"EPILOGUE"

Two years later…

Uh oh.

There's a door hanger on the doorknob to my dorm. We all know what this means.

'That your roommate is in there with another girl?'

You'd think so, but not my roommate. See, my roommate is a video game junkie.

In this case, he could be doing one of three things:

1. Masturbating to his CoD play session as he racks up a killstreak that's obviously more likely to turn him on than an actual female.

2. Masturbating to the numerous and different skins of the various female characters he's customized on his Fortnite profile.

3. Masturbating to various highly erotic hentai pictures of his favorite female anime characters in compromising positions and getting pene-

'Okay, enough. Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, this is one of those rare instances where he just might actually have a real live, biological female human being in bed with him?'

'Impossible.'

Of course, another possibility was that the hanger itself had been plastered hours earlier and now he was dead since playing games for prolonged periods of time has been known to do that to you.

'Morbid… but probably the most likely case. We should do the ethical thing and leave him be if he is.'

Agreed.

Of course, that meant I wasn't going listen and so with a careful turn of the door handle, I stealthily slipped into the room, shutting the door ever so carefully. Turning around, I noticed him leaning back in his chair by his desk.

Predicting the next moment to be one of the permanently life scarring nature, I bit my lower lip and proceeded to tread ahead quietly, doing my best to not allow the wide grin now stretching across my face to be accompanied by an outburst of uncontrollable laughter.

As I got closer, I peered at his monitor and, much to my surprise, was genuinely shocked to find him looking at actual real porn and not that of the anime or video game variety.

"Holy shit, dude, you're actually checking out real women!"

Doing what any man caught with his hand in between his boxers while checking out porn before being busted by his roommate would do, he nearly jumped a foot out of his chair. With a look of shame and horror plastered across his face, he quickly began adjusting his pants.

"Fuck! What the fuck? What the fuck, dude? Cloud!" He helplessly adjusted his clothing and struggled to zip up his pants before angrily shutting off his monitor.

I was laughing my head off like a hyena.

"Fuck you! Didn't you see the door hanger? What the fuck, Cloud?" His beet red face continued to turn redder. He couldn't even look at me right now as he finished zipping up his pants. "You fucking asshole." He scrambled towards the door in search of his belongings. "I gotta get to class."

"Dude, it's Saturday…" I turned around, a smug expression on my face. "What class are they holding today? Advanced Shaft Strokes 311?"

"Oh, shut the fuck up…" He rolled his eyes, grabbing his backpack before yanking open the door and heading out.

"Hey, did you finish the chem assignment?"

"No." He stopped just outside our main door. "Don't touch my monitor."

I brought up my hands defensively. "Believe me, dude, that's the last thing I'd want to do right now."

This succeeded in angering him further. "Sonnuva bitch…" he muttered as he stepped out, preparing to slam the door shut.

"Yo!"

He halted quite irritably, shooting me a deadly glare. "What? Is? It?"

"Which hand did you just open the door with?"

The door was slammed shut with a ferocity I'm pretty sure the students on the ground floor heard us.

Don't get me wrong, I love the guy but he reminded me of myself from a couple of years ago. The resemblance was eerie.

Wow… it's been a while since I thought of back then. Wild times those days were.

Chuckling, I walked into my room and sat down before turning on the monitor and wiggling the mouse to wake the computer.

Senior year had just started but things were already off to an interesting start. To be honest, I'd kind of missed having drama in my life these past couple of years. All study and no play made Cloud a dull boy.

It's Saturday afternoon. What to do? What to do?

I could:

A) Work on my chemistry assignment? Nah, too burnt out right now after all the lectures this week.

B) Watch some pirated movies? Hmm… kind of craving more active stimulation at the moment.

C) Watch porn? Tempting… but not that kind of stimulation. Besides, my roommate kind of killed the mood right now.

D) Download and mess around with Tinder?

'What about Grindr?'

'Shut up.'

Pulling out my phone, I downloaded and installed the app. It had definitely been a while since I'd last used it. And it wasn't like I couldn't go out on campus and meet people. There were no shortage of parties or social events on a relatively pleasant Saturday during early fall. "Let's see who else is bored." Purely for shits and giggles, I told myself.

