Mary Poppins – The Musical

Mary Poppins2When I initially learned that Mary Poppins had been adapted from the screen to the stage, I was somewhat sceptical that the musical could be as good as the film. A lot of the magic of the film relied specifically on special effects that could not be reproduced on stage. Jumping into chalk drawings, flying, tea parties on the ceiling, snapping your fingers to clean up, and a whole host of other whimsical adventures would be next to impossible to perform in live theatre. Not to mention that the performances by the cast of the 1964 film were highly memorable and would be hard to live up to!

Doing some research before seeing the musical, I learned that they added many more songs, changed some from the Disney film, and deleted some others. This worked surprisingly well, making the play feel fresh and different from the film and also further developing the characters. Also, the staging is such that they keep the important and wondrous supernatural tricks without making them the centre of the story. In fact, having seen the musical, I realise now just how much the film really focuses on the magical effects as compared to the core elements of the story and characters.

Right away at the start, we learn that the focus of this story is not, as the title would suggest, a magical nanny, but a dysfunctional family struggling to make life work out and display their love for each other. It is that family, the Banks family, that remains the focus of the story. All of the whimsical adventures, crowd-pleasing songs, bright colours, dancing, and funny (but useful!) words are only a means to an end – namely to reunify and solidify the family.

While the story is set in the Edwardian era, the themes are universal. Dysfunctional families come in all kinds. The Banks family is an upper middleclass family, but what they have in possessions, they lack in love. The children are nasty brats who have lots of toys, but they take out their frustrations on the toys and break them. George, the father, is a disillusioned banker obsessed with money because he terrified of poverty. His wife, Winnifred, is a former actress who does not fit well into the role that her husband thinks she should play, namely that of a well-off middleclass housewife. She is trying to run the household but is terrified of making a mistake and is thus meek and mousy. George offers no affection to her or their children.

George is obsessed with control and how things are supposed to be. This was not his original disposition – he used to be inquisitive and fun-loving, but that was slowly beaten out of him by his childhood nanny. Winnifred is obsessed with pleasing George and keeping him happy, but constantly falling short. They are both narrowly surviving life and keeping up appearances. Neighbours and associates see through their charade, however – no one wants to attend Winnifred’s tea party.

The proof the family’s dysfunction is the fact that the children, Jane and Michael, are wild and mean-tempered. They go through nannies quicker than clothes. They destroy their toys. They run away from home. All they need is for a nanny who listens to them and yet who refuses to be intimidated – which they get in Mary Poppins.

It is obvious from the start that Mary Poppins is not a normal nanny. Elements of the supernatural accompany her arrival. Her confidence also startles everyone. She never gives references. She is “practically perfect in every way.” She is not intimidated by George, Winnifred, or the children. She makes them all feel naked and ridiculous, and then she builds their confidence up again. When she travels, she disappears into the sky like an angel.

What Mary Poppins does bring the Banks family – and everyone else that she comes into contact with, for that matter – is hope and faith. She teaches them to have faith that things will turn out. She teaches them respect, but she gives them a reason to respect themselves and then her. She brings chaos into the world to set it right again. Most importantly, she breaks the illusion that George (and then his family) has that life is perfectly controllable.

Mary Poppins is likely intended to be an angelic figure. She has a mysterious past that involves a jack-of-all-trades, Bert, and she has the ability to talk to animals. She flies. She has foreknowledge of events. Her story has all of the elements of being about a messenger of God, bringing faith and love to the people. She helps families love each other, share that love, and bring it to others. She encourages people to explore the world and ask questions, and to never lose their sense of wonder and whimsy.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious indeed!

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From the Rubble – Part III

copyright 2007/2015

3.

Some of the lower floors had been finally uncovered after several hours, the soldier remarked to himself. There was something to be said for having determined men helping to dig and haul, even if the authorities did not like having civilians do so. A determined man in search of his family worked ten times as hard as a paid soldier or fireman.

There was even a priest among them, looking rather odd hauling rubble in his cassock. The man working with him seemed much more appropriately dressed, wearing jeans and a sweater. Even he had the look of a student about him, not that of a construction worker.

