I perform the final check on my gear and slip the balaclava over my head.
Once I leave the dojo there is no going back until the mission is completed. I have no backup, no radio contacts, no scouts surveying the path before me. If I die I fail, and if I fail I am a dead man; both would bring great dishonor to myself and my master.
I take a moment to focus my thoughts. I must remember my master's words..."Two crispy beef tacos, one combination burrito, and three churros."
I have a thermal insulated satchel to keep the food warm and safe. With every last breath I will sate my master’s desire for late-night mexican fast food.
The dojo is in the middle of White Rock Creek Park where Addison and Dallas merge together in sylvan snaking nature trails. Getting in and out undetected is easy due to the heavy tree canopy shrouding everything in its gloom. It was here that my master found me, alone, lost in what little woods Dallas had; I was four so it was big to me. He raised me as one of his own students, training every day for my ultimate purpose, to acquire whatever his stomach desires at whatever time he deems necessary.
I follow the winding banks of the creek North to Belt Line road. My lightweight tabi boots dance across the dirt as I slip through without a sound, while the tree cover conceals my form in silent secrecy. There are a few late night joggers and dog-walkers, nothing to be too concerned about, however I must remain undetected lest the casuals get spooked and call the minimum-wage security guard that patrols this area.
I reach the edge of the Belt Line road overpass and hear the muffled groan of a Segway on the sidewalk directly above. At this hour it could only be the security guard. The rumbling wheels stop, and I hear the guard fumble for his flashlight. I flatten my body against the concrete wall, watching the caustic beam of light shine very close by. I hear my heart thump louder and louder as I stare at the two-hundred lumen death ray.
Quietly I unsheath my blade.
While I’m not in a good position to quietly eliminate this distraction I am not willing to fail my mission. I pray that it does not come to this, however as countless scenarios rush through my head as to how I may gut this poor fool he turns his light off and continues on his way.
With that potentially unsightly event behind me I slip under the bridge undetected. Despite what you may have have seen in your martial arts movies we ninjas are not the bloodthirsty assassins you think we are. While we are fully capable to kill any person at any time with little more than a toothpick we are more adept to infiltration and observation. Each of the ninjas at my dojo have trained in the art of silent extraction. Due to my unique talents in the culinary arts my specialization happens to be stealth catering, more specifically the ancient art known as ‘Taco Ninjutsu’, which explains why I'm out after midnight to fetch fast food tacos. I think my master just made that name up, however I am bound by duty to serve him no matter how silly it sounds. I just hope that he does not have fast food too often as it would be quite dishonorable for a sensei to die by cholesterol.
I exit out the other end of the underpass which empties out into a golf course. I continue to follow the creek since there are more trees clumped together alongside it. I should not encounter any people at this time of night in here, however I must stay on my guard in case those stories about the machine gun-equipped golf carts are true.
Staying as low to the ground while still maintaining running speed I skirt across the open moonlit grass to Prestonwood Boulevard, and hide in the shadows under the eaves of a building. The mostly-new decorative apartment buildings are white-walled with decorative Spanish tile roofing. The master told stories that long ago this plot of land used to have a large and glorious commercial establishment known as “Prestonwood Mall”. Now it’s a gated community with tightly-packed townhomes dutifully aligned in perfect rows. A paradise for modern upscale mediocrity. I carefully scale the wrought iron fence and...
“Who’s there?” bellows a bow-legged old man in a bathrobe as he hits me with a beam of light.
He caught me.
I cannot stop here.
Before he’s able to bark to the authorities I unsheathe my blade and slice through his neck, effectively shunting his scream into little more than a quiet gurgle as he collapses to the ground. With the dexterity of a thumb-equipped cat I turn off his alarming flashlight and hide it in a flower bed. I then pick up the bloodied corpse and turn him over.
“I am sorry, my friend, but I cannot fail in my task,” I whisper to my victim before quietly dumping his body into the bushes. I do not enjoy killing, but I understand that it is sometimes necessary. To be a ninja is to accept that sacrifices must be made.
I dart through the monochromatic manicured lawns and inverted ivy patches to reach the western wall dividing the residential neighborhood from the concrete-laden patch of retail shops. I have almost reached my destination, however the most difficult part of my journey is yet to come.
