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

V for Visitors

It was almost nine and the house was still in a disarray. ‘Could’ve at least informed me she’d be late,’ Sudeep thought as he collected newspapers from under the couch. ‘The guests will be arriving any moment now’. He checked his mobile. There was no message from her. He knew they were going to get into a fight over this. The only consolation was that their son wouldn’t be home to witness it this time.

A strong draught from the bedroom window scattered the newspapers. He collected them and stuffed them into a drawer this time. The bedroom was messy. He didn’t want the guests to see it. He latched the bedroom door shut and entered the kitchen. He was checking for supplies when he heard a screech and a thud as the bedroom door flung open again. He latched the door and made sure that it was properly closed. The bungalow was old but it conveniently located. The previous owners had also agreed to sell it to them much below the market rate.

He reentered the kitchen wondering if he should just order for food when he heard a click. He looked towards the bedroom. The door was unlatched. There was another click. The bedroom door opened slowly. There was another click. It sounded like seashells being struck against each other. He moved carefully, reaching for the handle, but before he could grip it, the door swiveled shut violently on him. He heard a deep growl. Whatever was inside the room, didn’t want to be seen either.

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