Part 6: Perfectly Timed Cancer

Chapter Fourteen – Perfect Timing

In a fresh breeze, the sunshine of the morning poured through Joey’s window (page 110).

Maybe this is a bit nitpicky, but sunshine can’t be “in” a breeze. That’s not the way sunshine works.

Joey gets dressed and heads downstairs where he hears his parents talking. Apparently his Aunt Sarah has been battling cancer, the doctors only give her a month to live, and she wants to see them all before she kicks the bucket. Joey’s parents have decided that Aunt Sarah’s ten-year-old son, Andy, will live with them after she dies (her husband is already dead).

Aunt Sarah wrote them a letter, so Joey’s father reads it:

To the Swanson Family,

Lately I have been under a lot of pressure and stress. The doctor said I wouldn’t make it with my fight against cancer.

Everyone has to die, some earlier… some later, rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. Because we will all be in the ground sooner or later…

Please come, visit me as soon as you can. I want to spend my last moments on this earth with my beloved family.

I don’t know what I will do with my little antique store.. But please come… as soon as you can!

Sincerely, Aunt Sarah (pages 111-112)

Okay. So we finally learn Maya and Joey’s last name – it’s Swanson. Setting that aside, she’s their aunt. She’s really going to address the letter with a cold, impersonal, “To the Swanson Family”? And Tesch thinks she would sum up her upcoming death as “I’ve been under pressure and stress?” I mean, yes, she would be, but I doubt she’d phrase it that way. Finally, Tesch expects us to believe that Aunt Sarah would specifically point out that she doesn’t know what to do with her antique store…but not even mention the 10-year-old kid she’s leaving behind?

Joey pops into the kitchen, reveals that he’s heard everything, and tells his parents that they should go visit Aunt Sarah and take Benji with them to get things squared away. He can keep an eye on Maya and keep going to school.

Finally his parents came to the conclusion that the timing for the trip was perfect (page 113).

I don’t care how well the timing works out. A trip to visit a beloved family member who is about to die from cancer cannot be perfect timing.

His parents have some nice things to say about him, though.

“Joey is strong and he is a responsible person. We can trust him.” (page 113)

They don’t know their son at all.

His parents pack their stuff up and take off, saying they’re going to stop at the hospital and say goodbye to Maya before they leave. Joey says goodbye:

“Greet Maya from me” (page 114)

Try and imagine that phrase coming out of a 14-year-old boy’s mouth.

His parents leave and Joey is delighted with the turn of events:

Joey thought, “This is perfect! This is absolutely perfect! Our parents left with little Benji to visit Auntie Sarah. [snip] It’s high time to go. We are ready to go back to the Land of Maradonia just at the most perfect timing!” (page 114)


We cut over to Maya, who is chilling out in her hospital room feeling like peaches and cream. The doctor checks her over and is amazed because except for her fingers, she’s completely healed. Dr. Harrison even calls in Dr. Murphy and both doctors are amazed and don’t know what’s going on.

Chapter Fifteen – Familiar Faces

Maya, at least, is depressed by the contents of Aunt Sarah’s letter, which kinda fits. Maya occasionally has traces of real human emotion, whereas Joey is a stone cold forest-fire-setting sociopath.

Joey shows up, gives Maya her Tarnkappe and they walk out of the hospital, invisible. As they go, they see a stretcher with a corpse with a sheet over it. Joey says that he recognizes the military boots as belonging to Alana Terrence. Maya busts out a hilarious Nugget of Wisdom:

“Just because someone has the same shoes does not mean it is the same person,” Maya replied (page 118).

Joey agrees, but he recognizes the shoelaces. Because he dragged Alana around by her shoelaces. Apparently she has very recognizable shoelaces. However:

“In my invisible situation I am unable to ask the two nurses to pull the bed sheet and show me the face of this person.” (page 118)

Yeah. And even if you were visible I’m pretty sure nurses don’t just show corpses to kids who want to see them.

Two tall women come in and share a brief conversation with the two nurses, revealing to any alert reader that this is actually Suttie and Cassie on their way up to Maya’s room. The nurses, as it turns out, happen to know that right before Alana died she told her mother that she hated her. How do they know this? No logical reason.

Anyway, Joey realizes the two tall women are Suttie and Cassie, so they take off.

Chapter Sixteen – We Found Them!

Maya and Joey get home and take their Tarnkappes off. However….it turns out that Big Bertha and a couple of her fellow ravens have just landed on the roof of their house. How they found the house, I don’t know. Maybe they can read street signs. In English. Anyway, Bertha looks through the skylight and recognizes them and yells “BINGO!”

Big Bertha’s sisters, Beebe and Dodoo asked, “What does it mean, Bingo?”

“Bingo means Bingo! We found them!” (page 123)

They have a point. Ravens from Maradonia probably wouldn’t know what bingo means.

This leads into a hilarious scene where Bertha has to explain what the fuck they’re doing there and who they’re looking for. Turns out her sisters don’t even remember. Bertha expresses the desire that they had been killed by Joey as well, a desire I share. Eventually Bertha tells them to keep an eye on the house while she goes to fetch Plouton.

We cut to Libertine, who gets Maya’s attention at the back door – how, I don’t know – and tells them the powers of darkness are approaching rapidly and they need to get the fuck out of Dodge.

We cut over to Big Bertha, who shows up at Plouton’s flying fortress. Everyone is sitting around the fireplace. Apparently the spaceships have fireplaces.

Plouton bitches about how powerful they are and how ridiculous it is that they haven’t found Maya and Joey. Bertha pipes up and asks if she can say something. This leads to a page of Suttie telling Bertha that she’s basically worthless and Bertha smirking until finally Bertha reveals that she found Maya and Joey.

