A Public Warning: FF7 Fandom

Zarla's Experience
Actual experience, 2003. The first draft was written in '05, then revised in '09 for coherancy..

I was really only very briefly involved in the entire Jen and Hojo thing. I never really talked to them much, and most of my experience with them was limited to a rather long weekend spent at their house way back when.

Back in 2000 or 2001, I had recently gotten into Jimmy Eat World. I knew that Jen and Hojo were friends with Funkmeister by this point and that they visited one another and that sort of thing. They never really talked to me though, so I knew very little about them. Anyway, Funkmeister told me that there was a free Jimmy Eat World concert near where Jen and Hojo lived, and that we could stay with them for the weekend while we went to it. That sounded like a great deal, so I paid the money for the bus ticket and off we went. I resolved to try and be a good houseguest, and try my best to be civil and respectful since I didn't know Jen and Hojo and I didn't want to be rude or anything.

It's been a long time since all of this happened, and as a result my memories of the trip are faded and blurry at points. There was some kind of conflict about being locked out of the house when we first got there, but I can't recall anything more specific than that. I can't really remember my first impression of them either, so I assume they weren't any more eccentric than any of the other people I knew at first glance.

Anyway, they had to give me a nickname, sort of a role to play while I was staying with them. Everyone with them was some kind of FF7 character, and I decided to roll with it since hey, I was a guest. They didn't know me, and I didn't really know them, so they couldn't file me right away as one character or another. My favorite characters from FF7 at this point were Cid and Vincent, and neither of them were particularly like me. I wasn't even close to being a Cid, and I think they might have already had one, so they decided to call me Vincent for the weekend.

Again, I rolled with it since I was a guest. It was sort of uncomfortable because Vincent and Hojo in the game have less than a pleasant history together, but it was really only an issue when Hojo was in-character as Hojo, and I don't really remember that happening very often off-hand.

Basically, any weird thing or belief they threw out, I went along with. They had "magic" battles, which as far as I could remember involved waving staffs at one another and shouting spell names from FF7, and they told me I had a lot of "magic potential". They also had a red cloak that they said was Vincent's cloak, and when we went out they asked me to wear it. It was a nice cloak, and apparently the fact I liked it was another hint that I was Vincent to them or something. Just odd stuff like that, but I mostly shrugged it off.

All of this is so vague for me now. I just have bits of memories of things that happened, like a trip to the grocery story and walking home I think, but nothing more specific. Since we were guests, they wanted to have a nice dinner, and I chipped in to pay for it of course. I didn't think too much of it at the time.

One of the odder things that happened was something involving Sephiroth Clone #Pi. One night after no sleep and too much candy I got kind of weird and spoke a bunch of gibberish and since we were into FF7 at the time, we joked that I was Seph Clone #Pi since the Sephclones all spoke gibberish etc etc, and it was just a running joke between me and Funkmeister for a while. No big deal, really, and I wouldn't even mention it except that Jen seemed convinced that Pi was a "real" person. Either Pi was a past life, or Pi was someone I was channeling, or something along those lines, but basically that Pi was a separate person from myself. Which wasn't true, of course, but I felt kind of awkward about it since Jen seemed pretty confident and I was trying to be polite and everything. She asked to talk to Pi and even regressed to a childlike past life or something of her own to try and make "him" feel more comfortable, so I faked it. I mean, it's not hard to spout stupid gibberish in a high-pitched voice. Awkward sure, but not hard. But she seemed satisfied by it in the end, so.

Around the time we went to their house, I was going through an episode of what I called my "sinus infection" but actually turned out to be chronic bronchitis, although I wouldn't learn this for another two years. Anyway, the big symptom for it was a very persistent and deep cough. Very annoying. If I recall, Jen said it was because I was allergic to magic. At one point, she said that she'd cast a spell that'd make me stop coughing, and she waved her arms and everything. Nothing happened, but I told her I felt better anyway. I was a guest, after all.

As one may guess, the spell didn't stop my coughing. So Jen said that "something" was making me cough, something far away and more powerful than her magic. I was pretty young and stupid and wanted to fit in, so I felt a little worried about this. In retrospect, I was a moron. But hindsight is always 20/20 I guess.

Anyway, me and Funkmeister went to the concert and had a great time. A lot of the field where it was being held was trampled into mud by all the people, so pretty much everyone was completely filthy by the end of it. I think Funkmeister covered the muddiness thing.

As it was, our weekend was coming to a close, and we had to leave soon. Jen and Hojo really didn't want us to go, and kept asking us if we could stay another day or two. I was having fun while I was there, so I didn't really mind staying an extra day or two.

