There was a stupid urban legend that we told each other when we were children. It grew from a whisper, as these things tend to do.

The story said that there was a man with no legs who chased children and ate their skin. Lacking legs he would run after them on his hands. In order to easily remove their skin he kept his fingernails long and sharp, and when he gave chase they would tap against the ground, giving him the name, 'Mr. Clickity Clack'.

We managed to scare each other by embellishing tales of walking home from the playground and hearing the dreaded 'clickity, clack', behind us, faster and faster as we ran.

The story had such a hold on us that some of the younger children could be made to cry by simply tapping your fingernails against the desk and saying, 'Here he comes, Mr. Clickity Clack'.

Silly really, a harmless creepy story to tell at sleepovers, except we took it too far.

Daniel Ryan was one of those weedy kids, one we tortured just for the fun of it, and he absolutely hated any mention of Mr. Clickity Clack. The story freaked him out more than anyone else and, because we were kids, and kids are mean, we used it against him. Poor Daniel, it went on for years and years, fingernails tapping on any available surface as he passed and a constant chant:

'Here he comes, Mr. Clickity Clack. Here he comes, Mr. Clickity Clack.'

The thing is, I'd forgotten all about Daniel and that stupid story years ago. We grew up, moved away, lived our lives, until just recently.

My work as a nurse brought me to St. Patrick's hospital, a mental health facility, where I was to work with long term patients, I had high hopes of making a difference in their lives, working with them to help them be more involved in society, and I had some great success stories. So much so that the director called me in one day and asked me to work with one of the most difficult cases.

I don't need to spell it out for you, of course, it was Daniel. I knew him the minute I saw him, still weedy, still scared, but now a man and not a boy. He was thin and pale, a life spent institutionalized showing in the pallor of his skin and the dark rings around his eyes. The worst part was, he had let his fingernails grow long and sharp and was constantly tapping them against the wall, muttering to himself. I knew, even before I had crept close enough to hear, what those words would be:

'Here he comes, Mr. Clickity Clack. Here he comes, Mr. Clickity Clack.'

I'm ashamed of what I did next, I could have gone to him, talked to him. Maybe an acknowledgement of what we had done could have helped him. Instead, I turned on my heel and left, fast as I could, out of his room, out of the building, and home to a very large glass of scotch.

Given the chance, I like to think I would have gone back the next day and really worked at helping him, but I'll never know.

When I was about halfway through my second scotch the phone rang, emergency summons to the hospital by the director. An escape.

Yes, of course, it was Daniel. Some poor night nurse went in with meds and he jumped her, fairly skinning one side of her face with those long, sharp nails. The director was in shock, kept muttering about how the patient had never shown any signs of violence before.

I guess it was my presence that did it, shook the final part loose.

For weeks the talk of the hospital was the escape, and the highly confidential footage from outside Daniel's room that somehow everyone had seen. Daniel, moving inhumanly fast, running the length of the hospital corridor on his hands, his nails eerily going clickity, clack, on the hardwood floors.

I probably should have told someone then what we had done, what the story had been about, old Mr. Clickity Clack and his penchant for skinning children. I was afraid you see, we had driven Daniel to this, I was well respected, I'd never work again. It's too late now to speak up, once they found the first child I knew I couldn't tell, they'd blame me for it.

In the past six months, there have been seven children found, all skinned. I've been finding it hard to sleep, knowing he's out there. Knowing we created him.

Please, please, keep your children close. Don't let them walk out alone. Be careful, and if you are walking home and hear it behind you, 'clickity, clack, clickity, clack', then run.

Run as fast as you can and don't look back.

He is out there.

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