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

W for Wait

“Babe…” called Tarun slumped into the sofa staring into his mobile. “Babe?”
“Yes, babu,” came the reply from the other room.
“We’re getting late.”
“Just two more minutes, baby. Doing the eyelashes”
“They’ll be waiting.” There was no reply. “Babe?”
“Wait, na. Your friend can wait some more time. He’s not the president of the America or something.” The door opened. “How do I look?”
“Patakha,” he replied. “Now let’s go?”
“Just two more minutes. The lipstick smeared,” said she returning back into the room.
He slumped deeper into the sofa.
“Why do you even want to meet them? I’m telling you, your middle-class friends are pulling you down. You should hang out more with people from our society,” she spoke pausing in between for the lipstick. “You’ll get business ideas. How many more years will you keep running? I’m telling you, start investing. You understand what I’m saying?”
“Yea babe,” came the reluctant reply.
“Or just ask your father for money. I’ll start a business. I was talking to Sheena. She was telling me that lots of sportsmen are starting up restaurants. Lots of money in it. Or I could start a clothing range—name it after me, you know? Or something like a range of clutches and bags or whatever. Sheena knows about it. I could be like its brand ambassador or something. She knows the people from Wildcraft. Just ask your father for some money, babe, I’ll take care of the rest. Okay?”
“Okay….”
“What could we name it?” she asked.
“We should of course name it after you, babe. How about Witchcraft?”

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