PC won't start up: Press ESC

My wife has a HP laptop running Windows 7 and when she pushes the power key to start it up a black screen appears with the HP logo in the center and that's as far as it goes. In the bottom left hand corner it says "Push ESC.

key for startup menu" but when you push the ESC key, or ANY other key, nothing happens. No matter what you do it remains on this one screen.

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Is there a way to customize the startup screen with a simple message: "If found, call x. Reward for return"

Currently the screen just says:

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