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

Dreaming of Her

    "Every time?"
    "Every freaking time!"
    "And are you sure you don't want to see her in your dreams ever again?"
    "I mean.. Yea. I mean. Not never. She could come on weekends or something. I don't know."
    "You know that dreams don't work like that, don't you?"
    "Yes... I know," he said. "Why are you smiling like that?"
    "This is the first time you've opened up like this."
He twisted on the couch to face the doctor.     "Doesn't mean you've won over me or something, eh, doc? I just need to get back in the game. Need to find some action. It's been too long. I can't always keep dreaming of her like she'll come back."
    "You think it's been long enough?"
    "I guess. Yea."
The doctor fiddles with his pen. "What if I told you that there's a way you could get over her? That there's a way you'd forget that she even existed? You'd never again have to dream of her."
    "That's possible, doc?"
    "I am the expert, am I not?"
    "Well... then." he pauses for a moment. "No. I don't want to do that."
    "Why not?"
    "I know that I can't get her back, and that sucks. But my life would be meaningless without her. I wouldn't be what I am if it weren't for her. No I don't want to forget her. It's okay if she haunts my dreams."
    "I know it's been over an year, but it takes a lot to get over a trauma as big as yours. Her demise was sudden. So don't force yourself to get over it, or you'll end up never really getting over it. Give it some more time and it'll all be alright."
The alarm beeped. The man got up to leave.
    "Same time next week?"
    "Like clockwork, doc."

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