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

Superhero Me

    The first thought in my mind when I read the prompt - very frankly - was, 'How stupid is this! They are forcing me to write a non-fiction post again!', but then I decided to roll with it. I'm not so good with essays, so I took this as a challenge.
    So which superpower would be cool enough to offset the embarrassment of wearing a tight spandex suit in public? Not to mention wearing my underclothing over the ludicrously cramped suit? I made a mental list of all the cool superpowers: super-intelligence, super-strength, amazing reflexes, laser-eyes, telekinesis, mind control, flexibility, temporal manipulation, etc..
    It was clear that I was not going to be able to evaluate every super power with my current level of super-dumbity™; it would be time-consuming, tedious, and not to mention, utterly useless (No offence to those who do). Instead, I grouped the superpowers into two broad categories : the ones that offer more control over oneself (power, intelligence, agility, flexibility, etc.), and the ones that offer more control over others (mind control, telepathy, energy sapping, blood bending, etc.).
    Generally, superpowers that improve oneself are considered to be noble. Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark  and Lex Luthor have insane money. The latter tries to control people and becomes a (bald) super villain, while the former two suit up and become superheroes. In general, a superpower that depends on using people makes a supervillain. So if I want to be the kind of superhero that girls giggle and faint over, I need to embrace the Horlicks mantra of Taller, Stronger, Sharper.
    So what superpower should I have? I remember thinking when I was still a kid, how cool it would be to sneak into places you were not supposed to be, and to be privy to secrets no one would suspect you of being; the prospect of scaring the shit out of people by making things (appear to) float in air was thrilling. I figured that the ability to assume the appearance and the identity of any other person in addition to hiding myself under the shroud of nothingness would be even cooler. Walking through the passageway, I tried to feel as if I were slowly becoming another person, changing cell by cell, inside and outside, feeling cool and hot at the same time, a tingle all over my face and body, assuming a new identity, a new face. It was exhilarating just imagining it. It was definitely a power worth desiring.
    So is that the superpower I want to have to become a superhero today? I am not sure. It must sure be complicated to handle being able to change one's identity and appearance. Would I disguise myself as Ranbeer Kapoor or Chris Evans whenever I felt bored? I don't know. Maybe. Would I save lives? I hope so. Could I lose track of who I am if I could be anyone I wanted? Possibly. It must be hard to know that you are liked only when you look like someone you are not. So that's it. I don't want to be a shapeshifter. I need something that improves on the person I am, but does not necessarily change me. What I need is more wisdom.

    Let me explain my view of wisdom with an example. Data is the sight of a bear standing on his hind legs, ready to attack. Information is the observation that a huge wild Alaskan Grizzly Bear is going to charge towards you; Knowledge is knowing the weak points of the bear and the most preferred tactics to counter-attack a charging beast seven times your weight; Wisdom is stepping away from the cage.
    I want to be a Wiseman, and crack wise-ass jokes, and have a smart-aleck call sign. Okay I'm kidding about the last one, but I do think that the coolest superpower is the one that we can all have one day. It's the superpower that moves mountains with the flick of a finger. I know it is not as cool as being able to crack open a mountain with laser vision, or jumping down buildings unhurt, but it is something that makes the most everlasting change in the world, and hopefully brings peace and happiness to me.

PS: Now I think I want to be able to pause time. Argh. I can't decide.

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