Shadow Ball

The building shook. Bits of rotting ceiling tiles rained down around us. Josie was still curled in the corner booth, rocking slightly. The red vinyl of the seat cushion creaked as she moved.

I fluffed my hair with both hands, trying to shake out the debris. It was futile, a gesture from before. It had been months since any of us had been clean.

“That’s a double!” Martin called out. His shadow stretched before him as he walked back down the lane, ball tucked in the crook of his elbow. With his back to the lamp it was impossible to see his face. “Nice job.” He set his feet at the edge of the foul line.

The wooden planks were slippery with dust. I scrambled to reset the pins and waited for Martin to throw the ball. It rumbled down the lane, veered into the gutter. Martin swore. I ducked down behind the frozen pinsetter, grabbed the ball and skidded back to Martin.

“I don’t think we’re doing her any favors, hiding out in here.” I waved him forward. “Set me up. Why’d you pick
this place, anyway?”

His disembodied voice echoed across the alley. “It’s big, it’s empty, and there’s nothing here the rovers want. The food got cleaned out right after.”

I held my breath and threw. The clatter of pins made Josie cower into the corner. The room went quiet while Martin counted. “That’s three strikes for you!” he shouted. “That’s a turkey!”

Josie moaned. “So hungry, so hungry,” she whispered. It was the first intelligible thing she’d said in three days.

“Not that kind of turkey, honey,” I said. “It’s a bowling thing.”

The building shook again. An old fluorescent light swung away from the ceiling, hung loose for a few seconds, and fell with a crash. Josie rocked harder.

“We’d better ditch,” I said, “empty or not. This place will crumble if they come any closer. Game’s over, Martin; leave the ball. I may know a quieter place.”

This post was made in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt:

1: a large North American gallinaceous bird (Meleagris gallopavo) that is domesticated in most parts of the world
2: failure, flop; especially : a theatrical production that has failed
3: three successive strikes in bowling
4: a stupid, foolish, or inept person

Apparently the only sports that interest me are post-apocalyptic ones. (Check out Winter Games to see what I mean.)

28 thoughts on “Shadow Ball

  1. Valerie says:

    I agree whole heartedly that you’ve done an amazing job with atmosphere here! And poor Josie-hearing the word turkey and getting her hopes up that food is close by-but still, it’s fun that getting a turkey in bowling is something to get excited about-no matter what:) Great job with this prompt!


  2. steph says:

    A tense scene with great atmosphere… remnants of a world gone haywire. And Josie, what did she see to cause her distress? I’d read on to find out. Very nice writing.


  3. Lori says:

    Excellent switch in tone from your Jade series. You still use descriptive features, but they are spare.and reflective of the tense environment, yet with still a flavor of adolescent ability to play in the midst of an apocalypse. Score. Oh, and yes, to include two out of three turkeys in the same story negates the second definition.


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