My stomach grumbled for the fifth time that day. I had decided to accompany my friend to her grandmother’s hometown in the province. We had decided to rent a car, seeing that she already has her license and because we thought that taking the public transportation would take us longer to get there. But now in this road that’s littered with potholes added by the fact that my friend is constantly getting lost, renting a car didn’t seem like a good idea.
“Isn’t there any place we can stop by to eat around here? We have been driving for two hours and I’m already hungry.” I spoke to her as I switched off my Mp3 player.
“I don’t know, I can’t seem to recognize any of the stores here anymore.” She glanced back at the map, frantically searching for a place to stop by.
We drove for a couple more minutes until we reached a path lined with trees on the side. It was pretty spacious and there were two or more cars that were currently traversing it. A few more meters of driving, my friend pointed to an infrastructure near the left side of the road.
“There! That looks like a restaurant.” She mentioned as she read the sign of the place. It said: “Wild Side Eatery”.
We pulled over in the parking lot and got out. We saw that there were a bunch of cars; most of them looked like they were vintage ones.
“Oh no! The place might be full!” my friend exclaimed.
When we entered the restaurant, we were surprised to see that there weren’t a lot of customers. Out of the thirty tables, only two or three of them had people that were eating quietly. We thought about this oddity until we sat down on one of the tables.
“Good morning! Welcome to the Wild Side! May I take your order?” An energetic waitress approached us and handed us menus. We were in the middle of choosing our orders when she spoke up again.
“Our specialty is stew. Would you like to try it?” She recommended the store’s specialty to us. We agreed.
As we were waiting for our order, we surveyed the place. It had a Spanish feel to it with its curtains and ceiling setup. The tables and chairs were not made of plastic but of real wood which was polished with a shine.
After a few minutes, a waiter appeared, carrying our orders. As soon as the food was served, we immediately dug in.
“This is delicious!” my friend exclaimed in delight as she helped herself to more rice and stew. On the other hand, although the food was great, I wasn’t eating too much so I won’t throw up on the long ride.
“Do you think we can get the recipe?” my friend asked me. Before I can even reply, she immediately called over the waitress who welcomed us and asked.
“The secret is in the ingredients,” The waitress answered with a weird smile on her face.
“Must be some kind of herb…” I glanced over my watch and saw that it was already 5:00 PM. “We should leave now. I don’t want to drive in the dark, is it still far?”
My friend took out the map again. “No. It’s just two towns away.”
After paying the bill, which the waitress took a long time in fetching, we left the establishment. I glanced back at the cars in the parking lot but was in too much hurry to dwell on them.
We reached their house at nightfall and we were greeted by her aunt and grandmother.
“What happened? We were expecting you before lunch, did you get lost?” Her grandmother asked us.
“A bit but we just stopped by this restaurant and ate for a while. Guess we took our time.” I explained.
“Where?” Her aunt asked us.
“Near the highway, two towns back.” My friend answered.
“There are no restaurants in that area. Is it newly built?”
“I don’t think so.” I described the restaurant interiors. I also mentioned the cars in the parking lot.
Her aunt and grandma exchanged worried glances and ushered us to sit down. There, her aunt explained that establishment to us.
“In the span of two years, several people went missing in this particular locale.” She started.
“Most of them were tourists from Manila, who didn’t know the route around here. According to a witness, these tourists were lured to stop in a restaurant near the highway. They stopped by but a few of them left before dark. Days passed but still none of their companions made it out. They tried looking for the restaurant again but to no avail.” Her aunt looked out the window. The sun had set and the glow of the moon cast weird shadows across the streets.
“Those who failed to leave before nightfall never leave at all.”
“Haven’t the police come up with anything?” my friend asked.
“No. No one who managed to leave that place has found it again, so they can’t pinpoint its exact location.”
“What happens to the customers?” I asked, expecting the worst.
“It is said that the customers are killed and used as an ingredient for their dishes, which are rumored to be very delicious.”