A Nosy Elf on the Shelf

You are an Elf on the Shelf and you’ve been picked up by a famous celebrity to roam around his or her house at Christmas time. But what the celebrity doesn’t know is that you’ve been hired by The National Enquirer gossip magazine to find dirt on that celeb. You are a week in and you report back to the editor at the magazine about what you’ve learned.

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124 thoughts on “A Nosy Elf on the Shelf

  1. cosivantutte

    “Jarvis. I’m in the middle of a low blood sugar moment. So, I’ll make this sweet and short. Where’s Rick?”

    “I’m sorry, Mr. Downey, but Rick left to go raise alpacas in Afghanistan.”

    “Alpacas. In Afghanistan.” Robert Downey Jr. rubbed his hands up and down his face. “I wish I were under something’s influence right now, because then your sentence would make so much sense.” He lowered his hands.

    Jarvis fidgeted. “He told me that you are five biscottis and one cannoli away from being a dictator and he will not serve you anymore. He will be his own master and you will have to run your own errands.”

    “See, there’s this big, fundamental problem with his plan. Problem being that Rick is an incompetent idiot. I tell him to get me a box of cranberry biscotti without nuts. What does he do? Gets me a box of Cranberry Bliss Bars from flippin’, freakin’ Starbucks! The man doesn’t know the difference between Cranberry Bliss Bars and cranberry biscotti. How in the flaming heck is he going to raise alpacas?”

    “I’m sorry, Mr. Downey, but I just don’t know.”

    “Of course, you don’t. Out!”

    Jarvis fled the den.

    A bad case of the jitters came over Robert. It traveled down his arms to his fingertips. His heart raced. His legs twitched with the need to run run run. He wanted to bash his fists on the desk. He wanted to smash his head on the desk. He wanted to break, to bend, to hurt. He wanted it to stop.

    He elbow-propped on the desk and buried his face in his hands. “It will pass. I wish I could…It will pass. Just a little something. It will pass. To calm down. It will pass. No one will know. It will pass.”

    His body took an eternity of minutes to calm down.

    “Is this worth it?” Robert thought about all of his failed rehabs, his many arrests, his broken relationships, his lost opportunities. He uncovered his face. “Yeah. It’s worth every bit of it.”

    He glanced at the Iron Man script that Quentin Tarantino had written just for him. Quentin had drawn Iron Man and Catwoman on the cover. They stood on opposite sides of the paper, pointing steampunk guns at each other. Blood splotched their skimpy costumes and bared skin. But they both looked very happy. Way too happy. “This should be good in every possible wrong way.” He pulled the thick stack of papers closer, exposing a small figure in a trenchcoat hiding on the other side. “Hello. What’s this?”

    As soon as the figure discovered that he had been discovered, he went into full panic mode. He ran in frantic circles until he ran smack into the script and somehow got stuck.

    Robert plucked him out of the papers, which caused the intruder to turn into a full sized man. “Well. Aren’t you an ugly little squid.”

    “You idiot!” He stomped Robert’s foot. “You weren’t supposed to see me, much less touch me. I was invisible!”

    “Uhhh, no. No, you weren’t.”

    “What? How can this be? The editor said her spell would make me elf-sized and invisible. I was going to be her elf on the shelf, darn it! I would give her the exclusive inside scoop on your life and she would guarantee that my precious script would be read. It would be green-lit into a top-rated tv show and I would be rich and famous and beautiful!”

    “You know, I don’t like being the voice of naysaying and negativity. It’s not my gig. But no. No amount of plastic surgery could make an ugly kisser like you beautiful.”

    “Stop calling me ugly. I’ll have you know that I have a regular fan club where I come from. Women throw themselves at me.”

    “Okay. So, I guess that makes you either delusional or an alien or both.”

    “Oh, yeah? You think you’re all that?”

    Robert smirked. “I know I’m all that and a Prada gift bag.”

    “Well, you aren’t. You’re a crummy pig farmer!”

    “Huh. That’s a different insult. So, what? Now that I’ve discovered you, what? You gonna go back to her and—”

    He grabbed his hair. “I can’t go back there. If I do, she’ll pulverize me. She’ll grind me into mincemeat. She’ll turn me into something hideous and unnatural!”

    “I doubt that she could turn you into anything uglier than yourself.”

    “Should I send in a resignation note? But she’ll want to see me in person to discuss why I’m resigning. But if I do that…DOOM! will descend on my head.”

    “What a tragedy that would be. So, how about I give you a better job?”

    He released his hair. “Better?”

    “Oh, much better. See, it’s like this. My personal assistant had urgent business to attend to in Afghanistan and I doubt that he’ll be coming back. Okay, but my life is so crazy I need a personal assistant to run little ditty errands for me.”

    “But my editor—I can’t just run out on her.”

    “Psh! Don’t worry about her. I’ll personally call her and sweet talk her into releasing you.”

    “But—”

    “And if you come work for me, I will make sure that your script will wind up on—oh, let’s say Aaron Sorkin’s desk.”

    He drooled.

    “Keep in mind that I am not like your editor. I am Robert Downey Jr. I have connections. I have pull.” Robert smiled. “So? What do you say?”

    “Yes! Oh, yes!”

    “Oh. I’ll need to know who’s your editor and who the flowery heck are you.”

    “Well. My editor never gave me her name. All I know is she is the chief editor for The Daily Snoopers. As for me, my name is Edwin Malarkey and I would be honored to be your personal assistant.”

    “Lovely.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I liked the two-way between the MC and the small trenchcoat. The comversation is good but just a touch formal. Take a sentence like: “I doubt that she could turn you into anything uglier then yourself.” Try it this way. “You’re at the end of ugly, don’t worry about it.” I liked the story line and the proof that Robert Downey Jr. is a pompous ass. Keep it up cosivantutte, it’s very entertaining.

        1. cosivantutte

          Thanks, Kerry, for your advice! I will admit there are a couple of lines (including the one you pointed out) in this one that make my internal editor itchy with the need to fix and rephrase.

          I’m glad that you liked it otherwise. 🙂

    1. snuzcook

      And so it begins. I love this introduction to pre-bootlick Edwin. Your style is so entertaining and invites the reader to just to go along with every word and share the joke. Another fabulous piece, Cosi!

      1. cosivantutte

        Thank you for your kind words!

        As soon as I read the prompt, I knew that I wanted to write a RDJ and Edwin story. It just took me a bit to figure out why Edwin would be an elf on the shelf. I was tempted to make him a literal elf, which would explain his affinity for sorceresses, but I thought it would be simplest if I kept him human. 😀

  2. Hiba Gardezi

    I didn’t expect to be able to post this week either since my exams were still going on ,but after the unfortunate killing of those children in Peshawar most of the schools in Pakistan closed early. 
    Sad, I know. Atleast I get to post this week… please comment and criticize.
    Man! I SO need a pay raise…
    I clean my nails as I watch a superstars five year old kid going around the house singing in fairy wings and tryna be mommy.
    Boring…
    ‘Yo kid, you mind getting me one o those Pina Coladas I saw your butler bring in this morning for Christmas. Could really use sommin to soften up my tongue.’
    The girl gasps and prances towards the fireplace where my butt has been aching for two days.
    ‘You can talk?’
    ‘No kid, no. I can’t talk…I’m a frickin’ gift wrappin’ elf who doesn’t need a tongue. Of course I can talk! Kid…I got the biggest mouth in the whole frickin’ universe!
    ‘Frickin’ ?’
    ‘Now kid, don’t you tell that to mommy, okay?’
    ‘Who are you?’
    ‘A spy, kid’
    ‘Not a very good one’
    ‘What? Lemme tell you this kid, I’m the sassiest spy in the world!’
    ‘If you were a good spy you wouldn’t tell me ’
    ‘Tell you what?
    She slams her hand against her face she says the words slowly like I’m a little kid ‘that you are a spy’
    ‘This kid is a genius… wait a minute, kid’
    She stops, a cookie halfway into her mouth
    ‘Could you spy on mommy for me?’
    ‘Why?’ and I can tell from her face what she is thinking
    Oh God…you want me to bribe you?
    She nods her head, smiling mischievously.
    ‘Say it’
    I want to lick you.
    ‘What? I’m sorry kid I know I’m awesome but…no’
    ‘I want to lick you’ she says more sternly
    ‘Why?’
    ‘I always did. I always wondered how an elf tastes but mommy never let me…she hits me whenever I get close.’
    Oooh I think to myself.
    ‘You can lick me’ I say
    ‘Really ?’
    ‘Yeah’ I tell her just as her mom enters the house and looks in through the door
    She picks me up and spreads her tongue all over my new coat , her spit making my vision blurry…Eww.
    ‘Jessica!’ The girl turns. Finally! ‘How many times have I told you not to lick the decorations’ the celebrity pulls her five year by the hair and spanks her
    Haha ! good for me … I pull out my camera and get some photos
    ‘Wait a minute…’ the woman says losing interest in torturing her daughter ‘ did that elf just take pictures of us? Did that elf just move?’
    ‘Uhhh …hahah…’I laugh nervously picking up my camera and showing it to her ‘ Want a selfie with Elfie?’

    1. cosivantutte

      There were a lot of good lines in this one. I especially loved -> “I’m the sassiest spy in the world!” and “I want to lick you’ she says more sternly.” Also, great characterization. I love the elf’s attitude. 😀

      On the flip side, I noticed a couple of spots where you forgot to put in the quotation marks. But that was the only thing that made my internal editor frown. Great job!

    2. snuzcook

      The interaction between the sarcastic spy and the precocious child is precious. And the request to lick him caught me by complete surprise, but very visual and funny. Clever last line, Hiba!

  3. Critique

    Ahem… this is from last week so there is no obligation to comment 😉
    ********************************************************
    Blitzen found the situation intolerable. And it had little to do with Donnor’s digestive issues – the cacophony of sounds and noxious fumes that perforated the air from the far stall where he sulked, shunned by all of the other reindeer.

    By the looks of the motley herd sequestered for endurance training, Santa could use his help choosing who would guide the sleigh of precious cargo through the skies that night. As the oldest on the team, Blitzen felt he was up for the task. He’d taken mental notes of how the reindeer did in their exercises and tucked it away in his photographic memory.

    Looking out over the stalls, Blitzen shuddered. Would the sleigh even get off the ground?

    Its a wonder Dasher, the narcissistic fool, didn’t put his neck out the way he tossed his impressive antlers and preened in the dingy barn windows.

    Dancer tirelessly practised pirouetting – her dressage was flawless – on her back hooves. On and on she would clomp and twirl. Thump. Thumpity thump. She expected perfection and regarded the rest of them as riffraff. Blitzen chafed at her attitude.