Earlier, the priest had sent a small boy in an ambulance with a grandmother who was accompanying her husband. The husband had had a heart attack from the fear of being trapped in an apartment with no stairs, the front door having been blasted away along with the corridor. So far, most of the survivors they had rescued were those whose apartments had not collapsed.

One man had frantically worked his way to the edge of his floor to yell over the roar of the workers that he needed help quickly. A crane had been sent up to fetch him and his wife, who was soon to give birth. A frantic night it was and they had barely ventured into the rubble.

He heard a shout and turned to see several firemen calling over the priest. They were obviously religious, the soldier noted grudgingly. If they took the time to pray for everyone and everything, they would never get the wreckage cleaned up. God had let the bomb go off, so what did He care? He did not exist as far as the soldier was concerned, and thus the pointless rituals these firemen were going through only took up time. They would find many dead bodies. What did they expect, that the priest would set up an assembly line? With firemen carrying the bodies as though on a conveyor belt?

The soldier went over to the commotion, hoping to remind the firemen to get back to work. He could care less if the priest did what he liked, provided he stayed out of the way, but the firemen had a job to do.

Hardened soldier that he was, he did not find the scene as horrifying as the rest of the civilians and even the firemen, one of whom was weeping. What struck him was that this scene was being played out in the city, in the suburbs where everyone assumed things were safe and secure. It was not happening on the frontier, in strange foreign places where warfare and death were daily life. He had seen many a man cry over the body of a dead child, but never here. Not like this.

“Get yourselves read – keep digging,” he ordered the firemen, who nodded at him and slowly went back to their work.

The soldier turned and did likewise, unable to look at the priest, who knelt among the rubble cradling a small girl in his arms.

“Nellie, my dear Nellie!” he sobbed.

The young man who had been helping him, the one the soldier had pegged for a student, picked up a doll from the bed, the toy as motionless as the child who had clutched it. Then he too knelt, making the sign of the cross and staring up at the stars, just visible beyond the overhang of the roof. Something shifted underneath him and he turned his attention to it.

Gazing at him lovingly was a battered but glowing Mother of God.

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From the Rubble – Part II

copyright 2007/2015

2.

The news reports hesitated to speak of the number of dead and injured. There were lots of reports of rescuers and damaged apartments, with the cameras trying to get as many photographs and images as possible without showing too much that could indicate death. Some shots were immediately cut short and viewers were left to wonder what the cameraman had seen next.

Lots of speculation as to who had caused the bombing was circulating in lieu of information. This, of course, led to much conversation among casual viewers, curious neighbours, and the avid political affectionados, but did nothing for those frantic to know if their loved ones were safe. There was even confusion as to which exact building it was. Some reporters had the wrong address, while others were hesitant to release the address at all.

Some anxious friends and relatives were standing at the police barricades, hoping that a closer proximity to the scene would lend them better information. The telephones to the building were broken and even those who lived in the section that had not collapsed could not reach those outside. One man had been lucky enough to get through to his cousin on a mobile phone, but that man knew nothing about any of his neighbours and it was all he could do to get himself out of the building, to which the onlooker could only tell his comrades at the barricades that he still knew nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, and from a block away, no one could even get a good glimpse of the wreckage.

All one middle-aged woman could see over the crowd was that her son’s apartment building had a hole in it. Any fires seemed to have been put out while helicopters and cranes were circling the crumbling apartments looking for news footage and survivors.

At least they were looking for survivors, the woman remarked to another woman next to her. They had ambulances. They never used ambulances for the dead and certainly never with sirens. There was hope then. Perhaps her son would be fine.

Well, of course he would be fine! He was her son. He had just been married and had a good life. He was all she had left after her husband’s death in the last war. He would be fine and so would his new wife, and since they would have to find a new apartment, they would come live with her until they did so. How delightful!

Yet the woman next to her did not share her optimism. She had heard that most of the cranes were rescuing people trapped in the part of the building that had not collapsed and removing rubble to find bodies. All of the lower floors had been crushed, along with all their inhabitants.

