By Trent Unruh, Edwin Tran, Kaitie Christensen, Rendle Williams, Ana Santana, and Melissa Waters
Prologue: Frustration, Agony and Utter Confusion
I am the Oxford Comma Serial Killer because I thought Serial Comma Serial Killer was too confusing. It doesn’t matter what I’m reading; almost every newspaper, book, magazine, blog, and post forgets to add a comma where it is SUPPOSED TO BE.
I love reading, but I love understanding what I’m reading even more. I cannot describe the frustration of comprehending every bit of a text to only be met by a monstrous, vile, and repugnant pile of nonsensical information. Each time I come across a list without a comma before the penultimate (last item in a series) item, it makes my blood boil and my vision blur to the point that I can no longer read.
I’ve been struggling to hold my frustration back, but I just don’t think I can anymore. I don’t think anybody understands the pain, frustration, agony, and utter confusion I face everyday. I tried explaining what an Oxford Comma was to my therapist, but he didn’t understand what I was talking about and wrote me a referral to a psychiatrist instead. They all ignore me when I talk about Oxford Commas. They don’t see the lack of clarity that invades their minds everyday. The whole world is blind and needs to learn, and fear, the Oxford Comma. I have been chosen by the grammar gods to find, hunt, and eliminate all of those who oppose clarity while listing items. I am their instrument.
It took me a few days but I was able to round up masks, gloves, a dictionary, and a red pen. Now, I have everything I need. If you see red marks across the writings of the recently deceased, you know I have been there.
Chapter One: The Subtleness of Comma Sophistication
The typewriter laid turned over on its side, its black sheen lost in the fading flicker of the lantern light. The keys grinned their broken grin, not at all seeming to mind the fresh splattering of blood on their worn lettering. London’s winter breeze sliced through the shattered panes of the study’s broken window, and the last page in the typewriter ruffled desperately, as though trying to escape the unrelenting grip of the grinning, turned-over beast. Though the light was dim and the wind relentless, the last typed sentence stood out as a hideous monument on the final page.
The famed chef found true solace and serenity from the mad race of London in cooking, his family and his friends.
The page stopped its frantic attempts at escape when a black-gloved hand closed over the top of it. The hand tightened its grip and pulled hard. A mechanic screech that sounded more like a high-pitched scream came through the grinning teeth of the typewriter as the page was torn out of its grasp. The wind itself seemed startled into silence, though whether from the cold presence of the intruder, or the sudden scream of the typewriter, was unclear.
Their grip so tight it nearly tore the page in half, the owner of the black gloves sneered behind the scarf that covered half their face. In the silence of the wind, a new sound rose from the floorboards. It was faint, shaken, and stained with fear. The author lying on the floorboards squinted over the top of his shattered spectacles at the intruder, only able to see their piercing grey eyes. He flinched when those eyes turned from his final sentence to the author himself. The movement brought a fresh wave of pain to the still aching bruise on the back of his head.
“Did you actually believe this to be clear writing?” the intruder said. Though their mouth was covered, their words were so full of ire and contempt, they came through clearly enough to make the author recoil as though he had been kicked in the chest.
The author opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was an uncertain croak. The intruder stared. The wind was back, unperturbed, screaming distantly and faintly through the jagged shards of the broken window.
“Please,” the author finally managed, barely audible over the crying of the wind. “Please, I have money, you can help yourself to anything of mine.”
The intruder knelt next to the author, looking back at the page in their hand. The accursed sentence quivered in their crushing grip, as if it could feel the burning rage that simmered off of the intruder. In a quick motion, the page was suddenly held in front of the author’s face. He flinched. The smell of fresh ink and old paper wafted into his face, and what normally brought comfort and satisfaction, brought only despair and terror.
“I asked you a question,” the intruder said. The author shuddered at how words spoken so softly could sound so angry and hateful. “Did you believe this to be clear writing?”
“I – yes, I did,” the author said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“Following all of the nuances of grammar?”
“Yes!” the author said with a sob, his paralyzing terror breaking and sorrow overcoming his heart. The page and sentence in front of him were unfazed by his tears and whimpers, and they fell away. Grey eyes bored into the author, but he could not bring himself to meet them. All of this was becoming too much, and he felt his resolve and strength wilting away like fresh ink caught in an unforgiving rainstorm.
Then it happened.
The typewriter’s broken grin never faltered. If anything, it seemed to grow wider as it witnessed its owner fall beneath the silver dagger the intruder produced from his sleeve. The typewriter stared its mechanical, unfeeling stare when the intruder dropped the author’s final page of writing onto his unmoving chest. Rain began to cut through the shards of broken glass and mingled with the fresh blood that ran down the keys of the typewriter. The mechanics of the typewriter all but groaned at the onslaught of water, as though the keys had already begun to stiffen and rust, but that hardly seemed a concern anymore.
After all, it had just seen the Oxford Comma Serial Killer strike again.