Life here at the Ninja Training Facility is interesting, but these martial arts types are a little crazy. For instance, all they ever eat is a strange dish made of boiled spinach and blood sausage. Also, the senior ninja all have abnormally large forearms, funny accents (not oriental, kind of squeaky), and they all smoke corncob pipes, even in the midst of the most arduous maneuvers.
They have an odd song, an anthem of sorts, that gets sung at the opening ceremonies to each training session:
We're the Ovaltine Ninja clan
We live in a camper van
We'll kill all the cows
Drive around in snow plows
We're the Ovaltine Ninja clan!
It's a strange song. Since I've been here I haven't been offered a single cup of the delicious malted chocolate drink, Ovaltine; all that the new trainees are given is orange soda. I have caught a glimpse of some of the elder ninja sitting on their meditation platforms and sipping a dark, warm substance from rustic, clay receptacles. Sometimes they laugh--no doubt as part of some arcane ninja ritual, or as the answer to a Zen koan of some kind. But their laugh sounds more like a sputtering, guttural choking. It's one of the weirdest sounds you'd ever hear.
The head Ninja, known as Sensei Po-Pi, cuts a striking figure. He has the same strange physiognomy as the other ninja, only more so: pronounced forearms, barrel chest, spindly waist and legs, and extremely poor posture--or maybe it's a ninja stance of readiness to keep one's knees constantly bent. Po-Pi also has an offset jaw, visible even beneath his black ninja mask. I can only imagine it is a battle wound of some sort, no doubt inflicted during a duel with Po-Pi's arch enemy Bu-tow San.
My days here are comprised of equal parts training and meditation, punctuated by a couple of brief, silent meals. After supper, the entire clan assembles for a sermon from Po-Pi on ninja virtues and the nutritional merits of spinach. Afterwards we watch old cartoons on a large screen television.
I have learned much from these sputtering, awkward ninja. Their fighting style is not like anything you would see in the movies. Their signature move--the only one I've actual see them use--involves spinning the forearm around like an airplane propeller and using the kinetic energy thus accumulated to deal a devastating blow to one's opponent.
Despite the hospitality I have been shown here, I think I will disappear over the enclave wall sometime soon and make the long journey back to civilization. My only concern for the return trip is an ancient legend about the Waum-pi, or "hamburger thief"--a mythical entity said to wander the glacial mountain wastes, searching for hapless victims from whom to borrow money to fund his endless, fevered quest for hamburger meat.