I don’t know what happened to my friend John, but by now I fear for the worst. There’s been no word from him for more than a week.
I hang out with him and the rest of my friends almost every week. We are your typical group of younger people in their early to mid-twenties. Some are students; some are part of the workforce, it doesn’t really matter.
Last week we threw a party. It wasn’t Halloween, Carnival, or any other occasion, but we still decided on a costume party. Either wear a costume, or you aren’t getting in. The place we decided on was my friend Thomas’ place. He was well off and could afford to rent a spacious studio apartment, unlike the rest of our group.
I decided to dress up as a post-apocalyptic soldier, trying to be a raider from Fallout. In reality, it must’ve looked more like one of the weird homoerotic costumes from the Mad Max movies.
When I arrived at the party, a couple of people were already there. My friends Tom and Marie, and three other people I didn’t know. I said hello to everyone and went to greet Thomas, who eyed my costume suspiciously for a moment. He said he’d invited a couple more people. I shrugged, the more, the merrier.
While some people showed up in typical costumes, like zombies and nurses, others showed up in the weirdest outfits. There were two guys dressed up as an oversized bottle of beer and an oversized pack of cigarettes, calling themselves Beer and Smokes. One girl was a huge beach ball, and another guy showed up in a full-body dog costume.
As the evening progressed, I got drunk pretty quickly. I got to know some of the new people, took part in a ridiculous guessing game, and won a drinking contest against Beer himself. It was great, and everyone had a blast.
After midnight a couple of the students suggested that we’d go to a cheap dance club near campus. I had been to the place a couple of times before. It meant shitty mainstream music, cheap drinks, and more drunk people. I was so in.
It took some time to ask around, but in the end, a whole dozen of us decided to go. There was me, Tom, Marie, John, Beer and Smokes, the two students who’d suggested going, three of Thomas’ friends and finally the guy in the dog costume.
A couple of beers to go, a funny, yet uneventful subway raid, and we soon had only ten more minutes by foot until we’d reach the club.
On our way, John said he’d to take a leak and asked if anyone else had to as well. No one was answering, but as John walked off the guy in the dog costume joined him. The two vanished behind a corner to find some bushes.
It shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes, so we decided to get in line already.
The club was only a couple blocks away, so I sent John a quick message on WhatsApp to come find us. Call me an asshole, but I was pretty drunk, and he’s old enough to find his way.
The rest of the night was a blur.
We went in, got shots, then beer, then more shots, then it’s all a blank.
I woke up the next day with a splitting headache and the world spinning around me. By the time I was able to get up and function as a normal human being again, it was already early evening.
My phone informed me that I’d gotten quite a few messages, but most were nonsense or pictures of last night.
One Facebook things were different. I’d gotten a message from Alison, John’s girlfriend. We weren’t exactly close, so I was a little surprised. She asked what had happened last night and if I knew where John was. The last time she’d seen him was yesterday evening before he went out.
I sighed, freaking overprotective girlfriend. Wasn’t John with us at the club and we went home together? I tried to remember, but I had no idea what had happened.
I told her what I recalled. We had a party, went to a club and that I had no idea where John went. She told me that she’d already asked Tom and Marie, but the two couldn’t tell her anything either.
I thought about it for a bit. I honestly didn’t know if John was at the club with us. Then I remembered that he’d gone for a leak with that dog guy. Must’ve been one of Thomas’ friends, I concluded.
I sent him a quick message, and he told me he’d no idea who the guy was and that he arrived with Beer and Smokes.
Finding the two of them was easy. They were already tagged in the pictures on Facebook. The one who replied was Beer.
‘Hey, who was the guy that came with you to the party last night?’ I asked via messenger.
‘You talking about Smokes?’
‘No, the guy in the dog costume.’
‘Dog costume? Who are you talking about? Wait, that guy? No clue, we’d met him on the way to Thomas’ party.’
Weird, I thought, but okay.
I rechecked WhatsApp. The last time John had been online was before midnight. We’d still been at Thomas’ place at that time. My message about us getting in line without him had been delivered but was still unread.
At that point, the whole situation started to feel a bit strange. I sent John another message asking him where he was and told him that Alison was worried. When I got no answer, I tried to call him, but it went straight to voicemail. Alright, his battery’s probably dead, I reasoned, or he’d lost his phone somewhere.
Still, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was wrong, and so I asked around on Facebook. First I contacted my friends, then the other people who were at our party. No one could tell me anything about dog guy. Everyone remembered him, but no one had the slightest clue who he was. For all I knew, he’d been a complete stranger that showed up at our party.
Thinking about it now, I don’t know if I ever saw him drinking or interacting with anyone. He was always a quiet bystander, just standing somewhere, merely watching.
I felt a cold shiver running down my spine as I looked at the pictures he was in.
“Who the hell are you?”
When John went to take a leak dog guy had followed him. No one thought anything about it at the time. Yet, no one remembered seeing neither John nor dog guy afterward. This person, this stranger, was the last one my friend had interacted with. Worst of all, the damned costume made it utterly impossible to figure out who he was.
By now, there are only two questions:
Who the hell was at our party last week, and what did he do to my friend?