*references to drug use
are made in this application
Reginald is not a name you’re fond of. It’s too long, and it sounds like the name of some old English fellow from the 1800s. That’s just not your style. Reggie is a bit too close to “reggae” for your tastes. Plus, Reggie is more of a football player name, and you definitely never had the physique to even consider playing football. So, growing up, you settle for the only other option you have: Ren. Short, snappy, straight to the point. You think it’s a cool name, at least.
You get your start in life in a little Oregonian town up north called “Camena,” and you grow up as the middle child nestled between your older sister Allie and your younger sister Ellie. You can’t say you have too many complaints about your childhood. You lived in a nice coastal town with nice people and had a nice family. What more could you really want?
It wasn’t until high school when things started going downhill. You’re not entirely sure what happened to you, but somewhere along the way, your confidence hit an all-time low, and life just didn’t have the zest it used to. Maybe that was simply growing up. Maybe your parents accidentally messed up somewhere along the way in raising you. Maybe you were going through an early mid-life crisis. Slipping grades, more frequent fights at home, all sorts of things could have contributed to your dismal feelings. You felt the weight of the world crash all around you -- and you discovered that the only way to cope was with drugs. You’d stuff baggies of cannabis into your pockets for later, drink cough syrup for the hell of it, and pop pills you had no business taking simply because you could. Impulse control was not a phrase that seemed to register in your vocabulary.
Your family -- eventually -- took notice of how odd you’d been behaving, and when your parents picked up on the fact that your shirts smelled like weed more and more often, they made you go to therapy to try to work out whatever issues you had. You’re not sure if talking out your problems has actually helped you out any, especially given that you still drink cough syrup more like it’s a bottle of soda than medicine, but you liked your therapist well enough and you did learn some big fancy psychology terms like “negative reinforcer” and “behavioral conditioning” from your sessions with her, so you guess you did get something out of therapy.
The only other thing you really got out of therapy was that you should express yourself. That lesson resonated with you more than any other. You pierced your ears and started playing bass guitar to do so, and those are some of the few decisions you’ve made that you’ve ultimately been happy with.
You’ve known Alex for forever. You met when the both of you were toddlers, and she’s been your best friend ever since. There is nobody who knows you better than her. Not your parents, not either of your sisters, not your therapist. Alex has seen you at your best -- and at your worst. She’s always accepted you for who you are, and in turn, you’ve done the same for her. Sure, you’ve been through a few tough patches here and there in your friendship, but that’s just what happens when you’ve known someone for such a long time.
Alex means the world to you. There’s really nobody you trust more than her, and you’d like to think she feels the same way. You two have told each other all kinds of secrets, ranging from childhood crushes to some heavier feelings about the world and what you want to do with your lives. You’ve battled here and there over stupid things -- when you were younger, it was usually silly things like exposing crushes or dumb birthday parties, but with age, you notice that you two argue more about your drug use than anything else -- but nothing has ever been so hurtful that it’s utterly broken the two of you.
You doubt that anything could ever come between the two of you forever. What on earth could possibly tear your friendship apart at the seams? Your friendship has been built for over a decade, built on solid foundation and refusing to crumble even under the harshest of weather. As far as you’re concerned, absolutely nothing could ruin your friendship.
Actually, maybe there was one thing.
You do remember hearing rumors floating around that she wanted to go to college out of state, and frankly, that terrified you. The thought of Alex leaving you behind was not one you were fond of, and you sure didn’t like to entertain it. You’d known her forever and you’re not sure how you would react to suddenly being without her presence in your life. You can only imagine that without her around, you’d probably make some serious mistakes and have nobody to help you get back on your feet.
Without your greatest pillar of support, you only see yourself crumbling down. Without Alex, you really don’t know who you are.
You didn’t know Michael too well, but you always thought highly of him. Everyone did. Alex’s older brother was idolized in the streets of Camena and he had a bright future ahead of him. Everyone said he would be going places and he could do anything he ever wanted. What he really wanted was to leave. You distinctly remember how Alex told you all about how he was leaving for New York, and you could tell she was broken up about it. You could relate; even if you two didn’t always get along, you knew that if your older sister left town for college, you’d be a bit of a mess too. Family was important, and watching family leave was tough. You promised Alex that you’d stick with her through her tough times. After all, that’s what friends were for, and you’d always been there for each other anyway.
You remember how awful the aftermath was when Michael died.
What started out as a final hurrah for Alex and Michael ended in tragedy. A simple trip to the lake turned into a horrific accident where Michael drowned. His death forced Alex’s parents to divorce, and Alex was left to struggle with the miserable outcomes life had thrown at her. Watching cheery Alex crumble and break down and cry into your shoulder was jarring. She didn’t care about school quite as much after losing her brother, not to mention having to deal with her parents’ divorce at the same time surely didn’t help matters. People in town blamed her for Mike’s death -- some openly, some quietly -- but you never threw the blame on her. You knew what happened was an accident, something that could not have been helped, and you could clearly see that losing her brother hurt her badly. She loved Michael -- why the hell would she have intentionally done anything to hurt him? The thought that she was responsible for his death made no sense to you, and you’d never really understand those who thought otherwise.
