The Legend of Long Legged Larry

It was my cousin Bill who first told me about the Legend of Long Legged Larry.

Bill and I used to be best friends, and I always spent the long, hot weeks of summer in his small town in the middle of nowhere. In 2002, however, things changed. I guess that’s puberty for you. While I turned into a shy, reclusive nerd, Bill wanted to be known, to be one of the cool kids.

It didn’t take me long to notice how much he’d changed. His entire demeanor was different, the way he carried himself and even how he spoke. I could also tell he wasn’t too happy to have ‘that little nerd’ around, as he referred to me to his so-called friends, the cool kids he was so desperate to impress.

Whenever we met them, he’d make fun of me, and before long, I became the butt of their collective jokes. Even worse, Bill began treating me like I was an idiot, and never lost a chance to belittle me.

It was one of these friends, I later learned, who’d told Bill about the supposed urban legend.

“What’s a Long Legged Larry?” I asked when he told me about it.

Instead of answering me, Bill scoffed and made it an effort to let me know how dumb I was for not knowing.

“How can you not know about it? God, you’re so stupid…”

“I bet you just heard it from one of your friends,” I retorted.

This landed me one of his trademark thigh knocks. I cursed in pain and hobbled over to the couch in his room. While I rubbed what I knew to become a heavy bruise, he reiterated the story he’d heard.

“Nobody knows his real name, but he’s a serial killer who escaped from a nearby mental institution,” Bill started, his voice nothing but a conspiratorial whisper.

“He’s a mutant with long, spidery legs who was abandoned at birth. They say he grew up in the woods around town, but one night he came back and hunted down his entire family. He beat them all to death with his long legs. They say he’s more a spider than a man, eight feet tall and-“

“This is so freaking dumb,” I mumbled to myself as I listened.

“Oh yeah? You’ve just got no clue, that’s all!”

Yeah, sure, I thought, but kept my mouth shut.

I’d hoped that was it, that this silly legend was nothing but another story to annoy me with and to act out the superiority he felt over me. Yet Bill was desperate to prove himself to his new friends. He probably thought he could be accepted into their little clique, if he could prove there was more to Long Legged Larry.

At first, he’d merely talk about it, but soon enough, he dragged me along and made me help him with his ‘research,’ as he called it.

Day after day I was forced to trudge after him as he went through town, asking people if they’d heard about the legend.

Most people, of course, had never heard about it, and I thought it was nothing but bullshit, an elaborate joke Bill’s friends had played on him. Occasionally, though, faces lit up in recognition, and slowly, ever so slowly, we learned more bits and pieces of the legend.

An old drunk told us that Long Legged Larry had once been the main attraction of a freak show or curiosity cabinet, but escaped and now roamed the wilderness around town. A scruffy looking young man at the town’s internet cafe told us he was the result of a failed government experiment.

There were as many takes on the story as there were people who’d heard about it. They ranged from ancient horrors to athletes having turned into serial killers.

Yet they all agreed on one thing: his legs were special; either too long, too strong, or… in one case, he had too many of them.

One day, Bill struck gold. Once again, we were at the town’s internet cafe. While I was browsing what could barely be called the internet, reading up on games, Bill was busy doing research.

“That’s it!” he suddenly exclaimed from the seat next to me.

I looked over at him, eyebrows raised, and a second later, he pulled me off my seat and in front of his screen.

It was an old news story from the late 60s or early 70s. A group of teenagers had gone out into the woods to have some fun, and only one of them returned. He was out of it when police found him and said he and his friends had been hunted down by something out in the woods.

I turned back to Bill, but he gave me an annoyed expression, urging me to read on. With a sigh, I turned back and continued reading the article, not sure what the big deal was. When they questioned the teen, he eventually admitted they’d gone out to the old steel mill. When the police checked the place, they found nothing. Not a hint of wild animals, serial killers, or whatever the young man claimed he’d seen. Yet they also found none of the bodies.

“So?” I asked, turning back to Bill.

“What do you mean, so? Did you read it? He’s got to be out there! I should’ve known he’s hiding out by the old steel mill with all the talk about it and what not!”

“What do you-?”

Oh no, don’t tell me… Bill’s expression, however, had already changed.

“We’re so going!” he brought out in an overly excited voice that made what few other patrons were at the place look up.

“Oh, come on, Bill. I’m not going to some stupid abandoned place in the middle of-“

I was cut off by another thigh knock.

“Why are you always such a pussy? This is going to be awesome! Who knows, maybe we’ll even find out what happened to those teenagers that went missing!”

