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No amount of trying to prove that he couldn’t write that neatly, or protesting that he hadn’t touched Lola’s recorder had worked.
Every single privilege he had, had been revoked. No Xbox, no going out to play football with his mates, no Internet time, not even any TV. Just chores, homework and whatever he could find around the house to entertain himself.
And nothing he could find to entertain himself could distract him enough from the mystery of who on earth was moving that damned elf. Because it wasn’t him, it definitely wasn’t Lola and he was pretty certain it wasn’t Mum or Dad either. Which left precisely nobody unless it was Oscar the goldfish, which was about as likely as the elf getting up by itself and doing stuff.
Except… well, that was looking more and more like the only possible answer.
James shook his head and tried to focus on scrubbing burnt pasta bake off the side of the baking dish. That was crazy talk.
Although apparently his teenage delinquency had helped his parents get over their own stupid elf fight. Dad had stopped going to work early and coming back late, indeed, he and Mum appeared to be taking it in turns to hover around wherever James was. It was like they were expecting him to suddenly turn around and trash the joint and then try to blame Lola or something.
James knew he hadn’t snapped that recorder, but he was concerned that he might be going mad. But then, everyone else saw everything too, so were they all going mad together? Or had he snapped the recorder and then just blanked it from his memory in some sort of weird episode or fit? But that still didn’t explain the note. He had tried and tried to copy the handwriting but he couldn’t get it right. He knew he hadn’t done it.
There were no words for how much he hated that elf.
Mum had posed Damien in a tea party with a load of Lola’s soft toys that morning in an attempt to cheer her up. It appeared to have worked as Lola was happily sat pouring out pretend cups of tea and serving wooden sandwiches to everyone on the carpet.
The shiny red recorder Dad had brought home after work might have had something to do with it, too. It was stuffed in the waistband of Lola’s trousers and she kept touching it to make sure it was still there, shooting death glares at James whenever she remembered he existed.
It was totally his imagination, James was sure, but the elf did not look like he was enjoying the tea party one little bit. Served the hideous little thing right.
Or it would. If it was a conscious being.