    Prancer liked to play annoying pranks and they’d all worn the stigma of sucker at one time or another.

    Vixen had a crush on Dasher. She vexed the rest of them by asking ad nauseum: “Is my rump too wide?” or “Does this collar make me look fat? Tell me the truth – it’s okay.”

    No one knew knew what Comet was thinking because he didn’t talk. He grunted. He spent his time filling scribblers with his writings. Blitzen was convinced there was too much yardage between the antlers.

    Cupid lay sprawled in a haystack, nose buried in another romance novel, oblivious to the world. Twitterpated to say the least thus unreliable in a crisis.

    Then there was Rudolph. That red-nosed know-it-all had set everyone off right from the get-go the way he espoused all that encyclopedia knowledge. Blitzen suspected he was the smartest of the bunch. To hide their collective shortcomings they called Rudolph names and excluded him from reindeer games. Games like: who could stand on their hind legs the longest – Dancer easily won that one; who could burp up the most cud in the shortest time; or who could blow snot the furthest.

    Rudolph stood apart in the shadows watching them laugh and play.
    Blitzen glimpsed tears dripping off his glowing nose and his angst grew. Donnor and Rudolph were both on the outs. Teamwork was essential for a successful sleigh run.

    It was time to see the master.

    When Santa looked up from the din of the workshop and saw Blitzen standing in the door, he waved him into his office with a merry smile and shut the door.

    “Blitzen.” Santa’s eyes twinkled as he patted Blitzen’s neck. “Its almost time. Think we’re ready?”

    “That’s why I came.” Blitzen cleared his throat. “There’s trouble in the stable. You see Rudolph and…”

    Santa held up a hand and interrupted. “I know and I need to tell you a story.”

    Blitzen wasted no time getting back and assembling the others. They stood at attention as Santa entered the barn.

    When Blitzen explained the special gift of radar Rudolph was born with and carried in his glowing nose, respect and admiration grew in the eyes of the others.

    Santa stepped forward, placed a fatherly hand on Rudolph’s shoulder and said: “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

    Blitzen broke the silence by shouting out with glee and stamping his right front hoof in agreement. Quickly the other reindeer followed and a din of happy noise rang in the air.

    Comet came forward shyly and handed Blitzen some lyrics he had quickly penned. They all began singing as one. A true team.

    “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer you’ll go down in history.”

    1. Critique

      Its always great fun to read the imaginative stories here that the prompts spawn. When life slows down I hope to respond to more of them. I want to wish all of you wonderful writers a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2015

      1. Kerry Charlton

        And of course, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas……………….. I also wondered what a famous team of reindeer did in their spare time, now I know, a social whirl, much like ny office staff. But when it came to push and shove, teameffort appeared. A heartfelt tale for Christmas and well done, critique. “Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas…..”

    2. snuzcook

      A very cute retelling of the backstory for Rudolph coming into his own, Critique. I love the little personal details that really put personalities on the reindeer, and the fatherly depiction of Santa here is comforting. Happy Holidays to you, too!

  4. snuzcook

    ELVES BEARING GIFTS

    “Why do you have this piece of porqueria in your house, hermano?”

    “Leave it alone. She gave it to me.”

    “I swear, I’ve never seen a man so nostalgico.”

    “Don’t you mean sentimental?”

    The other man grunted. History would call his brother many things, but sentimental was not likely to be one of them. He turned away from the little Elf on the Shelf figurine that sat hugging its bent knees in a corner of the stone mantle. He did not see its little eyes flash. He only saw it as a piece of 1950s kitsch out of place in the home of the once-great anti-Capitalist Liberator.

    It looked like the great man was soon to be again the hero of the people.

    “She could have been my Evita, Raul. She could have been my Golden Queen. She didn’t have to die.” The man moaned, absently fondling his gray beard.

    “Don’t start that again.”

    “It’s all that was missing, Raul. With her by my side, Jack and his cronies in Washington would have respected me. My people would not have tired of the revolution. I would have founded a dynasty.”

    Raul was no longer listening. He had heard all this before. His brother was a passionate and intelligent man, a true hero of the Revolution. But between his medications and his ‘confusion’ and the thimble-full of fortified tequila he was allowed these days after half his colon was removed, Fidel lived a good deal of the time in the past. A fragrance, a color, a play of light could transport him back to those glory days when Marilyn Monroe stole his heart.

    Much of the time Fidel didn’t remember that Raul himself was now President. And Raul had little need to remind him. For years he had made the government function by working around his brother and not bringing any but the most public policy issues to his attention. Why burden him with reality?
    Now he, Raul, was in a position to act as comadrona to the new, peaceful liberation for their island nation.

    Liberation had worn different faces over time. It had been the lean, angry face of the oppressed clawing out from under Batista. Then it had been the chalky, bloated face of that Russian bear, Kruschev, promising military might. This time it presented itself in the mestizo face of an American president who promised to throw open the barricades that had stood for fifty years. Well, America had come round now to a more socialist mind set. The Russians and the Chinese were all embracing capitalism. It was different world. It was time for change, time to find a new footing within the shifting balances of power.

    If only he could keep Fidel on the shelf, the ornamental hero, while he, Raul, made the necessary negotiations. The American media seemed to be determined to resurrect Fidel as the leader of Cuba. Well, the old man could kiss the babies and trot out his iconic beard for the cameras. Raul preferred the closed door meetings to media spotlight anyway.

    Maybe it would be good to seek out another bombshell to keep Fidel occupied. One of those blonde movie stars to make him feel young and keep his ego turned toward the West for validation. This time he would have to vet her much more thoroughly. There would be no unsavory love triangle to turn negotiations between nations into the posturing of young bulls. History defined the Bay of Pigs in April 1962 differently, but Raul and Fidel knew the truth of it. Two strong men wanting the same woman. And she was dead only four months later.

    After Raul left, the old man stood at the window for several minutes. The tiny black eyes of the Elf whirred and blinked, taking it all in. Fidel watched a flatbed truck heavily laden with bound Christmas trees on the way to the local shopping center sputtering down the road.

    “Nothing stays the same,” he said aloud. He was speaking as he often did in these moments of privacy as he always had to the one who had listened with such rapt attention all those years ago. He shared his observations as if she were sitting there on the chair in the corner, her feet tucked up beside her, her eyes on him, her body drawn to him as he paced like a compass to its magnet.

    It was he himself who had removed the ban on Christmas celebrations twenty years ago, he reminded her–a small gesture, a benevolent gift to his people. The old peasant celebrations never really reappeared. The pagan and Christian enslavement of the people in dogmatic efforts to please an invisible God no longer filled their lives with empty promises and impotent icons had been broken permanently. The trees were harmless commercial opportunities. His people loved him for it.

    He paced. He gestured. He was eloquent. And the tiny cameras inside the Elf on the Shelf recorded all of it.

    ******

    In Wisconsin, another man with a beard stood looking out the window onto a very different scene of snow piled high into drifts and bare trees lining the college quad.

    “Were you able to download all of it?”

    The young woman at the coffee table behind him swiping and tapping furiously on her tablet nodded. “Got it. It’s a miracle that old transmitter is still functioning. Bigger miracle we stumbled across the signal. Do you suppose the CIA or whoever is still monitoring it?”

    “Who knows. Who cares.” The man began to pace excited.y. “We couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present to save us. Once we link this video to the paper’s online pages, follow it up with blogs as we download more images and tie it in to the mainstream press coverage, we’ll have readership up the gazoo.”

    “And that means sponsors, and that means we keep our jobs.”

    “Hey, it’s a brave new world. No more ink and paper; we’re living in the fast and furious virtuality now. This is going to be bigger than a little cheese head college rag.” He raised his half empty coffee mug. “No more kowtowing to department politics and eyedropper funding. We’ll be writing our own contracts from now on. Hell, we’ll own this department!”

    The young woman looked up from her screen. A frown chased across her forehead as she was struck by the reiteration of the onscreen images in the man in front of her. Shaking her head slightly, she turned back to the screen. “It’s like my mother always said, be careful what you wish for.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Well snuz, I loved your story, every word of it, Fidel and Marilyn. You know how I love Marilyn. I consider her the most tragic, beautiful woman that ever existed. An icon that will never die. So much beauty and intelligence in one lovely body. You have to watch ‘Some Like It Hot’ only once to realize what a comedic, fine actress she was.

    2. Reaper

      Very timely and so well written. I felt myself drawn in and carried away. You took an old enemy and made them a very understandable, lovable friend. That turn from tradition, the introspection, the message, the story and your choice of characters all of it was amazing.

  5. rle

    Finally my week was up. It was high time to shag ass back to the offices of Celebrity Weekly and report to my editor, Farley Foster, on what I’d witnessed over the past seven days. I hadn’t been overly thrilled with the assignment, but had managed to gather enough juicy goods to fill that POS magazine for the next year. I had really hoped for a week with Robert Downey Jr. or Vice President Edwin Malarkey, but I seldom got to choose where I went. This week though, I’d hit the friggin jackpot.

    Right now, my biggest problem was, how in the hell did I get out of here? Last night would have been an opportune time to have gotten out. I was on floor level next to a stack of sheet music. One mad dash through the dining room and into the kitchen and I would have been out that doggie door in a flash. But Farley wanted me in one more night. I did’t object, after all, I thought if I got lucky someone might put me in the bathroom where I’d once again get to watch little Miss Hottie undress and bathe. Three nights ago, I’d been placed on top of the medicine cabinet with a birds-eye view of her luxurious whirlpool tub, and let me tell you, what I saw left nothing to the imagination.

    Tonight though, I wasn’t that lucky. Tonight, I sat high on the mantle, sandwiched between a platinum replica of a vinyl record and a CMA for female vocalist of the year. Granted, it was only six feet to the floor, but when you’re only six inches tall, six feet might as well be sixty. I carefully considered my options which didn’t take long. Since I couldn’t fly, there was only one-jump.

    I surveyed the floor below me and spotted a green rug in front of the fireplace. Though not as soft and inviting as I would have liked, if I landed just right, I might actually survive. Foster was going to have to cough up some extra for this.

    On impact, I realized I had an even bigger problem, one I hadn’t remembered until mid-plummet, It was a Pug named Igor.

    1. rle

      Continued from above….

      Igor had been terrorizing me all week. Lucky for me, he was as gentle as a lamb, but every time I was somewhere within reach, He’d make his way over and treat me to a dose of slobber and dog breath.

      Just as I stood and brushed myself off, Igor lazily hopped from the couch and headed my way. I didn’t have time for this now. All I wanted to do was get out of here and back to the office. Next week was Christmas and I planned on being in the Bahamas , sipping on tiny margaritias and watching as much T and A as I could stand.

