The Final Fantasy 7 House
It wasn't the hunger that finally drove Icarus to leave the Final Fantasy VII house. It wasn't the way the others took advantage of him, a 19-year-old trans kid with a love of art and a drinking problem. It wasn't even the abuse, or the ears listening in whenever he tried to communicate with the outside world. No-what really did it was the theft of his shoes.
It was probably around 2014 when I first came across this story in a Reddit comment and have been fascinated with it ever since. I have checked in on it every once in a while since then
The bulk of the content I am going to talk about comes from the webmaster's account on demon-sushi.com, who we're going to refer to as Icarus. Back in 2002 Icarus finds himself on the run, barefoot and paranoid, but free, finally free. It wouldn't be until 2005 Icarus wrote about his story on his website and with it was a dire warning
(This all happened a while ago- checking old journal dates it was 2002. i was FUCKING STUPID then, as you will see. i should have seen obvious signs and didn't. people have noted that i was stupid. THEY ARE SMART AND THEY ARE RIGHT. the reason this is up here is so other people will read it and NOT be as stupid as i was.
again. for clarification. WHAT I DID WAS NOT SMART. people have been saying how it takes 'strength' to go through this shit. no, it takes sheer unbridled IDIOCY. just cause it was stupid though doesn't mean it couldn't happen again to someone who was just as dumb. This story isn't for people who can identify the stupidity immediately. It's for those of you who have ljs named things like 'iwishiwasanime' and spend time roleplaying online
there's a group of very dangerous individuals out there, and i really would like to detail what they did to me and mine. i want to warn people away from them. i want you to read my mistakes and watch out
Content Warning: Throughout this story will be conversations about abuse of all kinds: emotional, mental, verbal, physical and sexual.
What is Final Fantasy 7?
Before we get too deep into this, one thing that you have to understand: the game FF7.
This story revolves tightly around the plot of this video game, which I will try to sum up here as concisely as I can:
Final Fantasy is a series of popular roleplaying games produced by Square Enix a Japanese game developer. Each game tells a standalone story in a standalone universe (mostly). So FF7 is not the 7th game in a chronological story
FF7 originally was released in 1997 on PS1, the game was such a hit it is still considered one of the best and most influential games of its time. And to this day is Square Enix's top selling game of all time with over 13 million sales. The characters and the setting are so popular that there have been nearly a dozen games after the fact that have featured them, as well as a full feature film and the game is currently being remade with part one having been released this year
So I am sure you can understand how a cult following could spawn out of that
The plot in one sentence would be something like:
a group of eco terrorists destroy a massive corporation and fight aliens to prevent their planet from dying or being destroyed by a giant meteor
FF7 is a story told through an unreliable narrator, and mercenary named Cloud Strife. He joins these eco terrorists on what starts off as a simple anti-corporate mission that quickly spirals into epic proportions. The corporation is known as Shinra and is very much like Umbrella Corps if you're familiar with Resident Evil. They want all the power and all the money and have absolutely no qualms about fucking around with genetics and breeding super soldiers to get it
30 years prior to the game starting, Shinra found the remains of an alien entity called Jenova, and they've been using its DNA for their experiments every since
The primary antagonist is a bishonen wet dream known as Sephiroth. A mysterious trench coat wearing soldier of sorts that some time ago found out that he was the result of a genetic experiment by Shinra, that turns him into the enemy of the planet
He kind of pulls a whole an eye for an armageddon narrative and it's up to the players to stop him, all while Cloud struggles to know what's true, who he is or if he ever existed
Seriously that's the simplest I could make this. This is a game that on average takes people 46 hours to complete and that's bypassing the majority of hidden content, so you can understand how complex it is, so I am not going to frontload you with a bunch of plot and will instead just tell you the relevant parts as we go
Ok got a sloppy grasp on all that? Let's go!
How it all Started
Wayyy back in the day, Icarus ran a very popular FF7 fan page, dedicated to Cloud and Zack (a minor character). It really was only the comprehensive site that covered both characters and their connection so all the Clack shippers were super into it.
