Necessary as a Rose

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Kaleidotrope, January 2020

“Because when there’s something fragile but wonderful to tend to, something that needs you, something that you can watch grow and blossom… It’s easier to survive the darkness outside.”

Sleek and silver, your spaceship sliced through the darkness of space.  Cold, mechanical, everything a rocket needed to be to survive the harshness of vacuum and background radiation and simply the crushing depression of being totally isolated in the middle of a vast nothingness.

But inside.

Yes inside, a bubble of warmth and life support.  Oxygen, nitrogen, puffy gases expanding out to fill the mechanical shell.  All those good ingredients that let humans breathe.  And dogs breathe.  And cats breathe. Continue reading “Necessary as a Rose”

Paper Horn

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2020

“”I don’t think she’d love me even if I was a real unicorn,” Tulip said.”

The paper cone I’d taped together from an old piece of algebra homework slipped off the pony’s forehead and landed in the clover at her hooved feet.  Mallory laughed derisively and said, “What were you trying to do?  Play unicorn?”

The pony, Tulip, turned her head away, abashed, but she didn’t say anything.  I couldn’t believe Mallory was lucky enough — and rich enough — to be given a real Smart Pony for her birthday, and still stupid enough to treat that pony like trash. Continue reading “Paper Horn”

The Pink Agate

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2018

“…when told to pick an agate to represent her in the mosaic, the little lizard girl had picked the pinkest, warmest looking stone of them all. A warm stone to represent a cold-blooded child.”

Clori, a koala-like woman, twisted wires about the pink and white agate in her paws, bending the delicate silver strands carefully with her claws.  When she was done, the heart-shaped stone’s wavy lines were cradled in a net of silver that she hung from the mosaic of agates — each one collected by one of her adopted children. Continue reading “The Pink Agate”

The Oldest One

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2018

“Anno wondered what it would be like to live in a family where everyone was the same species…”

Anno watched her mother tuck in each of her siblings to their differently shaped beds.  Lut folded his feathered wings into his nest-bed; T’reska stretched out her scaly-green back on her heated bed of rocks; and Iko cradled her primatoid body, swinging lightly, in her hammock.  And that was just in this room.  The younger ones had been put to bed in their own room an hour ago. Continue reading “The Oldest One”

One Alien’s Wreckage

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, June 2017

“She cradled the caterpillar-like creature in her arms, rocking it and making low cooing sounds to it.”

Chorif’s round feathered face stared down at the contents of the cryo-pod, and her wide copper eyes narrowed.  She had been expecting to find valuable cargo for salvage; instead, all she saw was a squirmy green-fleshed larva, about the length of Chorif’s upper wing.

“Anything in there?” Amy called out.  She was another space-wreck scavenger. Continue reading “One Alien’s Wreckage”

The Fog Comes On Little Cat Feet

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, April 2020

“See, he loved turning into a shadow and a storm cloud and being filled with lightning. But he hadn’t always been able to.”

Edgar Allen was a grumpy cat.  He had the sleek black fur you’d expect from a cat named Edgar Allen, but his whiskers shone like slivers of moonlight.

He wasn’t grumpy about his black fur or his shining whiskers.  When he thought about them, he was rightly proud to be such a fine feline specimen.  Humans who saw him lounging on the warm pavement on the street in front of the house where he lived invariably called out to him, begging for a chance to pet him.  He rarely obliged.  Though he would sometimes flirt with younger children, trying to lure them into dashing off of the sidewalk in hopes of reaching him.  He never let them reach him.  But he did enjoy listening to them get scolded by their parents.  “Stay out of the street!  It’s dangerous!” Continue reading “The Fog Comes On Little Cat Feet”

Clever Hansel 2000

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, July 2019

“Engleine knew in her heart that the robotic equine dance partner she’d commissioned for herself must be sentient. He was so much more than the robotic mirror she’d expected him to be…”

Engleine paced nervously, her hooved hind feet echoing on the metal floor.  Usually, the sound soothed her — it made her feel light and cosmic, reminding her that she lived on Crossroads Station and no longer a backwards dirtball of a world.  There were stars beneath the metal under her hooves.  And there were stars above the metal over her pointed ears.  There were stars all around, and when she danced here, she was dancing in the cosmos.
Continue reading “Clever Hansel 2000”

True Feast

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Typewriter Emergencies: A Journal of Furry Lit, May 2017

“She shouldn’t stop here; it would only slow her down, and she’d fallen far enough behind the migration.”

Argelnox hunched her shoulders inside her mechanical shell.  The metal casing chaffed against her soft, wrinkly green skin.  She’d been traveling for months, solo-zipping from one planet to the next, skimming only deep enough into each planet’s atmosphere to replenish her oxygen and basic nutrients, soaking them into her suit’s mechanical gills before sling-shotting towards the next.
Continue reading “True Feast”

Fish Heart

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, April 2020

“She no longer wanted to eat the little fish, only to gaze at her and talk to her and share every thought that crossed her mind while the fish blinked at her with adoring eyes.”

The surface of the decorative pond in the neighbor’s yard shone like a mirror, smooth and bright, reflecting the overcast sky in shades of pale gray and silver.  Cora wanted to know what was hidden underneath the mirror, so she jumped down from the fence and stalked over to the stone ledge around the pond, tail lashing behind her.

Keeping her paws braced carefully on the stone ledge, Cora lowered her head towards the water, sniffing.  The angle changed, and suddenly the reflection of the sky and her own orange and black splotched face disappeared.  The calico cat could see directly into the underworld of water as clearly as through a pane of window glass.  Green, silty, and mysterious. Continue reading “Fish Heart”

Between the Black Holes

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Lorelei Signal, January 2021

“I can put you into the escape pod, leave you in stasis with a looped distress call, on course for the nearest space station. But I’m flying this starhopper between those black holes.”

The binary black hole sucked all the glittering starlight around into its twin maws.  It stared at the viewscreen like two dark eyes, windows into the void.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Clarity said, twisting her dyed-green hair nervously around her fingers.  “We can’t fly between those things.”

The pilot of the small starhopper, a red-furred canid, stared right back at the pair of black holes, orbiting each other in a mad, spiraling dance that would end in eventual merging.  Centuries from now.  “Dead serious,” he said, triangular ears laying back flat against his head. Continue reading “Between the Black Holes”