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

Saturday, October 11, 2003

God is in four letters, and those letters are A, C, T, G, unfolding into an infinite grammar of riotous life. He is a twisty, spirally spirit, infusing all that flaps or crawls upon the earth, every leafy thing, every worm of the benthic deeps. Four and four and four and four, spinning evermore.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Very small universes are infintesimal. Very small people live in them, and walk forever to the edge of the bubble, thinking they've gone round the world when they've never really moved at all.

Not unlike life, come to think of it.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

"Choice of weapons?"


"Hah. You don't have the stamena for that."

"Petal that crap somewhere else or I'm leafing."

"Right. Distance?"

"Ten stems."

"Ten? Well..."

"You can call it off."

"What? And avoid challenging the flower of our youth?"

"Get off, you old fruit."

"May I suggest dawn?"

"The day's eye rises. Suits me."

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The placer man comes at dawn, carrying with him all the markers and blood we'll need. We welcome him with coffee and hugs, relieve him of his burden, and stand with steaming breath in the morning cold, laying out the day's sacrifices. Later, the children will come on the train from the cities. Later, we will drive the stakes into the ground. Later, the angry demons will come crashing from the woods, dragging leaves and branches like comet tails.

Without the placer man, we would all fall before them. Without us, the cities would fall. Without the children on the train, there would be no sacrifices to place.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Big Endian

The rogue programmers of Ohio have separated into two tribes. The Big Endians are the old couch potatoes -- Doritos and Dr Pepper all day before they went rogue, now they tramp through the forests and fields, sleeping in barns, and disguise themselves as haystacks to hunt their enemies. The Little Endians were always the nervous types -- Twinkies and Jolt Cola in the old days, they run the roads now, breaking into houses to sleep six and seven to an abandoned hot tub.

A recent mission from the San Jose Programmers' Relief Association found that the Big Endians and Little Endians are happy in their lot. They hurl razor-sharpened hard drive platters at one another and shout out rude names, happy in whiling away the hours of their lives. The lack of female programmers ensures that both tribes will soon die off, which is perhaps just as well.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Flout run with the spring tide, and can often be brought in with silver nets weighed with conscienceless men. A small fish, flout make up in numbers for their lack of weight. They ignore sharks and disport themselves before the fisheagles. Flout are a favorite food of politicians and five year olds.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

In the long ago kingdom of the Yellow Fairies, there lived a little, withered old Green Fairy. She'd been outlawed from her people's kingdom for a crime even she had forgotten, and eventually came to dwell in an ogre's cave high on the slopes of Mount Magichat. The ogre was generally not home, and when it was, the old Green Fairy took such good care of him -- cracking his lice, boiling the bones of his catch, sorting his gold -- that he paid her no mind.

Came one spring the army of the Green Fairies invaded the kingdom of the Yellow Fairies. There were terrible battles in the meadows and dales, and the lavender blood of fairies of both colors mixed in the monochrome democracy of death. The war was over some point of precedence or succession that no one was clear on, but it was worth the blood and lives of young fairies, at least from the perspective of the old fairy kings in their gilded courts.

The withered Green Fairy roused the ogre from his winter nap. She whispered in his ear, sweet nothings and tickling breath and reminders of long years of patient service. Then the two of them came down from Mount Magichat, his legs pounding the ground like thunderstrokes.

The battles paused. Fairy officers scented the wind, read the birds in the sky. Fairy troops settled for a nutshell of dandelion tea and a nap. In their gilded halls, the two fairy kings each paused in their councils and wondered what stirred in the world.

When the ogre reached the battle lines, the old Green Fairy caused it to stop. She whispered again sweet words and angry, until the ogre growled and sniffed at the wind. Both armies quailed, even as trees bent in the breeze of the ogre's inhalation. Then the ogre glared with its piggy red eyes. Both armies retreated, even as the gilded badges of their officers glinted like flame. Then the ogre smiled with its scimitar teeth. Both armies scarpered like rats before a kitchen torch.

Thus ended the war of the Green and Yellow Fairies. The ogre returned to his cave unmolested, but the old Green Fairy was hanged at midnight from a silver rope for treason, a sentence passed by both sides -- the first article of agreement in their treaty of peace.

  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.