Have you ever heard of Elf on the Shelf? It was a children’s book released in 2005 that follows an elf who reports to Santa on who’s been naughty or nice. Later on they made it into t.v. movie and now it’s a really popular game with kids around Christmas time. I’ll never forget that elf. The one that terrorized me only a few weeks ago. I consider it a miracle I’m still here today to tell you about it.
It all started the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. I had just gotten home with my family: mom, dad and my five year old brother Carson. We had been shopping all morning. You know, waiting in line trying to get the good deals, that whole thing. When we arrived home, I was the first one to open the door and that’s when I saw it. There, on the coffee table in our living room was a bright, shiny red elf just staring at me. I froze. That wasn’t there when we left? How did it get there? I was pushed through the rest of the door by my brother who saw the elf but with a much happier reaction. He ran to grab it when my mother came through the door and yelled “CARSON STOP!” My brother froze and looked back at her in confusion, I did as well. My mother hurried over to the elf and said “Now both of you sit and listen very carefully.” I was still confused as hell. What was she up to?
Still not knowing, I complied and sat next to my brother on the carpet facing my mom. “Now this here is a very special elf, one who must not be disrespected.” She then bent over and picked up a book sitting next to the elf, opened the front cover and began to read. “This is an Elf on the Shelf. He is a special scout elf who zips back and forth to the North Pole every night and reports to Santa on whether or not the children he is looking after have been naughty or nice.” She went on. “Once a family has adopted an elf, they must give it a name for it to receive its Christmas magic.” Christmas magic? What a bunch of bull. I was twelve years old at the time and was well past my days of believing that Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny were real. I certainly now wasn’t going to believe some stupid elf was going to come alive with Christmas magic.
“Each morning, the elf returns to his adopted family and is in a different place within the house” she continued. “Sounds fun huh!?” I was way too old for this crap, I mean seriously, who would believe this bullshit. I then looked at my brother who was rocking back and forth, cackling and clapping his hands with joy. My mother went on “Now there are only two simple rules that all of the children must follow with an elf in the house. First is that the elf can NEVER be touched. If an elf is touched it might lose its Christmas magic, thus it won’t be able to fly back to the North Pole anymore. Second, an elf cannot speak or move in any way while anyone in the house is awake. Remember, an elf’s job is to watch and listen.”
I seriously could not believe what I had just listened to. “You expect me to believe this crap?” I objected. “James!” she yelled at me. I was still looking at her with the same look a child might give when told that he had to share his toys with his brother, which I hated. “This is stupid, I’m too old for this.” I said again, this time trying harder to get my point across. My mom walked into the kitchen and yelled behind her “James, come in here now!”
I followed her and when I arrived she grabbed my arm, bent over and looked me square in the eye. “Now you listen to me, you will not spoil this for your brother. If you don’t want to participate, fine but you better not say anything else about it not being real to Carson or so help me god I will make sure Santa does not give you any presents this year.!” I thought my mom was being completely ridiculous but she had generally frightened me. She always had a habit of doing that sometimes. I swear she liked Carson more than me. Anyway, I agreed and it was settled, I ignored the elf and let my brother bask in his ignorance.
After our “discussion” we went back into the living room. My mom asked my brother “So Carson, what shall we name our elf?” As quickly as my mom asked her question, my brother blurted out “Zippy!” “Cause he zips to da North Pole every night and talks to Santa and says if we been naughty or nice.” “What a great name, don’t you agree James?” said my mom. “Now you have given it its Christmas magic!” My brother clapped his hands again “Yay! Zipp-py Zipp-py Zip Zip Zipppppp-ppy!” And so that was it, the thing that would come to terrorize me and haunt me still to this day in my sleep had a name. Zippy.
A few days went by without incident. Every morning I awoke to the laughter and yelling of my younger brother as he ran through the house looking for that damn elf. Each morning, he would be in a different place just as the book said. But I knew it was my mother moving it about every night. One morning, he was in kitchen with one arm in the cookie jar and another morning he was in Carson’s room bent over in his toy chest with his legs sticking out. I still thought the idea was nonsense but I stuck to the promise I made to my mother. Yes, I guess everything was fine with Zippy. That is until that first night when my nightmares started.
