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

My first account

    I vaguely remember making my very first email id. It was so long ago. It was before the last galactic empire laid claim to the wastelands of Ibirthe. The days were short and the night was vigilant. Okay. That's not true. Well... technically it's not false either. We can't predict the future. My good wishes to the last galactic empire to whom I shall gladly extend my allegiance.
    This post however, is going to be non-fiction. No, I can't promise you that it will be completely without any figment of imagination. I will have to fill the inconsistencies in my memory with suppositions and bold lies. The prompt this time leaves little wiggle room. So here goes my first non-fiction post.
    My first email account was indeed a long time ago. I was 12 years old. Those were the good old days of the dial-up connection, when you waited patiently as the modem sung the song of its people - poetic, alliterative, but truly digital. We had a 4 GB Hard Disk and 64 MB RAM. 3.5'' floppies were way more common than CDs. Yes. The good old days.
    My introduction to computing was early. I'm still grateful to my father for his decision to buy a personal computer back then. He not only bought us a computer, but also taught me to program in BASIC. We got our internet connection an year or two after buying the PC. So I was already tech-savvy (in a way a 12 year old could).
    My very first account was on Indiatimes. I don't remember exactly why I needed it, but I think they offered a mailing service, along with the ability to comment.
    Even then, I was aware of the pitfalls of a badly secured account. I was a bit too aware. When I had to make my account, I sat in front of the computer and thought for a long time. I had to get creative. I didn't want to get hacked of course! 12 year old me didn't suspect that no one would try to hack my account.
    I thought really hard to come up with something nice. Something totally irrelevant. Something no one would guess. Bingo! Got it! And no. I had not thought of my password yet. I had just thought of the perfect username for the account: hy_flier@indiatimes.com. The username had it all! An underscore, a capital letter, play on the spelling of words. I was pleased with myself. No one would even guess the username; let alone the password! I realised later that I would be giving my email id to others anyway.
    So the password now. It couldn't be common. Not my name. Not my parents' name. Not my school. I didn't have a pet. Not that girl in the class (What if she found out about the password! My whole life would be ruined!). Finally I settled on something related to the idea of the username itself. It had capital letters, numerals, and a fun way to remember. I actually use the same password for some less important accounts even today.
    As stupid as the username was, I used it for quite some time. It remained special to me as my first account. I lost access to it a few years back when Indiatimes did a redesign and I found that my username was no longer 'valid'. The only Google hit for my email address now is an answer on Yahoo Answers. And wow! Do I sound pretentious! Maybe I still do. Dunno.
    I have made too many accounts since. I have lost count. But I still remember my first account: the username and the password, and the feeling of getting an online identity.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.
Every weekend, we give out creative writing themes to rekindle the love of writing in all you creative writers.

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