“Good job finishing that drug lord last week,” the hoarse voice crackled over the unstable phone line. “The rest of the bounty will be in your account by the end of the day, as agreed. Stay low. We will be in touch with you for your next job.” A low, derisive smirk preceded the admonition. “And don’t fuck around, we don’t need any complications.”

“I won’t,” Angelo said before hanging up and hopping onto his Yamaha YZF-R15. He revved the engine and raced through the busy roads of Manila, his libido rising by the minute. The sun blazed on his helmet as he navigated his way.

Soon, Angelo reached his destination: a shady building tucked away in a dark corner. He had no plans to fuck around, but he did plan on fucking. It had been too long since he visited his favorite brothel.

Being a hitman in a Filipino death squad, extreme stress levels were part of his life, and he heavily depended on booze and hookers to blow off steam. The word on the streets of the red-light district was that he was a ruthless monster in bed, just like in life.

Angelo glanced at himself in the rear-view mirror: brown skin, jet-black hair, bloodshot eyes, a scar above his left eyebrow; he looked as menacing as usual. He flexed his biceps and jumped down from his motorcycle.


The smell of hashish and perfume hung in the air of the brothel’s lobby.

“Welcome once again, sweety.” The madame, Suzy, looked up with a teasing smile from behind the table. A cloud of smoke wafted from the cigarette tucked between her fingers. She straightened her skintight T-shirt, adjusted her pantyhose, and pushed back her bubblegum pink hair. “Who’s gonna be the lucky girl today?” Her raspy voice sounded like she inhaled smoke for years.

“Rose, as usual.” He crossed his arms.

“That’s not possible.” A voice came from behind him.

Angelo turned to find Tupay, a plump, bald man with a skull tattoo emblazoned on his hand. He ran the brothel, along with his gang.

“Rose left yesterday. I sent her off for my nephew’s week-long bachelor party.”

Angelo rubbed his nape. “Fuck!”

“Calm the fuck down, man.” Tupay patted him on the back.

“Wait, it’s not the end of the world, darling.” Suzy inched closer to him. She seductively bit her lip and ran a hand over his crotch. “You can have me. What’s your favorite position?”

“Fuck off!” He pushed her aside, slamming his fist on the wall.

Tupay gestured to Suzy. “Show him the others.”

“What the fuck is this?” Angelo furrowed his brows as Suzy placed an iPad on the table, her fingers sliding across the gallery featuring curvaceous women in various stages of undress. Their clothes left little to the imagination.

“Take your pick from our hotties.” Tupay flashed a sinister smile. “You’ll be spoiled for choice.”

“Rose was a real piece of ass. No one can—” Angelo was stopped short when Suzy slid her finger to reveal a petite, little girl in a black lace-up dress. Her face was a perfect blend of beauty and innocence.

Noticing him observing the girl, Tupay pointed to the photo. “I didn’t know you’re into little girls. She’s our latest catch; the name’s Ruby. A bit higher than the usual price range, but given her age, she’s totally fucking worth it.”

“How old is she?” Angelo ran his fingers through his hair.

“Ten.” Tupay winked and grimaced. “And you know what’s the best part?”

Angelo leaned in closer.

“She’s mute.” Tupay rubbed his palms together. “No matter what the fuck you do to her, she can’t utter a single word. How cool is that?”

Angelo pulled out a wad of cash from his jacket pocket and placed it on the table. “Fine, I’ll have her.”


Naysan was curled in a fetal position on the bed, staring at the ceiling. Despite being just two weeks since she was brought to the brothel, she already felt scarred for eternity. As the days passed by, every single one was a nightmare. The four walls contained her silent screams. Her pelvis was sore, her genitals were raw, and pain radiated down both legs. The dark circles around her eyes spoke of painful, sleepless nights.

If mamma were alive, I wouldn’t be here. She dragged her nails down her cheeks.

She was raised in a slum in Metro Manila by her single mother. Their life had been a never-ending struggle, trying to make ends meet while battling debts. A week after Naysan’s ninth birthday, her mother, diagnosed with a rare heart condition, began counting her days. Soon, she died, leaving her daughter behind. Unaware that her mother had borrowed money from a loan shark, Naysan soon learned the debt fell upon her when she was abducted and sold to a child trafficking racket for an enormous sum.

Thinking of her misery only added to her pain. Her eyes welled up.


Suzy sauntered across the corridor, her high heels click-clacking as Angelo followed. Aggressive moans and grunts from behind the nearby doors landed on their ears while they passed. She led him to the centermost room and unlocked it with a key.

Pushing it open, she stretched out her arms wide. “Voila! She’s all yours!”

Dressed in a blue tank-top and black skirt, Naysan was sitting on the bed, her legs up close to her body’s core. She immediately tucked a strand of hair behind her ear on seeing the duo. The ruby-red gloss on her lips and blush on her cheeks glistened in the light from the dim lamp on the bedside table. Next to the lamp was a pair of bondage handcuffs.

“Have a good fuck!” Suzy giggled. “In case you fancy a threesome, hit me up. I’ll be upstairs, in the corner room.” She winked and closed the door.

Angelo jumped on the bed with his leather shoes on, the mattress sinking deep into the wooden frame. Nonchalant about the trembling girl beside him, he reached into his jacket pocket and fumbled, searching for something.

It must be that plastic pouch. Naysan narrowed her eyes. On initially seeing the plastic pouches during her first week in the brothel, she mistook them for empty cups of flavored jelly. Soon, they became her worst nightmare.

Angelo pulled out a cigarette and flicked his lighter open, bringing the bright orange flame closer. Whenever he was about to do something adventurous, he would take a drag. The ritual continued this time, too.

The sight of a lit cigarette sent a chill down Naysan’s little spine. Oh, no! Not again! She steeled herself for the worst, her blood curdling with revulsion.

A week back, a high-paying “client” forced himself on top and spread her legs apart, sexually assaulting her like a wild animal set free, after which he’d satiated his sadomasochistic desire by stubbing a cigarette on her back.

Blowing a cloud of smoke, Angelo dug out his phone and dialed Suzy.

“I need a whip.”

“Ooh, rough stuff, huh? You kinky bastard!”

“None of your fucking business!”

“As you say, Your Highness. I’ll be there in—”

“I don’t like your face. Send Tupay instead.”

“Fuck you!”

“Only in your dreams, you bitch!” Long column of ash wobbling on the tip of his cigarette, Angelo pointed to the wall, imagining Suzy’s face in front of him. “Now, do what you’re told!”

He pocketed his phone and dropped the cigarette, squashing it on the floor with his shoe. Springing to his feet, he got ready for what he was about to do.

Naysan shut her eyes for a moment and visualized her dear mother’s face, recalling the times she fought through life, how she recited the Lord’s Prayer whenever they had a hard time.

As he walked closer, tremors ran through her. His hands grabbed the cuffs from the table.

Her face turned pale, her breath rasped. A silent, primal scream escaped her lips. Overcome by fear, she started reciting the prayer in her mind.

Our Father in heaven, holy be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done

His focus uninterrupted, Angelo grasped her slender hands and cuffed them to the headboard of the bed before slipping the key into his pocket. He tugged the handcuffs to check whether they were latched on properly.

A lump formed in Naysan’s throat and she felt the rising pain in her chest.

on Earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.

He bent to her eye level and held her chin. “Listen! As long as you play along, everything will go on smoothly. Stay where you are and don’t try to do anything stupid. Once I’m done, I’ll be on my way.”

She curled up on her knees. The sound of her heartbeat thrashed in her ears, and her eyes dilated.

Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.

His lips curving into a thin smile, Angelo stood and loosened his jeans as Naysan watched in horror.

“There’s something really big inside.” He slid his hand into his underwear.

Her nostrils flared, and the tendons stood out in her neck.

Do not bring us to the test
but deliver us from evil.

Just then, a knock landed on the door. “Your whip’s ready.”

With his right hand in his underwear, Angelo headed toward the door. He pulled out a gun and refastened his jeans.

Flinging the door open, he fired.

Tupay dropped dead on the floor. The blood from his forehead splattered on the wall behind him.

The gunshot set off alarm bells in the corridor. The atmosphere went berserk; half-naked men and women darted out their rooms, their ear-tearing screams hitting the walls.

Naysan dropped her jaw, incredulous at what was happening in front of her eyes. She gathered her energy and tried to move.

Angelo turned and yelled, “Stay the fuck right there!”

Closing the door behind him, he knelt near Tupay’s corpse and grabbed the whip out of his dead hands before shoving it into the back of his jeans. He then rummaged through the man’s pocket and fished out a gun.

Footsteps pounded the stairs, and Angelo felt a bead of sweat slide down his neck.

He had just enough time to stand up and clench both guns before the first thug appeared, gold knuckle dusters glinting. The guy crumpled after a bullet hit straight through his gut.

Another thug appeared right behind him. This idiot had a skull tattooed on his neck.

