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In Name Only · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Born Killers
"I don't think this is a good idea." Slayer quickly glances over at me from the driver's seat.

I am quietly looking out the window at the passing scenery. Our car is trailing a cloud of dust, and the surrounding hills look brown and dead. Hard to believe that this will all look lush and green in a few weeks. Hopefully.

"Why not?" Of course I know why he's skeptical. I would probably think the same if I were him. "You haven't even really talked with Lygia. Why are you so sure she's a bad person?"

"Come on. You know as well as I do that she's a vampire. And if we've learned anything through the years it's that vampires are clever, and sometimes they're even good at acting all innocent, but a vampire who doesn't harm humans? That's a fairy tale."

I lay back my head and sigh. "We don't even know for sure that she is one of them. And we've found zero indications that she's ever hurt anyone. Every vampire we've hunted down in our lives we've found because there was a dead body that made us suspicious. But there hasn't been any suspicious rise in death rates in the area, or any murder with hints of supernatural circumstances."

Slayer keeps looking straight ahead at the road. "I know, we don't have any proof. But working in this business for over a decade gives you an intuition for these things. Don't tell me you haven't felt anything like that around her. Besides, maybe we've just met more vampires than we know, and we only ever found those who were stupid enough to get caught. You can't say that her reaction when we first met wasn't suspicious. As soon as she saw me enter the room, she flinched and got even paler than she already was when I saw her through the window."

I quickly check the time on my phone before replying. 6:52, so we shouldn't be late. "Well, you have to agree that you look kind of intimidating to strangers, with those black leather jacket and boots of yours. Maybe she thought that you were a vampire."

"Or maybe I didn't hide my gun well enough, yeah yeah. Who knows. I'll trust your judgment for now. But I still think you're just into her and it's biasing you. I mean, a girl hanging out in your kind of cafe? And she's a nerd, who you first notice because you see her coding on her laptop? She must totally be your type."

I don't feel like explaining to him that I first noticed her because my senses were tingling. "Nah, it's purely platonic. But you won't believe me anyway."

I turn my head and look outside. We've arrived in the town. People are milling about in small groups, on their way to get dinner or go home.

"I can't believe I'm really going to trivia night with you. With a vampire nerd girl on our team. When we started working together I'd never have guessed that our evenings together would be this interesting, when we aren't hunting down monsters."

I smile and look over at him. "Love you too, Slayer."
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#1 ·
I’m always a bit disappointed by the way most authors return to what I consider their comfort zone, i.e. fantasy or SciFi, when they don’t have much idea what to write on.

This one is disappointing from this point of view, and doubly so because it never goes beyond the talking heads stage. We don’t even know why vampires are introduced, and really we don’t really care for the characters either. They’re quite bland and generic, and the fantasy background is never justified. Seems the author just followed an easy path into a familiar universe, without even taking care to populate it beyond a few passing mentions.

Nothing really outstanding to my eyes. Just a dialogue, but no meat to back it, so at the end we don’t even know why we have read what we just read.
#2 · 1
"Slayer" is a bold name for a character. Fortunately, a vampire hunter is going to be able to pull it off more than most characters. Unfortunately, he never does any actual vampire hunting to earn the name.

The biggest problem, though, is that you've shown us the wrong scene. You've just shown the hunters talking; they mention a number of moments that would have been much more exciting.

Every vampire we've hunted down in our lives we've found because there was a dead body that made us suspicious.

This could be a story. Show the hunters hunting.

You can't say that her reaction when we first met wasn't suspicious. As soon as she saw me enter the room, she flinched and got even paler than she already was when I saw her through the window."

This would have been a good moment to show. Meeting a woman and piecing together that something isn't right, with a reveal that she's a vampire (or that they think she is) would work fine as a writeoff piece.

Or show us the trivia night with the woman who might or might not be a vampire.

Any of those would be more interesting than a couple of talking heads.
#3 ·
Huh? What actually happened?

The dialogue's on the expository side enough that it's off-putting, then all hell breaks loose. Linguistically speaking, that is, not in an action sense.

These two are given a fairly outlandish back story without doing anything to fill it in more than vaguely, then we're introduced to an off-camera character that one of these men cares about a lot (and so I'm presumably supposed to as well) without defining her in more than a bare-bones way... and what does the comment about this place being green soon enough even mean? It had me anticipating some kind of terraforming or removal of a blight, but I never saw anything in-story to make sense of that. Then it all turns out they're just meeting up to do pub quizzes, and what role do vampires and hunters even play in this world, and what did it mean that any of this happened? Why do vampires even matter to the plot? If they were bounty hunters, say, and she was someone they thought was acting shifty, how would it change the story materially?

