Assault course, Isabella Military Fields, Vught

Going back in time, back to my birthplace Vught. I didn’t have much of a view from my room there. All I could see was our garden and our neighbors’ gardens. But when I climbed out of my window, into the old peach tree and onto the roof, when I sat on the rooftop I had the best view in the world. I could see all the way to the assault course on the military fields. We weren’t allowed to go there, but hey, we were children and the assault course looked like a giant’s playground, of course we went there. We would cut holes in the fence and race each other on the course. Until one day…

Imagine one summer afternoon. Imagine the concrete sewage pipes in the picture above closed on each side with sturdy wooden hatches. Imagine me sitting in my window sill and my brother and his friend daring me to race them on the assault course. Imagine me climbing down the peach tree in a sec. Of course I would race them. I would not only race them, I would defeat them, crush them.

The sun blazes down on my back, but I don’t mind, I am winning! I run and reach the concrete pipes first. I lift up the hatch and dive into the dark. With a muffled thump the hatch closes behind me. I take a couple of seconds in the cool dark pipe to regain my breath and crawl quickly to the other side. I put my hands on the hatch and feel the heat of the sun faintly seeping through the wood. I push, but the hatch doesn’t move. I push harder, but hatch stays where it is. Quickly I crawl back. If I hurry I can take one of the other pipes and still win the race. I push. But this hatch is now jammed, too. I push harder, I call out for my brother.

It seems like forever before he hears me. I tell him the hatches got stuck and ask him to help me. He refuses bluntly and it is the malicious ring in his voice that makes me realize that he locked me in and that he’s not planning on letting me out. I plead and I yell, I beg and I cry with frustration. I pound the hatch with my hands, with my feet, but it won’t move. And with every blow, with every bang my anger fades and terror takes over; terror that transforms the pipe into a grave, a grave that enfolds me like a giant’s hand and, bit by bit, squeezes all the air out of my lungs.

Deedee's Revenge

That’s how it all started. I wanted revenge, but couldn’t tell anyone without getting into trouble myself. So I decided on literary revenge instead and wrote Deedee’s Revenge (De wraak van Deedee), my debut as a children’s book writer.