Catacomb’s Orchestra

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, April 2020

“Mice minds were so small. So easy for Catacomb to read.”

Catacomb laid her paw across the tiny heaving belly of the almost drowned mouse.  The poor thing was frightened out of its mind; she could feel its fright through her paw, prickly and tingly.  Mouse emotions were so funny.

“I saved you from the koi pond, Little One,” Catacomb purred.  “Now your life is mine.”  Never mind that the mouse would never have fallen in the koi pond if Catacomb hadn’t been chasing it.  She could see herself through the mouse’s eyes:  massive, terrifying, death-personified.  The asymmetrical orange and black splotches that had inspired her human to name her Peaches (after a bowl of peach cobbler) looked like a devastating Halloween mask to the mouse.  No sweetness.  All murder. Continue reading “Catacomb’s Orchestra”

The Unicorn Keeper

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Them of Absence, January 2020

“If I try to lay down limits, she stops eating and her ethereal glow — silver like moonlight — fades to a sickly, flickering shade — gray like a staticky television screen.”

Amalioona prances into the stables, her tufted hooves gleaming. They are the same sparkling shade of white as a hillside of snow in the sun. They are dainty, perfect unicorn hooves. How is it, then, that she always seems to clumsily knock over the slop bucket — no matter where I put it — and kick up the fresh hay into a veritable dust storm? Continue reading “The Unicorn Keeper”

Grizzelka’s Bridegroom

“Evil had sounded more glorious to him when he wasn’t standing before it, promised to be married to it, and expecting to be eaten by it if he ever stepped out of line. Evil is so much more exciting in the abstract.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Overcast, February 2020


Red light from the five suns streamed down through the church’s stained glass windows.  The colored glass of the windows tried vainly to tint the light, to paint pictures with it on the packed pews below, but the redness was too powerful.  The intricate, rainbow-filled depictions of many-winged angels and many-mouthed chimera bled together into indiscernible pools of red, orange, auburn, and sickly magenta.  The distorted light colored the crowded interior of the church like a crime scene, covered in splattered, congealed blood. Continue reading “Grizzelka’s Bridegroom”

The Spider In Her Lungs

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Abyss & Apex, October 2019

“The newly hatched spider had been nothing more than an eight-legged splotch of light on that x-ray, but Moira liked to imagine that her spider glittered like gemstones, ruby red, a living piece of jewelry hidden inside her chest.”

Moira felt a tickle in her throat. She pulled the handkerchief from her pocket and covered her mouth before coughing. It was a hacking cough that wracked her body, deep into her lungs.  She felt the slime of silk on her tongue and spit the silky strands surreptitiously into her handkerchief before tucking it back in her pocket. Continue reading “The Spider In Her Lungs”

Chrysalis Party

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Kaleidotrope, June 2018


“The larval stage of the K’shellican life-cycle lasted nearly twenty human years. Plenty of time to make friends and build attachments that felt like they would last forever.”

Jade’s belly was full of food from a dozen star systems, but she felt hollow.  It was her place, as Moryheim’s closest friend, to pour the glass of Khenani-catalyst wine that would begin her friend’s change.  Having attended dozens of K’shellica chrysalis parties, Jade had thought this time would be no different.  It was always hard to say goodbye to her K’shellican friends, but she now realized it was much harder to pour the wine herself.

“It’s time,” Moryheim urged with her rumbly voice. Continue reading “Chrysalis Party”

The Fire In Her Claws

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, April 2020

“How could they ask someone to take her claws away? How can hate look so much like love?”

Apricot dozed in her cat-carrier, enjoying the warmth of the sunlight pouring through the car window and down through the grated metal top of her carrier.  She had an old, rough towel to sleep on, and she was extremely comfortable.  The occasional bump in the road roused her out of her semi-sleep, and she heard her humans in the front seat of the car talking.  Continue reading “The Fire In Her Claws”

Veins of Black, Dust of Gold

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2018

“The green skin of her face split open revealing a smooth crystalline surface underneath.”

Am-lei had been growing stiffer by the day. Her long, green, tubular body was usually lithe and flexible. She could twist her way through the grav-bubble obstacle courses on the Crossroads Space Station playground better than any Heffen children in her class. Their canine bodies couldn’t bend in half, twist into a pretzel, or grab onto an extra jungle gym bar with a sixth pair of arms. Continue reading “Veins of Black, Dust of Gold”

Excerpt from Purride and Purrejudice

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, September 2020

“Do not you want to know what is in the boxes?” cried the dog impatiently.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a cat in sight of an empty box, must sit in it.

However little known the feelings or views of such a cat may be on their first encountering an empty box, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of all good cat owners, that all empty boxes are considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their cats.

“My dear Mx. Kitty,” said the dog to her one day, “have you heard that the Amazon truck has arrived at last?” Continue reading “Excerpt from Purride and Purrejudice”

Hypercrystal Wish

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2018

“The robot teacher of Jeko’s class said that hypercrystals were just a myth; a quantum physics fairy tale.”

Jeko coiled her long nose around one of the glittering hypercrystals.  They weren’t really hypercrystals.  Just shiny bits of polished, angular glass.  Spiky, colorful shapes.  But Jeko liked to pretend.  She liked to pretend that they were hypercrystals and could grant wishes.  She picked up a green star-shaped one and rolled it carefully across her desk with a gentle toss from her prehensile nose. Continue reading “Hypercrystal Wish”