Suttie yells at Bertha and calls her stupid, which is par for the course for Bertha. Everyone packs up and takes off to go kill Maya and Joey. I can only hope they succeed.

Chapter Seventeen – Cold Light Waves

This is awesome:

Maya and Joey were ready for departure after they shouldered their super big backpacks (page 130).

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHA. Super Big Backpacks? Really, Tesch?

They put their Tarnkappes on, slip outside, and take off for the beach. The ravens don’t notice. They do notice when Plouton shows up and the house is empty. Everyone takes off for the beach to look for footprints. Tesch throws in a “And so it was…” and we cut forward. They’ve spotted and Maya and Joey because they saw the Key to the Underworld floating in midair. Apparently the Tarnkappes makes you, your clothes, and your Super Big Backpacks invisible…but not the Key. That makes sense.

Libertine tells Joey that they are a life-threatening situation. No shit, Sherlock. She explains that he needs to use Defender (the Key) to defend themselves. If he doesn’t act quickly, the airships will use their Cold Light Waves to make them permanently blind. Apparently the Cold Light Waves is their ultimate weapon. Honestly, I think the Ultimate Weapon should kill your enemies instead of just making them blind, but maybe that’s just me.

Maya covers her eyes, but Joey aims the Key and fires and of course he has perfect aim and it pulverizes Suttie and Cassie. The airships turn on their Cold Light Waves so Joey covers his eyes and starts firing blind and ends up destroying three airships and Plouton orders a retreat.

Well. That was remarkably easy.

Maya and Joey head off to the cave.

Chapter Eighteen – Leathery Wings & Glossy Eyes

It’s darker and more humid. The wind sounds menacing. There’s loud sounds and they don’t sound friendly. Eventually they get inside the cave and Maya aims her flashlight up and sees hundreds of bats that look like ‘miniature cloaked Draculas’, which is a simile that doesn’t really work for me.

They keep walking through the cave and they hear an explosion from beneath them. Smoke starts billowing towards them from behind. All the bats take off and start flying around.

They moved like a big school of fish straight into the direction of the cave’s exit (page 139).

That’s another one that doesn’t really work for me.

The glowing eyes of the night creatures bulged white and their fangs gleamed as if they were wet (page 139).

Good lord. Did she use the same resources as Calvin when doing research on bats?

Bats’ eyes don’t glow, they reflect light if it’s shined on them. And do you really think, in a dark, smoky cave, that you’re going to be able to see the gleam of their teeth as they fly around? Really, Tesch?

A swarm of bats attack Joey and start trying to bite him. It’s very intense. But then they see the light at the end of the tunnel (literally) and crawl out and realize they’re back in Maradonia. Hooray! Only took them 140 pages!

It starts raining bats. They plummet out of the sky and splat helplessly on the sky because of the bright sunlight. Uh…that’s not the way it works, Tesch. Bats can fly during the day.

Maya was looking at Joey’s blood smeared face and hands from the sharp bites of the bats. She could not stifle a light smile when she asked her brother, “What a perverted nature we have in our old world.” (page 141)

Setting aside the fact that that’s not a question she’s ‘asking’…she sees her brother covered in blood and bite marks (from which he hopefully will contract rabies) and her reaction is to smile? I take back my previous comments, Maya is a sociopath as well.

Maya thinks the bats were inspired to attack them by the powers of Evil. She also has some random things to talk about:

This cave is basically a culmination point or the time tunnel which separates our old world from this world.

“It seems to me that we did not only reach the Land of Maradonia but we have already stepped into the Fourth Dimension, the world between the worlds or a space between spaces.” (page 141)

No. The cave is the world between the worlds…it’s between Earth and Maradonia. You’re not in that anymore.

They decide they’re going to journey by Tarnkappe to visit Oraculus. Why they took their Tarnkappes off in the first place, I don’t know. Anyway, Joey shakes off another dead bat and for absolutely no reason launches into a speech about how he respects all life, but his loyalty is to his family and to the “rightful heritage of our royal family”. It’s the kind of dialogue that makes you think “Why the hell would anyone, for any reason, say these words? It doesn’t make sense. There was no inspiration for them, it does mean anything, there’s no logical reason for why it would be brought up here, and it doesn’t sound anything like actual human speech.” Of course, the only reason it was brought up was so Tesch could throw in a little discussion about being nice to animals.

Maya lectures Joey about how they need to be able to hear the cry of an animal in pain and respect all life. Joey laughs it off and says that she’s talking like someone from the Humane Society. I think you mean PETA. However, Maya says that she knows people from the Humane Society and she has great respect for them. Joey caves in and says that he agrees with her but what he actually means is that they should never forget that they’re royalty and have great responsibilities.

Somehow, I have a feeling that neither of these arrogant twats will forget they’re royalty.

Anyway. After two pages of thoroughly useless conversation that accomplishes nothing, the chapter ends.

Drinks: 51



  3 Responses to “Part 6: Perfectly Timed Cancer”

  1. I wonder if our Joey Swanson is related to Joe Swanson from Family Guy. This story could use a little more postmodern humor. It’s already got the non-sequitur part down. As for the humor…

  2. “Perfectly Timed Cancer”

    ## This is definitely a front runner for Most Memorable Chapter Title.

    If Maradonia owes something to TV cartoons, Joey would make a pretty respectable Peter/Stewie Griffin. The Ice Cream Koan-spouting is clearly a Brianism.

  3. “Greet Maya from me” is straight-up German, a literal word-for-word translation of “Grüss Maya von mir,” which more or less means “Tell Maya I said hi.” A surprising number of passages in these books read as if they were written in German and run through Google Translate.