What floor did her son live on? For that matter, what section of the building had collapsed? She could not see clearly from her angle, nor in the dark could she remember exactly where her son’s apartment was. She would have liked to get closer. They had let some people get closer, although they were mostly men commandeered into helping with rescue efforts. No one wanted old women helping with rescue efforts – this was not wartime and the city was not under siege, one policeman had said. They did not need grandmothers to help. Another policeman, not so rude, had told her that grandmothers would be better off helping by going home and knitting blankets for the newly homeless. Wouldn’t she be more comfortable watching her television and waiting for news of her son at home?

But she refused to move, despite the cold night air and the discomfort of standing for such a long time. As she did so, dread seemed to well up within her. She was waiting just as she had been waiting for news of her husband, and that news had not been good….

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Week XXIX – Wild Race to the Finish

once-upon-a-time-season-4ONCE UPON A TIME – Season Finale
Season 4, Episodes 21 & 22 (Operation Mongoose Part I & Part II)

finale3There is certainly something to be said for telling a good story with a tidy beginning, middle, and end. This season finale brings together the majority of the plotlines of the past few months and resolves them, wrapping up everything neatly but for one, teeny, tiny detail – the choosing of a new Dark One.

In one quick scene, the circumstances of the series has dramatically changed. Now Rumplestiltskin is powerless (and possibly quite nearly dead) and the Saviour is gone.

finale2The Author writes, at Rumplestiltskin’s bidding, a new story wherein the heroes and villains have switched places. Now Rumplestiltskin is a gallant hero (happily married to Belle and father of baby Neal), Regina is a wanted bandit, Snow White is an evil queen, Captain Hook is a cowardly weakling, Prince Charming is a heartless lackey, and Emma is a trapped damsel in distress. Oh, and Robin Hood is happily engaged to Zelena. I have to admit, seeing these role reversals was fun. It was refreshing to see the actors take on what essentially amount to new characters and play them such that they remind us of both the actual characters and the characters that they are replacing in the story, without being outright replays of the same story as before. Evil Snow White was truly scary in that the real Snow White could have gone down that route had she made those choices. Bandit Regina was heartwarming in that Regina had the fortitude to be strong and independent had she decided to do so. Heroic Rumplestiltskin was bittersweet because we get to see what Rumplestiltskin wanted to be all along. After all, he wanted to use his power for good initially. He did not count on the darkness consuming him.

However, the Author did not count on Henry, who is determined to set things right and go into the book to save everyone. Finally, Henry gets the chance to be the hero that he wants to be and see the Enchanted Forest in real life. He is entirely out of his element, but he manages to follow the narrative so that he can save everyone. Well, actually, Regina can save everyone, but only because of Henry’s insistence.

finale1Then, Henry is chosen as the new Author. He breaks the enchanted quill to keep it from being misused, but I doubt that magical quills disappear entirely. Perhaps they only multiply!

In the closing minutes of the season, the darkness killing Rumplestiltskin is removed by the Apprentice, but it consumes the latter and then disappears. Reappearing shortly thereafter, it starts to attack Regina, but Emma refuses to let it do so. Instead, with a tearful farewell to Captain Hook and her parents, she disappears into the darkness, leaving a startled (but relieved) Regina, distraught Charmings and Hook, and a shocked Robin Hood to stare at the Dark One’s dagger, now inscribed with ‘Emma Swan’.

Aside from this powerful scene, the rest of the story is self-contained and the rest of the cast celebrates having safely returned to Storybrooke. Next season will be intriguing and opens up plenty of new possibilities. What of Rumplestiltskin? Is he dead, comatose, or just back to his pre-Dark One self? What of Emma? Does her Saviour magic have an adverse reaction on the darkness? Has her goodness been entirely overridden? What about Zelena – is she still going to spend the next seven months contained and controlled? What about after she has her child? How will the loss of Emma affect her family? Poor Henry! Will he try to save her, abusing his Author powers? Will he be tempted to go the way of his grandfather?

Meanwhile, in his dying breaths, the Apprentice revealed the name of the Sorcerer: Merlin. So next season surely will take our characters to Camelot, or have Camelot featured heavily in the past. (Hmm, perhaps there is a chance that Regina will find some holy water to cure herself! I foresee a semi-humourous sideplot about this.) How Merlin will factor into the story will be interesting – there are certainly ways to screw it up. Hopefully, the writers have an understanding of how he and Camelot fit into the world. They seamlessly wove in Frozen, after all, so Camelot should be entirely attainable.