The small mexican restaurant is a small single building nestled up against Montfort Drive at the other end of a very wide and sparsely populated parking lot equipped with very intense security lights. The lot lights are so oppressively bright they give the fools passing under it a false sense of daylight. This virtually eliminates any trace of a shadow for me to hide in. A ninja without a hiding place is just asking to get killed or captured, unfortunately there is little I can do to help it. I check the surroundings for signs of life and bolt out of my hiding spot, darting between parked car after parked...
Apparently that one wasn’t parked. I jump out of the way and nearly crash into the illuminated sign at the restaurant’s drive-thru lane. Hopefully no one saw my less-than-graceful landing and my stumble into the restaurant. Nonetheless I am here and I am ready to order.
“Will this be for here or to go, sir?” the cheery cashier asks.
This is always the most awkward part.
“To go,” I answer in my most Texan sounding voice.
“Mmkay, what would you like?”
Suddenly I’m drawing a blank. What were my master’s words? I take a moment to focus my th...
“Hey, buddy, you gonna order?” a patron behind me rudely interrupts. I try to focus my thoughts...
“Come on! I’m starving here!” the pushy patron proclaims. How can I concentrate with all these distractions? I swing my fist in a blind backhanded strike, knocking the distraction in the face; and he slumps down into the condiment bar. I take a moment to focus my thoughts.
“Two crispy beef tacos, one combination burrito, and three churros,” I repeat my master’s words verbatim.
“Would you like to add a cherry empanada for just a dollar more?”
My master never specified if he wanted anything else. What do I do? If I don’t get the empanada and he did want one he may send me back out to the restaurant, and by that time they may be closed! But if I do get the empanada and he did not want it he may give it to me. That cherry empanada does sound very tasty about now. I decide to chance it.
“Y-Yeah, sure I’ll get the empanada,” I stutter.
And with that a quick exchange of American dollars and tasty Mexican food ensues. I stuff the food into my insulated satchel and hastily escape the restaurant. I wish I had remembered to bring some smoke bombs so I could make a dramatic exit, like any proper ninja would do.
With the same dexterity and luck as before I navigate the oppressively-lit parking lot and dodge the occasional passing car. Throwing caution to the wind I run like mad for the lone shadow tucked away next to the craft store at the end of the strip mall. With a savory concealed smile I nestle into the shadow’s welcoming embrace and take a moment to catch my breath.
As the Americans would say “It is all down the hill from here.” or it would be had I not been forced to draw my blade on that poor fool in the bathrobe. I look over to the open path in the gated community and see the flashing red and blue lights of a police cruiser...or possibly an ambulance. It is difficult to determine from here. I had best choose an alternate route.
“HEY!” a voice from the murder scene shouts in my direction, but I am already far away. My fleet-feet flutter in a flurry down to Belt Line Road. In this state of emergency the best I can do is to dodge traffic and keep my precious cargo safe. Luckily on a Thursday night this major thoroughfare is pretty empty. I sprint swiftly across the three westbound lanes then...
For most people getting hit by a car is the end of the line, however I...have a broken ankle. I pull myself up from the pavement and limp off into the shadows as quickly as a ninja with a major impairment can do. The driver of the car, obviously overjoyed that I am not going to sue him, speeds off into the night. A hit and run for anyone else except...a ninja.
I make it to the tree covering for White Rock Creek Park praying that I not encounter any serious threats before I reach the dojo. Pain shoots up my leg with every step I take, soon causing me to resort to crawling. Thankfully it is less than a half mile to the dojo, and my prone position helps me conceal myself in the shadows.
I press on.
I will not fail you, master.
The Chinese philosopher Laozi once said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and with my severely impaired movement by the time I reach the dojo I do feel as though it has been that far. My master is waiting for me at the front steps, possibly with salivating lips.
I push myself up to my knees and hold the satchel in the air. “Master, I return with your requested items,” I wheeze. He smiles, takes the satchel, and bows; at which point I promptly collapse onto the tatami floor. My mission fulfilled I may rest for now, however I shall not sleep long. There are always meals to prepare and stomachs to fill.
For I am...a taco ninja!
- Love, Equality, Tacos!
There are those who walk among us. They're called "taco biters", "chalupa lovers", and other nefarious names. But apart from their martial arts skills they're just the same as everyone else.
- The Werewolf at the Sushi Bar
The owner of an Addison Circle sushi restaurant recalls the night she encountered a werewolf in her place of business.
- It's Just a Little Blood
“It’s just a little blood,” I mockingly murmured to myself. A ridiculous short story involving blood, which should have been obvious from the title.