Emails from Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Twenty-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.]


Hey All, Melanie here.

The great news is, I’ve heard from Writer X and she’s not been taken by the FBI. Yet. She’s sent me a really long email. I’m going to have to split it in two.

I’m going to leave this here without comment.

Without further ado…

Dear Gladys,

I have returned from a two week voyage and am closer to unraveling the mystery of Fraud Tod Boadkins. However, the mystery has deepened as I have possibly identified about 49 other possible frauds. As I did not have internet on the voyage, I am sending my notes to you now for your opinion. 

I got a LOT of writing done!!! I will be using my psychic powers to detect your new phone number and calling you soon to read these pages!!! Make sure you pick up!!!!



Managed to get out of Tod Boadkins trunk just in time. Fell, but used the opportunity to crawl under back of his car and come out the other side. A little covered in oil, slush, and parking lot grit. Need to find a dry cleaner fast!!!!

Taking serious notes now Gladys!!!!

10:00 a.m. The person yelling at Tod Boadkins is the event coordinator. Event coordinator is about fifty-five with thinning moussed-up hair, a bow tie, a big belly, and amazing shoes. He is also very bent out of shape. Apparently Tod Boadkins is “the least of his worries.” State health department is “cracking down.” Need to test everyone before they board daily but last minute tester hasn’t shown up and retreat might be cancelled. Tod Boadkins looks relieved.

Event coordinator shouts “God Almighty” a lot.  


10:15 I am now the state tester. This was an unexpected development and I was very surprised when I introduced myself as such. It works out though. Gives me a way onto boat and more importantly has made Tod Boadkins look crestfallen. Tod Boadkins is squinting at me with his mouth half open. I think he suspects, Gladys!!!


The “writers” have arrived and I have “tested” everyone using my clairvoyance. I’m pretty sure no one has COVID even though the lady with the six foot long sparkly scarf has a peachy-mauve aura.


We are boarding the big white yacht and everyone is stashing their luggage in a special room to be collected in the evening when we port. Need to make sure the door is never locked because I am going to need access to a change of clothes STAT!!!


Day One on the Writing Boat

Event coordinator is yelling at me about “paperwork.” I’ve informed him that I am taking careful notes about health conditions on this boat and will submit it at the end of the voyage. Of course, I’m lying. I’m really just using my time in this retreat to WRITE MY BOOK!!!! Hello??? I’m the only confirmed ACTUAL writer on this boat!!! Tod Boadkins has already slipped my surveillance thanks to event coordinator!!!!

“Writers” have naturally segmented into social groups on the dining deck.

  • I am calling the six nearly-shirtless ones with the hiking boots and typewriters strapped to their backs “The Hemingways.”
  • There are thirty people with very long fancy scarves who all say “Aunt” and not “Ant” and are talking about their memoirs. They only stop long enough to let another person talk about THEIR memoir and then they start talking about their own memoirs all over again. I am calling them “The Memoirists.”
  • Four “writers” are wearing some variation of furry fox tails, rabbit ears, and cat mittens. I am calling them “Furries.”
  • Another six “writers” have thick black-rimmed glasses, multi-colored hair and cheshire cat grins. They’re always cracking dirty jokes and they draw penises on everything. I am calling them “The Eroticas.”
  • There are three writers with runic necklaces, craft brewery t-shirts, and are always talking about world-building, word counts, and “discovery writing.” I am going to call them “The Sandersons.”

“Writers” are supposed to be working on our writing projects until four p.m. when we break for critique on the cocktail deck above. Then the ship staff will serve dinner on the dining deck at four.

At six pm we drop anchor at Innsmouth, MA and are staying at the Grand Marsh Hotel. I’m looking forward to this, Gladys!!!! This is a MUCH NEEDED GETAWAY after everything I’ve been through with my book!!! I read an article about the urban revitalization project at Innsmouth!!!

It’s revitalized!!!

Was going to work on my story but The Hemingways are making it hard to write!!! They’re all flexing their muscles and oiling themselves and bragging about how few words they can use to tell a story. The Eroticas aren’t writing either. They’re watching The Hemingways.