What is Camelot but an enchanted kingdom?

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tumblr_n0jgddouMc1rtrs3mo1_500hCASTLE – Season Finale
Season 7, Episode 23 (Hollander’s Woods)

At long last, we find out the first crime that has haunted Richard Castle since childhood and spurred him on to be a mystery writer. Namely – when he was eleven years old, he was in the woods and came across the dead body of a woman (the first time that he had seen such a thing) and subsequently was attacked by a masked man who threatened his life should he say anything to the authorities.

Thirty years later, Castle is up for an award for his writing and everything is going well in his life. As the writers of the show were unsure if they would be renewed for another season, they treated this episode as a sentimental finale wherein Castle got the chance to have heart-to-heart conversations with his daughter and mother, Beckett and Castle got the chance to have some discussion of the future of their relationship, and we were treated to a lovely tribute to all of the main characters at the 12th precinct. Had this been their last adventure, it would have been memorable and enjoyable because we had closure with the characters and also an adrenaline-rush of a case.

Meanwhile, a body is found with the same markings and circumstances as the woman that young Castle (er, Rodgers, at the time…) found in the woods. In the course of their investigation, they discover that there have been several other women go missing in the Hollander’s Woods area under similar circumstances over the past three decades. On the hunt for a serial killer, Castle takes the investigation particularly personally and vows to do right by the woman that he was unable to help when he was eleven. He is even willing to seek out the perpetrator on his own property to help Beckett find evidence without a warrant – even at the risk of his own life. The killer had qualms about killing an eleven-year-old boy, but not a man in his forties. Were it not for their quick thinking, fortunate gaps in barn doors, and Castle and Beckett’s implicit trust in each other, Castle might have been receiving his award posthumously.

That said, the secondary plot involving Beckett is equally important to the show. For seven seasons, we have had the same basic premise, even as the relationship between our leads evolved: Castle is shadowing Detective Beckett on murder cases, aided by Ryan & Esposito and others, and reporting to a captain. However, Beckett is now not only up for promotion to Captain herself, she is being suggested to run for the Senate. Either position would change how the characters would relate. If Beckett becomes Captain, she is faced with more paperwork than legwork and her buddy-cops would become her subordinates. Yes, Castle could still shadow her, but would he want to shadow her sitting in an office filling out paperwork and answering the telephone? Equally, and this is a premise mentioned by the characters themselves, if Beckett were to run for the Senate, would Castle follow her to write political thrillers instead of murder mysteries? And what about Beckett and Castle having a family? Beckett is in her mid-thirties, so would she delay or forgo children altogether for her career? Or would she decide to have a baby instead? I would think that being promoted to Captain would make it easier for her to have a child, but do the writers agree with me?

Either way, I look forward to finding out.

CASTLE - "Hollander's Woods" -- A death in the woods draws Castle back to a terrifying and defining event in his childhood. Investigation leads to obsession, as he attempts to unearth answers that have eluded him for decades, all while Beckett faces a crossroads of her own, on the season finale of "Castle," MONDAY, MAY 11 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) PENNY JOHNSON JERALD, TAMALA JONES, MAYA STOJAN, SUSAN SULLIVAN, MOLLY QUINN, NATHAN FILLION, SEAMUS DEVER, STANA KATIC, JON HUERTAS

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Week XXVIII – Happy & Bittersweet Anniversary

once-upon-a-time-season-4ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 20 (Mother)

In an episode that could have very well been foreshadowing for the death of Regina, Mother gives the viewers three maternal relationships all suffering from very different circumstances, as well as some other motherly storylines.

First, following the events of the previous episode, Maleficient is reunited with her long-lost daughter, Lily. The reunion is bittersweet in that Lily has had such a hard life that she cannot bring herself to trust her mother or try to have a relationship with her. She wants to get revenge on Snow White and Prince Charming, but Maleficient only wants to have her back. Lily really only settles down and decides to try to get to know her mother better once she turns into a dragon and nearly gets caught and strangled in telephone wires. Her mother is able to calm her and promises to teach her how to fly.

