Heath ran down the street, his legs like floppy parrot necks, and he winced because he was fairly certain he had just passed through the worst simile ever written.
It was getting worse.
The whole thing had started when he rose in the morning like a badly infected pimple. He had thought it was shreds of some terrible dream, but it continued as his coffee maker burbled like a colon churning with diarrhea and his shower steamed like a piping hot bowl of oatmeal. He passed through wave after wave of terrible metaphors until he could no longer imagine going to work. He tried to call in sick but dropped the receiver in terror when his boss answered as sharply as a kitten filled with razor-blades. Howling like a confused potato farmer, he had dashed from his apartment to see his best friend Barnard. He was a writer, maybe he could make sense of the situation.
He hammered on Barnard's door with a fist like a meaty ham sandwich. Not a moment later the door swung and there stood Barnard, his face wild with panic.
"It's happening to you too?" Heath ejaculated.
"This is driving me crazy!" Barnard said insanely, "Even the adjectives are turning against us!"
Heath grabbed Barnard and shook him like a baby. "We've got to stop this." Heath said haltingly.
"We must take to the streets and find the source of it." said Barnard, seekingly.
Outside, things had gotten worse. People ran in panic, their arms spinning like cotton gins. The shops were closed like a nun's legs, and cars were ablaze like piles of herring that had been set on fire.
That last one made them stop and scratch their heads for a moment in pure bafflement. They breathed deeply and tried to take everything in absorbently. They began to feel the waves of awry literary devices wash over them in a steady pulse. It felt like it radiated from the north like an atomic polar bear. A police cruiser careened past municipally and smashed into a player piano shop. Discordant music writhed through the air like helium filled pythons. Although they were both repulsed by everything around them, they pressed on directly toward what seemed to be the source. They couldn't see the english language butchered like a tea cozy for much longer.
After a torturous twenty blocks, just when it seemed they could take it no more, the awfulness started to take the form of puns and turns of phrase as well, to boot. They found themselves in a park that was devoid of all sentient life, save themselves and two very funny little men that were dressed as oddly as prussian ratchet sets. Sitting between them was a box with a spinny crank on the side and a hopper on top into which they were feeding the pages of what appeared to be long overdue library books.
"You're the source of this!" Heath said accusingly. He sank to his knees like a tugboat; it was all getting to be way too much. "You've got to stop!"
"Sorry. We can't. We would die." Said the taller little man, his mustache dripped to the ground like a beggars supper.
"Who are you and why are you doing this?" Cooed Barnard like a clump of new born creosote.
"We are the Kashistis," said the shorter one wearing the baptismal gown, "We come from the planet Sitsihsak. We are vacationing here while our home planet is fumigated for politicians. We need to run the Absurditron to survive. We have become so intelligent as a race that without a thick cloud of absurdity floating about us at all times the weight of the ultimate truth would cause us to commit immediate suicide."
"But you must stop! If this goes on for even an hour longer the whole city will be in ruins!" Barnard flatulated. "Argh! This is just terrible."
"Sorry. We will be vacationing here for the next two earth years. There are no other habitable planets nearby in our price range with enough literature for us to mince."
Heath, who was often known to have a temper like a dangling bullfrog, swung an arcing haymaker at the taller alien. The blow landed like a flick from a sissy little girl with a broken wrist. He struck again and again but each punch had the efficacy of a syrupy feather duster.
The two strange men put their palms on each other's forehead and pumped vigorously is some kind of analogue of laughter. They spoke in unison.
"You cannot harm us through the cloud of absurdity!"
Barnard was nearly in tears like a weeping willow. "Gadzooks, this is like freshman english all over..." But he stopped and his face lit up like an electrified field mouse. He searched through the pockets of his coat quickly and withdrew a thin little book. "Ha!"
"What's that?" inquired Heath, moistly.
"Theres no time!" Barnard said hastily.
The aliens were still distracted and pumping each other's foreheads, so they did not notice when Barnard leaped at the Absurdatron like a slavering amorous fruit basket and jammed the little book into the hopper. Immediately the ridiculous literary devices stopped, and it seemed even level headed ones ceased to be. The world around them became extra-normal.
The aliens stopped pumping each other and waved at the air around them, feeling for something that wasn't there.
"What have you done?" The tall one began adjusting the Absurdatron, but the book was in too deep to be withdrawn.
The short one's shoulders bowed and he began to pace in circles. "Everything is so bland and concise-" He did a dance, but when it failed to generate an adverb he began to weep. Heath and Barnard took three steps back to watch from a safe distance. They were both terrible with emotional scenes. The aliens gave up a minute later, both of them with red eyes and frowns. They turned to each other, said 'Farewell' and swallowed their tongues.
"I am happy that is over." said Heath, "What was that book?"
"Strunk and White's Manual of Style. I've always kept it on my person since college."
"Ah, good idea." said Heath, "Would you like to go get some lunch?"
"Yes, I am hungry after all of that running about-" said Barnard. "But first lets stop by Bookman's so I can buy another Manual of Style."
"Alright." said Heath, as the Kashistis turned purple on the ground.
They had a pleasant walk to Bookman's, Barnard was able to purchase the Manual at a discount since it was used, and then they had lunch.
Moral: Atomic polar bears always come from the North.
Thanks for this guest post go to Brenton Harper-Murray, a man whose skill jumps through hoops at Poor Brenton's Almanac