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Action Scenes!

Action Scene: Taking 'em to School

by Dan Bayn
Aug 03,2004


Action Scene: Taking 'em to School

"Oh no. Oh, merciful god, no." The Blind Man has been tracking Override for a quarter hour and now the trail of his taint leads directly into John F. Kennedy Elementary School. The samurai is half way across the playground when the bell rings and a horde or rabid children pour out of the school. It was like watching a Mad Max movie on a tiny, tiny screen. Young minds are easy to control and Override is going for broke. There's no way this can end well...

Unless you have a mind-controlling villain, your school yard action scene probably won't include beating up mobs of rampaging children, but there's more to this location than child abuse. Your average grade school includes a pleasant variety of environments, some of which have been covered in previous installments: the lunch room, the nurse's office, and the school bus. It's also remarkably rich in props and, of course, conveniently portable hostages.

Let's start in the classroom. Depending on the grade and subject, you may find anything from Lincoln Logs to a plastic models of the human anatomy. Globes and desks are nearly universal and they both make decent bludgeons. Those Teacher's Edition text books can get pretty heavy, too. If you're lookin' to do some stabbin', grab a fist full of pencils, a drawing compass, or pull that American Flag down off the wall. There are also erasers, rulers, bits of chalk, and maybe a computer or two. Just don't reach for the safety scissors!

Next, we'll visit the library. It's a great place for gun fights: shooters diving between shelves for cover, books exploding into clouds of shredded paper, librarians demanding that you keep the noise down. Sweet. It's not a bad place for sword fights, either. Combatants can push shelves over on each other, stab through gaps in the books, and catch each other's blades between the pages of various Doctor Seuss classics. Don't try throwing anyone through a pane of glass, though. Most grade schools use safety glass to prevent just such an occurrence.

The gym's not a particularly fun place for a fight, what with all the empty space, but the equipment room has potential. They'll have baseball bats, rackets, nets, pads, and balls of all shapes and sizes. My elementary school had a few unusual units in gym class, each of which required equally unusual equipment. We had these square, wooden boards with swiveling wheels at each corner that made skateboards look like miracles of vehicular safety. There was a gigantic parachute, too. I have no idea what it was supposed to each us, but it might come in handy in a fight.

Finally, let's take it outside. The playground is an excellent place for acrobatic mayhem. If you're lucky, you'll get the old school sets, made of splinter-ridden wood and cold, hard metal. Otherwise, you'll have to make due with the kiddie-safe, plastic versions. You can climb around on the monkey bars, bash people with the tire swing, and bounce heads off the slide. If you like fighting dirty, try tossing sand in your enemy's eyes or wrapping a swing set chain around their throat. Time it right, and those teeter-totters can deliver savage uppercuts!

How did we ever survive recess all those years?

The Genre Mash

Harry Potter meets John Woo for the fantasy version of the school yard action scene. Most the of above still applies, plus you've got all the wizard's school wackiness you can concoct. Magic wand gun battles, cracking skulls with crystal balls, and libraries where the books fight back. Keep an eye out, though, because the kids aren't quite as helpless as their modern counterparts.

Sci-fi schools have fewer props; computers have made books, chalk, erasers, rulers, globes, and even safety scissors obsolete. The good news is that computers explode much more spectacularly than whiteboards when hit by stray bullets!

Hostile Tactics

The best bad guy tactic should also be the most obvious: hostages! They're all over the place, they (usually) have a hard time fighting back, and most of your hero types would rather let a thousand villains go free than make a single child shed a single tear. By the same token, you can keep good guys busy with a bomb in the boiler room, keep them confused with a fire drill (phony or otherwise), or scream "Naughty touch!!!" and watch them scramble for the exits. When it's time to flee, a bus full of kids is better protection than an armored tank!

Lights, Camera...

The Blind Man's sightless eyes turn from his wakizashi to his Desert Eagle to the approaching prepubescent mob. He shakes his head, sighs, and puts his weapons away. The playground is about half way between him and them; he bursts into a sprint and closes on the tire swing just ahead of his enemies. He hits the tire at an angle, turning his momentum into a wide spin. Children bounce off the rubber in waves and tumble back into the sand.

He flips up onto the support beam and somersaults over their heads. He slips down the tube slide and takes off under the monkey bars. A freckled sixth grader with an aluminum bat spins in from the side. The Blind Man jumps up, grabs the bar overhead, and pulls himself above lil' slugger's wild swing. Then, he hooks his legs around another bar, descends on his pint-sized opponent upside-down, grabs him by the shoulders, and launches him into a soccer net half way across the yard.

His feet tear into the sand a half second later, a pack of ankle-biters nipping at his heels. He launches himself through an open window and rolls to a stop in the middle of a third grade classroom. Immediately, he's buried beneath an avalanche of tiny hands and teeth. Blood drips onto the floor from a dozen shallow cuts. He gathers his chi and leaps to his feet; children careen off the walls and crash into desks. He recovers his balance just in time to avoid a Teacher's Edition to the face. A cheap globe finds its way into his hand, then breaks over the teacher's head. The Blind Man leaps onto her desk, plucks the flag from the wall, and uses it to clear a path through the door.

Half way down the hall, he realizes his weapons are missing. Vaguely, he recalls swarms of small fingers grasping at them in the hog pile. Damn! Any questions as to his gun's ultimate fate are dispelled when he reaches the library. A pane of safety glass erupts outward. He manages to dodge the bullet, but bits of glass slice up his arms and chest. He kicks the door right off its hinges; an unconventional form of cover fire, but effective nonetheless. He darts into the room and dives behind the reference shelf as dictionaries and thesauri explode all around him.

Silence descends on the library as a cloud of paper scraps drifts lazily to the ground. Our hero pulls out The Cat in the Hat, opens it to the middle, and leans back as his wakizashi thrusts through the bookshelf. He folds the Dr. Seuss classic around the blade and jerks it forward, bashing the librarian's head against the opposite side. He reaches through the shelf and grabs his gun out of her hand as she slumps to the floor.

Shrill screams echo down the hallway outside, from the lunch room on the left to the gymnasium on the right. Hundreds of sneakered footsteps follow close behind. The Blind Man rushes through the front doors just ahead of the mob, but a field trip bus heads him off at the pass. As its door opens and the driver rushes out, a tire iron at the ready, the Blind Man runs straight up the side and perches on the yellow roof. His pursuers hit the vehicle like a tidal wave and it begins to pitch back and forth.

Override's stench is everywhere, but the Blind Man sniffs him out at the edge of the crowd... rapidly receding. He's commandeered a skateboard and is racing down the sidewalk. The bus lurches up on two tires; in the moment before it rolls over, the Blind Man barrels down the entire length and flies over the crowd. He lands hard near the bike rack, muscles straining to absorb the impact.

The children swarm around him like locusts. He hefts a huffy and twirls it around his perimeter, bouncing school children onto the pavement. He plants one foot on the bike rack, vaults over, and lands on the bike, already peddling after his prey. Drawing even with the baseball diamond, Override finds himself without any thrall at the ready. Even with the speed born of panic, he's no match for the samurai. The Blind Man cuts across the outfield, draws alongside, and slams on his front brakes. The bike pops up on the front wheel and the Blind Man spins the body around, slamming Override backwards off his board.

When the would-be thrasher comes to, there's a wakizashi tickling his Adam's apple. "Don't you think the children should pick on someone their own size?"

Next Month: Casino Chaos!

Loath Your Fellow Man

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