Our original long-lost mother-daughter pair, Snow White and Emma, come to forgive each other after having spent several episodes angry. Emma decides that even though her mother’s actions were reprehensible, they were done in good faith and out of love. She certainly cannot stand to lose her again.

The relationship developments between Snow and Emma and between Maleficient and Lily were not too surprising. The storyline of Lily and Maleficient is minor – they are not central characters and thus their relationship takes a backseat to those of the protagonists. They get to shine in this episode, but now we can safely assume that for the next while, Maleficient and Lily are going to be preoccupied with getting to know each other again and thus be out of the main storyline. Snow and Emma have fought too long and too hard alongside each other to stay angry for long. While Emma is bitter about her mother’s betrayal, she does not want her to die. While Snow desperately wants a strong relationship with her daughter, she recognises that she betrayed Emma’s trust and thus deserves the treatment that she received.

The third mother-daughter relationship highlighted was somewhat more complex: we learn that in the past, Cora returned from Wonderland to try to help Regina. Unfortunately, her version of helping was to try to get Regina pregnant, since she figured that a) Regina would be happier with a child, and b) Regina needed to get Snow White out of the way, and doing so by supplanting her would be infinitely preferable to killing her. Cora, while heartless, was always pragmatic. She rightly determined that Regina showed little interest in King Leopold, but supposed that her daughter could always have an affair with Robin Hood. Not one to actually get the real Robin Hood, she got Nottingham to be her puppet and pretend to be Robin Hood, because Nottingham struck her as the type of son-in-law she would have wanted.

Unsurprisingly, Regina sees through her mother’s plan and beyond, to the obvious conclusion that Cora would want to use her grandchild to control Regina and the kingdom. (Everyone but Cora likely could have foreseen this inevitable result.) Not wanting her child to suffer the same abuse that she did, Regina does the most loving – but desperate – thing that she can think of: drinking a potion that will prevent her from having children altogether.

In that light, Regina’s present-day relationships with Henry, Roland, and Zelena’s child are all the more bittersweet. Henry is her little prince – the child that she always wanted – and realising that she was treating him the same way her mother treated her (back in the second season) was obviously the exact antithesis of what she had intended. Roland is a possible second chance, likely something that she never thought would be possible. Now that she knows that Marian is truly gone, she is the only real mother figure in his life. As for Zelena’s child, she could choose to be envious and angry – as Cora and Zelena would – or she could decide to take action. Initially, she chose to simply get rid of Zelena and the child, but reconsidered.

Also worthwhile to note that if holy water could cure Snow White of the same potion, there is a chance that it could still work on Regina, which would be an interesting plot point for next season!

Ultimately, this episode saw Regina make the choice to take her own happy ending, but not by force. Rather, she realised that she had the power to have her happy ending whenever she wanted, without destroying anyone else’s. If she was secure in herself, she could be happy – whether it was with a man or not. As it turned out, she does have a man in Robin Hood, but she didn’t need him. He, along with more stepchildren, is merely adding to her happiness.

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tumblr_n0jgddouMc1rtrs3mo1_500hCASTLE
Season 7, Episode 22 (Dead From New York)

For the 150th episode, the murder in question took place at a studio producing a longstanding live-television comedy-variety show. Included in this show were various nods to Castle as a series, including a segment where Castle and Beckett are spoofed.

Overall, this episode was not spectacular, but it was not intended to be so. Yes, it was an anniversary episode, but so close to the season finale, it really serves as comedic foil to the following week. Everyone was lighthearted, there were touching tributes, and the writers worked into the dialogue some of the questions that long-time fans were asking.

The story itself was a typical mystery-of-the-week – victim is found by unsuspecting colleagues in a surprising manner, the detectives investigate, and Castle and Beckett solve the case. The murder and motive were not particularly memorable. Typical for this series, viewers don’t watch for the gruesome murders or even for the mysteries, but for the chemistry and comedy between the leads and the main cast. We are just as interested in what theme, setting, characters, theories, sport, or recreational pursuit the writers will use each episode. Will there be aliens? Will they be going to the beach? Will there be time travel? Extreme sky-diving? Wind-surfing? Extreme sky-divers being killed by wind-surfing, time-travelling aliens on the beach?

Whatever next season brings, hopefully we see many more episodes like this one!

