Buck & Jane
A Death in the Family
Decker & Hayes
Epic Echoes
The Great Muppet Debate
Guard Duty
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Stage Blood



Like Mother
Episode 2 - Trapped in a Box

By Daniel Schwartz


(sound of Pandy panting, running)

Narrator: Pandora Darling lived a ten-minute walk from Carousel High School. Most mornings would find her strolling to school, talking on her cell phone or saying hello to the people she met along the way. Old Mrs.Walker once joked that she could set her watch by Pandy's walk to school. Now, as she sprinted past confused pedestrians more than forty-five minutes behind schedule, Pandy wished longingly for that sense of normalcy. (School bell rings, sound of crowd, more running) She reached the building just as the bell rang for second period. She weaved past the legions of students to slump down in the back row of Mrs. Hendersen's geometry class.

Tabby: (shocked, awed) Oh my god, Pandy, where were you? You missed first period!

Pandy: (tired, frustrated) I know.

Tabby: What happened? You sound like hell.

Narrator: Earlier that morning, Pandy woke up to find herself in a metal-walled space only slightly larger than a coffin. (banging on metal)

Pandy: (frantic) Hello?! Is anyone there?!

(clicking, then Mom's voice over a speaker)

Mom: (calm) Morning, honey! Sleep well?

Pandy: Mom? What the hell's going on?

Mom: I made this chamber for you when you were seven. I would have liked to wait a while longer before the training started, but you coming home early kinda forced my hand.

Pandy: Oh my god, Mom! Let me out of here!

Mom: Can't. It's locked from the inside. You have to pick the lock right above your head. You'll find lockpicks in the box to your right - that's a freebie by the way; next time you'll need to have your own on hand.

Pandy: WHAT?! I can't pick locks! Are you crazy?!

Mom: Don't shout so much dear, you'll use up the air. Calm down. Count to five. Focus on how good it'll feel to get out of this box and have breakfast. I made blueberry pancakes - your favorite! Good luck, potato! (clicking)

Pandy: (back at school now) I'm fine, Tabby. It took me a while to get up.

Narrator: Tabby seemed unconvinced, but let the matter slide. Pandy hated hiding the truth from her best friend, but after coming home from school to find her mother standing over a dead body, she wasn't sure what to think. Hope Darling claimed that she was fighting a secret conspiracy known as CASK; that she hunted down their agents and killed them; that she could sense who was part of the conspiracy and who wasn't. It was all just a little too much. (beat) Geometry class passed in its normal boring pace, which after Pandy's morning breaking out of the box seemed almost surreal. On the way out, she saw Bobby Kurtzman in the hall, leaving biology two doors down. (low sursurrus of students)

Tabby: Here comes your fan club.

Pandy: Oh, shut up.

Tabby: Hey, not my fault he's retarded for you.

Pandy: I just hope he doesn't remember.

Tabby: Remember what?

Bobby: Hey Pandy.

Pandy: (dismissive) Hey Bobby.

Bobby: (a little too eager) Didn't see you first period..

Pandy: Overslept.

Bobby: Oh.

Narrator: After Bobby had walked in on Pandy and her mother cleaning up a body the previous afternoon, Hope had clubbed him into unconsciousness and dragged him inside.

Mom:Well, he's a little thin, isn't he?

Pandy: For the last time, Mom, he isn't my boyfriend!

Mom: Of course, honey. Now, lie him down on the couch.

Pandy: What are you doing with that syringe?

Mom: Oh, don't worry, dear. It's just some barbituates and neuroinhibitors.


Pandy: What?

Mom: He'll sleep for twelve hours and not remember a thing. It's basic biochemistry.

Pandy: Mom, you're an airline stewardess. How do you know this?

Mom: When I started fighting CASK I figured I needed to know everything I could. Spent a long time in the library, and then of course there was the internet. Don't worry, Potato; I'll teach you everything I know.

Pandy: Teach-? You mean you want ME to kill people?!

Mom: (laughing) Don't be ridiculous, honey! You'll need a LOT of training before that happens. Aaaaaand there we go. Make sure he doesn't seize while I go call Mrs. Kurtzman.

Narrator: How her mother explained away Bobby's unconsciousness, Pandy couldn't say. But somehow Bobby got hauled off by his father and, if he remembered his experience, he gave no sign of it now.

Bobby: Uh, hey, Pandy, I've been meaning to ask you...

Tabby: Oh, hey, that reminds me, did you see that article in this week's Vapid?

Pandy: (relieved, grabbing quickly on the topic) Oh my God, yeah! I can't believe my Hair Quotient was so low! How did you do?

Tabby: I got a 5! Guess buying all that product finally paid off.

Pandy: That's great, congratulations!

Narrator: Bobby's question went unasked in the flurry of hair discussion. The rest of the day was just as surreal as Pandora's day had been so far. Tabby didn't question her any further, and Bobby seemed too smitten to notice. One person did, however, stopping her as she left English class at the end of the day. (bell ringing)

Nielsen: A moment of your time, Pandora?

Pandy: Uh, sure, Mr. Nielsen.

Narrator: Thomas Patrick Nielsen had been teaching English at Carousel High School for five years before Pandora walked into his class. He'd gotten a reputation as a caring teacher and a trustworthy confidant. The fact that he was gorgeous had only endeared him further to Pandora.

