Welcome back to Eldritch Girl…
Katy’s metamorphosis begins, Ricky takes a risk that leads to a bad trip, and Wes finds himself assuming responsibility.
CWs: consuming non-edible hallucinogenic/toxic substance, discussion of sexual relationship between cousins, deconstructive body horror (while conscious).
The moon found another break in the clouds and lit up the landscape in eerie silver, glancing off the strange shapes and hard edges, throwing off his perceptions with deeper contrasts and longer shadows.~ C. M. Rosens, Thirteenth, pp. 360-61
“What were you looking at, earlier?” Wes wanted to know. “The things you thought were eyes?”
“Nah, I don’t know.” Ricky sucked absent-mindedly on his hand, pried from the cocoon’s sticky outer membrane.
Wes leapt over and smacked it out of his mouth. “Don’t do that, bloody hell, you’ve no idea what that stuff even is!” He rolled his eyes. “You know some species are toxic, right?
To protect themselves from predators?”
Ricky giggled. “Don’t put me off.”
“That’s…” Wes rubbed his own hands ineffectually on his jeans. “Just don’t. If you start seeing fucking bats everywhere, don’t come crying to me.”
“I’m an ascetic, don’t mean I don’t know how to handle the odd trip.” Ricky paused and Wes watched the familiar expression of mild confusion slip over his face as his eyes unfocused briefly. “Cor, actually. I do feel weird.”
Wes groaned. “Oh, perfect.”
Ricky sat down heavily, frowning. “On reflection,” he said, staring at his hand, “that may have been a mistake.”
This passage contains my direct Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference (This is BAT COUNTRY) and I do use F&L as a comp for this in terms of tone and Wes being off his face for the majority of the novel.
This isn’t a drug-fuelled search for the American Dream, obviously, it’s more a drug-fuelled search for the upper middle-class dream, which Wes is always going to be locked out of because he never went to the right schools, he doesn’t have the right background, and money in those situations doesn’t matter as much.
While Wes is social climbing, Ricky’s main issue is that he’s spent most of his life repressing a lot of memories, and genuinely thinking nothing before he was ~21 years old doesn’t count. That’s his headspace in The Crows, when his POV confidently asserts “He’d never spent 3 nights away from the cottage before”, which is challenged by Carrie in this book now she actually can access his memories and the house’s memories of him. He’s also spent a lot of his life repressing the past and escaping the present, or focusing on the future, so now he doesn’t know how to enjoy what he’s got in the present. Most of Ricky’s issues in this book are him realising this, and that he still doesn’t really understand what Carrie-Fairwood does/doesn’t like him doing.
With Katy around dredging up memories of his own teen years that he’d rather not bother with, his interactions with Wes just compound the latent insecurities, so he’s started to regress/relapse. Also, there is an actual reason for him doing this particular thing which you find out in a short while…