Setting the search radius to encompass only the campus and nearby surrounding region, I began swiping.

One swipe turned into ten, and before I knew it, I was hooked. I forgot how addicting these apps could get. There were a couple of familiar faces from some girls in previous classes of mine. Some of them I had history with, some I only fantasized about having history with.

'If she's on there, you should swipe right on the one from that Organic Chem course last year. She had a really giant pair of-"

'Oh my God…'

I literally froze and my heart leapt up to my throat. That… was… "Impossible," I muttered. What was she doing here? The app said she was only 2 miles away. Everything seemed to stand still as I stared at a picture of a girl I never in a million years thought I'd lay eyes on ever again.

Her dark hair was longer than I remembered but her warm chocolate eyes were unmistakable and her smile made all the memories from before come rushing back.

It was Tifa.

Closing notes

I wrestled with the idea of coming back to this for years and giving it a more satisfying conclusion. Due to the constant emails I continue to receive from fans, which I truly appreciate, I decided to upgrade the ending from being completely dark to only slightly gloomy with room for hope. Hopefully it gives some of those who continue to read 'My Disjointed Life' some contentment.

As many of you have speculated, "My Disjointed Life" is indeed based off of true events of some parts of my life, and the lives of a few close friends. It's not all so black and white however. For instance, a large majority of the time, Cloud's conscience was in fact me and my persona, along with the numerous impulses I had while during other times, it represented the various, collective thoughts of all my friends and perhaps a voice of reason. Many of the people, settings and activities are exaggerated and/or altered greatly for the purpose of the story but there are of course, several elements which were not entirely fictional.

The main character breakdown and analysis:

Cloud – The main man behind this story represented a few people in real life. Obviously, he was me in many regards but there were a lot of times where he borrowed traits from a few close friends nearby. His randomness and sense of instability was perhaps all of us in a way mainly during first year, when we were young men placed out into the vast expanse of the open world, naked and with nothing but our yearning ambition to guide us.

I tried to capture the concept of Cloud being a loner in the story, in reference to his persona in the game, as well as that certain element of aloofness. Also, despite what his conscience might think, the Cloud from the story heavily borrows numerous traits of silence, passivity and uncertainty from the one in the game as well. I guess you could say that Cloud at the beginning of my work was like the one in FF7 in that they were both kids in the bodies of young adults. As both stories progressed, they matured and outgrew their inner selves to turn into actual men through their experiences.

Sephiroth – Out of everyone in "My Disjointed Life", Sephiroth was the closest to being in character of the bunch and I attempted to keep his roots true to the game. His character was easily the second most important in the story and proved to be the most influential figure for Cloud. The real life Sephiroth was practically a reflective mirror of the one in my writing, with two major differences: he didn't kill himself and wasn't suffering from arthritis, but just straight steroid and drug abuse. After he was busted for stacking anabolics, he was released from the team and shortly afterwards, he disappeared entirely. I never got a chance to say goodbye to him and haven't heard from him since.

The parallels between the Sephiroth from the game and the story are all there. His perfection was the same one presented during his stint with SOLDIER, as were his fall from grace and his enhancements. Steroids alluded to Jenova and Mako, while his disease was the curse of not being completely human.

His effects on Cloud during the story were the greatest and paved the way for the major changes undergone in the latter's personality, much in the same way the real life Sephiroth changed my perspective and outlook on life. Sephiroth was the catalyst necessary for Cloud to break that mental barrier of fear and step out onto his own.

From the beginning, he was held in high regard by Cloud, who at the time, would've given anything to achieve a fraction of that level of perfection that Sephiroth seemed to bask in. His death would go on to educate Cloud however and open his eyes, making him realize that it's never as great as it's meant out to be and that behind every closed door, the imperfections hide between the walls and don't paint the entire picture.