Icarus was quite involved in the online fan community and it was common for him to receive fan mail which he'd post on the website and receive link-share requests (they would put his website on their page and vice versa)
On November 13th 2001, 19 year old Icarus would receive one of these requests from someone calling themselves Hojo (after the minor mad scientist character who performed the genetic experiments in the game). The two chatted infrequently and they called Icarus by the name Zack, but this didn't bother him. Online roleplay is very popular with fandoms even today. People make a character or borrow one from an existing story and exchange messages with others in chat, forums or email. It's a usually harmless and fun activity
One day Hojo messaged Icarus about a piece of fanart he'd posted of the character Jenova (the alien genetic mother to all the super soldiers in the game). He'd written a short story with it and Hojo complimented the writing
It was really realistic. Is that a memory? Is that one of your memories?
Icarus is confused and said he just made it up, Hojo seemed disappointed and the two didn't chat for a couple days
Until out of nowhere Hojo said
My wife wants to talk to you
Icarus was just kind of like "oh it's cute, that couple runs that website together" and agreed to chat
At this point Icarus writes an aside:
now realize during this time i was a college freshman. like most college freshman, i was at the height of my idiocy. friends will remember i wasn't quite smart about drinking (to be REALLY kind) and so i hate to say it buy my memory of this time is spotty. i'm going to remember what of the build-up i can. the actual events are clear as crystal. this shit don't leave you
The wife, Jen, insists he calls her Jenova or Jenny-nova and claimed that she was a sorceress. He figured she was just roleplaying and didn't think much of her sending "tentacle" emojis and such.
One day Jen asks Icarus if he had any memories of past lives (he didn't) and if he believes in such things (he was open to the idea)
She explains in a flurry that if there are infinite alternate universes, maybe, just maybe video games actually happened at which point she tells him that in a past life he was Zack
think about it, she said. you're both country grown. you both have that instinct of dragging off friends who could be left behind. you'd take a bullet for someone, right? you say you don't believe in magic or any of that, and he wanted to be a mercenary. for all of his five or six lines, you have a similar speech pattern. you even live in a basement like he was locked in one, and you hate it.
And as Icarus writes:
addle your brain with freshman idiocy and vodka, and this will suddenly make sense. sure, maybe. i'm not him now, i said. but it was possiable
She said he was their Zack. And went on to explain all the characters which she and Hojo had already found.
It seemed like everyone was just really into roleplaying and Icarus thought that was cool. The whole past life thing rarely came up, and the group sometimes chat about running the websites and just general life. And for a while, things were good
all in all, i was fine with them. they were a little flakier than my preferred loaf of bread but i could live with that.
The First Trip
The week before Christmas 2001, Jen and Hojo invite Icarus to come and visit for the weekend and meet everyone. The bus ride to State College PA cost him $300, but the couple promised to pay for all his food, he figures why not?
Icarus arrives with his pet rat (with Christmas the following week he was going to go from Jen's place to home in Brooklyn for the holidays). Hojo meets him at the bus stop, to his surprise, wearing a labcoat.
Together they head for the apartment. Soon as they stepped in the door, there was Jen, looking like she just got out of bed, wearing a purple skirt that had been pulled up over her breasts to kind of look like a dress, screaming at the top of her lungs right in Hojo's face, then before Icarus could even comprehend what was happening, it stopped. Jen whirled around and suddenly was the nicest person ever.
At this point Icarus took in his surroundings
The apartment was cluttered and there were papers and stuff everywhere. the floor was covered in glitter, but i figured they were just kinda goofy college students. i mean, college students make a mess
The married couple toured Icarus around the area all weekend, taking his socially-anxious ass on a parade of introductions through the cold snowy town. Things were going well until they went to the mall
Jen had stormed to side of the mall and began sulking. The reason for this was because they didn't have enough money to buy something and neither did Icarus. He can't remember what it was, but she wanted it, bad. The situation was awkward all around, but thankfully it had passed by the time they got back to the apartment
about this time i started to realize, though, jen wasn't roleplaying when she talked about her 'children' and 'other selves.' jen is what the internet calls a 'soulbonder' or in other words 'batshit loony'. she believes she has a lot of people living in her head talking, and when she wants to take on a personality that best fits a situation for her personal gain, she acts one out. ie, if she wanted to get sympathy, she would raise the pitch of her voice and pretend to be an innocent child.
now i was a dumb college freshman, but i wasn't brain-damaged (much. yet.). i knew it was jen just pretending- i just humored her when she did this, but wasn't about to treat her any different.