      Igor stopped just short of the rug and tilted his head to the left. I held out my hand, “Easy boy, good boy,” I said as I turned to ease away. Just as I took my first step, I felt warm breath on the back of my neck as Igor gently clasped his teeth around my little red velvet coat and lifted me into the air. “Put me down you mangy fleabag!” I wailed.

      Up the stairs we went and down a long hallway. At the end of the hall, Igor made a hard right turn and entered Miss Hottie’s bedroom with a playful half bark that nearly deafened me. Once inside, the clumsy dog clawed his way onto the bed. When he finally stopped I was mere inches from her face. She smiled(at the dog, not me)”What did you bring mommy?” she said as she patted his head. This time, Igor let out a full bark, dropping me dead center at the base of her throat. She partially sat up. I couldn’t find anything to grab a hold of. I slowly slid down her chest and beneath her nightgown. As I slowly slid farther down, I wondered if this was what every man saw on his way to Heaven. When I finally stopped, I was wedged in a warm crevice with an ample bare breast on each side of me. If this was a dream, I never wanted to wake up. As I lay there and let the warmth of her skin surround me, I thought, to hell with Farley Foster, to hell with my expose’ , to hell with the Bahamas. I was staying right here…forever.

      PS I think my computer has been possessed by Satan…er…I mean Santa. Sorry this post is broken into two pieces. Merry Christmas all!

      1. snuzcook

        A cute and clever story, rle. Even the roughest wise-cracking exposee reporter knows when the basic pleasures of life have to come before career. Well written, entertaining!

  6. Trevor

    Please tell me what you think. Be completely honest!

    Boy Crazy

    “OK, Jingle. Lay it on me. Did you find anything juicy about Miss Swift?” Keith Lanister asked as I walked into his office. Keith was a journalist at the National Inquirer, and I was his intern.

    You see, I guess you could say I have a secret life. By day, I’m just another one of Santa’s little helpers. But by night, I’m working as an undercover agent for the National Inquirer. Whenever Keith gives me a new assignment, he sends me to the target’s residence as a Christmas gift from a fan. Once I’m in the house, I take reconnaissance photos and record videos of any gossip-worthy activities. I’ve been an Elf on the Shelf to many of the most popular singers: Katy Perry, Beyonce, even Miley Cyrus. I’ve seen some pretty freaky stuff before, but nothing compared to the things I’d witnessed in the house of my latest target: Taylor Swift.

    “You are not going to believe what I found. This girl is crazier than we thought!” I reported to Keith as I sat down in the chair in front of his desk. I handed him the bag of cameras that I had planted around Taylor’s house. We watched the shocking footage together.

    The camera showed a view of Taylor’s bedroom. She was sitting on her bed, a box full of pictures in her lap. Her face was twisted into an expression of pure hatred. She pulled a picture from the box, pulled out a pair of scissors, and started to hack the photo up into shreds.

    “Who is that a picture of?” Keith asked, his eyes wide with surprise.

    “Tyler Patterson. He was Taylor’s boyfriend from 8th grade.” I replied. I was able to gather all the damaged photos and put them back together. The information was written on the back of the photo.

    We returned to the video and watched as Taylor cut up the rest of the photos in the box. After she was done, she closed the box and tossed it across the room. I had never seen anyone so furious.

    “Wow! This is crazy! I didn’t think Taylor was THIS boy crazy.” Keith was obviously excited about getting this kind of dirt on such a high-profile celebrity.

    “Oh, that’s just the start of it.” I reached into the bag and pulled out the camera that I had used to take pictures. Keith’s face lit up with excitement as he scrolled through the photos.

    They were photos of Taylor Swift’s shrine.

    I had found the wall in her bedroom closet. It was a large bulletin board covered with pictures of boys. They weren’t normal pictures; they were pictures taken from a distance. While there were some pictures of Taylor’s celebrity exes, like Joe Jonas and Taylor Lautner, there were also pictures of regular guys. It was like Taylor had been stalking all of her exes.

    “Oh my God!” Keith shouted as he ran his fingers through his blonde hair. “This is some great work, Jingle! This is the story that’s going to make my career!” Keith spun around in his chair and wrapped me in an unexpected embrace. There was a huge smile plastered on his face. I gave Keith the rest of the information I had collected and left the office.

    A few weeks later, I was back at the factory, busily wrapping presents, when another elf named Snow came running up to me. From the look on her face, I could tell something big was happening.

    “Jingle! You’ve got to come see this!” Snow shouted at me. I put down the present I was wrapping and followed Snow to the elf lounge. I had to sprint just to keep up with her. When I got there, I looked at the TV on the wall and gasped at the scene unfolding onscreen.

    The TV was on TMZ, and Taylor Swift was being dragged to a police car by an officer. “Let go of me! He tried to ruin me! Let go!” Taylor shrieked as the officer forced her into the car. The officer shut the door, but I could still hear her muffled screaming. Her eyes flashed with anger.

    “She broke into Harry Styles’ house and tried to attack him. Can you believe she’d do something like this?” Snow asked me.

    I couldn’t help but giggle at the irony. “I guess you don’t really know celebrities.”

    1. snuzcook

      Good story, Trevor! The idea is clever–an elf from Santa’s workshop moonlighting as an intern. And the idea of a hidden shrine is clever. We don’t really think of celebrities as being the ones who stalk. You’ve drawn Swift as famous and accomplished on the outside but still an immature adolescent behind closed doors, and that is interesting.

      I think the only thing that didn’t quite hit it out of the park for me was that comparing this personal secret to those of other well-known and older artists (except Cyrus) seemed a bit tame. I would rather see this as a stand alone experience, where the elf is shocked because he is new to the private lives of famous people and would be entirely shocked. That would also make the final line funnier, because he now thinks of himself (after the one experience) as an expert.

      Well done, Trevor!

  7. Marco Kenen

    His name was Buddy, and he was the Elf on the Shelf for one of this year’s Miss Universe contestants. He sure hadn’t drawn the short straw this time around. Unlike last year… When he had been assigned to some bloke who was a sewer inspector. You wouldn’t believe the shit that went down there. Still, he’d been a nice and friendly guy, so Buddy had written him a laudable report.

    While we’re on the subject of writing reports. Whenever dealing with a so called “celebrity”, one of your side jobs was to dig up as much dirt as possible about that person. The “cough” friendly “cough” people at The National Enquirer gossip magazine would pay you handsomely for almost any dirty little secret.

    Quantity over quality was probably the only rule these people had. A juicy rumour? Sure, we’ll print it. Not a shred of evidence to back up the ridiculous claim? No worries, mate. We’ll make something up.

    For sure, it wasn’t an arrangement Santa was all that happy about. But Santa also knew, that without money to buy gifts, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for most of the children around the world. Even if technically speaking, Christmas was about being together with friends and family.

    As usual, Buddy agreed wholeheartedly with Santa. Gossiping… Talk about a revolting act. Nothing good ever came from it.

    Luckily, it would seem that he’d be coming up empty handed. The only problem was that if Santa’s Elves didn’t bring in enough money to pay for all the gifts, then they’d have to find another way to make it all work. Perhaps they could start a Kickstarter campaign? That seemed to be the way to go these days when you were short on cash. At least with Santa, people could rest assured that they’d actually get what was promised to them.

    Anyway, time to get back to work. One more room and then he’d be out of here. No more snooping around until next year. A shiver ran across his spine when he entered the master bedroom. By the looks of things, one of the maids had opened up the windows in order to let some fresh air in. The light breeze which was nog granted access to the house brought the cold from the winter wonderland outside with her.

    Half an hour later, and with nothing to show for, Buddy was about ready to take his leave. Only to find out that he’d been cornered by one of the maids. When had she come back? No time to worry about that. In five seconds or less Buddy would be caught red handed. Hiding under the bed wasn’t an option, so he jumped head first in the dirty laundry box…

    Vivian, as the maid was called according to her name tag, sat down two empty small baskets on the bed. Buddy covered his mouth with one of his hands to suppress a grunt. She was heading in his direction. Oh, no! She wasn’t going to do what he thought she was going to do? Shit! Digging deeper, crossing his fingers he, wasn’t just stalling the inevitable. By the time the maid had taken her second handful of dirty clothes, his feet were sticking out. Curiosity got the upper hand as the maid dropped the clothes on the ground and pulled Buddy out by his leg…

    Shouting hysterically, the maid flung Buddy out through the open window and into the cold. Arms and legs flailing, desperately trying to aim for the large pile of snow next to the driveway.

    “Ouch! N-No, dammit! F*ck, that hurts.”

    Buddy complained, as he came to a stop after tumbling down from what he had thought to be a relatively soft landing spot. Only to find out that the pile of snow was frozen solid. He slowly rose to a seating position, giving himself the time to get his bearings back. Wasn’t there only supposed to be one pole star?

    “Hmm!”

    He could feel his cheeks redden when he saw he had picked up a souvenir. Dangling from his right pointy ear, were some laced black panties, that he assumed belonged to the lady of the house. Oh well, at least now he had something dirty for the Editor.

    1. snuzcook

      A funny, slapstick look at a day in the life of an elf-spy. Very cute, Marco! And the whole back story about the elves having to go to work to afford the toys that Santa delivers–very clever commentaries there.

      There were a few places where the phrasing left me having to reread a few times, like: “The light breeze which was nog granted access to the house brought the cold from the winter wonderland outside with her.” Another read through out loud would catch those.

      Overall, a funny story with lots of great visuals of the elf in ironic situations. Well done.

      1. Marco Kenen

        Thanks for the read.

        Oops! Must have missed that line when editing the story. Usually I wait a day or so and then go over the story one more time before posting it but for some reason I skipped that step this time around.

        I’m glad you liked it.

  8. Reaper

    The Redcoat Is Coming

    This is dangly leg elf sixteen reporting in. These call names are really stupid. We should go for something with a little dignity. I understand you’re all about bringing people low, but allowing your operatives a sense of pride would do wonders for your organization.

    Yes, I’m done bitching but I really don’t like your tone.

    Well, the first thing I have noticed after a week here is that the man is very British. I mean he doesn’t eat at home much but when he does there is way too much water in his food. Who cooks the flavor out of everything like that? It is making it very difficult to steal meals out of his trash can. Oh, and how the hell did you know he would buy a limp legged elf like everyone’s grandma has? I mean we are not the kind of thing anyone goes for in this day and age.

    Fine… fine! On to the report, there is nothing interesting going on.

    Earl, Earl! Watch your mouth buddy. I may just be a novice reporter for your shitty, little tabloid but I know people. My uncle is a garden gnome who kills people who piss him off. I’m just saying, it might be a good idea not to upset me.

