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

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Errata literature should not be placed in the hands of children. It corrupts their minds and ledes them into bad spellinge.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Clangor, she named her child, for he was born noisy and the color of brass. Clangor grew threw all the ages of a boy, from sweetmeat eater to cat tail puller to bird catcher to girl tormentor to bully to noble sufferer. Along the way he added strength to match his name, and no little wit, but he never did become a good judge of himself, or master for others.

In his seventeenth year, Clangor scrubbed the rust from his father's sword and paid the tinker to patch the holes in his father's helmet and set out to make himself a wealthy man. His name and muscles got him hired on to a band that was little better than a nest of robbers. His looks and wit got him into the graces of the woman who ran the band with an iron hand, so that Clangor was well exercised both day and night, and by accident became schooled in the virtues of leadership, though he still lacked talent for any aggrandizement but his own.

Came the day when the Seven Gods stepped forth from the Cave of Slumbers and put fire and sword to half the lands. Clangor's band and every other sword-wielding bunch between there and the backside of the horizons turned out -- men knew better than to listen to Gods, after all that had gone before.

There were skirmishes and battles in plenty, each match more terrible than what had gone before. Mordechai's Sixth (and only) Regiment put paid to the Fourth God, at the cost of being turned to a Regiment of copper beeches, each man's face cast in agony upon the bark of his own tree. A loose miscellany of thieves, shepherds and city watchmen managed to bring down the First God, but were engulfed in a pink mist which echoed with the gnashing of teeth, and were never seen again except as stains upon the rocks of the battlefield.

Clangor's band still fielded against the Gods, for the alternatives were too terrible to contemplate. His day came, finally, when working as an outrider seeking contact with Fellhand's Band he chanced upon the Sixth and Seventh Gods at rest together, watching a kraken roast upon a redwood spit and talking in their own rumbling language.

He held where he stood, fondling the old sword and thinking on this sight. The Gods were unprepared, idle and unawares. He was miles from any force he knew of. Could he split one of their heads for them by stealth? It would be the death of him for sure.

After a time, Clangor slid off his horse, unbuckled his armor and sword, laid them in the brush and walked away. He outlived all the Seven Gods and most of the soldiers, changing his name and becoming a costermonger in a different port. He fed beggars and counseled whores and stepped in front of the worst abuses of the city watch of that place.

Was he a good man? Was he a coward? Or was it just his name?

Thursday, November 27, 2003

The last of the Furniture Wars brought an end to the Ottoman Empire. The Second Wingback Crusaders overthrew the puffy footstools, installing a brief reign of terror (and chenille) in their wake before being overwhelmed in turn by the Caster Rebellion.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

King Falail's Phalanges were the most feared forces in the Eastern Mediterranean. Feared as "Falail's Fingers," they would infiltrate restive or unfriendly cities, commit assassinations by night and credit fraud by day, then drift out again, leaving ruin in their wake.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The tail broke off around 10:15. Noodlehead spotted us, pulled an illegal U on Powell and got behind a fuel truck. We tried to stay even with him, but he was gone.

"Damn, damn, damn," said Mortal. His fingernails tore vinyl right off the dashboard.

"Control can locate Noodlehead." I went around on 21st. Nice, easy, legal, with two cop cars in sight. Where the hell were the blues when Noodlehead pulled his big fat turnaround?

Mortal wasn't satisfied. "Every time we get caught up with him, something goes pear-shaped. God damned heterocercal tailing."

I smiled into the steering wheel. Mortal had brought this on himself. "By the book, Control says, by the book we do it."

"The book ain't going to bring Noodlehead in on it's own," he grumbled.

Down Division Street. Watching for Noodlehead in his 1973 Charger. Watching for cops. Watching for contrails of high-flying demons, and the sparkle of Control's angels out auditing us.

Life in hell wasn't any different than life before hell. I wondered how Noodlehead felt about things. Then I saw the Charger headed up 12th, punched the gas, and we were off.

To hell with heterocercal. We were on his ass now.

("Heterocercal" courtesy of FrankW)

Monday, November 24, 2003

The sun rolls through the sky, blazing wheel on God's chariot. Our deserts are brass, hot in the brilliant light, reflecting our dreams up high until they become the foodstuff of angels. In return, Heaven sends us...what?

Nothing. We are a dream farm for their pleasant pursuits on high. We would rope down the sun and smash it against the mountains to the east, were we permitted such luxuries of power. Would you do less?

Sunday, November 23, 2003

In the kingdom of Belay, we belie our delays all the livelong day whilst whiling the time away finding stupid things not to say.

  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.