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

Saturday, July 10, 2004
What's in a name? Poison! "Harmful food" in Greek. In "Melampodium" are echoes of ancient Melampus: soothsayer, physician, administering maniacs 1,400 years before the birth of Christ. In "Christmas Rose," blossoms bursting through white powder, shaking flakes from their petals.

What's in a name? A quantum question/answer: poison, medicine, beauty.

Which are you looking for?

(Storyword courtest of guest author Tiger Lily)

Friday, July 09, 2004

His absence was like a gap in existence, a great void into which the odd letter fell, diminishing from certainty to invisibility to nonexistence, like a snowflake seen from the corner of her eye. Now and again she would probe the gap like a sore place in her heart, never knowing for certain whether she hoped it would show signs of healing. Eventually she settled there, furnishing a cosy cottage with a chair and a few books, and invited a cat in.

Story by Mystery Guest Editor

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Yellow is the color of kings, of gold, of daffodils and butter. Yellow is the color of things that are old, rotten bones and clutter. Yellow is the color that gleams like oil, shines brightly as the sun. Yellow is the color little girls dream of when their days of playing are done. Yellow is and always will be the color of life in the sky. Yellow are the fields of Heaven where we glow when it comes time for us to die.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

In the back garden this morning a shocking-pink petunia forced its way upwards between two discarded bricks, shouting blossoms three at a time. Verbose, if not glib, exactly, it nonetheless asserted its supremacy over the more reticent dandelions in the nearby trash-heap.

(Story by guest author BridgetM)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Felonious knew a good thing when he saw it. The job in the steal mill was just what he'd always had in mind, assaulting batteries eight or ten hours a day in the blood heat. There never was a luckier man than our boy Felonious, not until the cops turned up with barratry warrants and eight hour search-and-seizure licenses. He had good fences, though, and as good fences make good neighbors, our boy was let go with a warning and a kiss, deep tongue city-style, loose on the streets once more.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Aeons come and go under the aegis of the ages, eras erratically passing like years on the temple of time. We watch for new dawns and old sunsets while words of wisdom rise like vapors from cracks in the earth and Pythian sorceresses mount their snakes to writhe new truths into the scales of the soul. Stories, all stories, hatching from the fragments of life and love and lost liberty. Always another aeon now, watch for the next rising like the silver-gutted moon over the Northwest forests.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The state of independence is rarely achieved, and even more rarely maintained. Money, politics, religion, love -- all distractions that pull us away from who we are and what it is we could become. Once a year we set fire to meat and light off our yards to celebrate our moments of freedom. Perhaps the rest of the time we should read the papers and remember to vote in order to maintain those moments, forge them into a life worth living.

  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.