[Note: Following is a story I’ve written for my children this Christmas.]
Jingle was excited to be a certified Elf on the Shelf. It had taken years of training, endless physical and psychological exams, and an unquenchable love of Christmas to get to this point. Being selected to Santa’s elite Elf corps was the highest honor given to North Pole residents. He was about to live the dream.
Jingle was packaged for shipment, as all such elves are. He traveled from the North Pole to the United States, where he landed in the greater Dayton area, at a Kroger’s grocery store. On a cool November night, he was purchased and went to his new home, with the Wilkes family on Maple Lane. This is it!, he thought I’ve been chosen!
The next morning, Mrs. Wilkes brought Jingle out of his box and placed him lovingly on the mantel over the fireplace. He looked around at the beautiful family room, already decorated with garlands and bows. A beautiful cat lay on the ottoman in front of a comfortable chair. The Elf felt warm and happy. He was at home.
Mrs. Wilkes soon brought in a short, cross-eyed boy and pointed up at Jingle. “Johnny, look—it’s the Elf on the Shelf!”
“So?” The boy stared at Jingle and began to dig in his ear with his pinky.
“He’s come from the North Pole to watch over you. Every night, he goes back to Santa and tells him whether you’ve been a good boy or not.”
“There is no Santa,” the boy whined. “He’s a fake. All my friends say so!”
Jingle felt sadness in his little elf-heart. The boy looked to be five years old. Surely he was too young to have lost faith in magic. Read Johnny the book, Jingle silently urged Mrs. Wilkes.
Mrs. Wilkes—though she was thoroughly unaware of it—received Jingle’s message and promptly sat the boy down, telling him the story of the Elf on the Shelf, about Jingle’s journey back to the North Pole each night and how the Elf was full of magic. “For that reason, you must never touch him,” she warned the boy. “All of his power will drain away if you do, and he’ll become very sick.” The boy nodded. Mrs. Wilkes smiled and kissed her son on the cheek before leaving the room.
Jingle felt relief. Perhaps now things would be okay. He could tell Santa that Johnny still believed, that disaster had been averted. Everything was going to be—
Johnny began to drag the ottoman over in front of the fireplace. At first, Jingle was merely startled, but he calmed himself with the notion that perhaps the boy wanted to get a closer look. The child had been warned about the touching, about the illness that followed. Johnny stared at him, his face inches away from Jingle’s. Finally, he snatched the Elf off the shelf.
A sickening coldness shot through Jingle’s body like an Arctic gust blowing open the door of Santa’s workshop. His stomach began to tremble, His soul, which had been so cheery and full of goodwill toward men, was now filled with dread and pain. Quick, Johnny, get the cinnamon! It’s the only thing to reverse what you’ve done!
Unlike his mother, the little boy was not receptive to the Elf’s pleas. Instead, he took Jingle to his room, where he placed him on some wooden train tracks and began to run him over with a smiling blue train.
“Get him, Thomas!,” the boy shouted. “He’s a bad elf! He’s here to spy on us.”
The wheels of the locomotive began to crush Jingle’s body. The face of the tank engine was used as a battering ram, crashing into the Elf’s skull repeatedly. The emotional pain and nausea that had occurred at the moment of contact was now compounded by brain trauma and internal bleeding.
Soon, though, the boy grew tired of this game and put the train down. He left the room.
Jingle was relieved. He had to make it back to the North Pole, and quick. The medical experts there would know how to heal him. Maybe he could be re-assigned to another family. Or maybe Johnny would realize the pain his actions had caused. Maybe he would repent and embrace the Spirit of Christmas. Maybe—
Johnny re-entered, trailed now by the large tuxedo cat. In the boy’s hand was a small plastic tub. The cat seemed very interested in the tub’s contents.
“Here you go, Tigger,” the boy giggled, pouring a heavily scented green substance from the tub onto the Elf. “Have as much catnip as you want.”
Jingle wasn’t sure what catnip was. They didn’t have such things at the North Pole. Before he had a chance to really examine the material, the cat was upon him, claws puncturing his chest, teeth in his throat. There were holes all over his body in a matter of seconds. He was battered and beaten, shoved and dragged around the room. The cat took Jingle in his mouth and shook the Elf rapidly from side to side. The fabric on the Elf’s back tore and a large amount of fluff fell from his ripped torso. He looked down, seeing his entrails on the floor as he blacked out.
He awoke sometime later in great pain. As he opened his eyes, he realized that he was surrounded by darkness. He was in some sort of plastic bag, one stuffed with papers and old food. It hit him: Dear heavens—I’m in the garbage!
Outside the bag, he could hear the voice of Mrs. Wilkes, who was sternly chastising her son. “This is why you can’t have nice things. You tear everything up! What is wrong with you? I thought you’d like the Elf!”
The boy was defiant. “I hate Christmas,” he cried.
The argument continued, but it moved further away. Jingle heard a door close, and then he heard no more of the Wilkes family. In the distance, he could hear cars passing. He began to realize that he must be sitting in a trash can out by the road. He had to get out of here before the garbage truck came. If he could only break through the bag…but his arms and legs were broken, his body destroyed. His magic was gone.
A loud motor arrived not long after, and he felt himself being lifted and dumped. There was a tremendous pressure as the truck compacted him into the rest of the garbage. He found his face buried in a bag of cat litter, his nose in a wormy lump of feces.
What has become of me? All I wanted was to bring joy to children…
The truck rolled through the city and moved toward the dump, where it deposited Jingle and the other unwanted things in a pile on the cold, muddy ground. Soon, a bulldozer pushed the mound of trash toward a large pit. Jingle could feel warmth coming from the hole, heat which grew the nearer he came. As he rolled over the edge and began to fall, he smelled smoke and saw the bright orange flames. His death was painful and slow.
For Christmas that year, Johnny received a new video game system and a bicycle, everything that he had wanted. The boy remained on Santa’s Nice list for a decade to come as more and more Elves dispatched to Dayton disappeared from contact with the North Pole.
He was never brought to justice.