This is the third and final part of a piece of flash fiction about a missing friend and the narrator’s obsessive quest to find her. This final section is about 600 words and has a reading time of 2.5 minutes. Let me know what you think and thanks for reading!
It was late April, and spring was in full bloom. Pandemic restrictions in the city had loosened, and I’d begun to forget about Ida. Work was still busy, and Alan and the others seemed happy I didn’t bring her up anymore. Still, she floated in the back of my mind. It was such a weird thing, like some kind of waking dream where a person I knew and worked with could just vanish like that.
It all came back with a vengeance after work one Tuesday night. I’d finished my story and made it back home when I saw a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. It simply read, “Help me.” When I asked who it was and the person responded with “Ida,” I nearly dropped my phone.
Ida, or the person claiming to be Ida, said she was in dire straits and needed help right away. She gave me an address and told me to come quickly. The address was on the outskirts of the city in an industrial park. I felt weird about it, but I drove over right away. Clouds covered the night sky, and a light drizzle fell on an unusually cold spring night. The industrial park was deserted, scattered with abandoned buildings. Every sound I heard was like a threat; I felt incredibly jumpy. I identified the building from the address and walked quickly over to it. The door had a master lock and chain that had been broken, and there was faint light on inside.
“Ida?” I called, the sound echoing.
I walked around the empty building repeating this for a while. Then, I found her. She was in the corner of a room upstairs, wearing dirty clothes and looking distraught and pale. Her typically full-bodied hair was like straw, and she was thinner than I’d ever seen her. She looked up at me, spaced out.
“What happened? What’s going on?” I asked.
“I … lost my way,” she said, meekly.
“What do you mean?”
“I got mixed up with something, something bad.”
I picked her up and held her. She was cold and shaking. “Come on, let’s go. It’s freezing out, and you’re wearing barely anything.”
“No, I can’t. He’ll know.”
“Who? Who will know?”
“I can’t say just yet.”
I looked around the empty building, the fear gripping me. She must have been abducted, I thought. This is some nasty shit. There’s probably some lunatic keeping her here as a sex slave. He could come back at any moment and kill both of us.
“All right, I’m going to call the police …” I began to say. But when I turned back around, Ida was gone. How did that happen? Where did she go? I called out her name and got no response. I checked my phone, and her messages were gone, too. I began to panic, took several deep breaths.
I called the police and told them what had happened. They showed up quickly but looked suspiciously at me. They, like everyone else, said Ida had never existed. They told me they would question me later but first took me to a psychiatric ward. I got involuntarily committed, and that’s where I am now.
I refuse to believe Ida never existed. And if I continue to insist that she did, they’re going to keep me in this place. It’s the price I have to pay. I will find her one day and unravel this whole thing. I’ve lost my job because of this, but it doesn’t matter. The truth about this situation is out there somewhere. And I don’t care what anyone says, I won’t forget about Ida.