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

Saturday, January 10, 2004

His twin brother always got the glory. The rap sheet, too, but such price glory. Sinister was everything Dexter wasn't -- handsome, charming, effective. Sinister also always got the girl, the goodies and the public acclaim. Dexter just got to bail his brother out.

Came a day when Sinister was off fighting the Pirates of Callypig in his new R4G Zeppelin with the electric gatling turrets and the steam harpoons. Dexter was home minding the battlements and reading Modesty Blaise when Mariak the Loosened Jeweler came up to see him. "Dex," the broad-shouldered dwarf said. "I need your help."

"Nobody needs my help." Dexter flipped a page and took an ostentatious sip from his mint julep. "Hotrod boy is out scouring the skies or something. He'll be back soon enough."

Mariak looked uncomfortable. "No, I need your help."

That was almost interesting. Dexter put the book down. "Why do you need my help?"

"We need you to be Sinister. Just for a few hours."

"Sinister? Me?" Dexter laughed.

"Not evil. Just play your brother."


Mariak cracked his knuckles, staring at his hands for a moment. "There's this matter of a girl, some money...and...and..."

Dexter had heard this song before. "And?"

"And the end of life as we know it."

(to be continued...)

Friday, January 09, 2004

Ah, the joys of my semelparitous teen years. If only I knew what I was getting into when I went out with Pei-Ying Mantes. She showed me a thing or two. Or three. I mean, we'd all seen a million movies, right? Beer commercials on teevee. Whatever. But when it came to lips and tongues and fingers slipping past

Never again, thought. She saw, she came, she clipped. I sing in a different tier of the choir. But oh what memories I have to live on.

("Semelparity" courtesy of FrankW)

Thursday, January 08, 2004

A rare auxiliary digestive process in which food which has not yet been eaten is processed. Usually occurs in those near death. Comestomancy is the art of deliberate prognostication, being concerned with the feel of foods uneaten disturbing the stomach, and what the character of those foods says about the future.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Like a ball and chain she swung around me all the days of our marriage. We'd collide, clashing loud and bitter, before sailing off each to our own island of righteous anger. Where the love went, I don't know. It must have been there once to propel us down the aisle, but we were each marrying ourselves. She was my morningstar, smashing me down as surely as any Medieval knight drove down his foe. I was her mace, club and spray at once. Some people are only meant to hurt one another.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Between the intermezzo and the Third International lies the murky territory of the Internuncio. International man of mystery, do of derring, father of spies and master of lies, the Internuncio is everything we could never be and wish we were, everything we fear to be and long for. Don't miss the Internuncio, coming soon to a subconsciousness near you.

Monday, January 05, 2004

There are so many flavors of ice cream. Strawberry, boysenberry-crunch, squid ink surprise. But micropolitan, with the nanobeads of flavor that explode in your central nervous system, trumps all other ice creams in its quintessential flavorfulness and high levels of addictivity.

("Micropolitan" courtesy of the US Census Bureau)

Sunday, January 04, 2004

The mid twenty-first century saw an anomie of the middle class as conservatism and moral integrity weakened like pillars under the crushing arms of a long-haired Samson. Three generations -- these later deemed by scholars as the weakest links in the human evolutionary chain to date -- caused the downfall of western culture through a slow erosion of respect for law, moral fiber, and empathy for the human condition. Generations X,Y, and Alpha tore our country apart with murder, fornication, and lasciviousness.

That is why, during the latter half of the century, DOCTRINE was created. We are a global organization, with government oversight committees on every ruling body in the world. Our infrastructure of neural-path GOALMASTER supervision nodes now spans the breadth of humanity, unobtrusively preventing immoral behavior the world over. Because of DOCTRINE, global GDP has skyrocketed by nearly three hundred percent compared to market averages just fifty years ago. Crime is at lower levels than the 1950's, even in the former United States of America.

Now that you have reached the legal age of twelve, you have been fitted with your first set of neural-path GOALMASTER supervision nodes. From this point on, you will enjoy a whole new world of information access, as well as global positioning twenty-four hours a day. You will even be able to ask for directions or answers to taxing moral dilemmas. A DOCTRINE agent is always just a PHONE THOUGHT away.

("Doctrine" and today's Storyword both courtesy of DavidJ)

  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.