It was late and I was downstairs by myself watching t.v. I started to hear a faint whisper coming from the other room. I brushed it off the first couple times but by the third time I pressed mute on the remote and listened intently. I couldn’t make out what it was but it defiantly sounded like a whisper. I decided to get up and have a look. I walked across the living room and into our dining room where I heard the whisper coming from. I fumbled for the light and when I switched it on I about shit myself. There standing on the dining room table was Zippy. His rosy red checks and bright, piercing blue eyes that were looking directly at me. That thing creped the hell out of me. I figured my mom must have moved it there earlier that night. I shrugged it off, turned around and just before I killed the light I heard a small thud. It hadn’t startled me that much and I turned around to see that Zippy had fallen off of the table and was now lying face first on the floor. I thought to myself “how the hell did that happen?” “I hadn’t touched him or the table.” “He was standing though so maybe his feet gave out from under him” I thought .I put it aside me, went over to the table and bent over to pick him up. Just before I grabbed him I remembered what my mom said about the first rule. “Zippy can NEVER be touched.” I’m not sure how long I stood there, bent over thinking about that. “This is just stupid” I thought, “I don’t believe in this damn game anyway.” I got my senses together and grabbed the elf.
As soon as I touched him, BANG! The light bulb above my head blew out and I almost dropped him. Standing there in the darkness I suddenly felt very cold, the air around me had become freezing and unnatural. The t.v. from the other room was still on and barely illuminated the dining room. With the faint light from the other room cascading on the elf, I flipped him over and looked at his face. I stood there a moment in shock. I swear to god that his face had changed. Everything looked the same except for his mouth. Zippy now appeared to be wearing a smirk but not just any smirk. I can’t quite explain it but it looked evil. The kind of smirk a murderer wears when his is getting pure enjoyment from killing one of his victims.
By that time it was late and I thought maybe my imagination had gotten the better of me. Before I left I remembered I was still holding Zippy. “Shit” I thought. I did not want to disobey my mother so I carefully put Zippy back in the position he was standing in on the table and left the room. I went back to the living room, turned off the t.v. I turned on the hall light and proceeded towards the stairs. In order to get to my stairs you had to pass by the dining room. I started to walk by, not wanting to look at that thing but for some reason I felt compelled to. Just before the stairs I turned and saw Zippy. This time the hall light was shining on the part of the table were Zippy was and there was no mistake. That fucking thing was smirking at me with his blue eyes still piercing into my soul. I hurried upstairs quickly, cut the light and went to my room. I got in bed and pulled the covers tightly over my head. I don’t know why but I didn’t sleep well that night. I knew that Zippy wasn’t real and all of this was complete nonsense yet for some reason it still bothered me. I could not mistake what I saw that night. Still to this day I see that damned smirk in my nightmares.
I came downstairs the next morning, barely getting a wink of sleep. As I reached the bottom of the stairs I peeked around the corner into the dining room. There he was. Just as I left him with his face back to normal. My mom called me in for breakfast and as I ate I ran through all of the events that happened the previous night. “Could I really have just imagined everything that went on?” Impossible I can’t forget that smirk I saw on that little shits face. It must have been real. Still doubting myself, I decided to keep what I saw to myself. My brother seemed to receive more and more enjoyment from Zippy each passing day while I relented him and his stupid games. I hated everything about him. The way that my mother had continued to play with my sense of reality was not at all comforting either. Yet Carson just seemed to go right along with it.
Then came the fucking notes. I guess my mother decided it would be a good idea if Zippy started to leave me and my brother notes around the house. Just dumb messages really telling us to be good and that whole thing. The first one I saw was written out in M&M’s and said ‘Be Good” with Zippy sitting down next to my mother’s creation, admiring it as did Carson in amazement. The next I found was “You better not pout” spelled in magnet letters on our refrigerator. This went on for about a week until something changed. I’m not sure what kind of sick game my mother was up to but the messages started to get very unsettling and downright creepy.
