The Boneless

jacob marsh



To the owner of Anecdotes Anonymous,


                I hope this email find you well. I did not have a lot of luck with the admins. In fact, I think I only made matters worse. You see, yours is one of the most popular websites for user generated scary stories and urban legends on the internet and I desperately need you to remove all traces of “The Boneless” from your site. Every story. Every post. Every comment. It is a matter of life and death.

                The majority of this email is the same as the one I sent to your admins. I am appalled by my tone in parts but I think it is important you understand how this began. I didn’t comprehend the importance of this topic like I do now. By the time you finish it, I hope you’ll have a better frame of mind for what is now happening in my hometown.


Dear Admin,

                My name is Miranda and I would like to request the removal of The Boneless and all related content from your website. As you are likely aware, The Boneless is a well-known topic on your forums and has been growing in popularity of the last few months. It is the story of a serial killer of sorts whose strange flexible nature allows him to enter houses undetected, often through drains and similarly improbably openings. Because the core elements of the character are physical in nature they have allowed new writers the freedom to be creative with the character’s motives and methods. At its current rate it will likely become popular enough to become viral and start popping up all over the internet. Because of this, I request that we try to contain the story and remove it from online discourse here and now.

                What hasn’t been mentioned in any of these stories is the character’s origin. In fact, in my first messages, your users thought that was what I was trying to create. But in reality, the character is based on an urban legend from my hometown. It is the story of Boneless Jim.

                As it goes, James (Jim) McCarthy was born with a rare degenerative condition which made his bones brittle and, in some versions of the story, they were slowly deteriorating. When my parents told it, the story had very little explanation for what ailed Jim. The versions my generation told described this as an auto-immune disorder. The doctors said that Jim wouldn’t survive infancy, but in a twist of cruel fate, he did. He grew, constantly fracturing and breaking his bones, until he was five years old and a parody of other children. He was massively deformed, or so the story goes, and becoming more and more crooked as the time went on. Jim’s parents, who were well-to-do elites from a neighboring town, saw him as an object of shame and grew to hate him. One day, they led Jim out deep into the woods and told him they were going to play hide and seek. They told him to close his eyes and count to one hundred then try to find them. Jim counted to one hundred, a difficult task for a boy of five. When he opened his eyes, he began looking. Minutes turned to hours, hours to days, but he never found them.

                Jim’s parents, sure exposure would kill him, told officials he had died of his disease and was buried in the family mausoleum. There is, in fact, a plaque for James McCarthy, age five, but it would need to be exhumed to discover how much of the tale is true. Whether there is a body, if the child had a strange degenerative disorder. It seems more likely this is story is born of town rivalry or class conflict. The rich family with the sick child becoming a target for scorn and rumor. This would make the story of the McCarthy’s like that of the Leeds and their devil. But this isn’t where the legend ends. Much like the Jersey Devil, sightings continue to this day.

                As the legend goes, Jim wandered through the woods for years. Further deteriorating, he grew up feral and misshapen in those woods. The story doesn’t go into how he survived; it only says that by the time he found our town his bones had fully dissolved. He was now large, bloated and deformed like some abyssal sea creature, surviving off the fringes of society.

                This version of the character was scary, but not violent. Parents used Jim to teach their kids to protect their property. “Close your windows before you go to sleep or Boneless Jim will slip through the crack and steal your sweets.” “Don’t play near the storm drain or Boneless Jim will take your ball and you’ll never see it again.” He has harmless. Kids, however, are as cruel as the worst adults and mostly used Jim as an outlet for juvenile fears of the other, xenophobia and other bigotry they were too young to fully grasp. Bullies would say you were spineless like Jim. Say you were so ugly only Jim could love you. Tell you to climb down into the sewer and live with Jim and the rats. Older kids would band together to “go hunting” for him, baseball bats in hand. They would come back with tales of chasing him back into the storm drains, his strange flexible body the topic of much horror and debate.

                I never saw Jim, but some of my friends said they did. They added further to the mythos. He sometimes had reflective eyes like a cat. He dragged his body around like a slug and his limbs trashed about like worms. There were now rituals to summon him from the sewer. Place a bowl of candy ten feet from the drain, at midnight of course, and then say his name 5 times. You would, apparently, see his long arms snake out of the drain and pull the candy in. I tried it once but he did not appear. I grew up assuming he was just a story. The only thing that carried into adult hood was that stupid schoolyard song.

Beware, beware of Boneless Jim,

Abandoned by his next of kin.

His eyes are black, skin pale as sin.

Beware his wide and toothless grin!


                That is one thing that stood out to me in the stories online. The Boneless has teeth. I can’t understand why he would. Wouldn’t his disease mean his teeth wouldn’t form either? Regardless he sure does like to use them. He seems to be a biter now.

                My generation made some attempts to take the story back as adults. Bring more sympathy to it, give Jim more humanity and maybe a happy ending. Sadly, it didn’t catch on like these internet stories have. For example, my friend wrote a collection of short stories about Jim. The publishers told her that the subject matter was too disturbing to be children’s lit and not scary enough to be a horror story for adults. The grim and dire always hits harder than the inspirational and we barely made a dent in the old childhood tales we helped spin. Though, with time, Jim had begun to fade into memory. New ghosts and monsters captivated children and the sightings became fewer and less interesting. That is until the tale was adapted and published on this site.

