Story Words
Very short fiction, written on the fly, from words submitted by readers.
© 2002, 2003, 2004 Jay Lake

Friday, January 10, 2003
Water Buffalo

A rare animal native to Burma, southern Thailand and a remnant population in darkest Cornwall. The water buffalo lives at fords, under bridges, or behind waterfalls, from where its plaintive lowing can be heard. They are rarely seen due to being translucent, and are reduced to amorphous blobs by sudden rainstorms.

(Inspired by lileks, with whom I agree on almost nothing, but still find both interesting and entertaining.)

Thursday, January 09, 2003

What becomes of men who grind their stones together too much. They become altos, stop growing beards, and enter the sandlot. All a baseless rumor of course, except at home with the kids.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

What happened to Bob Dole's popularity after he retired from politics and began to pitch Viagra and Pepsi. From the same Indo-European root as ruckus, rust-belt and rooty-toot-toot.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Long ago and far away in the fabled clam mines of Trobriand, the enslaved Dutch raised a rebellion against their Trobirander baases, as the Dutch called them. Using giant fossilized mollusc shells as shields, the doughty slaves were able to win their way to the clam docks and steal a ship for home. That ship was the Umbo, of fame and memory, and I need say no more.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Hegemony is a type of currency used in the back country -- literally, "hedge money" -- from which we also derive such slang as "long green" for a lot of money. It originated with the practice in the Ceylonese backcountry of using unprocessed tea leaves for money. In pre-Colonial times, an entire house could be bought for a bush.

("Hegemony" courtesy of MichaelaH)

Sunday, January 05, 2003
Mission Creep

A failed tv show from the mid-1970s that attempted to revive "Mission Impossible," except the heroes were disco types instead of hip spy guys. Took its title from the lead character, Sammy Sneep, played by Warren Beatty, who was a creepy disco guy presaging Austin Powers.

  I've been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and for the John W. Campbell, Jr. Award for Best New Writer!
Award info | Me

Read the Hugo-nominated story for free at

Q: What is this?
A: A fiction experiment. Every day, people email me words. At some random point in the day, I pick a word, write a quick story about it on the spot, and post it unedited (except for a quick typo patrol).

Q: What did that word mean?
A: Look it up:

Q: Can I send you a word?
A: You bet. Include a definition if the word is deeply obscure -- or not, if you prefer. Send it to

Q: I've got something to say about this.
A: Click over to the Story Words discussion topic.

Q: Who else is silly enough to do this? I think it's kind of neat.
A: David Jones, for one. Surf over there and check him out. Drop him an encouraging word, too. He's a brave man.
A: Jeremy Tolbert, for another, with his Microscopica project. Likewise show him some love.
A: Jason Erik Lundberg with his Mythologism blog.

Q: You're even cooler than KITT the Knight Rider car. Do you have a mailing list to announce your latest hijinks?
A: Of course I do. What kind of self-promoting, narcissistic writer would I be otherwise? Email me. Occasional mailings regarding stories appearing in print and online, weird stuff in general, and appearances of the Greek Chorus.