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

Thursday, October 28, 2004

When Lucifer fell, not even his great wings were broad enough to slow his plummet, a stone in heaven bound for the icy depths of nether hell. Was it his pride? His questioning? Or that woman in the Garden, the one neither the Old Man nor his first son would ever cop to once she'd gone over the wall in pursuit of her own ends? Lilith, corrupter of angels, had pushed him into love, true enough. But as he'd learned, when one pushes God, God pushes back.

And so he plummets more. Milton was wrong, though. The lightbringer hasn't landed yet. When the ice shatters at the bottom of the pit, so will the world shatter, and then only love will remain. And then we shall see who loves and who is beloved.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The aerialist studies the clouds, his errant sheep herded at 11,000 feet. His wire is orbit-high, his spangled suit glitters like stars, but he also flies on invisible wings lent him by love and kindness. Look if you will, you might see him soaring in the autumn sky. Look again, you might be him. Life takes everyone by the hand eventually.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The jellyfish man has a silver-white head with streaming crimson hair. His wit is stinging, his manner salty, but his heart is as big as the sea. He floats through life somewhere between the storm-tossed waves and the benthic black. If you ever meet him, beware his song.


I went to Otiose once. The train station was closed for repairs, so the Intercity Flyer slowed to about ten miles per hour and two baggage handlers threw me into a hayrick. Unfortunately they missed. My bags did not miss, impacting neatly with my head. After that, my visit was somewhat confused, so I am not certain of the academic debate ranging between three nearly-naked men in fire chief's hats, nor of the enormously fat basset hound which attempted to counsel me in the Hegelian dialectic.

All in all, a pointless visit, though catching the departing train was exciting, to say the least.

("Otiose" suggested by Zelda Topp)

Monday, October 25, 2004

"I'm not arguing, I'm talking."

"Well, this sure seems like another argle-bargle to me."

"Argle-bargle? It's not argle-bargle, it's argy-bargy."

"Argy-bargy? Who in their right mind says argy-bargy? Probably only people who say 'cutsie-wootsie.'"

"That was a low blow, coming from someone who squeezes the toothpast tube in the middle."

"Ah, here comes the toothpaste tube. Definitely an argle-bargle."

"Argy-bargy, you asshole."

(Storyword by guest author RuthN)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The harlequin dances between me and thee, carrying messages across the sea, her patchwork eyes rolling so free, her sewn-tight mouth given to secrecy. Pity the harlequin, what does she know? Everything, of course, how else could it go?

  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.