Soul Beach
Soul Beach

A heavenly paradise of friendships, secrets and maybe even love.
People are dying to get here ...

The first email from my sister arrives on the morning of her funeral. I know. What kind of sick freak checks her email before she goes to see her sister being buried? But sometimes it hurts so much I feel like I've got acid in my veins instead of blood, and that's when I go online.

Online, everything's normal. No inquests, no detectives, no TV cameras. Just Facebook updates about who's dating who. And junk emails from African princes offering me a share of their fortunes. Oh, yeah, and emails from dead people. Not quite so normal.

I almost miss the message. I know it can't be real. I know it's a sick coincidence. Someone's hacked her account, the one she used to send me college gossip and drunken photos.

But even though I know it's a hoax, my finger locks onto the mouse and I can't breathe as I wait for the message to load . . .


To: AliceinWonderland@forsterfamily.co.uk
From: Meggie@MeggieForster.net
Date: September 15 2009
Time: 10:05:09
Subject:
[THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK]
To report this message as a phishing attempt, click here.

The white screen makes my eyes hurt, but I don't dare to blink in case the message disappears.
'Alice. What are you doing up there, sweetheart? The car's here.'

I can't speak.

It's got to be a glitch. A ghost in the machine. The email version of those newspaper stories about someone suddenly getting a Christmas card that was posted in 1952 by a long-dead granny.

And it's nothing but a fluke that my sister's long lost email appears one hour before her final . . . performance.

'Alice?'

I jump, even though Mum is still outside my door. 'Nearly ready,' I shout.

But I don't move. I can't. I feel like there's something there. Something I'm not seeing.

Maybe I really have lost it now. 'You're not real,' I hiss at the screen.
'You're not.'

The longer I stare, the more I know I'm missing something.

I stand up. My legs are like lead, and I can't look away from the screen. What is it I'm not seeing?

'Alice? Come on, now.' Mum sounds ratty. I guess today isn't going to go down as the best day of her life, either. I should try harder. Be a better daughter, now I'm an only child.

Up. Towards the door. One foot in front of the other. Keep going.

And then I turn back to the screen and I see it. The time.

10:05:09

Either just past ten o'clock on the morning of Meggie's funeral.

Or 10/05/09.

The date of my sixteenth birthday. And the date Meggie was murdered.