It was the sauerkraut at Spigel Hall that made me do it.
It was a Monday, and you know what that means: too little sleep, too little homework done, too much stress. I’d successfully fought (and won) against my roommate Farooq for the rights to use the change we had under the couch. The collection of dirty nickels and one paperclip amounted to eight dollars.
So, swinging my riches in a sock I brought for just such a purpose, I walked into Spigel Hall for some food. No one likes Spigel food but at least you can look at it during daylight and say “Yep, that’s food. Objectively food.” The food I normally ate didn’t merit such praise. I still didn’t remember what I was eating a week ago or why it made my urine orange and scented with cumin.
I walked into Spigel, coins jingling merrily, and assessed my lunch options. They’d put up a blackboard up in the hall, and a fetching rainbow of chalk spelled out two options: chickpea curry and sauerkraut. Well, I’m not a huge fan of the curry here, but I didn’t even know what sauerkraut was. It sounded like something you’d catch after a drunken night in Munich. I took my big white Spigel Hall plate, and held it up to the sweet old lunch lady.
“The curry, please,” I said. “With rice.” Because I was classy today.
“Sorry, we’re out,” the lady said. “We have some sauerkraut though.”
She pointed to a pile of white shreds that glistened with sickly light. They smelled like salt and dying dreams.
“Screw this,” I said. “I’m becoming a ninja.”
“What?” asked the lunch lady.
“I’m becoming a ninja,” I said. “That… that stuff has no place existing in a sane man’s life. This system has no place existing in a sane man’s life.”
“It’s not that bad,” she said. “Look, there’s some sides that—”
“I slept in a fucking tree last night!” I said. “I had to chase a squirrel out to do it, and it came back and pooped on me when I was asleep. I work my ass off for classes I hate. I don’t want to eat sauerkraut. You can’t make me do it.”
“I’m not trying to—wait. You slept in a tree?”
“Fuck this!” I shouted. I threw my sock onto the brown tile floors. Pennies smashed onto the floor, and spun around my feet. “I’m going to fucking learn to throw shurikens at ninja school and have adventures and pizza and get ripped.”
“But there aren’t even ninjas anymore,” the lunch lady protested. “There’s a Tim Horton’s over there. For goodness’ sake, just get a doughnut or something.”
“You get a doughnut!” I screamed, and stormed out of the cafeteria, waving my satchel behind me like a cape. It swung around my neck and choked me a little on the way out, but I don’t think anyone noticed. Also, I had to run back and get the change; I figured becoming a ninja would take a little money.
My roomate Farooq was the first to witness my transformation. He came into our dorm at noon with his girlfriend Ashley.
“Hey, man, can you…what the hell?”
“Greetings, Farooq,” I said, spreading the cape I’d made from our shower curtains with the ducks on them. “Welcome to my den of iniquity.”
“What have you taken and where can I find some?” Ashley asked.
“Silence, woman!” I said. Ashley glared at me and I remembered that time she’d kicked my ass over a Cheeto. “Uh, I mean. Please. If you want.”
“Why are you wearing a cape? And is that a golf club? Where’d you get a golf club?” Farooq asked.
“I stole my blade from the demon Unagi Donburi,” I said, twirling it around my head and whooping. Ashley collapsed into tears at the sight of my ferocity.
“I’ll get a better one when I can afford it,” I mumbled. “So anyway, can I kill one of your enemies for money? I’ll totally.. make them dead.”
“Explain or I’m calling the cops.” Farooq said. Ashley was on the floor, coughing.
“I’m a ninja now,” I said. “It totally beats being a student. I can smoke now.”
“You already smoke,” Farooq said.
“But now I look cool doing it.”
“You don’t know any martial arts,” Farooq said.
“I do. I played Ninja Gaiden all day and now I can do a flying butterfly swing,” I said.
“I think you need to take a break while I get a counsellor… or something,” Farooq said, backing away.
“You doubt my skill?” I asked.
“A little,” Farooq said. “Let’s just get you to lie down a bit.”
“Just watch,” I said.
Yeah, so anyway, Farooq is dead now and I’m running from the cops. I spent the night in an alley with a man who insisted I call him “Big Rudy” as he rubbed my knees and made groaning noises. Being a ninja sort of sucks.