Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-Eighth

[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.

Let me catch you up on things.

Last week we received a correspondence from Tryxy rather than Writer X. Our friends have ventured into a world they discovered inside X’s writing closet where, unlike Narnia, time seems to move far slower than it does here. They immediately got lost, driven into the wilderness by a mob of Deadly Gaimans (Neil Gaiman lookalikes who are incredibly disgruntled, able to glue themselves to ceilings, and may be golems infiltrating the world.)

Since the world was found in the writing closet, X entered with the goal of “talking to the manager” so that the manager would fix things in her writing life. Namely, X has been struggling to write her nine-book epic fantasy saga and wants the process to be easier so that she can be famous by this December. All the writers reading this are probably laughing a high, wavering, half-crazed laugh at the thought of somebody making writing easier.

If her tactic works, I may disappear for a few weeks or months. You can find me in one of my closets crawling around with a flashlight looking for Writeria. I’ll need to speak to the manager.

That world is buried in snow—not to worry, our writer friends went looking for Mr. Tumnus but instead found a gigantic stash of snow pants in a cave. They also found a village in the distance, a road to get to that village, and a Dark Army between them and the village. Their camp has been raided by that dark army. Silverfox, the furry fantasy writer that X met on her Writing Boat Cruise, has been captured. Fantasy writer and author of the novel Broken Tides, Tod Boadkins, developed the ability to fly, but is now MIA.

Whether or not any actual writing will be done while they’re in this strange world remains to be seen.

However, this week I received a few emails from Silverfox. I tried replying to him, but my email came back undeliverable. I took the liberty of adding links. Here’s what he has to say.

Without further ado…

From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: Captured


I’m writing you from captivity. I wasn’t sure what else to do and I don’t know what will happen to me. We were traveling toward the village in the distance to take shelter and speak to the manager of Writeria, but were waylaid by the arrival of Dark Armies. Our camp was raided and, while we were able to fend off the first wave of soldiers, I became overwhelmed and was captured. If you know what has befallen the others, please reply to me or let them know that I am captured by the Dark Armies and they should not come for me.

It’s too dangerous.

In A Cage

The soldiers who have placed me in this cage confiscated my grappling hook and a banana nut muffin I happened to have in a waist pouch. But they didn’t check the pockets of my fur suit and I still have access to my phone. That is how I am able to email you now. I have sent messages to the others, but I expect they will not receive them until they have successfully escaped Writeria. If they do, it may already be too late for me.

I realize I may be writing my last email.

I also have access to a work-in-progress on my phone. It’s a piece of epic fantasy fiction about a tribe of foxes searching for a mythic fox hero lost to time. If I do not make it out of this cage, all I ask is that you tell the others. My wish is that they will collectively complete the story and try to publish it. I have a rough outline in a file titled “Outline-The Wile of Herindor.”

My battery is at 98%. I should put away my phone lest the continuous light draw the guard’s attention. The one who is closet to me appears quite—you know what? I don’t even know how to describe him. I watched him eat my banana nut muffin without removing the paper wrapper. He complained about it the whole time.

Please know that I intend to stay alive if it is in my power. But even if I do manage to escape this place, I’m not sure I will be able to find the others or my way home. Sending this now in hopes to have a word from you.

in desperation,


“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”

From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: Locale


The situation has worsened. The armies which have captured me are on the move again in spite of the darkening sky. Wherever I am, I am now that much further from my friends.

A Description of My Predicament

Friends. What a word. I used to hate the word, mostly because I never really had any. When I found the furry community, I met like-minded and accepting souls; truthfully, I never counted them as friends though I used the word all the time. How close do you let a friend? I never let anyone close enough for them to hurt me or for me to need them. O-Inari forbid that I ever need someone.

But what I’m thinking about now? As I sit here in this cold cage with every second getting colder still, I’m wondering if my friends need me right now. If they’re safe. Or if they’re trapped in their own cages somewhere down this comfortless procession of horses, beasts, and grizzled men. No one ever mentions the smell of an army. Maybe I haven’t been reading the right books.


I’m wrong. There is some comfort. The stars are bright above me. A smear of white fire across a black and mauve firmament. I don’t think I’ve seen them brighter anywhere else.

That’s funny. The wagon that holds my cage (a cubicle of blackened iron bars in a row of three) just rolled past a person-shaped rock standing inconspicuously along the road.

Muffin Guard just spat on it.

And now his nose has sprung a leak and is gushing blood down his boiled leather breastplate. He swears the rock punched him.

I faintly here the melody of Christopher Cross’ 1979 hit Sailing.

I should go, Gladys. Muffin Man is furious and has his sights set on me.

in a wagon,


“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”

From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: New Information/Snurch


Please pass the following onto my friends. They may need what I am about to disclose.

What I’ve Learned While Captured

I have managed to placate Muffin Man. He had been intent on sawing off my thumbs but I convinced him that, without any thumbs, I would not be able to conjure the “delicious papery cakes” he confiscated from me. He is under the belief that, come dawn, I will summon him a mountain of banana nut muffins.

