Somewhere along Mount Pleasant Road.
Crazed with terror, the man fled in the direction leading towards the Pan-Island Expressway. His heart was throbbing furiously and he could almost feel blood shooting up to his head. The dim streetlights fell on his face, revealing an expression of ultimate horror and panic.
There was not a soul in sight
He didn’t know where he was going. All he knew was that something evil was closing in.
A darkside is waiting.
He was running out of time.
Waiting to devour…
Why isn’t there a goddam soul around here?
To suck the marrow out of its prey…
Bingo! He spotted an old, rather worn-down taxi moving towards him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he stepped onto its path and waved his arms vigorously, trying to catch the attention of the driver.
It worked. The taxi pulled alongside him like a panther dropping smoothly next to a scruffy old Tomcat. The man ripped open the door madly and slipped into the back seat.
“Yah, where to?”
“Anywhere. Just get me out of this place!”
“Anywhere can be Jurong, Woodlands, or Changi. Tell me exactly where you want to go because I want no complaints.”
“Alright, alright! River Valley Road.”
The taxi drove slowly down the long, winding road as the man regained his composure. Except for the radio, there was an uncomfortable silence.
…beep beep beep. Midnight. Here’s the news in brief. US President, George Bush, said in a statement at the White House today…
The transmission was quite bad, but he didn’t care. He was on his way back home and nothing could stop him now.
“Are you okay back there?” the driver finally spoke. “Strange for someone to board a taxi here. It’s very difficult to get one at this hour, you know. What are you doing here anyway?”
The man felt at ease with the warmth of the ah chek’s voice. He could not contain his fear anymore and began to tell his story…
His Mini had to break down here, in the middle of nowhere. As if the day wasn’t bad enough.
Matthew. He thinks he can make me his scapegoat for that HP account. No way. I’m not going to be a sacrifice.
To hell with the bloody bastard, he cursed as he surveyed the surroundings suspiciously. The place was deserted. Spirits appeared to whisper in the rustling leaves.
Murphy’s right and I’m stuck here with this stupid car. That’s the problem with taking short cuts. And now my mobile phone’s battery has gone flat. What more can go wrong?
If Angeline had not said it was an emergency, he would have gone to the karaoke with his drinking kakis. Angel. She was not the same girl he married anymore. She had become such a nagging bitch.
He did not have to walk long before he saw a house across a small lalang field.
Great. He would borrow the telephone to call for a taxi and get home as soon as possible. He needed a shower badly. His Mini could wait till tomorrow.
The five-minute walk across seemed like eternity. When he reached the house, he couldn’t help but noticed that weeds had smothered the doorstep and a corner of the roof had caved in.
Nevertheless, he ventured forth. There was something weird and grisly about the dead silence that reigned under the smiling moon.
He inched towards the door and knocked.
“Hello, anybody home? My car broke down and I need to use the telephone.”
A faint wind moaned and he feared he might have wakened the spirits of the dead. The door opened marginally and a vague figure appeared through the gloom, swinging an old-fashioned lantern that freckled the ground with innumerable little spangles of light.
The dim light failed to reveal the facial features of the occupant. Taken aback, the man was lost for words momentarily.
“Come in.” The voice was unusually sharp but passionless.
A woman, the man thought as he entered softly, with quickened pulses and ears alert to catch the slightest sound. There was a strong but familiar stench within, as if something was rotting.
“Sorry about the smell,” she apologised. “No one lives here actually. The owner has migrated and I’m taking care of this place till it’s sold. The water supply and telephone lines have been cut, so I’m afraid…”
“It’s okay,” the man said. “Thanks anyway, I’ll go elsewhere.”
“Not now. I am not done with you yet. The sacrifice has just begun.”
The mysterious woman cackled as she lit the candles on the dining table. The light finally unveiled a face that the man had never seen before. Her face was bald – the nose, eyes, eyebrows and mouth were all gone! All the facial features of an ordinary human being were not on the face of this… this creature.
No, this could not be possible. It must be a hallucination!
He strained his eyes and gazed hard at the face again. There was nothing on it – absolutely nothing!
Terrified, the man instantly summoned up hidden reserves of strength and bolted with such speed that even Forest Gump would have been proud of him.
Safe at last.
“You said it was as bald as an egg,” the ah chek tried to conceal his amusement. “Poached or hardboiled?”
The man was pissed by his sense of humour. It was an obvious insult to his intelligence. He shouldn’t have blurted out his story but he was desperate to share his macabre encounter.
“Are you sure the face is as bald as an egg?”
“What? You think I’m lying?” he shouted in exasperation.
He didn’t know why, but a sudden chill ran through his spine.
A mischievous snigger. A sinister laugh. A deafening cackle.
The car was brought to a halt as the driver turned around, pointed to his face and questioned menacingly, “What about mine? Is it as bald as the other one you saw?”
The man paled. The driver had nothing on his face – totally devoid of facial features!
This is the end of the news in brief. The next…
The driver switched off the radio and reached out his hands.
“Yes, this is the end. I have waited long for the sacrifice.”
At once, the prey struggled to get out of the taxi but the door simply would not bulge. The predator drew closer and closer to him and his last ounce of strength drained off. Something sharp plunged into his throat, sucking his blood viciously. In the rear view mirror, the man noticed that his facial features were gradually fading away.
An eerie scream pierced through the nocturnal silence. Gulp, gulp, gulp. It was flesh and blood only a moment ago.
The night restored its tranquillity with only a faint moon sighing through the branches of the trees. It was another field day for the worms.
Just like any other Friday night.