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

Saturday, October 04, 2003

"We got your gin, your whiskey, your tequila, your low grade booze, your high grade booze, your triple sec, your parsec, yo--"



"That last one."

"Triple sec? Well, it's--"

"No, no, the one after that."

"Parsec? Hang See the bottle? Kessel's Run. Great brand. You'll love it."

"There's no such liquor."

"What the hell is this, pal? Lunch meat?"

"I mean that's a gag bottle or something. A parsec is--"

"I know what a parsec is. I'm a bar tender, not a fucking retard."


"Ah, forget it. Dumb argument anyway. Here...have a shot of parsec on the house."

"Hey, thanks."

"Heh. Don't thank me yet."

"And...bottoms up!"

"Whoa, easy there. You're gonna cough up a lung, pal."

" God..."

"You okay?"

"My God, it's full of stars."

Friday, October 03, 2003

When finance is more than a word...when accounting isn't just something you do...when money is everything in your world...

You're ready for the amazing new slim-fast, tight abs, high IQ, never burns, easy bake, always on, broadband, megavitamin FIDUCIARY! Yes, improves health, eases financial woes, regularizes your morning bowel movement and waxes your automobile. Send one billion dollars today to the Enron Executives Beneficent Fund.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The Diplura broke the crust with her forelimbs, allowing direct planetary air to brace her exoskeleton for the first time in nearly thirty millennia. She heaved her body out into darkness, feeling disoriented: an astronaut tasting the vastness of space and the fear-infusing roll of zero g for the first time.

Grassland animals watched, wary of the leviathan in their midst. The Diplura ignored them, satisfied to taste their blood-warmed scents, and dismiss them one by one.

She moved away from her tunnel, the vasocongestion in her back ardently sweet, seeming to build as she struggled forward. The grass whispered under her armored body, bending as she passed. She chose a spot where it was high. It didn't provide the reassurance of stone and clay pressed in on three sides of her body, but was the closest equivalent in this frightening world of open air and boundless sky.

The ovipositor rose like a great sail from her back, black as the space between the pinpricked stars. She stretched the hinge connecting the two sections of her body, allowing unobstructed passage of her pods to the ovipositor, then, with a sudden thrust, tightened muscles the size of large trees in a contraction of titan speed and power.

The first salvo blasted into the atmosphere at gravity-breaking speed. Some of the pods spread out as they rose, destined to rain down on the Diplura's home world, giving her, if only for a few generations, eyes to see. But the majority of the pods left their mother's tiny planet, to sail upon solar winds, journeying by infinitesimal degrees towards destinations unknown.

The Diplura worked through the night, ejaculating the whole of her pods, emptying herself of her role in the species' mating dance.

When it was done, when the horizon began to gray, she lifted her body on tired legs and stood, wobbling, trying to sense her tunnel via scent and sound.

The first laser strike sliced through the Diplura's right side, melting the exoskeleton, and frying the soft meat underneath. Subsequent blasts cut her legs off at the first joints, leaving them to crumble under her weight. Before the darkness -- true darkness, not just of sight, but of scent, and sound, and knowing -- came, she heard the small creatures uttering cheers at the success of their hunt, and smelled her own green blood on the morning air.

("Ovipositor" and today's Story Word courtesy of DavidJ.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The seed struggles. Earth around it is warm like chocolate, rich like blood. Sun pounds on the case from above, his bright fists shouting, "Wake up!" Still, the work is hard. A tiny sprout uncoils, pushing upward, away from gravity's chains, toward Sun's brilliant regard. Earth parts like a lover's lips, the seed splits like first sex, the little green shoot rises up!

A proud parent looks on. Is it a monocot or a dicot? What color shall Eden's nursery be painted?

No matter. It is life, leaving no seed unsprouted.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

There are many dark and deep swamps in the world, from the Atchafalaya to the Okeefenokee. But the Ogee swamps are the most terrible. They stretch from Leeds to Shanghai, with lacunae in Nairobi, Sao Paola and Moline, Illinois. Residents around the world pause as they step out of their houses, listening for the flitter of an Ogee bat, the bellowing call of an Ogee frog, the shambling gait of an Ogee swamp monster. But the Ogee mold is the most terrible of all...

Monday, September 29, 2003

Elicit sex is so much more difficult.

Sunday, September 28, 2003
Bête Noire

Bête Noire was a dark-haired babe wearing a coat that could have seen service as a home for midget goats. She sashayed into my office like she always did, Doc Martens clomping on the old tile floor, a wild fever in her eyes.

Bête lived an interesting life.

"What can I do for you, doll?" I asked through a haze of stale cigar smoke. My stogie was my armor, a Freudian dick-replacement that kept my lips busy and my mind distracted.

"It's my family," Bête said. Usually her problems involved pushy guys with too much money, or maybe a "missing" lover she didn't want no evidence surfacing from the river on.


She began to weep, dabbing at her eyes with a crumpled hundred dollar bill. "They're...they're...making an example out of me. They've paid the Dictionary Gang to book me."

"My God, doll. They've made a word out of you?"

The waterworks were in full force now as she nodded.

What the hell could I do? Burning all the dictionaries was like trying to drink all the tea in Ceylon.

"Sometimes, babe, you just have to live with fate. Want a cigar?"

  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.