“That was thirty years ago. Even if someone was out there back then, he’s probably long gone, dead, or even-“

“You know, if you don’t come along, I’ll tell everyone you’re in love with Susan Kingsley!”

“Who’s Susan Kingsley?”

I could see the anger and frustration on Bill’s face. For a moment, he opened his mouth, but then closed it again.

“You know what? Fine, whatever!”

With that, he stormed off.

Once more I’d hoped this settled the issue, but Bill wasn’t one to give up easily. No, things always went his way, even if he had to make sure they did. For days, he annoyed the hell out of me, even more so than before. He started making these strange spider noises, kicked me with his legs, and even tried to scare me in the middle of the night, pretending to be Long Legged Larry.

Eventually, I had enough.

“You know what, fine. Let’s check the damned place out.”

Only an hour later, we were on our way, riding our bikes through town and then deep into the forests around it.

We could already see the first signs of the old steel mill from afar. Its giant, derelict chimneys rose high above even the tallest trees. A testament to the town’s long forgotten, industrial origins. Once we got closer, however, we saw that the once imposing building was now nothing but an overgrown ruin that had long since been reclaimed by nature. The only thing not in sheer and utter disrepair was the huge steel fence surrounding the building, sprouting a variety of ‘Do Not Enter,’ and ‘Parents Are Liable for Their Children’ signs.

“How long you think this place’s been abandoned?” I asked as we pushed our bikes into the nearby underbrush.

“You really know nothing, do you?” he started, letting out an over-exaggerated sigh, and rolling his eyes.

“It was closed down in 1946, after the end of World War II. I heard they did experiments in there, created some sort of new weapon to fight the Nazis, but then…”

I didn’t bother to listen anymore. This was another story he’d heard from one of his friends, or it was something he’d made up on the fly, hoping to impress me.

“…still off-limits. Even animals avoid the place, and some years ago, Jerry told me a squatter went missing out here.”

I heard the familiar rustling of the trees in the wind, but all other sounds had vanished. No birds, no skittering animals, nothing. It seemed, for once, at least part of what Bill had said was the truth. For a moment, I couldn’t help but be crept out. It was a warm summer day, but I still shivered.

“What if there really is someone hiding in there?” I finally asked.

“You know, there’s one thing I’ve not told you about Long Legged Larry. He likes nothing more than to eat dumb little nerds, so-“

“Shut up, Bill. It’s not funny,” I mumbled. “I mean, don’t you think something’s wrong with the place?”

When I said this, Bill gave me a cheeky grin.

“Well, in case there is, I brought this along!”

With that, he pulled out one of his dad’s hunting knifes.

“If Larry tries to get me, I’m going to stab him with this!”

As if to prove he was serious, he waved the knife around in front of my face and even made a few swift stabbing motions in the air.

I opened my mouth to tell him how goddamn stupid he was, but Bill had already turned around and made his way towards the steel fence.

“Either way, let’s find out if someone’s in there!”

With that, he began climbing the fence, ignoring all the signs fastened to it. A few moments later, he’d made it inside.

“Come on already, you pussy!”

For a few seconds, I just stood there. Once more I listened, hoping desperately to hear any signs of life, but all was quiet. For a moment, I told myself to stay where I was. Hell, I told myself to just get out of here and leave Bill to his own devices. Then I sighed and approached the fence as well. Somehow I knew this idiot would get himself hurt if I wasn’t around. If that happened, I’d be in a lot of trouble if I’d just left.

“Dammit,” I cursed and climbed the fence.

When I’d made it, Bill had already hurried to the entrance of the old steel mill. I’d only taken a few steps before I stopped again. I watched as Bill pulled open the heavy gate. A cavernous maw opened up in front of him, one that seemed to devour all light in the area.

For a moment, I half expected a multitude of twisted arms, or even legs, to appear and snag him away right in front of me. Instead of that, however, Bill bent over and picked something up he’d found lying on the ground right behind the heavy gates.

When I reached him, I saw he was holding up a page of an old, torn newspaper.

“See! I told you someone’s in here! This place’s been closed down since forever, but look at the year, look at it!”

A quick glance at the page told me it was from the year 1999, a mere three years ago.

“Bill, I think we should leave. We don’t know…”

My voice trailed off. Bill didn’t even listen to me anymore. Instead, he tore open his backpack, rummaged through the contents for a moment before he produced a flashlight. A moment later, he ventured inside.

As I followed him, I realized once more how quiet it was. No birds, no animals, and not even the sounds of the rustling trees reached us in here. All we heard was the sound of our echoing footsteps on the old, cracked concrete floor.