Four of The Memoirists have broken into tears over unexpected memories of horses.

The Sandersons are just discording each other memes. There is no internet on this boat.

Furries are the only ones writing.

Tod Boadkins is sitting at the head of the dining room. Whenever he thinks we aren’t looking, he puts his hands down his pants and scratches until he drools. I looked over his shoulder at his laptop and he isn’t writing!!!! He’s playing solitaire.


Pre-Boarding Day Two

7:15 a.m. Boarding is at 8 a.m. Have to check everyone’s auras for COVID. Bunked with a Hemingway last night. Told him not to fall in love.

Day Two

Three Memoirists went missing in the night. Each were last seen by the dilapidated Esoteric Order of Dagon lodge. The New Hampshire “Writer’s” Collective has called their lawyers. Lawyers say the retreat isn’t liable for damages caused by the Deep Ones.

Tonight we drop anchor at Boston Harbor. Will be nice to get a taste of city life!!! Very cosmopolitan!!!

Breakfast is french toast and bacon with coffee. The Hemingways have asked for vodka instead and have gone to swim laps around the boat in the icy water to get their creative juices flowing. The Eroticas have gone to watch.

Tod Boadkins is supposed to do a one hour lecture on Getting An Agent.

Tod Boadkins has suddenly come down with laryngitis.

Now we are supposed to be working on our writing for the day. The Hemingways typewriters are distractingly loud. One of The Eroticas has a genitalia shaped pen and she’s chewing on it thoughtfully. The Sandersons are in a terse argument about whether discovery writers or architect writers have written the best fantasy. The Memoirists are looking out the windows at the reef to “get into the mood.”

Furries are diligently writing.

Change of plans. Boat has somehow docked in Innsmouth again. They are making arrangements to stay at Grand Marsh Hotel again and calling for a navigation technician. Getting a room of my own tonight!!!

8:09 pm Found Tod Boadkins in one of the stairwells trying to get reception!!! He keeps calling someone and gets their voicemail. Now he’s leaving a message.

“Hey, man. You gotta call me back. I need to talk to you about these symptoms. I’m kinda in a situation where I can’t stop using the suds so I’m gonna need you to do something fast. Call me back, man. Like TONIGHT.”



Days Three & Four

Three more of The Memoirists have gone missing. This time each of them had been in their rooms and each had, coincidentally, drawn water for a bath. We are now down to twenty-five Memoirists. The other Memoirists seem to be relieved. Apparently there are too many memoir manuscripts flooding the submissions market.

Breakfast was baked beans and the memory of three rainy Tuesdays in 1930 with a side of passing teenage despair.

I have written nine more pages!!! These pages are especially ARTISTIC!!! I’m incorporating SYMBOLISM into my work Gladys!!!!

We haven’t boarded the Boat. The docks are covered in an impenetrable fog. The Hemingways have gone out to box each other. The Eroticas have helped themselves to hotel’s open bar and are hosting their own wet T-Shirt contest with the event coordinator wearing all the wet t-shirts. The Sandersons are all making maps of their latest work-in-progress. One of them has asked me where I found these nice pink socks because they had a pair just like them about two days ago and they’ve gone missing. I told them Target.

The Furries have taken up residence in the hotel library and are thoughtfully critiquing each other’s manuscripts.

I have no idea where Tod Boadkins is.

The event coordinator doesn’t either and is gobbling antacids every thirty minutes. The Eroticas are psychoanalyzing his feet.

Update day four: Two more Memoirists disappeared in the night. The Furries spotted wet footprints tracking from the missing Memoirists’ rooms and out of the hotel.

Breakfast was a grilled silvery fish with rows of teeth, served whole with the finger of some tiny, unrecognizable beast in its guts.

15 more pages written, Gladys!!!!


Day Five  

Well I’m sitting here in my borrowed hair curlers in clear view of all the Hemingways while I wait for us to leave this perfectly luxurious hotel for NO GOOD REASON.

A Memoirist is asking me where I got these hair curlers. I told her Target.