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Week XXVII – Travel Week

once-upon-a-time-season-4

ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 19 (Lily)

To kick off the last three episodes of the season, Emma and Regina are off on a road trip to find Maleficient’s daughter, who also happens to be Emma’s friend from her teenage years, Lily.

For many reasons, Lily is not happy to see Emma. She wants revenge on Snow White and Prince Charming. She is dissatisfied with her life. We run the gauntlet of at first thinking that Lily is fine, then that she is a danger to Emma, and then finally we worry that she will be what causes Emma to turn to the dark side.

What bothers me about this episode, which was well-written and exciting, is that it is very late in the season. It took a long time to introduce Lily. Her character was not well fleshed out. The road trip sequence was rushed in order to have the characters back in Storybrooke for the final two episodes.

Seeing Lily as a broken yet proud woman who had to struggle her whole life with a curse inflicted by the Charmings was tough. We want to think that the Charmings are good people, but they caused Lily a lifetime of suffering in order to save their own daughter. Parents will go to great lengths to protect their children, but this does not excuse the Charmings from wrongdoing. Lily’s desire to get revenge on them is entirely natural and warranted. They do deserve a good tongue-lashing, at the very least.

The climax of the episode is when Regina talks down Emma from killing Lily outright. Emma has every reason to kill Lily (to protect herself and her family) and Lily has every reason to want to die, but do follow through with said actions would lead only to danger. Regina, ever the caring friend/step-grandmother, knows full well where such desire for revenge and safety can lead. She does not want to stand by and let Emma give in to that desire. Yes, the world would not miss Lily and Lily would not miss the world, but she does not deserve to die.

Finally, Regina confronts Robin Hood and Zelena. Unfortunately, Zelena has already ensured that she could one-up Regina – by getting pregnant, posing as Marian. How that plays out remains to be seen…

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CASTLE
Season 7, Episode 21 (In Plane Sight)

For a change of dynamic, Castle and his daughter, Alexis, take centre stage in this episode. Their father-daughter trip to London becomes an Agatha-Christie-style whodunit mystery wherein an air marshal is murdered and it is up to Castle and Alexis (along with the flight crew) to figure out who among all of the suspects is the killer.

The fun thing about these types of mysteries is that there is a closed list of suspects, limited places to maneuver, and a short time in which to get the mystery solved. It was not a realistic mystery, or even a serious attempt to create one, but instead a chance for the audience to watch Castle and Alexis work together, along with some background help from Beckett.

Honestly, one would be drunk by the end of the hour if one took a shot for every time Castle and the flight crew were noisily and frantically discussing the murder within earshot of the other passengers, despite constantly saying that they needed to keep things quiet. People really are not that self-absorbed that they would not pick up on the nervous tones, the strange behaviour, and the keywords like ‘corpse’, ‘murder’, ‘weapon’, ‘terrorism’, and more. At least one passenger on their way to the lavatory would have overheard something suspicious!

While not at all realistic, the story was enjoyable. We can really see that after seven years, Castle has done pretty well as an investigator. A bit more practice as a private investigator might have indeed turned into a second career – although we are glad that he got reinstated with the police. Alexis has also matured and found a calling – while she is not in medicine, she might yet decide that she wants to pursue forensic pathology…or maybe she will just follow in her father’s footsteps.  Either way, she actively helped to solve the mystery in a manner that did not seem too contrived. She has come a long way since being the cute little fifteen-year-old girl that she was in the first season.

All in all, this episode was a change of pace, a change of focus (from Castle & Beckett to Castle & Alexis), and a change of scenery. It will serve as a good standalone episode in the future.

CASTLE - "In Plane Sight" - As Castle and Alexis travel to London, their routine flight turns deadly when the plane's Air Marshal is found murdered. With the help of Beckett on the ground, Castle and Alexis race against time to find the killer before he carries out his fateful plan, on "Castle," MONDAY, APRIL 27 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) NATHAN FILLION, MOLLY QUINN

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From the Rubble

copyright 2007/2015

1.

It was dark, cold, and whatever force that was pressing on her body was heavy. Every breath that she took was painful. Breathing was nearly impossible because the force on her chest was much too strong, and so each gasp for air made her right side inflate and shifted her entire body in that direction. The force was indeed slanted to the left. But what was it? Her aunt would not have placed a board on top of her. It was even too heavy to be a board.

