Eddie’s Evil Elf
By J.A. Sullivan
First published in Midnight Gore: Bloody Christmas – December 2018.
Little Eddie Stewart was about to slay the giant tyrannosaurus that had boarded his ship with his trusty cutlass, when something woke him. He couldn’t say exactly what had roused him from his dreams, but he wasn’t thirsty and didn’t need to use the toilet. He lay on his side, facing his brother’s bed. Danny was cocooned, and still, within his dinosaur bedding.
The cold December moon cut through the slats of the horizontal blinds and shone on the floor between the beds. Eddie thought the glowing light looked like prison bars. He took a deep breath. The warm smell of gingerbread Mom had baked earlier still hung in the air. A smile sprung to his lips as he thought of how he would decorate his side of the cookie house in the morning. He was about to drift back to sleep when he heard something.
Peeling back his pirate comforter, Eddie sat up and listened.
There was a scuffling in the hallway like tiny marionette feet tapdancing across the hardwood floor. It stopped in the hall near the bedroom door which Mom always left ajar.
“Danny, did you hear that?” Eddie whispered across to his brother. The crumpled heap of blankets moved slightly, but there was no response.
The sound started again. Slow deliberate taps were getting closer to the door. Eddie slammed his head into his pillow, pulled his pirate blankets up to his nose and closed his eyes. The hinges squealed and creaked for a moment, and then it was silent again.
There was a small thud at the foot of his bed.
Eddie tried to pull the covers up over his face, but something was pulling them down. Opening one eye, he glanced near his feet and saw nothing. He pulled on the blankets again, but an invisible force pulled just as hard in the opposite direction. A weapon is what I need, he thought, and let go of the comforter so that he could reach the plastic cutlass he always kept between the mattress and box-spring.
As soon as the handle was in his hand, he felt a warm mass land on his feet. Swinging the blade around to face his would-be attacker, Jinx, the cat, gave a loud hiss, jumped off the bed and ran through the doorway.
“Stupid cat,” Eddie said, with a long exhale. He flopped back down and kicked his leg as he rolled onto his side. Something landed with a thud on the floor between the two beds. Eddie looked and saw a small elf laying in the moonbeam prison bars of the floor. Its creepy smile looked up at him.
For years Eddie had pestered Mom to buy an ‘Elf on the Shelf’ doll that came with the book like he’d seen at his friend Timmy’s house. She’d finally got one, but this was not the same. Instead of slender long red legs like Timmy’s elf, this one had fat, overstuffed candy cane striped legs that ended in black plastic boots. Its white gloved hands were too big, looking like cartoon hands. The belt around its waist too clunky, and the brown hair painted on its plastic head was smudged and faded. Mom said she found him on the porch beside the door, but Eddie was sure she’d bought him at the flea market like so many other things she brought home.
“So, an elf prisoner, eh?” Eddie said, hanging over the side of the bed, poking the doll with his cutlass. “Wonder what mischief you’ve caused to land yourself in jail.” Tiny flecks of glitter within the doll’s blue eyes sparkled in the moonlight. “I’ll break you out, but you have to promise not to get into any trouble.” Eddie reached down and picked the doll up around its middle, letting its boots tap against the floor.
The elf was marched over to the nightstand that sat between the two beds, and Eddie helped
him climb to the top. Once the doll was perched on the edge of the table, Eddie slid his sword back
under his mattress and snuggled down into his bed. He hoped to return to his dream of defeating the
scallywag T-Rex and resuming his course to the island with buried treasure.
“Edward James Stewart, get your butt out here,” Mom yelled. The sun pierced Eddie’s eyes as soon as he opened them. Danny was gone, and the elf was missing from the shelf. As he swung his legs over the side of the bed, tiny crumbs cascaded down his pajamas onto the floor. Once he was standing, his stomach began to churn, and he felt as though he was going to puke. Using his socked toes, Eddie swept the crumbs under the bed before running out to see what Mom was going on about.
He dashed into the living room and found Mom and Danny standing in front of the coffee table. They parted as he entered, revealing a demolished gingerbread house with the elf sitting on top of the ruins. “Why?” Mom screamed.
“But I didn’t do it,” Eddie stammered.
“Oh, so I supposed the elf did it?” she asked with her eyebrows arched high.
“Jinx was acting up last night,” Eddie said. “She probably did it.”
