BACKGROUND- My next-door dorm neighbor freshman year of college was an extremely eccentric, not overly stable, ambiguosly gay southerner named Ian. And by ambiguously gay, I mean he rubbed on guys' chests when he was drunk and a platonic girlfriend of his told my roommate in Spanish that he had told her that he was gay. Ian, of course, denied this and then insisted that he had sex with women in England with knives but now thought sex should "mean something."

Ian was basically Ignatius J. Reilly on drugs. Ian wasn't fat like Ignatius, but he said he was in middle school. And despite being named Ian, which was his middle name anyway, he was as American as apple pie, as were his parents. But you'd never know this from talking to him. Ian constantly spoke with a fake British accent, smoked weed out of an Egyptian hookah in his room, had a large collection of Persian daggers, often broke into Persian folk songs, and his favorite exclamations were "Bloody Americans!" and "That's barbaric!" He was also obsessed with the movie version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

One day, a campus dealer named Rob who looked like a big surfer with long blond hair, a goatee, and sunglasses wandered into my room on acid following Ian. I then watched an African cable channel with Rob and Ian and, in theory, we were all on DOC, an obscure hallucinogenic designer drug. I felt nothing and Rob and Ian wondered if I had some kind of weird "high tolerance to hallucinogens."

Ian then made some business connections with Rob and his little shaggy brown-haired dealer friend Dan. These dealers knew a local washed-up hippy woman who they got acid from. Most of the acid they bought from her was fairly weak, as in people would do four hits of it and not cross into the "psychedelic" threshold of "ego-death" and "life-changing" mystical experiences.

I wanted to try acid simply out of curiosity and I planned on starting with a small dose. I had no delusional aspirations of connecting with any kind of higher power and thought acid was just going to be a cheap thrill. I was about to learn that on large doses, acid is a very expensive thrill. My only prior experience with drugs was weed and alcohol. I had already seen the Fear and Loathing movie, but it did not prepare me at all for the weird, wild Native-American, Buddhist, and beatnik shit I was going to be dealing with.

I told Ian I wanted to try acid and he ran out and bought ten hits of white blotter paper from Rob and Dan, who were splitting profits at the time.

"So, Ian, how many should I do?"

"Well, I just bought ten hits. And I'm going to do six, so...why don't you do three? Or, if I do six and you do three, then there will only be one left and that won't be any good at all by itself. Do you think you can handle four? I'm sure you can because you seem to have a high tolerance to psychedelics."

"Alright, whatever."

STAGE 1:SPEED- I gave Ian forty bucks and ate the four tabs all at once at around 8:00 P.M. on a Friday. I also ate 4 vitamin C tablets. I was in an extremely good mood that day. I listened to "Cleetus Awreetus-Awrightus" by Frank Zappa on repeat for about an hour while looking at Latina porn to try to put myself in an even better mood when Ian came in to get me out of my room because my flamboyantly, but not openly gay and prudish narc roommate who doesn't even drink was coming back to the room and I was already starting to laugh uncontrollably with huge pupils. I ran around outside laughing maniacally and felt like I was on speed, although I had never done it. I never had so much energy in my life and it felt great. Everything seemed extremely windy, although it's not clear how windy it actually was outside, and hills seemed infinitely steeper. As I ran, all my surroundings were very gradually bending as if everything was getting sucked into one point, which was whatever point I was looking at. In other words, everything looked like a fish-eye camera lens from a Busta Rhymes music video.

Around 11:00 P.M., Ian led me to his room with the two dealers Rob and Dan and two girls I had never met before, one very tall and one very short. They were all smoking out of Ian's hookah, and by the girls' request, there was no weed in the hookah, just shisha. Ian walked in letting the girls know that he and I were tripping on acid and the tall girl didn't look too happy to hear this. She had, after all, requested that there be no weed in the hookah. The short one was having a great time, though. I thought I remembered the short one alluding to the fact that she had pornographic pictures of herself posted somewhere, but this is debatable as I was on acid. They turned on some music and Dan said, "Is the room just like filled with music?"

Although everything already looked like a cross between a rap video and an Edvard Munch painting in ultra-high resolution, I looked around the room and didn't see music "filling it", so I calmly answered, "No, but I feel like everything's getting sucked into one point."

"Where's the point?" the short girl asked, laughing.

"Wherever I'm looking."

Dan then decided that I must be having a really lame trip since it had been 3 hours and the room wasn't even filling with music. When I said I had done 4 tabs and Rob and Ian mentioned that I had done three milligrams of DOC and didn't feel it, Dan responded, visibly drunk, "You have a problem with psyches. Are you on any SSRI's?"

"No." I wasn't and never have been.

"That stuff'll screw you up, man. You need to smoke."

Dan and Rob's advice at this point was for me to smoke a lot of weed to intensify my "lame trip." Someone accidentally knocked Ian's hookah over and the glass bottom shattered and hookah water spilled all over the carpet.

"Don't worry about it, Ian," Rob insisted. "Worry about it tomorrow when you're sober."

Then the short girl went to our hall bathroom to vomit from overdrinking and Dan took me and Ian outside to smoke weed and meet someone named Walt, who he said was "the same person as Ian." This is a hardcore bad thing to tell someone on acid. Outside the dorm building, Dan said to me, "I like that girl."

"The porn one?" I inquired. As soon as I said this, I wondered if it had actually made any sense. I thought that girl had something to do with porn, but I couldn't remember what this connection was as soon as I said it and I wondered if that was just the acid talking.

"Yeah." Dan replied. I guess it did make sense.

As we were walking outside to go smoke weed out of Dan's pipe, and his weed was pretty potent by campus standards, I began to get massively hyper again and felt great. I was also beginning to feel my thought process deteriorate and felt like I kept seeing the same four greasy New Jersey guidos with popped collars scurrying around and felt like they were "planning something." I decided against telling Dan this because a part of me still realized that was the acid talking. I also kept biting my lip uncontrollably, but it didn't hurt at all and I felt great while I was doing it. Dan started to get nervous, saying, "He looks like someone who just coked up. Uh, we haven't really tested this batch so we're just trying to see how people react to it." He told me to stop biting my lip and I told him I didn't see why it mattered since it didn't hurt and it's not like I could stop biting it anyway. It was this automatic thing I couldn't control.

