Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixty-Ninth

[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!

This week’s series of emails from Writer X presented a conundrum. You see, the emails appeared in my inbox the way any email would, that is to say in chronological order relative to the other emails which also arrived. However, the contents of the emails are chronologically out of order.

I’m sure Filers much smarter than I am could figure out why that might be. I only understand time a little; wifi speed even less.

The conundrum was this: should I share these emails with Mike in the order that they came, or should I rearrange them deterministically? Which would be better?

In the end, I decided to share them in the order they came. Not because it’s better, but because Janis Joplin once sang that “confusion is just another word for a mystery you haven’t figured out yet.”

Or am I remembering the version from an oldies radio station belonging to another reality? I get them confused these days.

Am I getting older or weirder? Are these concepts mutually exclusive?

Without further ado…


Dear Gladys,

So there I was, driving our spacetime machine to find Ursula Le Guin like any old person would and TOTALLY staying in my own timelike lane DOING EVERYTHING I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DOING and some wacko in a spinning blue box comes out of NOWHERE and cuts me off!!!!

SO WHOSE fault was it when I rammed into their front end five minutes before they hit me?????

Anyhoo, Tryxy and I are stuck on the side of the timelike curve exchanging information with this git who thinks he’s the LORD OF EVERYTHING and his friend just asked us if we’ve got liability insurance on our spacetime machine.

We don’t. So of course I told him that we did but now I need you to go into my Geico account and add a Spacetime machine liability policy to my plan RIGHT AWAY!!!! I keep trying to open my app but my internet is taking FOREVER to load out here in the timelike highways.

American public spacetime travel is really back in the stone age. I bet if I was in Germany, my wifi would be so fast I could buy a policy tomorrow and have coverage LAST WEEEk!!!!

Please hurry up and don’t put this off like you did picking out that prom gown in eleventh grade. This is an EMERGENCy. I have no idea WHEN I am!!!!



P.S. I’m also lost and need you to send me directions through spacetime to January 21, 2018 when Ursula Le Guin was last seen by the public, albeit very briefly.

P.P.S. Don’t tell Tryxy that we’re lost. He’s still angry about the “out of state spacetime travel as a minor thing.”

sent from my iPhone

Subject: FOUND HER!!!

Dear Gladys,

Well, we found who we think is Ursula Le Guin somewhere in the middle of the train but nothing is what we thought it would be. First of all, SHE was waiting for US. 

She was standing inside her cabin with a carryon case by her side, composed and graceful. She blinked at us with warm, dark eyes several times when we showed our faces and said, “You’re late” with such a kind, but reserved smile that I began to sweat. 

I blamed the lateness on the raccoons and my stone leg and she simply said, “Ah. Shall we go?” I think she bought it!!

Also she already knows about the letters waiting for her, and the secret apartment at the library, and the fact that there is a second row of seats in our spacetime machine because—and I quote—“How the hell else are you supposed to take me where we are going?”


Gladys, I’m going to need you to hurry up and tell me what’s going because right now we’re just pretending that we’re part of the “organization” she’s assumed we’re from and—between you and me, I’m kind of terrified about how we’re supposed to get her off the this train!! Tryxy and I barely got past the strange gray shadows guarding the cabin doors!!!!! I really don’t want her to find out we don’t know what we’re doing!!!! It’s SPARROWHAWK.

And you still haven’t called off the raccoons!!!!!



sent from my iPhone


Dear Gladys,

I need you to bring me some emergency foot grease IMMEDIATELY. I am in portland oregon on January 22, 2018 and my entire writing career depends on it.




Dear Gladys,

It’s official!!!!! We’ve safely delivered the person/entity whom we understand to be Ursula Le Guin to the secret apartment in our town library so that she can start reading all the letters people have been sending to her. Or would have sent to her. And of course she can start her important work in that lab so that Humanity can move in the right direction.

She was only moderately mad about the trash cans.

Meanwhile, no signs of those raccoons!!!! Pages next week, Gladys!!!!



P.S. Ursula Le Guin lives in our library now!!!! HOw cool is that? Well. I mean, she lives in just about every library metaphorically but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN GLADYS!!!!!

Subject: The trouble with the mysterious flying train

Dear Gladys,

Forget what I just said or possibly will say. I’ll catch you up.

I had just returned to the Le Guin house this Monday afternoon after picking up some foot grease so that I could finally free my foot from this biodegradable coffee can and go up to Ursula Le Guin’s front door and ask to speak with her. (As you know, there is no way a writer like me—the next big epic fantasy writer of all time, can call upon THE MOTHER OF US ALL with A COFFEE CAN STUCK TO HER FOOT.)

Out of nowhere, Tryxy and I heard a strange, almost deafening noise. It was hard to tell which direction it was coming from or even when it was happening, but when we looked around the neighborhood, no one else seemed to hear it.

