Not HimsELF

Ever wondered why ventriloquist dummies look so eerily alive? Or why porcelain dolls make you feel like they’re always watching you? Maybe I can shed some light on this, but firstly I have to begin with a little back story…

This goes way back to before the commercialisation of Christmas, in Germany. It’s been well-known for centuries that if you’re a good child, Santa leaves you something nice. But if you are a little brat and misbehave, then the Krampus visits not with coal, but with a sack to take you away to hell with him.

It had been that way for years, until Krampus wanted some of Santa’s limelight. He then proceeded to taking more children away with him, regardless of Santa’s list. The jolly fat man soon got wind of this and was forced to banish Krampus to hell for eternity and only return for the true brats of society. To further the creature’s humiliation, Santa took a horn from his nemesis’ head and locked it away in a glass display box. All was right with the world again… or was it? Fast forward a few centuries, to the time of the commercialisation of Christmas.

Santa believed that the confiscated horn of the Krampus was safe in its cabinet but alas, how wrong he was. With six months of acquiring the removed appendage, it went missing and no one knew of its whereabouts. Santa was worried, as he knew the horn was pure evil and possessed anyone in its presence. Weeks went by and no one found it. Santa had to retire his search attempts and just hope it hadn’t fallen into the wrong hands. But what he didn’t realise was that the horn would emerge closer to home than he wished – in the north pole itself.

As always, it was a busy week at Santa’s workshop. With only a few weeks to go until Christmas, everyone was hard at work. From the Head Elf, to post sorting elves, everyone was busy and had a part to play. All the elves were rushing around frantically. However, there was just one elf who felt he’d been given the short straw in the jobs list. Why was he the one mucking out the reindeer stable? He truly felt less than an elf with the abysmal task he’d been assigned. Luckily, it was nearly time for him to go home for the day.

“Just one more paddock,” he mumbled to himself exhausted. He decided to rush through this to get out early. With renewed vigour, he thrust the shovel forward into the pile of crap before him. He was happily rushing through his last few shovelful when the shovel struck something hard.

“What on earth could that be?” he asked himself. He started pushing the turd aside until the unknown object was revealed. A large black curled horn. How peculiar! He washed it off and picked it up and inspected it curiously. The moment he held it in his hand, he heard voices. Voices way too loud outside and deep to be elves outside. It felt as though they were from within his own little head! Startled, he dropped the horn and was about to kick it away when he was overwhelmed with the undeniable urge to pick it up and claim it for his own. Hesitantly, he stooped to reclaim what he had previously cast aside. He decided to shove it in his burlap sack. He finished the job and went home.

As soon as he got back home, he took the strange appendage from his bag and placed it on the table before him. This time he resigned to inspect it without physical contact as his previous experience had frightened him. An unearthly heat was being radiated from the item before him and once again the voices began, this time more persistent. He had no idea what they were telling him, but he felt compelled to kill Santa! Petrified, he covered it over with a blanket and ran from his front room to his bedroom and slammed the door shut.

That night Jack had the most horrible nightmares, so vivid and so real. He dreamt that the world was burning around him and screams of children filled the air.

“Let us out! Set us free! We will behave!” wailed the children burning within the raging inferno. Jack gazed upon the doomed youths with total fear.

“I can’t, I dunno how!” replied the regretful elf.

“Blow on the horn and we will be free!” shrieked the kids.

“Do it, do it, DO IT!” yelled the children. With that he awoke with a start and drenched in sweat. Within his head, the previous command repeated time and time again. Hypnotized, he arose from his bed and shuffled mindlessly towards the demonic artefact. Jack reached down and swept the sheet from off the horn and picked it up. It was hot to touch and deep within his clouded mind he knew something was seriously wrong with the item he held within his hands. He raised the item to his mouth and was about to blow upon it as commanded, but a loud knock on his door snapped his out of his trance. With that, he shook his head and replaced the horn back upon the table, covering it back over. Jack opened his door to find absolutely no one there… what was going on? He decided to go back to bed and try to sleep for work the following day. The night passed without further events.

Jack awoke that morning feeling completely drained. He wasn’t sure if what transpired the night before really took place, until he walked into his living room to find a ragged sheet upon his coffee table and the unmistakable shape of the horn beneath it. He was convinced there was something clearly wrong with the creepy item but didn’t know what to do. He had never had dreams that horrid nor as real before. But maybe they were a one off. His day passed in a total trance. He got home that night and collapsed face first onto his bed. Sleep was instantaneous…

Alas, Jack was once again shaken from his slumber by infernal dreams of burning screaming children, but this time he could make out a distinctly deeper voice urging him to blow the horn and set it free… what was “it”? He held his head in his hands and closed his eyes, desperately trying to make sense of the terrible visions. Maybe if he locked the horn away the bad dreams would cease. He strode into his front room and grabbed the horn. As soon as his hands made contact, his head jerked backwards violently and before him stood a ghastly spectre of a tall satyr looking creature with cloven hooves, red eyes and sharp teeth. The creature was missing a horn from its head.

