My eyes flew open.
The room was dark, empty, the windows closed and the curtains tightly drawn. I strained my ears, listening for even the barest whisper of a sound, but the night was still as death. My bedroom was silent, noiseless, nothing out of place. There was nothing that should have disturbed my slumber.
I hate ninjas, I thought, annoyed, as I turned my head to meet the gaze of my wife lying in bed beside me. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, she nodded.
With as much force as I could muster, I flung up the bedsheets, hoping to distract them with the sudden movement, and hurriedly rolled out of the bed. The whistle of a blade brushed past my ear with a sting, lodging itself into the bedpost with a soft thud as I fell to the floor.
Nimbly, I leaped to my feet and yanked the nightstand drawer open, ignoring the blood trickling down my neck. Behind me, I heard the distinctive sound of my wife fending off the ninjas — meaning I heard nothing, except for a few curses and the occasional crack of abused furniture. I quickly rummaged through the clutter in the drawer, dumping nearly half its contents on the floor. I found a flashlight — ooh, the heavy, security guard kind, I’d forgot I’d bought that — a penknife, and about three months’ worth of junk mail. But no gun.
I swore. Vociferously.
At the faint rustle of clumsy ninja feet — wait, what? — on the fallen junk mail scattered behind me, I whirled around, useless penknife in one hand and the hefty flashlight in the other. I flicked it on and was met with the startled, light-blinded eyes of the ninja. He stumbled back, slipping again on the papers. I rolled my eyes and awarded him with a kick to the gut.
“Amateur,” I grumbled.
Then — a sudden, feminine cry of pain — my gut turned to ice — I clubbed the ninja in the head with my flashlight — hurtled over his writhing figure — into the wild fray of masked shadows and flailing limbs.
“Lyla!” I cried out. There was no response. Without another thought, I threw my pathetic penknife at the nearest ninja, prayed it stuck in his eyeball or something, and joined in the tumult.
A punch here, a dodge there, a quick, threatening swing with my beautiful flashlight. I was fighting blind, save for the beam from the flashlight spinning about like some sort of hyperactive strobe light. The whole fight seemed surreal, a blur — pure instinct, just act and react.
Although, now that I thought about it, either these ninjas were particularly puny or I was a whole lot tougher than I’d realized.
Abruptly, the bedroom lights flickered on. I was instantly blinded by the sudden light, but all of the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding released in a heavy gust from the bottom of my lungs. No ninja would turn on the lights. They thrive in darkness.
Lyla was all right.
As my eyes adjusted, suddenly she was by my side, dealing a flying kick to a ninja with a knife creeping up behind me.
“You okay?” I asked, as I gave a still-blinded ninja a taste of my right hook.
“Never better,” she replied with a grunt. Yeesh, that ninja was charging like a blundering rhino. There’s just no professionalism these days, I thought grimly.
“I heard you scream,” I prodded, just to make sure.
She ignored me. “Where’s the gun?”
I dodged a particularly aggressive ninja, somehow losing my flashlight in the process. Son of a biscuit. That had been a nice flashlight. “Wasn’t in the drawer.”
Lyla snorted. “Well, what half-wit forgot to put it away?”
I wrestled with an unusually chubby ninja for a moment, trying to come up with a plausible excuse. “I dunno. Maybe your stupid cat took it.”
Lyla just rolled her eyes and drove her knee into another ninja. Between the legs. I winced.
“How many?” I ask, hoping she wouldn’t notice the sudden change of subject.
“Twenty-three. Not including their boss over there.” Lyla nodded (over the thrashing limbs of the ninja she had in a headlock) towards the other end of the room.
Attempting to peer around an awl-crazed ninja to see who Lyla was talking about, I glimpsed a tall ninja with a silver eyepatch. He was leaning against the wall near the bedroom door with his arms crossed over his chest, watching the brawl unconcernedly.
“Twenty-three, huh?” I said. I did a quick headcount of the unconscious — well, they probably weren’t dead, considering the gun was playing hooky — ninjas littering the carpet, running some quick calculations through my head. “Eight — no, make that nine — down, that leaves….”
“Hmm?” I mumbled distractedly. “That leaves twelve more? No, thirteen, there’s still that boss guy….”
“This probably isn’t the best time to be bringing this up,” my wife continued, decking a ninja in the face. “But–”
Another ninja leaped in front of me, wielding some sort of scythe thing — it was made out of that dull black metal preferred by the stealthier professions, the kind that doesn’t glint even in moonlight, with words engraved into the blade that looked to be something along the lines of death death death death. But he was swinging it around like a baseball bat and yelling like an idiot, which kind of ruined the whole intimidating factor. I stepped away to avoid losing my nose and found myself back to back with Lyla.
“I think this guy’ll just love you. Wanna switch?” I wrapped my arm around my wife’s waist and flipped her over my shoulder. I spun to face her opponent — a vast, burly, mountain of a ninja. How this guy managed to conceal himself in our bedroom is beyond me, I thought with wonder.
“Sorry, love, what were you saying?” I asked, as I squared up against the giant.
“I want a divorce.”
Suddenly the ninja’s big, beefy fist connected with my jaw and I was sent flying across the room. I impacted with a sharp crack against the wall and slid to the floor with a moan. My teeth seemed to be reverberating in my skull, but my mind was far more bewildered.
“A divorce?“ I gasped. “Why?”
Numbly, from my low vantage point, I noticed the cat huddled beneath our bed, trembling. Coward, I thought.
A soft, pealing laugh drew my attention back to my wife. She strode confidently across the room, coming up beside the one-eyed boss ninja.
“I found someone new,” Lyla said, as she slowly raised a very familiar handgun and shot me four times in the chest.
The pain was distant, it belonged to someone else, someone not me, it was just a dream. Except it wasn’t. I laid there bleeding, watching, as the love of my life rose up on her tip-toes and, with a triumphant smile, kissed the ninja on the cheek, right below his silver eyepatch. His expression didn’t change. He just stared at me coolly, my wife hanging on his arm, as I lay dying.
I hate ninjas, I thought, and then everything faded into darkness.
Hello, all. I just wanted to clarify: I do not, in fact, hate ninjas. Actually, I love them. I love them so much, even, that
my mother Santa gave me a ninja bag for Christmas. Rephrase: a bag with ninjas on it. And I almost died of happiness. (Dr Czerniewski: Ninjas’ low temperatures far exceed the value of giraffes.) I keep my notebooks in it. And my pens. And my beautiful, beautiful kindle. I will show you a picture of my kindle. And my ninja bag. And then you can haze me with your burning jealousy in the comments below.