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

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A mountain, a rock, come to rest before path. Beautiful and weather, lichen-traced faces peering from your cracks and lines. Perhaps you shall be visited, perhaps you shall be alone. Mistress Moon blesses us both, friend boulder. Be glad.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Baccara is dark and moldy, old satin folded into a laboratory of the evolution of new life. It is damp within Baccara's deep folds, a tiny jungle of mites and moss and rampaging lichen. Baccara shows colors rarely seen outside a compost pile or a grave, beauty unfolding in the cold rain.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

She is truculent, that woman, with the stubborness of an iron core, a center so powerful it might move planets from their orbits did sufficient need exist. It cannot trouble me, her toughness, for without that center and the laughing cyncism around it she could no more be herself than she could if she forgot to breathe. So I just stand clear of the clatter and duck beneath the swing of iron and listen for the laughter which follows. Then it is safe to poke my head forth, without being detruculated.

("Truculent" suggested by RuthN)


"Shall it be a touch of the quirt, then?"
", I think not. Bastinado should be more apropos, I believe."
"Oh, dear. He'll be useless for days."
"He's useless now, Chuckles."
"You do seem to have a point. Let me fetch the leather case."
"Do bring the diamond-tipped one you picked up in Bloemfontaine!"
"Teach your grandmother to lay eggs, Spanky."

(Word "Bastinado" suggested by AndyM)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Jellyfish Rider

The jellyfish rider soars above the waves, her graceful, gracile, grassy mount a rippling, diaphanous cloud of nearly-undifferentiated biomass, a sort of bestial Ylem deployed in service of a woman. She dances like light on water, rippling bright and dagger sharp so her very glance might draw tears, or even blood. Her mount, named Quallenkopf, is trusty but headstrong -- so she gives him his way but ever watches him with a yellowed eye. She hunts the wort-beasts of the deep ocean, that breach once per century perhaps in a blast of musty air grave-cold from the pelagic depths. Her slim image-knives will cut into their ancestral flesh, spiralling out new thoughts and deeds and dreams for a hungry populace in the distant port she calls home. The life of the jellyfish rider is passing strange and literally fantastic, but she would trade her days in the light and her nights in the fire for nothing else.

Except, sometimes, the comfortable scent of home.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Around sounds tripping like rain from lips, swirling in a shower of vowels, ö, ü, and their less elegant companion, ä, special characters, unusual comrades for simple i and e and u. Then let us go collecting Umlaute, you and I, as evening spreads across the sky, away from tedious arguments and coffee spoons and the simplicity of schwa. For us is will be around sounds, vowels that take effort to create, difficult but sometimes even beautiful. And certainly more than an afterthought or a slip of the tongue.

(Storyword for "Umlaut" by guest author RuthN)

Monday, November 01, 2004

The heart is a desert where rain brings pale green blooms and tiny things scuttle from rock to rock. To see the beauty in the desert, in the high places and low, is to understand the beauty of the heart. Even when there are droughts and sand and killing heat, the night owls fly and the hawks hunt. Even when there are nothing but lonely winter miles in the frost-breathed dark, the catcii still mark the long watches of their endless struggle against time. And when the time is right, and sun and sky and the kindness of chance meet on some bend of the trail, the heart blossoms like the desert after rain.

  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.