Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Fit the Fifty-First

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at Wipe your feet before entering.]


Hello All, Melanie here!

Fall is in full swing here in New Hampshire. The winds have shaken down most of the leaves and left the rolling mountains looking bleak and decidedly more Halloweenish. My town has announced they’ll be hosting a Halloween Masquerade Dance at the opera house this Saturday. My kids are wracking their brains for costume inspiration. Dreams are a great place to look.

I once had a great conversation with the horror writer Mike Allen about a story he wrote that drew inspiration from a nightmare he had as a child. In fact, I think nightmares might be thanked for his whole writing career.

When I was sixteen years old, I had a dream about this glowing race of people who had the power to dispel nightmares. More than twenty years later, I’m finishing the first draft of a novel about that race of people. It’s neither the first or last time I’ll probably write something that first appeared from a dream.

I wonder if we took a poll how many Filers will have written a story or poem, designed a game, or otherwise done something creative that first came to them in a dream?

Without further ado…


Dear Gladys,

I’m just sending you this quick email before I summon Neil Gaiman to let you know that I am about to summon Neil Gaiman!!!! Of course, this means that my wrtiing output is about to go THROUGH THE ROOF!!!! This means that I will need you to clear your schedule so that I can read you the newest pages from my yet unwritten second novel. As you know, it is customary for Neil Gaiman to appear in the dreams of promising writers when they are stuck in their draft and it is DEFINITELY HIS FAULT that I am currently stuck in mine!!!

In spite of my sending you a request for specific Neil Gaiman summoning supplies, I have not received them in time and have had to make due with an old fountain pen I had laying around in the attic, six or seven black socks, and a faded picture of Duran Duran.

To get in the sleeping mood, I made five or six turkey sandwiches and poured myself a gallon of red wine. Hang on, Galdys, I have to go eat the first three sandwiches.

Okay, I’m back. Those didn’t seem to be enough to knock me out so I’m going to have to resort to OLD FAITHFUL. This is SINGLEHANDEDLY the BEST WAY to make me fall asleep in the middle of the day: DECIDE I’M GOING TO ACTUALLY GET SOME WRITING DONE!!!! I have opened up a blank document on my laptop and, in just a few moments as I decided what the opening lines for this chapter will be, the need for sleep will kikckkckkkckckkk innnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn


Subject: Where am I?

Dear Gladys,

Only a second ago I was writing to you from my couch in my living room with my laptop perched on my stomach and a bowl of crandberry sauce teetering at my head but now my couch seems to be sitting in an abandoned subway station. I no longer have my laptop and have to write to you from this weird little phone.

I don’t think I’m alone, Gladys!!!! It’s very dark down here with cavernous shadows and mildew covering the tiled walls but I just stuck my head out over the tracks to see when the next train might be coming and I noticed there are people sleeping on either side of the tracks. Hang on, Gladys, I’m just going to pick up this ratty old phone book that happens to be be sitting here by my left foot and trying hurling it at that young person there to see if I can wake them up and ask where Dream Gaiman is!!!!

Oh, yuck. It smells like a mix between mold and fresh urine. Oh well, desperate times call for desperate measures when your boyfriend is an award-nominated novelist and might show you up as a writer any day now!!!! Hurling the moldy urine phone book it is!!!

I don’t think he liked that.

This has devolved quickly. Gotta go, Gladys!!! Have to jump down into the tracks and run down the tunnel to the next abandoned subway station and find Dream Gaiman!



sent from my dREAMphone

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Subject: The Next Station

Dear Glayds,

Whew! That was close!! I was pretty sure all those subway sleepers were going to catch me and make me eat the pages of that phone book but lucky for me I found this pair of seven league boots and was able to jump from the subway sleeper station to the station I’m now currently waiting for Dream Gaiman in.

This station is also dark and abandoned but, unlike the last station at least has a little bit of fluorescent light which seems to be coming from a flickering, lone sandwich machine posited beneath a set of boarded-up stairs. All around me there’s the buzzing sounds of lights but there aren’t any lights on except for that display case.

I wonder what kind of sandwiches they have?

