Welcome to another flash fiction blog hop hosted by the magnificent House of Manlove. Click this link to find more awesome winter/holiday themed short reads for your enjoyment!
Flash fiction is quite the challenge for me, and when I first wrote The Wrong Elf, it was way over the 1200 word limit. Rather than abandon the longer version, I had the brilliant idea to “flesh it out” and offer it as a free holiday giveaway! So, if you like the flash version, please click this link to download the Xtended version from Amazon. And if you know anyone who enjoys steamy m/m reads, please feel free to pass the word. It will be free through Christmas Day.
Now, the story. Flash version.
The Wrong Elf
By Alexis Duran
Ordering at the last minute from a discount catalogue exposed a person to certain risks. Out of stock. Wrong color. Doesn’t fit. None of those disappointments compared to this cock-up.
Avery knelt in the torn wrapping paper and snowdrift of packing peanuts, still gripping the scissors. He considered cutting his throat with them. Another miserable, lonely Christmas, and all because he’d wasted his holiday money on a stupid elf.
It had seemed like an awesome way to counter a pathetic winter break spent alone in his fraternity house. He’d specified male on the order form. No substitutions. And yet, here before him stood a female elf and not even a particularly attractive one. She was stocky and sported the hint of a mustache. She reminded him of his eighth grade gym teacher.
He reread the order form. The tag line under Your Very Own Elf! said Guaranteed to make wishes come true.
This elf didn’t even speak English.
“Here’s my wish,” Avery said. “Turn yourself into a hot guy elf.”
She grinned at him, the tassel on her cap bobbing as she rocked onto the toes of her pointy shoes.
He shook out the papers and discovered a pamphlet that appeared to be the instruction manual, written in a language he didn’t recognize.
He sighed. The elf watched his every move, cheerful as the moment he’d unwound her bubble wrap.
“How about getting me a pizza?” he suggested. She cocked her head to the side and walked around him, thoughtful now.
“Back in the box, elf. If I hurry I can get Fed Ex to pick you up before they close.” He hesitated over refund or replacement. Was it worth the trouble of trying again?
“Nothing personal, but you’re not what I had in mind, so stand still, okay?” Avery held up a sheet of bubble wrap and smiled at her. She shook her head, grinned and before he could stop her, waltzed out the door.
“Hey!” He ran into the hall, but she’d vanished. “What about my refund?”
It hadn’t occurred to him an elf he’d bought and paid for might just up and leave. He wasn’t responsible for a malfunctioning product, was he? Not only did she not grant wishes, she didn’t even follow simple orders. He decided to call the company’s help line and complain. Even on Christmas Eve some drone would be manning the phones.
Avery was flat on his back in bed with the phone pressed to his ear, listening to “Frosty the Snowman” for the hundredth time, when a commotion in the hall drew his attention. There was a couple thuds, a grunt, some singing in a lilting foreign language, and then his door burst open, kicked by his wayward elf, whom he’d discovered from the packing material was called Griselda 1819191.
She had a large sack over her shoulder. It wasn’t pizza.
Avery sat up, alarmed. The sack was moving.
“Griselda, what did you do?”
She grinned and dumped the writhing sack on the floor. The sack grunted. Avery winced. Griselda bowed.
“Take it back,” he commanded. She rocked onto her toes and back again.
“Oh, this can’t be good.” Avery slid from the bed to kneel beside the sack. Growling sounds emerged. Better get this over with, Avery thought. He untied the knot at the top and pulled down the sides.
Furious brown eyes glared at him. The mouth was duct tapped. Dylan from Art History. Crap. Sure he’d fantasized about Dylan, but kidnapping wasn’t in his erotic repertoire. His heart sank into his slippers.
He gripped the edge of the tape and jerked it loose.
“I’m so sorry. The elf malfunctioned.”
“Get me out of this bag,” Dylan said in a menacingly calm voice.
Avery grabbed the end of the bag and dragged it away. Griselda had wound duct tape all around Dylan, pinning his arms to his sides and his legs together. He wore flannel pjs and a t-shirt.
“Untape me, Avery.”
He knows who I am? Avery’s elation was quickly replaced by fear. He knows who I am!
He scrounged for the scissors and began cutting away the tape, careful not to nick the skin. “I don’t know what happened, honest. The elf is broken and the manual is in some foreign language.”
Dylan fumed silently until he was freed. He tore the last strips of tape from his clothes and leapt to his feet. “Expect a visit from the cops,” he said and made for the door. Griselda blocked his way.
“Call off your elf.”
“Let him go,” Avery pleaded. Griselda leaned against the door, looking very immovable.
“She’s one strong fucking elf,” Dylan commented. “Where’s the manual?”
Avery held it up. “It’s in Russian or something.” Dylan snatched it from him.
“It’s in Czech. You ordered an elf from a company called We B Wishes?”
“They had a bunch of five star reviews.”
Dylan shook his head and stared at the manual. Avery was reminded of all the hours spent last semester staring at the blond sophomore as Dylan poured over the text book, taking notes and occasionally nibbling delectably on the end of his pen. He looked especially sexy all messed up and sweaty from his recent abduction. Avery had to admit, he had wished for a hot encounter with Dylan, but not like this. He wanted Avery to want him, not hate him. Stupid elf.
“Says here, guaranteed to make wishes come true.” Dylan narrowed his eyes at Avery. “What did you wish for?”
“You read Czech?”
“Answer the question.”
“I, uh,” Avery swallowed a growing lump in his throat. “I sure didn’t say it out loud. I wanted company. Hot company. I swear on Santa’s beard I did not ask Griselda to kidnap you.”
Dylan dropped his eyes and thumbed through the manual. “She could’ve just asked.”
“I told you. She’s defective.”
Avery stood and brushed peanuts from his knees. “What are you still doing on campus?”
“No family to speak of. Thought I might as well get some work done. It says here you can get her to go to sleep by saying, uh, not sure how to pronounce it, jit spat.”
Griselda crossed her arms over her chest, slid to the floor and fell promptly to sleep leaning against the door.
“We can drag her out of the way,” Avery said. “Maybe get her back in the box.”
“You’re going to send her back?”
“She’s dangerous! Besides.” It was Avery’s turn to blush. “She was supposed to be male.”
“That’s what you wish for?” Dylan cocked an eyebrow. “A discount elf?”
“I thought I did. I guess a magic elf knows better. I wished for—” The small bedroom suddenly felt cramped and overheated. “You.” His cheeks flamed red and he stared down at Dylan’s bare feet. The oddly perfect toes curled and uncurled. Dylan rocked up on them until he could look straight into Avery’s eyes, then down again. He was rather elf like, Avery decided.
“In an odd coincidence, when Griselda broke into my room, I was online with Santa’s Wish Shop, placing a request for the cute guy in Art History to ask me out.”
Avery’s pulse pounded so loud in his ears he thought he might have misheard.
“You forgive me for the duct tape and sack episode?”
“I’m willing to blame the elf, if you promise to ask nice next time.”
“I swear.” Avery put his hand over his thudding heart and decided next time was now. “Dylan, would you like to spend Christmas Eve with me?”
“Well, since I’m here—” He sat on the bed and leaned back on his elbows. Avery sat beside him and looked gratefully at the snoozing Griselda. Maybe he hadn’t been sent the wrong elf after all.
Click the cover to download the Xtended version and find out what happens next! Free through Christmas Day.
For more free fun, don’t forget to check out the rest of the flashers on today’s blog hop: