When I was a little girl, about six — maybe seven — my great grandmother would tell me this story about a man people called "Skinny". She would tell me that Skinny was a towering twig of a man. He was all skin and bones with eyes as sunken as a canyon, and fingers as long and as bony as Death's, she would say. He never came out during the day. He always came out when the sun went down. That was the part that scared me the most about Skinny. She talked in great detail about what he would do to children who got lost on the way home during the night.

"So when the sun starts to go down," my great grandmother would say, "ya get your keester home or else Skinny will getcha. Then, he'll sew your mouth shut so ya can't scream, and then sells ya to any demon who wants ya. Whatever the price." This terrified me.

As I got older, I started to forget Skinny. My great grandmother passed when I was eight years old, so I never heard that awful story ever again, but I would have these nightmares of this tall, skeleton man sewing my mouth shut while I tried to scream. They always resurfaced at random moments. I’d wake up in a cold sweat and would try not to look out my bedroom window. After a while, as I said before, I started to forget about him. I shrugged the nightmares off as just bad dreams. So I forgot. But I never should have forgotten, and after my experience... I never did.

It was three years after my great grandmother's death, and child disappearances started to become a problem in my town. The whole town agreed that all children had to come home before sundown. I usually obeyed this rule, but one afternoon, I was with my friend, Jerry. He was my best friend and my ONLY friend back then. After school we used to go to the park and play in the forest. He and I did the usual childhood games. Hide and seek, play in the stream, climb trees, etc. We stayed in that park until the sun went down.

That was our fatal mistake. Writing about it today brings back horrifying, and painful memories.

Jerry and I were riding our bikes home after our day in the woods. While we were riding, I start to get the feeling we were being followed and watched. As the sun finally left the horizon, the roads we knew looked so much more different. They were empty of people. There was not even an animal in sight. And it was quiet. Dead silent. Dear God, it was almost deafening. Not even the sound of a cricket. Branches from trees hung down ominously around us. Like long, gnarly fingers waiting to grab us and pull us into the dark. Even through the almost pitch black, I could see the look of anxiety across Jerry's face. He felt the same feelings I did about this night. We should have gone home before sundown.

After what felt like an eternity of bike riding, we finally found a row of dim street lights ahead of us. I was so relieved that we had found light after so much darkness. But joy quickly turned to dread as I saw someone standing under one of the dimmed street lamps ahead. It was some man.

No. Not a man. He was too tall to be anything human. His arms hung down by his side like two long poles, and his hands... Oh God, his hands. The fingers were as long and as bony as Death's. Ice ran through my veins in an instant and I stood frozen. Fear made my body rigid and I didn't dare pedal. Jerry froze too. I had told him the story of Skinny a while back. He never thought it was real. Hell, I never thought it was real. But it is real. He is so real.

Skinny held up one of his frail fingers, and put it to his lips, as if to tell us to not scream. What happened next has scarred me to this day.

Out from behind Skinny came a little girl. It was just like my great grandmother said, except it was so much more than just sewing your mouth shut. My eyes trailed up her face. Away from the completely threaded mouth, to her eyes. All that was left of them, that is. All she had now were just bleeding sockets. A memory rushed to the surface of my mind.

“I think Skinny loved and hated sunlight,” said the voice of my great grandmother, “his eyes would burn if he saw day. He always wanted to see the sun, and feel the warmth of it, but his eyes wouldn’t allow. So what better eyes to see than through the eyes of children? Their souls are so innocent, and very young. That’s the only part he’ll take for himself.”

The girl began to sob, and as she sobbed, tears of blood started to drip from where her eyes used to be. She knew we were there. Then, as if I couldn't imagine the situation to get even more horrifying, the little girl began to rip at her stitches.

She dug her fingernails deep into the skin surrounding her mouth. She clawed at her upper, and lower lip until they bled profusely. Blood trickled down her chin onto her neck, and then her chest, drenching her shirt in blood. Her cries, even though they were muffled, sounded urgent. I now know that she was trying to take the stitches off to tell us to run. Run and never look back. She kept ripping her flesh until she was almost at her gums. I tried holding back the bile that was slowly making its way out of my stomach.

Then, the cries stopped. Everything went silent again. The girl fell to the pavement. A pool of crimson formed around her tiny body. It just oozed out of her face like a slow waterfall.

I could see that sick bastard just standing there smiling. Smiling! After what he just witnessed, he just smiled in approval. That poor girl, she never deserved that. I looked at her lifeless body once more. She laid there on the sidewalk. The bleeding holes looked off into nothing. That face still haunts me today. Blood surrounded her like a dark red mud puddle.

I looked up at the towering man standing before us. His smile stretched from cheek to cheek as he lifted a frail finger. It pointed straight at Jerry.

That's when we bolted. My heart was pounding so loud I couldn't hear wind in my ear. When we got to my house, we dropped our bikes and ran in as fast as we could. Jerry and I came in hyperventilating with tears streaming down our cheeks. When my mom asked what was wrong, we told her everything. The girl. What she did. Even told her about how we saw Skinny.

She called the police thinking that we had found the man who was taking children. We went with them to the place where we saw him. I expected to see that girl still laying there, her black holes looking off into nowhere with a pool of blood around her, and her lips almost torn off, but there was nothing. No Skinny. No girl. No blood. All they found was a needle, and a string of black thread attached.

We begged to the police that what we saw was real, but they wrote it off as wild imaginations, and scolded us for lying to the police about something that should be taken seriously. Our moms scolded us too. Told us that we should be ashamed of ourselves. We knew what we saw, though. After that, Jerry never wanted to come outside and play anymore. I didn't blame him.

Two weeks after we encountered Skinny, Jerry committed suicide. This was his suicide note:

I can't take it anymore. He's going to get me. I knew I was a goner the minute he pointed at me. I can't sleep anymore because of the nightmares. I still see that girl with no eyes. I see him in my nightmares too. He wants my soul. He's the reason I don't go outside, but he waits for me. I see him outside my window sometimes at night. He just stands there waiting for me in the darkness. I don't want him to take me! I don't want to end up like that girl! Dear God, please forgive me! I can't do it anymore! I'll die by my own hand before I let that bastard pluck my eyes out, and sew my mouth shut. Forgive me.

My world shattered that day, my only friend. Gone... I think Skinny knew what Jerry would do, though. He just mentally tortured him until he gave up. That's what he does if he doesn't get you the first time. He'll make you think he's going to take you until you do yourself in. He'll come to you in nightmares. Maybe he'll stand outside your house at night. Just watching, waiting, holding his needle and thread, just waiting for you to break curfew.

I don't go outside when the sun starts to go down anymore. I shut all of my windows and lock all of my doors in the evening. He's there, watching. I have a better mind than to look out and actually see if he is. I know he is. If there is one word of advice I could give you, it'd be this.

Come home before sundown. Watch out for the man of skin and bone, with fingers as long, and bony as Death's. The taker of eyes. Taker of souls. The Devil's Salesman...

Beware of the man they call "Skinny".