The phenomenon called "Elf On A Shelf", was not an actual tradition, or a proper adoption into a family. It was a job, of a sort that mostly served to beef up the attempt to get little kids to behave at Christmas. The program only started back in 2004/2005. And it was not a job for just any elf.
Those applying had to have been fine with minimal contact from others or else just blissfully ignorant of what they were letting themselves in for.
Even Santa himself had not been made aware of the specifics when somebody pitched the idea to him. So he thought it would be a nice fit for some of the elves who were not so fond of toy-making. It might also lighten the load a bit for the fairies on his staff, who sometimes scouted out various parts of the world throughout the year for who was naughty or nice.
If Santa had known what all the rules were for this job, and that some of the elves would turn out much worse than any naughty kid could be, he might never have consented to give the program a try.
For years, elves who enrolled, would leave as early as the start of Advent, or even Black Friday, but would not return to Santa until years later if at all. Of those who returned, many were emotionally and psychologically scarred for life. No elf in their right mind would actually want to repeat the Shelf experience.
The so-called "adoption" racket was a sad joke. Adoptions are meant as providing a family for an orphan child or one whose parents had to give him or her up. Adoptees are family members, not snitches and spies for an outside entity. The Shelf called it adoption, but it was volunteer work that soon turned into something more like serfdom.
Elves who escaped after Christmas, would try to lose association and connection with their host families, by not going back to Santa's. But somehow, shelf magic zapped many of them right back to that same home year after year for shelf duty until the children had grown too old to want to play the "game" any more.
Of the few elves who did make it back to Santa's, they would plan to make themselves scarce when the next Advent rolled around so they wouldn't be called on again for shelf duty anywhere.
But rumors of the punishing shelf rules and conditions swept through the elf community.
The brief time of playing spy every night to report in on the children the elves were supposed to watch, didn't make the rest of their time any easier or worth it. All those hours, days, eventually turning into months of playing statue and being ignored except when treated as some sort of blackmail tool, would eventually result in the elves being shut away and forgotten after Christmas was over, only to be called back the next year. Not to mention the indignity of being given so-called Christmas magic, by way of names they didn't like. Sure, some elves didn't care what they were called, and didn't mind these new code names. But others secretly disliked being referred to as some silly name the children came up with.
To top it all off, the reason these limitations and rules could be imposed on the elves was that to their horror, the shelf magic literally turned them from Christmas elves into toy Christmas elves. This made it much easier to pull off the immobility around children to a great extent, but it was otherwise, utterly horrifying. To start with, the magic shrank them down to the size of rats and squirrels, if that. It did nothing to ease their boredom and loneliness. At least when they were making toys, they were doing something productive, and had other elves to talk to. Cold and hunger set in. Shelf elves couldn't just raid the fridge or the cupboard any time they pleased because of the restrictions forbidding them to be seen moving about the house. They had to wait until everyone was out of the house, and rely on Santa for one hearty meal each night they went out to report in.
Being on the shelf, as it was called, was such a desperately lonely, mind-numbing job that a few of those elves participated in some naughty activities with the adults when they were out of sight of the children. It was the best they could hope to get out of the deal, the job of shelf elf didn't even come with a payment or pension plan.
Many elves found themselves further humiliated when adults put them into utterly ridiculous, creepy, or otherwise over-the-top poses, took pictures, then spread them all over social media, turning the elves into ridiculous and annoying memes! Shelf magic kept all elves immobile when the parents or other family members put them in silly situations, so they couldn't even get out until the host decided it was time to move.
This created an understandable backlash, as all memes deserve. Articles started turning up on the net with titles like:
Mom Who Hates Elf On The Shelf
Elf On-The Shelf Is The Stupidest tThing Ever
Why The Traditional Use Of The Elf On The Shelf Sucks
Down With Elf On A Shelf
The Shelf was initially meant to keep children in line, but it ended up being a type of cruel and unusual sort of punishment for elves too.
Oddly enough, it was the circulation of the rumors that ensured there would always be some elves who enlisted in the program, either through curiosity, ignorance, or just foolish daring. Then, there really were a few elves who were already secretly deranged enough to go for it since they were thoroughly bored with toy-making and seemed not to care much for their fellow elves, or Santa either. This shelf business seemed the perfect fit for them, since they had their own plans that didn't include Santa or his mission to bring Christmas cheer to the world. They were the creepy pasta elves.
In the cases of these particular elves, the shelf magic had worked improperly, so they had not quite completed the transition from elf to toy. So there was still enough elf in them to get up to the things they did while in the homes of the children they were assigned to.
Zippy was one of these. He was an elf with piercing blue eyes, dressed in a red suit.
Zippy had planned to toy with some poor, easily frightened little kid, but had a change of plan when he arrived at the home of Carson and James. Carson, the bubbly five-year-old was the sort of child Zippy could eventually really mess with, but that was too easy. Twelve-year-old James, being a scoffer, presented more of a challenge, which made the prospect all the more exciting for Zippy. The disagreements James had with his mother over Zippy, amused the elf greatly, but he had hoped to really mess up James by Christmas time if not just before. And he succeeded. He was so good at causing chaos and playing psych-out head-games that James was hospitalized over Christmas.
Chet, another elf in a red suit, got stuck with Annie, a bubbly little child who could be easy to head-game, but he sensed early on that there was an undercurrent of friction between the parents, who were secretly scoffers. So he planned to mess them up and perhaps manage to hurt the little girl if he got the chance. And, he did.
Killer was another Elf On A Shelf, who apparently was not named by anyone in the creepy family he went to. It had been the mother's idea that he should be a murderer, but it backfired when he ended up killing her, to the delight of the equally sick-minded child whom Killer was supposed to be watching. Whatever name he originally had back at Santa's is not known, but he earned his new name, "Killer".
Granny's Elf, was called an elf on a shelf, but was under house-arrest long after the first Christmas at the nightmare household of six-year-old Neil, his eight-year-old brother, whose name was not stated, and their utterly evil granny, the cause of all their problems. Granny's Elf had been turned to wood, rather than what Elf On The Shelf toys usually are, and he was so susceptible to her wicked magic that all she had to do was think something, transmit that thought to and through him, and the psychological terror and physical abuse she doled out to her hapless grandchildren did the rest. Not everyone survived her reign of terror.
Bethany's Elf was not on shelf duty. He just disappeared from Santa's one year and never reported back. If he said his name to Bethany or anyone in her family, it was not stated in the story related by Bethany's aunt, who also did not give her name. So this elf would be referred to as "Bethany's Elf" whether he liked it or not.
He terrorized and harmed Bethany by charging at and biting her whenever she tried to leave her bed at night. He would sit and watch her sleep, and remain staring at her if she awoke during the night. The injuries he inflicted were bad enough to leave scratches and cuts, but how Bethany's family didn't hear her cry out as she must've done during these attacks is a mystery.
Eventually, Bethany's Elf succeeded in killing her, and what he was seen doing to her afterword is too gross to mention in this opener. That he was at first, small enough to sit on a doll house, then was later described as tall, meant he could shape-shift. Instead of normal coloured eyes, his were described as empty glass, then as white. His teeth were also unusual for an elf, they were long and thin, but not pointed.
Zippy, Chet, and Bethany's Elf all teleported themselves out of trouble when they felt it necessary.
The wicked elves gave no thought to the idea that their worse than naughty deeds could get them in trouble. After all, they only reported on the behaviour of the children, not their own. Or, if they chose not to report in at all, what was that to Santa? He would never know.
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