THE JEEPNEY was almost empty. I was dead tired and eager to arrive home.

The journey was quiet. Nothing was out of the ordinary, yet I felt bothered when I sensed two heavy eyes staring at me. They were from a man sitting on the other side.

My mother has always reminded me to remain vigilant of my surroundings. Her reminder echoed inside my head as I observed the man. His stance was alarmingly suspicious as if he was hiding something, but what really made my spine crawl was his blood-curdling, leering, icy stare. My instincts screamed at me to jump off the rattling jeepney, but I froze, frightened by his presence. I tried brushing it off. I convinced myself that there was nothing to worry about.

For a split second, I blinked and then he vanished.

A small scream tried to escape from my throat, but I felt something restricting me from doing so. Without any warning, a blade suddenly poked my side. I looked at my perpetrator in fear. He whispered three simple words. What he wanted was a small device that costs less than a life but held mine hostage.

I gave it to him unwillingly and felt a sharp pain course through my abdomen, making me topple off of the vehicle.

As I bled on the cold pavement, the last things I saw were two bloodshot eyes and a sinister smile before everything turned into black. F MARIA PAMELA S. REYES

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