I came downstairs one day and again saw that Zippy had spelled out another note in M&M’s. I breezed over it at first but on my second glance, I noticed something eerie. The message again began with “Be Good” but it was followed by the words “or else”. I figured my mom was trying to relay that message to me this time. And I must say it really pissed me off. I mean it’s dumb enough I have to go along with this but to now have the notes directed at me, saying stuff like “Be Good or Else?” “What the hell was her problem?” You can imagine my frustration with this. Later that night I called her out on it and her answer was simply… puzzling. I asked her why she made that message for me. She gave me a funny look and replied. “James, please. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I made a message like that a week ago and haven’t used M&M’s sense.” I didn’t believe her at first but it was something in the way she said it that just seemed so convincing. “Whatever” I thought. Just got to make to Christmas and then this dumb shit will be over with.
The next morning my parents brought Carson to the doctors and I was home alone. When I got up, I went downstairs and into the kitchen. I went to get a glass of milk, ignoring the letters on the door. I got my milk and when I shut the door I looked at the fridge and dropped it. Milk splattered all over the kitchen floor while I was still staring at the fridge in sheer horror. The magnetized letters spelled out “You better watch out.” At that point I wondered whether or not my mother was aware of the fear she was causing me. I still thought she had made this along with the other disturbing message but it was unlike her. I thought again to myself “there’s no way that fucking elf could be doing this to me.” I mean, that’s not possible.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I just lay in my bed, staring at the ceiling. I was beginning to become very paranoid, not wanting to know what was coming next. “What other warning I might receive. Was I going crazy?” It was a question I pondered for a while lying there. But then I knew.
It was about three in the morning. I was just falling asleep when I heard a sound from the hallway. I ignored it at first but it came again and again and was really starting to scare me. I got up and slowly creaked open my door. I looked down the dark hallway and not a sound could be heard. I then noticed a thin, sliver of light protruding beneath the bathroom door down the hall. I figured it was nothing but I saw shadows moving from the other side. I took a deep breath and walked down the hall on my tippy-toes. I noticed that the door was slightly ajar with the light still on. No one was in there, yet I felt compelled to look inside. I could feel a very cold chill coming from the room. I opened the door and turned my head to face the mirror. I still vividly see the image in my head. There, written in smeared toothpaste on the mirror read “You better not cry, I’ll show you why.”
I was frozen in horror, unable to move. I then looked to my left and saw Zippy in the doorway, just watching me. Quickly, I tried to run past him but the rug from beneath my feet slipped out from under me. I tumbled backwards and fell hard on the ground. I let out a shriek of pain as I clinched my leg. I turned it over and looked. A pair of scissors were sticking halfway out of my thigh. The pain was excruciating. I didn’t know how it happened at the time but I’m certain now that Zippy had placed them there.
My mom and dad came rushing into the bathroom, having been woken up from my blood shivering screams. My dad got the first aid kit from the medicine cabinet after noticing the scissors driven into my leg. I looked up and saw that the mirror displayed nothing but smeared toothpaste. The message was gone and Zippy was nowhere to be found.
I was rushed to the ER were they removed the scissors and gave me a tetanus shot. My parents asked me what happened. I told them that it was Zippy and they didn’t believe me. My mom became very upset with me saying that I had broken the promise I made to her.
The next night I was lying in bed unable to fall asleep. For one, my leg still hurt like hell and two I was watching my door, making sure that goddamn elf wouldn’t get to me. I then knew I wasn’t crazy. That fucking elf was trying to kill me. I eventually passed out several hours later from exhaustion. When I woke, it was still early morning. No one else was awake yet and I didn’t find a need to get out of bed. It was still pretty dark in my room. I shifted my gaze towards my desk and that’s when I saw him. Zippy was standing on my desk, looking at me with those hollow blue eyes and wearing that undeniable smirk. I couldn’t breathe when I saw him and about crapped myself when I saw he was holding a note. I was still paralyzed by fear but somehow my body was able to crawl out of bed and walk over to the desk.
This time it was different. The note was handwritten. I looked and I knew that it was neither of my parent’s handwriting. I held my breath, took the note out of his hand and began to read. “You have been very naughty. You cried when I said not too. Santa doesn’t like that.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. I took the note with me, walked down the hall and kicked my parent’s door open. My mom awoke suddenly and I showed her the note. She became very upset and the color had drained from her face. After about a minute I said. “Mom, Zippy is not what you think he is. He’s trying to kill me!” I pleaded with her for a while yet she still didn’t believe me. She did however become very concerned with my mental state.