“You never take responsibility for anything,” she fumed. “Get the vacuum and clean this mess
Eddie did as he was told, but when he got close enough to the remnants of the house, the smell of gingerbread slapped his nose. His stomach lurched, and he threw up a mound of milk and cookies onto the carpet. Danny stood, mouth gaping at the new mess and pinched his nose.
“Am I still supposed to believe you didn’t do this?” Mom yelled, pushing Danny back away from
the puke puddle.
“But I don’t remember eating any,” Eddie said, feeling as though he was alternating shades of red and green. Seeing her child was most likely not finished emptying his stomach, Mom ordered Eddie to the bathroom to clean himself up.
He stripped his clothes, placed them in the tub and got a washcloth to clean his face. Since he’d left the living room his stomach settled, and he was glad he didn’t think he was going to be sick again. Rinsing the cloth in the sink, Eddie noticed his hands. They seemed larger today than they had been before, and paler than normal. He held them up to his face and they were easily a few shades whiter than the rest of his body.
Mom came into the bathroom with a fresh pair of socks, underwear, track pants and a sweater. She put the clothes on top of the closed toilet lid and turned to Eddie. “Are you feeling better now?”
He nodded his low hung head and got dressed.
“I don’t know why you would do such a thing. You love decorating the gingerbread house.” Mom looked at him with a gentle hurt across her face, which was better than the pure anger she’d worn earlier, but Eddie felt ashamed. “Is it because Dad won’t be here for Christmas this year?”
He said nothing as he continued getting dressed. Dad was dead. He’d been killed by another prisoner in the summer. Eddie was glad it had happened. It meant Dad would never return and would never mess up Mom’s pretty face again.
“You have to talk to me about that stuff. Don’t take it out on poor defenseless cookies, ok?” She pulled Eddie in close to her chest. Mom smelled like spring flowers and coffee. He nuzzled his face into her sweater and started to cry.
“I’m sorry I made a mess.” He didn’t want their embrace to end.
“Just don’t do it again,” Mom said and kissed the top of his head. She let him go and went back to the living room.
Eddie rinsed the last of the puke off his pajamas and hung them over the edge of the tub to dry. He wondered how it was possible to have eaten all those cookies without remembering it. After he’d put the elf on the nightstand he’d gone straight to sleep and hadn’t woken until he heard Mom yelling. There was a kid in his class that said he used to sleepwalk, and Eddie wondered if that kid had ever sleep-eaten. He’d have to ask about it when school was back in after the holidays.
The rest of the day the Stewart family was busy. Mom dropped her boys off at the outdoor skating rink while she finished her shopping at thrift stores. When she picked them up Eddie saw she’d bought a replacement gingerbread house kit, with the cookies already made and assembled. He was glad she’d gotten one but didn’t think he’d be eating gingerbread again any time soon.
Mom placed the tiny house on the kitchen table, set out the brightly colored candies and told the boys not to eat any of the goodies until they’d finished their decorating. Eddie took one side of the roof and the back, while Danny took the other side and the front. Mom put on some Christmas music and then disappeared into her bedroom with the bags she’d brought home.
“I believe you,” Danny said, as soon as he’d heard Mom’s door close. “About the elf I mean. I
don’t like him.”
The brothers turned to look at the elf who was now sitting perched on a branch of the Christmas tree. Its face was pointed toward them like it was listening.
“I woke up in the night and it was sitting on your pillow with its back to me. It looked like it was whispering something in your ear.” Danny’s eyes were wide. “I swore it turned its head to look at me.”
Eddie thought about it for a moment. He didn’t want to add ‘scaring little brother’ to his list of recent bad behavior. “You must have been dreaming,” he said, setting out his red and green M&Ms in alternating pattern on his placemat. “I ate the cookies. You saw me throw it all up!”
Danny looked hurt, but Eddie could see he wasn’t going to argue the point. “Well what’d you do that for? Now we have to have this stale pre-made gingerbread instead of Mom’s homemade stuff, jerk.”
“I said I did it, but I don’t know why. Maybe you can make sure I don’t do it again?”
“How?” Danny said, leaning in closer.
“I don’t know. Maybe we can tie bells on the door to make sure I don’t get up?”
“I guess. How did the elf get in our room anyway?”
“Jinx brought it in. Dropped it on my bed.”
Danny shot a glance to the elf in the tree. “Let’s just make sure the little creep isn’t in our room
before we go to bed.”