Darn it!!! Someone’s eaten all the turkey and cheese sandwiches and the only thing left are those godforsaken egg salads on wheat!!!!! Egg salad sandwiches on wheat are a conspiracy by the vendormen, Gladys!!!! No one ever eats them but the vendormen continue to foist them on humans because they hope that one of us will actually be desperate enough to buy one while we’re waiting for whatever it is we are collectively waiting for!!!!!!

Now I’m stuck just sitting here in this other abandoned subway platform without any way of climbing into the world above and there’s no sign of Dream Gaiman anywhere OR anything to do—

Oh wait, there’s someone sitting on the bench that’s beneath the stairwell on the other side of the platform. Gladys!!! It’s Dream Gaiman!!! I can’t believe it but he’s really here and he’s going to answer all my writing questions on how to be famous by this December!!!!—Oh no, hang on. That’s not him.

Whomever this person is he’s very tall, is wearing glasses, has a very long upper lip and is wearing a Red Sox baseball cap. He also appears to be eating a sandwich from the vending machine. I get a writerly vibe from him, Galdsy, I’m very good at picking out who the writers are in mysterious abandoned subway stations!!!!!

Do you think I should approach him? Maybe he knows where Dream Gaiman is!!!!

Okay, I just approached the tall guy with the glasses in the Red Sox hat and asked him if he knew where Dream Gaiman is and he apologized and said he didn’t and offered me a piece of his sandwich.

“It’s the last of the turkey and cheese,” he says. “The only thing left are those godforsaken egg salad on wheat sandwiches that were installed there in 1958. Can’t eat those. Egg salad sandwiches are part of the vendormen conspiracy.”

He has a Maine accent. You know what they say about people from Maine.

So I’m currently eating a half of a turkey sandwich and am sitting next to the tall man while I wait for Dream Gaiman—oh wait, he’s talking.

“What brings you to the rails between worlds?”

I tell him that I’m stuck in writing my second novel and was looking for Dream Gaiman and ask him what he’s doing here.

“Nothing much. I sometimes land here when I’m asleep. One time when I was here I ran into a woman named Anne Wilkes and, it’s fair to say, she was inspiring. Say, I write a little, albeit I’m known for my love of horror. Is there something I can help you with? You say your stuck?”

I explain to him that my name is Writer X and I am the NEXT BIG EPIC FANTASY WRITER OF ALL TIME only I can’t seem to get a single book written and that, if I don’t get this one done, then my AWARD NOMINATED fantasy writer boyfriend will have his second book out while I still have no novels to my name!!!!

The Tall Writer with Glasses nods seriously and polishes off the last of his half of a sandwich. “That’s a lot of pressure to put on a draft. The only thing a story can really do is be a story, but it sounds like you want it to prop up your relationship. Have you tried having fun with it? Take the pressure off, close the proverbial door, and write a draft for fun. Make yourself sit in the seat and produce words every day, find a way to have fun with it until it’s done.”

I squint at him. Gladys, obviously this guy doesn’t know about how to write!!!!! Where is his air of general self-importance????? You write the next big epic fantasy novel THROUGH SHEER SUPERIORITY COMPLEX!!!!!

Things are getting awkward, Gladys, I’m just sitting here trying to eat a half a turkey sandwich while I pretend that this guy didn’t just say the most ignorant thing about writing I’ve EVER HEARD!!! What about the writing rule that if you are the Chosen One of Writing, it’s supposed to be easy, hmmm????? And all of your pages are suffused with the warm glow of destiny????

Where’s my warm glow of destiny suffusion, Galdys????? That flickering sandwich light is brighter than my warm glow of destiny light!!!!

I’m trying to eat my turkey sandwich but there seems to be a cat licking crandberry sauce off my ear and its getting very hard to concentrate.

Gotta go find this cat, Caldsy!



sent from my dREAMphone

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Subject: Waiting for Gaiman

Dear Gladys,

Quick update, the Tall Writer with Glasses has left which is good because I was afraid he was going to keep talking about writing. He said something about being picked up by the “boys in the basement” and heading off to his next story and, next thing I know, this blue, equally tall horse comes strolling out of the subway tunnel and the Tall Writer with Glasses gets on his high horse and rides away!!!