That weekend Icarus would get into a big blow out with his mom, who was making her usual unreasonable demands. Jen and Hojo comforted him, telling him to stay longer. That he should just leave his family and that they know some local youth groups. While his family was constant source of stress for him, Icarus didn't want to cut them out. So instead he worked something out and decided to stay two extra days as a "fuck you" to his mom
Jen told Icarus that her mom was the same way and that Hojo had to travel all the way to California to rescue Jen from her. She said all sorts of things like that her mom was horribly abusive and that she hated Jen for being a lesbian. She then went to tell a myriad of other stories, like that her dad just wasn't there, that she had a rich grandmother who didn't love her even an abusive friend that 'trained' her to be Sephiroth (the "son" of her current character and the primary villain of FF7)
I was sympathetic, always having been one to believe in that 'don't complain, people have it worse than you' schtick.
A few days later it was time for Icarus to leave. He was anxious because he had no money and his pet rat had been living in its travel carrier for four days. He wanted to get to the bus stop early and try to reduce any odds that something could go wrong. Jen assured him she knew what time the bus was and she'd make sure they would get there on time, she had the schedule on her computer. A computer that she wouldn't let Icarus use to check for himself.
They got to the bus stop and found out they'd missed the bus by an hour.
I was delayed one day by what jen swore was an honest mistake. i was willing to believe it. i went home. overall, the first visit was not so bad
Icarus would end up visiting them frequently over the next couple months, they always wanted him to meet someone here are some of events of note:
On one occasion Icarus met "Aeris" (a name given to her based on the character in the game that was Zack's love interest). Icarus thought she was cool and they became good friends, but Jen had other ideas
Jen became obsessed with trying to get the two to have sex, insisting that they had to because of their characters and threatening to sneak aphrodisiacs into their food. But Icarus was asexual and neither he or Aeris seemed interested in this.
Disappointed, Jen decided to take on the personality of Aeris's imaginary boyfriend, lowering her voice and ordering Aeris around. This was only made weirder when she summoned Aeris to the couch and the two began to loudly make-out and giggle. This made Icarus uncomfortable, so he rolled over on his futon and tried to sleep while puzzling over the fact that Aeris had told him she was straight
Jen decided to show Icarus "magic battles" which basically is like LARP fights where Jen would swing around a stick to music and feign injury when Hojo 'threw' invisible fireballs at her
they tried to get me to do it, but i can't act. i can't pretend i'm doing 'magic' because i am not that out of it. eventually jen dragged me onto my feet. i kept laughing at both myself and the fact that i could do some sort of limp wrist movement and jen would throw herself on the floor panting. afterwards they kept telling me "SEE ZACK! YOU CAN USE MAGIC!" and i just kept laughing. i knew what i was doing. i was not that out of it. but i was ready to keep humoring them, cause it wasn't hurting anyone
In the spring, Icarus and his friend Zar went to stay with the couple so that they could attend a free concert in the area. Upon arriving, naturally Zar needed a character and Jen assigned her with Vincent Valentine (one of the protagonists and another super soldier) which was Zar's favorite character so she was down
Jen immediately wanted try a past life regression with the two. They were taken into Jen's room and told to line on the floor. Jen put on the song 'The Nightmare Begins' a track from the game
The two tried to remain serious but kept laughing and joking. Frustrated, Jen gave up, saying they were being too silly right now. Throughout this process Zar had been sneezing the whole time, most likely from the dust and glitter everywhere, so Icarus made a joke that she was allergic to magic
jen and hojo took this very seriously. OF COURSE. ALLERGIC TO MAGIC. WE CAN FIX THAT. there was a lot of staff shaking and waving over Zar, and gibberish chanted in 'cetra' or 'elvish.' when it was all done, zar kept sneezing.
