This is Part 1 of a piece of flash fiction about a missing friend and the narrator’s obsessive quest to find her. This first section is about 400 words and has a reading time of 1.5 minutes. Let me know what you think and stay tuned!
It all started about three months ago. We sat at our favorite bar in South Philly; it was a Friday night after a long workweek. Alan bought a round of drinks, and I noticed Ida hadn’t shown up yet.
“Where’s Ida?” I asked, over the loud music. “She’s usually the first one here. And she told me she’d meet me and walk over with me.”
Alan and the rest of my friends stared at me strangely. They looked at each other, then back at me like I was some kind of freak.
“Who the hell is Ida?” Alan asked, laughing. “Are you okay, dude?”
“Who’s Ida? What do you mean?”
Alan laughed again. “Are you taking psychedelics again? We don’t know anyone named Ida. Right?”
Simon and Bianca shook their heads. They weren’t laughing, though. Instead, they took a sip of their beers and gave each other suspicious glances.
It was the dead of winter and very cold out. The bar was uncomfortably warm, probably trying to overcompensate. I felt myself sweating, and I rubbed my forehead. I was feeling freaked out. Ida had been in our group of friends for at least three years; we all worked together at the newspaper, and we went out for drinks frequently. The fact that they pretended to not even know her was making me paranoid. What the hell was going on?
“Look, I don’t know what’s happening here,” I said. “But I gotta go. I’m going to call Ida and see if she’s okay. If you guys are playing some kind of practical joke on me, it’s not funny. You know crime in the city is bad right now. She could be in trouble, and I’m going to find out.”
Alan kept laughing, but Simon and Bianca looked disturbed. I left the bar and stepped back out into the cold night, and called Ida. An operator’s voice came on and said the phone number was out of service. So, I checked my text messages, but all of the ones from Ida were gone. What the fuck? I thought.
Later that night, I did some digging. I’m a journalist, so it was natural to me. I couldn’t find a trace of Ida online. All her social media profiles were gone; there was no record of her in Google searches. Even the stories she’d written for our newspaper were mysteriously gone. It was like she was a ghost, someone who’d never existed.
To Be Continued
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