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A TYPICAL DAY IN THE SHOP CLASS Conceptual Art for THE HAMMER WILL FALL

...As Hammer concentrated on the paperwork before him, a small object rolled up to the front of his desk on the floor. The teacher looked up inquisitively at the sound. What the heck? He glanced around, failing to see the small, green pinecone-looking thing now situated in front of his desk.

Bubba, a skinhead militant type in the school gang, casually got up from his table and walked up to Hammer's desk. Hammer looked up at him, wondering what he might want. Probably wanted to be excused to go to the bathroom, smoke a joint or something.

Bubba was surreally matter-of-fact about the object. "Uh, Mr. Hammerhead? Someone dropped a hand grenade in front of your desk."

The words took a few seconds to register in Hammer's mind. He didn't look convinced at all. What kind of game were they playing now, he wondered as he got up and leaned over the front of the desk, looking down. Bubba just stood there, grinning.

Hammer saw what did indeed look like a pineapple hand grenade sitting on the floor in front of his desk. Pin pulled. It could be fake, could be a joke, but... He decided to take it seriously and acted fast. There was no way to know for sure, and he didn't want anyone to get hurt permanently because of these psycho punks.

Hammer bolted around his desk, yelling out at the class as he ran around the shop like a madman. "EVERYBODY OUT OF THE ROOM, RIGHT NOW! EVERYBODY OUT OF HERE! GET OUT! MOVE! QUICKLY! EVERYBODY OUT!"

The students, all working at various machine stations, caught on to the seriousness of the situation and dropped what they were doing. Hammer rushed all of the class out of the shop and into the hallway outside. Within twenty seconds, the whole room was evacuated, including gang leader Rudy Corman and his four cronies, known collectively as The Hands Of Death.

Hammer was the last one out and he shut the door behind him. Students talked among themselves, relaying to each other what a few of them had seen. A grenade!

Hammer went right to Bill and Rachel. They were good kids and he knew he could trust them more than any of the other students, especially Rachel.

"What is it, Mr. Hammer? What's going on?" Bill asked.

Hammer ignored Bill. "Rachel, go to the front office and get Principal King. Tell him to call the police and the bomb squad."

Rachel was scared to death and couldn't think of anything to say. Words were mere gibberish in her mind right now. Finally, Hammer snapped her out of it with the stern and serious tone of his voice. "Now, please."

Rachel hurried down the hall as a pepperoni faced kid said, "Did you say the bomb squad? Far freakin' out!"

"It's just a precaution," Hammer said as he glared at Rudy. "Someone put what looks like a hand grenade in front of my desk."

Rudy floated right over to Hammer, as if the evil eye he was giving him was an invitation. "Hammerhead, I think you jumped the gun. I would guess that it's a dud, like you. Wouldn't it have blown up by now?"

"I don't know. I do know that the police will get fingerprints off of that thing if it's phony and whoever did this will be nailed."

"Nailed by the Hammerhead," Rudy commented. "That's kinda got an ironic ring to it, don't you think?"

Hammer ignored the remark. Rudy tried to go back inside the shop but Hammer blocked his way. "Oh no you don't. If my guess is right, your paw prints'll be all over that thing, mister."

Rudy's eyebrows rose up quizzically in Mr. Spock fashion. "Hey, man! I wouldn't do nothing like that, I swear! I just wanna see what it looks like!"

"Sure."

Bill nudged forward, wanting to know what was going on. "Did it go off yet? What's it doing?" This was definitely one of the most bizarre incidents that had happened at Sunnyville High, and tension was in the air.

"I don't know." Hammer hesitated, just as curious as his students. He realized he might have overreacted here. If King and the bomb squad arrived to see how he had panicked over a hollow grenade that you could buy at any Army surplus store for five bucks as a souvenir, he would once again be standing there with egg on his face. No telling what King might do to him this time. He could be suspended…or worse. Right when things were on track!

Hammer decided he'd better check. Then he might be able to at least stop the bomb squad from coming and embarrassing Principal King and the school. "Everybody stand back, way back. I'm going to check it out." If the bomb squad arrived and this was fake, it would be a public relations nightmare.

Hammer had the class move back to a spotted dirt and grass area, far away from the shop door and the hall.

Once everyone was at a safe distance from the room, Hammer walked back to the door. He looked back at the students. They all stared at him mutely. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. What if it blew up? But Hammer thought better of this. It was definitely another one of Rudy's attempts to undermine his progress with the kids who wanted to learn. It had to be.

Slowly, cautiously, he turned the doorknob. A trickle of sweat trailed down his forehead onto his eyebrow. The door squeaked open with a loud groan. It seemed to take forever to open. He was afraid after all, but didn't want to show it to his students. He had made this move, now he had to go through with it. Gotta see if it's real and show 'em who's the boss here.

Hammer peeked inside the room. Deafening silence. The smell of pine and varnish permeated the air. It was as quiet as a department store at three o'clock in the morning.

He saw the grenade. It lay there dormant. It was a potential threat but the more he stared at it the faker it looked. It was probably one of those plastic grenades that you could buy for your kids in the toy section at any Walmart. The kind that came with a plastic gun and an army utility belt. Hammer was about to enter the room and just grab it when he felt his ears ring. He felt instant terror as he about jumped out of his shoes in total surprise and shock.

IT HAD GONE OFF!

"KABOOOOOOOOOOM!" a loud shriek screamed in his left ear.

Before he could rationalize that creepy Bubba had snuck up behind him and put his lips to Hammer's ear with a little bonus sound effect, he had screamed uncontrollably, scared out of his wits. And he had felt like he might have had a heart attack as well with the way it was thump-thump-thumping away in his chest at an alarming rate.

Hammer turned around to face the punks. Bubba and Rudy and the gang were howling with laughter like this was the funniest thing they had ever seen. They held their stomachs they chuckled so hard. Other students couldn't help but join in on the hilarity; this WAS indeed a pretty funny incident. Hammer looked and felt like a complete imbecile, standing in the open door about ready to keel over in fright. Now madder than a hornet swarming around.

Hammer could barely find his voice he was so upset. He was ready to raise Cain nonetheless. "We'll see who's laughing when we dust that little play toy!"

The grenade went off for real this time. There was a short, quick bursting sound like a metal bomb accompanied by a flash of light and Hammer's desk, trash can, chair, and the surrounding area by the chalkboard were demolished to rubble instantaneously. Metal, wood, and burning pieces of debris danced briefly in the air and slammed to the floor. What once was, was no more.

The concussion of the grenade threw Hammer against the doorjamb and knocked the air out of his lungs, but otherwise he was all right. The students were far enough away so that none of them sustained any injury aside from ringing ears.

Hammer stared at the destruction in total disbelief. Papers floated down to the ground as flames toasted them to ashes. The school fire alarm system went off and there was pandemonium in the hallways. No one could have helped hearing that, it had sounded like a gas tank exploding off into outer space.

Rudy calmly walked up to the trembling teacher amidst all the chaos and said, "So much for fingerprints, huh Hammerhead?"

Hammer was absolutely speechless...

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