A fight broke out at dawn between the Grand Marsh Hotel manager and the event coordinator. Event coordinator insists we’re being held hostage. Hotel manager tried to warn him that a storm was coming and it wasn’t safe to leave but the event coordinator has run from room to room rounding up all of the “writers” and the crew and ushering us onto the boat. He found Tod Boadkins hiding on the roof trying to get cell reception.

We left Innsmouth and set sail into the fog this morning.

Breakfast was orange juice and oranges. The catering crew had to be left behind in Innsmouth.

The Memoirists aren’t writing. They keep saying that there are people in the water following the boat. One of them is crying because it reminds him of his grandfather. The rest are crying and keep saying “we’re next!”

Whatever, Gladys!!! Some of us have writing to do and apparently it’s only me and the Furries who are saying this. One of the Furries has completed his novel and is now thoughtfully working on a pitch for his agent. 

Event coordinator is shouting at the captain. Keeps saying “God Almighty can you just get us back to New Hampshire for crying out loud.” He also seems to like saying “for crying out loud.”

3 pages written!!!!

Day Six  

We are completely surrounded by fog, wind, and snow. I can’t believe it snows on the ocean. I would think it would do something else other than snow. The captain believes we still haven’t officially left Innsmouth. The navigation system isn’t working.

I think the Memoirist I borrowed these hair curlers from is developing either COVID or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Hard to tell in this light.

Four more Memoirists disappeared in the night. The captain says they jumped overboard and have joined the people whose heads are just barely visible above the water. They look like they have fish eyes.

Breakfast was more oranges and loaves of bread we found in the galley.

I caught Tod Boadkins out on the deck!!! He was on the phone again.

“I’ve been trying to get hold of you for a week! Would it kill you to call me back?…Hang on, I’m on a BOAT lemme put you on speaker phone.”

Now he’s on speaker phone, Gladys.

“I need you to do something. I’m having an allergic reaction to the suds. I’m going through hell over here. If I keep scratching my sh*ts gonna fall off not to mention my flipping brother’s house is haunted!”

Guy on the phone says “…longterm use.” I can’t really hear him above the boat motor and this wind.

“I know it’s not intended for longterm use but it’s not like I have a choice, is it? Got all these people looking at me thinking I’m him and all of this rides on them believing that so what the hell you want me to do, huh? Sh*t, someone’s listening, I gotta go.”

Gotta go, Gladys!!!

4 pages written!!!!

Day Seven

Breakfast was some spare ribs someone found in a freezer and boiled within an inch of its life.

I don’t think I’m going to get any writing done today. Thirteen Memoirists disappeared last night and now there are a heck of a lot more fish people out in the water approaching us. There are only five Memoirists left. They’re each cagily eyeing each other because they know whichever one of them survives this will have an automatic best seller.

The captain believes he is channelling navigational instructions from a spirit named Waaardgath. The boat has been caught in a reef. The captain has ordered his crew to nail the event coordinator to the wall. The Eroticas are staging an intervention and have broken several chairs and filed the legs into stakes.

The Sandersons are saying they didn’t sign up for this. They write about stuff like this so that they don’t have to live it.

The Furries have all completed their books and are now quietly working on building makeshift harpoons to keep the fish people at bay.

The Hemingways are all punching each other to get themselves geared up for battle.

Oh look! The sky has flooded with light that’s turned all the clouds orange and purple and they’re all flashing! The Hemingways say the flashes are morse code but I think it looks more like a strobe light.

Now the clouds are being dragged open by a huge six fingered hand and, on the other side of the clouds you can hear what I think is a Lil Nas X song and a view of my basement. The six fingered hand has long black claws and it’s just reached into the ocean and started grabbing the fish people by the handful and flinging them.

The captain is screaming something about summoning the arcane elders of the deep and bringing about the destruction of all worlds or something like that.

The huge hand has just reached across the ocean and flicked the captain in the head. The captain is now trying to remember his name.

Well, there goes Waaaardgath.

The hand is picking up the boat now and moving us away from the reef into what appears to be even more snow. The boat is pitching back and forth.

The hand just gave me a thumbs up. It drew back the cloud curtains and disappeared and now the music is fading.









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