Zack – It made sense to cast him as the older brother because throughout the game, he acts as that type of figure to Cloud, especially when saving him. I never attempted to express the Zack from the story in a negative light and make him out to be a monster. His intentions were always good but there was a great deal of miscommunication between both him and Cloud, leading to the rift. The reason as to why his relationship with Cloud was never mended is because the real relationship between an old best friend and I has never been truly reconciled.

Zack's deep interest in Cloud's well being throughout the story is reflective of that same expression of care when they break free from Hojo's imprisonment in FF7. This can further be witnessed in the short video "Last Order", in particular when he takes every measure possible to ensure Cloud's safety. To me, this was the strongest indicator of the same emotional bond existing between siblings, as opposed to friends. To add on top of that, it helped that Zack appeared quite similar to Cloud in many ways and so it made it even easier to relate them.

Vincent – He might have appeared to be out of character but I needed someone to fill in the role of a male friend for Cloud. Someone seemingly mature enough to talk to, that wasn't completely out of his realm and so Vincent appeared the most logical choice.

In the game, he would often offer Cloud words of wisdom and experience and so I attempted to paint some similar images throughout the story. It is interesting to note however, that much of the attributes and qualities you see of Vincent in the writing portray more of his character as a Turk, back when he was human, as opposed to his altered state, following the experimentation undergone on him by Hojo.

The final change in Vincent's character during the end of the final chapter suggests the same change that takes place in him following his transformation in the game, where he becomes a darker, more resentful character.

Reno – He was an assortment of different people, not just one. He represents the wild frat boys I often ran into, as well as several individuals I often judged too soon and lumped into the same category due to their outgoing, highly liberal lifestyles, when in fact, they deserved a lot more credit than I gave them for.

Reno shares the same love for drinks and silliness in the story as he does in the game, while at the same time, harboring that deep, dark character we all bear witness to from time to time, that can truly take us by surprise.

Tifa – The main love interest for the protagonist. Some people might ask why I chose Tifa to be the central girl overall and not Aeris and the answer is simple: The first girl I truly fell for during my first year of college shared many similar characteristics to Tifa. She had long dark hair, brown eyes and quite the figure.

Our relationship didn't even take off before it ended, leaving me feeling so confused for the longest time. It hurt, like falling off this blissful state of comfort. It was such a hopeless feeling for the first several weeks and I remember how angry I would become at times, losing interest in everything else and becoming depressed. It's funny how you think when you experience things for the first moment. At the time, I truly believed that I would never meet anyone like her again.

The Tifa from the story also shares many attributes from the one in the game. For instance, her strong affections for Cloud parallel those in FFVII, as do her initially, generally shy personality and reluctance to express her feelings to him as easily as Aeris did.

Aeris – She was the first girl I met but wasn't the one I initially had my eyes on. My time with her taught me how to be less of a coward among members of the opposite sex. In "My Disjointed Life", Aeris was the sexual spark needed for Cloud to break out.

Her bold attributes and actions were reflective of her outgoing nature in the game itself and so I decided she fit this role best. It was easy for her to play the aggressive girl. While Tifa made Cloud truly happy, Aeris was the one who made him a man in the story and similarly in the game, she was the one who more or less opened up his eyes and somewhat brought him out of his shell. She changed Cloud in a positive way and I took that and implemented it into my work.

Yuffie – I'll admit that out of everyone, her position in this story was the most forced and as such, she might have seemed the most out of character. However, Yuffie was planted in this role due to her age and because of her spunky attitude, which worked best with this version of Cloud in the story. He needed a non romantic female confidant/companion and since the other two women had strong emotional ties with him throughout the game, I attempted to keep it consistent and so she fit the bill best.

I remember a scene in the game where Cloud offers her some advice as to how to conquer air/motion sickness since he used to suffer from it himself. I always thought that had been something of a sibling moment between the two and so used it as another motivating factor for this role.

Your questions and comments answered:

Okay, first and foremost, I just gotta know… what is up with your obsession with the Sugar Crisp Bear?

The bastard refused to sign an autograph for me one time at a cereal convention back when I was eleven because I spent more time with Cap'n Crunch, and so I've harbored hate ever since.

