by Tony Noland
"You'll never get away with this, Verbosity!" the Grammarian cried, fighting for breath as his bonds grew ever tighter. Pinned to the floor under the weight and complexity of words, he feared that this was the end.
Professor Verbosity laughed. "Ah, my dear Grammarian," he replied, "as you can see, I have already won, insofar as the first and most crucial step in winning is to render you utterly and completely helpless, a step which, even to a mean and narrow-minded perspective such as yours, must be as readily apparent as the cold concrete upon which you find yourself struggling, indeed, struggling mightily, but," he continued, "to no avail, for, as you know all too well, words have power, and this sentence, though perfectly long and complex enough to entangle you for the next eleven months while you try to parse out subject and object amid all of the subtending and supporting prepositional and participial phrases, is also perfectly correct grammatically, which renders you powerless to break free!" The Professor laughed again, a childishly high laugh of delight and glee.
The Grammarian struggled, hopelessly tangled in the thick ropes of words, trying desperately to find some flaw, some grammatical mistake that he could exploit. With all of his super-powered lexicographical might, he scanned and re-scanned the sentence, though it was blindingly painful to do so. If only there were an an inconsistent tense, a dangling or misplaced modifier, even an intransitive verb used in a transitive sense, but there was nothing! The sentence was grammatically correct in every way!
"Curse you, Verbosity! The people of this city will not stand for your circumlocutions!"
"Now, now, my valiant adversary, or rather, you defeated and broken man who once was a worthy adversary to my rhetorical skill and encephalitic eloquence... you mustn't try to -"
"AHA! An ellipsis! If only I can grab it in time!"
"- struggle so, for as you can see, my confounding concordances of verbal envelopment are employed without flaw, a condition which encompasses the little ellipsis you spotted, as well as the en dash you forced me to use - entirely against my will, but without consequence to the strength of the bonds holding you - as well as the em dashes I just threw in, purely as a lark, not in the sense of a bird preparing to take flight, which would be completely inappropriate in this context, given your utterly earthbound condition, but in the sense of a jest, a jape, a witticism at your expense, Grammarian, for you are now naught but an object of ridicule and mockery, the highest of the high made the lowest of the low, the mightiest of the mighty made the -"
With a tremendous explosion, the enormous and enormously complex stained glass window burst inward, cutting off the flow of words which was choking the life out of the Grammarian. An armored man, seven feet tall and powerfully muscled, did a graceful back-flip through the rain of glass shards and landed perfectly in front of the super-villain.
Verbosity recoiled. "No, not you, not when I was so close to -"
"Yes, Professor Verbosity, it is me, the Avante Guardian! With my faithful companion," he turned to wave a hand to his left, but there was no one there. "Ah, my faithful... um..." The champion of chic looked up, just in time to see a plump boy in an ill-fitting orange and gray leotard drop down from the window frame, lowering himself by a rope. The boy slipped the last couple of feet, landing on his shoulder.
"Yowza geez!" the boy cried.
The Avante Guardian sighed, then said, "My faithful companion, Idiot Boy! I mean," he said, embarrassed, "Idiom Boy!" The superhero struck a heroic pose. Idiom Boy did the same thing, but in his own, unique way. "We're hear to stop you're evil plans, Professor! Theirs no way to escape! At all!"
"Au contraire, you metal-clad buffoon, there are many ways to escape, the first of which is -"
"Stop wright there, Professor!" Punctuation marks erupted from the hero's silver gauntlets: periods, question marks, semicolons, exclamation marks, even a few interrobangs. They flew like a Pelikan blue-black hurricane into the face of Professor Verbosity, the great splash of punctuation raining down onto the enmeshed and prone form of the Grammarian. The venal viceroy of verbiage stumbled backwards, shouting a short, sharp sentence. The serpentine syntax on the floor began to break apart into discrete phrases and clauses as the terminal punctuation marks found their marks, the resonance echo of a bad piece of authorial wordplay causing verb forms to collapse from gerund to infinitive to simple, prepositions to fold back in on themselves and refer to their own subtending object.
"Yeah," Idiom Boy chimed in, "hold it!" He opened his backpack and took out a complicated contraption made of wires, rods and springs. "Once I diagram that sentence, you'll be trapped good! And by that I mean bad! Trapped bad!" On the floor, the struggling Grammarian choked on a cry of rage. "Badly! I meant badly!"
"No!" screamed the Professor, "You! Can't? Do this; to. Me!" With a final cry of frustration, the thwarted super-villain ran from the room, grabbing hold of a line, a very, very, very, very long line from his escape clause, which was, of course, filled with hot air. Hoist on his own petard, he flew off into the night.
"Ha ha!" laughed the Avante Guardian, "our cutting-edge stylistic weapons were no match for his pendantry!"
The Grammarian mumbled something hot and inaudible as he clawed the remains of a thorny, left-branching sentence from over his face.
"Eh? What was that, old freind?" The armored authorial smiled down at his fellow superhero.
"I said, it's pedantry, not PENdantry! Furthermore, he was no match for you, not the other way around, and for God's sake, is it too much for you to spell 'friend' properly when you speak?!"
"What? Did I mispell it? Ah, well, it doesn't matter. The impordant thing is, you're free!"
The blood rose in the Grammarian's face until he was nearly purple. He hissed his words out through clenched teeth. "It... ALWAYS... matters!"
"I dunno, I kinda like it the way the Guardian said it," added Idiom Boy.
"Yeah," said the armored hero, "if you spell something one way one time, this way another time, people know what your trying to say. I mean, it's the same difference, right?"
The Grammarian screamed with rage and dove for the Avante Guardian's neck, his powerful fingers outstretched.
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