Draw Me Some of Your French Girls
Since both Zar and Icarus were artists, Jen wanted them to draw her doujinshi. Which basically means self-published comics. Most doujinshi are fan works and a grand majority of them are straight up porn
Jen wanted them to draw a serious comic that involved tentacle rape and the characters Hojo and Vincent.
what jen wound up with (and once again was not happy with) was a comic that involved marshmellow peeps over people's genitals, complete lack of geneitals, commentary on that fact and complete divergence into a cidxvincent plot and chitchat between characters. WOOPS.
Of the myriad of behaviors that Jen exhibited, one that really bothered Icarus was that she would lie about anything to get what she wanted. Pretending to be different people to order things from shops, claim discounts all sorts of things. Things like telling the local Christian book store she was talked to by angels to get free books
I very clearly remember her putting on a lab coat and calling various medical supply companies in the yellow pages trying to get medical syringes. thank god she didn't, because she would already make us all drink 'mako*' (green gatorade) and dye our food green
he probably would have injected us with green water if she got the syringes. thank god the companies weren't so dumb as to believe her. they pretty much gave her the 'uh huh yeah whatever bye crazy heroin addict' treatment
*Mako: is the liquid form of the planet's lifestream in Final Fantasy VII. It is the world's primary energy source
Some other fun facts
Fainting: When Jen was stressed about something, she would grow faint and Icarus would rush to help her, thinking maybe she was anemic or something, only to later realize that these were just pleas for attention
Meat: Icarus can't eat meat, red meat specifically without getting sick. He was raised vegetarian so his body never got used to digesting it and had made the couple aware of this on his first visit
but every night jen would cook red meat. and i would eat it, because that was all there was, and i would become sick.
Regressions: There were a handful of times where the couple would try and force Icarus or others to 'remember' their pasts
In one situation they had locked him in a sound proof glass chamber in the basement of a school building, trying to make him remember being Zack. Icarus had a panic attack and banged and jerked the door handle trying to escape. When he was finally let out, he was shaking
Money: Each of Icarus trips cost $300 for the bus ticket alone, but Jen would also ask for money to go grocery or toy shopping. Icarus would give it over as he was always taught to bring stuff for the host as a thank you
Despite it all, Icarus found the couple annoying and flakey sometimes but overall he liked hanging out with them. So when Jen and Hojo suggested that Icarus come and live with them over the summer of 2002, he said 'Why not?'. He could get a job to help pay rent and he'd get to hang out with the friends he had made out there. To him, anything beat being stuck at home in Brooklyn with his mother for the summer
The deal Icarus made with his mom was that he had to find a job in 3 days or come home, a challenging task when he had no car or phone number. At this time the only incoming cash was what Jen got from her infrequent baby sitting gigs as Hojo was a full-time student, so Icarus really knew he had to carry his own weight and managed to get a job at a supermarket
i can't even say what came first, chicken or egg, but let's just say that after one week i was getting sick of it. i was the work horse. i guess because i was 'zack' i was therefore the manly-man as opposed to jen 'the cetra queen' or hojo the 'frail scientist.' jen quit her babysitting job and refused to look for another one. i was the one who had to carry groceries to and from the house, the one who made the money to feed everyone, the one who had to fix or move furniture when it needed to be fixed or moved. my computer could rarely get online because jen was on almost 24/7. the rest of the time, she would watch me as i typed, so i could never make a journal entry that read something along the lines of 'jen is abusing me help me god i'm tired and i want out of here'.
but i had to be tough, and tough it out. that's my idiocy right there. but if you're noticing, i was starting to wise up. i'd stopped drinking so much, which contributed to this in a large part. it made me much, much less tolerant of BS.
i could not leave because i would be locked out. the apartment was on the second floor, so i could not break in. i was not officially on the lease, so i could not ask the landlord to let me in or i risked being thrown out. i could not phone my family because jen and hojo would listen like hawks and try to coach me on what to say and what to think. and, i could not even break down and cry, because the apartment was so small they'd know what it was and i'd have to make up some lame magical excuse so they wouldn't choke what little freedom i had.
Icarus did find a few small joys like dumpster diving, but had to keep them to himself or else he'd get in trouble
And the ambience? Nonexistent. Jen was constantly fighting with Hojo, screaming, slapping, punching etc. This was hard for Icarus, the sound bringing back the violent divorce his parents had gone through when he was 10
hearing one of them wince or whimper, then the beating...and immediately after, the noisy sex
Icarus's job began cutting hours, shrinking the already miniscule income that was coming into the house, he paid for everything including food.
In a normal college setting, i could have easily saved the money to keep up with rent. swear, easily. even with only my paycheck. but i also had to do the food shopping.
if it was up to me, we would have had what most college kids do. ramen. generic cereal. bread. water. but it was not up to me. jen wanted steak. not just any steak, 10$ steak. and gatorade, two kinds, fancy and special coloured. and spices. all of this would last us one night of food, and my paycheck was gone. i couldn't even eat the food that was provided. the rest of the time they demanded i ask my job for day-olds from the bakery and day-olds sushi. i swiped cupons from work and used them wherever i could. i could not afford lunch and there was no breakfast. if one of my supervisors caught me with the day-olds, i would be in trouble. the other seemed to take pity but didn't like that i was doing it. the day olds i brought back, jen complained she didn't like the flavour. this was the only food coming into the house
To top that all off, Icarus couldn't even get a full night's sleep most days, Jen waking him at 3 am to see 'fairy rings' or fight some magical disturbance
There was one person that came around that Icarus liked, sometimes. Cid (named after the protagonist pilot in the game) was one the more grounded people and when he was around, things were almost normal and Icarus would begin waking up. But when he was gone, Icarus would hear stories of Cid being a total dick from Jen and Hojo.
Every once in a while, the couple would get in such a tiff with Cid they would make some huge sweeping ultimatum and Cid would bounce for a bit.
When Cid was there, Icarus wanted to leave with him. When he was gone, Icarus hoped he never came back.
Icarus hadn't realized yet, but he had been brainwashed. Sleep deprived, isolated and struggling to keep food (that made him sick) on the table, he was terrified and miserable but was trying so hard to keep his head above water, he couldn't see a way out
It wasn't until after Aeris 'left' that Icarus began to realize what was happening
One night, Hojo and Icarus were out at the used bookstore, stealing books (yes, they were that poor) when they received a call from a distraught Jen, sobbing and saying how Aeris had called and wanted some things she left at the apartment. Jen began screaming and threatening to kill herself, Icarus and Hojo began to panic, telling her they would be there as soon as they can
Hojo and Icarus were pissed, what the hell had Aeris said to put Jen in such a state? Hojo quickly dialed Cid and begged him to go check on Jen and her next call was to Aeris who she tore a new one, Icarus adding his own insults in the background
They flagged a taxi they couldn't afford and raced home
In the apartment they found Jen sitting in the middle of the floor screaming she had slit her wrists and blubbering about how betrayed she felt, how the group once had been so united all while Cid was draping damp cloths on the cuts
i woke up for a second and knew this was bullshit. i had a problem with self injury, so i know very well the sight of a deep cut and the sight of a light cut. i know well knife wounds. jen had scratched herself. horizontally on the wrists. maybe it had been with a safety pin, or a butter knife. it was not any kind of suicide attempt. at the most, it would sting. but i was still mad at aeris, because i was supposed to be. i wrote her nasty e-mails, i joined them in bashing her, i ignored her when she came to pick up her stuff- even though she obviously wanted to still be friends with me. i regret that now because we never reconciled then. maybe if i had got a clue and tried to get out with her, things would have turned out different.
Coercive Control and Abuse
Without realizing it, Icarus found himself in an abusive relationship
When people think of abuse, they think of the battered wife or the hospital visits after 'a fall down the stairs'. But the grand majority of abuse looks something like this:
- Gain Trust: The potential abuser is attentive, loving, charming: Often called love-bombing, the abuser showers the victim with affection and makes them feel special. Jen and Hojo praised Icarus writing and told him he was Zack, he was special.