All joking aside, during first year, I was staying in a dorm with two other roommates and we were all poor. Anyways, one of them had somehow won a large supply of (you guessed it) Sugar Crisp cereal and so our entire cupboard was stacked with them. What's worse, being poor and hungry a large majority of the time, you gotta eat what you can get your hands on. Sugar Crisp by day, Sugar Crisp by night, and Sugar Crisp at noon. A man can only eat so much before he goes crazy and swears to never approach the terribly sweet, disgustingly syrupy substance in his life ever again. Needless to say, at one point in time, we started using the individual pieces as projectiles on others, further reflecting our hatred and disregard towards the evil bear and his malicious, inedible "cereal".

Why are you such a good writer?

I'm not. Have you ever heard of James Joyce or George Orwell?

What is the main point of this story?

If I had to sum it up in one word, I would say the overall theme of this story is autonomy, with all the other aspects simply acting as the numerous fabrics to dress it up.

What's up with the random change in the tenses and the weird writing style?

The majority of the story takes place from Cloud's point of view and his character is extremely random, and quite unpredictable at times. The writing style reflects Cloud's erratic thought train and how fractured his world is, both physically and mentally. I wanted to demonstrate the instability inside Cloud's head and capture the turmoil.

Will you do this for any other FF's?

One time is what makes it unique. Going off for a second round would make the story lose its magic so to speak.

What about doing this through a female's POV?

Definite no. Being a guy, I would get so many things wrong, the story would end up a tragedy instead of a comedy. My story would get laughed off the site by all the female readers.

Any future stories planned?

Maybe. I do write recreationally on the side.

Why did you kill Sephiroth?

The most asked question and for good reason too, I suppose. Sephiroth's death was necessary and was the major turning point in the story. If you pay attention, you'll notice that after chapter 27, the entire mood seemed to shift but it wasn't until the end of chapter 30 that Cloud's bubble of comfort truly burst. Sephiroth needed to die in order for Cloud to open his eyes and finally take a real good, long hard look at himself in the mirror and decide just where he stood in the midst of everything.

What's up with the voice inside Cloud's head?

For those of you who didn't get it, the voice was a symbol. It was a symbol of many things. It wasn't literally his conscience of course, but more so his conflicting thoughts and personalities that never succeeded at surfacing in the outside world. We all have this voice inside of us. It represents all the times we ourselves wished or thought something we truly felt and desired, but ended up doing something else in order to avoid a flurry of unwanted circumstances perhaps.

What is the significance of the chess scene with Reno?

The exact same thing occurred with someone I knew in first year, and highly underestimated. This scene was a metaphor for not judging a book by its cover.

What was in the envelope to Zack?

That's up for you to decide.

Does Cloud ever forgive Zack?

Maybe he will some day.

How did Cloud finance everything?

Drugs, duh. Kidding. Worked before enrolling in college.

What happens to Aerith?

She goes her own way.

What happens between Cloud and Tifa?

That's up to the reader to interpret. 😊

Why didn't Cloud put up a better fight against Rufus?

I take it none of you have ever been sucker punched extremely hard. It's pretty much over if the first fist connects really well. Cloud was hit straight in the nose and taken by complete surprise, never given time to recover.

What was Cloud's major?

Biochemical engineering.

Why are some people in the story out of character?

No one's really that out of character. They all pretty much retain most of the same quirks and attributes as in the game, with modifications of course. You have to remember that this story doesn't directly follow any parts of the game so I was able to mold and adapt various people in order to make the writing work and flow more seamlessly.

Do you like green eggs and ham?

Yes I do, but not nearly as much as Sam I am.

Are you sick of all the questions?

Not at all. I enjoyed reading every review. The longer and more thought out, the better it was in my eyes and it showed that you took the time to grasp more elements of the story than others perhaps.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Probably a lot, although I could definitely see the beaver giving him a run for his money.

Why are you so weird?

I don't know. Am I? Why are you so weird?

Fun Trivia:

-The story was initially supposed to span roughly 20 chapters at around 60,000 to 75,000 words but due to the overwhelming feedback, extra elements were added in and the majority of it ended up being far more drawn out.

-I had originally anticipated about 200 reviews tops for the entire fic.

