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

Saturday, July 31, 2004

We ate our nuptials with bread and wine and tiny bit of blood-stained honey. After three days Mother's children let us out of the cave again, and we were wed to the sun. Someday these iron staples in our ankles will no longer hurt, but until that fine and fateful day, we stand here in attention and inspiration to you all.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The wall was damascened to look like the waves of the sea just beyond the window. Shelby ran her fingers along the grooves, billow and trough, curl and foam. Suddenly she was a tiny surfer, riding the waves beneath her fingertips, a steel rider balancing her board on the shining surge. The silver horizon shone with sunset light, and somewhere she could hear an aluminum gull calling.

(Today's Storyword by guest author JannaS)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Keratin makes yer eyes sharp. They kin gleme in the dark then, like ghostly golden carrots, and yer kin fight the death bunnies. Without keratin, yer'd be nailed, fingered and mailed home in a box. See 'em coming and make 'em pay, eat of yer keratin today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The farthingale blows hot and cold, steam whistling from its brass snout in a mellifluous song of Victorian industry and impoverished thrift. It flies on wings of faded carpet, and struts on pontoons worn with years of thawing ice and leaping fish. It skirts the city, billowing ever outward, to take flight into night's velvet purse, another jewel in our creaking heavens.

("Farthingale" courtesy of JannaS)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Step right up and see the mysterious adsorption, chemical marvel of the ages, bleaches coffee grounds, separates mercury from gold-bearing ore, sanitizes kitchen appliances and changes the baby, all in one massive molecular operation! Yes, the mysterious adsorption, through a patented process protected by copyrights, libel laws and mysterious bands of Russo-Japanese ninja licensing enforcers, can be the miracle of every American home and the salvation of God, family and apple pie, all for one low, low, low price. Call today to see if you qualify for adsorption, and remember -- resistance is futile!

("Adsorption" courtesy of DawnB)

Monday, July 26, 2004

The tessera rises over the sands, a giant fragment of the sun dropped from some starchild's playpen. We climb upon it, measuring heat and hardness and surface viscosity, counting the radiation and assessing the volume of space occupied. We analyze it through dark-lensed glass and via exotic machine. It still rises, bright glittering beauty, as indifferent to empirical analysis as it is to unbounded love, a thing apart, a thing of its own.

Somewhere in the sky, a mosaic has a tiny hole, through which naked apes can be seen scampering around a gleaming tower.

("Tessera" courtesy of JannaS)

Sunday, July 25, 2004

When he had crested the mountain, harsh with peaks and angles, he saw in the distance a land of gentle rolling hills like sleeping women covered with soft grasses and fields of blooms. He closed one eye, reached out a hand and ran it over the rise of a distant flank. He knew that he would make his new home just there, in that callipygian paradise.

(Today's story courtesy of guest author BridgetM)

  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.