- Overinvolvement: The abuser becomes overly involved in the daily life and use of time: Jen tries to force relations on Icarus, make decisions about his life and even convert his friends
- Petty rules and jealousy: Rules begin to be inserted to begin control of the relationship. Jealousy is considered by the abuser to be "an act of love": While not a verbal rule, Icarus finds himself in a position where he can't talk to people outside of their circle or write about his experiences, or go anywhere without telling Jen every detail
- Manipulation, power, and control; The victim is blamed for the abuser's behavior and becomes coerced and manipulated: Icarus is coerced into becoming responsible for the well-being of the whole house
- Traumatic bonding: Ongoing cycles of abuse can lead to
traumatic bonding: Icarus becomes stuck in the cycle, constantly in a
fight or flight panic, trying to keep everything together and take care of
everyone. Jen preys on Icarus desire to
be helpful and a caretaker, effectively trapping him
There are 8 common tactics used by abusers
- Emotional Abuse
- Minimizing, denying and blaming
- Using Children and Pets
- Using Privilege
- Coercion and Threats
- Economic Abuse
There's another social situation where very similar tactics and cycles are used, we call them cults
One of the key ways to trap people in these situations is to brainwash them. There are a lot of methods and techniques for doing this, but one of the most effective ones is known as 'the breaking down of self'
Eroding someone's sense of self makes them question themselves (they must be right, I don't know what I am talking about) and their value (If I was just better this wouldn't happen, I deserve this). This can be done with conditioning over long periods of time, a method that attacks a person's needs from the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs starting with someone's sense of self-fulfillment.
but a way to fast-track this is to hit the bottom of the pyramid, their physiological needs: things like food, water, warmth and rest. Which of these have been disrupted by Jen already?
Add in isolation from the outside world and it won't take long for someone to become compliant
For fun, let's compare Jen with someone we talked about recently: Teal Swan
What similarities do you see?
- Teal believes she's an alien, that she's special and so are her core followers
- Teal believes in past lives and uses it to draw people closer, saying that they were close in previous lives
- Teal makes up big stories about her past
- Teal claimed abuse by her parents
- Teal believes in repressed memories and will use tactics to help people 'recover' them often with damaging results
- Teal will threaten suicide or have bouts of extreme self loathing, when she feels like she's losing someone
- Us vs them, if you aren't with her, then you're the against her
- Claims to possess magical powers
- Has been known to be very intimate with others even when in a 'monogamous' relationship
- Loves attention and wants to be viewed as a powerful being
- Will lie and change her story to match her narrative whenever she sees fit
- Seeks to make people dependent on her
shower someone with love and tell them they're unique and special to draw in
In fact if you took a close look at many cult leaders and compared their methods you will see shocking similarities. The reason behind that is because it works
The Final Days
Around this time, Jen decided that she wanted to move to a new apartment. The reason? The current apartment was a total pigsty.
Why was that? Because Jen never cleaned
All the cleaning was always done by guests who were coming and going regularly. Icarus managed the dishes, but the trash was almost never taken out. It got to the point that the apartment reeked like rotten flesh.
jen refused to believe it was the trash and it needed to go out. she kept claiming some former owner must have done something. but it was a horriable mess. their only solution, as they saw it, was to move out. so they got a different apartment from the land-lady. a one-room gig. i did not like this at all. at least in the current apartment, i could stay in the living room while they had sex or beat each other in the bedroom. now i wouldn't have anywhere to escape to.
Icarus began to feel desperate, trapped. Jen always watching over his shoulder, checking his blog and his conversations, he couldn't even write in his own journal about what was happening. When he talked to his friends he had to pretend everything was good so that when Jen talked to them they wouldn't say anything to get Icarus in trouble
The few people that knew about the situation were sympathetic but there was nothing they could do to help. Icarus thought about going to Cid, but what if he was secretly on their side? What if he rejected Icarus for being such an ass? Icarus began to see Aeris's point and was getting frantic
i started to sneak out and run down to empty parking lots at night to use the payphone to call my dad collect. he was the only one who knew what was happening really, besides zar. those two were briefed on the situation, and both of them were telling me it sounded bad. but because jen would always be out on the prowl and find me, i could never tell them quite how bad. just that i was stressed, i was upset, and i was sick of jen being unable to go make money because she was pregnant with some astral baby or something.