If you could have brought Mike back from the dead, you would have done so in a heartbeat just to make her happy again. You hated to see her so distressed, and you went great lengths to try to bring back the Alex you remembered.
You dragged her to concerts -- more accurately, you mostly dragged her along to see your garage band play at makeshift venues -- and you told her she should express herself more. Hair dye, piercings, tattoos, anything that would give her a sense of owning who she is. You knew for a fact that taking control of how you present yourself made you feel happier, so you figured that Alex doing the same thing would help her feel some sense of peace.
She took your advice in the hair dye department, at least. With everything else in her life spiraling apart in the wake of Mike’s untimely demise, she could at least choose what color of hair she wanted. That was a small victory, right? Yet, even despite your best efforts, you came to understand that perhaps this was a wound that simply could not be healed. A harsh reality, but one you had to come to grips with.
When you think of Clarissa, you mostly think of how often you saw her hanging around Alex’s house when she was dating Michael. She was with him for a hot minute -- they were together for just a few months, if you remember correctly -- and seeing them together was perhaps the only time you ever saw such a miserable human feel a shred of happiness. You could never really figure out what they saw in each other, though. Cool, laidback Mike going out with uptight, stuck-up Clarissa seemed like a recipe for disaster. Maybe they were a couple just because they were good looking people, and good looking people tend to stick together? Or maybe opposite personalities attract? Whatever. They seemed happy with each other, and you supposed that was all that mattered in the end. Something about Michael brought out the best in Clarissa, and in the short time they were together, she treated those around her with a little more common decency.
You could tell you were never one of her favorite friends. Or maybe you were, and she just had a funny way of showing it. It was always tough to tell with her. Sarcasm dripped like venom from her tongue as she’d frequently call you Reginald, knowing just how much it got under your skin. Sometimes it went beyond teasing, resulting in severely hateful words hanging on her breath. Yet, when she was with Mike, it was like she was a totally different person. A night and day difference -- sort of like how you could be a very different person depending on how many drugs you took in a day. She was quieter, softer, and spoke to others as if they were her equal. A stark difference from the loud, angry, and jagged girl you were more familiar with.
She got worse when Mike died. Far worse. Arguably, she was hurting just as much as Alex was when he lost his life. You’d wager she really did love Mike, and you knew she wanted nothing more than to run off with him to New York. He was her world, and losing him destroyed her. Being so in love and losing that same love at such a young age must have been an incredibly painful experience. She basically planned her whole future around Michael, and when he was gone, she was utterly lost. Though you’d never outright tell her -- God, who knows how she’d react if someone dared try to pity her -- you felt bad for her. You’d never know quite what she went through, but you did know that not even Clarissa deserved to suffer such a loss. Nobody deserved that.
Of course she blamed Alex for what happened. She had to blame somebody, and Mike’s little sister was the easiest target. Extreme hatred was directed toward every fiber of Alex’s being-- and that same hatred was also thrown at you by extension for being so close to her. It stung whenever she’d ask you why you’d hang out with a murderer when you knew Alex wasn’t responsible for Michael’s unfortunate departure. You couldn’t handle being asked such emotionally tormenting questions so often, so you started keeping your distance from her as much as you possibly could. You found that in time, you rarely spoke with her, but what few words you did exchange tended to be at least a tad nicer than whatever she said to Alex. That wasn’t much of a victory, all things considered, but you supposed it was better than nothing.
For as much of a pain as she can be, you don’t actually hate her. You know she’s gone through a lot, and you don’t want to worsen her mental state of being -- or yours -- so you just... stay away as best you can.
Nona Nona Nona. That girl is on your mind constantly, her name buzzing around your head when you least expect it. You don’t talk to her much, not nearly as much as you’d like, but you wave to her and smile when you get a chance. Sometimes, she does the same back to you. Other times, when she’s glued to Clarissa’s side, she instead follows her friend’s lead and barely acknowledges your existence. It’s tough to figure out what she genuinely thinks of you. Does she like you? Does she like like you? Does she just act nice when she’s alone to mess with you? She brings up a whole lot of questions and not too many answers.
Honestly? You think she’s downright adorable. The way that she laughs, her smile, the way she carries herself. Something about her -- when she’s separated from Clarissa, anyway -- is endearing and sweet, and you can’t help but fall head over heels for her. You desperately hope she feels the same way towards you, but you never have the confidence to outright ask her if that’s the case. You’re far too worried that you look like an idiot whenever you talk to her, and you fear that any attempts to seem suave and cool will fall flat to make you look like an utter fool.