Once again, I'll bring up the possibility that a minific doesn't require a story arc, just some striking image or surprise, and I suppose you could have had one when describing the first time they met this girl, but it gets only a perfunctory description, and it happens in retrospect only. The coolest stuff here is what gets name-dropped but left undeveloped, not what was actually written. I just don't see any purpose behind this. It's pleasant enough for what it is, I guess.
#4 ·
· · >>Cassius >>Pascoite
Alternate Title: What We Don't Do in the Shadows

Surely there's a title that could've fit this story better. When I first looked at this entry, with the title "Born Killers," I was expecting it to go into some dark territory. I was also expecting something to happen.

But nothing happened.

First of all, who the hell names themselves Slayer? I don't care if you're a vampire hunter, you better be in a grindcore band to have such a goofy name as Slayer. Fucking Slayer? Come on now. I'm kind of glad the narrator doesn't get a name; his stage name might be something like Bonecrusher, or Necromancer.

Fucking Slayer.

Okay, so this is a comedy of sorts. I think? It's hard to tell, because there's no real punchline that I could find. This entry is like the setup to a punchline that never happens, and this wouldn't be so glaring if not for the fact that this is the second shortest entry of the lot, at just over 500 words. You could easily add a scene at the end where the vampire hunters actually do some vampire hunting, or if you wanna be goofier you can do a subversion of that and have them totally fail at doing their jobs.

But at least they would be doing something, then.

Fucking Slayer...
#5 · 1
· · >>Pascoite

First of all, who the hell names themselves Slayer?

Obviously you haven't played many fighters. But this guy is a vampire.
#6 ·
I would have been on board with "Slayer" as a name choice if the girl had turned out to be named Lina Inverse.
#7 · 1
I am disappointed this isn't actually a Guilty Gear fic.

The problem here is that the build to the punchline is... kinda non-existent? The thing is that you establish from the get go that they aren't actually going to hunt Lygia, so that expectation subversion is more that they are doing something fun with her rather than doing business with her, which isn't really much of a subversion so much as a slight jog to the side. Which ultimately results in it landing really flat since the entire build up is about her.

You need some sort of tension in the story. Like even just running the fake up (pretending they are showing up to hunt, then just sit down in the bar to do trivia night with her) would work because you hit the classic arc.

Prompt relevance is... okay. I can see how you got there from here, and you lean on the goofy name thing which I imagine is part of your prompt relation. Basically, not feeling it strongly, but I also don't have to squint to see it.
#8 ·
My first take was that this kind of had the same problem for me as the wyvern story, except without trying to center around a joke: you've got a scene where two monster hunters banter against the backdrop of a far more gripping fight, and the story is just about the banter. A little slice-of-life moment within a larger adventure-style narrative.

But on second consideration I think that's not quite fair. Because the problem here feels a little more subtle and broad: it's that it's going specifically for that character interaction within the larger context. While the wyvern story was designed to be self-contained with its core joke, this ... kind of isn't. I could easily see it as a solid part of a larger work, as the two banter in the low-energy moments between the high-octane plot fights.

And falling afoul of that lack of larger context is a problem, when I stop and frame it that way, that's all over the place with minifics -- especially OF minifics, where we can't just throw Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle in a room and have the audience know exactly who the protagonists are and why to root for them. (It's one of the major reasons I've advocated repeatedly for minifics to have an upper limit of 1000 words.) Here, I feel like the characters are well established -- it's what you spend the story doing, after all! -- but so much effort is put into that that we don't get to see the stakes, nor outcome, of the decision they make.

I don't know whether going to trivia night is going to get them into trouble or not. Slayer and $Protagonist spend a fair amount of time debating that issue, but all I've got to go on is their arguments; we never see enough of the world to ground those into being able to make a reader judgment. Similarly, I'm not sure whether "trivia night" is even supposed to be the core subversion here (although my guess is yes, based on the character name and the round's prompt) or whether that's just part of the background flavor, the same way as the brown hills which don't quite pin this down geographically.

(Is $Protagonist a werewolf, by the way? That's a wild guess. Slayer works with him, and they talk about never having encountered "good" vampires before, so $Protagonist presumably isn't a vampire (or their inner narration would be pretty different during that exchange). But $Protagonist also talked about being able to sense Lygia, so there's an implied supernatural angle there.)

Overall: Another case where the text as written is perfectly cromulent, but the story as a stand-alone story feels lacking. How to make a minific satisfyingly stand alone is a hard problem, author! It's probably our #1 stumbling block in the short rounds. There's no shame in it, but it's still gotta affect my scoring.

Thanks for writing!