By Anna Lipari

So my roommate and I were about to go to DHall last night– my coat was on, and I had my backpack full of study materials that I knew in my heart I wouldn’t end up using after dinner but that I’d packed anyway, just for the ritual comfort of it. And then the tornado siren started blaring. Goddammit, we said, not this, not now, and we started assembling things to take with us to the basement. Almonds and trail mix, cheese and crackers, sure, that can be dinner if we’re stuck down there for a while. That’s probably just as good as whatever the DHall vegan station has to offer to us. I grabbed my water bottle and snagged a deck of cards from the top of my dresser. When we got to the basement it was mostly empty. There was a guy there whose name I didn’t know, and in a few minutes our other roommate showed up, along with someone from our floor who I don’t think I’d ever spoken to before. We laid out our strange little picnic. I offered snacks to the other people there, but they had already been to DHall; I made a weak effort to introduce myself to the two strangers, but they didn’t seem all that invested in the conversation. 

When I was a kid, I always loved stories where a set of characters got stuck in a house together. I liked watching them squabble and bond, forced together by a raging monster or terrible storm that battered against their flimsy door. There is a universe out there somewhere in which the tornado warning stays in place all night, where the rain lashes at the windows for hours, where shambling supernatural creatures stalk through the storm. There’s a universe where the wifi mysteriously dies mid-evening and doesn’t come back. Where I pull out the deck of cards from my backpack and offer it to the two strangers. Where we learn each other’s names. When the danger comes we barricade the door together and assemble makeshift weapons out of dorm furniture. We bandage each other’s wounds. We become friends; perhaps we betray each other in horrible ways. My relationship with my roommates and new friends is tested. We will never be the same. 

In this universe my roommates and I sit there for an hour, eating our almonds. We play the New York Times spelling bee, successfully reaching Genius level. At 7:00 we all go back upstairs to our rooms and continue with our respective evenings. It was only a short disruption; I didn’t even have to cancel any of my evening plans. It was a nice night, and I’m only a little disappointed that I’m sitting here now, writing a last-minute editorial for my silly little newspaper job just like I do every week, and my world totally intact. Probably it’s for the best. I doubt I’d be much good at fighting zombies.