    Yes. Everything we already knew is true. He really hates us after that article we ran about him. So it’s a good thing he has no idea I’m associated with you. He’s a funny guy but also an intelligent one. It would be best for us and those pulling our strings if he would stick with the funny. Beyond that he really believes in his causes. He wants people to know the truth, as he sees it. He really cares about people and has this strange eastern bent to his philosophy that makes him caring and compassionate. You add in his western style of speaking where he is loud and unapologetic and he becomes a very dangerous man.

    Yes, he has been advocating revolution.

    No. There is no way that works for us. You see I read his book. He isn’t home very much so I had plenty of time to do that. There is nothing violent involved in what he is calling for. If there were we might be able to send info up to the chain to the alphabet soup guys that are paying us for this info and any resulting story. What he’s calling for is everyone to be good to each other, including the government. Who thinks like that these days?

    True, it is an act of sedition but he is too famous for us to do anything about it. I wish I had more real dirt for you. As much as I want to hate him I like him more every time he talks. Take no action until we have more. Right now he would just destroy us by taking to social media. I will report again next week.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Sounds like your Brirish guy is an eighteemth century Senator Ted Cruz from Texas! Did I get that right? No, well I didn’t think so. I love the three legged, dangly elf bit. How about Patrick Henry? Am I getting any closer. No, well How about TJ, Thomas Jefferson? No, I give up , who is it.?

      1. Reaper

        Ah Kerry, I’m wondering if the subject would find the comparisons flattering? This was actually based around Russell Brand and his recent spat with the Sun due to his activism and his book. The line about I want to hate him like him more every time he talks was actually how I felt about the guy until I saw more and more from him.

  9. jhowe

    The height deprived young writer named Jerimiah Pope had written a novel that persistently refused to be picked up by agents or publishers and this caused the little man to become quite stressed. He had received many a response that praised his grammatical expertise while subtly mentioning the lack of edge in his storyline. Jerimiah had studied under the best professors and had spent countless hours at writing conferences and creative writing webinars. This, along with his long list of praises from the followers on his blog had indicated to him that he was destined for greatness. The persistent rejections were now triggering depressive symptoms that were recognized by a sympathetic receptionist who recommended that Jeremiah call the famed writing coach Diogenes Marshall.

    The receptionist’s boyfriend, a reporter for The Enquirer, heard of this exchange and decided to take full advantage of procuring some dirt on the arrogant writing coach. He approached Jerimiah and persuaded him to do a little spying in exchange for a guaranteed referral.

    After some negotiations and pleading, Diogenes Marshall agreed to take Jerimiah on as a student. “Did you read my book Mr. Marshall?” Jerimiah said.

    “You’re a short little shit,” the gruff man said. “But your book, yes I read part of it. And call me Digger. Mr. Marshall was my goddamned father.”

    “Only part of it?”

    “That’s all I needed.”

    “Didn’t you like it?” said Jerimiah.

    Diogenes rolled his eyes and picked up his glass of Old Grand Dad and took a long pull. “The first rule of writing: Who gives a shit if the readers like it.”

    “Well, I do… Digger.”

    “Well, to tell you the truth, I did like it, but it bored the hell out of me.”

    “So I’m supposed to not care if you liked it?”

    “Of course you are.”

    “But the first rule of writing?”

    “Screw that. I was blowing smoke up your ass.”

    “But why,” Jerimiah said.

    “Because you care too much about what people think.”

    “I do?”

    “What genre do you put your novel into?”

    “It’s a thriller.”

    “Well I’m not fucking thrilled.”

    “I see.” Jerimiah hung his head.

    “See, there you go worrying about what I think; I was blowing smoke again. The story actually ain’t all that shitty.”

    “So what do I do?” Jerimiah had forgotten all about the spying and hung on every word the old man said.

    “Ok, your main guy, the hero, the protagonist, the flaming asshole, whatever the hell you want to call him; slap the shit out of him and rewrite the first chapter.”

    “Slap him before I write?”

    “I don’t give a shit if you slap him or sic a wild dog on him, just rough him up a bit, he’s too goddamned perfect.”

    Two weeks later Diogenes contemplated the attachment in the e-mail he received from Jerimiah. ‘I told the fucker not to send me any attachments,’ he thought, but he opened it anyway and he read.

    The morning sun assaulted Jimmie Frank’s narrowly slit eyes as he noticed the blonde from the Mermaid Lounge lying beside him. He sat up with a head full of grinding gears, lit a cigarette and drained the dregs from the whiskey glass on the nightstand. The blonde, what the hell was her name, he had no idea, Sheri maybe? He picked up his phone and saw a missed call from Penrose. The woman’s perky ass peeked out from under the covers and Jimmie gave it a sharp whack. “Rise and shine Baby, I gotta get to work.”

    Diogenes read the rest of the chapter, smiled, closed the attachment and sent it back to Jerimiah, copying two agent friends in the process. Let them fight over the little son of a bitch.

    1. lionetravail

      This is sardonically done, Jhowe, and I love Diogenes’ character. Mayhap he’s searching with a lamp for one decent manuscript by a hardy soul who might be honest… with him when he harasses the poor bastard.

      I love the rewritten paragraph at the end, and Diogenes’ response to it. What a perfectly characterized curmudgeon 🙂

    2. Kerry Charlton

      This is great stuff jhowe. Holy smoke, the last paragraph is full of all the good stuff. What a great introduction for a novel. Your story is a great piece of prose. The last two sentences are a beautiful wrap up.

    3. snuzcook

      Jhowe, you’ve written the ideal mentor so very well! The interchange was great, and the ending you chose was worthy of a tear in the corner of the eye. Well done!

  10. Observer Tim

    I really struggled with this one; I am not a fan of “celebrity” stories, so it took some work to find a way to tell the story without naming names. Now I look forward to reading others’ takes.

    To: Reginald Lucife <lucife_r@celebritypost.com>
    From: EOTS Sandy <consultant835@celebritypost.com>
    Subject: Weekly Report

    Dear Mister Lucife;

    Please find attached my first and last report on host family X. I dare you to print any of this. I assure you that it is all true, and thus not libellous, but these people guard their privacy sufficiently well that you will not find any evidence should the matter be raised in court.

    I have been an Elf on the Shelf for seven years now, and have NEVER before been assigned a family that is in this much need of psychiatric and/or legal intervention. However, I was able to maintain a professional demeanour throughout the process and will eventually recover. You will be receiving a bill from my therapist.

    I draw your attention to a few specifics.

    1. Every member of the family performed the unusual act noted in item 1, with the sole exception of daughter E, who said she wouldn’t even touch me until I had been washed. Twice.

    2. My hat was permanently damaged by item 4. You will also be receiving a bill for that.

    3. After item 7, I never want to see that part of the human anatomy from that distance again, especially son J.

    4. My plastic nose left a permanent mark in the living room wall (item 9).

    5. I still smell of melted chocolate, which is not so bad, actually.

    6. The object inserted into my torso in item 21 is still there. Considering how painful it was to put in, I may simply leave it there. On the other hand, I dread what will happen when the batteries need to be changed.

    7. I was only buried in the back yard for half a day.

    8. After item 27, I am not certain why daughter E was so picky about my being washed.

    9. It does indeed hurt to have all your stuffing removed and your head squished (see items 21, 29 and 43), and being dried in a warm oven is uncomfortable to say the least.

    In summary you should find this report interesting reading, but I doubt you will find more than the most superficial items printable. I still expect partial payment for my week of service, as you hired me without agreement that the material found would or could be printed (see clause 17.03.2(a) of our contract). I can be reached care of daughter E.

    Now kindly pay me and get out of my life,

    Sandy.

    __________
    Sent from my iPhone

  11. lionetravail

    If You Go Back In Time, Is There A Chance You Could Meet Your Elf? (Hah! 544 words)

    “Hello? Hello? Is this thing working… Hello? God bless it, must have Antonio on quality control this month…”

    “Yesyesyes Cornelius! It’s Santa, don’t hang up!”

    “Oh, thank goodness! I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to report back.”

    “Well, when the tests worked beyond our wildest dreams we went right into production, so you caught me away from my desk. Cornelius, are you really back in ancient Rome?”

    “Yessir. There’s all this stone, it smells like poop, there’s lots of statues of gods no one really much believes in, and it says it’s the year CCCXXXVI.”

    “That’s it, m’boy! You’ve done it- you’ve gone back through the time portal all the way to 336 AD, the very first Christmas celebration. Cornelius, can you hear the whole workshop behind me? They’re all cheering for you, the first time-traveling Elf!”

    “Thanks Santa, and please let everyone know it’s pretty cool to be the first. And the plan’s worked well so far- I covered myself in wet clay last night, then stood in a metal bowl in the shop just outside the Emperor’s palace. This morning the clay was all dry and some functionary liked my pointy ears and said something about ‘Faunus’. Then he bought me and had me brought inside and put in his bedroom. The Emperor’s I mean, not the functionary’s.”

    “That is sensational, just sensational, m’boy! Now remember, you want to stay alert to get the down-low on the man who first declared that Christmas be celebrated for the holiday edition of our newspaper. You are the ‘reporter on the scene’ after all!”

    “About that. Um, Santa?”

    “Yes Cornelius?”

    “We’re really only in circulation at the North Pole, right?”

    “Yes, that’s true.”

    “So why is our paper called ‘Bipolar News’?”

    “Let’s talk about that when you’re back, m’boy. Alright?”

    “Sure. But I’ve been thinking… I mean, what I don’t get is this: why have me go back in time at all? Weren’t you there for the very first Christmas, Santa?”

    “Well, they couldn’t very well have a Christmas without me, could they have Cornelius? But I wasn’t in every place the whole time, hence the need for someone ‘on the ground’ as the newsies say, right where the Roman Emperor is going to declare the celebration of Jesus’ birthday!”

    “I suppose so. But the last week seems to have been a busy winter holiday in honor of some make-believe god Saturnus. In fact, it made me wonder why they’d even want to have two holidays around the same time.”

    “Um, well, Saturnus, or Saturn as we know him now, was famous in his day, m’boy! His holiday always involved feasting, gift giving, and revelry. And he was reportedly very, dashingly handsome.”

    “Well yeah, but… hey, waitaminute…! Winter holidays of feasting, revelry, presents… Oh. My. GOD! SANTA!!!!!”

    “Yes m’boy?”

    “Are you saying that Saturn… became Santa? In 336 AD? And you just segued from one winter holiday to another? You’ve got to be KIDDING ME!”

