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ND Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness - Chapter 7
Nancy Drew Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness
Resigned to the fact that they could do nothing until their captors, at some point, opened the doors, Nancy and Ned did their best to relax as the silent brown car headed south and began climbing higher and higher into the magnificent Austrian Alps.
Since every word could be monitored by Herr Gutterman, the couple talked of trivial matters while at the same time writing surreptitious notes on the pad Nancy kept in her bag.
"Lovely weather, isn't it?" Nancy asked as she scrawled a note.
"Charming," Ned replied as he watched Nancy's words form on the page. "Charming. And with such delightful traveling companions."
Ned, Nancy had written, they must stop eventually if only to stretch their legs. When they do, let's remember that I have this. Nancy pointed to a small, innocent-looking book with a blue cover which she held in her lap. She turned it slightly and Ned saw that along the spine, in the middle of the title, there were actually small holes cut out of the center of two o's. The title made Ned grin: Noodles.
Ned took the pad from Nancy, very casually, and scribbled his reply. Haven't read the book. But I loved the movie. Why the holes?
Nancy took back the pad and wrote two words: Tear gas. Reading them, Ned could hardly restrain himself. He wanted to shout but refrained. Instead, he wrote on the pad, Cleverest girl in River Heights. When the time comes, try to spray the big guy. I'll jump the little fellow.
My hero, Nancy wrote, stifling a giggle. Why don't you jump the big one?
"Beautiful scenery," Ned said aloud. "Do you suppose Herr Gutterman and Herr Burger appreciate it?"
"Why, of course," Nancy said, adding, "I bet that before this trip is over, you'll find tears in their eyes."
Herr Gutterman, who could hear everything they said, guffawed. "Enjoy the view, little ones," he called out. "Enjoy it while you can."
"Is that a threat?" Nancy asked coolly.
"Oh, let's say, a final warning," Gutterman rasped.
"A warning about what?" Nancy asked, baiting the man. "What were we doing that could ever justify our abduction?"
"Abduction? Oh, my, my, my, what a harsh word."
"That's what the police would call it," Ned chimed in.
"The police! The police are so stupid and slow. You and I, Nancy Drew, are much quicker than the police. Much brighter."
"Very flattering," Nancy said, "but I know too many policemen who catch too many people like you, so I can't buy that line."
Gutterman laughed. "Like the ones in the police car a little while ago?" He roared again. "We don't worry about the police, but we do worry about people who have big ideas."
"Big ideas about what?" Nancy persisted, trying to find out just how much Gutterman knew of her activities. What, if anything, did he know about the mission to save the orphans; and did he also know about Nancy's personal mission to find the stolen documentary, Captive Witness? Or was it possible that he was involved in some unknown project that concerned neither the orphans nor the film?
Whatever the answers, Herr Gutterman remained silent, refusing to be drawn out on the subject. He sat sideways, keeping his eyes riveted on them, his mouth twisted in a mysterious, sardonic grin.
As the car climbed higher, the road became more dangerous. They began traveling along two lines cut out of the mountainside with sheer cliffs falling away into beautiful, lush, green valleys across which wandered lovely, clear streams fed by the melting glaciers and snows of the Austrian Alps.
Traffic was sparse with no cars traveling in their direction and only an occasional car or truck coming the other way. The open road made Herr Burger feel slightly exhilarated.
"I'm a bit bored with this slow driving," he called back to them. "I think I'll show you how experienced Alpine drivers take these roads."
"Here we go." Ned groaned. "A Saturday night cowboy. They've got them all over the world, I guess."
"Just hang on," Nancy said. "No matter what Herr Burger does, I'm sure he wants to stay alive just as much as we do."
Within the next few minutes, the couple began to doubt whether that was true. Herr Burger speeded up until he had the beautiful car careening around turns, spraying dust, pebbles, and bits of tire rubber into the air. Then, roaring down a relatively straight stretch of road, he threw the car into a skidding loop that took them within six inches of a cliff edge where there was no guardrail. Herr Gutterman's only response was a bemused look and a question thrown over his shoulder at his captives.
"Do you enjoy this, Miss Drew? Your friend seems a little blue around the lips."
"Sorry about that," Ned said. "I always turn blue when I'm happy."
"Is this fast enough for you, Miss Drew, or would you like Herr Burger to speed up? Are you frightened, Miss Drew? We wouldn't want to frighten you."
Nancy looked at Ned. "He's unbelievable," she said. "He's like some childish villain out of a bad movie."
"Miss Drew? You're not frightened, are you?" The noise of the squealing brakes and the flying gravel were making it difficult for Gutterman to hear them up front where the windows were open. He was gazing back at her, smiling cruelly.
"No, no, I'm not frightened," Nancy said, swinging wildly and hanging on to the strap. "Mr. Nickerson and I are terribly impressed, as a matter of fact."
Gutterman's face flushed beet-red. "Oh, is that so?" he snarled. "We'll see how impressed you are when we start questioning you."
"Oh, please don't question us," Ned cried mockingly.
Gutterman grew extremely angry at his prisoners' refusal to show fear. His anger finally intensified to the breaking point when Herr Burger, negotiating another dangerous, screaming turn, caused Herr Gutterman to bang his head sharply against the window.
The big man let fly a stream of German invective mixed with French and German phrases that gave Nancy the impression that Gutterman was calling Burger a lunatic and moron. Burger was so upset, he wound up swerving into the opposite lane where the car faced a huge truck coming the other way.
For a split second, it appeared the two vehicles would collide but at the last moment both drivers veered sharply and barely missed each other. The danger of a head-on smash, however, was avoided at the price of a worse possibility. Herr Burger, completely rattled, was now driving straight toward the edge of a cliff!
"Look out!" Nancy and Ned cried with one voice as they both dropped down to the floor and covered their heads to minimize injuries in an accident.
As they crouched there, doubled over, they felt the car veer violently again, and heard a splintering, crunching sound. The car stopped, and there was silence.
Nancy was the first to bring her head slowly up to look out the window. "Oh, Ned," she gasped quietly, "We'd better start praying. Look where we are."
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