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Missing Persons - Flash Fiction - Dec 2023


Flash Fiction First Friday is an effort to publish something small and fun on the First Friday of every month. The goal is simply to write more and to share more, and not get completely bogged down in huge projects. These pieces can spawn from writing exercises, prompts, or just freewriting. I'd love to see your flash fictions pieces if you participate, too! Either use the tag #flashfictionfirstfriday or comment below with a link to your blog. 

 

Missing Persons

Skyscrapers loomed up on either side of us, casting the street in shadow, but the shade did nothing to alleviate the heat radiating up from the baked concrete under our feet. 

Ludo picked her paws up two at a time and whined. 

“Come on,” I said, “Let’s get you inside.” 

Ahead, an intersection was crowned with traffic signal jewels—their glow distorted with heat shimmers. The intersection itself was an eight-laned monstrosity, as big as a parking lot. And completely empty. The lights above continued their regular rotation between red, green, and amber for no one. The sidewalks were similarly abandoned. 

Everything was still, and silent, and hot. 

I led Ludo closer to one of the skyscrapers. It took up an entire city block. The dark granite façade had absorbed the rays of the sun throughout the day and was now dispersing them back like a monumental pizza stone. Even though it was now dipping toward dusk, the temperature on the ground was still rising. The streets were bathed with orange as the sunset bounced off of all the glass structures, refracting a thousand times before finally reaching the end of its path in the concrete. 

When we got to the shiny glass door, I half expected it to not react. To stay just as still and silent as the street. But they dutifully whirred open, triggered by our movement. An arctic blast of air conditioning rushed out through the doors. 

We stepped through into the lobby of an office building, all shiny surfaces and right angles. The front desk was abandoned. The modern, square sofas were barren. Magazines were stacked neatly on glass coffee tables, waiting for no one. There was an enormous LED board near the elevators, like a departure screen at an airport, that was displaying all the different offices on the floors above. Attorneys, accountants, insurance agents and financial advisors—none of them would answer the buzzer from the front desk. 

Ludo jumped up onto one of the sofas and licked her singed paws. Out of habit, I almost told her to get down before realizing it didn’t matter. Instead, I made my way over to the watercooler and its miniscule paper cups. I filled up one for me and one for Ludo. My steps echoed across the cavernous lobby. 

I crouched down in front of the dog and she drank the water from the cup in two or three laps. There was plenty more in the tank above the tap. Still chilled, even. We could fill up later. How many times would I have to refill this tiny cup to satisfy Ludo? Would anyone stop me? Maybe one of the offices upstairs had belonged to a dog owner and there would be a bowl for when they brought their pet into work. Maybe there would be a break room, stocked with sodas and packed lunches. I eyed the long list of office suites and the twenty-some floors I would have to search to find out. Would their doors be unlocked? And was I really thinking about raiding people’s offices for supplies already? 

I’d given up on the idea of this being a dream after the first day. But still, maybe something would happen to explain this. Maybe things would go back to normal just as suddenly as they’d changed. Did I really want to stoop to theft? 

Ludo whined. If everything did suddenly pop back, no one would begrudge me feeding my dog. Instead of getting up, I sat on the floor in front of Ludo, scratching her ears idly and staring off into the middle distance. 

“But... where are all the people?” I said to no one. 


 

Copyright KR Holton, 2024


About Flash Fiction First Friday

Originally posted here.

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