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

Saturday, February 28, 2004

This morning the panegyric wouldn't start. Which was a bitch, since the parade happens at noon today and the King's going to be pissed if we don't have this sucker up and running. Head-rolling pissed, if you know what I mean. So Swarthy Ben checked the pressure in the lines and lubed up the seals one more freaking time, as he put it. Marta the Gray measured the levels in the effulgence, radiance and praise vats. Never hurts to top off the tanks. Tiny Hakim jacked up the rear end and checked out the drive train, while Sparks McGee got into the fuel cells with a minimum of cussing. Yours truly had to go up to the cab and check all the basic settings. Damn if some fool hadn't set the panegyric in celebratory mode and run out the clock. I called a halt to all the other maintenance while we rousted out the Court Poet from his fog of absinthe and virgins and had him run up a new mode.

Hell, we even made the parade on time.

("Panegyric" courtesy of JedH)

Friday, February 27, 2004

"Free sliver has benefited the encomium of this grate nascent more than I can possibly effulgate. The very afflatus of Western circumcision rests upon such institutionalized con artists as these encomiums represent in the veritable daily exultance of life. There is no more that a man can ask than to wonder what this is."

-- William Bryan Jannings, in a speech before the Middle House of Delicates

("Encomium" courtesy of JedH)

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Ort was a tiny boy, so small his mother used to keep him in a kettle. She fed him scraps from the dog's table, and dressed him in jots and tittles. When he finally grew up, it was hard to tell, but she gave him a fourth slice of her one gold guineau and two darning needles for weapons or trade and sent him on his way. The story of his adventures in the wide, big world would fill books -- tiny books, perhaps, but books -- but suffice to say that he finally met a cometary beauty named Cloud with streaming pale hair and eyes that gleamed like pack ice in the winter darkness. Cloud loved Ort enough to take him to her bosom and into her life, and they lived asymmetrically ever after.

("Ort" courtesy of BruceHR)

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Epithalamium is a city of song, a city of white towers on a high dark cliff overlooking the brooding Sea of Storms. The choirs of Epithalamium stand chained to their balconies to sing up the sun, sing down the moon, sing in the tides...whatever the Groomsman who rules the city requires. His least whim is the subject of hymns and paeans. He walks forever cloaked in beauty croaking from the starving throats of thousands married to his pleasure.

("Epithalamium" courtesy of JamesP)

Monday, February 23, 2004

Even the greatest of cities comes grinding to a halt in the end. Streets like alveoli feed the highway-lungs of the metropolis, but the traffic jam virus slows them past a crawl. Angry commuters rot in their cars to the echoing buzz of right wing talk radio, while the enterprising sell hot pies, handi-wipes and condoms window-to-window. Some of us labor to breathe in the mean time.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Step right up, get your new poikilothermic blankets right here, latest space-age technology, approved by NASA, the FDA and ministers of seven different faiths. They'll heal the sick, rest the weary, bake potatoes on a car engine block and gather water if you're lost in the desert. Can be used to signal passing aircraft if you're ever in need of rescue. Acts as a rain shield. Confuses tigers and other big cats which may be stalking you. Serves as a writ of habeas corpus in most jurisdictions. Picks lucky numbers for the lottery. Too many household uses to name! Step right up, get your new poikilothermic blankets right here!

Not advised for use in adverse weather conditions.

  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.