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

Saturday, July 26, 2003

The car, she is long and sleek. The motor, she is bigger than a draft horse. The side pipes, they coil like pythons eating an ape. The leather, she creaks. The wood, she gleams. But the joy of the car, she is the grumble seat far, far behind the driver, where mother-in-law rides, breathing exhaust, her complaints heard only by the wind.

("Grumble" courtesy of JakeB)

Friday, July 25, 2003

Hello mugger
Hello fadder
Greetings from
This dark alley
Please don't kill
Take my money
Wait, wait, what are you--

And with bone-cracking skill, the hugger-mugger slips away into the night, another victim gasping out their life on the grimy bricks of Camp Hiawatha.

("Hugger-Mugger" courtesy of DavidJ)

Thursday, July 24, 2003
New Chum

Old bait is nasty
New chum is nice
Rotten worms stick to fingers
Fresh fish is diced
Come to Australia
Land of opportunity
Hang with the cons and queens
A real chum community

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Beauty Shot

In the Age of Miracles, the prevaccination was perhaps the most miraculous of all. Finally, previously chronic conditions such as stupidity, blind faith and clumsiness could be cured. The elusive sangreal of the prevaccination movement was the beauty shot, which would make ugly people, well, not ugly any more. In 2045 Dr. Wilhelm Lao-Ting Moore synthesized HH34-F(2), which seemed to serve the purpose. In fact, Moore's beauty shot was something much more sinister...

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The peloton advanced at orders of the bataille commandante. Moving by esquadrille, their assignment was to take the ridge covering the vaillee. It was the etage montaigne of the guerre, when the dreaded yellow jerseys would seize the daie, and the honor of the bataille rested on them. First esquadrille encountered heavy resistance from the Greco-Dutch mercenaries on the heights, but were relieved by the third and fourth. Lieutenant Armstrong finally rallied the troupes personally to achieve the objectif. There was a great arc de triomphe at the moment of victoire.

("Peloton" suggested by MEL)

Monday, July 21, 2003

The audomobile was a fandasidic indention, which was much improved by the addition of cerdain technolodies, such as ADS, power sdeering and the turbinado. The endine she runds so swede when that turbinado kicks in.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

"I just like to say the word 'kumquat.'"
"Oh, as in 'kumquat with me in the garden.'"
"No, as in 'kumquat are you talking about, man?'"
"That's pretty damned fruity."
"At least it's tropical."
"What, like ointment?"
"Kumquat ointment. Yech."
"Kumquat appointment."
"At tree o'clock, obviously."

("Kumquat" courtesy of MEL)

  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.