Not sure how much of a relief it is that in today’s technology-smattered age kids still get off on this, but we had a unknown visitor knock merrily and run away tonight. Impressively quick at hiding, too. Probably went around the house next door, or maybe ducked behind a car, even ours.

Imagine playing Nicky-Nine-Doors and one of your targets was a haunted house, though? There are some very creepy-looking abandoned buildings in this area. Of course, you’d never want to knock on the door of an abandoned house, not unless something compelled you to do it . . . pulled you in, on some irresistible urge, like a itch or a sneeze, drawing you closer and closer even though the dread was making your hair stand on end . . . The dread, and the rising excitement in your gut, because nobody else had ever or would ever dare to play Nicky-Nine-Doors on That House . . .

Or what if you didn’t know that it was abandoned? The grass is overgrown, but there are still lights on inside, occasionally. Movement in the windows — twitching curtains, or a face pressed against the glass. It wouldn’t hurt to run up and bang on the door and run away again, would it? No chance that the door would creak open on your second knock. That a cold and veiny hand would reach out of the shadows to clasp your wrist in a death-grip, yanking you off your feet so fast you’d leave your shoes quivering on the splintery wooden porch . . .

Sometimes the abandoned houses are reclaimed, renovated and made new again. Graffiti painted over and new siding put in place, new windows to fill the broken gaps, new shingles to keep the rain at bay. So why not Nicky-Nine-Doors it? Just stupid fun, right? Until you wait and wait and wait for the owners to frustratedly open the door so you can laugh at them, and then you get cold waiting, and your knees hurt from crouching or kneeling behind the bushes or by the car, so you creep up to the window to peek inside and see with fascinated horror what the spirits of the house have expressed to the new owners about their alterations . . .

Yup. Takes a brave person to play the game. Almost like a Russian Roulette kind of a thing. Imagine playing Nicky-Nine-Doors on the Addams family, or the Munsters.

I should write a story about a kid who’s the renowned champion, and the trouble he (or she) gets into by playing with the wrong house . . . But I’m too tired tonight. It’s only Tuesday, after all.

Sleep tight, world. Or have a good day, if you’re on the other side of it from me.

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