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

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Montagnards guard the high passes, making sure that only the free and the correct enter the promised lands. Sometimes there is an error -- weather vagaries, delay in changing the guards -- and a suspect person gains ingress. Then the Montagnards swoop down from their heights in a flurry of snow and gravel and puruse bloody retribution. Never vengeance, for they act only from love, but always stern and bitter rectitude.

Friday, November 12, 2004

We can been driven to lachrymose extents by the most unlikely events -- random scents, a certain temperature, a certain noise. Sometimes the great herd of life drives us as well, the likeliest events -- love, death, heartache, heartease. Like detah, you can rarely choose your time, but you can sometimes choose your manner. For whom shall you cry next?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Jovian. Round and striped. God's beachball, a failed star wandering in a radio-pumping orbit out beyond the water belt where nothing ventures save stray Oort objects and the odd mechanical doodad hurled skyward by hairless monkeys yet fresh from the trees. We see our Jovian friend in the night sky, bright as any electric torch borne by a mechanical bird. We peer at him through tiny lenses and lengthy tubes, until his storms and moods might seem to become our own. Some of us even develop red spots, perhaps in a Jovian sympathy.

("Jovian" suggested by Q)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Sometimes the universe is eleemosynary, and sometimes it's just against you."

I shook my head. "That's a pathetic fallacy, my dear. The universe has no motivations one way or another."

She gave me a small smile that told me quite clearly what she thought of my logic. "How would you know? Have you talked to the universe lately?"

I suspect my chuckle was a trifle arrogant, but how would you have reacted? "Well, no."

At that, she clicked her fingers and spoke to thin air. "Universe, are you feeling nice or naughty today?"

Before I had another chance to chuckle, the air me was surrounded by a faint vibration accompanied by a sound like a "hm." I looked around but didn't see anything.

Then out of the humming air came a voice touched with a lilt of humor.

"Naughty, I think."

("Eleemosynary" story by RuthN)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Disneyland, city of dreams, built on scrubland and old pistachio farms, raving monument to a man obsessed with a flat, colored vision of the world far too wholesome for even the most simpleminded Bible belt teen, mouse-eared and castle-turreted, filled with a neofascist vision of perfection where even the flowers slip beneath the earth at the first sign of rot and the dead are wrapped in celluloid winding sheets and consigned to perfect furnaces so that their smoke slips unnoticed into the spaces behind the sky.

("Disneyland" word suggested by RuthN)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Lines of lightning stagger across the sky. Blue flashes paint her eyes, the strobes of God. She can see the mountain peaks limned in color, shouts against night's darkness. She is never alone here in the high places, not when the lightning dances and the thunder rumbles half familiar words to echo against the whispering pines.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The practice of subrogation was outlawed in the Antitolerance Acts of 658, r. Steuben III. The beadles of each township were authorized "a long spoon, a horsewhip and three stout servants" in order to pursue and bring malefactors to a suitable and condign reckoning. Luckily for the Caprine Dissent movement, the duchies of Raekirk and Blue Wallow refused to implement the reforms of which the Antitolerance Acts were just one component, and so the goat-lords were able to flourish in their practices of subrogation, demurrage and so forth all through those dark years.

  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.