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

Saturday, February 01, 2003
Stalking Horse

The great celery ranches of lower Silesia were once plagued by the lesser Austrian vegetarian cat. The wily German farmers eventually hit upon the plan of breeding tiny horses to lurk among the celery stalks and kick the vegetarian cats to death. Thus, the stalking horse which hides in the leafy furze and flattens the cat.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

What happens when the coach gets ill.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

On the faraway island of Moreaux, the evil genius of Dr. Innerarity gave rise to numerous man-animal and animal-plant hybrids, some of which escaped the lands of legend to mingle in the workaday world. The most feared of the these was the catamaran, a cross between the common housecat and the amaranth plant. Through some quirk of genetics, catamarans were amphibious, and always travelled in pairs, which for many years gave surfing and sailing a bad name within the same waters as Moreaux. Today the fossilized cartilagenous structures of these curious creatures are used as sailing vessels in their own right, bringing full circle to the legend.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Many many years ago in the land of Aegtypia Revisiona lived a race of thinkers obsessed with foolhardy notions, like the bortherhood of man, the packaging ratio between hot dogs and buns, and the extraterrestrial origins of classical Pharaonic architecture. Because of their broad foreheads and narrow, sloping crowns, these people were known as "pyramidiots," a usage which survives to this day.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Spanish for "Saint Ctifed", a Saxon-era English saint primarily noted for his "holy touch" -- everything his fingers brushed against became holy. This wasn't so bad for food -- instant Communion -- but eventually the Saxons became tired of holy doorpulls, holy beer mugs and holy fireplace pokers, so they hung him with ropes over the Thames tide, specifically in order to avoid sanctifying his place of death.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

The pelagic argosy sights land is a code phrase from the far future. Pelicans, algae and long journeys over water resulting in people getting fleeced intersect in this fascinating, often under-used lexeme. Never forget the word when boarding a boat or sprinkling salt in boiling water.

  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.