Valentin removed his goggles and propped his broom against the wall, kicking away stray bone fragments at his feet. He wiped his brow quickly to keep the sweat from stinging his eyes.
“The dust is worse in here, Dmitri,” he lamented. “I can barely breathe.”
Valentin forced up a cough, a deep bellow that brought a cloud of dust and phlegm.
“How many do you think in this house? Seven or eight?”
Dmitri kept sweeping. “At least twelve. Anya, her family. Her boyfriend, most of his family. Only house on this block that had heat.”
Valentin was silent but then suddenly laughed, spewing more phlegm and a cloud of fine gray particles.
“Only house with heat! Ha!" he bellowed. "All houses have heat now after three days of nuclear bombs!”
Dmitri shrugged. “Not what I meant.”
Valentin shook his head, still grinning. “I should think the early warning radar system was obsolete, if even working. We were world's best at lying to everyone about our military strength, no? Too bad, because they’ve left a horrible mess!”
“Dmitri, my friend, you are terrible at making conversation," Valentin lamented, letting his facial muscles relax. "It’s too bad there aren’t many people like us left. We need someone to talk to.”
“And someone to sweep the floors,” Dmitri mumbled.