Nielsen: How're you doing? You seem different today.

Pandy: What do you mean?

Nielsen: Well, normally you and Tabby spend the whole class giggling and trading notes. Today you just stared out the window and doodled in your binder.

Pandy: Sorry, sir.

Nielsen: Sheesh, don't worry about it. I just want to make sure you're okay.

Pandy: I am. It's just...well...

Nielsen: Maybe if you showed me what you were drawing?

Pandy: (sighs) Okay. (rustling of paper)

Nielsen: Is this a lock?

Pandy: Yeah.

Nielsen: It's not what I'd expected. Anything you want to tell me about?

Pandy:'s my mom.

Nielsen: What about her?

Narrator: Pandy looked into Mr. Nielsen's soft and caring eyes and felt more trapped than any box could make her.

Pandy: She...she's sick.

Nielsen: Oh dear. Nothing serious, I hope?

Pandy: Well, it's just kind of sudden, you know?

Nielsen: I know how that can be. Well, I've never met your mother - I don't think I've ever seen her at Parent's Night - but I'm sure she'll be fine. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help, okay?

Pandy: Okay, Mr. N. I gotta run. Bye!

Narrator: The walk home was the same as it always was. (cars, children playing, sprinklers) Old Mrs. Walker watering her roses, the Langley twins playing catch, the church. Everything was the same as it always was. Except there was a dead body slowly decomposing in lye in her basement, her mother's latest victim. Her mother was a serial killer who locked her in a box. Everything was different. (door swinging open, shut)

Mom: Hey Potato! How was school today?

Pandy: It was okay, I guess. What're all these papers?

Mom: That's some stuff on anatomy. You asked about the memory cocktail, figured that might be a good place to start.

Pandy: This looks pretty complicated.

Mom: You're a smart girl, it'll get easier with practice. Trust me, when you need to stop a priest from asking why you iced that nun, you'll be glad you did your research.

Pandy: Oh my god, YOU killed sister Agatha?

Mom: Sister Pawn of CASK, you mean. Subliminal messages snuck into the hymnals, and don't get me started on the whole 'last rites' issue.

Pandy: She was helping me practice for the play at the community center!

Mom: I know. That's when I noticed that every prime numbered word in that week's hymnal spelled out a secret message urging congregants to watch the local news that night to receive further instructions. Luckily, I was able to break THAT little chain of communication.

Pandy: Break the chain of-

Mom: You didn't really believe that fire in the rectory was a coincidence, did you?


Pandy: Mom, I can't do this.

Mom: Now, don't you believe what those jerks at school say, girls can do science just as much as boys.

Pandy: You know that's not what I meant.

Mom: (after a beat, sighing) No, I guess not.

Pandy: This is too weird. Conspiracies, implanted chips, secret tests, this can't be happening.

Mom: Listen, Potato. You remember how, when Dad died, I told you I'd look after you no matter what?

Pandy: Yeah.

Mom: Well, I meant it, so when I found out about CASK I knew what I had to do. You matter more to me than anything else. I won't ever let those monsters destroy the world you'll grow up in. But you're growing up, faster than I'd like, but growing up all the same. Part of keeping you safe has to include teaching you how to protect yourself. They've got numbers, money and decades of preparation, so we need to be smart and fast and strong. I know you can be all of those things. You just need to trust me.

Pandy: (After a long pause) Okay, mom. I will.

Mom: (relieved) That's my potato. (kiss on hair) Now, let's make some dinner.

Narrator: (clinking of silverware, muffled talking, laughter) Dinner was chicken and asparagus, one of Pandora's favorites. Throughout the meal talk was of hair products, a funny story about a pilot in Dallas-Fort-Worth and a debate over which movie to see that weekend. After watching a few sitcoms, homework time and 'extracurricular' reading, Pandora was ready to hit the sack.

Mom: You know what, honey?

Pandy: What, mom?

Mom: I'm almost glad you found me yesterday. It feels great to not have secrets between us anymore.

Pandy: That's...real sweet, mom.

Mom: Now, get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow's lock will be harder. Got your lockpicks?

Pandy: Yeah, mom.

Mom: Sweet dreams. (switching off of light, door shutting)

Narrator: Pandy waited until her mother's footsteps faded down the hall. Then she slowly got out of bed, pulled out some clothes, stuffed them into a duffle bag and headed toward the window.

Pandy: I can probably stay at Tabby's while I call the police. God, mom, why did you have to make me do this?

Narrator: Pandy opened up the window and slid out onto the roof. As her foot touched the roof, she felt a shock coarse through her body. She blacked out, and awoke the next morning in the chamber again.

Mom: (over a speaker, after the click) You're lucky you didn't put all your weight on the roof, dear; the electricity could have killed you. Be more careful.

Pandy: You mean you let me nearly kill myself as some kind of...of test?!

Mom: (suddenly deathly serious) LIFE is a test, Pandora Claire Darling. Either we do our best or we fail. (recovering to normal) You'll do great, honey. Good luck! (click)

Pandy: (under her breath) I have GOT to get out of here.

Narrator: Pandy pulled the lockpicks out of her pajama pants and went to work on the lock in front of her, mentally reviewing the notes she had read the previous night. "Like Mother" continues next week, as Pandora tries to deal with her new life and Bobby's advances. Tune in next week for "Trials and Tribulations".

Go to Episode 3