Hordes of robed populous crowded around the few stalls. The stench of unwashed bodies permeates the air. The market holds little produce and what there is fought over valiantly. Waves of heat come off the sands making up the floors. Street urchins wearing rags beg on every corner. The customers ignore the emaciated beggars.
The crowds are so dense, one has to bull one's way up to any stall. Rudeness is the norm. The background hubbub is deafening. No one seems to be listening.
A richly dressed crone held up seven fingers and pointed with her right hand to the only stall selling a few ripe Zagga fruit. The vendor smiled in agreement and began to bag them up. The pungent smell of the fruit drifted over the woman and she eagerly followed by sniffing the pleasant odor trail, turning slowly.
After turning 180 degrees, a tall woman appeared suddenly before her. The woman was holding a tracking device in front of her which began to alarm when pointed at the crone’s headband. The young woman asked, “Are you Comma Seenza 116?”
“Who wants to know,” the hag haughtily answered. The beldam began to turn back to get her expected fruit.
“My test strip turned blue today,” the tall woman said. “I am sorry, but you are the first chosen on my lottery.” Out from under her robes, she pulled a Drajaan blade. Perhaps due to the heat, perhaps nervousness, but it slid, slipped and rotated in her trembling hand. She finally was able to jab it between the tenth and eleventh rib of the crone, into her heart.
“Congratulations,” the crone gasped. “I understand.” She died, but the mass of humanity was so dense, she did not fall. Her aqua blood did puddle into the sands on the market floor.
The vendor nervously held up the bag of Zagga fruit to the murdering woman. “Very good for pregnancy,” he exclaimed. “Seenza can't use them. Do you want them instead?”
The tall woman looked apprehensively around the marketplace, but people totally ignored the murder. She wiped her blade on the crone’s outfit and replaced it into the bowels of her clothes.
The vendor pushed the fruit towards the victor. “My name is not the second one on your population control lottery list, is it?” he whined. “If so, I understand, but I am not ready to give in to the government lottery. I don't have my allowed one child yet with my partner.” He backed away and reached to the back of his stall, for a large Vvengo blade to defend himself.
“Don’t worry,” she replied. “After I found out I was pregnant this morning, the government lottery computer immediately spit out one of the two names for replacement. I was excited and impressed that the population control bureau was so quick and efficient. I have no idea how the all-knowing computer picks who we need to replace.” She placed one hand on her abdomen area and glowed.
“ My home pregnancy kit,” said the tall woman, “came with a required tracking device and readout which activated immediately as soon as my strip showed positive. When linked, it showed me Comma Seenza 116’s name and began to trail her.” Tears streamed down from all of her three eyes as she thought about her first murder. She continued, “then It beeped louder as I got closer. I followed the beeps and came here immediately. My device indicated which direction to find her in the huge crowds.”
She preened as she spoke. “I have not received the required second name for population control yet. I haven't even had time to call my life mate and give him the good news yet. I am glad the first mandatory name was such an old person. It is not always so.”
“One of my market mates had to sacrifice an eight-year-old child once,” exclaimed the vendor. “It was a shame that the lottery computer randomly choose a child, but the parents understood and were planning to start another one immediately.” He finally turned and put down his knife.
“Our rulers certainly know how to keep our numbers down.” The tall woman turned to recede. She noticed the body of the crone was now completely stripped of clothes and possessions. She thought there might be already missing parts of her flesh from the old woman’s arms and legs. She wanted to hope she or her future family would never become that hungry in this cruel world.
Her hand-held tracking device begins to faintly beep again. She peered down, but there wasn’t any identifying name on the readout yet. “I will have to hurry home and mesh this with the lottery computer to get an answer.”
She hurried to her minute apartment and opened the triple locks on her front door. She docked the tracking device with the computer system. She resisted an urge to double-check again whether or not she was truly pregnant. The population pregnancy test was never wrong.
The woman ate one of the Zagga fruit as she waited for the second lottery quarry’s name to appear. She knew one piece of succulent fruit would be her entire meal for the rest of the day. Her tracking device began to beep louder and faster as the name Shasha Freemont 778 showed up on the viewscreen. She bent down to stare at the screen.
She straightened up and noticed the tracking device was now intensifying in sound and frequency. Could the second lottery sacrifice be one of her numerous unknown neighbors? Her luck was strong today.
A hesitant knock sounded on her door. Her tracking device was now pounding faster than her heartbeat when she discovered she was pregnant. She wondered why her mandatory headband was beginning to glow.
She opened the door to a short woman holding a howling tracking device and wearing a glowing headband. “My pregnancy test turned blue this morning, “ the short woman said.
They both pulled out blades.