“Blow the horn and set me free…” commanded the creature. As sudden as it appeared, it vanished. Jack broke from trance yet again, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes. What on earth had he just saw? He couldn’t believe his eyes. He wrapped up the evil artifact and went to his basement. Below his house he stored all his valuables in a giant redwood chest and kept it locked using his own magic. He muttered soon words in an elven tongue and the chest opened up. He cast the devilish item into its depths and slammed the lid shut. Again he muttered some mysterious words and locked it up. Having completed his task, he went back upstairs to hopefully resume sleep. It only seemed like mere seconds before he was awake again, roused by his alarm for work.

“Heaven help me,” muttered the exhausted elf. He stumbled to his window and opened the curtains. Yup, snow again… but then again, what did he expect? Bahamian weather? Disgruntled, he shuffled around getting ready with last night’s events constantly playing and replaying in his tired mind.

Yet another day passed and now his colleagues and friends were noticing a change in his appearance and demeanor. His dark ringed bloodshot eyes and drained and lifeless actions depicted just how he was feeling. So eager to sleep, though dreading another night of the same haunting dreams and strange happenings, he was at a loss of what to do. Surely all this wasn’t just mere coincidence. Maybe he would be better to destroy the demonic item he had locked away. Yes, he could just destroy it and maybe all would return to normal. He resolved to burn it to ashes. No evidence of it ever existing would remain. That night after work, he lit a huge bonfire in his back yard and cast the dreaded item into the flames. He stood there for a couple of hours, breathing a sigh of relief whilst watching the fire burn. After he was convinced the horn had turned to ashes, he left the dwindling fire and went to bed. For the first time in several nights, he slept without a dream at all.

He was awoken the following morning feeling completely refreshed. He got dressed and went to work feeling like a new elf. But as the day wore on, curiosity began to eat away at his conscience and the sole question kept reverberating throughout his mind: what if the horn didn’t burn? He kept shrugging it off under the belief that it couldn’t have survived the raging inferno. After several dismissals of the same thought, he just shook his head and got on with shoveling reindeer crap. His work finished and headed home feeling apprehensive to say the least.

It was dark when Jack arrived back at his little abode. He opened his door and shuffled in… and the sight before him chilled him to his very soul. Before him, without a single scratch, scorch or blemish on it, lay the unharmed item right there on the table! What on earth was happening? He walked throughout his home checking the Windows and the back door, just to find to his dismay all were locked and untouched. How did it survive? Poor Jack was at his wit’s end and wracked his brains trying to decide how best to destroy this evil thing once and for all. Fire didn’t harm it… well duh! Of course that which came from Hell obviously not be affected by fire. So how could he eliminate the piece of the inferno without it falling into another’s hands? He couldn’t bury it as it would eventually be found, thus starting the chaos over. He couldn’t throw it into water because it could float and end up anywhere. Just when he had nigh on ran out of options, he came up with a stroke of pure genius. The workshop had a new toy making machine. At the head of this machine was a massive saw and wood lathe. If he could grind it up and bury the dust in an airtight container for beneath his basement, he may just be able remove the horn from the earth once and for all.

He decided he would feign working an extra shift in the workshop clean up crew then he would have access to the machine. Jack took an extreme risk bringing the horn to work with him that day. But it would be worth it, right? To be rid of the horror that had haunted his nights lately. He felt his day went by far too slowly whilst waiting for its penultimate moment. As his own shift ended, he slung his rucksack over his shoulder containing it’s cursed cargo. He strode towards the workshop to end his suffering once and for all…

He entered the workshop and was immediately handed overalls to cover him whilst completing the faux job at hand. Of course he had to convince the rest of the crew he was there to work then he would need to hide until everyone had gone home for the night. This is exactly what he did. He worked hard, all the while secretly wishing the rest would go home so he could complete his deed. Eventually everyone went home and Jack had hidden underneath the new machine so he wasn’t struggling to find it when all lights went off. He took a torch out of his pocket and turned it on, looking around for the controls to the device. He soon found them and was pleased to see this new tech came with a silencer. What luck! He could do his job without anyone knowing for sure! He pushed the silencer button and switched the machine on. Boy, elf technology was the best! Not a single sound was emitted from the machine. He dug the evil item from his bag and placed it on the conveyor belt. It went straight into the lathe and was ground to dust, where he was waiting with a container to collect the dismantled artifact. As soon as the machine had finished grinding the horn, he cleaned out the chute that the dust came from and turned the machine off to clean the upper part of the chute. With his task finished , he wiped the beads of sweat from his head and crept out of the workshop and made his way home through the snow-covered lamp lit streets.
As soon as he got home, he lit his torch and went downstairs to his cellar and decided for tonight he would lock the tainted demon dust in the chest and in the morning on his day off he would bury it. Again, he slept soundly. He awake fresh the following morning with blurred vision, borne from heavy sleep. After all, he oh so needed it. As he strode into the bathroom and looked into the mirror, his reflection was engulfed in flames. Jack blinked and rubbed his eyes, but looking back he was greeted with the very same harrowing image. Within seconds, his reflection morphed into that of the Krampus, sans the horn. With a devilish grin the reflection bellowed a short verse which confirmed that he was cursed.

