Saturday, August 05, 2006

Gonged One vs. The Ninja!

Category: Humor Winners, Issue 3

For months, my city had been plagued by bank-robbing ninjas.  Witnesses reported that typically five of the larcenous black-clad martial artists would make a spectacular entrance, pass a note to a teller demanding money, and then upon receipt of said funds, run out the door and disappear in a cloud of black smoke that was described as smelling of brimstone.  The police had no leads.  These guys being ninjas, the cops couldn’t even find evidence that they were present at a given crime scene.  Ninjas were like that, I’d heard.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten all about this when I made a routine trip to the local branch of Twelfth/Seventy-Sixth National Savings and Deposit.  I had to deposit my paycheck that day or I’d bounce my third check this month.  I couldn’t afford any more of that.  Credit problems and all.

As I stepped into the lobby, I smelled the cash and disinfectant, and nodded to the security guard.

“Morning Sam,” I said.

“Morning Ralph.  Wait, how do you know my name?”

“Tag.”  I pointed to where it would be on my chest.

Sam said, “Oh.”

As I took my place in line, the acoustic tile ceiling shattered.  Five black-clad figures rappelled down from the blackness above and dropped to the lobby floor.  They wore cowls over their heads, masks over their faces, and crouched in fighting posture as the customers scattered in billowing clouds of tile dust.

I heard, from somewhere high overhead, a gong.  I didn’t even know that my bank had one.  There were some Asian tellers here, but a gong seemed a bit much.  Other customers heard it as well, and looked up at the ceiling in confusion.

One of the ninjas pointed at me, and pulled the mask away from his mouth.  He spoke Japanese, but I heard it in my mind as American English.

“Your Tao and kung fu are no match for our ninjitsu prowess, Gonged One!  Step aside, and allow us to claim what is rightfully ours!”

I attempted to speak up in my defense, to explain that this was all just a big misunderstanding and ha ha I’ll just be going now buh-bye.  When I opened my mouth, a high-pitched kiai was all that emerged.  The gong sounded again, and morphed into a thumping electronic beat.

The lead ninja lunged at me with a flying kick, which I instinctively knew was coming, and dodged from the waist.  I punched him in the side of the head as he went by, and he fell to the floor stunned.  I knew kung fu!

Poor Sam was beset by another ninja, who kicked him, leaving him dazed.  The ninja turned his face to the sky and with a warbling howl he thrust his hand into the guard’s chest, removing his heart - still beating, as Sam gasped, horrified.  The ninja held his prize in the air at arms length, laughed maniacally, and threw it at me. 

Instinctively I waved my hands in the projectile’s direction and the gong sounded again.  The bloody, pulsating organ immediately reversed its trajectory.  It, and the blood that dripped from it returned to the ninja’s hand, which then placed the organ into Sam’s chest.  Ninja removed his hand, and the wound closed.  I said, “aohw.”

A ninja pointed at me.  “What’s this?  Gonged One controls time?!” 

Another ninja said, “Oh shit!” in plain English.

These two began their attack, flipping end over end towards me like cheerleaders without the nice upskirt shots.  With some footwork, I found the proper position - once again, without thinking - and as they came out of their flips, I punched them both in the face simultaneously.  Both fell down, and both were still.

The fifth ninja, the one who had attempted to kill Sam, cowered in a corner.  As I strode towards him with vengeance on my mind, his bladder gave way, and urine dripped into a puddle below him.  I was disgusted, and kicked him in the head.  He flew back with such force that he was embedded in the wall behind him.

The gong sounded again.  What now?

“Ninjas!  Stop!” 

It was the voice of a little girl, and it came from the street.  She marched through the foyer, throwing open both insulated glass doors as if they were nothing.  She spoke to me in Chinese, which I also heard as English in my head.

“These are MY ninja.  You will not touch them!  We are here for the money!  You are a big meanie!”  She pointed at me and stuck her bottom lip out; she was scolding me.  Her eyes glowed in a fiery shade of red.

“Why are you robbing banks with ninja?”  A couple of the ninjas were conscious now, and were standing in the bank lobby with arms crossed, smoking cigarettes and giving the customers and staff dirty looks. 

“We rob for money, why else?” 

I took a couple of steps closer to her.

“Ninjas, what are you doing?  Why aren’t you protecting me?  You’re all fired!”  She appealed to them with a wide-eyed look of desperation, and I took another step closer to her. 

“You stupid pig,” said the lead ninja, spitting, “Nothing can protect you from the Gonged One!  Look around you.”  He gestured at his crew, and then at me.  “This fat white boy kicked our asses, and we are ninja!  You are ten years old!”

“I said, you’re fired!  Meanie!  Get out!”

She turned back to me, and here I made the mistake of looking at her eyes.  They transfixed me; I was unable to move. 

“You better be good for our share of the money!  Come on guys, let’s go.”  The ninjas made for the door; I was unable to move, and thus powerless to stop them.  As they filed out, Sam drew his .357, took careful aim at the ninja that had almost killed him, and shot him in the head, splattering most of its contents all around the bank.

“Go Sam!” I said.

None of the others looked back. Once outside, they huddled together on the sidewalk in front of the bank.  The lead guy said something that I couldn’t quite make out, and threw something vaguely grenade-like on the ground.  In an explosion of smoke and ash, the four ninjas disappeared.  I smelled sulfur in the air.  Brimstone.

The girl, after watching this, turned her gaze to me.  Her mouth moved, but I heard a man’s voice, speaking to me in Chinese, with a deep reverb.  Did I know Chinese, too? 

“Gonged One!  I control you now!  Listen to me.  You will walk up to the counter, you will demand all of the money in the cash drawers, and you will walk out.”

“Go piss up a rope,” I said.  Even though I couldn’t move, I could still think clearly enough to be a smartass at the exact wrong time.

“NOOO!  The unbinding words!”

I heard a piercing shriek, and watched as the girl’s body went slack, crumpling to the floor.  A forceful wind blew, and formed a vaguely winged humanoid figure out of the ceiling dust.  Two red dots glowed in the position of eyes, and the wings flapped like those of birds.


“We will meet again, Gonged One!”  The cloud disappeared out the door, and fled down the street.  Then the gong rang once again, and I was able to move again.  I dusted myself off, and went to check on Sam.

The cops came and went.  I told them my story - obviously, they were skeptical but they couldn’t argue with three dozen eyewitnesses and eight security cameras.  The news crews were packing up, I had told all of them about what happened, and tried to keep a straight face on the camera.  Now that that was out of the way, I could see to my business.

It was easy for me to find a teller; they were all open now. 

“Hi, I’d like to make a deposit.  Will it post today?”

“Sir, it’s after two P.M.”  She pointed at the wall clock behind her without turning; it was 4:36 or thereabouts.


“All deposits must be made before two P.M. to post on the same day.  Those are the rules,” she said, as if she were scolding a child who should know this.

“But this will ruin my credit if I bounce another check!”

She shrugged, and gave me that condescending look of fake sympathy that implies Customer Service.

“You should have gotten to the bank sooner.”

“Let me talk to your supervisor.”  The supervisor said the same thing. 

A month later my free credit report had taken a massive hit—a bounced check led to a late payment on a credit card.  I vowed, to my empty apartment, “Damned right we will meet again, you… whatever you are.”  And as God is my witness the gong sounded again.

Posted by Josh Whitt on 08/05 at 11:45 PM | Permalink
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