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

Thursday, August 05, 2004

(Word "Whilom" courtesy of Tiger Lily)

Whilom brass, now silver. Whilom clay, now vitrine. Whilom shells, now marble. Whilom algae, now man. Whilom lava, now land. Whilom gas, now sun. Whilom reason, now passion.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

It's a narrow world where these folks live, three meters or so wide, ten meters deep, several hundred kilometers long. Imagine the world's biggest yardang, scoured by a Jovian wind, then lined with bourses and brothels and beehives, bridged back and forth a million times by rickety platforms made from the bones of teratornis scavenged from the howling surface just above the rim of the world. What life might they lead, living in virtually one dimension? Is there a progression of ageing, a sort of conveyer belt of birth and death? Is there only one axis of jealousy, hatred, lust?

Only the wind knows for certain, and it screams too loudly for anyone to understand.

("Yardang" courtesy of James M. Palmer)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

We found a lacuna in the sidewalk out front of the house. A few minutes with patching compound and an old bag of severed Barbie heads and all was well. Until the tiny, plastic screams began echoing in the dead of night. We went back outside to see the agony, and the lacuna was bubbling. The patching compound oozed pink fluid -- doll blood? -- and tiny voices from deep within the sidewalk moaned and echoed in their fear.

Thank God for jackhammers. We filled the bigger hole that resulted with Ken heads off of which we had sanded the mouths with a Dremel.

  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.