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

Friday, October 15, 2004

Ubiquitous is the night, which strides the world on ragged feet of black silk and dusty soil. Friable and poor, night is easily rent by cold hard stars, the glare of mistress moon, or fires in the crowns of trees. Weaker than daylight, more frightened than a planet fleeing brother sun in its endless panicked rotation, still ubiquitous night always comes home again. From night the universe came, to night it will return. Night, after all, was the first word of God, even before light.

("Ubiquitous" word courtesy of MaraJade)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Everyone has a call to worship. My choice of introit bounced from the Windows start up tune and the theme from Hockey Night in Canada - when Windows worked, and there was a Hockey Night in Canada.

Today? It's boots on concrete, a hollow thump and gong picked up by a room so big even four hundred bodies can't muffle it. We bunch into campfire knots, back to back and shoulders close, and pray for the chill when the medics grab you just above the elbow, and you don't even mind the pressure on the needle bruise. Boots mark time to the prayer of three hundred seventy eight women whispering me this time, me this time, crossing fingers for their chance at the gene jackpot. Do they need fast twitch muscles? Ambidexterity? Pattern recognition?

Me this time, oh me this time.

Suddenly I'm cold.

("Introit" story courtesy of guest author ChelseaP)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

"It's a serious case, I'm afraid."

"Yeah. He's talking and he can't shut up."

"Sad, in one of his years. Wisdom is supposed to accumulate, not drain, as we age."

"Is this, uh, lack of wisdom, doctor? It seems more like...obsession, maybe."

"Logorrhea. I don't suppose it's fair to say that his condition represents a lack of wisdom, no. But ask yourself, what is the teleology of this state he's in? What unwise steps did he take to reach this pass?"

"Uh yeah. Wordy bugger, isn't he?"


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The stones of Sliema glow in sunlight like the cobbles of gold before St. Peter's gate. The harbor teems with flying fish, skipping like stones from wave to wave to the delight of ever-cherubic children. The very clouds in the sky are gravid with perfection, each a proud-bellied curve just large enough to shade the sun while leaving the afternoon are gelid with an Old Master's light. Sliema is a city of the imagination, by a dreaming sea, that I will never visit, but yet a place I have already been.

Monday, October 11, 2004

"He's floribunda."

"Surely you mean moribund, uh?"

"No. Look at the tracery of veins on his face, the way the color fades to a dusky rose."

"Rose. Ha ha. I get it."

"No. You don't."

"Hey, come on. It's no big deal. Don't cop so sad."

"Well, it is."

"Thorny issues, huh?"

Sunday, October 10, 2004

We vine our trellises rose high with flowered windings, and green them carefully with water blue. The grow buds on them in the springing season, and lo the blossoms cut then are for the tables of queens and countrywomen. There rot they do to compost heaping back to soil and mound beneath the trellises to vine once more, cycle-wise and round-world-like.

  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.