Next thing we know, there’s a mysterious flying train shooting out of the sky over our heads, impossibly long and silvery. If you looked at the train one way, it seemed that all the cars were traveling sequentially like any other train, only it was so fast that the train resembled a long silver river. From another way, it was as if the cars were shifting and sliding through and over eachother.

Long story short, parts of the train slowed down long enough for Ursula Le Guin to step out of her window and then it sped off into space. I couldn’t hobble back to the spacetime machine fast enough!!!!

Then there was the whole thing with the seventies, but I’ve already explained that. It turns out we hadn’t lost the train. It’s a very very very long train.

Needless to say, Tryxy found a way to land on one of the cars and anchor down the spacetime to the same mysterious timelike curve that the train is running on, then we broke into the train and now we are going, cabin by cabin, looking for URsula Le Guin.

Long story short, I forgot my foot grease back at the trash can heap and need you to meet me on the train with a new tub of it RIGHT AWAY. You don’t want me to be embarrassed, do you????



sent from my iPhone


Dear Gladys,

We were so close!!!!!!! I almost was able to ask Ursula Le Guin why her letters are appearing at our town library but then this stupid train comes along and STEALS HER AWAY!!!!! We’re trying to catch up to the train, but the foot pedals of this stupid machine are hard to work in my present condition and Tryxy’s working them with his claws but it’s just A HOT MESS to drive this thing after THE FASTEST TRAIN IN ALL OF TIME!!!!!


Tryxy and I had to pull over at a spacetime rest stop and regroup. I finally got my wifi working but Apple Newstand just informed me that Gerald Ford is now president so I think we’re on the wrong timelike curve and, don’t tell Tryxy, but even if we can catch up to stupid train, I’m not sure how to get back to our own spacetime. It’s not like they have triple A out here!!!!!

What are we going to do??????? What’s going to happen to my wardrobe??? I can’t fit this coffee can down the tight knees of a late 70s bell bottom!!!! I don’t even know how I’m going to get my skinny jeans off!!!!



P.S. Have you gotten me that spacetime map yet??? I can only keep up this ruse for so long!!!! Tryxy doesn’t know how lost we are!!!!!!

Subject: I think I destroyed Ursula Le Guin’s trashcans

Dear Gladys,

Please check the papers in Portland, OR for January 21, 2018. I accidentally destroyed what I believe are Ursula Le Guin’s trash cans and I need to know if I’m about to be arrested!!!! I found the perfect parking place and Tryxy and I don’t want to have to make another spacetime jump just because I have to evade the police if it turns out I won’t get arrested in the first place!!!!

To make matters worse, now Tryxy is upset with me because he says I should have read the manual. I DON’T NEED A MANUAL, Gladys!!!! As you know, I have a special book osmosis technique I will master in our senior year in college next year!!!!!

Anyways, please look up the newspaper now!!!! I haven’t got all day and the wifi near the spacetime machine is just abominable!!!! I keep trying to google the headlines and my browser is redirected to a page full of Rocky Horror Picture Show GIFs!!!!!




sent from my iPhone

Subject: Spacetime license

Dear Gladys,

I need you to text Tryxy and let him know that I have my spacetime license but forgot it at your house. He just found out he can’t pilot the machine over state spacetime lines because, even though he’s over 4000 years old, he still qualifies as a minor in demon years and you need a learner’s permit outside of New Hampshire. Now he won’t let me drive because I keep accidentally calling the stupid machine a “time machine.”

I’ve gotta drive this thing, Gladys!!!! I’m going stir crazy!!!! I’m sure it’ll be fine.



Subject: Closed, timelike curves

Dear Gladys,

If I hear “closed, timelike curves” one more time, I”m going to LOSE my mind. All I want is to travel back in time to find Ursula Le Guin and ask her why her mail is being delivered to our library, but is that what I get???? NO. Instead I get “Closed, timelike curves.”

You know I love Tryxy, he really is the best demon ever, but ever since the library delivered the time machine to our garage, Tryxy has become very annoying about “rules” and “reading the manual” and “watching the essential training video.”

It’s a time machine!!!!! You just put what time you want in the dial and GO!!!!! Otherwise they would have showed it differently in cartoons. If you can’t trust cartoons to inform you of reality, then I really don’t know what you can trust in life!!!!

I’ve been home two days since my Riverdance accident and the doctors haven’t given me clearance to return to work yet. It’s like a mini-vacation—except that my right leg periodically turns to stone. Speaking of turning to stone, it’s almost as though I was turned to stone by a Gorgon, but that would be silly. You and I both know that I simply suffered a charley horse while jigging my escape from the library’s new security guard.

Anyhoo, I’ve been home two whole days with nothing to do except WRTIE and everyone knows that when you give a writer time to write, it is PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO PRODUCE PAGES. Obviously NOW is not the time for me to write the next big epic fantasy of all time, that tasks remains for another indeterminate day AFTER we find Ursula Le Guin. My writerly senses tell me that conditions will be excellent for writing AFGTER we find Ursula Le Guin.

