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

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Until the Parliamentary Weights and Measures Reform Act of 1887, the United Kingdom and its colonies enjoyed a number of strange units of measurement. The henry, for example, was the angle expressed the tip of the monarch's nose. The forth was the volume of a half-gill of red mercury when exposed to carbolic acid. And the sesquipedalian was a half-yard, used mostly in selling beer to prodigious drinkers and cloth to parsimonious tailors.

("Sesquipedalian" courtesy of JamesP)

Friday, March 12, 2004

The mazuma rolled in like fog from the bay. The three Captains of Wealth stood on the investing bridge and watched their chaotic sea of capital pile higher and higher. The juniormost leaned down to dip his hand into the rising mazuma, but a stray derivative leapt high and snagged the sleeve of his Armani suit to pull him under.

"Ashes to ashed, money to money," said the seniormost Captain.

"Bring in another intern!" shouted the second Captain.

And the mazuma kept rolling in.

("Mazuma" courtesy of JedH)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

"Up pericope."

"Aye-aye ir."

"It another ubmarine, I think."

"You don't ay."

"Pa me the ervice it i! I will now read from the acred text of boat."

"Not again!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Weather brings its own clothing and customs to each culture. The Inuit have over a dozen words for parka. Fraternity boys everywhere can descibe coconut shell brassieres in thirty or forty different ways. And in the rainy climes of the Pacific Northwest, folk go about clad in spondulics. Typical constructed of $20 bills laminated for waterproofing then sewn together with free-range, natural-fiber llama wool, the more fortunate can be seen sporting $100 bill spondulics, while the homeless often settle for grocery coupons or fast food promotion flyers for their spondulics. Make your own spondulics at home -- it can be a fun and entertaining project for the whole family that will give you insight into your neighbors to the Northwest.

("Spondulics" courtesy of ChrisK)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Elusive Simoleons

The Elusive Simoleons were the greatest rock band to come out of Mammon City since the Nematodes went big back in the '60s. Where their forebears were know for shag haircuts, wild clothes and an obsession with the twin sirens of Eastern religion and hallucinogens, the Elusive Simoleons instead made a fetish-god of Ronald Reagan. They normally performed with enormous paper-maiche Reagan heads for customes, usually over Japanese school-girl outfits. Since the smallest member of the Elusive Simoleons was drummer Jakk "Bearbait" Simms, weighing at at 205 pounds, this Sailor Moon often resulted in citations for lewdness, public indecency or incitement to riot, especially in small town venues. The end of the band came when theremin player Klaus Henodder came out on stage at a concert in Winesburg, Ohio, wearing a Michael Dukakis head and screaming about tax reform. For all their antics, their fame, and their fortune, in the end the Elusive Simoleons were just another chapter in the strange history of rock and roll.

("Elusive Simoleons" courtesy AnnaH, and of course, W.C. Fields)

Monday, March 08, 2004

The Tiburones were eight feet tall and wore manskin jackets. Their mouths were full of surgical steel teeth and their eyes were the dead, filmy gray of a great white. They all wore their hair in tall, moussed fins swept back as if they intended to go skydiving without helmets. In short, they were bad, bad dudes.

Until they met the Miami Dolphins.

("Tiburones" courtesy of Q!)

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Every clam is tethered to its soul by a siphuncle. Clam souls are small and simple, and for the most part without error, so only tiny motes of sin slide one way, while tiny flashes of grace come back. How clean is your siphuncle? Does God's breath echo in the chambers and valves of your heart?

  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.