He walked halfway down the bowling lane in mismatched sneakers--one shoe belonged to his Amazonian older sister and the other he found on the road next to a burnt-out car. He carried a sparkly pink bowling ball in one grimy hand and a handgun in the other. He stopped and dropped the ball. He gave it a push towards the pins with his foot. It obliged to roll a few feet on the leaf-strewn lane then dropped down into the gutter.
"Fuck," he whined.
"Slade, you suck at bowling," said Brittany. She was a rough-looking sixteen year-old with a grating laugh and a long, well-practiced list of generic insults. She was playing cat's cradle with a girl around the same age named Sylvia who had Down Syndrome. They sat in the plastic moulded chairs at the front of the lanes, surrounded by a litter of empty chip bags and soda cans.
"I suck at many things," he said, swiveling around on his heels. He winked at Brittany but she ignored him.
The pigeons roosting in the rafters suddenly decided to take flight and made their way out through a hole in the roof, leaving behind a gentle rain of old feathers and dust that nearly sparkled in the ray of sunlight that came down from the hole. Slade walked into it and looked up to watch the departing birds.
"That's pretty," he said. "We'll be eating them soon."
"I'm not eating pigeons. Pigeons are dirty," said Sylvia.
"We're dirty," said Slade.
Sylvia looked up at him, dropping the cat's cradle to her lap.
"We're people," she said. "People don't eat people."
Slade stared at her with heavy-lidded eyes for a moment, then he grinned.
"Depends on your definition," he said.
"You have a bad mind," said Sylvia, returning her attention to the cat's cradle. Brittany made her next move in the game.
"He already knows that," said Brittany.
Slade smirked then flopped down onto the hard floor of the lane. He laid on his back and stared up at the blue sky through the hole. He sighed deeply then thumped his sneakers rhythmically against the floor.
"Who knew the end of the world was going to be so long and dull," he said. "I thought there would be more running and stuff."
"There was running," said Brittany. "You forget it on purpose because you're an idiot and you like to hear yourself talking about it."
"Why did I have to be young and athletic?" he asked the hole in the ceiling. "All the slow old people got taken out."
"I rode my bike," said Sylvia.
"Yeah, you're pretty good on that thing."
"It's my favorite thing to do," said Sylvia.
"They were the lucky ones," Slade continued.
He rolled over onto his stomach, facing the pins. He aimed the handgun at the one in the middle and squeezed off a shot.
"What that hell?!" said Brittany, jumping to her feet.
"That's loud you idiot!" said Sylvia, her hands clamped against her ears.
"Dumb-ass! You're going to attract the you-know-what with that noise!" hissed Brittany.
Slade shot at the pins again until he emptied the clip. All the shots missed. He sat up and threw the gun down the lane. It came to a rest a few millimeters in front of the middle pin. Brittany burst into her braying laughter. Slade pressed his forehead into the floor.
Sylvia stood and walked stiffly down the lane, her fists tight, stepping over Slade, then the rest of the way to the pins. She kicked them all down with her foot and sending them clattering.
"This is how you bowl!" she exclaimed, then stamped her way across several lanes until she reached the far wall against which rested her bike. She rolled it towards the front door of the bowling alley. She peeked out the door, then opened it wide to let her bike through. "I'm going home," she said loudly. Then she was gone.
"She'll outlast us all," said Slade.