"You can't believe everything you hear," said Sally. "Especially from the dead."
"I didn't say I believed him," Ben replied. "I just think it's worth looking into, that's all."
Sally looked a little disgusted. Her fingers danced over her tablet as she texted.
"Him?" she said. "They aren't hims or hers, they're its. Do you even know what ghosts are? I mean what they really are?"
"Of course, they're people who've died and can't move on. They've got - "
"Wrong. They're all the nasty and spiteful bits of the soul that can't get into Heaven. They're just slighted people with a long memory and a complete inability to keep up with the times. Next time one of the wretched things starts shooting its mouth off, do yourself a favour: stick your fingers in your ears and start whistling the theme tune from Laurel and Hardy. They hate that."
Ben changed the subject he knew why Sally hated the dead. He stood up and moved to the window they were only three levels away from the penthouse. His parents were desperate to move into a higher apartment. Ben liked it here he could see the skyline of Heaven, and a large screen display of live feed messages.
"Mum wants to know if you're okay. You haven't updated for ages."
Ben ignored her and moved to the telescope. He fixed his gaze to the steel-grey smocked dead walking the path on the outskirts of Heaven. Walking was the wrong word they trudged and stumbled along from a distance it sometimes looked like a river. That was how Ben thought of it, a wide river of the dead.
"Mum wants to know why you aren't sending out buzz to the hive." Sally said. Her hands flicked over her tablet again.
Are all brothers dorks? #iamnotmysiblingskeeper @sallyyellowflower
The message drifted up the live feed to the hive. Ben ignored it and let himself focus on just one figure in the group of grey. Her hood had fallen down, showing a mass of unruly auburn hair. He felt guilty, knew he should refer to her as it. Her cheeks were red and she seemed to be in pain. The other dead were overtaking her. She staggered to the chain-linked fence. Her fingers curled around one of the links as she bent over in sudden pain. Ben imaged he could hear the projected voice of the guard insisting she move along, they were not allowed to stop until ... The vibration disturbed his thoughts, he pulled his phone out, private talk, the capitalised message glowed green.
YOU HAVEN'T UPDATED, MESSAGED OR CHECKED MAIL FOR 48 MINS WHAT ARE YOU DOING? - MUM!
"Excellent SophieMBears is following me! I'm linked to her 1,345 followers." Sally picked up her mobile.
@sophiembears thxs for follow @sallyyellowflower, loved your blog #ACErules #beingoldestisapain #ilovelipgloss
The message rode up the live board.
Ben looked back through the telescope with their hoods up and the movement forward it was impossible to make out an individual for long. Desperately he scanned the figures until he caught it again, a flash of auburn. It was lower than he expected. He moved the telescope down her hair was stuck to her forehead, her red cheeks bellowed outwards as if she was screaming. The others kept on moving.
"You know you really should check your mail," Sally said typing "you've lost 48 followers already and Mike MESSAGED."
"I will in a minute" Ben said, but didn't move from the telescope. The woman had pulled the hem of her robe up to her waist, he could see a large white thigh and sock, some sort of sneaker. The mobile danced across the polished book shelf.
"Aren't you going to get that?" Sally asked.
The dead woman was lying down next to the fence her knees like to mountains pointed towards the sky her stomach looked like an inflated hill. Her head lifted her cheeks throbbed in and out like a fish he once hooked on a trip with his father.