Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Hundred & Seventeenth

[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.]

THE STOWAWAY

Hello, All! Melanie here.

When last we left our heroes, they were in the future of 2029 which is undergoing an inflation crisis no one saw coming. Since Writer X broke both wrists several weeks ago, her boyfriend, Tod Boadkins, has taken over writing these emails on her behalf. 

Writer X, Tod, and X’s BFF Tryxy (a demon college student at Miskatonic Online University and one-half of the band DemonKitty) had jumped to a future when DemonKitty was on its first world tour to learn what songs Tryxy needed to write to become famous. Tryxy’s band has finally had some success. Still, he’s been unable to write enough music to capitalize on that success and play shows.

The good news is that DemonKitty had a world tour in 2029. The bad news is that when Tryxy missed a show here in 2024 last week, the 2029 world tour dates began dissolving in real-time.

It turns out Tryxy has been struggling with more than writing music. Tod began to suspect that Tryxy had ADHD. Last week, he convinced X of this, and they decided to refinance X’s house to take Tryxy out to breakfast and stage an intervention. 

Without further ado…


Subject: Back in time

Hi Gladys, 

I’ve been on hold for the last forty minutes with the doctor’s office to see if they take Tryxy’s health insurance while Tryxy’s on hold with the bursar’s office at Miskatonic U. It feels like everything hangs on getting the answer to this call. None of us have been off the phone since we returned from the future. Due to her injuries, not even X, who can’t actuallydial any phone, uses Siri to place calls with varying results. 

About ten minutes ago, X yelled, “Hey Siri, call the pharmacist,” to see if demons are responsive to human ADHD medication. Siri put her in contact with an empathic Botswanan interior decorator in Gaborone, who traded screams with X on the speakerphone for an astonishing amount of time before they both hung up. 

Fortunately, they both resolved whatever stress issues they’d been bottling up before the doctor’s office I was on hold with had picked up, or I’m sure the doctor’s office would have hung up at what can only be described as the sound of Hell splitting open. 

Then I’d have to jump through these hoops all over again.

Once I get through with the doctors, I’ll take X back to her surgeon to have her casts sawn off and replaced because the stink wafting off her wrists has become incredible. 

The doctor’s office thinks X may have an infection and wants her to come in immediately, but you and I know that’s not the case. You will know that’s not the case once I finish writing this email. 

We took Tryxy to breakfast in 2029 the other day to discuss our hunches that he has ADHD. It went as well as it could, and this was likely thanks to X, who can read Tryxy like a book. It’s hard to tell someone you love that you think they need help, especially when they’re already blaming themselves for so much. 

The inflation of 2029 was so terrible that we couldn’t afford much more than toast and jam, and that’s only because jam was complimentary. What event sets that off, I wonder?

Tryxy was still distressed at the cancellation of the first DemonKitty World Tour when we broke the news to him that skipping out on his festival gig in 2024 was likely the trigger that set off the chain of events that led to the tour’s demise. 

Basically, we told Tryxy it was all his fault. Or that’s what it sounded like to him. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about people with ADHD, it’s that they already blame themselves for everything, so what Tryxy had trouble hearing was that we weren’t saying it was his fault; we were saying the problem was ADHD. 

But after some tears and some time, we helped him understand what we were saying. Then Tryxy began to weep in earnest. Apparently, he’d been struggling for a long time. 

Tryxy’s eyes glaze over when he has to do a lot of reading for his courses, and there’s nothing he can do about it except smack himself in the side of the head. He’s been chronically turning assignments in late and having his grades docked. Over a month ago, he received a letter saying that he was losing his scholarship next semester because his GPA was too low. 

Gladys, he’d been sitting on that distressing news for a month without telling any of us. My heart broke for him. 

We outlined a plan of attack to get his life back on track. He would need to contact his Miskatonic U, contact the scholarship program, and see if they’d offer a probationary period, as he suspects he has untreated ADHD. Next, he would contact the promoter and take responsibility for letting the promoter down. After that, he’d need to call his PCP to get a referral to a therapist and then find a therapist. He’d also need to research ADHD to learn more about himself and possibly even journal. 

His eyes glazed over, and Tryxy became subdued. By the time we left the diner, X was covered in jam from head to toe (including dripping out of her casts). I had a sinking feeling that Tryxy wouldn’t do anything we had outlined. 

You can’t just time jump in the future even if you own your own time machine. You have to go to a time port and have your jump approved. Then you have to line up on a time-mac (that’s what they call them instead of tarmac) and wait for clearance. 

