Passenger From Hell

They say taxi drivers see more things than anyone else. More weird things, more crazy things. Well, that’s true. If you really want to know the truth about a city, ask a cabbie.

After 20 years behind the wheel of a cab, I thought I’d seen everything. Even those women who are desperate for men, the ones who offer you money to turn off the meter for a while and ask you for more than a ride home!

But there was this one night which even you, Russell Lee, will find hard to believe!

The rain was sheeting down, the wipers were slapping from side to side, and the tyres were slipping on the wet greasy road. I’d just dropped off an old lady in Opera Estate and I was dying to relieve myself – must have been the sight of so much water. I took a short-cut through the back streets, heading for an all-night petrol kiosk on Upper East Coast Road.

I found myself cruising along Woo Mon Chew Road, with rain lashing my cab, drumming so loud on the roof I couldn’t hear myself think. On a normal night, Woo Mon Chew is a nice little road, lined with neat expensive homes. But that night, with the rainstorm in full force, it had a dark menacing look. And I soon found out why…

From under the shadows of a giant tree, about half-way down, a man was hailing me. He must have been pretty frantic, his arms were waving like crazy. I started to apply the brakes, nice and easy, so I wouldn’t skid into a storm drain.

As the figure grew closer, I was startled. It looked so familiar. Like someone I’d known for years. The way the man was built, and the clothes he was wearing. I couldn’t see his face because of the tree, so I was wracking my brain to think who he was.

I looked again, through the swishing wipers. Hell! He was wearing my shirt, my trousers, same colours exactly. Even the way he stood was like the way I did. I thought I was seeing things!

The cab had drawn up beside him and he stepped out from under the tree. I gasped. It was me! It was my face! I was sitting in my own cab, watching myself walking towards me!

Then, suddenly, before I knew what was happening, his head blew off – just like that! I saw my own face, my own head, seperate itself from my own body and go rolling down the gutter.

But it didn’t stop him – oh, no, he just kept walking towards me, one hand reaching out for the door.

I screamed. I hit the accelerator and the cab leapt forward, skidding crazily, as I tore off down the street.

I looked into the rear-view mirror but the street was empty. It was only when I swerved madly into Upper East Coast Road that I realised I’d wet myself. But do you blame me?

When I reached the petrol kiosk, I lurched out towards the toilet.

There was more drama in store for me.

“Greg, you’re alive!” It was one of my best friends. Another cabbie ran up and grabbed me by the shoulders. His taxi was parked by the side of the kiosk.

I must have looked stunned. I just stood there, letting the rain beat down on me.

“Half an hour ago, on the taxi radio, I heard your voice shouting for help. You said you were being attacked by a passenger! Then a few minutes later, they found your cab, and you were inside it. Your head had been slashed off!”

I must have fainted.

When I woke up, there were about a dozen drivers and the police, all staring at me, wanting to know what had happened.

To this very day, I just can’t explain it. Yes, there’d been a mistake. It was another driver who had died. But, but what about that vision I’d seen – of myself without a head? How do you explain that?

Was it me who should have died that night?

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