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mzkortony's picture

Dead on the doorsteps

By mzkortony in Arrest Us

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Ray Denver, a recognized musician, comes home after his band's tour to find an extremely oversized package on his doorsteps.


Irene Inatty's picture
Irene Inatty from Miami is reading How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy June 9, 2014 - 4:26pm

I liked the idea, and I loved the setting. The plot could have used some more attention. There were whole sections that weren’t really necessary, such as the failed time-traveling scientist, the band’s pool party, and the dart-throwers. The inconsistency between the two manners of dying (poisoning/stabbing) really threw me off.
I would also like to comment that sometimes the phrasing is slightly awkward, particularly in dialogue; yet, other times it flows quite well. I would suggest reading the whole thing out loud, so as to make sure you have the inflections you really want.

It seems to me you need a few thousand more words to really flesh out the idea. I’d love to read a longer, more detailed version of this.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 10, 2014 - 4:59am

Unique idea and an interesting plot. I have to say, I was left a little unsatisfied by the ending. What did the murder have to do with time traveling? Did Marissa know the physicists? Did Jerry? Was he in on the murder? I don't think those connections were clear enough. I feel like I'm missing an important part of the story.

Other parts you can cut. He never runs from the cops so we don't need to know how fast they are or about the cameras in their heads.

Still, it was a great set up and it was an entertaining read. Nice job and good luck!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 14, 2014 - 9:43am

Nice idea, I like the idea of gently unravelling of the future world as the story progresses, but as a whole this felt clunky to me. I was waiting for some amazing explanation that would blow me away, but it never came, sorry. Maybe your concept was a little ambitious in scope for the word count.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 18, 2014 - 12:46pm

This was a well written piece in voice and detail, but felt a bit like two separate stories.  You really had me with the time travel bit and then abandoned it in the back half.  I agree with some of the comments above about things you could remove and maybe it would give you a bit more time or space to tie the first and second half together.  I still enjoyed it, it just needs some work.  thanks for sharing.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 19, 2014 - 8:13am

There is a nice concept here, but I think the execution could do with a little work. I didn’t expect to see any sci-fi takes on the crime genre in the contest, and this was certainly different from a lot of the submissions. I have to give you props for taking on time travel, because frankly the whole area is a mess to get right, without any paradoxes sneaking in.

The story is at times hard to follow, and very disjointed. You move to explore tangents and characters that go nowhere and add nothing. There is the scientist husband of Marissa who thinks he’s going to be fired. I assumed the character would be back and would have a part to play, but that section is the only one in which he appears. Marissa is briefly introduced but not in a meaningful way, and then she disappears again for 7 pages. The band members get a very short section as well, which again adds nothing to the story. Then there are the scientist guys flinging darts, that are there to provide a very weak motive, but it uncovers another hole – is Marissa working with them? Which of them made the first approach? Where is the revenge on sending the body his sometime lover has killed just to get back at him for making fun of Einstein?

I’m making the presumption that you were going for a light story with some darkly wry comedy mixed in. Other than a certain ridiculousness though, there is very little comedy here. You don’t do your concept justice. You have an unrepentant protagonist, who is so lacking in layers that he is not a particularly interesting character. The most interesting character on display is Marissa, and then only at the very end. She has very conflicting emotions which are barely noted. This is a woman who feels intense love for Ray… so much that it leads to her kill him, not once but twice. The section with her scientist partner just muddies the waters and lessens the impact of that strong emotion.

I don’t understand why the first murder is never really covered off after he gets off on the suicide verdict. How does that murder get eradicated for Marissa to be able to carry out the second one? It may be time travel involved, but Ray is still dead. He was out of the police station within three days, yet we have no idea how he manages to avoid being given the fatal overdose. Why does Marissa wait so long before just deciding to slice and dice? Why was the body even sent back in time in the first place? My head is spinning with all the unanswered questions.

There is gold in these hills, but it’s going to take some time and effort to extract it. I think you show enough craft here to have confidence that you are going to pull this off. Best of luck with it.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 18, 2014 - 5:21pm

I think this was a cool story. It's really weird and scary to think about finding your own dead body. The part about Marissa in the end doesn't come as much of a surprise because she seems to be the only developed character with any motive. I think if you didn't connect Marisa to ray at all until the end it would hit a lot harder. Maybe hint that she's been away and that she feels guilty in regards to her husband.It is mentioned several times that time travel is impossible so how does Marissa send his body back? I get that her husband is involved but he specifically says it's a pipe dream. Does he figure it out that week?

Ray's reaction to his own body doesn't seem very believable, he seems like he's surprised but just shrugs it off, maybe that's more because of the drugs though. Why does it seem normal to everyone including the lawyer that his body has been sent back. Is it just that everyone knows that they are close to perfecting time travel so they suspect it? Sorry that part was a little confusing to me.