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

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Man and Superman walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Crypt tonight?" Turns out Man is a zombie, but Superman panics and trashes the place. Man goes out and scores some superheroine, Superman goes home and gets drunk. Watch who you associate with, and lay off the green stuff.

("Superman" courtesy of JoeL)

Friday, August 08, 2003

When Lewis and Clark came up the Columbia from the east side of the Cascades, they found themselves engorged. Each mile made them larger and larger, until by the time they found the Willamette and site of what would Fort Vancouver, their strides were miles and their bodies lay in valleys when it came time to sleep.

Thursday, August 07, 2003
Goat Moth

In the country of the chimerae, the ordinary man is suspect. Centaurs and cyclops alike treat him as an outcast. The animals, with their own kings and courts, are much the same. The hippogryff sneers at the eagle, the pegasus laughs at the horse. Even the roc is barely tolerated.

But the goat moth...ah, the goat moth. Barred-eyed beauty with nubbin horns and great sweeping wings the size of dreams, with powder enough upon them to dust entire dutchies. This is the angel that flies above the courts and kings of the chimerae, bearing all their hopes for evil and good to the hard-eyed moon, that she might judge in the night and deliver to they who deserve it the loving dawn.

("Goat Moth" courtesy of LeonW)

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Far off in the storm-lashed depths of the Cytoplasm Sea, near the Isles of Langerhans, there sails the ghost ship Mitochondria. She sometimes nears a lonely strand to offload treasure chests of rare enzymes, and deep in her holds are ribosomes preserved from the depths of time in pickling barrels full of brandy. Her captain is a woman who smokes Cuban cigars and affects a Dutch accent, while the first mate is a giant parrot with an eye patch and a hook in place of one wing.

Should you ever glimpse the ghost ship Mitochondria running ragged-sparred across the wind, turn away and face the highlands of your home, for she takes every man who catches her eye and casts them forever in the heart of a small cell beneath her decks.

("Mitochondria" courtesy of Q, who is currently reproducing and thus has cellular biology much in mind.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

"Don't you ride that bike with bare feet!" Mama shouted out the kitchen window. It was a weekend ritual, her advice, our ignoring it. "You'll lose a toe that way!"

We didn't listen no more than we ever did, me and Carrie Ann and Homoncoli, that weird kid next door. I think his parents were from someplace way east of everything. I had me a new Schwinn I'd bought with my paper route money, and it was faster than greased lightning. Carrie Ann wasn't no slouch neither, and that Homoncoli kid, it was like he could fly or something.

So there we was, slamming down the hill in Black's Forest Park, when I hit the gravel patch over by the little barbecue pit. That's the one where Ellen Mears got caught with Jaime Pitt last spring, which even made the papers, though no one would ever tell me exactly what they were doing. I went down on the gravel, slid in a big old spiral and caught my foot between the pedal and the greasy metal post of the barbecue pit.

Oh my sweet Lord, it hurt. I liked to crush my right foot. It was ice and fire at the same time, and a nasty sting and good old fashioned hurt all at once. Carrie Ann and Homoncoli had to haul me back to the house, me screaming the whole way. Mama called Doc Callas, who said he'd be right over. I just lay there in bed, watching Carrie Ann cry and Homoncoli lick his fingers, while Mama said over and over, "I'm afraid you're only gonna have one and half feet, son."

And limp I do to this very day, while only little words leave my mouth.

("Sesquipedalophobia" courtesy of Q)

Monday, August 04, 2003
New Style Monkey Army

During the Second Rectification of the Low Fantasists, the Dread Editor Roberts determined that it would important to bring his future enemies under his sway before they became powerful. He despatched the mighty General Mohanraj to the Land Beyond the Web to recruit an army from those distant parts -- fresh troops whose tribal homelands had no agenda in the Middle Wars. She returned with the New Style Monkey Army, storm troopers of chic armed with eyebrow pencils and surplus Mac II keyboards. The terror they wrought during the siege of Fortress Silver Age is still legendary, and the scraps of mordant wit which are still dug up during road construction projects require careful handling by experts.

(This word [well, phrase] is here.)

Sunday, August 03, 2003
Admin notice

I'm off to Writers of the Future today, not to be back until next Sunday. I'll try to post Story Words if I can, but I have no sense of when and how often I'll have decent Internet access. Please excuse the potential hiatus.

-- Jay

Fallopian Tubes

Henley had to deal with a number of problems while laying the Luna, Mars and Ganymede Railroad. The L-5 bypass required positively Byzantine right-of-way negotiations with various Terran governments. The LMG encountered intellectual property disputes over its name from the Revived Roman Temples(sm). Trackage around the 1.4 AU point was swarmed by ironophagic parasites, which sucked the sense of humor out of the entire crew of Gandy Dancers. Henley prevailed over all. But his greatest achievement was driving the final railhead into Jovian orbit via the Fallopian Tubes. It was a fertile effort, overcoming a cyclical disruption in the building process, one that will be difficult to ever reproduce.

-- Jasper Michaels, Carolina on My Mind -- a History of Interplantary Railroads, Reticule Press, Fort Wannoshay, Martian Socialist Republic

("Fallopian Tubes" is for my sister Q, who threatens to provide me with a niece this coming October.)

  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.