[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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
THE LETTERS TO LE GUIN
Hello All! Melanie here.
Boomerang weather we’re having here. One minute I’m waking up to sunlight and birdsong, the next minute, we’re up to our ears in snow. I’m not sure how it affects my writing, but I do know it seems to affect my joints.
Without further ado…
Subject: Tryxy’s discovered something!!!!!!!
Me and Tryxy are staked out in the library’s frozen garden waiting for the Gorgon delivery truck to finish delivering the Gorgon so I thought I’d take a minute to write to you before the night’s activities begin.
Also Ursula Le Guin lives at our library.
SHE ISN’T DEAD GLADYS!!!!!!!!!!
Anyways, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my writing is going.
Gladys, a writer’s instincts are deep and primal. Our creative senses are tuned to the earth’s cycles. If the trees thaw in mid-January, and the maple syrup runs three weeks early, a writer may be intuitively compelled to write sonnets about basketmaking.
We are reliant on these primal instincts. If the groundhog sees his shadow but does not see his neighbor Ralph, how else does a wordsmith know it’s time to submit their science fiction novella to a romance flash fiction contest on the chance that the judges will love it and make an exception?????
There is a perfect season for writing novels—and while I haven’t figured out just when that is, I have refined my primal writing instincts with clairvoyant training and certification.
And yet, you are probably pushing me right now with demands for new pages!!!!
Listen closely to my arcane wisdom and behold the world around you!!!! Now is the time when the geese have not yet filled the skies with the honking of their return from the smug golf courses of Miami, when the dingy piles of snow have not yet mysteriously disappeared from the borders of Mr. Morgan’s parking lot, when the town voles have not yet made their homes in the discarded beer cans of the age-old midwinter tailgate party. NOW is not the time for fresh pages, Gladys!!!!!
It is written in the Writers Book of Compulsive Behaviors that NOW is the time…for anxiety.
Yes, in this time of weather yo-yoing, when the week alternates between the promises of an early spring and the sucker punch of a deep freeze and three feet of fresh snow, a writer’s emotions MUST ALSO YO-YO!!!!!
We must submit our latest draft to our critique group with the belief that they are LYING to us—whether it’s about how good the story is or how bad the story is, we can NEVER KNOW. We must resign ourselves to a fate of eternal writing anonymity while simultaneously making a soundtrack playlist for the future film director of our current WIP.
As I am deeply instinctual and have not yet augured the Time Of Deep Writing, I am forced to feel anxiety about a story submission I made a month ago to the Cradensburg Flash Fiction contest!!!! They said that they would announce winners at the end of March, but it’s the beginning of March and I feel like they would have contacted me by now if I were a finalist!!!!! This is a troubling delay, Gladys!!!!
Ordinarily, I might do something as reasonable as send the contest chair 3,000 emails in thirty minutes, or set up a tent on their front lawn, but presently I am INDISPOSED and will be for at least the next 24 hours.
This is where I need you to come in Gladys. I need YOU to bravely take the helm and hound that writing contest until they cough up whether or not I’m a finalist!!!! The seasons have declared it’s time!!!!! I’m planning to skip sleep for most of tonight, but if I sense that you aren’t out there barraging that contest chair’s inbox with demands for explanations, I will be forced to live with the insecurity of whether my story was good enough!!!!!
That said, I need to talk to you about Tryxy’s discovery and the thing I’ll be indisposed with. But this email has become very nature-themed and, like the wild kindergartner of the forests who insists peas not touch mashed potato, I must follow my instincts and continue anew in a different email.
KEEP READING GLADYS!!!!
P.S. I’m still offering my clairvoyant services for just $24.99 for a three minute reading so be sure to tell a friend!
Subject: NO REALLY, TRYXY’S DISCOVERED SOMETHING
It all began when Tryxy came home from his afternoon trip to the library—No, let me start from the beginning beginning.
As you know, I’m worried about Tryxy. The honeymoon period of college enrollment has worn off. He had a vacation from his online program at Miskatonic university and got a taste of freedom. After a grueling few weeks writing research papers about research papers he’s started to feel creatively stifled. He’s a very creative demon.
Hang on, Gladys, Tryxy’s offering me some stake-out cheetos and I’ll need to wipe my hands on something that isn’t my keyboard.
Okay, I’m back!
Usually Tryxy would go to the library to eliminate distractions from schoolwork. Occasionally, he’d check up on the time machine. You know, normal library stuff. But our library, with all its mysterious stairwells and corridors and trapdoors and whatnot, has been more of a distraction for him this week. He’s spent gobs of time poking around here and there.
Yesterday, he discovered the library mailroom and quickly made friends with one of the volunteer winged demons working there who goes by the name of Arthur. Well, Arthur told him about a special corridor behind the mailroom where they sort the special library mail.
