"Who's next?" Tom called to the backseat.
Only Ben and Harriet now remained.
"Ben, where do you want to go?" Harriet asked.
"Probably no use," Tom sighed. "I've never heard that man utter a single word."
The sun was beginning to set over the interstate; the passengers, or what was left of them, had never been so far away from the group home. Ben sat peacefully in his chair, starring out the jagged broken windows, the spring breeze pushing in the sweet smell of flowers from a nearby field.
"Ben!" Tom called, craning his neck to look at the man. Shaken from his quiet meditation, Ben turned to Tom and clasped his hands politely, widening his eyes as if to say 'I'm listening'.
"Where do you want to go."
Ben began to think. Out the window passed a large field of wild grass, the sun beginning to sink into it. He extended his finger and pointed out to it.
"Where?" Tom asked. "Where are you pointing to Ben?"
Tom slowed the van off the highway, through the cheese-grater wake-up strip onto a gravely turn off beside where the road meet a steel-girder fence.
"Here?" Tom asked, looking back at Ben.
Ben stood and fidgeted the passenger door open. Tom and Harriet exited with him, following him along to the break in the fence that lead out to the large open meadow. The sun cut in the sharpest angle through the valley, tinting the fields yellow, punctuated only with the infinite black shadows of the three. Ben wandered out into the center of the field, until it was hard to see the van. He nodded at Tom and Harriet, smiling a serene, bemused grin. All around the group was grass, flowers and other unknown plants; and in the quiet of the far-removed highway field the group could hear their deep rusting and breathing. Facing the setting sun Ben outstretched his arms as if he was catching sunlight and held there like that for a moment, before collapsing backwards into the soft grass below.
From heaven Ben watched Harriet and Tom struggle to load the body he had left behind into the wheelchair and push it through the thick flora back to the van, their efforts hampered by the fading light.
"Over here Ben!" Ariel called to him. So many people lie on their stomachs in the vast clouded plateau, heaven looked not unlike like nap time in a preschool. Others made nervous chit-chat with each other, discussing mainly Tom and his fated passengers, but occasionally things they remembered as well. An intense curiosity pressed itself upon the space and Ben remained quiet in respect of it.
The road before the van became dark and soon was unfamiliar to Harriet and Tom. This situation was not helped by the right headlight that refused to work after its collision with the shopping cart.
"Harriet," Tom called. His chest seemed heavy, somehow. His neck also seemed to be falling asleep, a strange feeling he tried to alleviate by stretching it from side to side.
"Oh no," Gregory said aloud, popping his head out of the clouds. "I wasn't even thinking about it but, Tom should have taken his pill a while ago!"
Those within earshot also sprang their heads up with a look of surprise. "Is that bad Gregory?" a man near him asked. "What happened when you stopped taking the pills?"
"What are these pills you're talking about, that Tom is taking?" Rodger asked, the rest of the passengers looking on in confusion.
"Harriet, where are we going?" His neck was beginning to tingle in the most peculiar way.
Harriet was leaned against the wall of the van directly behind Tom, as always, but for once spoke quietly.
"Anywhere is fine, Tom" she closed her eyes as in a half sleep, "The whole damn time that's all I've been telling you. Anywhere is fine, its what you do with the anywhere that matters." Harriet cozied herself into the molded plastic wall, attempting to find comfort in the inflexible wall. "I think its just you now Tom. Don't disappoint me." Harriet became silent, and Tom was alone.
All of heaven looked down on Tom watching the streets in a reverential silence, a piercing tension filling the space.
The wheels beneath Tom made a rubbery purr on the pavement, quite audible through the broken windshield and windows; the road he rolled down was now completely barren and unfamiliar. The paint and food smeared across him was now dry and creased everywhere it touched skin, with sticky ripples forged from laughing at things that Tom was still remembering - the day had been long and there were still parts of it he was recalling hours later, like lost childhood anecdotes that resurfaced years later to make you smile. And now - the single remaining headlight shone a bright vignette into the road ahead of Tom, illuminating only one necessary piece of landscape at a time, the cool spring breeze blowing straight through him.
Tom could feel his neck tightening, his breathing becoming hindered - letting out a small, private chuckle, he pushed his foot onto the gas pedal and the van roared like a lion-drawn chariot as it accelerated into the uncharted depth of blackness before him.
In heaven, Tom stood silently, confused at first. At first he saw nothing - a blank, white void - but as his eyes adjusted he began to make out the enormous crowd of people before him, and then faces - Harriet, Ethel, Ben; every one of his passengers. The people standing behind them were unfamiliar to Tom but they smiled warmly as if he were an old friend, one they had been waiting to see for quite some time.
"Welcome home, Tom!" hollered a young boy near the front of the crowd, and the entire place erupted into applause and cheer.
Tom was not sure where he was, but as he could tell, it was the friendliest place he had ever had the pleasure of finding.