyway?” Joe asked as he pushed his
blond hair back and leaned over a display case. Through the glass he saw bird claws
curved into deadly points, twisting tubes of shed snake skin, and shiny, bright-colored
fish fins.

“Artists, teachers, doctors,” Cody answered, looking around
the shop. Several people were poring over displays in cases and on the walls.
“Some people use them for decorations and crafts. You'd be amazed. Excuse me
for a minute.” He stepped away to help a customer.

A couple of minutes later the
click-clack
of the
bones mobile announced another visitor to the shop.

“Hey, Dad,” Cody said, raising a hand in greeting to his
father. Frank noticed the affectionate smiles that the Changs exchanged. He knew that
Cody and his father had become very close after Cody's mother had died, ten years
ago.

“Sergeant Chang,” Frank said, walking over with Cody to greet
the short stocky man. “Great to see you.
Our dad was really
sorry he couldn't make this trip with us.”

“Not as sorry as I am, I'm sure,” Thomas Chang said,
greeting the Hardys. “It would have been great to talk over old times with Fenton.
The last time you were here Cody hadn't opened Skin and Bones, had he? Isn't
it something?”

“It sure is,” Joe said. He was examining one of the skeletons
hanging behind the counter.

“Wait till you see the rest of this place,” Cody said.
“I live on the second floor, but the real fun's up on the third.
That's where my lab is.” Cody's eyes sparkled as if he had a wonderful
secret.

“You're still planning to stay at my house, I trust,”
Sergeant Chang said to the Hardys. “The guest room and refrigerator are waiting
for you.”

“You bet,” Frank said. “And thanks for the
invitation.”

“Did you rent a car?” Cody asked.

“No,” Joe answered, coming over to shake hands with Mr. Chang.
“We took the Airporter into town and cabbed over here.”

“Exactly why I stopped by,” Mr. Chang said. “I just got
a new car, but I haven't sold my van yet. You can use it while you're
here—if you want. I figured you two might like some wheels while you're in
town.”

“Totally cool,” Joe said, taking the keys
for the house and van.

The four chatted until Sergeant Chang's partner picked him up, and
Frank and Joe decided to take off to get settled in, clean up, and change clothes.

“Okay, get out of here,” Cody said, walking them to the door.
“Say, would you guys like to meet me at the zoo? Two-thirty at the snack bar. I
have to pick up a package there.”

The boys agreed, and after getting directions to the zoo, took off for
Sergeant Chang's in the van. “This reminds me of our van,” Joe said,
turning to check it out. “Except it's red, of course.”

The Hardys had stayed at Mr. Chang's comfortable small home on the
west side of town in the Sunset District before. They changed into jeans, T-shirts, and
sweaters before heading out to meet Cody.

At about two-thirty Frank had parked the van and was wandering with Joe
through the zoo toward the snack bar. Cody was waiting for them at one of the small
tables. His brow was wrinkled as he gazed into the distance.

“Hey, guys,” Cody greeted them. “It's about time.
I'm starved. I haven't had lunch yet.” The three walked up to the
snack bar window. “So, did you get all settled in?” Cody asked as he ordered
a burger and
fries. The Hardys ordered a shake each because
they'd already eaten.

“Sure did,” Joe said. “And it's great to have the
van.”

“We have some time to kill,” Cody said as he gathered up his
lunch. “My package won't be ready until four or so. Let's hang out for
a while.”

The young men took seats on a bench in front of the orangutans. The male
orang lolled in a hammock, his huge body practically dragging on the dusty ground below.
A rust red baby orang darted out from behind a tree, batting a ball around the play
yard.

“So, what's in this mysterious package you're picking
up?” Joe asked.

Cody didn't answer.

“Earth to Cody,” Joe said. “Come in.”

“Hmm? What?” Cody said. “Oh, sorry. Did you say
something?”

“I asked what's in the package you're picking up,”
Joe said.

“Stuff for the store,” Cody answered in a matter-of-fact way.
“An ostrich skeleton, a couple of anaconda skins, a zebra skull, and the real
prize—anteater claws.”

“Do you get all your merchandise from zoos?” Frank wondered,
shooing a sea gull away from Cody's fries.

“Not all of it,” Cody answered. “Some comes
from game wardens at preserves and parks, some from farmers and
ranchers, some from fishermen. I've got a whole network of suppliers all over the
world.”

The three finished up and dumped their trash in a bin. Then they wandered
around the zoo until Cody's crates were ready. The Hardys helped him load the
stuff into his SUV. “You're coming back to my place, right?” Cody
asked.

“Yep,” Joe answered. “I want the full tour of your
building, especially the mysterious third-floor lab you mentioned.”

“Okay,” Cody said, climbing into his SUV.

“Say, is that pizza place near Fourth and Irving still in
business?” Frank asked. “I remember it from the last time we were here. They
had the best pepperoni I ever tasted.”

“It sure is,” Cody said, nodding.

“Great,” Frank said, heading for the van. “We'll
stop to pick up some stuff we can reheat later—if that's okay with
you,” he called back. Cody agreed enthusiastically.

Frank watched Cody pull away before guiding the van into the traffic on
Sloat Boulevard. About fifteen minutes later, he was parking the car a few yards from
Alma's Pizzatorium. The Hardys strolled around the
neighborhood
while their pizzas and ravioli were being baked. Wisps of fog floated in from the ocean,
and the temperature seemed to drop ten degrees.

By the time they gathered up the food and headed back to Skin & Bones,
the fog had become a dense watery veil, making everything appear dim and blurry.

Frank parked around the corner from Cody's, in the only space
available. “I don't think he's here yet,” Joe said as they made
their way toward the front. “He didn't mention stopping anywhere, did
he?”

“No,” Frank said. He slowed down instinctively. “But
you're right. There's only one light on in the whole building. It sure
doesn't look like anyone's in there. Let's check the garage—see
if the SUV's there.”

Joe peered in through the garage door window. It was dark inside, but he
could see the hulking outline of Cody's vehicle. “It's there. He must
be inside somewhere.”

After Frank tried the front door and found it locked, Joe pulled on the
handle of the old-fashioned garage door. To his surprise, it started to lift up. He put
the bag of ravioli on top of the pizza boxes Frank was holding and continued pulling on
the garage door handle.

BOOK: Skin and Bones
12.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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