"Areyougettingthisweirdstimulanteffect,Ian?" I mumbled at blinding speeds.


Anyway, I smoked a greater amount of potent weed than I probably had ever smoked in one sitting before because I didn't feel any full mechanism or any normal weed high, so I just kept on smoking. I also met the extremely eccentric, faux-British, hookah-smoking Walt. Walt was in fact very similar to Ian, except he literally looked like he had walked off the set of Beetlejuice or The Nightmare Before Christmas. When I saw this guy again sober, he didn't even look that far removed from a skeleton or a ghost as he was bony, emaciated, and very pale. On acid, he had hair and everything, but I literally could not figure out how this undead claymation leprechaun was human. At first, I thought this was funny and thought the LSD had just conjured up some ridiculous claymation skeleton character for me to talk to. I kept getting right up to his face and saying, "He's not real! There's no way he's real!" and laughing.

Dan laughed and said, "Yeah, that's how I feel on acid. I feel like I'm the only one that's real."

And I knew what he was talking about; that depersonalized, virtual-reality simulator feeling that is the foundation of the acid experience at any dosage. It's the feeling of looking down at your own arms and wandering if they're really your arms or if they're just as much a part of the scenery as everything else. But this was very different. I literally couldn't figure out how Walt could be human.

Then I realized that Dan was talking to him too and he wasn't on acid. Dan had also told me earlier that acid doesn't make you see things that aren't there and then everything froze into a still frame for a second as I panicked and felt too far gone and started to fight it. But then I quickly realized it was far too powerful to fight and trying to make sense of what was really going on at this point was fighting it. So I gave up. I just laughed and thought to myself, "Well, if the claymation skeleton guy wants to talk to us, I'm sure he's a friendly claymation skeleton and we'll all have a good time. Good trip."

Then some really hardcore visuals started. I was still hyper and biting my lip like someone was paying me to do it, but now everything I could see looked like it was made out of a tapestry of 2-inch glass crystals. Then the features of people's faces were being outlined like someone was drawing them with a pen. Then my entire field of vision was outlined with a black border like a frame from a comic book and I exclaimed, "I feel like I'm in a comic book!"

We were smoking on a hill next to a building that even sober looked like some kind of Mayan temple step pyramid. Then for a few seconds, everything below the top of the hill turned black and I felt like we were floating on a hill high in the sky with a mystical Mayan temple. I then felt like I was growing another pair of eyes through which I began seeing very elaborate images. I'll call them "mind's eye visuals" for future reference. And in these mind's eye visuals, I kept seeing everything as being extremely tall and skinny and distorted and I said, "I feel like everything's tall and skinny!"

Walt said, sounding not unlike the Dark Lord Lucifer himself, "Noowwww IIIII bellliieeevvveee you'rrreee onnnnnn accccciiddddd."

Walt also blew pot smoke out of his nose like some kind of a goddamned dragon and made a truly distrubing facial expression opening his eyes really wide that I don't think is physically possible to accomplish unless the beholder is on a lot of LSD. Walt and Ian then sat next to each other discussing hookahs and finishing each other's sentences. Everything went into slow motion for a few seconds as they stared into each other's eyes and said pretty much in goddamned unison, "Why haven't we met? Yes, why haven't we met?" This was way too intense for me to be dealing with on acid. It seemed as though Ian and the claymation skeleton were becoming one entity of completely incomprehensible behavior.

Anyway, after a few jitters, everything was going great. Dan had to leave for a few minutes and Ian wanted to go to CVS to buy some stuff to fix his hookah. Ian made me follow him to CVS and I kept telling him that I shouldn't go in there because I still couldn't stop biting my lip and it would look weird to the people in CVS. Ian didn't care and we went into CVS anyway.

I ran around CVS like a meth-crazed marionnete puppet making weird gestures with my hands as they perpetually hung by my head. And then I saw the Pearly Gates of Heaven. I was standing in front of an ATM machine looking at Ian buy duct tape for his hookah at the counter of CVS when time slowed down to a crawl. Everything turned black except for the counter, which, in a flash, transformed into a white podium with huge white gates towering behind it. Ian was at the podium holding a brown briefcase facing the angel/CVS clerk, and he then set the briefcase on the ground. This lasted about three seconds and then flashed back to regular old CVS. But where did the brown briefcase go? And this brief hallucination was as real as my own hands, not like the mind's eye hallucinations I metioned earlier. And Dan had told me I wouldn't see things that aren't there. This was the first moment where I wondered to myself, "Sweet Son of Satan, how much LSD did I put in my body and why did I do it?"

And that's about when I stopped biting my lip and I no longer felt like I was on speed. We left CVS and I began to worry because I had just seen the Pearly Gates of Heaven early in the trip and Ian said he was on more acid than I was. I thought acid was just going to make the room fill with music. Instead I was about to enter a Satanic crash course in Native-American Studies, Existentialism, and Eastern Philosophy. And that's when the journey to Zeesersow began.

STAGE 2: THE JOURNEY TO ZEESERSOW- Outside, we met back up with the dealers Rob and Dan. I was now becoming overwhelmed with mind-blowingly elaborate mind's eye visuals of dancing beatniks wearing berets and claymation skeletons. I kept getting the feeling that I was in this weird parallel universe stuck in the art-deco 1940's.

This is also when the telepathic communication began. I wasn't literally hearing voices. I could tell what the voices sounded like, but they seemed to go straight to my brain without taking a detour through my ears. In my mind's eye, all these crazy beatniks were dancing around like marionnete puppets and acting like they were, well, on acid. They told me telepathically, with cadence a la William Shatner, "You're...on...aaaaaaacid. how...people...on...aaaaaaaacid move" and they danced around like one would imagine crazy beret-wearing beatniks on acid would. One beatnik said, as if he was reciting a coffeehouse beatnik poem, "!" and another said, "Ich... bin... college" as he danced.