    “Why, I’m not saying anything Cornelius… except it sounds like a helluva story for an ace reporter! Come on home, m’boy- I’ll have the missus whip up some Elf nog for when you get back and get your article in. North Pole, Satu… I mean, Santa’s Workshop, signing off!”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a lovely imagination David. I hope Cornelius didn’t get any clay packed around his, his uh, sensitive parts because when he saw all those Roman beauties runnin’ arounf naked and wrapped up in bed sheets, it could have caused a tickling problem. Merry christmas

    2. snuzcook

      Clever take on the prompt, Lionetravail! Like so many things we take for granted, holidays take on a different flavor altogether when examined too closely. Wonderfully entertaining read.

  12. Kerry Charlton

    A WOODEN LOVE AFFAIR

    In the Land Of Was, County Kerry, Ireland, there lived a leprechaun named Patrick O”Reilly. Hired by an Irish King to protect his young daughter, Patrick had fallen in love with her as she grew into a beautiful young woman. When the king realized she loved him back, he banished his daughter to a stone tower and set a curse upon the young leprecaun, turning him into a wooden puppet.

    As the daughter found out what her father had done to her love, she took her own life, as did her father when he understood his daughter had died because of his folly. Though centuries of time, Partick made of birch wood, had been handed down and then abandoned. An inspired shop owner in Hollywood brought his old broken body to his shop and restored him as a Christmas elf.

    No one knew Patrick still lived in his body of wood, when an aspiring reporter bought him and placed a hidden camera and mike in the elf and offered him as a gift to Marilyn Monroe. As the blonde beauty set her eyes upon him, magic happened. She fell in love with the elf. She carried him home in her arms, placed him on her dressing table, rarely out of sight from her.

    Through many a love affair, Patrick watched her in his wooden body, unable to speak to Marilyn and tell her what the reporter was up to. In his wooden mind, he understood she was still a small child hurt by those who were heartless and had exploited her beauty and talent. Patrick’s heart was broken for he understood Marilyn’s fears as a young girl.

    One day as Marilyn sat at her dressing table mirror and looked at herself, tears flowed fron her fabulous face. Throught the corner of her eye, she noticed a small tear appear in one of Patrick’s eyes and make it’s way down his wooden cheek.

    “You’re the only one in this world who still cares,” Marilyn said.

    Picking Patrick up in her hands, she kissed his damp face,

    “Oh, if only you were real.”

    She glanced in her mirror as she cuddled him. Patrick’s wooden lips moved,

    “I am alive and a prisnor in my wooden body. Only a true love can releaee me from this curse set upon me.”

    “I do love and adore you little elf.”

    She pressed her lips upon his and closed her eyes. To her amazement, the small wooden figure grew in size to that of a handsome prince. He gathered Marilyn in his strong grasp, kissed her on her cheek as he walked out her door. He placed her on Pegasus, his winged stallion. Marilyn said not a word as the prince mounted his horse,

    Hold tight Princess, we are headed to the Land Of Was.”

    And they lived happily ever after…..

    To all the little girls in the world, young and old, Merry Christmas!

    1. lionetravail

      Kerry of County Kerry, this was a delicious little melding of a fairy tale and an actress with a fairy tale life (and less than fairy tale ending). That you worked it in such a way that her ending was, in the Land of Was at least, a fairy tale ending was heartening. I think you’ve extolled Marilyn and used her in at least one other prompt in the past, so I’m guessing that you feel pretty strongly for her- it comes through in your writing, I believe 🙂

      Nicely done, and lovely wishes at the end.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you David. I grew up in the ‘Marilyn world’ I would have killed for a kiss on the cheek from her. She is still a fascinating creature to me, an icon that might live for centuries

    2. snuzcook

      Lovely tale, Kerry. Sweet and mythical, with a happy every after ending.

      I had not read any of the other postings before I posted mine, and It appears Miss Marilyn is acting as muse for both of us this week, but you captured her heart.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critique. When I slip into fairytale telling, I have nine grandaughters I visualize when they were little girls. It helps move a story along.

    3. Reaper

      Now to be fair you hit on almost everything I have a strong love for, starting with fairytales and continuing through to classic hollywood and amazing storytelling. You really did speak to the heart of the lost girl who was used up and discarded and preyed upon by a world that thought she belonged to them and not herself. You made it sweet and beautiful. Wonderfully done, you are always amazing but this is a new level even for you.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for your wonderful comments, Reaper. I will tell you though, I consider my writing to be simple and elementary compared to many writers on this web site and you are certainly in the forefront of them. Merry Christmas to you.

  13. Wolfgang Poe

    Merry Friggin’ Yule – A Jonathan Walker Story

    Michael sat at his ancient ebony desk contemplating the folder in front of him. It stood out from all the other reports and parchments that lay in neat stacks among the various mementos and other detritus gathered in his long existence. This one was the first report from Jonathan, his protege, his most effective agent, and also, usually, his biggest problem child. The nails of his long fingers made delicate scratching sounds as they grazed across the cover of the report and paused at the edge. What interesting wonders would the words within contain. Would they lead to a new discovery? Would they lead to an execution?

    He remembered the meeting that had been held in this very office, just a week ago, the swearing, the breaking of things, the efforts he had had to take to calm his child. As usual, Jonathan had finally acquiesced to the assignment, when it had been properly explained. It was Michael’s job, as the Head of the Watchers, to investigate all possible incursions and abuses of the Supernatural world into the mortal realm and publish as much disinformation in the supermarket tabloids as possible. It was imperative that the realms be kept separate to prevent another Burning Time like that which consumed their world just a few centuries ago. It was with great amusement, that he selected Jonathan for this particular mission.

    Drinking a bit of wine from the bejeweled chalice on the side table, he then caressed the wick of a new candle and watched it flare to life. Then, with a creak of leather, he settled back in his chair and began to read.

    December 17, 2014

    Report on possible supernatural connection with James “Jimmy” Mavrick

    Agent Jonathan Walker

    I want it stated from the word go, that when I find out whoever came up with this bullshit assignment that their ass is dead. There, I said it.

    Day one – I’m sittin’ on the front doorstep in my little red pajamas waiting for the target to get back home, when a Mercedes Maybach roars up the driveway with 3 black SUV’s in hot pursuit. Holy Bells of Hannah, this kid has a bigger entourage than the President. The door to the car opens and a cloud of pot smoke rolls out, which does not surprise me at all. The “Teen Sensation” pops out and saunters over to the door where he notices me. “Hey, it’s an Elf on a Shelf!” he says.

    (note that I am also going to find the Potion Master that created the Elf on a Shelf potion and make his intestines into Yule tree decorations.)

    Michael paused and looked over at his dictation quill, “Make a note to Potion Master Bergmann, that Agent Walker found his potion entertaining and useful.” He smirked, and continued reading.

    The perp picks me up and takes me in the house which looks like Martha Stewart had an all night Christmas bender and threw up all over. I did not see or sense anything supernatural immediately, but, when it got dark, that began to change.

    [AN: there is no way this is fitting in 500 words – look for a part 2 shortly – Wolfgang]

    1. jhowe

      This is good. I look forward to the second installment. I particularly liked the second sentence and the effective comma usage which really gave it some pazzazz. Really good writing style.

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Sure you can! Any story can be told in any length, but whether you want to or not is a completely different… erm… story. haha Example: (based on my lengthy story below) I go to Stephen King’s house, and he electrocutes me. I start seeing strange shadow creatures and getting glimpses into the world beyond death. I lose my shit, kill my boss, and commit suicide so I can finally head home.

      It’s short, just not as exciting.

      Anyway, good job. I don’t particularly like Mr. Walker, though. He’s rude, has an attitude, and I feel like he doesn’t fully understand what he’s saying half the time. For instance, he write’s in his note that Martha Stewart went on an all night bender and threw up everywhere, but he missed the part where he identified what exactly she threw up. Actual vomit? Nasty decor? Either she went on a decor bender or threw up her nasty designs all over the place. Or that the entourage was in “hot pursuit” but I’m not exactly sure why they would be pursuing to capture the teen pop star since, you know, they “work” for him.

      Fun story. Let’s find out where the night takes poor poor Mr. Walker! I have to ask, though: is the pop star Bieber? haha

    3. lionetravail

      I, too, look forward to the next installment. It’s an interesting opening… with the magic and potions, I thought you might be heading in the fan fic Harry Potter direction, but I will suspend judgment and wait to see what happens 🙂

    4. snuzcook

      You got me hooked, Wolfgang. Intriguing world you have created. I’m on the fence about the veracity of the extreme contrast between Jonathan’s disrespectful and flippant commentary style and the deeply mystical and dangerously powerful Michael, but you have intrigued me enough to suspend judgment until I read more. And I am eager for more!

  14. Bilbo Baggins

    To keep in the holiday spirit:

    We three Hobbits of Shire are,
    Bearing a ring to travel afar,
    Foes assail us, wizards curse us
    Except for Gandalf, of course.

    O, Frodo travel through the night,
    Save us from Sauron’s sight.
    The mountain gleaming, still leading,
    To throw it in the fire!

    Pippin, Merry and the Sackvilles too,
    To our friends back home we remain true.
    We send our greetings, watch our steps,
    And have elevensies too!

    Refrain

    Boromir was killed with a bow,
    But, he’s Sean Bean of course.
    We were not surprised when he
    Fell in battle with orcs!

    Refrain

    Legolas and Aragorn,
    Gimli with a dwarvish sword (okay, axe),
    Our friends, they came from all around,
    A fellowship, indeed.

    Refrain

    At long last we conquered Mordor,
    Now with a kingdom to restore.
    The elves and Sam good luck did send,
    Now can the movie end?

    (:-) 🙂 Sorry I didn’t mention the ghost army, Rohan or anything else. There just wasn’t room.)

    1. cosivantutte

      This is awesome! Although, I’m imagining Leonard Nimoy singing it. (Look up Ballad of Bilbo Baggins on Youtube if you dare.) 🙂

      This verse cracked me up -> Boromir was killed with a bow,
      But, he’s Sean Bean of course.
      We were not surprised when he
      Fell in battle with orcs!

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        I’ve been around… I released one last week but it was a continuation to one of Cosi’s ‘Tales from the Edwin Side’, so doesn’t really count. Before that, I was out for two weeks because of.. business. I outlined stories for both weeks but didn’t finish them.

  15. cosivantutte

    “All right, Buddy.” Marv, the editor of Nosy Curiosities, leaned back in his scruffy leather chair. “Tell me what you know.”

    “Oh, that’s easy. I know that my dad is the best, most amazing dad in the world. I know that—”

    “What’s the matta wit’ you? I don’t want none of that garbage. I want the low down on the short round I told you to keep an eye on.”

