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

Saturday, September 20, 2003
Powder Puff

Dragons come in many sizes, shapes and colors. There are the sinuous water dwellers of the clouded east, who bear luck and fear in their whirling eyes for those unfortunate enough to enounter them. There are the many-legged worms of the Cambrian mountains, walking metaphors for coal who haunt the dreams of miners and the days of armored knights. There are noble creatures clad in silver and diamond winging their way over the crowned courts of Europe, like comets portending the fates of empires.

But the smallest, sweetest dragon of them all is the powder puff, which comes to a lady's chamber or a girl's cot and leaves a sparkling breath behind to bring luck, beauty and a measure of self-determination. Even sweet little dragons slay and eat their young after all, and the strongest of women can be ready to do no less.

("Powder Puff" courtesy of SusanL)

Friday, September 19, 2003

Long after the Saturn V took us to the moon under President Nixon and the Saturn VII took us to Mars under President Agnew, the Saturn IX took us to the outer planets under President Haig. He was so damned jolly about it that the Haig Express was popularly called the 'Saturnine'.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

In the whirled of pre-wore Syrup, D'yous went openly to synedoche. After Chris till Nought, concessions became wurst and wurst until the D'youish peepers were no longer fried to perpetrate their faith. Even in the dorkest noughts of those wore ewers, the spirit of synedoche lived awn. They're faith was reworn as they were family fry to dance by the light of the moon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I was anxious about my impending suppuration, but I didn't want to be a sourpuss. Wound so tight I thought I might burst, I settled for a mayonnaise milkshake and bandage over the cut.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

God created the Earth in seven days
He worked in a myriad ways
But given all the time He had
Why did He use a hebdomad?

Monday, September 15, 2003

Deep in the jungles of darkest Denmark, hunters move silently by night. They wear only white muslin smeared in the ink of tropical squid, and carry as their weapon each a staff carved by hand from the heartwood of a Pacific yew. They hunt the aliquot, an animal which can only be caught by working in a group and dividing evenly. Its properties are too numerous to mention, save to say that almost all magical animal legends are the remainder of the aliquot's story. When you feel the brush of silk by moonlight, that is the aliquot. When you feel the breath of God in a dream, that is the aliquot. Wish the Danish hunters well, for the blood of the aliquot is the life of millions.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

The periodic table of the elements is so much more interesting when done as interpretive dance in a theater-in-the-round. That arrangement sheds light on the fundamental heliocentric nature of our Universe.

  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.