News - July 3, 2014


Vera is painfully aware that she is the youngest member of the household. And because she has studied hard this year, she is worried that her housemates think she’s dutiful and boring.

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ reverberated the robotic voice through Orion. ’We are going to close floors three through five.’ Sitting on a toilet on the top floor, Vera felt her heart pounding. With every repetition of the announcement, her doubts grew. Was she really doing this? Why did she ever embark on this stunt?

She could kick herself for last Thursday evening. All the housemates had finished their exams and were celebrating with a beer. Of course, Willem-Jan was talking nineteen to the dozen; bragging about the time he got him-self locked in at his high school. No one ever believed  his tall stories, but a few beers later a bet had been made. Who would be the first to dare to be locked in the university?

‘And I had something to prove, didn’t I?’ thought Vera. But was this really the right way to show them she was more than a good little student? 

When the announcement stopped, the silence was deathly. She heard a security guard walk past and a door bang shut. Now there was no way back; she was sitting in Orion and it was hermetically sealed. 

To avoid capture, I’ll have to be careful, thought Vera. The lights in the classrooms would be visible outside. Besides, she didn’t know if there were any movement sensors or even cameras. And so she rolled out her sleeping bag beside the hand basins in the ladies toilets. Leaning against the wall, she tried to study, but she could barely concentrate. Hours crept by and at times she sat so still that she had to wave at the sensor to turn the lights back on. She had just brushed her teeth at about 11 p.m. when she heard something out in the hallway. Instantly, her heart was pounding again. From the hallway she heard a thud, as if something large had fallen over, and she was overcome with fear.

‘Jiminy Cricket’, she thought, this was a really dumb idea. She suddenly realized that the light in the ladies must be escaping under the door, into the hallway. If a burglar was out there, she was done for. With quivering hands she picked up her pocket torch, so she at least had something to use as a weapon. One step at a time, she moved towards the door. Her hand seemed to rest on the handle for eternity while she summoned her courage. Suddenly the door was yanked open from the other side. It was difficult to say who got the biggest fright, Vera or Filippo. Cursing loudly in Italian, Filippo flew back into the hallway. 

‘Vera, you crazy fucking girl,’ was all he could say for minutes on end. After that, they both burst into howls of laughter and soon the tears were streaming down their cheeks. Grinning, Filippo eventually took out his smartphone to make a selfie: ‘To show that we both won.’