    “Oh.” Buddy cast a furtive glance at the fishtank on Marv’s desk.

    “What’d you find out?”

    There were marshmallows in the tank.

    “Buddy.”

    Beautiful marshmallows.

    “Hey, Buddy.”

    Fluffy marshmallows.

    “Hey! I’m askin’ a question here.”

    Red and green and white. Christmas marshmallows!

    “You gonna answer it or do I got to clobber you?”

    Sugar puffed up into a squishy pillow to eat. Buddy often wondered why real pillows couldn’t be made out of marshmallows. His chair made loud, annoying protests as Buddy scooted it closer to the sugar overdose. “Ohh, they look miraculous.”

    “Hey, get your afro-head over here, elf boy, or you don’t get no snackies.”

    Buddy gave the marshmallows a long, hungry look before turning to face Marv. “Can I have one now?”

    “No.”

    “Can I have two?”

    “No.”

    “Three?”

    “No!”

    “How about…” Buddy frowned and struggled to remember what came after three. “…one?”

    “No! Get your yellow tailside over here or you’ll get none.”

    Buddy made the sad, loud journey back to his original spot.

    “What’d you find out?”

    “Oh! Lots of things. I found out if you are small and stand very still no one can see you. I also found out that his parents speak funny.”

    “Funny? Like what?”

    “Like a sick record player. All warped and hard to understand. Santa had a record player like that once. The music wouldn’t go la la la. It would go laaaaLAAAAaaaaLAAaaaaLAAAA—”

    “All right, I get it! Hmm. So, little Chuck’s parents do some pretty hard drugs. I knew it! What else?”

    “His dog can dance real good. He dances just like this.” Buddy tried to demonstrate, but he tripped and fell head first in the garbage can. He hopped up, spit out a crinkled paper wad, and resumed dancing. “Well. He doesn’t fall like that. His dog never falls. It’s the most amazing thing.”

    “So, his dog’s an alien bent on world domination. Great stuff! I could go so many ways with that one. What else?”

    Buddy threw in some high kicks that would make a Rockette sulk with jealousy. “Oh, lots of stuff. His sister likes this boy, but he won’t tell her the code.” He stopped dancing and winked at Marv. “You know, food.”

    “And his little sis wants to join a spy ring. Ooo. I knew that little blonde was trouble. More! More! Give me more!”

    “There’s this other girl. I don’t think she’s related to him, but she’s always at his house and playing football with him.”

    “Football, huh?” Marv’s eyes glistened. “Secret lover. Secret rendezvous. Kicky fun. Oh, the possibilities are endless. Is there anything else?”

    Buddy thought about it. “No. Except for the kid who attracts dirt.”

    “Kid who attracts dirt.” Marv wept with happiness. “It’s perfect. I don’t even need to embellish that one. Go ahead.” He sniffled. “Eat up all of the marshmallows. You deserve it, kid.” He rubbed his nose in his sleeve. “Meantimes, I got an expose to write.”

    ***

    Lucy marched up to Charlie with a copy of the latest Nosy Curiosities clutched in her hand.

    “Hi, Lu—”

    She punched him good and hard. He did a perfect air somersault and landed flat on his back. “I am not your secret lover, you blockhead.” She threw the trashy magazine at him and marched away.

    “Good grief.”

    1. Dennis

      Cosi, this was awesome. Buddy the Elf returns yeah!. I love that movie. And to spy on the Peanuts gang. It took my brain about the third clue to figure out who you were referring to, but all of them were spot on. You did a great job with Buddy’s innocent distractions. This made my evening. Thanks.

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      I was never a fan of Buddy, that annoying bastard… but this was good. Thanks for sharing, Cosi! I Half-expected an RDJ short from you, way to let down the expectation–and then remarkably give me something to enjoy anyway! haha Well done.

      P.S. Now I want some marshmallows… and cocoa… or maybe just a cup of marshmallows… sprinkled with cocoa powder.

    3. Bilbo Baggins

      🙂 This was awesome, Cosi, RDj or not. I could totally picture Will Farrell playing this. Favorite line: “Get your afro-head over here, elf boy, or you don’t get no snackies!” Also loved the part about the stuck record. Peanuts is one of my sister’s obsessions.

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks! It was a challenge writing in Buddy’s voice just because his mental attitude is so different from my usual type of characters. He’s so wide-eyed innocent. But it was a fun challenge. 😀

    4. Hiba Gardezi

      I loved it ! its funnny and entertaining 🙂 i especially liked this part :

      There were marshmallows in the tank.
      “Buddy.”
      Beautiful marshmallows.
      “Hey, Buddy.”
      Fluffy marshmallows.
      “Hey! I’m askin’ a question here.”
      Red and green and white. Christmas marshmallows!

      Man! This is good stuff 😀 You made this easy to picture and the flow was great 🙂

    5. snuzcook

      I started thinking of Peanuts with the slow speaking parents, but didn’t really catch on until the football reference. Too funny! The whole exchange about the marshmallows was fun, like really trying to have a serious conversation with a three year old with a dish of candy on the desk. The idea that the marshmallows were in a fish tank threw me for a while, because I was picturing the marshmallows swimming around in the water instead of fish and that Buddy was delusional, but I got past that in reread.

      Another fun story, Cosi!

      1. cosivantutte

        I had the marshmallows in a fish tank because I wanted them to be in a big glass container and a fish tank was the biggest glass container that I could think of. I was worried that someone would get the wrong idea of the marshmallows floating in gunky water. 🙁 I will admit, though, the idea of Buddy imagining that the fish were marshmallows cracks me up. It just seems like something he would do.

        I chose the Peanuts characters because it was the first thing I thought of when I read this in the prompt -> “But what the celebrity doesn’t know is that you’ve been hired by The National Enquirer gossip magazine to find dirt on that celeb.” I automatically thought of Pig Pen and it just sort of carried on from there.

  16. asclepius

    Life as a “little person” had never been easy for Jacob. The ridicule, the condescension, and the jokes had all been a constant part of his life since he was born. At times, life just seemed like a never-ending string of indignities.

    Nothing, though, had been as humiliating as his current situation. He stood now at the entrance to the home of Anthony Stone and Rebecca Morningstar, Hollywood’s hottest couple, in a full elf suit greeting a string of celebrities as they entered. They all laughed uproariously as he called out “Ho ho ho” and “Better not be naughty tonight!”, and, as he posed for an endless number of embarrassing photos with them, they all said “I must have one of these for our house too!”.

    Living versions of “Elf on the Shelf” were all the rage with the rich and famous these days. For a large fee, a family could rent someone like Jacob for the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to dress up in a an elf suit and wander around all day pretending to be a real life Santa’s elf. Then, after Christmas, they would leave and go back to a life auditioning for the occasional Wizard of Oz production.

    With Jacob, though, there was one difference. He was actually employed full-time by the National Enquirer. For these four weeks, he was going to obtain more dirt on this secretive couple than had ever been found before. And, after one week into it, he sure had plenty.

    He had a momentary break from drunk party-goers snagging him for photos, and he ducked into a nearby room. Out of his pocket he pulled out his small laptop and logged a few more juicy tidbits into his first weekly report. Tonight was going to be particularly sensational. A well known congressmen had shown up, and was getting a bit frisky with some of the ladies.

    Looking around the room, he scoffed at all the extravagance. The fixtures were all gold and silver, the linens were all silk, and everything sparkled with luxury.

    A voice behind him startled him.

    “Is everything okay, Jacob”

    Jacob stashed his laptop under his shirt and snapped to attention.

    “Oh Hi Miss Morningstar. I’m sorry, I just had to get out of the crowd outside for a moment. I’ll come back out now”

    “It’s okay Jacob, stay here all you want.”

    She paused, then continued.

    “Jacob, I want you to know how much we appreciate all you have done for us this past week. I am sorry for the way people have been acting tonight. It was never our intention for you to be humiliated like that. We just wanted a happy christmas atmosphere, but it got out of hand. If you want to leave at anytime, you can. And we will still pay you for everything. But I hope you can stay and enjoy the holidays with us.”

    She turned and walked out of the room. Jacob let out a deep sigh of relief and pulled out his laptop.

    But as he prepared to hit “send” on the email, he stopped himself for a moment. All his life people had been tearing him down instead of building him up. How was what he was doing now to them any different?

    He thought about for a moment longer. Maybe it was the spiked eggnog talking, but what the hell?

    “Merry Christmas Mr. Stone and Miss Morningstar.”

    He clicked “delete” on the message, put the laptop away, and walked back to the party. The congressman looked like he would be a fun guy to hang out with tonight.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Not what I expected and definitely not what I enjoy reading, but it rides home with a moral and was done nicely. With so little words it’s hard to add a little conflict to get our hearts pumping just a bit, and I think I would have enjoyed this immensely if you added some kind of arc to it to add some excitement, but not bad, not bad. Thanks for sharing!

      1. asclepius

        Thanks for the feedback! It certainly wasn’t my intention to be offensive to little people, if that was how it was taken. I was just trying to find a creative way to respond to the prompt while still staying in the bounds of what the prompt described. I try to use these as exercises in both strengthening my writing skills as well as improving my creativity. I was actually unfamiliar with the concept of “Elf on the Shelf”. When I looked it up and tried to apply what I found to this prompt, my inclination was to create a more real-world scenario rather than a fantasy sort of storyline. And, like you said, with so few words it is difficult to create a full story with a build-up and resolution and tension. But I feel like I was at least able to create a dynamic change to my main character. Again, thanks for the feedback, and happy holidays!

        1. lionetravail

          I don’t think it was offensive at all. Of course, I’m not a little person, so that may or may not invalidate my perspective, but i think the tone was fine. I really liked the direction and feel of the story, and thought the ending was great- a nice, justified ending with personal growth of the MC, and not too heavily handled.

          So nice job!

    2. snuzcook

      I really like the way your story turned things around so it ended on positive note. A story of reclamation of the spirit as our hero decides what he will and will not do. Great take on the prompt.