They decorated in silence for a while, each brother designing his half of the house exactly as he had planned without thinking about what the other was doing. Eddie finished his side and moved on to the back. Everything had been Jinx’s fault, he thought.
The cat had belonged to Nana before she died. She’d left the house they now lived in and Jinx to Mom in her will. Dad didn’t want to live here. Said they should have sold it, so they could have the money, but Mom couldn’t part with it. Eddie was glad they stayed. He loved Nana and sometimes it felt like she was still here with them. There were times that if he sat perfectly still and made his mind go blank, he could see Nana. Other times the smell of her hairspray and rose perfume hung in the air. And a few times, when Eddie really missed her, he could hear her speak to him.
Jinx on the other hand, he could have lived without. The orange cat left hair on everything. She would hide under the couch and swipe at everyone’s ankles when they walked by. One time, Jinx scratched Danny so bad Mom had to take him to the clinic. They’d be better off if the cat just disappeared.
Then, the Christmas tree caught his eye. It seemed to be shivering. As the motion got more violent some of the ornaments started to clink together. Eddie and Danny both watched as the tree started to sway back and forth. A glass teddy bear came loose and splintered across the floor. Jinx bolted out from under the tree at the sound of the crash and started yowling from under the couch.
“What’s going on out here?” Mom yelled as she rushed out of her bedroom.
“Jinx was under the tree,” Eddie said as he walked over to the fridge to get the broom. “She
started shaking it and an ornament fell off.”
Mom shot a glance at Danny, who nodded his head in agreement. She didn’t believe me, Eddie thought. For a moment he felt rage swell up in his chest. As soon as it ebbed away, guilt washed over him. He’d never felt that mad at Mom before. It didn’t even feel like his own emotions.
Eddie cleared his throat, and said with a smile, “It’s okay, Mom. I’ll clean this up.” He wondered how many good chores he would have to do before Mom trusted him again.
“Thanks, sweetie. I’m almost done wrapping, then I’ll make dinner.” She paused for a moment looking at Eddie. He couldn’t read her face exactly, but he didn’t think it was good.
After he’d swept all the fragments of the bear into the dustpan, Eddie knelt carefully to make sure he hadn’t missed any. Looking under the tree he saw the elf. It was sitting at the base with its hands covering its mouth, like it was trying to stifle a laugh.
“Creepy elf,” Eddie muttered as he reached to pull it out. “Ouch,” he cried as his hand clamped around the elf. He pulled his hand out from under the tree still holding the doll. As he loosened his grip, he saw a small shard of glass sticking out the side of the elf. A smudge of blood was soaked into the elf’s red shirt. Eddie picked the glass out, placed the elf on the table, and went to wash his hand.
Danny came over to him at the sink. “Is it bad?”
“Just a small cut,” Eddie said turning off the faucet. The cut had stopped bleeding, but it stung.
The boys moved back to the table to examine the elf. Eddie wanted to make sure there was nothing else sharp sticking out of it. They didn’t find anything, but Eddie noticed something else disturbing. The elf’s eyes looked glassy. Not quite like real eyes, or the ones you find on stuffed animals, but more life-like than the painted ones with flecks of glitter Eddie was sure he’d seen on it before. And, the splotch of blood was gone.
After Mom had tucked her boys into bed, they waited quietly for fifteen minutes before they sat up.
“So, what do you want me to do?” Danny asked, as he tiptoed across the floor.
Eddie reached under his pillow and pulled out one of Mom’s hair scrunchies. It had red and green gauzy fabric and tiny bells that jingled. “I’m going to put this around my ankle, so if I try to get up in the night, you’ll hear it.”
“What am I supposed to do if you do get up?”
“Wake me up and tell me to go back to bed.” Eddie could see that Danny thought there would be more to his responsibilities. He went to the nightstand and pulled out a crayon and a piece of yellow construction paper. “And then write down what time it happened.” That brought a smile to his younger brother’s face.
Danny went back to his side of the room, sliding the paper and crayon under his bed. Eddie got back under his covers after sliding the scrunchy over his foot. Within half an hour he could hear his brother’s deep sleep filled breaths. Eddie, on the other hand, was trying to stay awake. He figured it’d be impossible to sleepwalk if you never fell asleep.
He reached between his mattress and box-spring and felt the handles of the scissors he’d hidden there after dinner. If the elf managed to get into their bedroom tonight, Eddie was going to cut it up.
