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

Two Inch Tales

TL;DR Version

Two inch tales are extremely small vignettes or stories, not exceeding a couple hundred words.

Long Version

    Years ago, when I was still a little child (I’m talking about junior college) I found a blog named “Two a day and more” and it blew my mind. Every single story oozed of creativity and eloquence. Stories ranged from the utterly sweet to the horrifyingly macabre. The stories were vastly different, but there was an underlying charm that bound them all together. I was hooked.
    The blog belonged to someone who went by the pen name of “RustyNeurons”. I knew nothing more about her than that she worked in Bangalore and wrote magnificently. Going by the stories, and her comments, she must not have been much older than what I am today.
    When I had discovered the blog, it was already a few years old. She was already posting less frequently. A few months later, she stopped posting new stories altogether. I was very sad. I would reread her old stories whenever I got the time. The stories I write now, are in a way my attempt to catch up to her.
    So why am I explaining all this? I’m coming to the point. Be patient.
    I frankly had not read a lot of blogs before starting my own. When I wrote my first Two Inch Tale, I thought that was a standard term to use because Rusty always used to call them that. Apparently it’s not. It was her coinage.
    So there’s no true definition of a two inch tale. Since she has closed her blog, I am the only one using the term and to me, a two inch tale is a very very short fictional story or vignette, not exceeding two hundred words, which engages the reader emotionally and usually contains at least one character.
    Depending on the number of words, stories are categorised as novels, novellas, short stories and flash fiction. A two inch tale is an extreme version of flash fiction. As we go from the longer to the shorter format, the importance of factors changes. Novels rely heavily on plot lines and the story. The same might apply to novellas. On the other hand, Short stories do not have plot lines. They are mostly about the story and the idea. Flash fiction usually relies more heavily on the idea, but needs a story to convey it as in a short story. But a two inch tale is too short for anything but the idea itself. It is a manifestation of an idea and nothing else.
    I have wanted to explain all this since I started labeling my stories as 2 inch tales. It’s a borrowed term. It belongs to RustyNeurons. It’s in a way, my tribute to her writing.

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