A character has died mere seconds before the story. The story centers around the person (or persons) at the scene immediately following this death.
Special Agent Marshall rushed across the stage and knelt down next to The President. A few moments later, Agent Arneson joined him.
“He dead?” Arneson asked.
Marshall gestured to a hole that used to belong to The President’ neck. “He will be. I’ll active the time beacon. You wearing your console?”
Arneson nodded, “Of course.”
“Good. I can’t be the only one to figure this out.”
Arneson scanned the panicked crowd, looking for an obvious assailant. There wasn’t one. “Think fifteen seconds will be enough?”
“It’ll have to be,” replied Marshall. “Any longer and we run the risk of destroying space time in sector.”
Marshall stepped back. “And remember, we get only three chances.” He activated the beacon.
“…and from this day forward, I promise that no one will go hungry. Nobody will subject to the whims of corporate greed. Everyone will be equal in the eyes of…”
Agent Marshall collected himself and peered into the crowd, looking for an assassin to take down. His eyes caught a nervous looking woman, about a hundred yards, center aisle. She reached into her jacket. Marshall quickly pulled his firearm and put a bullet through her head.
One second later, he heard a shot. The President dropped.
He rushed across the stage and knelt down next to The President. A few moments later, Agent Arneson joined him.
“Two assassins?” Arneson urged.
“Maybe she was a decoy,” he replied. “Or maybe I’m trigger happy. Let’s just worry about protecting him this time.”
Arneson nodded. Marshall activated the beacon.
“…and from this day forward, I promise that no one will go hungry. Nobody will be subject…”
Marshall gathered himself more quickly this time.
Nobody else looked obvious. He rushed towards The President and leapt to tackle him to the ground. An explosion tore through this torso.
“You okay?” Arneson yelled, now by his side.
Marshall couldn’t feel his legs. He looked at The President, whose head was spilling out bits of brain.
“That was only ten seconds!” Arneson said frantically.
Without thinking, Marshall activated the beacon.
“…and from this day forward…”
Marshall gathered himself, somehow surprised his body didn’t hurt like it did a few seconds ago.
Why did it take so long for Arneson to join him by The President during the last loop? He glanced to the other side of the stage. His partner wasn’t there.
“…Nobody will be subject…”
Marshall took the best course of action, shooting The President in the leg. He collapsed, seconds before another shot rang out, putting a hole through the stage curtain.
Marshall turned to the center of the crowd. Arneson’s eyes met his own, along with Marshall’s gun.
K: Now here’s a groovy idea. I love Marshall’s ingenuity, as well as the final payoff. Since I pointed out the mistake in the first story, though, I’m bound by law to call out “active the beacon.” SILVER
MN – Cursed time loops and Survivor X! It had better be Pete or Beau who wrote this story. The concept was very strong, but unfortunately the audience figures out the assassin way early, and that sucked a lot of the tension out of the story. A first-person approach might have worked a little better to really bring the readers closer to the action. But a fantastic concept, and really pretty solid execution in every other way. GOLD
Kelly was kind; I had more typos than just the one he pointed out. This was the first time I had zero seconds to edit. I finished the last sentence right at the buzzer. Thankfully, the concept was strong enough to win over the judges.
As for everyone else, we have merged. Our team wound up losing zero people in the team portion of the challenge. There are thirteen writers left and now it’s every man and woman for themselves.