I had a best friend. His name was Billy. We went to school together and hung out all the time. Then, one day, Billy stopped coming to school. I didn’t see him for weeks. There were rumors that he had suffered a nervous breakdown.
One evening, when my parents were out, there was a knock on the door. When I answered it, Billy was standing there. He was acting very strangely. His eyes were tired and bloodshot and he looked like he was very nervous. He kept looking around and glancing over his shoulder.
“I need to talk to you,” he said.
I invited him inside and closed the door. He sat down on the couch, but he couldn’t relax. Something was really bothering him. He was twitching and his leg was shaking.
“Are you OK?” I asked.
“My parents think I’m crazy,” he said. “Everyone thinks I’m crazy. Even I thought I was crazy for a while…”
“And… are you crazy?” I asked.
Billy let out a humorless chuckle. “Look out the window,” he said.
“Just look do me a favor. Look out the window and tell me what you see.”
I decided to humor him, so I opened the curtains and peered out.
“What do you see?” he asked.
“I see some houses… some cars… some street lights…”
“Exactly!” he said. “And do you notice anything strange?”
“Uh… No,” I said.
“You see those street lights?” he asked. “They’re supposed to be on, but they’re not. They’re all off. How could every light on the street be off? Who do you think did that?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Who?”
Billy lowered his voice and whispered, “The Thin Man.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked in astonishment.
“I heard rumors about him before,” Billy said. “But I thought it was just an urban legend. It’s not. The Thin Man is real. He hates the street lights. He looks just like a normal man at first, but when he… unfolds himself… he’s really tall and really thin. Just like a street light. And he’s dressed all in grey. Just like a street light. He hides behind them. When it starts to get dark outside and the street lights aren’t on, you wouldn’t even know he was there…”
“How do you know all this?” I asked.
“Because I’ve seen him,” Billy replied.
“A few weeks ago. I was kicking a football around in the park and I accidentally kicked it into the bushes. I went in to get it and that’s when I saw him. He seemed just like an ordinary man, standing in the street. He was looking up and down the block and then, when he thought nobody was watching, he just sort of… unfolded himself.
He turned into something tall and thin and he hid behind the street light. All of a sudden, I heard a Click! and the light went out. Then he just sort of slid to the next street light and I heard another Click! and that one went out too. He did it all down the block. Click! Slide! Click! Slide! Click! Slide! until all the lights were out.
That’s when he noticed me. All of a sudden, our eyes met and I knew that he had seen me and he knew that I had seen him. I just started running and I didn’t look back. When I got home, I locked all the doors.
For a long time after that, I was afraid to leave the house. Then I realized that it was only dangerous at night. It’s usually safe during the day. He only comes out at night. He hates being seen.
Nobody believes me. My parents took me to a psychiatrist and she didn’t believe me either. Do you believe me?”
“Sure, Billy,” I said, trying to humor him. “I believe you.”
“No you don’t,” he said, disappointed. “Anyway, even if you don’t believe me, I thought I’d better warn you. After all… you are my best friend.”
And with that, Billy got up and said goodbye. At the front door, he looked all around to make sure it was safe and then took off running. I watched him until he was out of sight, then I went back inside.
I felt really sad. I felt like my best friend had lost his mind. That was until the next morning, when the police found Billy.
He had been folded. There was no blood and guts, but every bone in his body had been broken. He had been folded up into a tiny little bundle. The police didn’t even know what they’d found at first, until they picked it up and saw his flattened face.
His mother had to go down to the police station and identify him. When they brought her into the room to show her his remains, she fainted. He was just a tiny bundle of flesh and bone and clothes and hair. he had been… folded.
Ever since I heard the news, I’ve been on edge. I can’t stop thinking about the crazy things Billy told me. Suddenly, they don’t seem so crazy.
I haven’t been able to sleep. I’m tired and my eyes are bloodshot. I’m nervous all the time and I always find myself looking over my shoulder.
This morning, when I left for school, I counted the street lamps on my road. When I came home this evening, I counted them again.
There was one too many.
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