Chapter Twelve – The Cujuanga Tree
Libertine has already returned from Maradonia with the leaves from the Cujuanga Trees, which must have set a record for the airspeed velocity of a laden dove. She gives them to Maya – I guess the window is still open – and tells her to chew the leaves until they’ve dissolved.
“Swallow everything! It will be as sweet as honey in your mouth but it will make your stomach bitter.” (page 94)
Which is yet another Biblical reference – Revelations 10:9. An angel gives John a scroll and tells him to eat it, saying it’ll be as sweet as honey in his mouth but will turn his stomach sour. I’m rather lost as to the symbolism that Tesch is going for, so I’ll assume it’s just a meaningless reference.
Tesch throws in a And so it was… and Maya eats them. They’re as sweet as honey in her mouth but then bitter in her stomach. Like we just established. The leaves work surprisingly well:
Some drops of brown saliva dropped out of Maya’s mouth but she recovered minutes later from all her pain, her injuries, and bruises. Only the three broken fingers of her left hand, still in the cast, did not heal (page 94).
These must be Magical Leaves, because real leaves, regardless of their healing powers, don’t work that fast. Yeah. That was the entire chapter. A whole two pages!
Chapter Thirteen – The Ouija Board
Warning: this chapter is awesome.
Alana Terrence comes home very depressed. Her mother, Lindsey, is there, and for no apparent reason launches into a dramatic speech. I don’t think any summary would do this speech justice, so here it is in full:
“Alana, oh my gosh! What’s wrong with you? You look so frightened to me… depressed and unhappy. I saw this yesterday too. Please, say something, sweetheart…Alana…I wanted to talk to you since yesterday but… as you know… I had no time… I had to leave…
I have this boyfriend, Alfonso. He is a dance instructor and I am out, nearly every night, with him… dancing in bars and restaurants because we love the salsa dance.
Look, Alana, over the day I work so hard in the beauty salon for both of us to bring money home to pay for our expenses. I bought you everything you ever asked me for, and I even paid with credit cards when I did not have the money and we are now in debt. In deep debt…I know… I abandoned you somehow because I never have enough time for you. Forgive me… But I am still your mother! Tell me what’s going on? But please, don’t tell me that you are pregnant? Are you in trouble again with the law or with this young man? I forgot his name… Alana…he is twenty-one years old and he is just too old for you.” (pages 96-97).
I love that Alana’s mother casually mentions “I Have This Boyfriend Alfonso” to her DAUGHTER, but then, as we’re about to find out, it appears Lindsey is a bit of a whore. And She Loves the Salsa Dance.
Alana, however, has a withering rebuttal:
“Mom, please! I know you are working hard for both of us but I also realize that I never had a real father because you are now three times divorced. I am aware that all men run away from you when they find out about your true character… because you are a gold digger. I know that you are horsing around with many different men at the same time and that you are never there when I need you. You dumped Alfonso several times but you are still together with him. I hate Alfonso! And…I hate you!” (pages 97-98)
Alana says she isn’t pregnant and she’s not in trouble with the law. Actually, Alana, I kind’ve think you are…remember when you beat the shit out of Maya and put her in the hospital? The cops aren’t onto you yet, but it’s only a matter of time until the eyewitness cracks.
Lindsey says she wants to help her, but Alana scoffs and says that Lindsey abandoned her. She tells her mother to look in the mirror and scrape off her layers of makeup, because she needs to realize that she’s almost fifty and guys with a lot of money are looking for slutty twenty-year-olds.
“And now… look at me! Take a good look! I don’t think you have ever really looked at me. Realize it… I am chubby and ugly. I am overweight. I have to lose at least fifty pounds. I am a bully in the school because you have bullied me all my life and neglected me…
All the nights…I was alone… when you were gone… dancing… and I was waiting for you… Nobody loves me, everybody hates me and now the Guardians of Maya are haunting and terrorizing me. You have no idea what I am going through.” (pages 98-99)
You know those scenes where characters suddenly have a stunning moment of self-realization about themselves? Yeah. They don’t actually happen in real life, because people like to delude themselves. Yes, occasionally someone might have what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity and understand a single problem that they have, but Tesch is expecting us to believe that Alana has suddenly come to terms with all the years of emotional neglect from her mother and realizes that it’s made her into an ugly, overweight Gothic bully and is able to calmly elucidate this to her mother’s face? Sorry. Not likely.
I should also point out that we have a picture of Alana Terrence from the first book, and she’s not fat.
Lindsey starts crying. Alana ignores her and begins talking to herself about everything that happened to with the school being haunted and the invisible power that dragged her around. It lasts for an entire page, because when people talk to themselves, they don’t skip over the boring parts and focus on the most important thing that actually matters to them. Instead, they repeat the entire story, using complete sentences for the benefit of the forgetful readers and also to pad the book’s page count.