The inside of the steel mill was entirely empty, and must’ve been stripped bare before it was abandoned. It made the place even bigger than it seemed from the outside. It was nothing but endless darkness, stretching on impossibly far in all directions. The only things I saw were a few lonely beams holding up the high roof above us, and the occasional heap of rubble.

As Bill walked on, the beam of his flashlight jerked around wildly, darting here and there in seemingly uncontrolled motions. At first, I thought he was scared, but then I saw his face. He was giddy with excitement.

“If we find him, it’s going to be the most amazing story ever!”

Then the flashlight’s beam hit something on the concrete floor, something that had once been very much alive.

A gasp escaped mouth, and I barely contained the scream that had tried to escape my throat.

Bill, however, was already hurrying over to the bloodied remains in front of us.

“It’s a fox, but it looks like it’s been dead for a while,” he said, poking it with his foot.

“Yeah, but how did it end up in here? There are no other animals around and look, it’s been torn apart.”

“Probably Larry,” Bill mumbled.

“Shut up! This is getting creepy. Please, Bill, let’s just leave, all right?”

“You’re such a pussy! But fine, if you want to be a baby, you can wait for me outside!”

This time, I’d had it with his stupidity. This place was creepy enough, but this fox… Something was wrong here and the last thing I wanted was to run into some deranged homeless dude or squatter, or hell, even stupid Larry himself!

As fast as my steps could lead me, I made my way towards the small spot of sunlight we’d entered from.

Suddenly, I tripped over something. I cursed, trying to kick away what I thought was nothing but rubble, but when I looked down, I saw it was a heap of clothes, torn apart, half-rotten clothes. Yet what my food had hit was a bone, a long, big bone that was clearly not from a fox or another small animal. Then, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw something else between the torn clothes on the floor. It was the remains of a broken human skull.

This time, I could do nothing about the scream that escaped mouth.

I backed away, stumbled over my feet, and crashed to the ground. Bill was with me a few moments later, his face a mixture of annoyance and curiosity.

“What happened? What did you see? Did you get scared by-?”

The moment he saw what I was pointing at, he was quiet. When he spoke again, his voice was barely more than a whisper.

“He’s a cannibal.”

Before I could tell him we had to get out of here, I heard it. Footsteps. Hard, fast footsteps that echoed towards us from somewhere inside the building.

When I turned to look at Bill, he was as scared as I was. All the excitement had left his face as the reality of the situation finally dawned on him. The beam of his flashlight darted around erratically, trying desperately to find whoever was coming for us.

Then we both saw it. A disheveled, older man came dashing right for us.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing here?” he called out to us.

We both screamed in terror. Bill was already running, and a moment later, I’d made it to my feet and was right behind him. In his senseless panic, Bill wasn’t running towards the exit, but deeper into the building, away from the creepy guy who was about to murder us.

“… come back here, dammit… going to get you…” I heard his voice from behind us.

We ran as fast as we could, but with each step, the man was closing the distance between us.

And then, just before the man reached us, Bill stared right at me. His eyes were wide, all the color had drained from his face, but then a different emotion washed over it. It was guilt, and before I understood what was happening, he tripped me.

As Bill ran on, I stumbled, desperately trying to keep my balance, but after only a few steps, I crashed to the floor. For a moment, everything stopped. I stared after Bill, who was still running, continuing on deeper into the darkness of the steel mill, his flashlight beam dancing across the floor. Then I turned around. My eyes focused on the man who was coming for me, on Larry, and I knew it was too late. He had reached me, and before I could even get back to my feet, his hands closed around my arm.

I screamed after Bill, screamed for him to come back and help me, but he just ran on. I kicked at Larry, tried to fight myself free, but it was futile. In a few swift motions, he restrained me and a moment later, he pushed a hand over my mouth, cutting off my screams forever.

“Not another damned word!” he snapped at me.

Then he dragged me back towards one of the huge beams in the empty hall.

As he held me in place, he said something else. It was nothing but a whisper.

“Quiet, it will hear you, too!”

I didn’t understand what was going on. What was he talking about? Once more, I renewed my efforts to get free, but then I heard it: sounds different from Bill’s echoing footsteps.

The sounds were unlike anything I’d ever heard before. The closest I could think of was bugs, a multitude of skittering bugs. Then Bill screamed.

This time, his scream was different. It was nothing but an unintelligible, bloodcurdling wail. It was cut short a second later, but its echo traveled endlessly and lingered in the empty halls of the steel mill. All the while, the man I’d thought to be Larry held me in place, still covering my mouth.