I also kept getting images of these claymation skeletons spiraling out of nothingness into existence and just sitting or standing there coldly and not saying anything telepathically. These silent skeletons looked startingly like they were from The Nightmare Before Christmas or the computer game Grim Fandango. They didn't really look like real human skeletons, but cute little cartoony midget skeletons that aren't necessarily very sinister and perhaps even friendly and humorous.

The beatniks then began sending me telepathic messages of completely meaningless words. One that was repeated far more than the others was the word "Zeesersow." And it rhymes with "zeeserwow", not "zeeserbo." Anyway, they said it so many times you woulda thought that word "Zeesersow" was the goddamned meaning of life or something.

Now I thought all of this was absolutely hysterical at first, couldn't stop laughing, and kept thinking, "Where is the crazy beatnik that made this terrible student art film that I'm stuck in?" I became convinced at this point that Tim Burton, David Lynch and beatnik poets owe their entire careers to hallucinogenic drugs. I also became convinced that Grim Fandango was based pretty directly on a huge dose of acid. I also kept getting the feeling that I had thought acid was a hippy drug, but really, it's more of a beatnik drug, whatever the fuck that means. The phrase "mescaline dependscaline" was also repeated pretty frequently.

Then the song I had listened to over and over right after I dosed, "Cleetus Awreetus-Awrightus" by Frank Zappa, kept playing in my head and I kept getting this image of human teeth rattling in a can. I think this was synesthesia from the tack piano. That's about when things started turning from hilarious and pleasant to just plain weird and I kept thinking, "Uh, is this good or bad?"

Human teeth continued to rattle in a can somewhere in my mind's eye and I kept getting this mind's eye visual of a one-eyed midget claymation skeleton playing chess by himself. You read that right. A one-eyed midget claymation skeleton playing chess by himself.

Then Dan came up to me and said, "I'm your trip guide." For half a second I thought, "Oh, it's just that dealer joking around" and then a half-second of, "No, he's the trip guide. It's all beginning to make sense." And then, "No he's just- wait, he is the trip guide!" And I began to realize that trying to make sense of what people were really doing on this much acid was fighting it, which becomes impossible and only makes things become more sinister. So I again just gave up and played a long a little more. I then heard the other dealer Rob say to Dan, "Stop doing stuff like that. One of these days you're gonna push someone over the edge." Then I wondered what 'the edge' meant, and little did I know, I would soon find out.

Now I really started to feel like I was going somewhere. I felt like I was going on a literal "trip" somewhere and that I now understood why they call it an "acid trip." And it was becoming mind-numbingly confusing to figure out exactly how many people were coming with me. Thinking back on it now, the only people there right then were Ian, Rob, and Dan, but I could have sworn there were about 30 of us. I increasingly began to feel like I was going to some mysterious place farther away than the 1940's art-deco place was from Earth and I was picking up beatniks and claymation skeletons on the way to join me on the journey.

At this point, I kept asking Dan what everything I was looking at was because it was getting hard as fuck to tell. For example, we walked by a building that had all its windows closed with lights off except for one window that was open with this extremely bright light coming out of it. Everything then slowed to a crawl and I felt like my head was forced to look at it. Inside this mysterious bright window was what looked to be a bunch of weird Arabian shit from Aladdin. The little sober part of me started to think, "Uh, why would a window of some campus building be open in the middle of night with a bright light and why would it have weird Arabian-looking shit inside like what looked like a genie's lamp and a carpet that may or may not be magical." So I then said to Dan, "Wait, wait! Look at this! Is there really some weird Oriental shit in that window?!" I meant to say "Arabian", but instead I said "Oriental", probably because I was on acid. Then he just said, "Yeah, yeah. Come on."

Then a train started to go by and I kept getting these crazy mind's-eye visuals that were beginning to blend with my regular field of vision in a way that was hardcore confusing. The visuals were of a huge dark green alien flying saucer taking off and the whole ground shaking and smoke everywhere. So when the train was going by, I nervously asked Dan, "What's that?" and he just laughed and said, "It's a train!" He clearly had never done this much acid.

And then I knew I was getting close to the mysterious place I had been approaching for some time. And it seemed to be called Zeesersow. At least, as I felt like I was getting near, I kept getting these mind's eye visuals of some kind of eerie machines or aliens disguised as Rob, Dan, and Ian singing this eerie chant that featured a ton of alien words I can't remember, repeatedly ending with "in the Zeesersow." And it even had a little bit of a tune. It seemed like I was entering a place called Zeesersow that had its own theme song. And that's when shit started happening in circles.

STAGE 3: EGO DEATH/ ONE WITH NATURE- By this point, I was beginning to respond telepathically to the growing onsluaght of telepathic communication until I felt like telepathic messages were coming at me faster than my brain could process. The mind's eye visuals were also becoming so overwhelming that I felt like I couldn't tell which set of eyes to look through in order to just walk forward. Then I felt so overwhelmed with sensory information that I felt like I was going blind.

And then the mind's eye visuals stopped and I felt like time and space had completely collapsed around me. I was on top of a hill in front of the cafeteria building and my entire field of vision looked completely flat to the point where I felt like moving forward would hurt. I felt like I was literally stuck inside a flat surface, stuck inside a beautiful, distorted, ultra-high resolution painting of a college campus. Talk about depth-perception problems. That's when I thought to myself, "Nichols, there were a lot of times in the past when you thought you had really fucked up and you'd never get out of this one, but it always ended up working out. But I think you really blew it for real this time. You're stuck inside a motherfucking painting!"

I then began walking down the hill, and my field of vision froze into a still painting of my hand and the hill. I kept moving down the hill and could feel my muscles moving and could still hear things in real time, but all I could see was the same painting of my hand from five seconds ago. I was literally blind, except, instead of staring at darkness, I was perpetually staring at a painting of my own hand. I felt like I was running on a treadmill in another dimension staring at a painting of my hand. This is when I wanted to get off the ride. But I couldn't.

And then finally I was rewarded with a new painting of my field of vision further down the hill that still had about a five second delay. I was flipping through a children's picture book of myself dying on a hill. I felt like my brain was flying apart in all directions and it was no longer able to process sensory information. And then I began to worry that my completely frozen and flat field of vision was starting to wobble and was about to fall over and shatter into pieces of glass and I was going to wake up screaming, seeing reality for the first time. Good trip.

