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

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Eremites live alone atop very thin towers of flesh, feasting on the blood that courses up from beneath the earth. They salute the dawn and they salute the dusk, and they speak only to themselves and Father Sun. Sister Moon they ignore, for her inconstancy and silvery ways, though she is most their friend of all the creatures of the sky.

Friday, October 08, 2004

She stood in the courtyard, surrounded by fountains, gardens, and walls of pale stone that gleamed like polished bone under the autumn sun. She wondered why she had come there, what she would do, alone in her chamber in the west tower amid her books and the moldering taxidermy. It had seemed such a brilliant idea, once, to be here. Now there was only the questioning.

Footfalls on gravel caught her ear. A half-remembered voice whispered just louder than the warm wind. Smiling, she dipped her hand into the fountain for a moment, knowing she would turn to see that in this courtyard so far from anything she had already come home.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The chalazae kept me anchored to the mast, a white tentacle from each of wrists to that great oak-tree. She sang on the shore, an autumn lady with a voice that could have called the moon down from the sky. My crew rowed on, their ears stopped with wax and regret, their eyes sewn shut with thread spun from a dead man's hair. I thrashed against my bonds, the chalazae pulling back with secret egg-lives of their own, as I strained to fly like a leaf in her trail. My ship pounded through the current, heading back toward the open sea, when I found the secret, which was this:

Let go and you can fly forever. So I did, and like the leaves before the wild hurricane was lifted into a sky blue as God's eye, though my chalazae whimpered behind me.

("Chalazae" kiped from Uncle Cecil.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I am opposite the flames from you, acronical as Mars to your Venus, staring through the orange glare as if I could see into eternity. In the light's confusion you have already danced away, though, so I tread another measure and put another turtle on the fire before retiring to sleep beneath the kindly moon and her distant tides.

("Acronical" courtesy of ChelseaP)

Monday, October 04, 2004

The dinosauricon was created to give the layperson an idea of the phylogenetic past of the different extinct species you will see here in our park, in the easily understandable form of a cladogram. In this tree diagramm, all taxa directly tracable to one node are members of a single monophyletic group, making the cladogram an extremely lucid and concise method of demonstrating what can be very complex relationships.

When communicated in this way, the clearness of the mud is astonishing.

(Today's StoryWord by guest author RuthN)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

We compromise to give up what we can't have for what it is possible to have. We sell ourselves down the river in the hopes of being free. We give up what we want most in hopes of keeping what we might no need. We trade all of our tomorrows for a single yesterday. When we compromise, we betray our essential humanity. if we were perfect, we would not need compromise. If we were perfect, we would not be human.

  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.