A day forever burnt into Icarus mind was moving day. Both Hojo and Jen were supposed to help with the move and Icarus had to leave work to do his part. His meager hours already weren't enough to pay for food and he was weak, lightheaded and angry, but he felt obligated to assist
summer was almost over, only a month to go. i could make it without breaking down, i was sure.
But Jen had sensed some great disturbance in the force or something, and suddenly couldn't help with the move. Leaving Icarus to do the move, as Hojo was in class until 6pm. He packed all of their things, Jen refusing to even help with that while she lay on the couch moping and wailing
After four hours in the burning State College heat Icarus was sweating buckets.
i moved everything. everything. i was enraged. i was getting to the end of my majesticly long rope. i was finally waking up, but not enough to want to leave
the shopping to fill the apartment was the worst. i remember this night with nausea in my stomach. we went to kmart, which was a long busride into town. i was already mildly upset because hojo suddenly had money and yet we weren't eating with it and i wasn't able to phone home. but i like house shopping, so i was sedated. we needed very basic things. a dishrack, some dishes, silverware, cups, a cooking pot and some dishtowels. we found all these. but then jen saw cabbage cloths. i don't even know what a cabbage cloth is, i assume it's a cloth you wrap a cabbage in to keep it fresh. jen wanted them. for her cooking. so the cabbage wouldn't go bad. she never used cabbage in cooking, one, and two that's what a crisper is for. but she WANTED these outrageously priced plain thin white rags. hojo said a towel would work. the fight erupted. screaming fight.
Icarus doesn't remember all the details but there was screaming, a lot of it. Jen screaming she didn't love Hojo anymore and was going to leave her, Hojo screaming how Jen always did this and how she didn't need the dumb cabbage cloths. All the while, people stared
Jen refused transit home and there were too many bags, Icarus couldn't carry them all and Jen would not help. So they hailed another taxi they couldn't afford. The ride home was a hot and cold battle between screaming and tension. The cab driver tried to talk to Icarus about the seashore, but the couple would just scream over them.
Icarus didn't see any way out any time soon, he didn't even have the money for a phone call home, let alone a bus ticket and he knew that if he called his mom he would likely just get yelled at
Any hope that a new apartment might be a good clean start was dashed. The trash situation almost immediately reared its ugly head and then Jen began talking about getting a kitten. This horrified Icarus, trying to imagine the small kitten navigating through the trash and a litterbox that he would somehow become entirely responsible for
that purple skirt pulled over her breasts i mentioned jen wore the first time i met her? she wore it every day. every. day. she never washed it. she didn't bathe, either, she just dabbed herself in scented oils and glitter. god the smell in that place. it was like a miasma of filth with sparkle sunshine fairy aritficial sugar scent sprayed over it. it made me sick. and it was so hot outside.
Icarus kept going to work and kept losing hours until he literally had one hour a week. He could not live on $6 a week, never mind meet Jen's expectations. He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown
i slept as much as possiable, to avoid reality. i couldn't communicate with anyone. i saw Cid, sometimes, and he gave me sympathetic looks...
one day at work, it rained. it rained so hard it knocked out the power, so we were sent home. i had no umbrella or raincoat and no money for one, so i walked in the rain. my shoes were soaked, so i left them outside the apartment to dry overnight.
that evening, after the rain, jen tried to talk to me about god lying in the grass with Cid. Cid already could tell my mood was UNPLEASENT and didn't even try to push the matter. jen kept trying to make me say i believed in god. i don't. and when i'm angry, it's the worst time to try to make me believe. she tried pretending to be a small child and crying and i wound up yelling at her about it. she ran back to the apartment fake-crying. Cid said if i ever needed help, ask him
the next morning, someone had stolen my shoes.
you may think it's a silly reason to snap, but that's what did it. that this god awful town, with these god awful people who were bleeding me dry, saw fit that my money was not enough. they had to take my SHOES too. i had it. i had just had it.