Now I’m back to being alone again and aware of all the fluorescent light buzzing this platform has without any actual fluorescent lights except for the light in the vending machine. I get the feeling that Dream Gaiman is somewhere above ground, but I just checked both stairwells that lead up and each of them are boarded up. However, whenever I press my nose to the boards, I smell fresh cinnamon rolls on the other side.

I’m getting hungry, Gladys!!!

Thank goodness I hear some more footsteps coming up from the tunnel that the high horse disappeared into, otherwise I might get bored and risk actually getting some writing done!!!

There are two voices talking to each other. Their voices sound like knives.

Two figures have emerged from the tunnel and I think I can make out their shapes. One of them is very tall and is gnawing at a groundhog carcass with abandon. At least he’s not eating those godforsaken egg salad sandwiches on wheat!!!! Obviously this is a person I can trust!!!! The other one is shorter, about a head and a half shorter than the other and he has pale eyes and a smile as foul as that McDonald’s manager when we ordered 78 breakfast sandwiches through the drive thru at 5:12 a.m., Gladys.

These two men seem familiar to me. They are definitely not Dream Gaiman but I think they have a Dream Gaiman feeeeeeelllll. They look like they have fallen significantly from grace, if grace was an egg salad sandwich on wheat shoved in a vending machine cold case by the evil vendormen.

“Hello,” I say. “I’m the next big epic fantasy writer of all time. Are you here to take me to Dream Gaiman?”

The short one with the dangerous pale eyes flashes me another one of his rotting smiles and says to the tall one, “Ah, Mister Vandemar, it appears that all of our toils running debasing errands for our illustrious employer have paid off in that we have at last found the fantasy writer who has attempted to summon our numinous patron with an ancient fountain pen and a faded picture of Duran Duran.”

“Do we kill her?” asks the very hungry tall one.

“Sadly, that action, while squarely within the purview of our specialty, is strictly off limits with this employer. We are meant to deliver a letter instead.”

Now the short one turns to me and looks at me as though he’s imagining carving my spleen into tiny little hearts and says, “It is with deep regret that my companion and I have journeyed through 700 realities to relay the message that our employer is currently on his lunch break and so can only offer you this pre-recorded message.”

At this, the tall one stops eating his groundhog long enough to withdraw a slip of paper out from beneath his shadow coat. His fingers are shiny with groundhog fat and he has rings made from ravens’ skulls.

The note reads:

Dear Writer,

We are unable to assist you at this time with your writing problem thanks to a shortage of turkey sandwiches in the rails between worlds. Your call is important to us and we invite you to try again later. If this is a writing emergency, please hang up your cat, try turning off your phone and wifi and finishing your draft.

Kind regards,

Dream Gaiman, Sort Of

 I’m having a hard time reading this note, Gladys!!! Can you please call me and read it to me??? The words are all blurry and this cat is purring loudly and keeps licking my ear!!! Who is whistling and baking cinnamon rolls?????

And why does everything smell like crandberry sauce????



sent from my dREAMphone



Dear Gladys,

This was a complete waste of a writing afternoon. I tried to summon Neil Gaiman to help me in dream form and all I got was this nobody writer in a Red Sox hat and glasses telling me to “close the proverbial door and have fun.”

I can see that I am going to have to resort to other measures to get this book written and I will do so as soon as I clean up all the crandberry sauce that is covering the floor.

…Or let #bestkitten finish licking it up. She seems to love crandberry sauce.

Awwww, she’s so cute.























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5 thoughts on “Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Fit the Fifty-First

  1. Now I’m wishing for a domestic demon that would roast turkey and make cinnamon rolls…

    If dream-Steven-King’s advice isn’t good enough for Gladys, I don’t think she’d listen to dream-Neil-Gaiman, either, honestly….

  2. @Michaele Jordan, that’s a good point! Maybe that’s her problem!

    …on that note, I wonder how one would summon Dream Tolkien? As in, what would the arcane items be?

  3. Writer X isn’t looking for good advice, she wants a way to CRUSH HER ENEMIES AND HEAR THE LAMENTATIONS OF THEIR EDITORS.

    The Vendormen of Venus would be a good title for the second half of an Ace Double.

    Tolkien summoning:

    An early edition of Beowulf, the earlier the better
    A walking guide to the British Isles
    Minutes from a meeting of the Inklings
    And of course the requisite tweed jacket with elbow patches

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