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


    It was late at night but she was still in the kitchen. The knife cut away rhythmically, punctuating the eerie silence of their bungalow.
    ‘Was I too harsh on him?’ she thought to herself. ‘Maybe I overreacted.’ The knife came threateningly close to her fingers. ‘Which married couple doesn’t argue? We have argued in the past. We got over it. We would have this time too. Maybe I went too crazy. Maybe he was right. Maybe I deserved to get slapped.’ The knife cut her finger. She ran to the sink and washed her wound and clasped the finger with her other hand. She sighed. ‘I wish I could tell him how much I repent my mistakes. He would have believed me, if no one else ever did.’ She put the remaining pieces of him in the bag. ‘Maybe I was too harsh on him’.

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