For the next couple of hours, he concentrated on the sounds of the house. Mom had turned her Christmas music on at a low volume and was humming along as she tidied up the kitchen. He could hear the dishes clink together like swords, and before he realized what was happening, he drifted off into dreams.
Unlike the night before, where Eddie was battling a t-rex, tonight his pirate ship was approaching an island with a huge castle. As soon as the ship was secure to the dock, he and his men bounded up the grassy hill toward the spires that flew an enemy flag.
The ground turned to a rocky desolate area as they got closer to the castle. A burning smell hung in the air and Eddie noticed some charred human skeletons close to the drawbridge. Swords and shields still clung to the bony fingers.
“Hold your ground men,” Eddie yelled out. “Let the beast come to us. Then the treasure will be ours!” The men cheered and lined abreast in front of Eddie, swords and muskets drawn and at the ready.
There was a rumbling through the ground, and then two huge paws, bright as the flames of hell reached up from the chasm that divided the land from the castle. As the creature hauled its body up, the men gasped in horror. It was no ordinary dragon. Twice the size of a polar bear, to Eddie it looked more like the Greek Sphinx, but with the head of a golden dragon and wings like a bat that were orange instead of black.
“Steady men,” he yelled. “Do not fire until my command.” He took deep gulps of air to steady his nerves as the beast approached. Once he could see himself reflected in the huge green eyes, he screamed, “Now!”
The men did as commanded and the battle raged on. First the men attacked the creature’s wings, so it wouldn’t be able to retreat. It yowled in pain as it was bombarded by gunfire and slashed by swords. Blood rained down upon Eddie and his men. He could taste it on his lips.
Eddie moved forward and ran his sword across the beast’s neck emptying buckets of blood on him and the ground. The rocks became slick and he had to use all his might to prevent himself from falling.
The ground shook with a thunderous clap as the beast fell down dead. “Impale the creature, so that all that come across this place will know we are not to be trifled with,” Eddie yelled. Without hesitation, the men retreated to the edge of a forest, cut down a monstrous pine tree, and hauled it back to the slain creature. They shoved the tree into the beast’s back side and forced it through the innards. When Eddie could see the branches starting to protrude through the gash in the creature’s neck, he told the men to stop.
With ropes tied around the golden dragon head, the men heaved until the tree stood upright. Eddie instructed them to prop the wings open with branches from the forest, and to tie the beast’s legs to the tree it was impaled on so that they splayed out as far as they would go.
Finally, Eddie was satisfied with the men’s efforts and stood beside them admiring their work. The beast looked like a giant star on top of a Christmas tree, its green eyes still open and wide with hate. Eddie licked the last of the blood from his lips and lead the men forward to the castle.
Mom’s scream woke both Eddie and Danny. They went running to see what had happened and saw her standing in front of the Christmas tree, her hands covering her mouth. “Don’t come in here,” she cried. “Back to bed. Now!”
The boys retreated as quickly as they could, but not before they saw the horror that had made Mom scream. On top of the tree, Jinx was impaled. Her orange fur was drenched in blood and her little paws spread out like a star.
Danny slammed the bedroom door closed behind them. It wasn’t until then that they noticed the jingly hair scrunchie was around Danny’s ankle instead of Eddie’s. “How could you?” Danny screamed. “I know you didn’t like Jinx, but that was the worst thing ever.”
“But I didn’t!” Eddie had been sleeping. He remembered waking up from a strange dream about
a dragon. “I was here the whole time. I was sleeping, same as you.”
“Then why’d you put the bells on me?”
“I didn’t. I swear.”
“You liar,” Danny bellowed as he charged at his brother, smacking and punching as fast as he could. Eddie tried to cover his face but didn’t fight back. He turned so that Danny was at his back, and that’s when he saw it.
He swung around in a flash, knocking Danny to the floor. “Look,” Eddie said, pointing to the
Danny was about to charge again when he saw what Eddie was pointing at. The elf. It was sitting
in the middle of the nightstand, hands drenched in blood. Pine needles stuck in its hat.
“But, how?” Danny asked, standing next to his brother.
“I don’t know, but we have to get rid of it.”
They stood staring at the elf, both knowing they had to grab it and chuck it somewhere, but neither one wanting to move. Eddie thought about having to hold the doll while he cut it up with the scissors and shuddered at the thought. He came up with a better, more permanent plan.
