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

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Squints are small and lovable, if somewhat narrow. Hard to see, they scuttle from cover to quickly feed then return. One must keep one's eye firmly fixed to catch or trap a squint. When in captivity they are disciplined with the lash.

Friday, August 27, 2004

She placed the hide between the two pieces of silk, layered in some batting and pinned the fabric together. Skin made a fine interlining, as it gave the quilt some body, and held warmth far longer than a simple blanket. Best of all, this was another quilt she could add to her personal collection. She kept her mother and father's quilts carefully folded in the chest at the foot of her bed. This new quilt would finally fill the chest, but not until she'd slept beneath it one night. After all, their first night as a married couple wouldn't be complete without sharing her bed with her husband one last time.

("Interlining" word and story both courtesy of guest author JannaS)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

We can follow the path of the tracheotomy, if we have maps enough and some righteous gear and strong resolve. Long poles with needle tips, and plungers to take samples from the shifting skin over which we travel, are of course de rigeur. The skin is tough, naturally, and the great plains of the neck play host to herds of ravening beasts which must sometimes be fought off. Courage, to match resolve, until you come to the ragged hole, edged pink with the old blood still seeping, and stare downward into the vast gap where God smoked and Satan fell, from which sin issued into the world.

("Tracheotomoy" courtesy of Callie via Aynjel)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Conflict instantiates like winter rain, smooth and gray and slipping easy into hearts and hands, easy as any worn knife hilt, coming into being tornadic and terrific and powerful, a cyclone across the lands beneath our flag and theirs, in the street before the broken-windowed bar, in the quiet lace-curtained bedroom. We can stop it with a word, a thought, a kind smile, but we won't.

Will we?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Women in water, hair spread like world's weft to weave beneath the waves until we all waft deep to while away eternity in the deep green light of undine love.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The erudite reader maintains a robust vocabulary. She straightens her tie to enhance her attention-paying prowess. She had a shorn head to avoid distractions. Her tattoos are tasteful yet challenging. She knows whereof she speaks but speaks little enough. Ink on pages is her raison d'etre. Erudition is a difficult road with lofty goals and few way stations.

  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.