Then my vision caught back up with real time on the bottom of the hill and I was relieved... until I watched myself disappear. As soon as I began moving in real time again, I looked down and literally watched my feet disappear and very quickly my whole body disappeared after it. I presume I became "one with nature" at this point. And I'm pretty sure I was transcending some hardcore shit. I'm also sure I had a very intelligent facial expression at that moment.

I think I was effectively brain-dead for a couple of seconds continuing to follow Dan and Ian into the quad and the next thing I knew I was already in the quad. I felt like I had just popped out of the ground in the quad and had just entered Zeesersow. Dan was walking next to me and everything slowed to a crawl and I felt like there was this massive force turning my head against my will and sucking me toward Dan and making me pay attention to him. I turned to look at him and his eyes lit up with this quasi-sinister knowing smile and from the eyes lighting up and the smile I knew that I had left my body and possessed his body to talk back to whoever or whatever was inhabiting my body now. Dan said something a long the lines of, "I used to be like that," which I think was directed at Ian and made sense in their conversation, but it took on loads of symbolic meaning for me.

Dan's eyes then returned to normal and I could tell that I had left his body to some far away place. Then I turned to look ahead and I thought to myself, "Well, there goes Nichols," and I didn't even really understand that it was me anymore. It was just some guy that left. I now wasn't sure who I was and I felt like I was actually about five people at once. And that's when God showed up and I remembered I was from Zeesersow. Or perhaps we were from Zeesersow. It's a judgment call.

STAGE 4: ZEESERSOW/THE EDGE/THE WORST PLACE EVER- This is where the trip started to get hardcore. If you thought any of the other stuff I mentioned was hardcore, you are a pussy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Anyway, as I continued to walk through the quad next to Dan, I felt like my entire reality was crumbling before my eyes. There were 2-inch white blobs flying past me like I was in a wind tunnel and I was literally walking on a giant chessboard. That's right, the entire ground of the quad was literally a chessboard as real as my own hands with alternating dark green and light green spaces for about three seconds and then it flashed back to normal and back to a chessboard on and off for a while. The chess motif was getting stronger. Then someone whispered to me telepathically, "You're not even paying attention."

Then I felt the massive pull to look at Dan again. I turned to look at him and his eyes lit up and tore right into me like Persian daggers. He grew a sinister, knowing smile and I knew God had possessed his body to talk to me. And I don't even believe in God. And I literally didn't even know that people on acid could talk to God. And I just thought the room was gonna fill with music, man! Fuck!

God proceeded to tell me telepathically that my entire life had been a sick, sick lie and that I was actually from Zeesersow. He told me that I was some sort of failed messiah that had disobeyed Him and escaped from Zeesersow long ago and I had done something to my brain to block out his constant communication with me and to forget about Zeesersow and assume a fake identity in an essentially fake reality. He told me that every feeling of deja vu I had ever had in my life was Him briefly breaking through to me. He also told me that I had done so much LSD that I had completely broken through whatever I had done to my brain before and was now able to remember the truth. Um, alright. I thought the room was gonna fill with music.

But the bitch of it all was that I remembered. He didn't even have to tell me. As soon as I saw the look of God in that arbitrary college drug dealer's eyes, I started to remember everything He was telling me. I had deja vu coming out of my ass. Normally, being the optimist that I am, I would have thought, "Well, maybe God's just pulling my leg, and in a couple of minutes, we'll both have a good laugh about this little prank he's pulling on me." But I "remembered" that what he was telling me was true. And I remembered that God, who I used to know personally and work for, was an evil tyrant ruling the universe with an iron fist. He wasn't so much some magical, omnipresent androgynous force as much as some cocky male asshole with a sadistic sense of humor who had hijacked the universe. But He sure as hell knew what He was doing. And He sure as hell was way more powerful than me or anything else I had ever experienced.

Now that's pretty much the definition of bad news. I mean, if someone says they have bad news, you'd say "Oh, no, did somebody die?" and if they then said, "Reality's fake and God is evil," its hard to know what to say next. Shit? Fuck? Son of a bitch? Son of Sam? What facial expression are you supposed to make? What emotion are you supposed to feel?

For quite a while, I felt an emotion I have literally never felt sober and I don't know if it is possible to feel unless you are on a monstrous amount of a psychedelic drug. There have been times over the years that I have been kicked in the balls so hard that I no longer felt pain in my balls and instead just keeled over in nausea. This was probably because my brain was flooded with more pain than it could process and my brain just gave up and made me nauseous in a state beyond pain.

Talking to God, I was beyond fear. Fear is much more optimistic than what I was feeling. Fear is knowing there's a chance but the odds are against you and you hope you don't screw up that tiny chance coming through to save you. I didn't have a chance. I was fucked in all directions. The jig was up. Reality was fake and God was evil. I bought it. I bought it because I wasn't me anymore. I wasn't even a person anymore. I had no adrenaline high or cynical wise-cracking to fall back on. I was just a receptacle to be filled with a thousand years of human suffering. And that was some hardcore, Christ-on-the-cross, The Giver shit I was dealing with. And it got worse before it got better.

At this point, the acid's hold was so strong that three-space navigation didn't make a whole lot of sense anymore. I felt like I was in the middle of a revolving door of absolute insanity, not unlike the orgy scene in Zoolander. Everywhere I turned was either Dan or Ian and God would jump between their two bodies and light up their eyes. God was closing in on me from all directions.

And my mind's eye visuals were on overdrive. I kept getting this image of myself standing before some kind of huge black hole and my fingers were bending before the power of the black hole and stretching for miles and "in the Zeesersow" was being repeated telepathically. I felt like I had hit some ceiling in the universe, but really I had hit a ceiling in my brain. Maximum brain. And I kept getting mind's eye visuals of various people I knew shape-shifting into praying mantis-like space-alien versions of themselves. Trippy.

The instant I saw the look of God I knew I had gone too far. I had never been so unhappy to see anyone in my entire life. It was like running into a professor of a class you just skipped times a trillion. He had this sadistic sense of humor smiling and laughing at how scared I was and he seemed to be saying, just with his eyes, "Now you remember, don't you? You thought you could forget about me, didn't you? Yeah, you thought you could forget."

