Episode 7 – The Mall

Britney and I pull on jeans, flannel shirts…grab our coats, and head off. It’s one of those crystal clear, super cold mornings with new snow sparkling like diamonds. Britney takes the wheel. I’m dying to drive, but the state hasn’t figured out whether Elves should have licenses yet. It’s ridiculous and pisses me off, Noel too. He’d be ecstatic if I became a state trooper, but that’s highly unlikely based on how hard it is for the state to recognize me as anything.

Unfortunately, at the police barricade, the reporters aren’t fooled by my hood and start running for their cars. “Fuck! Step on it!” I yell to Britney. “No way I want to do the invisible routine. Being a regular guy’s a helluva lot more fun.”

She guns it, and we lose the reporters for a while, but I have no illusions how long it’ll last. On the way, Britney calls her friends and tells them we’re on the way. They’ll definitely be an entourage waiting for us….cross my fingers, hope her old boyfriend Charlie doesn’t show…but he probably will. The girls love him.

Actually, some of the girls have crushes on me too, but Elves are monogamous, and Britney’s the girl of my dreams. I’m s-o-o-o hoping we’ll get married, but based what I’m learning about Human courtship, that won’t happen for a while…and Elves live like two hundred years, so the decision’s not that urgent…especially since I’m already enjoying the fringe benefits, but until it happens, I’ll obsess about some guy snatching her away.

Fortunately, the mall’s a beehive of activity, so nobody notices our arrival…still, I pull down my cap as an extra precaution. It doesn’t fucking matter. People start to point which isn’t surprising since, during the past year, I’ve been on magazine covers, TV, the web, whatever. It’s amazing I grew up in an Elf family where everything seemed normal, but out in the world I’m considered a mythological creature or something. Doctors want to probe me and take blood, and universities want to structure courses around me and Elf culture. It’s so weird! Women even want to have my babies, and sperm banks are offering thousands for Elf sperm…and, although jerking off for profit doesn’t sound terrible, it’s definitely a serious violation of the Elfin code, which I’m already stretching to the limit.

More and more eyes follow Britney and me as we head for the fake waterfall, our agreed rendezvous. When I first saw the thing, I was confused….thought a river was flowing under the floor. Couldn’t figure out why there were no fish, frogs or anything, but then I learned about Chlorine, really serious crap.

A big bunch of kids are standing around, throwing coins in, laughing, and generally causing a ruckus…as usual, Charlie’s in the middle of everything. Fuck!

The whole coin-throwing thing amazes me because it’s such an ancient custom. In the Elf world, natural springs are the realms of water spirits. We always toss gifts to them, hoping they’d look out for us…grant us good luck, bless our crops, bestow good health and long life. I have a few coins in my pocket and toss them in like everyone else….guess I’m superstitious. Maybe the spirits are still in the water somehow…I’m not about to take any chances.

As usual, the minute Charlie recognizes Britney, he’s totally focused on her, but thankfully, she ignores him.

“Hey!” He announces to everybody. “Look who’s here, Elf Boy and Wonder Girl!”

Everybody turns to look, especially the girls, who are always curious about me, especially because popular Britney chose me over Charlie, the class stud. Objectively, Charlie’s impressive, way over six feet, lean and lanky, a basketball star…okay features, I guess. To my surprise, he rushes up to talk to us. “Can I talk to you guys?”

“Sure,” Britney says.

He pulls us aside…all mysterious. Faces me, which is really unusual…never showed interest before (except to bust balls)…leans close. “Arne, you’ve got…like…special powers, right?”

I nod reluctantly…not sure what he’s up to…sense it’s something serious. He’s pretty freaked.

“Dude, I know this is gonna sound crazy,” looks around nervously to be sure nobody’s listening, “but you know about the rogue bear, right?”

I nod. “Yup. Noel told us.”

“Well…last night I was sleeping…thought I was dreaming…that the bear was right outside the window. “No way!” I told myself, then heard these loud thudding footsteps, and was suddenly wide awake…nearly fucking shit! It was no fucking dream…and the thing’s fur, or hair, or whatever, was pressed right against the glass.”

“Are you serious?” I exclaimed trying to sound surprised.

“Yeah. It was so fucking freaky…so I turned on the light to see better, but the fur wasn’t like any bear fur I’ve seen, unless it had mange or something. It was stringy and curly, with bald leathery patches…nasty looking, and it was making these weird noises, like mumbles and grunts, like a fucking pig. What bear makes sounds like that?”

“That’s really strange,” I said. “Were there any tracks?”

“Yeah, there were, but this morning, the snow’d pretty much filled them in. They were fucking huge! Does that seem like a bear to you? You’ve seen millions of bears, right?”

I glance at Britney. I sense she’s feeling sorry for Charlie and wants me to come clean about the Ogre, but I don’t want him going bat shit in the mall, so I buy time: “Listen,” I tell him, “why don’t we come over to your place later. I’ll check everything and we’ll get a handle on it.”

“Okay, cool,” he says, shaking my hand like some long lost brother. “You’re doing me a huge favor, dude. No way I want that thing lurking around my house, especially this weekend. My family’s in Boston and I’m totally creeped out.”

“No worries,” I tell him. “I’ve got some Elf tricks up my sleeve.”

Charlie grins from ear to ear. “That’s awesome, dude!”

When we turn back to the waterfall, there are a zillion more people…staring at me. Fuck!

I grab Britney’s hand. “Let’s get the hell out of here before we’re trapped!”

To be continued…Read next episode!