Seriously: The High-Life Zone: A journey to Wendy’s

Do you really know what is real?


Collegian | Trin Bonner

Grayson Acri, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: This is a satire piece from The Collegian’s opinion section. Real names and the events surrounding them may be used in fictitious/semi-fictitious ways. Those who do not read the editor’s notes are subject to being offended.

In between the normal and the paranormal, there exists a land where most things are recognizable from a distance — but upon closer inspection, things are not quite as they seem. It exists at the junction between rationality and madness, where one hit chooses the path of the unwilling participant. This is the High-Life Zone. 


We have a particular case for you tonight: 22-year-old Travis, a student at a local university. Travis is an experienced stoner. He knows precisely how and when to get high in a responsible way, and he thought this night would be no different. After class, however, Travis’ fate was unknowingly twisted when he went to a new dispensary. The product seemed too good, too dense — with no stems or seeds — all for a clean $20. With the exceptional product in hand, he set up a bowl and let it rip, only instead of relaxation and a case of the giggles, Travis entered the High-Life Zone.

“Harison walked up first and ordered a cheeseburger and soda. Jamie ordered the same. Travis watched, paralyzed, as they commanded a ghost to give them a cheeseburger, seemingly unaware of the undead nature of the cashier.”

Sudden vertigo enveloped Travis, and the world spun. He reached for the railing to steady himself. Steadied, he reached for the door. The interior of his apartment appeared to sway in front of him as if he was standing ashore, watching a boat float nearby on choppy seas. His roommate noticed the shock on Travis’ face as he hesitantly returned inside.

“Travis, you OK there, bro?” asked Jamie, another stoner who knows how Travis gets. “You look like you’re not quite sure on your feet. Why don’t you come sit down?”

Harison, Travis’ other roommate, entered the apartment and smelled the elevation in the air. Jamie settled upon seeing Harison, but Travis gave him an inquisitive look.

“Wow,” Harison said. “How high did you guys get?”

“Enough,” Jamie got out between coughs after hitting a dab rig. Harison rolled his eyes.

Travis hadn’t stopped staring. He peered into the hallway behind Harison. The light was flickering, as it had been for weeks, but now Travis saw the message in it.

Travis’ childhood experience in the Boy Scouts of America taught him nothing about personal responsibility, environmental stewardship or caring about others, but he did remember morse code. 

“Get out,” the lights repeatedly said. Travis was the only one to notice, however, and Harison closed the door, sealing off the ghastly communication. 

“What were you guys going to get up to tonight?” Harison asked Jamie, not bothering to try and communicate with Travis, who held his head in his hands. 

“Probably going to walk over to Wendy’s later,” Jamie said. He glanced over to Travis. “Likely sooner than later. You want to come?”

“Sure,” Harison responded.

They walked out of the door and headed down the street. The light was back to flickering in an incomprehensible pattern, calming the frantic Travis. 

Once they reached their destination, however, Travis once again became overcome with paranoia. The restaurant appeared normal on the outside, but it was as if the lights became black lights, with the colors inverted. The eyes on the posters on the windows followed Travis inside. 

The familiar Wendy’s smell engulfed the group, the sounds of beeps, yells and machinery maintaining a strange peace. 

Travis looked beyond to the counter. It appeared abandoned. There were no visible signs anyone had ever been in the restaurant before.

A figure then slipped out of the shadows from deep behind the counter. 

Harison walked up first and ordered a cheeseburger and soda. Jamie ordered the same. Travis watched, paralyzed, as they commanded a ghost to give them a cheeseburger, seemingly unaware of the undead nature of the cashier. He fortified his resolve, trying to convince himself that he was just high, and feigned confidence in spite of his shivers of fear.

Their orders all came out together; Harison grabbed them while Jamie led Travis to a table. He sat and had his burger placed in front of him. 

He unpeeled the wrapping from the burger and took a mammoth bite. As he was chewing, he noticed a strange texture. It felt a bit like chicken — a ridiculous proposition because it was clearly a burger. He looked to his companions for reassurance, but they were simply enjoying their meal. 

He soldiered on — same taste, strange texture. His confusion grew with every bite as the taste changed slowly into something unrecognizable. What had started as a cheeseburger slowly morphed into a spicy chicken sandwich. 

“This may seem dumb, but what did I actually order?” Travis asked. His companions looked at him with confusion upon his first words of the night. 

“You got the chicken sandwich,” Jamie said with a mouthful. “Just look at it.”

Travis looked at the sandwich in his hands. What had once been a burger was indeed now a chicken sandwich. He shrugged and continued eating.

What Travis didn’t know is he was correct the whole time. Reality is merely a construction of one’s mind and memories, with what’s real and what’s imagined becoming blurry in some places. The strain Travis had smoked inadvertently caused his perception to slip for a mere moment, with his psyche trying to halt the inevitable. For, you see, the difference between reality and imagination is entirely in one’s mind, and here in the High-Life Zone, that line comes out of focus.

Reach Grayson Acri at or on Twitter @Guy1376.