I immediately apologized telepathically for coming back to Zeesersow and tried to explain it was an accident and that I had done way too much acid. Although, confusingly enough, I couldn't even remember that the person who had done the acid was a college student. I then told Him that I would turn around and leave Zeesersow immediately and never return again. But then He told me that no one can leave Zeesersow. What do you mean no one can leave Zeesersow? He again reminded me that one can not just leave Zeesersow once one enters. Why did I do so much acid?

I then felt like He was about to tell me Everything. He was about to destroy me with absolute knowledge and doom me with permanent insanity by giving me more knowledge than the human brain can handle. Thinking back on it sober, I was reminded of a quote from All the King's Men about how the end of Man is knowledge and he can't figure out if it's going to save him or destroy him. And I was convinced that knowledge was going to destroy me. And what the hell kind of crazy, corny, flaky, philosophy major shit is that? Jesus H. Christ! I can smell the weed and incense. What the hell corny part of my brain did that come from? I felt like I was trapped inside a philosophy textbook. Bad trip!

Anyway, I felt like the meaning of life was on the tip of my tongue and God was telling me that I already knew it and He was laughing at me beginning to remember and how fucked I would be once I remembered. Give me a break, I was on drugs. And then it became clear to me what would happen if I remembered. I would be in a state worse than death, unable to make sense of or apply meaning to any sensory information. I would effectively be blind, deaf, etc. and in a world of shit. My "doors of perception" would be "cleansed", or some William Blake shit like that.

And then I "remembered" about "The Tribunal" made up of the "12 Lords of the Universe" working under God and I got some mind's eye visuals of 12 old white guys with closely shaved grey beards standing in a circle on a circular pattern of cobblestones floating in the middle of empty black space. And then I remembered how much those guys sucked. They had a pretty pointless cameo and had no real effect on the storyline. Maybe I was going to be put on trial for previously escaping from Zeesersow or something, its hard to say. The drugfucked human brain is not the most coherent storyteller.

Then I started getting mind's eye visuals of Zeesersow itself, the crazy existential dystopia/land of forbidden knowledge I was stuck in. In case you're wondering what Zeesersow is like, it is the worst place ever. It is the other side. It is the dark side of the moon. Zeesersow is a maddening labyrinth of blindingly white rooms, Parisian cobblestone streets, giant chessboards, and abstract marble sculptures. It always has been and always will be the 1940's in Zeesersow and the place is filled with dancing beatniks, one-eyed midget claymation skeletons, and other completely ridiculous characters whose brains have been destroyed with absolute knowledge and are doomed to permanent and total insanity. As funny as that sounds, when you get there, it sucks worse than anything has ever sucked before. Zeesersow is some crazy part of the universe or some crazy part of your brain that you're never supposed to go to. And as soon as you get there, you know you did too much acid and you want to leave. But you can't just leave. It's like a Chinese finger-trap. If you try to fight it and just leave, it only closes in on you harder and gets even worse.

Zeesersow is past nirvana. If Buddha had meditated a little harder and gotten to Zeesersow, he would have scrapped Buddhism and just given up. Zeesersow is the edge of meaning and the edge of acid. At least, I'm pretty sure it is. If there's something past Zeesersow, God help us all. I think Zeesersow is the end of the tunnel. If I had done even more acid, I probably just would have spent more time there and it would have been even more intense, which is pretty mind-boggling.

The best representation of Zeesersow I have ever seen is the music video for "You Are What You Is" by Frank Zappa, which you can watch on youtube. It's also a pretty good representation of the full-on, black background, flash hallucinations you get on big doses of acid. It literally gave me a brief emotional flashback after I watched it 20 times in a row high on weed. Ironically, Zappa never did acid, but the guy who made this video clearly did.

But, yeah, back to my trip. There was still plenty of weird, wild shit to come and shit got even scarier. Tell the kids to go to bed.

STAGE 5: FOLLOW THE SNAKE/ NATIVE-AMERICAN VISION QUEST- This is when I started to trip hardcore Native-American style. This is not to say I was beyond Zeesersow, though, because I wasn't. It was the set up for the long, hard road out of Zeesersow. There were considerably less mind's eye visuals. But it was still hardcore. We're talking lizard tails as real as your hand and God coming out of the television to scream at you hardcore.

Dan and Ian led me back to the dorm to Ian's room and we made a stop in the hall bathroom. And, yeah, I took a piss on that much acid. And it was completely ridiculous.

So ridiculous, in fact, that I'm going to devote an entire paragraph to it. This paragraph is designed to be read aloud by William Shatner because William Shatner is acid. The familiar noises of urination are significantly louder on that much acid. Was that whooshing sound a jet engine, or was it my urine hitting the toilet water? You decide. I was sucked toward the toilet in a wind tunnel and my trail of urine was a seamless umbillical cord between me and the john. Deep. The urine trail bent in ways it shouldn't have, but still it landed neatly in the bowl. It also took forever. Very zen.

Anyway, as I was washing my hands, I touched my mouth and drew blood. I later learned that my lip was bloody and swollen from biting it so damn much in the initial speed phase. Then, for a second, the sink poured blood instead of water and then started pouring water again. So I turned the water off.

Dan left and Rob joined us in the hall. Rob looked at me concerned and said, "Uh, what I do when I do four is I do two, wait a couple hours, and then I do two more." And he hadn't even tested this batch of four that I had done.

I followed Rob and Ian into the study lounge and I was connected to both of them in the wind tunnel we were all being sucked through. In the lounge was what looked to me to be a skinny, middle-aged African guy sprawled out across a sofa, drunk out of his mind. Although he was stone-cold sober compared to me. Somehow I doubt he was really middle-aged or from Africa, but who knows. He was somebody, though, because Rob said to him, "Are you sure you wanna sleep there, man?"

I'm not even sure why we walked into the study lounge, but I wasn't about to argue with the wind tunnel. Then I think Rob went somewhere else for a while, maybe to call the hippy woman and find out what she had to say about this new batch of acid I was on. But keeping track of exactly who and how many people were with me at any given moment was still not easy. And I still didn't even really know who I was.

