First, a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who entered the contest! Guest judge Mariella Taylor and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the entries. I highly encourage you all to enter again during the third contest.
Now, without further ado…*drumroll*
Congratulations to Abigail McKenna for winning The Unicorn Writer’s Second Flash Fiction Contest!
Abigail McKenna has been dreaming about magic since she was small, so now she weaves it into stories that are full of hope and the love of life. She can usually be found rereading an old favorite book, watching a mystery show, or dreaming about how to get her characters out of predicaments she put them in.
Read Abigail’s winning story below!
“Well, well, what have we here? Sam Cartwright and James Prothero. Two of my least favorite people in the world.” Xavier Johanson’s khaki suit was somehow spotless despite being in a musty jungle grotto, surrounded by moss-covered rock formations.
“Really? That’s the best you can come up with?” Sam brushed her toes against the ground to twist her body around to face him. “And just when I thought we were getting to be real frenemies.” Her shoulders ached from the chains holding her hands over her head. His goons had chained them to a small arch of rock that stretched over the area, hanging just enough off the ground to be uncomfortable.
“Sam, shut up.” James growled through clenched teeth, his own chains rattling as he copied her movement. The humidity made his glasses slide down his dark brown nose a smidge. “I told you to let me do the talking.”
“Yeah, and that’s going so well for us so far.” She retorted, allowing herself a little smile when he rolled his eyes. Her mind was making a list of everything she could see: four guards, five guns, one black bird minding his business over there, and one pompous blowhard. More soldiers with more guns outside, probably. They’d been in worse scrapes than this.
“Hello?” Xavier waved his gun at them both, eyebrows raised. “Over here, my turn now.”
“Oh, yeah, sorry,” Sam bobbed her head. “Please, go on.”
“As I was saying,” Xavier started pacing. “I’ve spent my entire life searching for the Coronado Emerald, and you idiots find it in two weeks?” His eyes narrowed. “Forgive me if I find that hard to believe.”
“Believe it.” Sam tossed her head, cringing inwardly as her dirty brown hair escaped her bun and brushed her shoulder. She needed a good long shower after this. “We didn’t even need all your goons and technology. Just good old-fashioned puzzle solving skills.”
“And the ability to read a map,” James muttered.
“And the ability to read a map!” Sam echoed with more confidence than she felt. “Which, I admit, was mostly Prothero.”
“Thank you so much, I appreciate the compliment.” James said in a dead-pan voice.
“I don’t care how you did it, I just need to know where it is.” Xavier leveled his gun on Sam and glared at James.
“Tell me or I kill her.” “Please, be my guest. You’d be doing me a favor.”
“Wow.” Sam twisted to look at him. “We’ve been working together for years now and you do me like that? I was going to make you a friendship bracelet.”
James sighed, rolled his eyes again, and said, “We moved it to a new section of the labyrinth. I took notes, they’re on my phone.”
Xavier nodded at one of the goons who bent down and started rummaging through James’ bag.
“You know what I think your problem is, Johanson?” Sam asked, her eyes on his gun.
He sighed. “No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
“You don’t inspire confidence.” She swung herself around to face the guard on her right. “Do you feel you’re being fairly compensated for your work here?”
He blinked, and Xavier scoffed. “Are you trying to unionize my staff right now?”
“No, no, just saying. If you fairly compensate your workers, it inspires brand loyalty.” She did the best she could to shrug with her arms above her head. “That’s your biggest problem, man, you don’t have brand loyalty. You think these guys are willing to die for you?”
The guards all shifted uncomfortably before the one closest to her said, “I gotta new baby at home.” They all turned to stare at him.
“Do you really?” Sam asked, and the way his face softened as he nodded made her smile. “That’s amazing, congrats, man!”
“Thanks. Baby girl. Sophia.”
“That is a beautiful name, I like it.”
“Wait, wait,” Xavier put his hands on his hips, “You didn’t tell me you had a baby!”
“I filed with PR for paternity leave months ago but they said you specifically requested me for this. Did you?”
Xavier had the grace to turn a little red. “Well, I-”
“See, that is exactly my point, Johanson, you don’t even know when your guys have new babies to take care of.” Sam shook her head with a tutting sound.
The guard seemed a little hurt. “Do you even know my name?”
“Do I…? Of course I know your name! It’s… uh…”
“Here’s the phone!” The second guard jumped in, pulling it out of James’ bag and tapping the screen.
Xavier focused his attention on the phone, his lips in a thin line.
Sam looked at James, who raised an eyebrow and mouthed, “Now?” She shook her head. Not yet.
“All that’s on here is music files, boss.”
“What? Give me that.” Xavier holstered his weapon and glared at the screen, then glanced at James.
“‘Best of the Bee Gees’? Really?” Sam stared at her companion. “What are you, seventy?”
“Excuse me for preferring disco to your yammering.”
“Maybe the sound files are actually his notes, boss,” one of the goons in the back offered. Xavier tapped the screen again and a tinny rendition of “Stayin’Alive” came through the phone’s speaker.
Sam caught James’ eye. “Sounds like they’re playing our song.”
He took a deep breath and said quietly, “This is gonna suck.”
Sam twisted around to face the guard closer to her as James did the same. “Sorry in advance, man; this isn’t personal.” She kicked, and the guard’s nose crunched in time with the disco beat. If they were going to die, at least the soundtrack was epic.
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