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

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The fire burns, a flickering column marring the night sky for forty miles and more. A man dances around the conflagration, his shadow long and twisting as any dark elf of legend. In the flames there are books, furniture, photographs, memories, emotions, mirrored-lifetimes. He throws his head back and screams at the stars hiding behind the fire's glare, shouting them down from the sky in service of his desire. Like the spirits from the vasty deep, the stars are called but do not answer. Eventually, the man jumps into the flames himself, where his smile is seared forever into the glittering minds of those distant stars.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Interference patterns cross, chaos boundaries interpolating into new information. Out of nothing, something. Out of dissonance, music. Out of chatter, conversation. Like the boiling clouds of a distant storm that resolve to soft rain upon your face, the random noise of life resolves to a new order, interpolated by the filters of the heart.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Crosswired crossfire imagination spinning, the human animal is the only animal which lives in anticipation of the future instead of the eternal now, looking forward down the lines of probability to choose the low likelihood high return path, the better to stumble you with my dear, hook up a potentiometer to the human hindbrain and find maps of the heart rendered as a hundred different countries, while the other brains chorus -- reptile, monkey, sex-brain, future-brain, writer-schiz -- singing songs the mindbrain tries ever so hard to ignore, crosswired crossfire where the hell did this ever take any of us but a cold grave?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The heart is a muscle which beats with a jolt of electricity. Like Frankenstein's monster under a lightning storm, it spasms in time to thunderbolts. But sometimes the heart beats backward, a sort of piezoelectric effect of the soul, the twist of the muscle sending a jolt back out into the world until it grounds in some unsuspecting person, who says, "What?" as the sparks glow in their eyes.

("Piezoelectric" courtesy of James M. Palmer)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Transmigration my fat white ass. The true metempsychosis happens every single fucking day here on Earth, boys. Boy meets girl, eyes lock in a flash of fire, and the soul has wandered. The trick, I tell you, the real trick -- lean forward, are you getting this?


The real trick is getting your shit back in the box. Because if you let your heart spill out, and lead with your soul, you're about as useful as a baby in a barfight. Risk, boys, how much risk do you want to take? Step into love, the fire burns you. Smile, turn away and suck down your next beer.

Cold glass and bitter hops is much safer. Take it from me.

I think I'll have another drink now.

Monday, May 10, 2004

I can't see past the horizon, but I know the road runs there and beyond. The journey burns me like the fire burns the forest, but there's calmer places and cooler water out there somewhere. We are all defined by horizons -- event horizons, emotional horizons, artificial horizons -- but there are always roads beyond.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

All things come to an end. Some die naturally, some are abrogated in a whirlwind of fury, and some are killed softly, with love and a long knife, until they collapse in grief at their terminus.

  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.