“Go get the garbage bin from the bathroom,” Eddie said. “We’ll toss it in there and then set it on fire.” Danny was frozen on the spot. “Fine, stay here and I’ll get it.”
Rushing down the hall, Eddie got the metal bin, then dashed into Mom’s room to get a book of matches she kept for lighting candles. Fumbling through the drawer in the dark, Eddie heard a horrible choking sound from down the hall just as his fingers clasped around the matchbook. Glass broke and then there were thumps from the wall between the two bedrooms.
Eddie ran back to his bedroom and screamed at the sight. A thing that looked like the elf, but six feet tall had its white-cartoon hands wrapped around Mom’s neck. It was choking her and slamming the back of her head into the wall by Danny’s bed. There was a gash on the top of Mom’s head, blood trickling down through her hair and around her huge bulging eyes. The elf turned its head to look at Eddie with a hideous grin. “I’ll get to you in a minute, you little shit.”
A scream imploded in Eddie’s throat. He would have recognized that voice anywhere. Dad.
“Danny, get out of here,” Eddie yelled, scanning the room for his brother.
“He’s just fine,” Dad said with an evil chuckle and nodded his head toward the toppled nightstand. Eddie leapt to the spot, desperate to get his brother out. But all that was on the floor was the small elf doll. Something was different about it though. Its eyes. They were Danny’s.
Rage filled Eddie, and this time it was every bit his own. He reached under his mattress and pulled out the scissors. He flew across the room and plunged them into Dad’s back. His hand withdrew, and he stabbed again and again.
Red flowed down Dad’s back, soaking into the candy cane striped pants until all the white was gone. Eddie’s hands were slick from the warm blood, but he never let go of the scissors.
Dad dropped Mom as he swung around to punch Eddie. She hit the floor hard, gasping and wheezing. Eddie managed to jump back from the fist. The evil Dad-Elf faced Eddie. “It was supposed to be you,” Dad sneered through the plastic face with lips that didn’t move. His knees buckled as he tried to rush at Eddie. “All I wanted to do was frame you to get your punk-ass thrown in jail. Then you’d know how it felt.”
Using his white-cartoon hands, Dad tried to pull himself across the floor. Eddie stepped back as Dad approached. The plastic elf head started melting like candle wax, dripping and splattering as it landed in the pool of blood around Dad.
“But you couldn’t even do that right,” Dad snarled as his true face was revealed. It was black and blue from bruises around his eyes which were partially swollen. His upper lip and part of his nose were gone completely, showing his horrible yellow teeth. “Now Danny will go to jail, and it will be all your fault.”
The doll, dear. Get the doll, a voice whispered in Eddie’s mind. It was Nana.
Eddie bolted past Dad, jamming the scissors into Dad’s neck. Dad growled and collapsed, but not before tripping Eddie first.
Scrambling on all fours, Eddie reached behind the toppled nightstand and grabbed the elf doll. “Now what?” he mumbled, hoping Nana would still be there to guide him.
They need to touch.
As Dad was still trying to pull the scissors out of his neck, Eddie spun around and flung the elf. When the doll hit Dad square between the eyes, he screamed and then disappeared. Danny now lay on the floor where Dad had been, but completely unharmed. The elf landed halfway between Danny and Mom.
Eddie helped Danny up and they walked to sit beside Mom, who was now on Danny’s bed. “Are you okay?” Eddie asked Mom as he ran his hand over her swollen, bruised cheek.
“You saved me,” she said, and pulled both boys into her arms.
Eddie could feel her tears land on the top of his head. “It’s not done yet,” he said and stood up. “We have to burn it.” They all glared at the doll. “Stay here, and don’t touch it.”
Walking as far around the elf as he could, Eddie left the room and went to the front hall closet. Nana’s folding claw gripper was on the top shelf, right where she’d always left it. “Thanks, Nana,” Eddie said softly. He could smell her rose perfume for a moment, and then it was gone.
When he got back to the room, he used the claw to pick up the elf and drop it in the trash bin. The head of the elf was now Dad’s hideous face, frozen in plastic. Then Eddie used the claw to pick the bin up and started to walk outside. Mom and Danny followed, Mom stooping to pick up the match book on the way.
The three of them huddled close together in their pajamas on the snowy front yard. Mom lit a match and used it to set the whole book on fire before she tossed it into the trash bin. Black smoke rose into the moonlit sky. “You’ll never hurt us again.”
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan