It was a dark and stormy night when James was driving home from a late-night shift at work. The rain was coming down in sheets, and the visibility was barely more than a few feet ahead of him. James focused intently on the road and tried not to think about how tired he was feeling or the fact that his fuel tank was almost empty.
As he drove on, he noticed a figure in the distance, waving at him frantically. At first, he thought it was just a mirage brought on by the rain and darkness, but the figure became clearer as he got closer.
"Please, can you give me a ride?"
James hesitated for a moment. He was taught not to pick up hitchhikers, but something about this person's desperate pleas made him feel sympathetic.
"Sure, get in," he said to the hitchhiker. The figure jumped in, and James could immediately smell the stale scent of sweat and alcohol. He wondered if he had made a mistake in inviting a stranger into his car, but it was too late.
The hitchhiker sat in silence, which made James even more wary. He tried to make small talk, but all he got in response was one-word answers.
James was becoming more and more nervous, and the hitchhiker's silence was only making things worse. Suddenly, the hitchhiker spoke up:
"Can you turn the radio up?"
James did as he was asked, and that's when he realized that the hitchhiker had pulled a knife out of his pocket.
"Give me all your money," he said calmly.
James was frozen with fear. He didn't know what to do. The hitchhiker repeated his demand, and James reluctantly handed over his wallet. But that wasn't enough for the hitchhiker.
"I said all your money," the hitchhiker snarled.
James could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He didn't have any more money to give, and he was sure the hitchhiker was going to kill him.
But then, just as suddenly as he had pulled the knife out, the hitchhiker put it back in his pocket and leaned back in his seat.
"Thanks for the ride," he said with a grin as he climbed out of the car and vanished into the night.
James sat there for a moment, trying to process what had just happened. He felt grateful to be alive but also dumbfounded that he had been so easily taken advantage of.
As he continued on his way home, he made a promise to himself never to pick up another hitchhiker again. The lesson he learned that night was one he would never forget.