You felt confident enough to ask her to go to Edwards Island at least. A little island a bit further up north, you’d basically grown up visiting that place every summer. It was a bit of a tradition for kids from Camena High to go there at night and party their little hearts out, so you figured that would have been the perfect setting to try to get to know Nona better. Of course you invited plenty of other kids too, but Nona was the one you most wanted to see there.
Much to your relief, she said that she’d come, and you were glad to see that she stayed true to her word. Not too many other people did that, however, claiming that they “lost” your invitation or couldn’t make it due to some elaborate excuse. Only five people ended up coming to Edwards Island: you, Nona, Clarissa, Alex, and... Jonas.
Jonas was a bit of a wildcard. You didn’t expect him to be tagging along on your adventure to Edwards Island, but there he was, taking the last boat to Edwards Island with you and Alex. At first, you didn’t know anything about him other than his dad married Alex’s mom and he came from some little town over by North Valley. He seemed pretty cool, initially, but your thoughts on him soured as the night dragged on.
The first thing he did when you landed on the island was separate your little trio to talk to Alex one-on-one about God knows what. What kind of person tries to split up the gang right away? Wasn’t the golden rule to stick together? That immediately rubbed you the wrong way, and you weren’t afraid to announce it. Luckily, it didn’t take too long for the three of you to regroup and meet up with the rest of your small crew on the beach, but it still bothered you that he did that in the first place. Much to your dismay, that was only one of many things that went wrong that night.
After playing a dismal game of truth or slap -- a fun spin on truth or dare where you instead slap someone who’s lying rather than dare them to do something disgusting -- that ended with everyone pissed and uncomfortable, you suggested checking out the weirdo caves on the island. Rumor has it that tuning a radio in these caves grants access to some strange, nonexistent stations that play odd messages and do strange things. With Jonas and Alex, you checked them out -- but not before eating a brownie stuffed with some special ingredients: drugs.
You don’t remember a whole lot about the events that transpired after that brownie. You can recall Alex and Jonas wandering deeper into a cave, and then you passed out before you had the option to even consider going with them. When you woke up, you were lost in the forest with no recollection of how you got there, and that terrified you beyond belief. By some miracle, you managed to find shelter and a phone that got you in touch with Alex and Jonas at the Harden Communications Tower and you begged them to come find you. You’ve never been too comfortable being by yourself, and you especially felt distressed by not knowing how you even got to where you were, so the sooner they got there, the better.
The moment they hung up, you smashed the phone. You’re not sure why you’d do something like that. Panicking? Stress? Feeling overwhelmed? Something your therapist probably had a better grasp on? Who knows; all you know is that it felt like forever until those two came back to find you, and by the time they got to you, something was wrong with you. You weren’t you. It felt like something had taken over your body, using you as its own personal meat puppet. The voice murmuring out of your mouth wasn’t your own, your limbs moved on their own accord. Being trapped inside of your own body was a horrifying experience.
As it turned out, something had, indeed, taken over your body. After freeing you from whatever hellish thing had taken up residence in your body, Jonas and Alex explained that you were possessed and ghosts were on the island. Neither of those things were particularly great, and your thoughts mainly swirled around the fact that you just wanted to go home. The step-siblings told you to head to Harden Tower while they searched for Clarissa, mentioning that Nona was already there, and you certainly didn’t need to be told twice to hang out with Nona. Going as fast as your legs would carry you, you hurried off to the tower to reunite with Nona where the two of you would wait for the rest of the group to come back to you.
You talked Nona’s ear off for what felt like forever until Alex and Jonas finally came back -- still Clarissa-less, you noticed -- and you figured you all had enough of the island and needed to find a way off as soon as possible. You came up with the bright idea of searching for a means to get off the island and you even volunteered to help Alex do so, but fucking Jonas had to pipe up and rant about how he would be the better choice to help out, all the while making it clear that he thought you were nothing but a useless idiot. He was like most people you’d met, of course he was. It was laughable to think that you’d even briefly considered that the two of you could leave the island as good friends when he was such an ass. How the hell could Alex deal with having a downright prick for a step-brother? How had she not just “accidentally” pushed him into the ocean at some point within the several hours she was stuck with him? You have no idea because you’re not so sure you’d be able to deal with him for even another five minutes.
You remember going back and forth bickering, both of you arguing that one was better to help than the other -- and in the end, Alex took a third option: she decided to bring Nona instead.
Both you and Jonas were thrown off by this decision, but you were even more thrown off when shortly after they departed for town, you found yourself whisked away from Edwards Island. You have no idea if this was another ghost trick or if you’re in some bizarre dream, and frankly, you’re too frightened to even consider what the truth might be.