Author's Note: Reposting this story. Check my profile for details.
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy IX belongs to Square Enix. I do not make any profit from this story.
Warnings: Blatant Self Insert (SI), violence, gore, language, minor nudity and sexual themes, and suggestive themes. Any possible triggers will be warned for at the start of each chapter.
Flipped Up Reality
Chapter One: A Very Bad Day
Every teenager in existence has done something to make their parents' faces turn purple with seething rage. It's something akin to a rite of passage that allows children to go on to be destructive teenagers and then well-rounded adults. The unfortunate part about this is that I'm already incurring such a wrath after just joining the ranks of teenagers two weeks ago, and even more unfortunate is that I'm not the one who is in the wrong here.
"What were you thinking!" my mother screeches at me in the shrillest voice she can muster. In our small apartment, her voice bounces off the walls and leaves a low ringing in my ears, causing me to rightfully grimace. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that my own mother is trying to make me deaf.
It's a predictable response on my end, but I try it out anyway. "I wasn't thinking—"
That seems to be the exact response my mother has been waiting for, as she immediately stops me with a firm point of her finger. "That's right! You weren't! Do you know how much trouble you have gotten yourself in? They now think it's my fault that you're acting out in such inappropriate ways!"
"I wasn't acting out!" I exclaim, trying to wrap my head around what "inappropriate ways" meant. I was rather adult-like in the way I responded to that student teacher.
Earlier today, I had back talked my Algebra teacher. It isn't anything people haven't done before when they have gotten pissed off and overly frustrated, and if you knew Mr. Lawrence, you'd be cheering me on. He doesn't explain anything, doesn't help you, and gives you unreasonable amounts of homework that we review once in a blue moon. He also likes to pick on people to answer questions that he knows we don't know how to do, and I happened to be his unfortunate victim for today.
Normally, I'm quite an easygoing person. When tough situations arise, I usually do my best to just suck it up and deal with it. After class is when I would finally vent my frustrations in the "We Hate Mr. Lawrence" support group. Today, however, is turning out to be one of those Alexander-patented, rotten, no-good, very bad days where all you want to do is crawl into your cozy bed and play your favorite game until the day was finally over. This day had been going from bad to worse with every turn hitting an obnoxious detour that sent me off course onto an even worse road than before.
Today, I made the number one mistake to starting off a day: I woke up late. This gave me ten minutes before the smelly, overcrowded bus arrived to get dressed, brush my hair and teeth, and gather my schoolwork. Since I live with five other siblings, three of which are girls, I never ended up spending more than a minute in the bathroom to brush my teeth and put my hair up in a messy bun.
Being the optimist that I am, I figured that I would just have to use the bathroom at school in order to finish my business. Of course, I chose to not expect the unexpected, which ended up being a fatal mistake.
The bus arrived at school after the bell rang, so I only had enough time to get to my locker, get my stuff, and make it to homeroom. My school happens to be on those schools where they believe that the buses are never late, so it's just the student's fault that they are late to school. Winter tends to be a murderous time of the year for attendance.
I really had to go to the bathroom at this point, so I immediately ask my homeroom teacher for permission to use the lavatory, not the bathroom since there are no baths in the room. My homeroom teacher remained unsympathetic to my potty dance and shook her head, telling me that it was my job to take care of my business before I came into homeroom. No "excuses" would make her see otherwise, so I ended up having to hold my dying bladder in until lunchtime.
Those four hours had been the longest four hours in the history of long hours, and I don't think such a record even exists.
Well, I didn't think anything could be worse than not being able to relieve oneself when one seriously has to (because when you gotta go, you gotta go). Life, ever the devil's advocate, decided to teach me some more lessons about what could be an even worse experience.
For example, there was a pop quiz in Social Studies. No, it's not the fact that we had to take a pop quiz in the subject that made the experience terrible, but the actual content of the pop quiz was something that had me mentally bashing my head against the desk.
Usually, Mr. Samuel teaches the class, and he is an awesome teacher. I actually pay attention in class because he makes the subject interesting. Today, however, there was a substitute. Her name escapes me, but I honestly don't want to be reminded of what she did to us.
She decided to make up the pop quiz on her own after skimming through the chapter of the history book that we were on. One of her ridiculous questions: What color was the Dutchman's hat on page 233?
... You have no idea how hard it was for me to resist banging my head against my desk until I got a concussion. I don't even know how to express the idiocy performed by this woman.
Then, after an already terrible day, I had the horrible period of math to look forward to ending the day with. Mr. Lawrence just gave me the wrong push, and I let him have it. Of course, the only thing that it led to was landing me a promising spot in detention, but it had felt really good at the time to take my frustration out on someone who deserved it.
