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

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Samuel Gorse invented the amalgraph, asking what has God thought? The American people quickly took to sending one another amalgams, until a particularly large one was accidently dropped on President Elmo Toledo. The Secret Service shut down Eastern Onion, and life went back to normal.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Hell is a red desert. Our male souls rise up through the blue Rayleigh scattering of Earth's sky to encounter the hard-edged black of space. Your female souls rise too, but they head sunward, toward the warm, cloud-wrapped depths of Venus. We go to Mars, where our souls tell stories of the beauties of Venus and the dances that women's souls do in the absence of their pestilential men. Mars is red, relieved by occasional brown, a male planet, all angles and ignorance, with no tolerance, relief or forgiveness.

Hell is a red desert. We're sorry, for everything. Please come take us home.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Lost among the bullrushes and wild garlic of the Merriam Mountain Swamps, Webster's Least Snollygoster hunts its last prey. Pity the poor snollygoster lost now to human ken. Admire the high, arching loops of his brow ridges. Appreciate the sheen of his scaled, self-oiling skin. Listen to the long-winded declamations that echo from cliff to cliff among the swamps. The snollygoster is warning to us all...sic transit gloria mundi.

(Which roughly translated means "your dog will throw up in the moving van.")

("Snollygoster" suggested by AnnaH upon the word's retirement from Merriam-Webster.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Bipolar Disorder

Amundsen and Scott
Cowards they were not
They went to poles
And got very cold
Bipolar disorder they got

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The sun rose red and low over the Martian horizon. The sky was always the same dusty red, like being trapped under an enormous rose petal. And the dust, oh my God, the dust, it was everywhere. I swear it came out in my piss.

Our problem was simple. How to count the days. We'd brought the days of our lives from Earth, three hundred sixty five and change per year, three score and ten years per life.

Well, Earth ain't no more. I mean, the rock ball's still there, but not much walks, crawls or clings to it any more. I guess the point was made. Whoever's point it was. We killed our infidels here, in sympathetic effort, but that just made the Martian sand run redder.

Now how shall we worship without the days of Earth? When are our feasts and fast with two feeble moons in the sky instead of kindly Luna? Oh, Lord, in our supputation we present ourselves before Thee, to ask if our worship pleases Thee.

I want blue skies back.

Monday, September 22, 2003

When the blessed stank, they set ship to the peurile. Their youthful indiscretions could be reviled, and they could find themselves once again at maturity's door.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

The youngpore become the eldritch through a process of magickal accumulation and live, vile, evil. Nine times out of tentacle a pentacle suffices to keep them nices. On the tenth beware of what you meet upon the stair that isn't there.

  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.