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I am a shop assistant, and it is a tiring job. Everyday, I have to start work at twelve p.m and can only leave at ten p.m, after I have closed the shop. My boss would have gone by then.

The bus journey home would be long and I would alight along the main road outside my kampong. There was no bus service serving inside the kampong, and so I had to walk in. The road to my house was mainly deserted. Most houses I passed would be dark as everyone was asleep by then. With the moon as my only companion, my walk home was a lonely one.

My wife would stay up to wait for me every night. By the time I reached home, dinner would be heated up and ready for me to eat. Since we could not spend time together during the day, she would keep me accompany while I ate my dinner, telling me about the day's happenings. My two kids, however, would be asleep because they had to go to school early the next morning.

My wife was a religious woman. She would pray five times a day, and regularly attended the religious classes at the Islamic school. She did not like me to work late and would be worried for me. Every night, she would advise me against coming home so late at nights.

'I am lonely in the evening. Pleases don't work so late. The children never see you these days,' my wife would say.

'But I see the children on weekends. We have enough time together. It's more fun this way.'

'Yes, I know, but I am really worried when you have to come back so late. You have to walk all the way in. It's so late, you might run into unclean things.' She wuld persist.

'I have come back late so many times. Nothing has happened, right?'

'Yes, but...'

'Don't worry, I will be fine. Anyway, for the same hours of work, I get more pay and I can get the children more things for them and also for you.' Brushing it off as mere superstitions, I would be deaf to my wife's advice. However, a wife's worries would never end, she would give me the same lecture every night.

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Something happened to change my mind forever. As usual, I worked late that fateful day. It was a particularly day at work. My boss had decided to hold a sale and wave after wave of clients flooded the shop. Being worked off my feet, I was near collapsed when I alighted at the bus stop outside my kampong.

Waling into the dim, deserted road, I was only too aware of my aching bones. A storm was building overhead, blocking out the moon and made the road look dark. Dimly, I realised that the night was exceptionally quiet. The crickets were silent that night. The only sounds heard on the road were the sound of my own footsteps.

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'Help me...'

I was almost home, dreaming of my lovely wife at home waiting together with a nice hot meal. I did not notice the female voice at first.

'Help me, please...' I heard it this time.

A woman in distress.

Just as I was about to turn and look for the voice, my wife's advice came to mind. SHe had warned me never to turn back if I hear someone calling out in the middle of the night. When I asked her why, she never explained it to me.

'Please don't go. Help me...' The woman's voice sounded pitiful.

'I should see whether if I can help.' I thought to myself. 'I can't leave a helpless girl out here like this, especially at this time of the night.'

Turning, I looked around for the voice. Sure enough, some distance away, a woman was standing in the middle of the road. Standing under a tree, her face was in the shadows and I could not make out her features. However, she was holding onto her stomach. Her body was slightly doubled over, as if in pain.

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'Help me, please....' Anohter heart-wrenching cry emitted from her.

'Are you all right? Do you need any help?' I walked towards her quickly.

The cries got louder.

'Can I help you, are you hurt?

When I almost reached her, her hands were clutched around her stomach, and she was doubled over. Thinking that she was about to fall, I reached out my arms to steady her. As I got closer, she looked up at me and put out her hands as if to trying to grab my hands.

Mesmerised, I stared at her face. She was beautiful. Her large almond eyes, glistening with tears, called out to my heart. She had been sobbing. There was so much pain in her eyes, beseeching me to take her hands and comfort her.

However, as I looked down at her stomach to see whether she was alright, what I saw stopped me in my tracks. Her white dress was ripped at her stomach, and some dark liquid were oozing from a dark hole in her abdomen. The poor lady had been stabbed!

When I looked at her face again, I saw her smiling at me. Her hands had started to tear at the wound in her abdomen. Holding on to her intestines, she yanked them out one by one. Soon, the intestines were dangling from her stomach, some even touching the ground. To my horror, she picked up a bloody bundle with her hand, and brought it to her mouth.

Stunned, I did not know what to do. I was totally repulsed but all I could do was to stare at the nightmare unfolding before me.

The woman grabbed my outreached hands. With an unbelievable strength, she pulled me to her. As I stood close to her, she pressed against me, staining my clothes with her blood. She smiled and raised the intestine to my mouth.

'Please, help me...' She said in a soft womanly voice, as she held out the intestine to me. I could smell the rancid blood and I gagged, the bile rising in my throat. As if she knew what I was experiencing, she smiled gleefully. 'Please, help me....'

Unable to bear it anymore, I threw up in her face. Pushing her away with all my might, I managed to break free. I ran all the way home without looking back. Behind me, I could hear a shrill sinister laughter, tearing through the silence of the night.

When I reached home, my wife was already in the doorway waiting for me. Looking at my pale face and my bloodstained clothes, she was shocked when she saw me. She let me in and immediately closed the door, bolting it tight.

'Get me a drink.' I said. Heaving heavily, i was trying hard to catch my breath. I drank what she gave me and calmed myself down. IT was sometime later that I could relate the whole incident to her.

'Please do not work till so late at night,' she pleaded with me.

I understood her worry now, and I agreed to her plead. From that night onwards, I never came back late at night. My boss had changed my working time. Never will I think of replying to distress calls in the middle of the night. Now that I am on the early shift, I do not have to worry.lamb.gif (1984 bytes)