So, yeah... Today is not a good day for me, and when I finally came home from school, all I had to look forward to is this. My household hasn't exactly caught up with the whole judicial system, yet, so those rights I'm supposed to have don't apply here. Pleading the fifth is probably the only option I can try right now. Mom does like screaming more than listening when she gets this riled up.
"I don't know what has gotten into you lately! Fighting with a teacher? They are not one of your little friends—they are adults! You respect adults!" She catches my eye-roll and puts her face directly in front of mine. "You do that one more time, young lady, and I will add my own punishment to go with those detentions."
Okay, this is just going from bad to worse. I'm thirteen years old! I should be able to think of a way out of this!
"Look," I say, tentatively taking a step back from my mom to regain my composure. "I'm sorry—"
"No, you're not sorry at all!" she cuts in once more. "And you shouldn't apologize to me! Apologize to poor Mr. Lawrence! You will write him a letter apologizing for your outrageous behavior, and then I want you to read it to him in person."
My jaw drops at this point, and I'm sincerely convinced that my own mother gives out punishments more heinous than any other parent could.
"What!" The shock is clearly evident in my voice, and even though I know that my mother isn't playing around with me, a part of me still hopes that she is not being serious. "No way! He deserved it—"
"Cami..." Once Mom uses her warning tone, it is wise to shut one's mouth unless they're prepared to face the consequences. One more wrong word and I will be grounded for sure.
So let me try to choose the right words.
"But, Mom!" I whine in such a pathetically childish voice that only someone as cold-hearted as my own mother could not fall prey to it and let me off with a simple warning. "It's not fair!"
"Life's not fair—" my mother starts to say, but this time I interrupt her.
"That's it!" Mom practically roars at me. I shrink back from the sound and prepare for what I know will be my punishment that could have been avoided if I kept my stupid, big mouth shut, even if I was trying to defend myself against an unjust punishment. Yeah, screw life.
"You're grounded!" Great... "No friends, T.V., music, computer, phone, video games, or anything! Now, go to your room!"
Congratulations, Cami. You've managed to get yourself grounded in a span of five minutes. Someone has been practicing for her teenaged years. Now, go to your room and find a nice, sturdy wall to bash your head against until life stops sucking, okay?
Trembling with unbridled rage, I give my mother one last heated glare before stomping off to my room and slamming the door behind me for dramatic effect. I throw myself on top of my twin-sized bed and bury my face into my pillow. A muffled scream releases all of the day's frustrations out in one go, but instead of feeling calmed down afterwards, I feel just as frustrated and angry.
Taking heavy breaths, I roll over onto my back, still trying to calm myself down. It takes a lot to get me like this, and I'm at the point where I just want to break down crying about how life is so unfair, and all I wanted to do when I got home was play some video games and relax...
The rage immediately subsides as I lift myself up into a sitting position on my bed, staring at my PlayStation and television that's still sitting there in my room. My bedroom door is shut, and it'll take a few hours for my mom to calm down enough to try talking to me again. Oh, the downfall of sending children to their rooms nowadays is that it doesn't have the punishment effect that it used to.
Sliding off my bed, I first head over to my windows to pull down the dark green shades. The sun creates too much of a glare on my television screen, and I really don't want one of my siblings to see that I'm on the PlayStation. Living on the first floor, the one closest to the ground, certainly has its disadvantages.
Quirking a slight grin, I turn the television on so that its light illuminates the dark room. Not wanting to draw any attention to my gameplay, I mute the volume before turning my PlayStation on. It gives a low beep before the motor turns on, and its soothing hum fills the room as it starts up. The motor seems to be working really hard, as the sound gets louder as it finally makes it to the main menu, but what else can you expect from a console that is over a decade old? I'm just happy that it still works.
Next to the gray PlayStation is a stack of video game boxes. Plopping myself down on the faded beige carpet, I grab the box on the top of the stack, giving it a quick once over before placing it back down on the floor beside me. Final Fantasy VII is a great game and all, but I just beat it for the fifth or sixth time last week. It's time for a break from that game for a while.
With a sigh, I pick up the next game in the stack. Metal Gear Solid? Nah, I'm not in the mood to fight terrorists. Let's see what's next... Silent Hill? Nope. Resident Evil? No. Spyro the Dragon? This is a pretty weird order that I have these games in, and no. Geez, I hadn't realized how behind the times I am in video games. I guess I would have better ones if I had the Xbox or PlayStation 2, but this is what you get when your older brother gets all the good things in life first.
About to give up and settle for reading an age-appropriate book, such as Battle Royale, I pick up the last game in the stack, Final Fantasy IX. The game case is thicker than the other ones since it has four discs held inside, and I could remember my thoughts of how this game would never end because it had so many discs. It took me three months to finally beat this game since I got so caught up in the story and wanted to spend as much time as I could in every place that I visited. Why read to get lost in a story when I can play a video game and become a part of one?
