Z for Zero-sum (Part I)

Freida Dantas stepped out of the queue to look around. The machine wasn’t that far from here–only a few hundred more. She looked behind. The queue went on for as long as she could see. She too had started from the end of the queue many hours ago. The machine took only a second to judge, so the queue had kept moving continuously. But she worried if there were more hopefuls in the queue than seconds in a day. She had been queueing up religiously for her pronouncement every day since she had died.

She’d learned of the system the day she had arrived at the purgatory. Learned is probably not the best word to describe the process. She had woken up in the purgatory a week ago knowing about it instinctively, with no recollection of her prior life. She knew exactly when and where to queue up for the machine. The machine would tell her if it was her time to ascend to the heaven yet. She’d witnessed thousands of ascensions on her first day. The ascendants one after the other had stood under the

To Spot a Tiger

"It's a male tiger", said the guide.
"How do you know that?", he asked.
"The paw prints are square. It's a big one too." One of the tourists got up to take a photo of the paw print."neeche baitth jaiye. It's not safe to get out"The jeep started, and they followed in the direction of the tiger prints. The prints disappeared into a thicket. The driver sped ahead on the road. Getting down was not an option. Arun was thrilled by the sudden excitement. They hadn't spotted any tiger since morning."Bhaiyya, is this the one we were searching for in the morning?", he asked.
"No. This one is different."
Their olive colored Gypsy took a swift right turn. The unpaved road was flanked on both sides by tall grass. There was one more jeep there. It was on the other side of the straight road. The guide in the other Gypsy signaled them to stay still. 'It's a tiger!'. He tried to find a moving tiger in the yellow grass.
The driver reversed the jeep a bit. They would not have noticed the tiger in the grass until it was too late. He turned off the engine and they sat waiting in bated silence.
There was a herd of spotted deer in the grass. They didn't know that they were being watched. The tiger was surely hiding somewhere in the grass too. It was going to be a feast for it. 'How dumb the deer are. They are just standing there munching like idiots.'
The guide was sure that the tiger was in the grass - waiting for the right moment to attack its prey. They had been following tracks since morning. There was no way they were going to miss the tiger now. A couple of minutes passed but there was no sign of the tiger.
Suddenly there was motion. The deer had started running inside the grass - away from the jeep. Arun took out his binoculars and tried to spot the tiger in the distance, trying to chase one of the deer. It was going to be difficult to find it in the grass, but he knew it was somewhere close. He could feel it. It had to be. He had come all the way to Jim Corbett to see a tiger up close. One thing he didn't know was that they were being watched.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. We give out creative writing topics each weekend for Indian bloggers.This time your entry must contain, ‘One thing he/she/they didn’t know that they were being watched.’

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