It's cold, here. And wet.
Though there's a lazy calmness in the air, he has a feeling this isn't heaven.
But it's not quite hell, either. Jeez, what is this place?
"What took you so long?" Cassidy jumps an inch as he sees he's face to face with Peter Ferrer. He looks around. He's sitting on uncomfortable crinkly brown faux leather. To his left is a window partially open, and past it, never ending seawater. Somehow the water isn't rushing through the crack on the top of the window, yet there's a puddle forming at his feet.
He stares blankly at peter.
"I wouldn't have been able to last that long. Knowing what I did. I couldn't have lived with myself for one minute." Peter sighs, resting his chin on his palm. "I guess I'm a little impressed."
"Please!" Cassidy's surprised by yet another voice, this one sitting right next to him. "You don't really believe that's why he did it? Because he couldn't live with himself? because he finally felt bad?" Marcos pauses for a moment. His lips curl into a smile that makes cassidy nervous. "The only reason he's here is because there's no reason not to be. What was he going to do? Hope everyone would forgive him? Pray that the sheriff would look past the - what was it, eleven, twelve? - deaths due to him?"
Cassidy looks down at his feet again. The puddle's grown into more of a quarter inch carpet covering the entire floor of the bus. As peter and marcos continue to converse casually, Cassidy looks past them in horror. They're not the only ones on the bus.
Perhaps what really disturbs him is how normal everyone is acting. As if they're still driving down the road, not floating through an endless ocean. Is this what it looked like right before he dialed? Rhonda is gabbing away on her cellphone the same time that Betina's putting her voicemails on speakerphone for all to hear. Is that Dick? Cassidy chooses not to think about it, for the fear of thinking about anything like that. He looks beyond them and sees Cervando Luna quietly sitting by himself, and Meg, looking miserable for a reason Cassidy somehow knows has nothing to do with him. Even the journalism teacher and bus driver are there.
"I wonder how his girlfriend is feeling right now," Peter's words snap cassidy back to their conversation. "what was her name? Cindy?"
"Mac." Cassidy whispers angrily, "Her name was mac." How dare he talk about Mac? He didn't even know her. He'd probably never said two words to her, and now he thinks he can just dangle the idea of her in front of his nose. Teasing him. He pushes Marcos out of the way as he tries to get away from the two of them. He fails, as he realizes there's no where for him to go. And the water has reached an inch and is soaking into his shoes.
"Her name was Mac?" Marcos questions. "Hey, now, buddy. You're the one that's dead. She's still got a pulse, beating every second as she huddles on the floor, wrapped in only a towel. Her cheeks tear stained as she wonders desperately what she did wrong this time." he pouts his lower lip mockingly.
Cassidy, exhausted from anger and defeat, slumps over on a seat a few rows back from them. He rests his head on the seat in front of him and clasps his hands over his ears. But he quickly learns it's ineffective when he can still hear their voices clear as day.
"How will she feel when she learns who you really are? That you never even cared for her?"
That was it. Cassidy was going to have no more of this. "I did care for her!" he shouts at Marcos. The people in the front of the bus stop what they're doing to look at him for a moment. Then go on as if they hadn't heard him.
"Do you think she'll believe that? When Veronica reveals the truth to her, do you think she'll go, 'at least he loved me'?" Peter leans in closer. "She'll just think you were using her."
"Which you were," Marcos cuts in.
Cassidy looks up at him. "Shut up." For once Marcos looks surprised. "You could've kept your mouth shut."
"Actually you really didn't give us the choice not to. And are you honestly saying this is our fault?" Cassidy ignores Peter's question. The water's halfway up to his knees, so he lifts his legs. He wonders if it's possible to drown when you're already dead.
He starts to say something, but changes his mind. Then opens his mouth again. "I still cared about her."
"Doesn't matter now." Peter says.
"It does." Cassidy replies, angrily.
"She's going to move on, you know."
"And a part of you doesn't want that."
Cassidy thinks for a minute. "Is that so bad?" he finally says.
Peter smiles, sadly.
The water is up to his thighs, and he considers asking them what will happen once the whole bus is filled.
"Here's a fun thought." Cassidy looks over at Marcos curiously. "How do you think Dick will handle it?"
Cassidy scoffs. Dick didn't care about him when he was alive, why should he care when he was dead?
Marcos ignores him, instead goes on. "He'll blame himself, of course. For the nickname. 'Beaver', huh? How clever. I bet he feels clever now."
Cassidy frowns. He couldn't imagine his brother like that. He imagined him using the story of his death to lure girls into bed.
"He'll drown himself in hard liquor and drugs. He'll do anything to forget. But every so often it'll come crashing back to him along with his hangover." Marcos sighs. "It's actually kind of sad. Who knew I'd ever feel bad for that guy?"
A wave of guilt pours over Cassidy as the water reaches his chest. Dick was cruel and careless, but he was still human. How Cassidy had overlooked that detail was beyond him.
The three of them sit in silence as the water continues to rise. When it reaches their shoulders, Marcos and Peter casually stand up on their seats. Cassidy does the same. "Should we maybe close that window?" he asks.
Peter smiles the way one would smile knowingly at a young child. "Oh, don't worry about that. Besides, the window's jammed."
Cassidy frowns nervously. His hair is just brushing the ceiling, but Marcos and Peter have to duck just slightly. Cassidy finds that he doesn't have much to say.
When the water reaches his chin, he feels like there must be something else they need to talk about. "What about everyone else?"
Marcos laughs. "Do they really matter?"
Cassidy smiles. "This isn't heaven. Is it."
He decides it isn't hell, either, after the water covers his mouth and nose. But whatever came after this, it didn't really matter. It was over.