Had the ceiling collapsed? Was that why it was so cold? But the ceiling could not just collapse. The neighbours above them would have fallen on top of them and there would be chaos, not this rather profound silence. She could not hear any noise at all.

Katie tried to move, but the force was not letting her do more than breathe and wiggle slightly. Wiggling only sent barbs of pain along her nerves, but she was at least reassured that her toes and fingers, as well as every bit in between, were working somewhat. Slowly, she shifted to the right of her bed, letting the pressure of the force ease slightly off her lungs.

Worms wiggle everywhere they go, Katie mused to herself, and they eventually get to where they are going.

But the pain of it! How bruised was she? Had her organs been crushed, or burst? And why was it that she could barely hear herself as she rubbed against the sheets and ceiling – if it was the ceiling? She longed to be able to flip her body over, because she hated wiggling backwards. It seemed to be taking forever for her to reach the edge of the bed.

And when she finally did so, she realised that going any further would be a problem. What if there was something sharp on the floor?

The force had dissipated and was no longer pressing against her, but she could feel its presence only millimeters away from her head. Her arms and legs were still trapped in their sleeping position and if she continued her wiggling, she would tumble off the bed onto her rear at best.

Suddenly, she could hear noises. Sirens were wailing outside and helicopters were flying past her window. There was a dull roar of screams and shouting, and above it all, her teeth began to chatter. Her head began to ache from all the noise hitting it at once, but especially from the clacking in her mouth. It was loud, uncontrollable, and only aggravated her pain.

Was that her aunt’s voice calling her? Her aunt’s bed was along the outside wall, and perhaps the ceiling had not fallen down there? But if the ceiling had fallen, why was there no one from the building to do anything about it? Her friend Mary lived in the apartment above and one over from hers. Surely, even if the floor in her apartment had not collapsed, she would have awakened, or her mother would have, and investigated the slanted floor?

And what about their neighbours just above them? Surely a collapsing floor would have roused them from their sleep. She had seen them on the stairs coming back from the cinema, and then they had said that they were heading to bed. It was not as though they were still out. Most of the apartment building’s residents should have been home at this hour. But Katie heard little coming from inside.

No longer content to remain wedged in her bed, she delicately manoeuvered her feet out into the void behind her. They scratched along the ceiling’s surface until she lowered them toward the floor.

Everything was slanted, she soon realised, as her feet reached the floor sooner than she had expected. Her rug had slipped, leaving her feet to land upon a cold, hard surface littered with pebbles. At least, they felt like pebbles, whatever they truly were. Katie managed to get a solid footing and then push herself off the bed.

Almost instantly, her body was overcome with cold. The window was shattered, she noted as she turned around to face the only light source in the room, and wind was blowing into the apartment. She needed a blanket, but there were no blankets to be found. Her sheets were stuck on the bed. Finding her slippers was also proving to be too difficult for her aching head. Miserably, she curled herself up into a shivering, aching, bloody lump on the floor.

Blood was indeed pouring out of her head, she decided. She could taste the salt, and when she instinctively wiped her face, more blood only surged to cover it again. Her eyes were dripping red tears onto her white pyjamas.

Not that her pyjamas were white anymore, she realised. There were dark patches where blood was pooling and her entire body felt wet and sticky – wet, sticky and a dark shade of red. The pain of it only grew in intensity; now she could feel the gashes and bruises. They seemed to be everywhere. What had happened? This had to be a nightmare. But if it was a nightmare, what was causing her to hurt so much? She never felt pain in her dreams that was not somehow real. What would cause her to feel as though the ceiling had collapsed if the ceiling had not indeed collapsed?

“Holy God have mercy,” she sputtered, but even her mouth was bleeding. She coughed and tasted more blood, thick and noticeably brighter when she instinctively spat it out.

She heard a whirring noise and then gradually a flurry of lights appeared in her window. White light momentarily blinded her and she tried to move away from it, but then the light stopped and hovered outside her window, still keeping its focus on her.

Please, she prayed, unable to form words except in her head. Please let this be a helicopter.

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