  17. Stephen S

    “Finished”

    Kringle threw open the door to the editor’s office and marched in. Tossing the report up on the desk he exclaimed, “I’m out, done, finished, this elf has left the building.”
    The editor behind the desk sat back and asked, “Are you finished?”
    “Oh, I’m done alright, this is it, and it’s all you’re getting from me because I’m not going back. Send me back to the North Pole, hell send me to the South Pole. Where ever you send me it would be better then that place.” Kringle said.
    “Please, sit Kringle?” the editor asked, motioning towards the chair.
    “I’m not staying. I gave you your pound of flesh, I’m done,” the elf turned to leave.
    “If you walk out that door, you will be lucky to get a gig as Santa’s helper in a mall,” said the editor standing up.
    Kringle was reaching for the door, but stopped and turned facing the editor. A grin of insanity slid across his face and he said, “Do you think I care anymore? After the hell you put me into, do you really think there is anything worse? What I saw over the last seven days in that house has erased all of my fears, but one. The only thing that scares me now is the idea of ever seeing that place again.”
    The editor’s eyes narrowed and he said, “Come on. Iraq, Afghanistan, the Kardashians you can’t tell me that this place was worse.”
    The elf threw back his head and a laugh of madness bellowed from the small elf. After he had finished he walk to the desk and climbed on top. Standing on the desk the little elf looked at the editor smiling. Then he glanced down at the report and looking back at the editor he said in a composed tone, “You read it.” Then the smile faded from the elf’s face. Again he turned, hopped off the desk and walked towards the door; this time the editor let him leave. Once the elf was gone the editor picked up the report and started to read.
    Kringle went to his desk and boxed up his stuff. No one in the office said anything, but all where watching him. A minute later security arrived at his desk and waited. Once done, they escorted him out of the building and deposited him on the sidewalk.
    Once outside, the box was a little heavy so he went to a near by newsstand and set the box down to adjust the weight. There was a sudden whoosh behind him and the sound of a body hitting the pavement at 100 plus mph. He turned and saw what was left of the editor; still in his hand was a page from the report. The elf looked up and saw the other pages drifting down from the 30th floor.
    Someone starting to scream and Kringle picked up his box and walk down the street. As he did he thought, “Guess there won’t be a Chris Brown exclusive.”

    1. Stephen S

      LOL, that’s what I get for poking fun at popular culture in an environment like this. Kardashians and Chris Brown are just the two worst representatives of the popular culture that came to mind. I used them to justify the reactions of the MC’s in the story. One mistake was writing from my point of view instead of the audience. If you switch Kardashians with the Manson Family and Chris Brown with John Wayne Gacy, the story may make more sense or not. Again thank you for the comments.

  18. Pete

    It was that kind of day, where I’d already fired two dill holes before lunch and the office was still awash with incompetence. Here we were a week before Christmas, scrawling gossip that looked like it had been scraped of the back page of Yahoo!. The Bieber angle had gone belly up. I’d taken a call from Mariah Carey’s publicist but had to politely decline without explaining that she warranted about as much fanfare as stale bread. The only thing I’d green lighted that day was the blurb about Scarlet Johansson’s remark to Barbara Walters that her body was “okay”.

    As an editor I rolled my eyes at the quote. As a woman I wanted to place to hands around her mediocre neck.

    I gazed out my office window, at the shoppers and protesters and tourists converging below It was hard to believe this paper once blew open the Lewinski scandal, and it I knew that if things didn’t change fast I’d soon be writing copy for the Bedford Bingo/Raffle Quarterly.

    My breath caught. Pepper was calling to check in. My little miracle freak, the answer to my unsaid prayers. But it wasn’t wishing and hoping that had brought Pepper my way, I’d found him the old fashioned way: going out and chasing down leads. And that was more than could be said of these candy-assed kids running around trolling twitter feeds.

    Two weeks ago I’d finally met up with Pepper at Ernie’s Pub on sixth and Commerce. It was weird at first. He was like a monkey, hanging onto a handle of Makers behind the bartender. But I got over his elf-ness, because all I saw was a golden goose.

    And now it was paying off.

    “Tell me something good, Pepper,” I said in my best take charge voice.

    “There’s been a change of plans, dear. Rather unfortunate on your end I must say.”

    “Huh?”

    “Very good, Vanessa. I’ve always appreciated your grasp of the English language.”

    “ What are you talking about? I thought you were doing the Kardashian/West gig?” I said, lunging for the liquor cabinet.

    “Gig, yeah, you could call it that again. Look, I uh, I had to split town. I just wanted to call you as a courtesy.”

    I’d split him from crotch to armpit the next time I saw him, I rocketed to my feet. “We had a deal you freak!” An ice cube bounced out of the tumbler and hit the floor as I dumped scotch into the tumbler.

    “Yeah, uh, something came up” he said, giggling.

    Gulp.

    “Vanessa dear, are you still there?”

    I ran a sleeve across my lips. An intern barged in with panic in his eyes, pointing to his phone. I heaved my ESSG award at his head. “Get out, now!”

    “Vanessa?”

    I gripped the phone as the door shut. The scotch fed the flames of rage in my voice. “I’ll have your ass, Pepper. Just know that. You think you can get away with—”

    I stopped mid-rant. The fucker was still laughing at me.

    “Blimey Vanessa, I hope you land on your feet when this is over. Really I do. When you explain to the powers that be that it was an elf who sold you out. Oh really, it will be quite sad. They’ll think you’re absolute bonkers.”

    The scotch hit my bloodstream right on schedule. The room started to swim. But my ears prickled when he mentioned the post.

    “You didn’t!”

    “Ah, yes, my love, I did. The Post pays much more and they’re such a pleasure to work with. Parting words of advice my dear, treat you’re people like people, not subordinates, and…”

    “I’ll double it. Pepper please!”

    “Oh don’t beg, my love. What’s done is done, now toodle-oo!”

    I clicked on the Posts’ website, and saw what was sure to be the headline of the year:

    Exclusive!!! Kim Kardashian Elf Sex Tape….Kanye tries to hide footage!. .Elf Off the Shelf!…Kardashian Admits To Midnight Romp!!!!

    1. lionetravail

      Awesome! And the headlines are just perfect… making me wish I’d gone with headlines. (Waaah!)

      Hysterically told, Pete- love it. 🙂

      “Elf Off The Shelf!”

  19. lionetravail

    Insanity is hereditary- you can get it from your boss. I love the concept of the “Underlings”… it’s very King.

    Jay, except for the apparent suicide at the end, this really seems like the opening to an epic King story. Even including the mention of His Amazing Authorship himself 😉 I’d love there to be more, and the trigger pull to NOT have resulted in the MC’s death.

  20. lionetravail

    Hannah of Montana

    Dear Gene:

    Forgive shorthand summ from this undercover week, but it speaks for itself as to story to break. If I can ride this horse through Christmas, months of fall-out articles to exploit through spring.

    Jim

    P.S.: I want a raise and my own byline; we can talk when I’m back.

    Day 1: Plan worked! Dropped off ersatz coupons at MC’s house pre-dawn, then went to two Rodeo Drive after coffee. While browsing Buccellati’s, I put on that goofy sweater that Mona in sports gave me last year and took the place of a Botticelli angel figure in a lamp. (Note: send management anon. note that angel is in right rear corner planter.) Not two hours later, MC came with entourage and purchased me. Damn good thing too, coffee’d gone right through me and I thought I’d have to piss in this chintzy bronze vase near me.

    Later: Gah! Was in hot trunk most of day; took care of peeing problem there. Apparently not the first. Then dehydrated so much as MC bopped around all day doing very little except blow and caffeine. How she packs so much up into that tiny body… well, let’s just say if I could do that, they’d repo my house. Finally, a big guy whose hands tickled brought me inside and put me near this kitschy aluminum tree in the living room. Was much cooler, but then party happened, and degenerated to wild orgy. (Note: Paris Hilton has the most interesting tramp stamp.)

    Day 2: Not nearly enough sleep until after five AM when MC finally fell asleep on PH. Everyone else crashed early and went home. Once everyone asleep, raided fridge and found only pineapple juice and V8. At least there was Stoli’s in the freezer. Ate a few packets of ketchup flavored with hot sauce and then caught a few hours sleep before MC was up. (Note: She looks like hell first thing in the morning. Or, more accurately, afternoon Pics uploaded to cloud from webcam sewn into Mona’s hideous sweater.) Think she took speed in kitchen. (Note: May need to find the stash.)

    Day 3: Party, rinse, repeat last night. Gah, I’m glad I’m not her gynecologist. Didn’t recognize half the people, and the other half I feel sorry I did recognize. There were at least three Kardashians; I’m pretty sure I spotted Moe, Larry, and Curly. (Note: Pics and movie uploaded. Gene- have Gary get me more fucking cloud space!) Oh, found the speed stash.
    (Note: Woot!)

    Day 4: These people are all a few ‘start’ shy of the Milky Way! Christmas present arr. for MC early this AM. Mr. Ticklefingers took delivery, set up near me. Yes, someone sent her a freaking’ Swarovsky wrecking ball for her living room! Took a few swings on it before she woke up, and will admit it’s fun. Esp on meth. (Note: Not so hungry anymore. Think I’ve lost some weight, too.)

    Later: She took a selfie on the crystal wrecking ball then threw up all over me. Upside: sweater ruined, justification for disposal. Downside: Now am anatomically correct elf lamp attracting too much attention.

    Much Later: OH NO SHE DIDN’T! (Notes: POV video upload to private iCloud account. Sorry Gene; can prolly get extra from Celebrities Gone Wild.)

    Day 5-6: Ow. Ow ow ow. (Note: She doesn’t keep bacitracin ointment anywhere. Gene; please have Gary put some in the mail slot.) It’s tough being the most popular ride in the park. (Note: Follow-up story on her GYN.)

    Day 7: She went to Church today. Kidding! (Note: Find out if I had you going.) She slept in. Got the ointment: thankyousomuch! The Governator’s kid came by today, they had lunch, talked. MC pulled herself together for the meet with the aid of two stylists and androgynous person named ‘Sam’ (Note: Research Sam) who shows up when Ticklefingers calls. At end, PS gets into pop’s famous voice, says: “I’ll be back.” Hi. Lar. I. Ous.

    Later: PS out the house an hour, MC back on me wearing mouse ears. I feel sick. (Note: Video uploaded. Note’s note: I may be sick, but I’m not stupid. And no lip from you, Gene.) MC went out on town. Reminds me of that videogame Gauntlet- Elf needs food, badly.

    Addendum
    Gene, please send food. Like a sandwich or something. Oh, and ear plugs- after a week of her music and screeching, I’ve thought about cutting my ears off. Seriously. Jim

      1. lionetravail

        Thanks guys, and Dennis, honestly, I have no idea sometimes 🙂

        Seriously, my creative process generally involves setting up the story with some kind of internally consistent scheme which fits the prompt, then letting the story write itself. In something zany like this, it’s almost stream of consciousness for me. (Note: What does that say about my general consciousness?)

        Heh- so glad you enjoyed reading; it was damn fun to write.

