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One Shot · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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One shot
Did you see which way they went?-
A couple of gunshots drowned the fleeting sound of the attackers’ combustion engine.
I have no idea. Probably not far, but…-
But they still won’t find them, right?-
Ai shrugged: - As if the police would care about us. Had someone died, maybe.-
Bo looked hurt : - Don’t say that!- And in a worried whisper added - Somebody could hear you -
Ai turned to face him, but any answer died as she saw the Director coming down the stairs, still fastening his dressing gown.
Any injuries, Dr. Xilai?- He asked
She shook per head: - None reported, unless someone inside the building was hit by a shard or a ricochet, Mr Keqiang-
As usual, the Director seemed slightly uncomfortable at being addressed that way, but there were clearly bigger issues worrying him tonight.
Good, good, let me have the contractor's preliminary report as soon as it’s ready. I will be in my office calling Beijing. Might as well start the day-
He looked like he was about to stretch, but stopped mid-movement, and turned around to go back upstairs. Too undignified, Ai thought, amused.
He stopped again on the first flight of stairs to add an embarrassed - I am happy you are all well- before resuming his ascent.
He had his good moments too. Ai repressed a smile as she watched Bo doing the same.
Finally, the siren of a police car could be heard in the distance. Its flashing blue lights gave an eerie appearance to the courtyard in front of the Institute. From the windows broken by the attackers’ slugs, a few timid faces finally started peering. One of the guards shouldered his rifle before going to greet the incoming officer, his skin looked an impossible shade of blue.
We will need a bigger gate- said Bo.

The telomeric mutation had taken the world by storm, at least judging by the volume of discussion surrounding it, if not by how much it was used outside mainland China. A judicious amount of gene editing, coupled with other proprietary technology that the Beijing Institute of Genomics was as happy to speak in general terms as dodgy about its exact inner workings, could stop cellular degeneration and guarantee an almost infinite lifespan, if administered as soon as possible after conception, and no later than puberty. At least, in rats and dogs. Experiments on monkeys were still underway, and unfortunately humans lived for so long. A generation would pass before the data on the first cohort of subjects would be available.
The FDA dragged its feet, vigorously lobbied by the American companies that had betted heavily on blood filtering and hormonal anti agathic therapy. The EU shared their concerns, but most of the third world did not, and the Gulf countries had embraced the technology with worrying gusto.
With an eagerness that surprised only a few, the Kingdom of England had passed a huge package of medical deregulation, and opened its gates to Chinese companies. Rich oligarchs from the East came to have their heirs’ embryos custom-made, and many more people from all Europe came with their children. Far fewer than the Institute had hoped, though, and the subsidized community outreach programs had had almost the opposite of their intended effect.

Ai raised her eyes from the lab results that had just came in and sighed.
Why do you think they hate us so much, Omar?-
They are too rich and complacent to hunger for more. They are set in their ways and have no hope -
The burly Sudanese contractor could be prone to bouts of philosophising that could surprise those who did not know him. Ai wondered how fluent he could be in his native language, and how much was lost using English as their lingua franca.
What even is his native language though?- Thought Ai - Well those who attack us are not rich, you know?-She said.
Omar’s smirk made it quite clear what he thought of “poor" English people.
Ok, she is compatible: bring her in-
The baby looked happy and healthy. Ai distracted her with a plush toy before inoculating Cher.
Would they really kill us over this? It’s just one shot-
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#1 · 1
This feels like it was written by a newer entrant. If that was the case, then welcome! The rest of the feedback here is going to be fairly critical, but don't take it to heart; Writeoffs a learning experience, after all.

First off - use title case for your titles. Please.

This story suffers largely from its poor formatting, author. Traditionally, speech goes inside quotation marks. The lack of dialogue attribution at the start similarly makes developing an understanding of the situation difficult. Furthermore, the formatting is inconsistent; what's with the abundance of semi-colons and dashes? Presenting a disorientating scene is all well and good, but I can't follow the first section of story after the first half a dozen lines.

The narrative perspective is also confusing; you're making opinionated statements, "at least judging by the volume of discussion surrounding it", in the middle of what otherwise reads as a news-report. The tonal clash results in it feeling inconsistent.

Additionally, in the future author, you may wish to work on your pacing. A large amount of exposition is introduced in the middle of the story to little effect, other than giving a vague background to the events of the opening scene. Consider your narrative arc, even in a piece as small as this; what are you trying to convey? What changes over the course of the story? Presently, it reads as a series of events leading to an foreshadowed and impotent ending; I'm not made to empathise with the characters, nor am I given any understanding as to the significance of their actions. In a minific, you don't have many words to play with; if you're going for a heavy ending, then the rest of the story needs to develop my empathy with the characters, and the weight of their decision.
#2 · 1
Neat idea, but Foehn nails the two big problems here:

1. You use a non-standard structure in a way that really doesn't benefit the work at all. Unless you have an incredibly good reason to do so, abandoning normal formatting conventions is a bad idea. This story is actually a bit physically tricky to read, particularly on something like a phone at the moment.

2. This is more an interesting idea and setup than a true story. Basically the interesting part of the story has either already happened (since it is just the characters overlooking the aftermath of the carnage without any real impact on them) or will happen after the story (the future of the baby or the clinic). You need to have a compelling arc within the story itself, not around it.
#3 ·
I agree with the two previous comments. I'm not sure whether the author is fluent in English.

If you are not, welcome to the Writeoff! You might find it helpful to look at the other stories here and to read online to find out about English punctuation and grammar. Right now, this story is difficult to read because it doesn't use quotation marks, but I can still understand it.

A bigger problem is that it is actually three different parts, and they do not flow together very well. I don't understand the fighting in the first part very well, and I'm not sure how much time passes between the first and third parts. What happened to Bo? What is the central point of Ai's story, and how should I feel? I think the background ideas about the drug are interesting, but I am not very interested in the specific characters and scenes that the story talks about.

This story is probably not going to do very well in the voting, but that's okay, too, especially if you are new. Thank you for writing! I hope to see you improve!

(If the writer is fluent in English, I have no idea why you would choose to write in this style. Please use standard formatting and punctuation, it makes your story much easier to read!)
#4 ·
Combustion engine? Unless this is some alternate setting where there are other types of engines, this seems redundant.

The core idea of the world is interesting, and based off of plausible real-world advances.

A point of confusion in the first section. The guard is mentioned as being an 'impossible shade of blue' and then the next section is about genetic engineering, so I assumed that the two were linked.

Others have mentioned the nonstandard dialog attributions, so I won't belabor that. Despite it, I did like how you used body language to express characterization.

While the core concept is consequential, just the little bit we see doesn't have much emotional impact on the reader, so it is not as gripping as it could have been.
#5 ·
First off, formatting. This has already been covered heavily by other commenters, so I’ll be brief. I had a hard time keeping track of who was speaking, or even if the sentence was being spoken at all due to the lack or quotation marks, and the flashback exposition in the middle didn’t help things any.

Beyond that the story was really three stories - even the first and last scenes didn’t have any links between them other than the people and I got more than a little lost along the way. I don’t know what’s going on in the first part other than some kind of explosion(?). There was also a massive tonal shift between the parts that prevented it from feeling coherent.

Keep it up, practice makes perfect.