                Boneless Jim became simply, The Boneless. His tragic backstory was removed, and his thefts became malicious. He soon began stealing dogs from doghouses, children from their open windows. But The Boneless more than anything wanted to steal what he lacked. If the victim was lucky, they would simply have their toes bitten off in the shower after The Boneless wound itself up the drain. Others would be found in the sewer with all their bones removed. It was as if he was keeping them as trophies, though, like the teeth, this behavior has never been explained.

                It makes me sad reading these stories. Jim was a character that, in some way, I identified with. I was unpopular, I had a difficult relationship with my parents, I often wanted to just hide away from the world. I want happy ending for this character. The Boneless shouldn’t be his legacy.

                This leads to my reason for emailing you. Someone, likely a member of this board, is harassing locals in my town. As I mentioned sightings of Jim were declining rapidly and then shortly after the first stories went up so did the sightings. Moreover, these new sightings are threatening verging on stalking behaviour. It soon became obvious that these were not made up stories. Someone is out there terrorizing the people of my town. There have been reports of children being chased through the woods. That the assailant, wearing some grotesque rubber suit, has on multiple occasions waited in the dark and jumped out at unsuspecting people. We hear howls in the night and our dogs are agitated, as if someone is creeping around private property at night.

                The police haven’t found any leads yet, but as a local historian I took interest and made the connection between the dates and your site. Either someone on here is the culprit or the stories posted here have inspired this sicko to terrorize our town. I hope you understand the gravity of this issue. Some poor kid is going to be traumatized and I would really appreciate your assistance in preventing that.

Looking forward to your response,

– Miranda


                That was the end of my communications with your admins. They did not respond and instead mocked me in your forums. This resulted in some rather incendiary emails from your members and an online campaign to “review bomb” my books.

                I had purposely distanced myself from my profession in the first email. I figured, correctly, that if they had known I was a writer, they would not have taken me seriously. They would have thought I was trying to market my own work. I should have, at the very least, given my email pseudonym a male name. The emails might not have been as bad if I had.

                I’m not bitter. I blocked a few emails, had Amazon investigate the review issue, and within a few weeks, it was like nothing had happened. However, the problem I emailed about intensified…

                Since my initial email, there have been disappearances. First four dogs went missing over the course of a month. The police didn’t investigate too closely but it happened at properties where Jim had been spotted and the dogs had been behaving strangely in the proceeding nights. The abductions happened on nights when the neighborhood dogs had all been barking madly. It’s a small town, and even if the police don’t see the connection, people talk and this is my job.

                Then two children went missing. This time the police saw the connection – both children had previously reported seeing Jim. It isn’t subtle, it likes that its victims know it’s coming. Where it is subtle is that it leaves no traces. No evidence has been discovered. No bodies found.

                I am ashamed to admit it, but I had decided to leave it alone. My career is already less than stable, and I didn’t want to, as the kids put it, “feed the trolls”. However, that is no longer an option. Last night, as I was walking home from a dance recital with my daughter, we saw it.

                We were walking through an apartment complex. It was a shortcut home, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shape at the corner of the building. It was large and rotund. At first I thought it was a pile of dirt or refuse, then it moved partially into view.

                Its eyes flashed in the dark. That was the first thing I noticed, those eyes like mirrors, reflecting the dim light. It didn’t have a distinctive head. Its facial features where simply set in a lump at the top of the pale fleshy mound. It pulled itself forward with two long appendages. I can’t bring myself to call them arms. They had no joints. At the end of those arms, and I’m almost gagging remembering this: long, wriggling, boneless fingers.

                The last thing I saw was its mouth opening and six crooked teeth glinting in the light. I didn’t have time to consider the significance of this in the moment. But I know for a fact there were six mismatched teeth in that thing’s rubbery maw.

                I picked up my daughter, turned, and ran away as fast as I could.

                I was wearing heels at the time and I tripped, nearly falling. I’ve clearly sprained my ankle but at the time I didn’t notice. Adrenaline and parental instincts had taken over. I simply kicked off the shoes and continued running. I could hear it you see. I could hear it scrapping against the ground behind me. It was fast, faster than you would ever expect, but I never turned back. Somewhere back in the dark that wet scraping sound faded away but I didn’t stop running until my daughter and I were home behind a locked door.

                I spent the night with my daughter, locked in my bedroom facing the door. I’ve had a knife either in my hand or beside me since.

                I called the police and told them what I saw. They are taking it seriously now, but I fear there is nothing they can do. They are still looking for a man, and even if they weren’t, there is no way they can keep us safe. Thanks to your members, the fucking thing can move up drains now.

                I have no idea how this thing works, but I doubt I have long. With all this in mind, I will asking you again. Remove all content related to The Boneless from your site. If not for me, do it for my daughter. Click the articles attached to this email. They have all the details you will need to know I’m not making this up. This is happening and if you do nothing, our blood will be on your hands too. Then, the next person who will see it will find a crooked grin with eight teeth smiling at them from the dark.



Jacob Marsh is an emerging writer living in Victoria, Canada with his wife and pets. He has written works in almost every form and genre but specializes in prose fiction. While the majority of his publications are critical and editorial works, he loves nothing more than crafting entertaining stories.