Then something hit the floor, something wet and made of flesh and bone, something I knew had been my cousin mere moments ago. I heard clothes being torn, flesh being ripped apart, and then a sound so disgusting, I almost vomited. It reminded me of someone sucking the juices from a fruit.

The sounds continued for almost a minute before silence returned to the steel mill. All I could hear now was beating of my heart and the labored breathing of the man holding me in place. Then, the skittering returned, and for the blink of an eye, something was illuminated by the flashlight Bill had dropped.

It was a tall, bony figure, a figure so tall it almost reached the hall’s high roof. And as it moved, I saw a multitude of thin, spidery limbs. No, not limbs, I realized. Legs, legs skittering over the floor as whatever this abomination was dragged itself back to its hiding place.

For long minutes, the man kept holding me in place, not moving. His eyes focused on the lonely flashlight beam as he listened to the deafening silence all around us. As he did, I could see the terror on his face. Eventually, though, he opened his mouth again. All he said was a single, whispered word.


With that, he dragged me from the dark hall and back into daylight. Eventually, he let me go, and I’d have run if I’d had the energy left. I stumbled only a few steps before I collapsed on the ground, a trembling, crying mess.

“W-what the hell was that? Was it… Long Legged Larry?”

“Long Legged… what? Is that what they call it these days?”

“What are you…?”

My voice trailed off, not even sure what I was going to ask.

“That thing in there,” the man finally said. “Whatever it is, it’s been around forever, even before I was born. There’s always been stories about it and it’s probably the reason they shut down this damned mill all those years ago.”

“But, but what is it? Some sort of freak or serial killer?”

For a moment, the man was quiet. His eyes wandered over the old steel mill in front of us before he shook his head.

“Got no clue what it is myself. Might be something that escaped from god knows where, like some stories say, might be something much older. All I can say is that it’s not human. Knew it the moment I first saw it.”

“First saw it? What do you-?”

“Came here years ago with my friends when I was still a teenager. Got drunk and high one night with my friends, and wanted to figure out if there was more to the stories. God, how dumb we were. Not that we expected to find anything, but then, that thing…”

He was quiet again, shaking his head. For a moment, his body tensed up, and I saw the guilt on his face.

“Was the one who led us here, and the only one who made it out, the only one fast enough to get away.”

When I heard it, it hit me. The news story Bill had found about the group of teenagers who went here long ago, and who all went missing except…

“The one who got away, the one from the old newspaper article?!”

He gave me a surprised look before he nodded.

“But then, why’s that thing still here? Why didn’t they do anything about this, this… whatever this thing is?”

“You know, boy, most people in town don’t believe those dumb old stories. No one’s going to believe some teenager high on drugs, talking about some spider monster that took his friends away. No, they thought I’d snapped and did god knows what to them, or that they simple ran off. Put me in the bin for a few years, but eventually let me go. Found nothing out here, no hint of what happened, and no hint of my friends.”

“But if this thing-!”

“It’s a small town, boy. No one cares. People go missing in the woods, and that’s it.”

“But if you know it’s in there, why are you here? Why’d you come back?”

As I asked this, I saw how he balled his fists, and saw the look of frustration that came over his face.

“Been watching this place for a good ten years now and put up all those sings to make sure… When I saw your bikes, I knew you’d make the same mistake I’d made all those years ago. Then I heard you screaming and knew it would come to get you. Tried my best to get you both out, but…”

Instead of continuing, he just shook his head, cursing to himself.

After Bill’s disappearance, an investigation was started. I told them what I’d seen, what had happened, but no one believed me when I talked about Long Legged Larry. When they eventually checked out the old steel mill, it was a half-hearted effort, and, of course, they found nothing. All signs of habitation and all the remains we’d discovered were long gone. And Bill, Bills should stay missing. Just another person who’d went missing in the woods.

All this happened over three decades ago. The old man who’d saved me that day, Jonathan, is long dead.

Even now, even to this day, the rumors of Long Legged Larry, or Sneaky Spidery Steve or whatever they call it now, persists and is shared by the teenagers in town.

While most regard it as nothing but an urban legend, as bullshit, so to speak, there are always those just like Bill. The ones who think there’s more to be found out here.

They think they’ll be famous, they’ll come back as heroes and can upload their discoveries on YouTube or TikTok. And so, I’ll make sure to keep watch, just as old Jonathan did before me. Whenever I hear those rumors, those stories, I say it’s nothing but humbug, and there’s nothing to be found at the old steel mill.

Yet, I’ve got to keep watch. Not because this thing might get out. I know it doesn’t want to.

No, I’ve got to keep watch for those dumb enough to come here, dumb enough to believe in the stories such as the Legend of Long Legged Larry.

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