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

Saturday, April 05, 2003
Filial Piety

Long ago in the days of the ruling house of Burgundy, there was a problem with the horses. The mares and stallions, and even the geldings, refused to cooperate, having independently discovered Socialism. The problem was solved when the Burgundian king isolated the foals and fillies and imported horse-whispering sages from darkest Araby to give his animals an appropriate sense of humility and awe -- filial piety. Of course, the son finally set on Burgundy and the King was forced to eat humble.

Friday, April 04, 2003
Blue Moon

Way up North in the ice and snow in the midnight sun where the hot springs flow, the Viking lads liked to go out of a night, tipple heavily and amuse themselves with such antics as the bloody eagle and breaking on the wheel. In these tamer times, they are reduced to shouting out rude names and exposing themselves, which given the nature of the elements in the far north, results in exposure to themselves. Norwegian and Swedish doctors refer to the resultant refrigeration of the gluteus maximus as "blue moon."

Thursday, April 03, 2003

It's a long way to Tertiary, but every third tortoise knows the road. The hare races by, bent on destruction or at least last night's dinner, while the shadows of the mute milestones punctuate the path like the graves of so many soldiers. We advance by thirds, always taking half measures, offering no quarter. Tertiary. Two thirds of the way there.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

In the days of the ancient Frankish kings, dark rites were practiced in the depths of the catacombs under what would someday be Paris. Pagan gods worshipped in the secret guises of saints, virgins sacrificed to priapic rites much to the merriment of all concerned, even a few crazed whisperers preaching the coming gospel of Francophone imperialism! But the deepest, darkest rite of all consisted setting fire to the tricolor, while saluting with baguette and playing with your monkey. This rite was called...


Know the word. Fear the word. Fool the April.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

In the late days of the Seleucid Empire, there lived on the remote Mediterranean island of Malta Crucis a remnant population of pterodactyls and small, plant-eating dinosaurs. It was the habit of certain Coptic hermits to sail across the sea in boats of reeds, with only live frogs in small willow-wand cages for provisions, until they came to Matla Crucis, where they would fashion switches from their boat reeds and frog cages. Using these switches, the hermits would scourge themselves, and any animals they came across, of sin. Thus were the Pleistocene survivors martyred for the faith, dinoflagellates.

  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.