What greets me as I enter my apartment is darkness, then silence.

Then an awful smell.

I consider the options quickly. A rat convention. My manager has moved in. I became a government official, but nobody told me about it. But then I remember. The trash. I should have taken it out in the morning. So the night begins: I drop the backpack on the floor. I open all the windows, all two of them. I pick up the trash. I walk out of the apartment and leave it in the refuse room for my floor, then back to the apartment. I close the door and a second later I collapse on the couch.

With my foot, I bring the backpack close to me. I grab it, and I pull the reports out of it and put them on the coffee table. I have a feeling they won't tell me much, but I'll read them anyway.

The smell is still there; it will take a while to clear. I wonder how far this is from what you feel when you are a war prisoner, something I know a lot about since I've seen many, many movies on the topic. I wonder if I would go crazy in that situation. Assuming, that is, that I'm not crazy already. If you were crazy, how would you tell? It makes me think of a conversation I had with some friends a few weeks ago. Somebody was talking about some guy who had remained in hiding, waiting for the war to end. But he had no way of knowing when the war was over. He was alone. He had escaped after being taken prisoner, then he'd escaped to a remote place, thinking that he was still in enemy territory. He spent years there, feeding on fruit and small animals. He was discovered recently by a group of architects that were studying the area on a contract to build a Hilton hotel.

The guy was crazy, we all agreed. He'd lost it completely.

Then someone said, Wait a minute. Which war was it, you said?

What do you mean which war, you idiot, someone replied. The Second World War. The guy must have been hiding in an island in the Pacific, running from the Japanese.

Well, said someone else, It could have been Vietnam. Or the Korean war...

Or the Six-Day war. Or Lebanon. Or maybe it was the Indo-Pakistani war.

Or the Iran-Iraq War. Or the first Gulf War.

Or the second.

Then we all fell silent.

Maybe that guy wasn't so crazy after all.