Thriller

Only When Alone E2

Victorian home

EPISODE 2 – UNFAVORABLE CHOICES

With looming time constraints, Mindy must decide between harsh alternative paths, potentially defying societal norms and diminishing her dignity.

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Alone with Poor Options

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After changing back into her regular clothes, Mindy walks home, utterly exhausted from two shifts and a performance interview. She collapses facedown onto her pillow, seeking a few precious hours of sleep. Early in the morning, a nightmare of her welcoming multiple men with Frank’s face throughout the evening propels Mindy from bed.

Her fervid dream portends that she might soon assimilate the behavior of those working at Frank’s Place. Today she must confront the reality of her circumstances and weigh all of her options.

Beneath the tepid water in a cramped shower stall, Mindy makes a decision. She will keep her day gig as a hotel housekeeper while quitting her second job at the restaurant drive-thru window. With earbuds, she begins practicing dance moves to the song Another One Bites the Dust while cleaning hotel rooms, in anticipation of working evenings at the club.

The restaurant only requires her to finish the remaining schedule for the week, just two more days of endurance. With that completed, she returns to Frank, hopeful and ready to accept the dance gig. But she’s met with disappointment. A less apprehensive woman eagerly filled the dance position.

She exits abruptly with what dignity remains. As the weeks pass by, Mindy faces the reality of accepting her security deposit and vacating her apartment. She spends evenings scouring the job market, desperately seeking new opportunities, but to no avail. Full of anxiety, Mindy pounds her head against the wall while coaxing the temptation to accept Frank’s offer of accommodations and freelance opportunities.

“If I stop condemning myself, I can earn enough money to get a nice apartment and car. By living on the streets with my dignity, I’ll be far more vulnerable to who knows what. At least with Frank, I choose my own depravity, perhaps working my way up to just dancing.”

She feels her optimism withering with her morals until a registered letter arrives. It describes an unexpected inheritance. However, it’s not a monetary windfall. Rather, Mindy inherits a spacious two-story house nestled on a 14-acre rural wooded property by a lake. At first, the idea of living in the woods feels as undesirable as living in a car.

Nevertheless, Mindy realizes that she could potentially sell the estate in the future. But her immediate concern is finding a roof over her head. A house in the woods becomes the only feasible option.

Alone in the Woods

With all her possessions squeezed into a single suitcase, Mindy calls for a cab to transport her to her eerie destination. As the meter ticks away, the rhythmic beat of Frank’s club lingers in her mind, reminding her of the life she left behind. Tall imposing trees and winding roads surround her. They provide a peaceful backdrop that contrasts the chaotic cityscape she’s accustomed to. Finally, the cab arrives at her new home, just as daylight begins to fade.

The house looms before her, an imposing structure that hints at a bygone era. Its grandeur suggests a time when half a dozen full-time servants maintained its pristine condition. Even if everything were initially clean, Mindy knows that it would take her days of dedicated effort just to dust the place. With experience working in hotels, she plans to focus on one room at a time.

Amid the silence and tranquility, Mindy’s ears still echo with the sounds of automobile engines, jackhammers, sirens, and the constant roar of the city crowds. If not for the occasional birds chirping, she might fear that she has lost her sense of hearing entirely.

As she navigates the house, she discovers that it’s furnished in a late 19th-century Victorian style, interspersed with a few modern pieces. Countless trinkets clutter every available surface, serving no purpose other than collecting dust. The chandeliers hang from the ceiling like intricate puzzles, demanding attention and diligent care.

The refrigerator and separate freezer stand devoid of any sustenance. The pantry offers only the barest of essentials—tea, beans, and rice. Mindy realizes that she must allocate some of her limited funds for grocery shopping. Judging by the old photographs on the walls and the gun cabinet stocked with rifles, it’s clear that the previous occupant hunted for food.

With her phone’s battery dwindling to a mere five percent, she knows it’s time to power it down and recharge. Grateful that the electricity is still functional, she rummages through files, searching for information on the cost of utilities for such a vast property. For now, she illuminates one room at a time, bathing the house in pools of warm light as she moves along.

After an arduous day of cleaning, Mindy finally finds respite in one of the bedrooms. The refreshing nap precedes a simple meal of beans and rice. This humble dinner represents her current circumstances.

With anticipation, she looks forward to indulging in a warm bubble bath, a luxury she hasn’t experienced since her teenage years. The thought of submerging herself in the soothing bear claw tub kindles a glimmer of excitement within her.

She disrobes, folding her garments neatly and placing them in the hamper, before stepping into the expansive bathroom. As she lowers herself into the inviting warmth, the bubbles envelop her neck. While closing her eyes to benefit from a natural stress reliever, the lights suddenly flicker and extinguish, plunging the room into an ominous darkness. Should she wait helplessly in the tub or rise from the water to investigate?

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