“You found that which is mine,
And failed to heed its call,
You belong to me now for all time,
Body soul and all!”

Then, as quickly as the image had appeared it had vanished, leaving Jack alone in the room with his ashen faced reflection. The poor elf stood there shaking from head to toe and could barely think straight. He washed his face with cold water whilst trying to make sense of what he saw, but to no avail. That image from the mirror had bore its way deeper into his brain and despite every attempt, he couldn’t shake it free. He went to work, petrified and unsure of what to do, He knew that it was his day off, but he wanted to distance himself from the curse that now owned him.

He went about his work, feeling hollowed to the core as the reflection’s word were ringing loud within his pointy ears.

Now unfortunately for him, this would be far from.the last time he would encounter the problems that plagued him. Also, little known to Jack and everyone else, Hell was set to break loose. The kind of which could bring Santa and his reputation to his knees…

Over in the workshop, the new machine had been fired up. Peter was the operator for the day and he had absolutely no idea what had transpired the night previous regarding the lathe. Had he inspected the entire machine prior to turning it on, the upcoming events could have been avoided. The dust from the ground horn still remained on the blades of the lathe. As the blades were spinning, the dust started to float from that tool to the next part of the machine. This began to spread throughout the entirety of the machine and as each toy was being made and leaving the machine, elements of the ground horn had become incorporated with each toy.

Today, was the day that dolls, puppets and dummies were being made on this machine. Every item that came off the machine that was finished, had the cursed dust on it. Peter didn’t know, and neither did anyone else. Every finished toy went to the warehouse and from there each one allocated an owner. Over the next few days in the warehouse, strange things began to happen regarding the new machine. The first incident involved the unfortunate unknown reversal of the lathe and it spat the wood back at one of the operators, smashing hard into his face. The poor elf had concussion and needed stitches in his face. The incident left him disfigured facially for years after. The next time it played up, it wouldn’t turn on, and while the mechanic was inspecting its blades, belt and cogs, it turned on suddenly and took his left hand clean off. These problems gotten back to the big man himself. Santa was worried to say the least. This close to Christmas and the machine malfunctioning; he had to get to the bottom of it!

Santa enlisted a team of expert engineers and technicians to investigate the problemed machine. The elves had the machine taken out of commission whilst the inspections were underway. Over the next day, they scrutinized each and every inch of the damaged apparatus. Try as they might, they came up with nothing. Circuit boards, wiring cogs and belts were intact and showed no signs of tampering. With the study of the machine complete, they sent the results back to the fat guy in red. He then gave the green light to continue with production as they were a day behind schedule and D-day just around the corner… over the final days leading to the big night, other strange things happened. Dolls and puppets that seemed to go missing without a trace. Not only this, but other toys became sabotaged and defaced. No one could understand it. Instead of reporting it to Santa, the incidents were left unsaid.

With two days left to go, the toy counting commenced. The warehouse team had counted every completed item for delivery. Upon completion, they found some weird data. The majority of the toys were dolls or puppets or marionettes. Other toys that were normal high on the list for most produced seemed to take the proverbial back seat.

Once again, these details went without being disclosed. Along came the big night and all items were loaded into the sleigh. Unsuspecting, Santa boarded his vehicle and set off. He made his delivery and it was a success yet again… or so he thought.

On Christmas day, families all over the world got up to see if the jolly fat man had made his annual visit. For most families, it was a happy affair. Unfortunately, some homes weren’t so lucky.

Over in Louisville, Kentucky, Madison Harris gotten up before her family to see if Santa had been then go back to her parents and excitedly relay the good news. What greeted her at the bottom of the stairs was a different vision entirely. Upon opening her lounge door, she saw the front room in tatters. Presents were scattered unwrapped all over the floor. Boxes were opened and toys and other items were damaged in some way. Decorations didn’t escape the fate either. Within seconds of witnessing this terrible sight, her parents were awoken by her woeful screams. The only thing that seemed to be intact and in pristine condition was a porcelain doll, which was sat under the tattered remains of the tree…

In Rhyl, Wales, little Kevin Jones had gotten up to find the home in disarray just the same as Madison’s home was. In this case a small wooden puppet was laid upon the hearth with a tag attached and his name upon it… it was the only thing that escaped the ravaging of the homestead. His parents were alerted by Kevin’s high-pitched wails of disappointment.