This afternoon, Tryxy accidentally fell through a bunch of walls and ended up in the special mail corridor and that’s how he came to discover what I am about to disclose.
Hang on, Gladys, Tryxy’s asking me something and I have to stop typing.
Okay, I’m back, he was asking if we should skip breaking into the library now that they have a gorgon installed, he’s worried about me getting turned to stone.
Isn’t he adorable? He’s so childlike sometimes.
Gorgons are sooooooo two millennia ago. They’re nothing more than security theater for libraries!!!! Everyone knows how to get past a Gorgon. Riverdance wasn’t just an award winning Broadway phenomenon or a top notch cardio program, IT WAS AN ARCANE INSTRUCTION MANUAL!!!!
Anyhoo, where was I? So Tryxy falls through the walls into the special mail corridor and finds himself in a giant corridor with floor to ceiling shelves that have been made into vertical cubicles for the Rodents Of Unusual Size volunteers to sort the special mail.
On the opposite wall are a bunch of nests where a conspiracy of shadowy ravens roost. Tryxy says the ravens are responsible for flying the mail up to the ROUS cubicles where the envelopes are deftly sorted, tied into neat bundles and placed on a hook.
The ROUS then ring a bell, and a raven flies up to retrieve the bundles and then most of the bundles are set on carts that get rolled along the corridor to six or seven weather giants in long purple trench coats. Then when the weather giants have collected all the bundles from their carts, they open the library secret windows and are swept away on the winter wind to go wherever they are going.
Hang on Gladys, the delivery person for the Gorgon is walking by our car and we need to slouch out of view before he suspects something!!!
Okay, I’m back!
So Tryxy gets into the corridor and sees the ravens and the ROUS and the weather giants, but while he’s scoping out the place, ONE OF THE RAVENS SPOTS HIM. IT starts squawking to the others and, next thing he knows, Tryxy’s looking for someplace to hide and he throws himself onto one of the other carts. He curls up in ball behind a pile of luminescent letters and sits very still as a bunch of raven sentries stalk by.
EVENTUALLY the ravens fly back up to their nests but, before Tryxy can free himself of the cart, someone comes along behind him AND STARTS PUSHING HIM OUT OF THE CORRIDOR.
That’s when Tryxy noticed the luminescent letters were ALL MADE OUT TO URSULA LE GUIN!!!!!!!!
Hang on, Gladys, the Gorgon delivery guy was just going back to his truck for a mirror and now he’s passing us again. GOtta duck!!!
Where was I?
So Tryxy’s curled up on the Le Guin letter cart, keeping himself as still as possible to find out where they’re carrying the Le Guin letters to AND THEN HE GETS STRUCK WITH THE MOST UNTIMELY INJURY OF ALL TIME. He gets a Charley horse!!!!!!
Forced to abandon the cart thanks to his charley horse, Tryxy fell through the bottom of the cart, through the floor, and into the library’s basement where he was caught and shamed by one of his favorite librarians.
He promptly came home to me with his self esteem scraping the floor and told me about his discovery. And I promptly told him that he IS THE MOST AWESOME DEMON BFF EVER and that we should break into the library.
And now you’re all caught up!!
Anyhoo Galdsy, as soon as you’re finished spamming the contest chair’s inbox with inquiries about my short story’s status, you should come down and join us!!! After all, it’s not every day you get to look for Ursula Le Guin in your library.
Well. I mean you could look for Ursula Le Guin in the library almost any day of the week and find her there, but I DON’T MEAN THE BOOKS GLADYS!!!! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!! THIS IS NOTHING LESS THAN THE GRANDMOTHER OF “SOFT” SCI FI AND THE ORIGINAL WIZARD SCHOOL RIGHT HERE UNDER OUR VERY NOSES!!!!!!!!
Hang on, the GOrgon delivery guys are all coming out of the library now. I think the Gorgon’s been installed. I wonder what she’s guarding???
We’re going in!!!!!
P.S. If you do come, please bring more cheetos. Every one knows those are the perfect stake out food.
Subject: Open Visitor Hours At Cradensburg Hospital
Whatever Tryxy tells you, I was NOT turned to stone and it wasn’t my fault, even if I was.
There I was, minding my own business and breaking into the library. We were retracing Tryxy’s steps to find out where Ursula Le Guin is hiding and had made it past the music department and past the puppet theater and the children’s library, when we accidentally stumbled into the chapel. There the local chapter of the Church of Starry Wisdom sang a hymn to the Haunter of the Dark and Tryxy and I had to sit in the back row and act religious. Which you know is very hard to do with Tryxy because he’s always cracking cult jokes.