A shot whizzed past Angelo’s shoulder by a whisker. Wasting no time, Angelo took his aim and put a bullet to the thug’s forehead.

Within seconds, yet another thug raced up the stairs and came charging toward him.

Angelo’s pulse raced, and adrenaline rushed through his body. Cracking his neck from side to side, he pulled out the whip and lashed the thug.

He then wrapped it around his neck and pulled its edges with all his might, strangling him to death.

The sound alerted a thug, who came running from the floor above.

Angelo quickly ducked to avoid the incoming bullets and sprinted downstairs toward the lobby.

There was a huge commotion; the prostitutes were running away from the gunfire.

The thug raced down the stairs and pulled the trigger. But the bullet hit a prostitute who ran past him.

Realizing what happened, Angelo fired, and the thug fell to the floor with a thud.

“Oh, fuck!” He wiped the sweat off his forehead and headed upstairs.

On rushing back to the room, he found Suzy slamming the lamp against Naysan’s hands, trying to break the cuffs. The little girl winced in pain, tears streaming down her cheeks.

A bullet hit the ceiling.


Suzy froze and turned to find an enraged Angelo.

“Do you fucking know how much she’s worth?” Her trembling fingers pointed to Naysan. “If you leave us alone, I’ll pay you a cut of her earnings from now on.”

“Turn around!” Angelo commanded the little girl. “Close your eyes.”

Naysan did as she was told.

Angelo’s gaze shifted toward Suzy. He approached her and dragged her away from Naysan.

Pulling her closer, he dug his fingernails into her neck. “You wanted to know my favorite position, right?”

Suzy nodded, breaking into a cold sweat.

“This one!” He grabbed her hair and shoved her to the floor.

Despite her cries for mercy, his shoe landed on her face, squashing her nose. He clasped his hands together and cracked his knuckles.

“Pl-please…sp-spare me!” she begged; her voice muffled.

Muscles and veins strained against his skin. He slid his shoe to her neck, twisting it until Suzy gasped her last breath.

Angelo unzipped his bloodstained jacket and slung it over his shoulder. He uncuffed Naysan and lit yet another cigarette. Blowing plumes of smoke, he clutched her hand and walked out the door, trampling upon the many corpses along the way.

As they headed out, Angelo grabbed the helmet dangling from the handlebar of his motorcycle and hopped onto his seat. “Let’s go!”

Naysan got onto the pillion seat and hugged him.


“Okay, looks like you’re all set.” Angelo fetched his motorcycle keys, getting ready to exit the Mother Superior’s room. “I’m hitting the road.”

“Wait!” Mother Kristina tilted her head to the side, the rosary dangling from her neck. “Can I ask you something?”



“Why what?”

“Why did you rescue her?”

“I don’t know.”

“That does not answer my question.” She adjusted her veil. “I know there has got to be a reason.”

“I…” Angelo shrugged. “I really don’t know what happened. The moment I saw the girl’s photo, I could see my lost childhood in her face. I fell into a life of crime when I was young. My hands have done terrible things since then. If only someone would have cared to steer me away from the wrong path…”

He hung his head, fighting back tears. “I saw myself in her. She shouldn’t be on the dark side; those bastards can’t ruin her future. I wanted to rescue her, I wanted to rescue myself.”

Mother Kristina clasped his forearm. “You have worked a miracle today.”

“Oh, if only you knew what I did for that,” Angelo muttered to himself. He let go of her wrinkled hand and walked out.

“She’s all yours now.” He pointed to Naysan, who was seated amid a row of chairs outside the room.

Naysan still couldn’t comprehend the course of events that happened that day. Yet she was somewhat calm. Straining her eyes, she looked around and read the signboard nearby: St. Anne’s School for the Deaf and Mute.

Mother Kristina held her chin. “I’m Kristina. And you are?”

Naysan signed with her fingers, “N-A-Y-S-A-N.”

“Naysan. That’s a beautiful name.” Mother Kristina’s face lit up. “From now on, you’re going to be safe with us over here, and you’ll be making some friends, too. Would you like that?”

She slowly nodded, tears of joy filling her eyes.

“Time to say goodbye.” Angelo knelt and gave her a tight hug, caressing her hair. An affectionate peck landed on his cheek.

He got to his feet and proceeded to leave. Naysan signed, waving her hands in the air.

Noticing his clueless expression, Mother Kristina chuckled, “She’s saying you’re an angel.”

Angelo pursed his lips and smirked at the Mother. “Angels don’t save the day all the time. Sometimes the Devil does.”