It was probably about 2:30 A.M. at this point because the drunks were returning. It was pledge season. They ran into the hall jumping and screaming in slow motion like they were running with the bulls. One long-haired, lacrosse-playing Sigma Nu pledge trust-fund baby from Greenwich, Connecticut saw the drunk African guy in the lounge and started screaming. His name was Dave. "Hey, who the fuck is that guy in our hall?! Let's fight him!!!" Then Dave ran into the lounge, put his face right in the sleepy drunk African guy's ear, and screamed, "Hey, you!!! Get the fuck out of our hall!!!"

It boggles my mind to think of that guy dealing with this much acid. A lot of girls thought this guy was attractive, but to me his face always looked like Diddy Kong from Donkey Kong Country 2. And he really looked like that on acid. I mean, not exactly, but a little more than half way between human and Kong on the Kong side of the spectrum. And then Ian said to me, genuinely nervous, "Oh my god, he's not kidding..." And his pupils were normal. He couldn't have been on any acid, let alone six. And come to think of it, I had never seen him ingest it because he turned around. I was the only one tripping. And God wasn't through with me yet.

Ian brought me into his room and shut the door. Then Rob came in and sat down next to me on a couch. Ian was on one side and Rob was on the other. And they both had long blond hair. This seened profoundly symmetrical and meaningful at the time. And I was still stuck in Zeesersow. Ian's Egyptian hookah looked like it made a lot more sense in Zeesersow than it did in a college dorm room on Earth.

Ian turned on the television and began playing some recent Prince of Persia video game with the lights off. The game motif marched on. What was taking place on the television screen seemed absolutely just as real and right there with me as everything else in the room. The character in the game, who I'm guessing was some kind of Persian prince, was shimmying across a ledge and the ledge was crumbling into rotating Tetris pieces as real as my hand literally coming out of the television. And they weren't just flash hallucinations, either. They seemed to stay there as long as the television was on. My entire field of vision felt extremely fragile like it was all painted on glass and there was this crazy intense surge of positive and negative emotions simultaneously. I was touched in places I didn't even know I had. I felt like God had reached up my ass and found a bunch of g-spots and anti-g-spots and he was playing them like a piano. He was manipulating my entire reality in order to explain something to me.

And then came the lizard tail. The Persian prince running around in crumbling Tetrisland grew a green lizard tail out of his ass. And the tail swung back and forth, back and forth like something had agitated the Lizard Prince. It was at this point that God started whispering to me, telepathically, "Follow the snake...Follow the snake..."

Now, I don't know about you, but that kinda reminds me of a Native-American vision quest. "Little Feather, this is the Great Spirit. Follow the coyote, Little Feather, and one day, you will be a great warrior." Or something like that. And its been well documented that Native-Americans used to blow their brains out on peyote cactus and psilocybin mushrooms, which are in the same category of hallucinogens as acid. And for some reason, to me, lizards are just a Native-American animal. There's something about lizards and Native-Americans that just go hand in hand, at least with tribes in the Southwest. Looking back on it, it felt like I had fallen into some kind of Native-American rite of passage/character-building exercise. And Native-Americans scalped people.

Anyway, my number one priority right then, as you can imagine, was following the snake. I wasn't about to argue with God and I had a hunch this snake was my ticket out of Zeesersow. Now I looked around and didn't see any snakes to follow, so I began to realize it was symbolic. What could the snake possibly represent in this realm of absolute Native-American insanity?

Then I realized the struggle of the Lizard Prince in Tetrisland seemed to be my struggle. The Lizard Prince was the snake and I was going to follow him with my eyes. And then it seemed as long as I was following the Lizard Prince, things were going to be alright and I was feeling way better and it felt like the bad trip was turning good again. And luckily Ian was sober so he was playing pretty well and the Lizard Prince was thriving. Had the Lizard Prince been impaled on a wall of spikes, I probably would have been very concerned about my own future. But he seemed to be doing fine.

And then a steroid-abusing Long Island guido joined me, Ian, and Rob in the room. His name was "A-Mo" and he was Ian's roommate. A-Mo constantly spoke in a clueless Italian's version of ebonics, shoplifted "ill shirts" from Banana Republic, and had a downloaded music collection consisting mainly of Bette Midler, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, La Bouche, and 50 Cent, which is still just dance music with tough lyrics if you think about it. He also gelled his hair like a Dragonball-Z character, went on diets, and had numerous Jewish-American Princess platonic girlfriends. And then this fucker dropped his towel with a shit-eating grin on his face like it was Toga Night at the gay bathhouse. I mean, he then changed into another pair of clothes, but Goddamn! Did that guy of all people really have to drop his towel right in front of me with a shit-eating grin on his face like it was Toga Night at the gay bathhouse while I was on acid? And not just any amount of acid, but a Native-American amount of acid! And A-Mo was 6'2'' and damn near as muscular as Arnold Schwarzenneger. And I don't know about you, but I didn't wanna get raped! What am I, in prison? Talk about homophobia. And it's a good thing "God is Watching Us From a Distance" by Bette Midler wasn't playing from A-Mo's laptop then because, considering how evil God seemed to be, that probably would have been the scariest song I ever heard in my life.

Anyway, now it seemed like God was trying to make some kind of connection between A-Mo and the Lizard Prince on the television screen he was standing next to. A-Mo did not grow a lizard tail out of his ass, thank God, but there was something suddenly and indescribably reptilian and even Native-American about him. He did have really dark skin for an Italian and was often mistaken for being Indian, although we're talking about red-dot Indian here.

Then I looked back at Tetrisland and, I wish I was kidding, the Lizard Prince was gone and, in his place...was a steroid-abusing Long Island guido who looked way too much like A-Mo. Now if some hot Asian chick in a bikini had walked in there right then, I probably would've seen her on the screen. Why the fuck did A-Mo have to walk in instead?

