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

Saturday, June 26, 2004

We built an enormous ukase of bluestone from the Welsh hills, hauling it by sledge and muscle across a hundred miles of bottomland. It was our edict to the gods, demanding that they restore spring, moderate the summer, extend the autumn and mediate the winter. Like all such demands from earth to heaven, it was ignored in splendid, snowy silence, and we were rewarded in the end with a wall of ice marching from the north.

Friday, June 25, 2004

The boysenberry is the poison berry that slew the king of Rawn. The marble slab is where they laid him out to bury him at dawn. The iron crown is what they laid upon his brow when the funeral was done. The icy cold is where his soul was sold once it was free and gone.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The albumin is pale, frothy, foam on a storm-tossed sea, but within its gelid, sticky depths it protects what might be, what will be and what can never come to pass. The albumin is the herald of the future, John the Baptist to a that which comes next, shock absorber and cradling arms. We were all born once, we all walk toward the grave, on the way, let us fry some eggs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Heat Death

Heat Death sparkles. Heat Death is bright. Heat Death glowers like a skull in an oven.

Heath Death is cold. Heat Death is quiet. Heat Death is the absence of everything except the puzzled ghost of Pamela Zoline.

Heat Death is universal. Fire, ice, bubble gum, Heat Death is at the end of it all.

("Heat Death" courtesy of JamesP)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Who's in your pantheon? Is it Horus or Chantico? Set or Isis? Is it, perhaps, Aquaman or Wonder Woman? Maybe Tony the Tiger to leap off your cereal box and save you from yourself? We all have our own pantheon to call upon in hours of need to give us strength, to stop us from destroying ourselves. They shout at us across time to tell us to stop doing that, but we don't listen anymore. We still acknowledge our personal pantheons, but only when we are placing blame for our missteps. Never to give thanks, only to pass blame. Who's in your Pantheon?

("Pantheon" and today's Storyword both courtesy of guest author James M. Palmer)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Lassitude is the opposite of langleytude, those two characteristics being pertinent of a certain kind of person of the attitudinal persuasion. We most often find lassitude crosswise to langleytude, in a sort of grid of iron proportions signifying naught at all but nautical. When we are the most lassitude is our girlish, while langleytude spies upon a certain, dast we say eye, boylish nature. It would recumbent to explain further, but we have become too lazy for additional lassitude.

("Lassitude" courtesy of TL)

Sunday, June 20, 2004

The Missoula Flood came down the canyon of the Columbia like God's bulldozer on nitrous oxide, a blade of water a thousand feet high scraping clean the bones of the earth at a hundred miles an hour. Fifteen thousand years later geologists still pick that monster's bones, and point out cliff scrapings to their granddaughters. There are floods of the soul, too, that shift sand and mud and scrape bare bedrock, direct rivers to new courses. Some floods driven by the hurricane, some dams built by the landslide, some ground shifted by the earthquake, but it is all growth to the good. Without the Missoula Flood, what would be different today? Without the flood of the soul, what would have never changed at all?

("Flood" courtesy of TL, though she didn't mean it.)

  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.