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

Saturday, September 04, 2004
On a day much like this one I walked along the Serpentine, stopping to feed tea-cake to pigeons, garnering muttered complaints from a man who hated 'the bloody birds'. I bit back a retort and threw the rest of my crumbs onto the walk anyway. He couldn't make me unhappy, because you were waiting for me.

Contributed by the Mystery Guest Editor

Friday, September 03, 2004

While they doubtless thought of themselves as something a great deal more impressive -- oxen, perhaps, bearing a noble family's burdens -- the retainers were actually not unlike white mice. Neat, unobtrusive, and frequently unnoticed, they secured their living by nibbling the edges of their lord's mochi cakes.

Story by BridgetM, word and image by Hokusai

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The light kindles a fire in my glass, amber liquid biting the air with whisky tang. It flows from glass to lips to blood, but I am frozen here, unmoving, for centuries.

Words and music by BridgetM

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Verna had never had much luck with her garden, but the mandrakes flourished from the day she planted them. On quiet nights she could hear them talking among themselves under the bedroom window, and one day while weeding she was surprised to see a little house knocked together from leaves and sticks, with a curl of white smoke rising from the roof. By summer they had subdivided the fallow section where herbs had failed to thrive, and cobbled a boulevard through the center with pea gravel, placing firefly streetlamps along its length. Election posters appeared soon after, promising "A Squirrel in Every Garage."

Story by Guest Editor BridgetM

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Channeled Scabland

We scab ranchers are a hardy bunch. Life ain't easy up here in the channeled scabland. Got to keep them blood pipes flowing, which is a right messy business at the best of times. And a man can't keep his scab wrangling picks sharp enough for the work, it's become so demanding what with the competition from Peru and Korea. But a scab rancher's life is still the American dream, and I can't tell you kids enough about how good it is to ride the high crust out here in the channeled scabland. You all come by and pick a spell with us!

Monday, August 30, 2004

We snuck it next to the monkey bars, right while the tots wiggled through snake grass too high to see. They didn't notice, alright, not until too late, and then they gathered, mouth slacked at the gleaming edifice that was Dysplasia. Sticks and clods of dirt hurled at it did no good. The tots were quelled. Soon, the monkey bars, the merry-go-round, even the super-swing sat vacant, despite lingering whimpers of "recess, recess." Dysplasia extended its reticulate limbs and scooped the tots into a tight embrace, the gentle whirr of its maw a resonant comfort before the impending re-education.

(Today's Storyword courtesy of guest author RobinC)

Sunday, August 29, 2004

We all climbed aboard the King Regnant at her launch -- and isn't it odd that ships are she, even male ones? She sics sea sick sheships? At least it's not a mail ship, hah hah. Wit, as they say, is the soul of brevity. Which is odd, because why would brevity need a soul? I mean, it's just an adjective, right? Or noun? I get those participles of speech mixed up all the time. So as I was saying we all climbed aboard the King, and she's a jolly old king, sailing from Vegas Port, when the Captain came out in his ceremonial togs -- a gorgeous white uniform with a rhinestone cape and a pair of sunglasses you could have landed ornithopters on. Really. Who ever dressed like that? Not even in the days of Elvis Reagan could that possibly have been the mode, darling.

I'm sorry, were we speaking of something?

  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.