Virtual A-Mo now seemed to be "the snake" so, clearly, I had to follow this swarmy Italian with my eyes as he journeyed through crumbling Tetrisland shimmying across walls. The real A-Mo then barely succeeded in changing clothes and sat down at his desk. A-Mo explained to the surfer-looking dealer on the couch to my right, Rob, that he had had 15 shots in an hour. He explained this with speech so slurred it could have made Sylvestor Stallone cry. A-Mo gave Rob a dogg pound after Rob said, "My record is 15 shots in 15 minutes." Yeah...but he was probably on cocaine and that's cheating because people on cocaine can do anything.

A-Mo then climbed up to his lofted bed like King Kong and passed out. I really doubt he remembered any of this. And now A-Mo and Rob, like myself, Ian, and everyone else in this story, were freshmen. But sober, Rob and A-Mo looked older than freshmen. On acid, they started to look like they were overgrown nine-year olds. Rob was an overgrown nine-year-old with a goatee and A-Mo was an over-grown nine-year old on steroids so this was disturbing. Ian looked like an ugly woman on that much acid.

Anyway, God kept reminding me telepathically that I had to "follow the snake" and basically continue and keep on truckin' and fuckin', when, out of fucking nowhere, the word "CONTINUE?" literally came out of the motherfucking television. Now, see, what had happened was, Ian paused Prince of Persia and that's what it says when you pause the game. But GODDAMN!

God then asked me through the symbolic meaning of what Rob and Ian were saying if I actually had the nerve to think it was just a coincidence that Ian paused the game at that moment or if I had I finally realized that God was completely in control of my reality. This is when He really got my attention. This was an eyebrow-raiser.

Then Ian turned off Prince of Persia and asked if I wanted to watch a movie called Waking Life. Why the fuck did you turn off Prince of Persia, Ian? The snake was in there! I didn't say this, but it did upset me. I then told Ian that I had seen Waking Life in high school in theaters and didn't like it all that much. But wait a minute. Who saw Waking Life in high school? Did I say that? Did we say that? Who am I? Who are we? Who's the guy that saw Waking Life? What? Whatever. Follow the snake.

After I told Ian that I didn't want to watch Waking Life, Ian put the Waking Life DVD away and I began to wonder if this was a hardcore mistake because maybe Waking Life was the snake I was supposed to follow. Ian then suggested watching, of all things, Lord of the Rings. And then I realized that Lord of the Rings was the snake.

This is the part when God came out of the television to scream at me. This was hardcore. Now I'm not a big Lord of the Rings fan. I've never read the books and I saw the first one a long time ago, thought it was overrated, and never saw the other two. There's this flashback scene in the first one where there's this big fight for the ring and there's this guy I have since learned is named Sauron. He's some 20-foot tall guy with spiked armor and menacing eyes and he's a villain in the movie. God literally took over this guy and used him to scream at me and shoot a wind tunnel and fractal patterns at me from out of the television. He himself was also 3-D out of the television, Poltergeist style. Yes. That sucked. Oh my god that sucked.

Let me go into more detail. God was telling me through the symbolic meaning of Ian and Rob's arbitrary conversation as their eyes lit up that He was about to tell me something hardcore about the universe or something. He also basically said, "You thought you could forget about me. And you know what I think about that?" And He said this telepathically pretty deadpan and I wasn't completely sure what He thought about that yet. Then, right at that moment, there was a close-up of Sauron screaming on the television screen and God jumped in Sauron, lit up Sauron's eyes, and used Sauron to explain how pissed off He was at me for forgetting about Him. He was pretty pissed off. "You know what I think about that? RARRRRRRR!"

And right when He did that, I noticed that the room was filled with these extremely elaborate golden patterns coming out of the television. If you close your eyes and press on your eyelids and wait a few seconds, you'll see them. Except, for me, these patterns were huge and absolutely as real as my hand and stayed there as long as the television was on. It literally seemed like they would hurt me if I stood up and tried to walk around. But at the same time I thought they were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. They were beautiful and frightening, kind of like Naomi Campbell.

And there was that weird, tiny, distant, sober part of me that thought, "Oh, these must be those fractal patterns I heard that people see on acid." Who's the guy that heard about fractal patterns? What? Whatever. Follow the snake. And there was also another one of those wind tunnel things that seemed to be coming out the television. And why the FUCK would Ian suggest Lord of the Rings EVER? Why couldn't it have been Mr. Rogers telling me that it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood and that he liked me just the way I am? Or why couldn't it have been Bob Ross telling me how to make a happy painting with a happy tree with lots of tree friends because he's a poplar tree?

Anyway, God screaming at me through the huge guy with spikes on the television got my attention and I was definitely gonna do what He said now. God then told me telepathically that I needed to be obedient and that, as a symbol of my obedience to Him, I needed to respond affirmatively to whatever arbitrary things Rob and Ian would say in the next few minutes.

Rob then took out some cocaine, chopped it up with his student ID card, snorted it, and proceeded to tell me and Ian about his manic-depressive weekend. He apparently went home the weekend before for a funeral and learned that his little brother was suicidal and then blew off steam by going to a shopping mall on acid. Now if he had gone to that shopping mall on the amount of acid I was on, God help him, but he was clearly on a lot less than me. Rather than God screaming at him and telling him to follow the snake, there were apparently some lights that freaked him out. Wuss.

Rob then offered me a couple swigs of some kind of alcohol, which I took. Rob then told us that he had bought cocaine at the campus cafeteria from a cafeteria worker and Rob seemed to be having a rough time hoping he would be able to not do drugs in med school. He then showed me and Ian his student ID card, which had a picture of him with short hair on it. He said, "Look at this picture of me when I was straight-edge. This was taken at the beginning of senior year of high school." After I looked at his ID, his voice sounded higher and I kept getting a mind's eye visual of him sweating, crying, and sucking on an asthma inhaler and I felt really sorry for him, or we felt really sorry for him or something. This was not a good feeling.

Then Rob told us about how he and Dan both liked the short porn girl who had been smoking hookah in Ian's room at the beginning of my trip and how she wanted to hook up with him, but he didn't because Dan liked her. I said, "Yeah, you did the right thing."

I didn't say that because that was my genuine opinion of the situation, but because God had told me to respond affirmatively to everything Ian and Rob would say and I wanted to make God happy for obvious reasons. My opinion sober would have been, "Well, if she likes you and you like her, just do it. If she likes you instead of Dan, then that's that and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Dan will move on." But instead I said that he did the right thing because I was trying to save my own ass from intergalactic hatred.