-Chapter 13 (the dream at the bank), was the second chapter written (after the first) but wasn't posted until after 11 others had been put up.

-Chapter 30 (Sephiroth's death) appears to be the most popular chapter in terms of hits.

-Chapter 27 has the most reviews (49 as of writing this). Someone should make it 50.

-Chapter 4 has the least amount at 7. Why no love for 4? 4 is extremely saddened by this.

-Chapter 32 (the confrontation with Zack) took the longest to write.

-Chapter 36 was the longest (over 9700 words), but has the fewest reviews to show for it since chapter 13.

-There are many indirect references to various bits of popular pop culture and other pieces of work throughout, some of which you picked up on such as Cloud and Yuffie in the diner during chapter 28.

-The locations and settings of the story are intentionally left ambiguous.

-Sephiroth's death was planned right during the beginning of the story.

-Similarly, Reno's character change and the chess scene was thought up after Chapter 4 had been written but wasn't typed up until much later.

-Rude was initially going to be portrayed as part of campus security as someone had suggested earlier but was instead incorporated as the opposing receiver during the football game.

-Vincent's character was changed last minute to play as a friend of Cloud's. Prior to his inclusion in the story, he was set to act as Sephiroth's main rival at the school.

-Kadaj was intended to have a much larger role, almost acting to replace the Loz that was actually written in. After thinking about it however, I decided to go for a fresher look and opted to make him take a backseat and have Loz be the more prominently featured one of the trio.

-At some point during the later part of the story, I contemplated incorporating the character Genesis but thought better of it when I couldn't find a truly unique and original way of adding him in without disrupting the flow of the story.

-Jenova was originally set to act as a professor in the college.

-I had no clue who Ichigo from "Bleach" and J.D. from "Scrubs" were until they were mentioned in my reviews.

-Typed up, this story spans nearly 400 pages on the computer, using size 8 font with standard text.

-Taking brainstorming, rewrites, long contemplative nights and other aspects of the work exclusive to just the main typing of the story into consideration, "My Disjointed Life" took approximately 350 hours to complete.

Final (I promise) closing comments:

1. Reviews…

I was touched by several of them, especially those about how some people's outlooks on life changed. I will say that that was definitely not my intention but it always leaves a strange feeling of warmth, reading about how you altered someone beneficially, merely through a little piece of literature. From someone's confession that this story made him join football, affecting his life positively, to another explaining that it opened their mindset in a new direction, I was extremely moved when reading reviews describing moments of change in your own lives. I think if I had to take anything worthwhile out of this story, those few instances of impact this article of work had on others will definitely stand out the most.

2. Publishing this story…

Thanks to the overwhelming feedback, response and praise I've received for this story over the years, I ended up deciding to turn My Disjointed Life into a reworked original fiction that I've since published. The writing style itself has remained relatively unchanged (it wouldn't be the same without it) but the original novel differs in many ways from the fanfic version, from the characters names and roles being reworked, to several plot points being altered as well (hopefully for the better). For those who haven't checked it out and are interested in doing so, you can (shameless plug, I know) go here:

My-Disjointed-Life-Martin-Reed-ebook/dp/B008976EDS/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

3. My inspiration…

Comes from a variety of different things I've witnessed throughout my young life. It comes in the form of various daily events I've encountered with people, TV shows, movies, video games, books, comics, magazines and music. Out of all these things however, I would say that the largest single source of inspiration comes from random internet message boards/forums that I've stumbled upon during my time online. The mind boggling absurdity/stupidity that can be found in online message boards is truly intriguing and if one studies it hard enough, can find millions of ways to derive comical situations out of it all, as long as your brain doesn't suffer first.

4. To all readers…

I know I must have mentioned this half a dozen times throughout but thank you one final time for making this story so incredibly popular. It brings such satisfaction to see that your work is greatly admired and enjoyed by a large portion of people. You stuck through it all and put up with delays (sometimes) months long in between chapter updates, yet you always kept coming back for more. If it weren't for such overwhelming support, this story would have been shaped up much differently I imagine.

Thank you again and good night.