Opening the case, I take out the first disc that has an imprint of the main character's face on it. It's hard to see since the picture is simply shades of gray on a silver background, but I can visualize it just fine from my familiarity with the character. Zidane Tribal is one of my favorite fictional characters in existence, and I love his contradictory personality to the last couple main characters of the Final Fantasy series.
For the first time today, a natural grin settles onto my face as I load the first disc into the PlayStation, waiting patiently for the disc to be read and loaded. After a few minutes of struggle, the PlayStation logo comes up and the opening sequence that showcases the different, beautiful places and landmarks of the world of Gaia begins. I skip it, having seen the introduction so many times before, and I wait a couple minutes for the title screen to load. So far, the PlayStation has only been running slow, which is better than having it freeze every few minutes. Maybe I'll have no problems with playing the game.
I select "New Game" on the screen, already planning out my time in Alexandria. After Vivi is given his ticket from a little girl, I will try to make him run into the next screen as fast as he can to avoid being run into by Puck. Yes, I'm aware that this is impossible, and that Puck will run into Vivi no matter how you control him, but I always like to try to avoid it anyway. At least then I can shout back at the screen, "HA! YOU CHASED ME! YOU WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING, YOU RAT!"
Then I'll have Vivi collect various items lying around Alexandria, steal from a few houses, and buy some potions and such so that I will be more than prepared for Evil Forest. Maybe I'll even play that stupid jump rope game that I can never get past 250 jumps with in order to get some more supplies.
The scene with the little girl in a small, shabby, wooden boat with an older woman during a nasty storm finally ends, revealing a beautiful young woman wearing a dress fit for royalty who is just waking up from what appears to be a nightmare. It's so not fair that Princess Garnet gets to be so pretty, and I bet she barely has to work at it. If I woke up after sleeping in a chair, I would have my hair all disheveled and my clothes wrinkles from trying to find a comfy position on the chair. I would probably have bags under my eyes, too, from sleeping so restlessly from having such a nightmare.
After Princess Garnet is shown staring out her large bedroom window, the scene finally switches to show a ship sailing through the sky over a sea of clouds. A flock of doves fly alongside the majestic vessel while the camera gives an amazing panorama of what the airship looks like with hues of a setting sun coloring the background sky. Even with age the animation for this game is simply breathtaking.
The visuals fade to inside the ship where a guy with a monkey tail slides down a pole in order to reach the level of the ship that the game is on. Like a monkey, or more so like the teenaged boys I know, the guy scratches his butt as he walks over to a door, letting his monkey tail slowly sway back and forth behind him. It makes me think more of how a cat's tail behaves, but that's probably because I know a cat tail's behavior better than a monkey's.
...Um, Cami, be a hormonal, teenaged girl and stare at Zidane's ass instead.
"Sure is dark..." Zidane says once he enters the room. Lucky for me, the game provides a soft glow around the character so that I can at least see him. Without me controlling him, he takes a couple of steps forward, looking from side to side. "Guess nobody's here yet..."
I always thought it would be epic for Zidane to light the match and all of the Tantalus members would suddenly appear. That's how all the freaky horror movies work, and yes, that explains why Resident Evil and Silent Hill were in my stack of games.
Zidane reaches his hand down, making a motion as if he's reaching in his pant pocket for something, though the computer animation and graphics aren't advance enough to show him actually reaching into his pocket. Regardless, he brings both his hands in front of him and slides them together. The dim glow around him brightens, and a white glove points to the top of his blond-haired head, signaling for me to take control of him. Yay! I'm finally part of the story!
"Cami!" I groan once I hear my mother call for me. Judging by the volume of her voice, she's just down the hall, and judging by the sound of footsteps getting closer and closer to my room, she's going to talk to me about our fight.
Everything clicks in an instant, and I immediately shut the television off by pressing the power button on it. I do the same for the PlayStation, not really caring that I haven't gotten a chance to save my new game since I barely did anything so far. To my surprise, the little green light that lets me know that the power of the PlayStation is on doesn't go out. I click the power button again, thinking I hadn't pressed the round button down hard enough, but the light still doesn't go out.
"Cami, if that PlayStation is on, so help me—I will ground you for another week!" What the—how does she even know? Gah! Turn off, you stupid machine! Turn off!
A brilliant idea comes to mind, and I act on it just as my mother's footsteps are heard right outside my bedroom door. As she turns the knob, I pull the plug from the wall that connects to the PlayStation. Just as I am about to throw myself against my bed so it looks like I had been sulking there and not playing video games, a little green light catches my eye. Are you shitting me—
My bedroom door swings open with some force, and my entire body tenses up as I prepare for the verbal lashing of the year. Fear encases my mind and my vision blurs as the light from the hallways pours into my dark room. I feel dizzy. Really dizzy.