We managed to slip out before they forced us to partake of their dark communion when Tryxy was spotted by a bunch of stodgy old sentry ravens (they’re VERY good at spotting demons.) We thought it would be good to escape the ravens by finding our way to the SFF section and we were very nearly there when a door appeared in the wall.
Of course when a door appears in a wall EVERYONE knows that means you’re supposed to go through it, so we did and we ended up in the librarian’s lunch room. There, we passed through the refrigerator portal into a strange room that had a single painting on the wall. In the painting there was a great and beautiful sailed ship rocking in a stormy ocean. We could even hear the waves crashing against the sides of the ship. If we stood still too long, it seemed that the waves grew higher, so high they might tumble right out of the painting and sweep us away.
But that’s when the ravens found us again and we were forced to keep it moving!!!!
I don’t know if it’s thanks to the terror of being chased by forty-two angry ravens through a dark library, but my writerly instincts leapt into full effect!!!! We followed my instincts, running here and there up the elevator, down the escalator, up the crystal stairs until finally we came to a little tower.
We climbed the tower stairs and discovered an empty cart sitting outside of a beautiful oak door. Tryxy immediately recognized it as the cart he had hidden in when he was in the special mail corridor.
Just before the ravens could rush up to the tower and catch us, we slipped through the beautiful oak door into a quiet apartment with a view of endless stars.
The apartment was so clean it resembled a hotel room waiting for its guest to arrive. Everything was arranged perfectly. There was lovely wooden furniture and decadent pillows.
The apartment was absolutely empty of any person. Well, except for when the sparrowhawk flew in through an open window. It perched on a bookshelf and regarded us for a while and then flew out again into the stars, leaving us free to snoop.
There was a shelf with several family pictures arranged on it. There was a basket full of memories. At last, in a little study laden with books waiting to be read, glorious books in languages neither Tryxy or I could recognize, there was a desk and on the desk sat stack upon stack of luminescent letters.
Each of them were addressed in a similar way. They all said: “What Would Have Been Written to Ursula Le Guin by Margot H. of Oshkosh, WI” or Timothy B. of North London or Adebisi O. of Lagos, Nigeria.
But none of them were opened. There was also an introductory manual from the Society of Other World Immortals sitting in a welcome folder on the desk, also unopened (until I opened it.)
Tryxy and I had just discovered another chamber in which there was a strange lab with all sorts of vials and shimmery liquids and we would have poked around in there IF IT WEREN’T FOR THOSE CRZAY RAVENS!!!!
Next thing I know I’m minding my own business hiding in a chute when the ravens come after me and we tumble down, ending up in the SFF section of the library AND THERE’S A WHOLE ENTIRE GORGON THERE WITH SNAKES HISSING AND WHIPPING AROUND HER HEAD.
Which is fine. I had everything under control.
Whatever Tryxy says, I had just bedazzled the Gorgon with a few high kicks and was working my way toward the emergency exit by settling into a jig with a side step WHEN I WAS HIT WITH A CHARLEY HORSE.
THAT’S ALL IT WAS, GLADYS!!!! IT WAS A CHERLY HORSE!!!!
I wasn’t turned to stone. I just got a leg cramp and I passed out for a little while. Then Tryxy panicked and called the paramedics and next thing you know I’m in the hospital with an IV pumping anti-lithics into my veins!!!!
Anyhoo, the doctors won’t let me go until I’ve done at least another three courses of anti-lithics and that means I’ve just been LAYING here watching the snow beat the window with all of the ANXIETY.
Why hasn’t the contest let me know if they liked my story? Wouldn’t the contest judges just be so floored with my amazing story that they had to reach out to me right away and tell me that I’m the next big epic fantasy writer of all time?
ISN’T THE SIGN OF THE NEXT BIG EPIC FANTASY WRITER THAT CONTEST JUDGES ARE AMAZED BY EVERYTHING THEY WRITE?????
WHAT IF I’M NOT THE NEXT BIG EPIC FANTASY WRITER OF ALL TIME????
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET THROUGH MARCH IF I’M WAITING FOR THE CONTEST TO CONTACT ME????
What if they lost my email????
Anyways Gladys, even though the nurse said that visiting hours end at 8:30, I’m pretty sure they’ll let you in anyway. I need you to break me out of here. WE NEED TO GET THAT TIME MACHINE AND FIND URSULA LE GUIN TO ASK HER WHY HER WOULD-BE MAIL IS AT OUR LIBRARY!!!!!
ALso I need a hug from her. Anxiety’s hard.
P.S. Bring cheetos
It sounds like the Cradensburg library was designed by the folks at Meow Wolf.
Had to google, and now need to go!