        1. Dennis

          Thanks David. It’s always nice to hear someone’s creative process. This obviously balances out your intellectual medical side. (Unless of course you are a psychiatrist 🙂 )

  21. Cceynowa

    Suggested Headline: “The Secret of Carlos: Charlie Sheen’s Hidden Life”

    Assignment Overview

    Carlos Irwin Estévez, better recognized as Charlie Sheen, is known for his wild ways. He has gained a reputation for hard living, with uncaring abandonment: his women young, his habits criminal, and his alcohol consumption legendary. This is the man the world knows. This is the man I was sent to investigate.

    Week One Report

    Previous reports of Charlie’s drinking habits have not been exaggerated. I have found, however, that his drinking in excess may be coming to an end. How do I know this? The first night I was in residence, brought in under the guise of a gift from an obsessed fan, I found him lovingly cradling a bottle of champagne as he slumped against one of his females. She was patting his head absentmindedly while watching the television. I was about to leave him to his tender snoring when he began to speak.

    “No! Don’t cut it off!” He continued to slumber despite having spoken clearly. The female slid out from under him and left him where he lay. I have not seen her since.

    The second night, I was searching for clues, when I stumbled upon Charlie discussing a game of Hide and Seek with a group of females. One, was asking, “Why don’t you hide?”

    “Because,” he answered rather heatedly as he slammed his beer down, “I won’t ever hide again.”

    Again? Interesting.

    The third night, he hosted a party. Many famous celebrities and many more not-so-famous ones attended. I have added pages upon pages to my investigative files for future stories. But the most interesting conversation I heard was while listening to Charlie on the phone. He was whispering, “No! I don’t want to see her. I hope she dies in pain…. I don’t care if it is a Christmas wish. Fuck off.”

    Following the phone call, he drank only hard liquor.

    The next night, Charlie locked himself in his study. Many of the ladies tried to coax him out with various suggestions for activities— I blushed several times, and nearly threw up once— but to no avail. After a time, I managed to work my way in via the air ducts, and found him sipping on aged scotch and reading a tattered Spanish newspaper. A framed photograph of a dilapidated house, overrun with creeping briars, sat on the desk beside him. In front of the house was a tall, gaunt, woman in loose fitting overalls. She held a genuine hay sickle in one hand and the arm of a young boy in the other. The boy’s face was turned away, leaving doubt to his identity, but the peeling letters on the house read “E_tév_”

    Charlie finished reading the paper and then locked it and the photograph away in his desk. He then proceeded to drain the scotch bottle.

    Last night, my fifth night in residence, an unknown man entered the house through the garage. He slipped through the mansion stealthily and left an envelope on Charlie’s desk in the study. I camped out and waited. I was not disappointed.

    When Charlie opened the envelope, I saw that it held a Christmas card. He read it, poured himself a small glass of bourbon, and toasted the card saying, “Ding-dong, the bitch is dead. Merry Christmas indeed.”

    He did not drink another drop for the rest of the night. I cannot, in decency, report how he celebrated instead.

    Respectfully Reporting,

    Rosco Elfmyn

    1. Dennis

      Very good cc. It had the feel of a real tabloid reporter. I’m not much up on ol’ Charlie except for few things he’s done so not sure if I picked up on. Funny stuff on ol’ Charlie. Not one of my favorite people.

    2. lionetravail

      Heya Ccey- this was hysterical, but in that understated pitch-dark-comedy style you don’t see much. So the reporter witnessed Charlie Sheen taking a hit out on someone he loved/hated? Wow, you amped this up a huge amount.

  22. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    “How in the hell did you think it was a good idea to send me to that house to find some dirt?”

    “With that new novel out focusing on Christianity, we needed to find something to tear him down if necessary. You knew this going in.”

    I sigh, and drop my shoulders. He’s right. Of course he is. We of ECHO, Elves for Christ and His Operations, need to find a way to discredit Stephen King if his book should cause people to start thinking twice about their religion. We knew this day would come, but I had no idea it was going to be me that had to go into that carnival of horror he calls a home.

    “So, what did you find?”

    I sit down at the desk and wrap my hands around a mug of hot cocoa. I take a sip of the brew, and then lick the melted marshmallow from my lip. My boss raises his eyebrows in anticipation of an answer, which makes me nervous.

    “Well?”

    I take a deep breath, blink softly, and say, “Electricity.”

    “What?”

    “And death… but mostly, it was all the electricity.”

    He shifts in his seat. “The entire world has electricity. Well, most of it anyway. So?”

    “Have you even bothered to read the book?”

    “Well, no…”

    “In the basement, there were all these things… these devices that he built.” I tell him, feeling an uneasy sweat break on my forehead. I take another sip of the cocoa, but it’s not as comforting as I hope it to be. “They mimicked the devices found in the book, and one in particular was incredibly shocking.”

    I see that Efrain the Elf is growing impatient with me. I lean forward and say, “Do you notice anything different about me?”

    He eyes me head to toe several times, studying me. He rubs his chin, huffs, and pulls off his white-pommed green stalking cap. He rubs his eyes, and shakes his head.

    “I have no idea. Just get to the point.”

    “I’m not wearing my glasses.”

    “Ah, so it would seem.” He nods. “When did you get glasses? More to the point, what does that have to do with King’s house?”

    “Everything. It has everything to do with it.” I say uneasily. “I went there with coke-bottle vision, and returned with perfect vision.”

    “What happened?”

    “King is what happened.” I tell him, my memory a bit hazy because part of my visit to his house resulted in a short blackout. “He… he caught me snooping around his house. I was searching for clues, you know? Things I could bring back so we could slam him, but he found me in the basement. He grabbed me, and used his belt to strap me to a thermos. Then he put a pair of metal glasses on my face and…”

    While I related the story, my imagination took over and I’d temporarily stepped out of the room. I pause and return to find my boss sitting on the edge of his seat. He has his elbows on the table propping his head up like a child eagerly listening to his grandfather’s tall tale. This story, however, is no more fictitious than the fabric of my arm or my beady black eyes that no longer need glasses.

    I continue, “…and then I blacked out. When I came about several hours later, I could see perfectly.”

    “You mean you didn’t need your glasses?”

    “Yes, but it was so much more than that. I could see everything. For the first time I saw the reality of things. I saw that we live in a world made of sin, and all this darkness surrounding so many people’s actions–but where is God when all this is happening?”

    My boss’s eyes widen, and he’s certainly surprised to hear such a thing. After all, the organization I work for was created to support and spread the word of God. He looks like he might lose his shit, but have to keep going. I have to show him what I saw so he can understand.

    “Remember what happened to Victor’s wife? Freak reindeer accident that bludgeoned her to death. Remember that explosion at the power plant on the south wing of the factory? Killed ten people, including my papa.”

    “Get to the point.” He’s much less amused by the story than before.

    “My point is that if there was something there, if God existed, then would he really let that happen? Would he really let his children suffer?”

    He opens his mouth to answer, but I know what he’s going to say so I raise my hand to quiet him. “That’s not the important part. I’ve been thinking that for a long time coming, but it’s what happened after he put that thing on my head and turned it on.”

    “Okay, what?”

    “I saw the underlings.”

    “The… what?”

    “I call them underlings, but I don’t really know what they are exactly. But I see them. Everywhere.” I look at the shadow creeping next to the desk, and put the mug down. My boss takes notice of this and I see a slight nervousness shadow his face.

    “What are these underlings, and what do they want?”

    “I don’t know, but they know that I can see them. They study me, watching everything that I do.” I tell him, and pull a gun from my pocket.

    “Whoa, whoa. Hold up there.” He puts up his hands.

    “I know what you are.” His dark shadowy face tells me everything. “I know…”

    “I don’t know what you think…” He began to say, but I shoot him in the face. The picture window behind him turns red, spackles of brain matter texturing the smooth glass surface.

    I look around the room, and the shadows move closer to me. I feel a tear roll down my face, and then I place the gun in my mouth. What I see cannot be unseen, and what I know cannot be forgotten. I close my eyes and dream of my papa hoping that there is more than just darkness on the other side, but I know different. I know the truth. There’s just the shadows, and her. I pull the trigger.

    1. lionetravail

      Insanity is hereditary- you can get it from your boss. I love the concept of the “Underlings”… it’s very King.

      Jay, except for the apparent suicide at the end, this really seems like the opening to an epic King story. Even including the mention of His Amazing Authorship himself 😉 I’d love there to be more, and the trigger pull to NOT have resulted in the MC’s death.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        I wrote it under the assumption that people have read his book “Revival” and I suppose now that was a mistake to assume. haha I may explore this concept, though, perhaps in my own breadth of style and story. Thanks for reading and your comment, Lionetravail!

    2. Dennis

      Great story Jay. Nice how you took the prompt and made it your own and also very King like. I think this would make a great longer short story. I do find it interesting how there is such a belief that God should just remove all the evil in the world or because God doesn’t, maybe God doesn’t exist. (But that’s a whole other topic 🙂 )

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        Thanks, Dennis. Beliefs are a funny thing. Some people believe that superstitions can change your fate or that certain actions should affect your future. Like “The Secret”… holy crap is that some strange shit or what?

        They all fall in the same category as belief in a higher power like God or whatever else might be out there. I sometimes like to explore religion in stories because it happens to be a very strong part of humanity, and then take those beliefs and try to figure out how someone might react if something doesn’t go as they expect. It’s all fun and games until “God’s plan” wrecks your life.

        Anyway, the story is heavily based on King’s new book Revival, which was an amazing read. The theological aspects as well as the madness of man is so fully realized in the story that I doubt anything will be able to compare for some time. If you like a good book that isn’t too horror and explores religion in ways most people dare not tread, then you should definitely read it.

        1. Dennis

          Wow, sounds cool. I haven’t read anything of his for awhile. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks. And BTW, I read your first Twisted Tales and really liked it. I’ll pick up you next one soon.

        2. lionetravail

          I agree. I’ve loved most of his stuff that I’ve read, though I think the most recent stuff of his I’ve been through was 1963 and Cell.

          It may also be time to reread The Gunslinger series… seriously one of my all time faves, with one of my all time fave opening lines. Ever. (I have 2, and the Gunslinger’s opening was one of them: “The man in black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.” The other is completely unrelated but was written by William Gibson for Neuromancer: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”)

          We now return you to your original Jay Channel.

    3. Observer Tim

      Fascinating take, Jay, from any number of angles. I haven’t read King since The Stand, mostly because I don’t like books where it seems the author is paid by the metric ton (except H.P. Lovecraft; I don’t know why). This is an interesting concept (though the concept that suffering denies God is a couple of centuries past tired). Thanks muchly for putting the idea into a digestable form, especially given your mastery of concise prose.

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      No idea what exactely that story was or where it went but it made my skin crawl all over and that’s a surefire sign your story hit home. Two thumbs up!

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