Alternate Reality Sucks 

​”Hello?” Natalie wailed, the clicking of her strappy high heeled shoes becoming quicker and more urgent. She raced through an empty mansion, clearly in long term disrepair. “Hel…lo?!” She screeched.
She stomped one of her feet and stumbled as the pointed heel broke. “Oof,” whooshed out of her in a lost breath as she tumbled over and ripped a tear in her knee-length form fitting blue dress.
She blinked false lashes up at the ceiling. 
“Hello?” She whined. “Is anyone here? Am I being Punk’d?”
Her bleached blonde hair was sprawled out around her head like a weird halo. The last thing Natalie could be called was angelic, though. 
Silence was, once again, the only answer to her questions. No amount of pleading would change the fact that she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Or the reality show house, for that matter, which was located in Los Angeles, California. Still, she looked as beautiful as every other bleached, spray tanned, overly made up young Hollywood starlet selling her values and her body for a crack at fame and fortune.
She sat up slowly, shaking like a newborn farm animal. Her hands roamed over each inch of her body that she could touch, checking for injuries. The only injury she could sense was her ankle, thankfully only twisted but it was already beginning to swell. She let out a sobbing whine. 
She touched her expensive sky blue satin pump. The heel had cleanly snapped. Her shoe was ruined and she’d paid $500 for them just last week. There was no getting that money back, and now Carson wouldn’t fall head over heels in love with her, taking her on a whirlwind life to the top. She picked up the symbol of her hopes and dreams, weeping and mourning loudly. After all, if there was no one to hear or see her, she could let loose as she pleased.
A whistled tune interrupted her fit of melodrama. Her head snapped up, eyes wide. Could it be… a savior? 
A rough looking man, around the age of 30, sauntered into view from around the mansion’s generous stairwell. He was clothed head to toe in dark layers. The only bare parts of his body were his unshaven face and the tips of his fingers. His footsteps were surprisingly light for someone wearing heavy boots. 
Natalie dried her tears and dropped her broken shoe to rub her cheeks. “Hey! Hey, hobo. Where is everyone?” She called out in rude greeting. Most people loved the way she talked down to them because she was so brilliant and beautiful so naturally he would help her, or so she told herself. 
He glared at her. Something in his hard gaze was both appraising and contemptuous. “How’d you get in here, girl?” His voice carried a growl. 
Natalie shivered, whether in pleasure or fright. 
“Are you stupid?” He sneered after she stayed quiet. 
“No! How dare you? Do you know who I am?!” She cried in indignation. “I’m THE rising star in this city!”
He snorted. “Well, rising star,” he retorted with clear sarcasm, “You’re a nobody here. Too skinny to make a good meal but I could probably sell you for a few rations. I hear the brothels are looking for whores and you definitely fit the bill.”
Natalie screeched as soon as his words sank in. “How DARE you? I can too cook! Haven’t you seen my show, Love In the Kitchen?”
She removed her other shoe and moved to stand up. Before she could, however, the man shifted his gaze to just behind her. A hand clamped over her face and held a foul smelling cloth over her mouth and nose. An arm snaked around her middle in a tight grip like a python constricting its prey. Her protests were brief and muffled before the world swirled out.
She woke to a blunt pain in her ribs. A booted foot withdrew for another kick but stopped when she sputtered and her eyes snapped open. 
“She’s a mess,” an older woman, probably in her fifties, said in disappointment. “Where did you find her again?”
“In the abandoned rich house,” the rough man replied. He obviously respected her more than he did Natalie. Natalie huffed.
“You’re rude. I have a name, you know.”
“Shut her up,” the woman ordered. “I don’t have time for any petulant shit. That mouth of hers wasn’t made for talking.”
The unseen man stuffed a sock in her mouth. Natalie would have struck out blindly if her hands and feet weren’t bound.
“She doesn’t look like she has the plague,” the woman mused. “She looks like the ideal from the old world so I can probably get at least $100 an hour if I clean her up.”
“Where you gonna find anyone rich enough for that? Plus she’ll probably talk them to floppiness. She’s annoying.”
Tears stung Natalie’s eyes for the second time that day. She didn’t know what was going on but she was starting to think this wasn’t a joke.
“Try her,” the woman offered. “Call it your finders fee.”
“I don’t want to catch whatever disease she has.”
“Pity. No one else feels that way. Brave new world, after all.” The madame was clearly amused. She normally felt no empathy, which had helped her establish herself in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of brothels and rough living, but the girl reminded her of everything she’d hated about the old world. 
The woman surprised everyone and pulled a pistol seemingly from nowhere. She smirked. “Relax, it’s not for you,” she muttered. She pointed it square at Natalie’s forehead, ignoring her whimpers and muffled screams.
“You’re right, we can’t get much from this blonde bitch. Too rude, too petulant, bad for business.” She pulled the trigger.


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