We took shopping trips fairly regularly and walked around the town a lot, if I remember right. They'd ask for gifts and things (Jen mostly I think) and since I was staying at their house and was their guest, I felt like I should get them stuff if they wanted it. I didn't notice how much money I spent on the whole trip until I got back, but it was way more than I expected.

Another odd instance that I might as well mention is that my Walkman had broken on the way up to their place, and I wanted to get a new one. So we went to a store, and I wandered off by myself to go investigate the various walkmans and compare prices, that sort of thing. Then I heard the PA system click on.

"Excuse me, will a...Vincent Valentine please report to the front desk?"

Sort of an odd moment. Anyway I grabbed the walkman and went up to the front, and I can vaguely recall Jen saying she was worried and something about telling people where I was, but it was so long ago now that it's hard to recall any more details than that.

Probably the most bizarre moment of the whole trip was the "past life regression".

We all went into the bedroom, and they put on "The Nightmare is Only Beginning" from the FF7 soundtrack. Jen and Hojo told us that now they'd see what FF7 characters we really were.

At this point, I was worried about being exposed as a fake, considering they'd taken to me being Vincent pretty easily. If I wasn't actually Vincent or a video game character, things would no doubt get awkward, and I wanted to fit in with everyone. Believe me, I am aware of how stupid this sounds now.

Basically we lay down while the music was playing and Jen did a whole hypnotic regression type speech to bring out our past lives, if I recall correctly. As one may have guessed, this didn't work for me (knowing me I was probably trying to remember what number on the soundtrack the song was, given my weird obsession with video game music), but when they asked me who I was when we sat up, I said I was Vincent. Everyone else was an FF7 character, and who else could I be?

So anyway, at this point I think they said I "became" Vincent or his soul was in my body, or something along those lines. I didn't feel any different than before and I didn't really buy any of this, but I played along anyway. If I recall, me and Funkmeister kept goofing around and ruining the mood.

Something else, something else...

Ah, I remember we were on a bus or something...we were riding home at night. I remember me and Funkmeister talking about Jack. Not sure why I recall that so clearly, but whatever. Anyway, this is also where the "Profethor Gatht" jokes popped up. Basically, me and Soshi would imitate Ifalna and Professor Gast with these ludicrous accents. This amused Jen to no end.

So there was this guy on the bus who was...listening in on us or something, and probably sitting behind or near us. I can't remember, but either way it made us all nervous. Jen said she was getting off on the next stop, and the guy got off next stop. Just generally creepy stuff like that, and since I'm a naturally paranoid person, I thought this guy was pretty creepy myself. Jen said he was a demon kind of thing out after us. I'm pretty sure this played into what happened later.

Okay, I have to give some background info here. I wouldn't normally talk about it, but without this information there won't really be any context for this. When I was like...fourteen or something I was molested by a friend of our family, who I call the Bastard. Anyway, as mentioned this happened when I was fourteen and normally would not have any bearing on any of this, but the thing is that I totally denied this happened, to myself and to everyone, for like...four years. I didn't tell anyone and I tried to convince myself that it never happened and I made it up (or that if it had happened, that it was my fault and therefore people would just judge me if I told them, thus another reason I kept it inside). The year before I visited Jen and Hojo, I actually finally did admit to someone (and myself, I guess) that it had happened. I never went to a therapist about it or anything and mostly tried to deal with it by myself, so I was a bit fragile emotionally about this experience, as one may guess.

Anyway, I was still trying to deal with the whole thing when I was at Jen and Hojo's. Normally, I wouldn't have thought it'd be an issue, considering I started to accept it like... a year ago at this point. I certainly wasn't thinking about it while I was there.

But as it so happened, a lot of things kind of kept reminding me of the bastard. I think the mentions of Vincent getting molested by Hojo, that creepy guy in the bus, the whole past-life regression thing, the assertion that "something" was after me and that was why I was coughing, things like that. All small things, but it was making me uneasy.

There were also tarot card readings and such while we were there. Jen had the same tarot deck I had as a kid, the Tarot of the Cat People. And she told me my fortune using the exact same method outlined in the little booklet that came with the cards. I can't remember anything really specific about the readings except there was always mentions of something coming after me or something, thus the coughing. If I remember right, later we were playing with a Ouijia board, and that "something" or "someone" was again trying to contact us. All of this set the stage for what happened.

Anyway, all four of us slept in their bedroom on these futons on the floor. I remember feeling really awkward when Jen and Hojo would hit or kiss one another, but I didn't say anything. I was a guest.