He took a change of clothes, a pocket knife and the last $5 he had left to his name, put it all into his bag with his sketchbook and walked. Shoeless
Icarus had no money, so he couldn't leave town, but he'd been poor long enough in that town to know how to get a cheap meal (50 cents for a bagel and 75 for a drink). The streets were hot and burned his feet, but he didn't care, he was done. He popped into work and quit his job.
i was homeless a few days. all in all, i felt fantastic. i felt great. better. better than fucking the entire two months i spent with them. i had the freedom to walk where i wanted and sit down where i wanted. there were no smells. there was no fighting. no one was ordering me to buy a steak. i wasn't sick on the food i ate. no one was waking me up telling me to go outside and look at fairy rings. i swear to you, i would much rather be homeless than live with people like them ever again. the threat of homelessness does not phase me, because i have seen something much worse.
He spent the next couple days hanging around the bus stop or in front of the churchyard sitting in the shade and drawing. When he wasn't doing that he was in the campus computer labs, using Hojo's stolen login to access the internet
He made a new AIM account and reconnected with his friends, telling them one by one about the hell his last couple months had been. They were horrified
it felt so good to do. thinking back on it i get all choked up. i finally was fucking free to say what i wanted and not be afraid.
Icarus messaged Cid, scared to reach out to anyone else. Icarus was terrified, he never wanted to be near that house again and if they found him alone they might be able to convince him to come back because of how well they'd figured him out
He confessed to Cid most of what happened and Cid came to his rescue. Cid took him out for beers and they talked about old-school RPGs getting Icarus mind off of everything and then offered Icarus his couch
A couple days later, Cid took Icarus to the house to get what remained of his stuff. Jen stood in the doorway acting like Icarus had absolutely betrayed her
i knew after i left i'd be the next aeris, but i didn't care. i didn't care how many people they had come tell me i was awful. i just wanted out
Icarus called his dad using Cid's phone and finally was able to tell him of what happened, afraid to tell him everything because it sounded so crazy. But it only took 30 seconds into the call before his dad got in touch with his uncle and ordered Icarus some plane tickets to Alabama
i made friends with cid's apartment mates, jay and his fiancee chel. we all got along really well, and chel went off on jen about ten thousand times. chel also took me to a supermarket and told me to buy what i wanted. i probably would have cried, but i was too far in shock. all i wanted was potato bread and ramen. i had not eaten either of these in the entire time i'd stayed here, even though my money had paid the food bill.
i got to the bus station on time, using money cid lent that my dad would pay him back to ride to the airport. i took a flight. i had a pair of 2$ painful flipflops on, and they were swabbed for explosives.
After a week of eating like a wolf at his dad's, they road-tripped back to state college. They picked up Icarus stuff from Cid's house (who was at work, so they left the money for him with the roommates)
jen tried calling me once after that but i blocked her number on my cell shortly after. she tried telling me we were still friends and she still looked for my shoes. i was having none of it. i'm some sort of villian to them now, but i have no clue what nor do i really care. i must have some sort of magical evil power in their eyes, but i dunno. i was finished with them and i will be forever.
This is not the end
3 years after escaping the FF7 house as it would later be known in internet legend, Icarus finally shared his story online. Almost immediately his inbox was flooded with messages from dozens of people who all had close calls with or had suffered at the hands of Jen. He was shocked, somehow he only ever thought it was him
This wave of victim testimonies is what led Icarus to create the demon-sushi website. Not only to share his story, but to share the stories of everyone else that Jen has hurt. The website is still running 15 years later and Icarus regularly gets messages asking him to help validate suspected 'sightings' of Jenifer Cornet. But past that, he's moved on.
Icarus lives in Massachusetts now where he's been running a rather popular webcomic for the last couple years. He got married in 2011 and lives with his spouse and their two cats *CORRECTION 3 CATS*. In 2019 he diagnosed with stage 3a invasive ductal carcinoma, underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and is at the moment considered free of cancer
Icarus's story is not the end of the Jenifer Cornet saga, nor is it the beginning. But those stories are for another time
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