Marthinus Van Lille, Grade 8, Christian Outreach College
Yes, he had to admit it. Young Angus MacGyver had definitely gotten himself into quite a jam this time. Well, come to think of it, this tends to happen when you try to be a hero. Just a few short hours ago had been like every other near-spring break Thursday evening in Downtown Minnesota to him….
The time was 2:29pm exactly. The small, cramped classroom would have been be terribly humid but for the small fan waving lazily on the ceiling, blowing just enough air to keep everyone happy. Suddenly, the bell rang, snapping Angus out of his math-induced coma. The teacher sitting at her desk gave a shallow sigh of relief, the creases on her face releasing. She excused the particularly noisy class with a simple, but somewhat effective, “You may go.”
The school hall erupted into its usual chaos. Children streamed their way out of their classrooms, pouring out into the halls in a mad rush to be the first out the door. Angus took his time, carefully packing his bags, making sure nothing had been lost during the day. He left quietly, but as he exited the large hall leading out into the school courtyard, he broke into a run. The gentle afternoon breeze waved his sandy-blond hair to the side as he headed out the small, rusty gate and out into freedom.
His homework did not bother him overly. He soon finished most of it and had changed, ready for the regular Thursday evening shopping. He hopped onto his bicycle, remembering to attach the basket to the front.
He rounded the corner, seeing a group of about four boys whispering to each other, no more than two or three years older than himself, but all except one were three or four centimeters shorter than him. He was tall for his age. Smoke was coming out of the ring, and one of them with a large black bag glanced nervously around, the group stopping their quiet chatter as he rode past. He had time to say, “You boys ain’t gonna try anything sneaky, are you?”
Their reply came as a hasty, “Mind your own business. Ever tried that?”
Perhaps he should have been paying more attention to where he was riding, because as he rounded a curve in the road, his front wheel struck a pebble and he was sent flying – straight into the lane of the oncoming traffic.
He quickly lifted his arms and legs, curling himself into a ball as a large truck whooshed inches from his face. The vibrations rattled in his teeth and he heard the screeching of tires behind him as the rest of cars spotted him in the middle of the road. Dazed, he lifted himself up, and waddled off the road to clamber back onto his bicycle. Embarrassed, he rode off, wary of all the worried eyes focused on him.
He arrived at the shopping center, a bit bedraggled but still acceptable. He had waited all week for this, and some little crash wasn’t going to stop him. As he walked in, the automatic door failed to open and he walked straight into the panel. He turned around, blushing, in the hope that no-one was looking. They were – it seemed like everyone in the parking lot. The doors opened. He walked inside quietly. The cool, air conditioned air felt good on his face. He worked his way through the shopping mall until he found what he was looking for. He walked under the large, neon Wall-Mart entrance sign, and headed for the food section. He was searching through the bread rack, when he heard a loud crash from the direction of the counter. He perked his head up, peering through a gap between two stalls and swallowed his breath at the sight. The teenagers that he had seen before were there, pointing a rather lovely high-caliber double-barreled shotgun into the young checkout-attendants face. His heart leapt as one of the trio scanned the shop, and passing the elderly couple in the electronics section, still oblivious to anything happening, locked eyes with Angus.
Angus ducked his head, but it was already too late. The older boy broke into a run, his lanky body and big strides disadvantaging him as he wove through the narrow aisles. His dark brown hair flapped as he ran under the air-conditioning unit. Angus dove into the baking section, grabbed a handful of sugar, a pack of bicarbonate of soda, and a glass neon light tube from the ceiling. He broke open one end of the glass tube and poured in the bicarbonate of soda, followed by the sugar. He then considered his options, and poured the rest of the bicarb into the tube.
Suddenly, his brain sparked another idea. He ran towards the bath & hygiene section, grabbing a small jug of vinegar and a pack of bottle corks as he ran. He could tell that the older boy had slowed down. Angus knew that he knew that there was no running, and his footsteps had grown increasingly slower, just a tap, tap, tap every few seconds.
Angus reached what he was looking for. He grabbed a couple of bottles of antibacterial hand wash, squirting it all down the small corridor until the whole thing was covered about a quarter of an inch deep. He waited. His heart thumped an accelerating beat in his chest as the other boy rounded the corner, smiling and breaking into a run. However, he soon stepped into the first of the gell-like substance and fell face first into the floor. He kept sliding, and was soon at MacGyver’s feet, a sticky mess. Angus winced at what he was about to do. He struck a light-on-anything match that he always kept handy, let it fall and started running.
He heard and smelt it before he saw it. The floor erupted into a blue inferno, and the boy soon joined it. The screaming was deafening, but as Angus turned he noticed the barrel of a familiar-looking shotgun pointing into his eye. Even at this angle, he could tell that it was a Remington 1740, a gun typically used for shooting larger birds. It’s funny to see what kind of information one gets rushing to one’s head when death stares one down. “Oh, heck!” he managed to say before the teenager struck him across his face with the stock of the heavy gun, sending a beautiful array of sparks into his vision. Then nothing.
He awoke tied to a shelf, his blood circulation almost cut off by the tight nylon line around his wrists. He noticed that most of the boys were still looking away as they tried to break into the cash register. To his surprise, he found that both his pocket knife and the tube gun along with the bottle of vinegar were still in his back pocket. He saw the checkout lady from the corner of his eye, dialing the police on the shop’s wall phone. Good, he thought. His distraction had bought her some time. That should give him about seven minutes to stop these teenagers. He fiddled with his pocketknife with the finesse that would bring tears to the eyes of the most experienced pickpockets, and so managed to cut his bonds. He slipped them into his pocket, too. He noted that one of the older boys must have gone to the bathroom, because he counted only two, not including the one convulsing on the floor. He backed up against the shelf. He knew he had to act fast. He poured the vinegar into the glass tube, quickly put the cork on and waited. A faint hissing noise was coming from the tube. He grabbed a soup can from the shelf and rolled it towards the boys. The one with the shotgun, obviously the ringleader, turned around first. Angus kicked him in the gut, then punched him forcibly in the solar plexus, driving all the air from his lungs. As the second boy turned around, he lifted the glass tube to his face, and ever-so-lightly gave the cork on the end a push.
Now, when propelled at the right speed, anything, even something as non-dense as cork, presents itself as an effective projectile. The boy soon found himself on the floor, clutching his temple and screaming in pain. Angus seized his opportunity. He tied both the boys’ hands’ together in one deft movement, smashed the shotgun against the floor and, in the nick of time, a police squad car arrived and the two officers walked inside to find a teenager with a puzzled expression on his face doing up his fly as he came out of the bathroom, a rather scorched individual writhing on the floor, two more tied to a checkout desk, and a slightly younger boy grinning widely, a broken shotgun at his feet and a glass tube in his hand. They stood there for a moment, shock on their faces. ‘Well,’ thought Angus MacGyver proudly,’ it pays to be resourceful’.