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Read "Difficult Training," our Flash Fiction Contest Grand Prize Winner (14-18 age group)!

In May, we challenged you to submit a 300 word flash fiction story containing the words spider, rainbow, and cake. From over 1,100 stupendous entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and three Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did! (For more excerpts, check out this forum thread.)

"Difficult Training" by Jacqueline C. - Grand Prize Winner (14-18 age group)

Charlie Hargreeves was a spider. That’s what the cops called the most powerful man in the city’s web of criminals. He masterminded bank heists, blackmail, and more. He was the best con man of all the scum of the city.

And now he was sitting casually in a café with an undercover cop.

John needed more information on Hargreeves’ activities. He had communicated with Hargreeves for weeks already. Today, the spider finally agreed to meet with him face-to-face.

“What brings you here, Sammy?” Hargreeves asked. John was supposed to be Sammy, a young lowly pickpocket.

“I want to be your pupil. I want to improve my skills.” John answered, watching Hargreeves’ brow furrow.

“Hmm,” Hargreeves huffed without a trace of emotion, “becoming a top thief requires very difficult training. You may be so focused on the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that you forget you’ll need to battle a storm to get there.”

“I’ll fight as many storms as I need to! Train me to succeed like you, sir.”

Hargreeves remained deafeningly silent, searching John’s eyes for their intent. John didn’t even dare breathe.

“Alright, Sammy.” Hargreeves finally declared. “I’ll be your mentor. Time to celebrate!”

To John’s surprise, Hargreeves ordered two slices of cake. They ate in relaxed silence.

“Pity,” muttered Hargreeves after John finished, “I should’ve taught you the first lesson of your training sooner.”

“Pardon?” John asked.

“Your first lesson,” Hargreeves chuckled, “is to hide your recording device better. I see the lump in your shirt pocket.”

John’s mouth turned dry, his skin immediately prickling with alarm. He was compromised!

His face began to burn. Then his throat. Then everywhere…

“Oh, and here’s another lesson for your training today,” Hargreeves grinned as John crumpled. “Always check for poison before eating your cake.” 

Special guest judge Amy Spalding said this about "Difficult Training": "I loved how this story managed deliberate pacing in such a short amount of time. The twist of the ending delighted me."

author photo

Jackie C. is a rising high school junior who loves to doodle or attempt to bake new recipes in her spare time. However, her number-one favorite way of spending free time is with a good book in her hands. Her favorite genres are spy fiction and techno-thriller. She also enjoys studying Latin and Ancient Greek and exploring stories of mythology from ancient civilizations. Jackie hopes to publish her written work in the future. A fun fact is that she has always loved graphic novels as much as regular novels, and she dreams of creating and publishing both kinds someday! 

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