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

Saturday, September 25, 2004

We went dilatory in 2017. Took a damned long, slow time getting there too. The Procrustes wasn't what she should have been, and once the shooting stopped there was hell to pay in the quantum cores. But we got where we were going, which was a much-delayed trip to the far side of forever. Time's a bitch, then she slaps you down.

Wonder what Earth will look like in a few million years?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Intransigent soul, to seek so far for something never to be found.

Intransigent soul, trying so hard to reach what is not around.

Intransigent soul, to fly so high that feet don't touch the ground.

Intransigent soul, to burn so bright with a flame that will not go out.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

It's the fifth phase of labret, the runestar still burning in Minx's mind like wireworks and if she stops to think she'll trace the spokes and jagged trails across her synapses, but that's not what her concentration's for so she keeps going. Dawn comes hot and irregular as meteors while the others try to catch up with her, throwing blue and purple and silver runelight tracers through the urban crumble, to throw the other runners off her wave. They're all after the same prize while she's after the one thing that'll save her life. If she can make it to seventh phase, she'll be the girl she was before. If they catch her, she'll be another constellation in hell. Tracer shoots past her shoulder; too damn close. This is where they always get too close. Where she got close when she was just a chaser. Close, but not close enough--then, and now--and the sixth labret is ice to the fifth labret's fire, then there's only steel left between her and hell's sky.

(Today's storyword by guest author Aynjel)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

There is peace in the high desert steppes, where only the wind worries the faint-traced grass. Lammergeiers circle overhead, distant and huge, their shadows crossing the tiny edelweiss that mark this as a growing place. Something small and furred flashes among gravel and clods, escaping a tiny-minded myth of clawed death. A pillar rises in the midst of the expanse, admantine, tall as the sky and wide as a man's armspan.

This is Heaven's prop, that holds open the door of the sky to let the stars out at morning and allow sun her entry. Few can see it, and fewer still can read the runes and signs written on the adamantine pillar, but they are there nonetheless. They tell your story. They tell my story. Those runes tell everyone's story, lines of retroactive inevitability and the fond illusion of choice.

Touch if you can. Read it if you will. Once you know the story of your life, then you can begin to change it, to let the stars out and the sunlight in.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The alchemist discovered phlogiston one bright, October day when the colors on the trees were beginning to turn and he needed to light a fire to cook the rabbit he had caught. Something mysterious left the wood, that which had given it the property to be set alight, a fine aura reflecting the autumn sunlight and the shades of yellow and orange of the trees. He watched it drift away, into the sky, leaving nothing left of the wood but ash. From then on, he knew that for combustion, the phlogiston, the flammable soul, must be present in anything for it to burn, and he carried his doctrine out into the world.

Just because you and I do not know this, who is to say it isn't true?

(Today's storyword by guest author RuthN)

Monday, September 20, 2004

Luminescent, it rises from the waves, soars above forests setting fire to the hearts of mighty trees, veers past mountain ramparts and the deserted walls of fortresses, leaving a smoking path in its wake, before mounting to the sky to make a new moon over a world long settled into the quiet hum of a lovely garden. Luminescent, it awakens what has long slept by casting different shadows from an alien light.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The foolscap rings like the bells of morning. The bright flags of fabric streak the sky like dawn. God has lost his hat, and it settles over the world. Or perhaps this is just another day, with added color. In either case, there is once again light in the world.

  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.