Over in Adelaide, Australia, Patty Morson had woken up to find the entire contents of the living room out on the front lawn and the windows broken. The only item left behind in a seemingly new condition was a rocking horse.

All over the world, reports of the very same events were coming up. All these gotten back to Santa. He was furious and demanded to know how this happened and gotten the lists from the production floor and warehouse to check for abnormalities. He noticed right from the start that numbers of the dolls puppets and the like accounted for nearly half the list! He requested that the workshop be closed for a few days so he and his trusted top dogs could look over it with a fine toothed comb.

They inspected everything, from maintenance records, daily production sheets and even done swabs on the new machine. These were sent to the labs and the results that came back were harrowing. From swabbing the blade of the lathe, dust particles contained a substance that contained pure evil. The first lab elf was blinded from inspecting it through a microscope. This was when Santa began to suspect something. He went back to his home and looked through his books that listed all anti Christmas demons, fairies and creatures. And of all the creatures, only one creature had abilities to reanimate inanimate objects was none other than Krampus.

Colour drained from Santa’s face. Somewhere the horn had to have resurfaced and one or more of his elves knew of its whereabouts. Firstly he asked to view security footage from nights prior to the machines first malfunction. He scanned through at least a week’s worth of stuff before he found what he was looking for.

After a clean up operation, an elf was seen operating the new equipment alone and in almost near darkness. Santa zoomed in just in time to see Jack, his stable cleaner feeding the Krampus horn into the automated lathe, being sure to clean every inch afterwards. What he obviously forgotten was the cleaning of the lathe blades themselves. This is where the dust particles must have transferred to his toys!
Now Santa had two things to address. Retrieval of the horns remains and elimination of the possessed toys.

He was lucky enough to have tagged each toy with a microscopic beacon. He assembled a team of elves to find and destroy these tainted toys and sent them on their huge mission.

He then went to Jack’s home and knocked upon his door. Jack answered, looking like a skeleton with skin stretched over it. His eyes had nearly sunk into their blackened sockets and he had barely strength to keep them open. Santa was very concerned by the sight. Suddenly his demeanor went from angry to worried.

“Are you ok young elf?” asked Santa.

“I wish I was Sir,” muttered Jack.

“Do you want to be back as you were?” said the saddened man.

“More than anything, but the voices won’t leave me alone now. Even after burying the horn, I am still haunted by screams of children burning in hell,” said a distraught Jack.

“Give me the horn or the remains and I promise you will feel yourself once more,” exclaimed Santa.

Jack beckoned for Santa to come with him down the stairs to his cellar, where he dug up the floor and retrieved a small lead box. Santa picked it up out of Jack’s weakened hands and immediately felt an intense heat radiating from it. Not wanting to grasp it for much longer, he placed it in his magic velvet bag and looked at Jack.

“When this has ended, you will feel better,” he promised to frightened and frail elf.

“Thank you so much. I’m so sorry I never reported this. I just thought people would have thought I was crazy. Please forgive me, Sir,” said Jack earnestly.

“No matter what people will think, this is a magical place so strange is commonplace. Never hesitate to tell me about it anything young elf. Nothing is too crazy for these ears to hear my fellow. I forgive you, just concentrate on becoming your old self again,” said the Jolly Fat Man. He gave Jack a hug and bade him fare well. The next part of the clean up operation was in force so he awaited confirmation that it was complete.

Each toy was tracked down and reduced to ash by special flames. The horn particles were separated from the ashes and put in secure containment. After that, the elves replaced all gifts and redecorated the rooms with new decorations. Within days, Santa had received reports that all toys had been destroyed and the horn was on its way back to the North Pole.

Santa congratulated the elves on a job well done and put all ashes together in the case that the horn originally came from. Once together, they started to glow, swirling around and melting together until the horn was once again complete.

Small pieces of the horn weren’t there. But surely that was because the grinding process had reduced too far to bring it back to its complete state, right? Santa decided he was happy enough with that notion, and the horn was buried miles beneath the icy surface of the North Pole.

Obviously, all went according to what Santa had said. Jack was well again within days and back to his old job. Machinery began operating properly again. All was right with the world.

Since the event, there were a few reports that dolls were moving, but ruled out as demonic possession of other origins. Little known to Santa, during the sabotage of toys by the animated dolls and puppets, a small handful had found the tracking beacons and removed them without detection… and are out there to this day.

So folks, when you think a dolls eyes are following you or puppets are moving, they just might well be…
My only other message to you all is this. Never conceal your wrongdoings, they will be found out and consequences could be extremely dire…

by Rob Wright 2016