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

Saturday, March 05, 2005

My dreams of you extravasate into the waking world. I see your face embedded in Che Guevara posters on an old building, a Rorschach test of the heart. I hear your voice in the barking of the homeless people's dogs. Your hair streams in the spring sky with the high icy lace of vauge clouds. Every corner I turn, I expect to see you there.

And somehow, you are.

(Story word "extravasate" suggested by RuthN)

Friday, March 04, 2005

"I'll have a firkin of your best, man."
"We've got Bud, Bud Light, Heinie and some imports."
"Well then, a dram of the house ale."
"Look, pal, we've got Bud and some other stuff."
"Alright, I shall take a gill of the finest white lightning."
"What the fuck? Are you some kind of hobbit or something?"

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I dint do it, but the car had a dint. By dint of great effort me and Dint dint get it back out smooth. Dint all, what am I gonna tell Dad. Dint dint dint.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Passive Periphrastic

"Doctor, what...what's wrong..."
"I'm sorry ma'am. Very sorry."
"Why are you taking my hand like that?"
"It's serious news, ma'am. We've been taught to have a chairside manner."
"Well, don't squeeze me so tightly. Just tell me what the situation is."
"Your son, ma'am. He...he..."
"Doctor, are you crying?"
"It's terrible, in one so young."
"What's terrible?"
"Your son has been diagnosed as passive periphrastic."
"Nurse! Valium drip, stat, for the patient's mother!"

("Passive Periphrastic" inadvertently suggested by SonyaT)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The syllabary sang from the rocks of language, ululating her long-toned call. I stuffed my ears with blue pencil shavings and lashed myself to the mast of my publisher's indifference, then bade the assistants to row through the pounding slush, but still her song echoed in my bones. I would have hurled myself into the sea of bad paper, save for those bonds, but her assonance has stayed with me nonetheless and I find letters to be crude, intemperate things in these later days.

("Syllabary" suggested by RuthN)

Monday, February 28, 2005
Squall Line

She has crossed my life like a squall line on a summer lake, scattering my thoughts the way the canoes bolt for shore. Her moods, her beauty, her power lash against me, powerful as any dark storm, cleansing as any hard rain, beautiful as any rainbow after. She is my squall line, and she is ever on my horizon.

Sunday, February 27, 2005
Poop Deck

We built the poop deck eight feet high, on account of Big Louie's peculiarities. Man's got thighs the size of labradors, you listen to what he says. Man eats like a herd of incontinent pigs, you stay away from his mouth. Combine those two, and you have some awful tendencies at the other end.

"Like to see the world when I'm shittin'," Big Louie said.

"Don't be using words like that!" Nixie shouted at him.

He just smiled and ripped some eye-watering gas.

So we built it high, with the throne atop, and a view of forty miles of Cascade beauty. Damn good thing there's a mineshaft under there.

  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.