Muffin Man’s name is Snurch. Snurch says that this army marches under the crest of Give It To Me Baby and her noble consort, Uh-huh Uh-huh. They are set to make war on the kingdom of Well I Guess That Could Work. We are currently headed to the boundary village of Ohhhhhhh, Snap! which is situated on the banks of the river Mostly Mud. Once they destroy the village—which they will no-doubt do in a matter of hours, they will take the river Mostly Mud straight through to the heart of the kingdom’s capital, I Blame Jeffrey. They will sally through the watery gates of the palace Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls. There, they will capture and imprison the royal kitten who is bravely battling these invaders but whose people are not suited for the heavy snows and who are waiting for a much needed supply of smuggled snow pants so that they can hold out against these wicked invaders.

Furthermore, I have managed to discover two critical things: the snow is NOT natural to this land but has come from another world, and the Dark Armies (and Snurch), like me, are not from this world either. They have traveled through a portal and arrived here.

The reason they have not killed me is because they think I am a Fox Person. Since their arrival a year ago, they have waged war on the Fox people—another race of people native to Writeria. They have killed many but never managed to capture one alive.

Little do they know, they still haven’t managed to capture on alive.

Apparently the Fox People have clever warriors and fearsome magicians. They think I am the latter, thanks to my improvising the muffins at dawn thing. Once they discover that I can’t summon muffins—or anything—out of thin air, I’m sure to lose my thumbs. That will make writing you and writing my story that much harder.

Do you know how many hours I’ve wasted not writing? I’ve had The Wile of Herindor in my head since I was eight. At first I was afraid to write it. Afraid that what was on the page would not live up to what was in my head. Then I would work on it here and there, always thinking there would be a better time to write it.

You always think there’ll be a better time to write your fantasy novel. And then, you get trapped in a cage, guarded by a muffin eating guard named Snurch who currently has his right index finger embedded deeply—and I mean deeply—up his nose, and you realize that you’d be a lot farther in your story if you hadn’t been waiting for a…

Better. Time.

That’s strange. Every time I look along the side of the road, I think I hear Yacht Rock. I see that person-shaped rock, and then I think I see a person in a beige ninja suit with the word Milfred scratched into his forehead in X’s handwriting. The minute I focus on him, he disappears.

Gladys, I don’t think we’re the only visitors here from other worlds. If I’m not mistaken, that person-shaped rock is none other than The Neutral Ninja!

That’s the person who has been stealing autographed first printings of fantasy masterworks.

What is he doing here? And what does he want from me?

Tell the others.


“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”

From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: In The Hands of an Old Enemy


I only have a few minutes to write you.

Out of the Frying Pan…

Milfred, the Neutral Ninja, suspects we are being followed and has turned back to investigate. By misdirection, subterfuge, and a chameleon-like ability, he was able to unlock the bars of my cage and distract Snurch long enough for me to clear the wagon and the road. He acted quickly: we were only stopped for a handful of minutes in this tireless march for the village of Ohhhhhhh, Snap!

I know that he is The Neutral Ninja, the one who has been breaking into the homes of Cradensburg residents and stealing autographed fantasy masterworks. Months ago, we created a secret Fellowship whose sole purpose was to discover who the Neutral Ninja is an stop them from activating a portal called MAP.

This portal would reveal the secret location of powerful and arcane magic relics of Writing. Those relics, if found, become a part of the wielder’s soul, allowing them to write the GREATEST FANTASY NOVELS OF ALL CREATION. X calls these relics the Anti-Horcruxes. She wishes to gain access to them to jump start her writing career. I think they’re too dangerous for any one person to own and that includes the Neutral Ninja.

And he is neutral. There is something about his ninja suit that allows him to simply blend into his environment in ways that Duck Dynasty fans would sell their left bum to achieve. He is also able to turn into a rock—which has left him permanently marked by X. She has scratched the name Milfred onto his forehead with her signature pink pencils and it’s the one place that isn’t neutral. If you suspect you are followed by the Neutral Ninja, simply look for the letters M-I-L-F-R-E-D at about forehead height.

He also seems to have the ability to project Yacht Rock into the observer’s mind, thus relaxing and confusing them.

Gladys, I do not know why he has rescued me but I DO know that he is able to enter our world somehow. I intend to go with him to wherever his lair is, retrieve the stolen books and stop him from activating MAP, whatever it takes. I cannot help but feel that this is the only way for my friends to return home safe and alive.

I must go. If I can write again, I will. I hear the dulcet sounds of Toto’s Africa, which means he’s drawing near.

in determination,


“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”

From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: Re: In The Hands of an Old Enemy

Milfred returned. Says we are flanked above and below by a band of fox warriors. Has made barking sounds into the night. High above us, a volley of barks returns the hail. Milfred is doubling his pace. We are rendezvousing with the foxes.


“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”