Everything fades away as my world continues to spin in the darkness, and I find myself lying down on my side as the feeling becomes overwhelming.
"My head..." I moan aloud as the spinning finally stops. "Mom, I think I'm sick. Did I just pass out?"
She doesn't answer me. With a pained groan, I roll myself onto my side and lift myself up with my elbow. It is then that I realize something that manages to make my eyes snap open before quickly closing them due to the bright light. The ground I am currently sprawled unceremoniously upon is not my carpet floor, or any floor in my house, or even my bed. Judging by the texture of the ground, I must be lying upon some sort of cobblestone patio—hopefully my own. Why am I lying on my patio, though? Did my mom see me faint and think, 'Oh, she needs some fresh air,' and toss me out on the patio?
My eyes slowly adjust to the light, and with just a few glances around that panic from before returns full force. I don't see anything familiar that indicates I'm in my backyard, lying on my patio. Although, this place does seem strangely familiar, and I get the feeling that I've seen it before, and the location's name is on the tip of my tongue, but my gut tells me that something is wrong.
Surrounding me is a bunch of houses almost fully circling the perimeter save for a gap where an iron gate is. The houses immediately remind me of old-fashioned condos, but they were definitely not like any style found in my hometown. They're the type of houses I would come across in my history book, but I can't quite say for sure that's why they look familiar.
In the middle of the place stands a statue of a female knight holding a sword. My mind tries to come to the conclusions that aliens abducted me and sent me back in time or to one of those medieval fairs, bit it just seems too unlikely. Why would aliens send me to a place like this?
Okay, focus brain. This is serious.
Out of the corner of my eye, something catches my attention, and I immediately freeze when I realize just what it is. A duck lady and what seems to be a lion-humanoid are standing by the statue wearing clothing that I do remember the nobles wearing in my history book. The duck lady is wearing a fancy, Victorian-style purple dress while fanning herself, and the lion-human hybrid has this beautifully carved cane that you would probably find in an antique shop. His suit really contrasts his appearance too.
"The hell?" I gasp, scrambling to stand up. My body protests the action, and I nearly fall over from the lack of cooperation, but I manage to steady myself.
"You okay?" asks a boyish voice from behind me. I whip around to see a teenaged boy, probably a few years older than I am, with light brown hair that is in this weird mushroom cut that keeps his bangs covering his eyes. He's also wearing blue overalls with a white shirt underneath and a brown hat reminding me of an outfit that a stereotypical farmer's boy would wear. Despite his strange appearance, I can't help but stare at him as if I have seen him a million times before.
"Uh, do I have something on my face?" he asks, cocking his head at me. He's probably uncomfortable with the weird look that I'm giving him.
"Ah, no!" I quickly say, giving him a sheepish smile. "You just look very familiar... Have we met before?"
"No, I believe we have not." Well, that shoots that thought down. "Are you here for the play, "I Want to be Your Canary"?" he asks, changing the subject.
"N-No... Wait... Did you just say, "I Want to be Your Canary"?" I ask in a small voice. No person other than fans of the Final Fantasy IX game knows that play. How does he know it?
"Yeah, a group from Lindblum called Tantalus is performing the play for Princess Garnet Til Alexandrios 17th in honor of her sixteenth birthday," the boy explains while making an expression as if he were raising an eyebrow at me. I can't tell with his long bangs. "Did you hit you head and forget or something?"
"Uh, y-yeah! Thank you!" I blurt out, quickly walking away from the boy in a slight daze. He calls out to me asking if I'm all right, but I really don't have the strength to answer him. I feel so weak in the knees right now. If what this boy says is true, then I must be—but that's impossible! There's no way!
"I'm dreaming," I announce to myself. "I must have somehow hit my head in my panic and now I'm dreaming." Squeezing my eyes shut tight, I raise my right hand up to my left upper arm and pinch the skin there hard. I quickly open my eyes again, expecting to be in a dark room with my mother looking concerned at me, but nothing changes.
I'm in the kingdom of Alexandria... I'm in a fantasy place in my Final Fantasy IX game. I'm in a place that doesn't really exist, except in our imaginations. I'm in a place that is not possible to be in! Oh, no! I think I've gone insane!
"Excuse me, Miss? Have you seen a brown cat?" a timid voice asks from behind me.
With about one inch away from losing whatever is left of my sanity, I turn around and nearly fall backwards in shock at seeing the person behind me.
"Vivi!" The name slips out of my mouth before I can stop myself, and everyone's favorite, little black mage jumps back in as just as much shock as me. His bright yellow eyes widen considerably.
"H-How do you know m-my name?" he asks. "Who are you?"