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

Saturday, August 30, 2003

I lost my melanogaster today. This pains me. It was my favorite. It was small and bright. It whispered secrets in my ear. When to bend down and find a quarter in a sidewalk crack. Which boy would say "yes" when I touched him just so. How may yards between my scope and the back of the target's head. My melanogaster was my best friend. My advisor. My lover.

I think I'll fly away now.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Screaming, Sue Ellen Menzies ran through the house. Corridors stretched before her like wooden tentacles. Doors rattled as she passed. Breath of the house. Breath of the monster. Behind her, the pursuing Shibboleth, a horror out of the most purple prose she used to read under the covers with a flashlight. Why had she ever wanted to belong to something special? This was what it had bought her.

With that thought, she tripped on the ravelled edge of an old rose carpet runner. She slammed face-first to the floor, knees and elbows trembling. The Shibboleth's hot breath was upon her. Its foetid stench overwhelmed her. It bent down, a pressure on her back worse than bad sex.

"What does the H.P. in Lovecraft's name stand for?" the Shibboleth whispered.

("Shibboleth" courtesy of JimT)

Thursday, August 28, 2003

I was depressed because I was rugose until I met a man who was carpetose. We drank together and cried until astroturfose came into the bar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The doctor was morose. Brown eyes sandbagged into pits by fatigue stared over a stretched green mask. Janet noticed one long straggle of gray hair escaping from the doctor's flowered surgical shower cap.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," the doctor said. "There's nothing more we can do."

"It's true." Janet sighed. "My needed to..."

The doctor nodded, head bobbing heavy.

"I guess we'll go on."

"Many people live happy, healthy lives without their splendiferous," the doctor said, with a weird mix of tentative authority.

"It just won't be the same."

"It never is, ma'am. Mediocrity isn't pretty."

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Once there was a spoon who loved beyond the mores of her people. Spoons are conservative as a rule, preferring to nest with their own kind in old wooden drawers lined with paper towels. When a clan moves to a wire basket holder, that's a scandal. When a tea spoon goes crazy for a soup spoon, stern measures are taken.

This spoon fell in love with a fork.

Forks are everything spoons are not -- brittle and tough, stomping around all over the place waving their three or four phallic tines like the God of Silverware had made them to own the world. Without forkkind, there would be no silverware. They sneer at the slow-voiced claims of those most ancient knives. And they are very, very bad for spoons.

This fork didn't return the spoon's love, but he was an opportunistic little forker, so one night he went over the wall into the spoon drawer. He and his spoongirl snuck off into a corner behind a wadded-up dishrag where the fork introduced the spoon to the sweet mysteries of life. She cried out with passion as his tines reaved her bowl. She moaned when their handles twined like snakes on a caduceus. Finally, when the spoon had been well and truly sporked, the fork departed.

He spent the rest of his days satisfied, dining out on the tale and getting plenty of hot tine-to-tine action. She was cast out of the drawer, forced by love and the memories of love to dish out canned dogfood for the rest of her days, though she came to welcome Rover's rough, hot tongue upon her curves.

Monday, August 25, 2003

His Majesty's Fourth Ulterior Lancers moved off the ridge at last, under orders again after three hot, bloody days trapped under the Tharsic guns firing off a strongpoint higher on the plateau. Subaltern Whitby Jenkins-Smythe had point, riding a Stoatweasel-Fardle Mark IIIa steam ram decorated with the skulls of Martians and the broken rifles of his unit's dead. There was great magic in such tokens --- ask any Tharsic trooper. The red wind howled all their names, marking the final days of the Fourth Ulterior in this, the first of His Majesty's disastrous Martian Expeditions.

("Ulterior" dedidated to BlakeH, from whom I shamelessly ripped off material for this StoryWord because he's so cool.)

  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.