Year 5, Day 299

“Daddy?” Miles asks after nightfall. “Will you play Dark Hallway with me?”

Dark Hallway is a “game,” the origins of which are unclear to me, that involves just want the name implies — turning out all the lights and making the hallway and any adjacent rooms pitch black. Beyond that, however, things get perhaps a bit more unexpected.

“First, you take the flashlight,” Miles explains, handing me the closest thing to a flashlight he has — his astronomy projector. With only that device lighting the way, we start up the staircase, Miles explaining in detail the rules of the game.

“I’m going to lay down on the stairs,” he says. “And I’m going to be dead.”

It takes a turn.

“You have to walk past me and shine the light on me,” he says, quickly adding, “but not AT me!” At the top of the steps, he continues, “Then you come over here and walk down this hallway. And then I sneak up on you.”

“Miles, this sounds terrifying.”

“Just play it!” he demands.

We reset, take our places. Then, just as he described, I start up the staircase, passing his lifeless body and muttering nervous remarks (I added that last part to enrichen the experience). As I turn the corner into the hallway, I listen for any sound of Miles moving. Nothing. I slowly walk, expecting him to loudly shamble up the rest of the stairs at any moment, but I reach his bedroom at the end of the hall and still…nothing.

At this point, I’m actually a little terrified. I chuckle, but it’s borne of unease. I walk back the way I came, towards the staircase, and Miles has still not shown himself. It isn’t until I pass the stairs and almost make it to my bedroom that I hear it. A sudden frenzy of limbs on carpet. A low growl punctuated by ravenous snarls. My heart races, I fumble for the doorknob. I’m in the room before I turn to see Miles upon me. I am too late. He has won.

So yeah, Dark Hallway.

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