I flew the time machine. Tryxy fell asleep in the back. X and I whispered about our suspicions as X poured packets of coffee cream down her casts to “offset the itchiness of the jam.” These were also complimentary at the diner, and X filled her purse with about sixty of those little foil-capped cups. 

“X, how bad will it get before he takes action? I don’t know what to do now. He’s sort of an adult, and it’s up to him to fix this.” 

“Yeah, but he’s also our friend,” said X, pouring a packet of hazelnut-flavored coffee cream down her cast. 

“Yeah, he’s our friend. That’s why we confronted him.”

X used her teeth to tear off four or five foil tops while gripping the coffee cream between her plastered palms. “Maybe he’s jelly.” 

I gaped at X. Her pink velour tracksuit was irretrievable, stained in jam and dust. She had a patch of jam on her cheek beneath a fleck of mustard I have no idea how it got there. I assumed she was talking off the top of her head and didn’t quite know what she meant by that. 

I was wrong. 

“Maybe Tryxy’s jelly. Maybe if you have ADHD, you’re just jelly that moves best at high velocities. If you put it in a trebuchet or shot it out of canon, I’m pretty sure the jelly would go straight until it went splat. But if you slowly pour it on the floor, it will go everywhere because jelly needs a jar. Life is slow jelly. Tryxy is fast jelly. Fast jelly needs a trebuchet. Slow jelly needs a jar. We should be the jar until he can be one for himself.” 

So that’s what we’ve been doing. Since we returned, X’s coffee cream bath has curdled and made her fists smell like feet, and we’ve been helping Tryxy write a daily to-do list to get his life on track. Then, we help him so long as he’s also helping himself. 

It hasn’t been easy. It took forever to get Tryxy in to his PCP for a referral. Then, once we got the referral, we called almost every therapist in the area but they were all booked out. The one with the shortest waitlist for new patients told us they could see Tryxy in November of 2025. You’d think the medical profession would have recovered from the covidshortage by now, but it’s not the case. 

X accidentally called a Greek Potato Whistler and found a therapist who does virtual visits and is available next week. But we can’t get Tryxy in until we know that they accept his health insurance, and the professional soothsayer who can tell whether insurance is in the network was on the line with about sixty other callers ahead of me. 

There have been some wins. We were back just in time to file something with Miskatonic University. With the boom in build-your-own time machines, the school has lost many students to time travel mishaps and has created a special exception for students who fill out the correct forms. Tryxy will be given a couple of weeks to catch up on the classwork he missed, with the understanding that he gets a time-travel waiver just once. This was the best news Tryxy’s had since 2029. 

X has also injected some silver lining into the situation. She pointed out that we now know that DemonKitty is capable of writing music, playing for audiences, and achieving a world tour in just five years. That perked Tryxy’s mind, and he’s been a little more wholehearted in his attempts to fix things. 

He wrote a letter to the promoter, and the promoter said that if Tryxy gets things back on track, the promoter has a show booked at an auditorium in Boston this fall. DemonKitty is welcome back as the opening act’s opening act. And the best part is he’d only have to play three songs. 

Oh! One thing I should have told you about. The stowaway. The stowaway is why we didn’t return from the future untiljust the other day. 

While X and I were talking, we heard noises from a compartment under the floor. We opened the panels and discovered a disheveled economist in a cream-stained polo shirt attempting to hop a ride with us back in time. 

Apparently, the inflation is so bad that economists are being hunted down, put in stocks, and have rotten tomatoes thrown at them by anyone frustrated with their grocery bill. Come to think of it, we saw quite a few economists in button-downs covered with dried tomato seeds with their fists and heads shoved through stocks on our way to the diner. 

It turns out that economists have been banned from time travel. The government is furious with a profession whose sole job is to make predictions, who also has had access to time travel for as long as the general public has, and who still can’t manage to predict a crisis as crazy as the inflation of 2029. There have been a number of economists who have sought to escape persecution by hitching rides on private time machines. 

The heat scanners on the Time Mac caught the economist before we had a chance to jump, but not before I asked him, “But why didn’t you go back in time before it was illegal and choose a different profession?”

“Sir, if I could predict the future, I wouldn’t have become an economist.”   

Well, Gladys, the doctor’s office just picked up my call. I spent the last five minutes in circles with the soothsayer who couldn’t tell me whether they accept Tryxy’s insurance. She told me I needed to call the insurance company directly if I want to know whether her office accepts Tryxy’s insurance.

To which I said, “You don’t understand. He’s a demon. His insurance company headquarters are in Hell.”

To which the soothsayer replied, “Sir, all insurance company headquarters are in Hell. That’s why it’s called Hell-th Care.”

Regards,

TB


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