Later that day she scheduled an appointment with me to talk to a psychiatrist. It didn’t go very well. She said that I was starved for attention and that I was making up these stories about Zippy as a way of “reaching out” for a reaction. I argued with her but to no use. After all was said and done, the psychiatrist suggested to my mother that it would be for the best to get rid of Zippy.
I don’t know how she did it but my mother agreed. Later that day she disposed of Zippy and had to tell a sob story to Carson. My mother said “Carson, you have been such a good boy that Zippy doesn’t need to watch you anymore. His job here is done and he needs to go and watch other kids to make sure they will be good as well.” My brother was upset but seemed to understand.
Everything returned to normal the next week. Zippy was gone, I was out of school for the holiday and I finally started to get into the Christmas spirit. I though now I can really enjoy Christmas and my life will be back to normal. That’s what I thought anyway. Until Christmas Eve.
It was night and I was tired and anxious for morning to come. Carson and I had just put out milk and cookies for Santa (not that I still believed in him but it was fun none the less). At bed time I fell asleep rather quickly thinking about my gifts and wondering if I would get everything I wanted. I awoke in the middle of the night to a noise. I lay there, silent trying to listen. It sounded like a whisper coming from outside my door. I shivered. It was the same whisper I first heard with Zippy. I had nearly forgotten about him sense my mother got rid of him. I got up and peeked out my door. I heard that the whispering was coming from downstairs. I then became very curious. After all it was Christmas Eve and in the middle of the night I hear whispering coming from downstairs. I thought “it couldn’t possibly be Santa? Could it?” I felt silly thinking such a thing. However it wouldn’t hurt to check. A mistake I still regret.
I slowly descended the stairs, anxious as to what I might find. I looked into the living room and couldn’t see anything. I walked around to the table and looked where we had placed the milk and cookies. They were both partially gone. My mom must have done this after I went up to bed. Everything seemed normal until I noticed a piece of paper under the plate which held the cookies. “That’s funny” I thought. “I hadn’t noticed that there before”. I went over to the table and picked up the note. I turned it over and began to read.
“You didn’t think I had forgotten about you? How could I forget about my favorite child? You see James, you thought you had gotten rid of me. Your mom simply threw me out with the trash. I can’t go out that easily. You see I’ve been watching you ever sense you first saw me on the coffee table, sense you saw me crack that first smirk at you. All those messages no one else claims to have seen, they were all made by me. It was me James, the one who watches your every move. I know what you’re thinking. But your parents won’t help you. No, they won’t be able to reach you in time. For you see I’m in your house now, watching you panic while sweat runs down your neck. There’s no escape from me. How does the old tune go? You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why… I’m why James. I’m why
See you soon
Sincerely your pal,
My body shut down. I couldn’t breathe. I gasped for breath but it couldn’t reach my lungs. My legs felt like jelly. I was shaking uncontrollably. I dropped the note and darted out of the living room. I sprinted up the stairs and right at the top step I saw a toy train that I knew belonged to Carson. I couldn’t stop myself in time. I tripped over the train and tumbled backwards, crashing down the stairs. I lay at the bottom, throbbing in pain and about to lose consciousness. But right before I blacked out, I looked up the flight of steps. Behind the top post I noticed the faint outline of Zippy with a wide smirk on his face.
I woke up the next morning in the hospital. The doctors said I had broken my right arm, one of my ribs and a leg. My family surrounded me and comforted me. We didn’t make it to the part about how I fell down the stairs. Frankly, they were just happy I was still in one piece. After our brief chat, I said I would like some rest. My family agreed and left me be. This is where I tell this story to you now.
A knock on the door. The nurse comes in holding a gift wrapped package and a card. “Here James” says the nurse. “Someone left this for you in the waiting room.” She placed the package and note on my bedside. I asked “Who was it from?” the nurse replied “I’m not sure, just that I was told to make sure you had gotten it.” She then turned around and left, leaving me alone with my gift. “A present maybe?” I said out loud. I looked at the card. It was pretty bare and just said the words “Merry Christmas.” I opened it and began to read
I thought you might need some company while you’re in here. You better watch out because I’m always watching you.