Here’s a third excerpt from my piece of fiction “Wandelaar van de Duisternis”, that I wrote about when describing the catharsis of creative writing. This was inspired by weird dreams last night, and it was fun to write. I’m not really sure about it, the tone is completely different to the rest of my writing; and I’m breaking the cardinal rule of “show, don’t tell”.
But it was interesting and entertaining for me to speculate how modern ghosts familiar with modern technology would change the traditional image of the afterlife.
Modern ghosts often carry the items they were familiar with in the living. This isn’t the afterlife of Beetlejuice. It’s not unusual to see a ghost wearing Airpods as they walk about the city, or using a laptop or a mobile phone. It might seem surprising that such technologies work within the Veil, but why shouldn’t they? Yes, you are able to order pizza delivery online; the newly arrived son might call his dead mother; you can keep making posts to your Facebook page (although only the dead will see them). The only limitation is the memory of the dead. The Airpod wearer only listens to music that they knew when they were alive. When you’re shopping online, you just see the stores and the fashions that you were familiar with in the living. And obviously, you can only call others in the Veil that also have a phone. Although somehow, no matter what number you dial, you always get through to the ghost that you intended to call.
I do know of one enterprising phantom that has started seeking out newly arrived spirits, to find out what music they are listening to, and what films they saw recently at the cinema or the latest series that they watched on Netflix while they were still in the living. Then he recreates those songs and movies here in the Veil.
He’s made distribution deals with local radio stations and entrepreneurial spirits in broadcasting and media. So older spirits can visit the local Pathé cinema and see the latest releases, albeit perhaps not exactly to the level of detail that they were in the living.
Of course, Sanne was a thoroughly modern ghost and quickly acquired a laptop, phone and Airpods for herself. I did have a mobile from the Veil, but always left it on the phantom presence of “Tijdgeest”. It was pointless carrying it with me because I frequently moved between the worlds, and I couldn’t take it with me to the living without it dissolving into ectoplasm. That’s always messy, and particularly difficult to clean from clothing, so it’s something that I prefer to avoid.
When I did remember to check, I often found that she’d sent me messages and photos. It always made me smile when I saw a picture of her face, even when she was making “duck lips”. And the boob shots that she sometimes sent did make my pulse race.
There isn’t yet any reliable method to communicate through the curtain between the living and the Veil. I’m sure that there are research laboratories that are working on this, trying to find a technology that will function consistently.
Some spirits, especially those who aren’t sensitive enough to see through the curtain, would probably love to have regular Zoom calls with their children and grandchildren as they grow up. But I’m probably right in suggesting that many among the dead, particularly the newly dead who are more familiar with the modern world, would look upon such a breakthrough with trepidation.
How long would it be before Lawyers’R’Us would be spam-calling accident victims about compensation for their families? The car company asking if you wanted to take out the extended warranty on the vehicle you’d been driving when you had that fatal accident. Or the new widow wanting to ask her husband if he’d been having an affair with the mysterious woman who was sitting at the back of the chapel during his funeral.
If they knew about the research, I imagine that many in the living would be equally in dread. Do the living really want to know that their late mother is still watching over them, and letting them know that they shouldn’t be living off junk food and binge-watching Ted Lasso. Or imagine getting a call from deceased relatives to tell you that they disapprove of your new partner.
And what would murder mystery authors do if the police could just call the victim in the afterlife and ask them whodunnit?
But I digress. I hadn’t meant to venture into the realms of speculative fiction.
Pingback: Wandelaar van de Duisternis | Mark Baker's Blog