You’d think now would be the perfect time for us to use the time machine to look for Ursula Le Guin but no, Tryxy doesn’t want to even TURN THE MACHINE ON until he’s thoroughly read the manual and has watched ALL SIX of the training videos.

Oh, and he won’t even let me call it a TIME MACHINE. He keeps saying, “It’s not a time machine, it’s a SPACETIME machine,” and that “time machine” is what people who have never seen one call it.

But really, he’s just calling it a SPACETIME machine because that’s what it says on the sticker and Tryxy wants to feel “official.” Also, I think he’s using reading the manual as an excuse not to do his homework.

I’m really kind of worried that Tryxy might drop out of college. Gladys, if you see him, can you please tell him not to drop out of college??? And DON”T TELL HIM I TOLD YOU TO SAY IT.

When I ask him if he’s done any of his homework the last two days, he starts talking about how the “spacetime” machine creates “closed timelike curves” and that when we get back from finding Ursula Le Guin, he’ll have plenty of spacetime to do his homework.

Grrrr. I wish I knew how to work the spacetime machine. If it weren’t for this bum leg turning to stone at random, I would jump in the machine and skip ahead in time a couple weeks and see if I won that Flash Fiction Contest!!!!! The silence from the judges is killing me!!!!!

Anyhoo, I’d better go, Gladys. It’s time to take my anti-lithic meds and do my physical therapy stretches. My right leg is beginning to look like your granite counter tops.



Subject: Ursula Le Guin, Present

Dear Gladys,

I know I should keep my eyes on the timelike curve, but it’s very hard to concentrate on piloting a spacetime machine when you have Ursula Le Guin as a passenger. I’m trying very hard not to stare and I would ask her a million questions about my writing career but I have a feeling I shouldn’t. That and I’m still out of breath from those raccoons!!!!

Worse. they’re onto us, Gladys!!!! Who knew that raccoons have innate spacetime machines???? Everytime I look in the Rear And/Or Foreview mirror, I see thousands of them bearing down on us. They’re going to keep us from making it back to the library!!!!

What I keep thinking about is what Ursula Le Guin said when I asked her if she’s alive since we all know that Ursula Le Guin died on Monday afternoon on January 22, 2018. If she’s alive, is she really Ursula Le Guin????

She said: “I am Ursula Le Guin and I am not alive anymore. But I am Present.”

Then I asked her how she knew we were coming for her to take her “presence” back to Cradensburg and she said: “That is for me to know, and for you to be confused about for the time being.”

Only I couldn’t tell if she meant “for the time being” or “for the Time Being.” And now I’m too nervouse to ask.

Not to mention my foot is throbbing from those raccoons yanking that stupid biodegradable coffee can off my foot.

Be home soon!!!! (I think)




Dear Gladys,

Can you believe this???? As I was sitting here spying on Ursula Le Guin’s house and trying to pry my foot out of a coffee can, someone from Ursula Le Guin’s neighbor’s house came out to see what all the noise was.

Of course, they were astonished to find Tryxy and I and the library’s spacetime machine in the middle of all the crushed trashed cans. But I easily saved the day when I explained that we were visiting Ursula Le Guin and had heard the noise and came running out too and that we found a POSSE OF RACCOONS absolutely decimating the place. I also said that if we hadn’t arrived when we did, whose to say the raccoons wouldn’t start in on their electric car??? 

Everything was fine. No police were called and things are very nearly perfect for me to approach Ursula Le Guin once I get this coffee can off my stupid foot AND thEN YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS????

this little eavesdropping raccoon comes up and starts hissing at me because he’s mad we blamed the wreck on his kind and just when I tell him to mind his own business, this whole tribe of ANGRY RFACCOONS comes running in from every direction screaming about a mysterious raccoon code of honor in their tribe and now Tryxy and I have had to hide in the spacetime machine until they finally give up looking for us!!!!!

We’re running out of time!!!! URsula Le Guin is scheduled to die soon and we might be late!!!!!

Gladys, didn’t you once work as a diplomat to raccoons???? I NEED YOU TO CALL thEIR EMBASSY AND CALL tHEM OFF!!!!! They’re scratching up the finish on the space time machine and I still don’t have liability insureance (unless I do.)



sent from my iPhone

Subject: Nevermind, we’re not lost

Dear Gladys,

Never mind. Google has a spacetime map and I ran into a German at the rest stop who loaned me his “special” wifi stick.



P.S. And I mean an ACTUAL wifi stick!!!! Get your head out of the gutter Galdsy!!!!

sent from my iPhone























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3 thoughts on “Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixty-Ninth

  1. Pingback: Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Seventy-Fifth | File 770

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