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One Shot · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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From Above
Thomas Church hated sunny days. He hated slathering on the sunblock like he was some sort of tourist staring slack jawed at garbage trinkets at a souvenir shop. He’d spent most of his life in Miami but, due to his Irish heritage if he didn’t take precautions he’d blister quickly. In his line of work there was no time for that and so the sunblock was a necessity.

There were other reason’s he hated sunny days that were obvious for his line of work. They made the tar roofs he tended to lay on unbearably hot and to top it all off the rays could give away his position. However, if he wanted to work he’d have to contend with sunny days, especially in South Florida.

So it was on this particularly sunny and humid day that Thomas found himself on top of the four story apartment building overlooking Juan’s Panadaria. He looked down at the bustling street below. The sea of local faces had lessened as the day wore on, most of who were at work or school. Yet for the past hour, in spite of the hustle and bustle a lone car sat silently in front of the bakery. It belonged to Alejandro McCool.

McCool was tan due to his Cuban mother and was a man defined by estimation. He was swarthy and most people guessed his weight was in the ballpark of four hundred pounds on a good day. His wealth was vast and approximated due to what it was he owned on the books and what it was he hid off the coast. It was rumored that when he was with a woman it had all of the appearance of a lion mauling a puppy. Suffice it to say nobody was exact about the man save for the fact that when he was around you knew it.

Thomas had eyed him through the window of the bakery as he chatted with a woman, named Liz who was darker than he was but a quarter of his size. He watched as that spoke and ate. There was no laughter between them. Everything action and word was forced. Occasionally the woman would look away while McCool spoke, the crumbs spraying in her general direction. As they spoke Thomas prepared.

Quietly he pieced his rifle together. Sweat dripped off his brow as he felt the pieces snap into place. He looked down the barrel before putting the scope in place. At this range he didn’t need it but, when he was told to use every piece he didn’t argue the point. Finally Thomas loaded the rifle with a single bullet and waited some more.

It wasn’t long before the couple finished eating and made their way to the front door. Thomas watched them and quickly shouldered the rifle and slowly tracked the target through the bakery. Time slowed down as he watched the target, his gun at the ready. He flipped up the cover on his scope and peered through it following the target’s movement.

Thomas’ breathing slowed to a crawl. His heart matched the pace of the target as it drew closer to the doorway. His finger gently caressed the trigger as he began to count it down. The heat no longer mattered, neither did the sun. He couldn’t feel anything until the target reached the door way and he’d counted to zero. Then with a loud crack the recoiled against his shoulder. The bullet screamed toward the target and when it struck, it exploded like a watermelon that had been left in the sun for entirely too long.

The world below exploded with confusion and screaming as Thomas made his way off of the roof, down a back fire escape, into a gangway where he got into a waiting Celica and drove off. Two hours later the car was in flames a few miles away and Thomas was in a McDonald’s waiting for his number to be called when his phone rang. He answered it.

“You stupid bastard,” shouted McCool, “You’re lucky I don’t make you pay for my dry cleaning!”

“It’s not my fault you like to play on clay. Don’t dive for every ball that comes your way.”

“Just … watch your serve next time.”

The girl at the counter called his number and Thomas retrieved his sandwich. “I will,” he said and hung up the phone then tossed it into a nearby trashcan.
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#1 · 1
· · >>Ranmilia >>Misternick
There's a general clunkiness in the writing. Sentences are sometimes ponderous, sometimes redundant, sometimes on the brink of grammatical incorrectness such as: “The sea of local faces had lessened as the day wore on, most of who were at work or school.”

The story tackles the “one gunshot” take on the prompt in a fairly square way. I wish we learnt why this particular guy is targeted for termination. While we do have fairly low information on that point, we do have a passel of long winded sentences about some aspects that add nothing to our comprehension of the plot.

Frankly, the end didn't make much sense to me, unless that's some mob slang I'm unfamiliar with.
#2 · 1
· · >>Misternick
Uh... huh. So this took a couple of passes for me to figure out, because it is really not obvious about the twist. Actually, I'm still not sure I've figured it out. For anyone else looking down here though, it's a fakeout, Thomas is not aiming at and shooting McCool, McCool is the one who calls him at the end.

Who or what does Thomas shoot, then? ... I got nothing. Something that explodes like a watermelon. The woman? For reasons? Something else? The play on clay line seems important, but like >>Monokeras I have no idea what it actually means. This interferes with looking for a narrative arc, too - what made me go back and recheck my initial assumption of "the dude shot the other dude" was how much of an odd non-story it seemed like.

Also, and again as Mono said, the prose is very clunky. Practice, pay attention to sentence structures in other pieces, read your own writing out loud (carefully!) and listen to how it sounds. Also take advantage of spellcheck tools where possible, and pay attention to the mistakes they catch and why you made them. Word/Libreoffice/Google Docs should catch things like "There were other reason’s..."

It seems to me like the atmosphere gets the most attention here, and that is largely successful. I liked the descriptions, even clunky as they are, and got a nice impression of Vice City Miami. Aaaaaand I only just realized while typing that joke that the protagonist is indeed named Tommy. I... you know what... I can't hate on that audacity, well played.

So: shaky story, unclear, fundamentals not too great, but it does get the GTA atmosphere it aims for and at least looks like there's an attempt at having a beginning, middle and end. Somewhere around the border of low/mid tiers to me, for the overall field. Thank you for writing, though, authorperson! This shows promise for sure, we hope to see you back in future rounds.
#3 · 2
· · >>Misternick
Regarding the writing, my criticism would basically echo what my illustrious predecessors already said. I may add that in an atmospheric piece like this one breaking the flow is lethal to the reader's immersion. The moment I had to read a sentence a second time it, was over.

And this is a waste because when you nailed the prose it was pretty good. The first two paragraphs set the scene nicely even if a bit more polish is still necessary.

As for the arc, the reveal lost a bit of punch as we missed context and details.

I don't have much more to add. Some editing and a framing context would go a long way into improving this. As it is now, it feels unfinished.

Still, this shows potential as a pleasant atmospheric piece. Thank you for having written it.
#4 · 1
· · >>Misternick
This piece had a strange contradiction, with the descriptions being vivid even while the phrasing was occasionally wordy and unwieldy. For example, there was some redundant 'his line of work's at the beginning.

The description for McCool had a good chunk of character, even if I can't help but wonder at the name.

I did pick up at the end that McCool orchestrated the little performance at the end, but I was confused over just what happened and why.

The description at the end reads a little ambiguous. 'it exploded' could be either the target or the bullet like it was some sort of elaborate paintball prank or something, though then the bit about the fellow being a professional seems pretty strange. It seems more likely that he wants someone to bump off the lady, but we never get foreshadowing or a motive.

Still, a decent enough piece, despite my confusion over some points.
#5 · 1
· · >>Misternick
Overall, the main problem is this does not feel like it comes together as a truly cohesive narrative. While we learn things about the characters, I don't think we really learn anything that contributes to the story. Things happen but we're really not given an opportunity to understand why, as it were. The setup is solid, I suspect, but you need to actually let the reader in on more of the meat.

Moreover, as far as twists go, this one doesn't really achieve anything. A good twist recontextualizes and improves an already awesome story. When you keep information from the reader it should be to enhance the impact of the remainder of the story. This twist... is cute, but it really doesn't actually do anything.
#6 · 1
Have you ever written something and submitted it and as soon as you submitted it said to yourself, "Well, I messed that up. I should have done (fill in the blank with all of the things you should have could have done)." This story in a nutshell. I think the real lesson with this and the last eh few times I've done this is that I need to allow myself more time or pick better times to sit down and do these things.