Alana concludes by realizing she has no idea what’s going on, but clearly there are mystical forces at work. So there’s only one possible solution: she needs to use the Ouija board her aunt gave her for her birthday.
So, I’ve never owned a Ouija board, but are there people out there who seriously believe that shit? I mean, I assume there are some whackos who do, because there are nut jobs who believe NASA faked the moon landings and the U.S. government brought down the World Trade Centers in a controlled demolition…but seriously, I’m pretty sure most people who actually play with Ouija boards don’t really believe the boards contain any kind of actual power.
Then again, I’m not an expert on the ‘psychic community’, so what do I know?
Alana says she invited her girlfriends Tanya and Dorothy over because they have important things to discuss.
“Of course my dear, I think it is a good idea when you have some girlfriends as company over tonight in our house, but why don’t you tell me what it is… that’s so important for you?”
“Please, Mom, it is girl’s stuff… okay.” (page 100)
I guess this means Lindsey is actually a man. But that’s the end of the scene. That’s it. After this huge dramatic confrontation that would in real life probably lead into a tearful shouting argument that goes on for hours, it just ends, and Alana gets over it.
Tanya and Dorothy show up. Alana has lit six candlesticks – I assume Tesch means candles – and they hold hands and conduct a séance. This is glossed over so I guess nothing actually happens.
Tanya and Dorothy gazed at Alana when she got up and rummaged around for some time in her closet and finally pulled from underneath several boxes an old wooden Ouija board, a device that is able to receive vibrations and real messages from beyond this world (page 101).
Keep in mind this isn’t a character’s opinion, this is the Omniscient Narrator telling us that this Ouija board works.
Little did they know that this night would be a night they would never forget because Alana, her two friends and her mother would experience a night of sheer terror (page 101).
Uh. Spoiler alert?
Alana asks the board who dragged her across the cafeteria. After awhile the board spells out the word ‘Guardian’. They ask the board who the guardian is, but instead the board spells out “Bye-bye”. This is confusing and they get mad, but then Alana asks the board if there is a spirit in the room, for some reason. The board says there are two. And then the shadows of Suttie and Cassie appear on the wall. They dramatically explain that they found the girls via the Ouija board and ask them where Maya and Joey are. Alana screams and says she doesn’t know where they are.
Gazing over her shoulder she yelled, “Tanya and Dorothy… look at the monkey statue on the shelf of my bed and remember my words!” (page 103)
Honestly, I’m pretty impressed. Alana is showing remarkable presence of mind by yelling at her friends to keep quiet while she is obviously terrified. Then again, Suttie and Cassie are right there and can hear everything she’s saying, so that comment might have tipped them off that Alana is lying.
The two shadows vanish, leaving a stench of burnt rubber and sulfur, and the girls sigh in relief and open a window to let the smell out. Then Suttie and Cassie reappear and tell them to stop lying. The girls say nothing. Suttie and Cassie gaze deep into their souls.
It was a spooky moment (page 104).
They run, because the stench is unbearable, even effecting Lindsey, who is downstairs watching TV. The girls reach her and then the entire house starts shaking. The plasma TV falls of the wall, an antique mirror shatters, the refrigerator starts hovering, dishes go flying through the house, it’s bedlam. And it doesn’t stop:
A bottle, filled with expensive white wine, flew straight through the room and crashed on Lindsey’s forehead (page 106)
Knives and forks from the kitchen shelves darted like arrows or mini torpedoes toward Alana and Dorothy and sliced open Alana’s right arm and grinded away parts of Dorothy’s scalp (page 106).
Seriously, holy shit! Remember that adorable little girl from your promotional trailer, Tesch?
She probably didn’t read this book, but if she did it gave her nightmares for weeks.
Alana starts to lose it. Her mother is unconscious on the floor, her girlfriends are dripping blood, the world starts spinning, and then she hears the voices of Suttie and Cassie explaining that Alana is one of them and that she shouldn’t’ve lied to them. Alana snaps, starts sobbing hysterically, pulling her own hair, and finally runs out the door screaming hoping to find relief and peace in her soul. Yes, that’s exactly what the book says.
Tanya and Dorothy chase her own and realize that Alana has run out into the road and there are headlights approaching. They scream at her.
Alana lifted her arms once more and screamed, “I have reached the end of my road. There is no return for me!”
Tanya and Dorothy heard the shrieking brakes of a car and then a dull thud.
They ran to the scene of the accident but when they looked at the motionless body of their girlfriend, they realized that their slumber party and the Ouija board séance had come to a tragic end without any return for Alana (pages 107-108).
I don’t think ‘boom’ is an appropriate sound effect for a car hitting a person.
Anyway. That’s the end of Alana Terrence.