So I was lying on my back during the night and I started coughing again. I felt bad about this since I thought I'd keep people awake, and again, I really didn't want to bother anyone. But these were pretty deep coughs, not horribly scratchy or painful necessarily, but deep enough so that you do them over and over again. So I coughed, and coughed, and coughed, and I couldn't stop.

So of course, I start panicking because I couldn't breathe and subsequently start coughing harder. Everyone wakes up, freaks out. I'm still coughing and I'm trying to get out "I'm fine hold on" cause I didn't want to cause any trouble.

Funkmeister of course knew I was just having some kinda coughing fit and I'd be fine, but Jen and Hojo immediately began screaming that we were under attack or something. Like some dark force had come into the room and was trying to get me, like they'd been saying the whole weekend. Frankly, I was a bit shaken, so I didn't argue.

So I'm still trying to breathe and such, Hojo and Jen are wandering all around holding their staffs and asking me where the malevolent force was. I was currently staring off into nothing, which is something I do a lot when I'm thinking, or listening to people, or talking, or whatever. It's not something unusual. So I'm staring at the corner of the room. Jen's like "Is that where it is? Is that it? What is it?"

And I was just like "Man, I don't know, I just started coughing and couldn't stop." I think I remember one of them, probably Hojo, trying to like...pet my hair or hold me at this point or something. It's all vague for me now.

I think Jen or Hojo asked me if there was anyone who ever wished me harm, or who would want revenge on me or something and would be attacking me. I must have mumbled something about maybe it being the bastard or something. I know I wouldn't have explained it much further than that, so I think Soshi gave the ultra-condensed version of what happened to me. Just like that, Jen and Hojo decided that it was the bastard who had given me this cough and was coming after me now.

Looking back on this now, it almost seems cartoonish. It all seems so ridiculous and unreal, like some kind of bizarre dream. I mean...the bastard couldn't astral-project his way through a paper bag. He's the opposite of spiritual. And he wouldn't want revenge on me, I mean...nothing ever happened to him for molesting me anyway.

At the time, however, I was totally terrified at the thought of the bastard (which isn't that unusual, I'm still terrified of him to this day) and I was probably hyperventilating or something. Jen threw a bunch of salt around in a circle and "cast" some spells or something. It's hard to remember it all now. I think she said that he couldn't get me cause she threw up some spirit wards or something, and I'm pretty sure I remember her saying that that guy on the bus was "possessed" by the bastard. Something along those lines.

ANYWAY THAT UNPLEASANT INCIDENT ASIDE we ended up staying there two more days longer than we should have. They were very insistent that we stay, and it was hard to say no. I mean, apart from some awkwardness here and there and the unpleasant experience mentioned above, I generally had a good time.

After that, I heard very little from either of them. I was Vincent for just a weekend, but that was all. Actually, I think one of them, can't remember which, did try to IM me a few times, but we never really hit it off. They got a new Vincent pretty fast, but if I remember right, they always went through Vincents pretty quickly for some reason.

However, I DO recall much later, maybe a couple months or something, that one of them called us late at night when Soshi was asleep. They said something about Jen's mom, the...queen of fairies or something. I can't remember it exactly, and honestly it was a really bizarre phone call. I of course had no idea what they were talking about. I do remember them being disappointed that I answered instead of Funkmeister. Anyway, they tried to explain the situation to me, but I seriously was way out of the loop and really had no idea what they were talking about. They just told me they needed to talk to Funkmeister right away, it was urgent, something about Jen like...breaking or something. I don't know. I never did find out what happened.

The only other time I was ever contacted by them was when I was back home over the summer. I live in California, a million miles away from all this. I got this phonecall from them, which surprised and deeply confused me at the time since I barely ever talked to Jen or Hojo since that weekend, and I didn't exchange any personal information with them. Much less my California phone number. Weird stuff.

Anyway, they told me that "Yasha" had gone missing, and they were worried. Of course, I was off in California, so I had absolutely no idea. They asked if she had talked to me, and I said no, and that the last thing I heard was about shoes getting stolen or something. I asked them some questions, like where she said she was going, or if she left any notes, or if she was unhappy, or if her dad had called, or anything like that, but I don't think they answered most or any of them. They just said they were really worried about her, and that they had no idea why Funkmeister would have up and left.

Of course, after this I was hugely worried. I dug around everywhere trying to find any kind of journal posts that would tell me what happened, but nothing. I ended up freaking out until Funkmeister showed up again.

I don't think I ever talked to either of them again after that.

original post link

Back to Index