Then Ian put his laptop on his lap, turned the screen toward me, and said, "Watch this." He showed me a video that occurs between levels of Prince of Persia. This video was apparently the snake so I was going to watch it carefully. It was extremely intense and three-dimensional out of the laptop. I said to Ian, "Are you...playyyyyinnng?" This was really directed at God and was a metaphorical way of asking Him if He was still controlling my reality.

Ian just laughed and said, "It's an FMV, man! I'm not playing!"

"FMV" is short for "full-motion video" and is a nerdball term for the videos between levels in video games, in case you didn't know. The video featured some dramatic music and Ian said, "You can tell that the hero's not going to die in this scene because they're playing in A minor."

I then said, "Yeah," because I still had to respond affirmatively to everything.

Ian then said, "You don't know anything about music!" and then Rob said, "Well, I do." I then said, "Yeah," a bunch more times in random places because I was still trying to obey God and follow the snake. And as long as I was successfully following the snake, I was actually feeling way better than you would probably guess I was feeling. Although, I didn't feel so good when Ian then put the video on slow rewind because, for an instant, I thought maybe God had succeeded in reversing time. That would not have been cool.

Rob then said, "When I'm on acid, I kinda feel like I'm in this other dimension." KINDA? I'm in a place called Zeesersow right fuckin' now!

Rob knew I was on four but he then asked Ian how much he was on. Ian told Rob he was on six. Yeah fucking right. Rob then freaked out and said, "Ian, you're scaring me, man! Look... that was strong acid! I've never done more than four!" And he must have been talking about doing four of way weaker acid that what I was on because:

1. He told me about some of his trips and the craziest thing he ever mentioned was sexual advances through music, which I later got doing only two of this same batch

2. I remember Dan saying at the beginning of my trip that he and Rob hadn't tested this batch. Yeah. I was on way more acid than the dealers had ever done my first time. Oops.

Rob then said, looking like a sweating nine-year old, "Ian, if you feel like you're having a life-changing trip...You don't have anything important to do tomorrow, do you?"

Ian then responded, "Well, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning at nine o'clock."

"Oh my god! Ian, before you go to the doctor's appointment, check your pupils, man! Check your pupils! And call a friend and ask them if you sound normal to them!"

"Alright. Well, I'm gonna go to bed and get some sleep before my doctor's appointment."

"Ian, you're not gonna be able to sleep! You can't sleep on acid! You're not gonna be able to sleep! Just check your pupils and call a friend before your appointment, alright?"

Then Rob left. Now it was just me, Ian, and sleeping Homo Kong. And I was acting like a monkey with cerebral paulsy. I looked over at Ian and he was just staring ahead deep in thought. He looked sober and horrified. There was still another one of those wind tunnel deals and I felt like I had no control over my arms for a few seconds as they flailed around, outlining the wind tunnel. Ian looked somewhat concerned that I was doing this. I didn't think I was making any weird noises, but Ian told me later that I was in fact making weird noises. And he didn't say this laughing. He said this concerned so I think it might be true.

By this point we were watching the second Lord of the Rings movie. And, amazingly, I actually started to feel really good watching the blue and white sand that Frodo and Golem's faces were made out of blow all over the place and out of the television. I felt good because I was successfully following the snake and making God happy. And I began to realize, "Hey! It doesn't really matter that God's evil because he's so powerful that you have no choice but to love Him 'cause if you don't, he'll completely destroy you! I love God!"

And, strangely enough, this was a happy thought at the time. Earlier, I decided that I hated God because He was being a real asshole to me and when I started to think that I hated Him, I could feel Him reflect the hate back onto me a trillion times stronger. And once I loved Him and gladly followed His orders, I was happy and the trip was just starting to turn good again.

Then Ian turned off the television and all the fractal patterns and multi-colored sand disappeared and I felt like a small part of me had died. Uh, why the fuck would you do that, Ian?! The snake was in there! Then God whispered to me telepathically, "Follow Ian...Follow the snake...Follow Ian...Follow the snake..." But how was I supposed to follow Ian if he was just sitting there on the couch?

Ian then stood up and I stood up and walked closer to him because I was gonna follow that motherfuckin' snake all the way out of Zeesersow. Ian told me to just sit down on the couch and relax, but like, no, I had to follow the snake. And I actually did realize that there was a separate world back on Earth where Ian lived and that the Ian that lived on Earth was not going to understand what I was going through so I was going to have to explain it to him. The problem was that I was only able to communicate in beatnik poetry and was not able to distinguish between what I was saying aloud and what I was saying telepathically. Oops.

I started to try to tell him that since I had to follow the snake, he was going to have to just keep walking around outside and I was going to have to keep following him until I had successfully escaped from Zeesersow. That sounds pretty logical. Now, this is difficult enough to explain sober. And on acid, it didn't quite come out right. There were these sentences I was directing at Ian, but I could tell as they were coming out that they sounded a lot more like beatnik poetry than normal human speech. "The snake...Follow...I need to follow...Forward motion...Need you to walk forward outside... let'stakeawalkoutside...the snake" or something like that. And I honestly have no clue how much of this I successfully said aloud and how much of it I was just staring at him with monstrous pupils and not saying anything because it was telepathic. I could tell by the look on Ian's face that he did not understand.

"Uh, you're really starting to freak me out, man!"

"The snake?" That was probably telepathic.

"Uh, why don't you, uh, just go back to your room. I need some thinking before I go to my doctor's appointment."

The fucker probably just fell asleep because it was very late and he was sober. But, you know, he still had to pretend that he was tripping so he was gonna, uh, think instead of sleep and I had to get out of his room so I wouldn't see him sleeping and know he wasn't tripping. I already knew, genius.

And this is when I had to play "The Game." This is why people climb over the barbed wire fence of a government research building and get arrested like this other kid at my college did while on a massive amount of shrooms. When somebody comes between you and the snake, even if, ironically, that somebody is the snake, bad shit can happen. And thank God my room was next door.

To be continued on January 19, 2006