The sky was a the kind of empty blue that foretells a sunny, uneventful day, as untouched by actual weather as a day can be. Alivia couldn’t stand it. She wanted to frolic in mud puddles, dancing under the droplets of a gusting storm. She wanted to prance and twirl on her cloven hooves, shake raindrops from her snowy mane like a waterfall, and spear the thorn-sharp tip of her horn into as many individual drops of water as she could. She wanted to play rainy day games.
The bear’s paws were covered with honey. It dripped from her claws in sticky, amber droplets. It clumped her thick brown fur together between her paw pads. Everything she touched, her paw came away leaving a ghostly paw print behind, a gleaming sheen of sugar where it had been. She could touch nothing without giving herself away.
Emerald and Amber were each named for the rich, gemstone color of their eyes. Other than that, the sister cats looked the same — each with fur as black as the night sky and elegantly curving whiskers as bright white as shooting stars.
Other cats in the neighborhood shared whispered rumors that those bright white whiskers could grant a wish to a cat brave enough to fight the pair and yank one out. No cat had ever tried. The other neighborhood cats knew better than to challenge Emerald and Amber. It was too important to stay in their good favor. Continue reading “Their Eyes Like Portals”
Jeko lifted her trunk and trumpeted along with the latest Star-Shaker song which she’d turned up to completely fill her small room aboard Crossroads Station. Her trunk swayed along with the beat, and the reptilian pop-star’s lilting, raspy voice was loud enough that Jeko didn’t have to feel embarrassed about her own brassy tones. The elephantine alien never sang in front of other people, but she loved to sing when she was alone. Especially when she was happy. Continue reading “The Elephant Bride’s Bouquet”
The Seamstress Robot’s shop was a little hole in the wall in the Merchant’s Quarter of Crossroads Station. The seamstress robot herself looked a lot like a giant mechanical spider — all spindly silver legs, overly jointed and coming to extremely delicate points, capable of grabbing, manipulating, and piercing fabric. Also, generating fabric. The seamstress robot, like an actual spider, could generate silk. And synthetic cotton. And synth wool. And velvet, taffeta, patterned prints, fake leather… just about any material you could imagine could be generated, strand by strand, from the tip of her 3D printer leg. Continue reading “The Seamstress Robot and the Insect Bride”
Orange Sherbet logged into the Mythical Proportions VR Cafe as soon as her teacher closed the 2nd grade classroom Zoom for the day. She’d already finished her homework for the evening, and the rest of the week for that matter. The assignments were all way too easy for her, almost insultingly easy, so she’d been working ahead. And she was far enough ahead that the whole rest of the day was hers. Neither of her parents would bug her about wasting her time in the digital world, because they’d just assume she was doing homework, as long as she didn’t do anything to give herself away. VR goggles were helpful that way — they kept nosy parents from peeking over her shoulder to look at her screen. Continue reading “Orange Sherbet Unlocks a Better Loot Box”
Ekko felt the cool currents of water rush past her as she swam with all her might toward the ocean’s surface. Her powerful tail pumped; her belly muscles clenched and released, over and over, as she barreled through the blue. Then with a mighty splash, she emerged from the blue of the deep into the blue of the sky, trading a thick atmosphere for a thin one. Rivulets and droplets of water streamed off her aerodynamic body as she soared upward, leaving the Earth and its heartbreakingly empty oceans behind. Continue reading “Ekko the Orca”
Kipper placed her gray tabby paws on the metal orb. It felt smooth and cool against her paw pads. Jenny was explaining everything that she and the other otter scientists had learned about this particular, mysterious relic that they’d found in one of the deepest, most thoroughly locked and booby-trapped rooms in the ancient octopus base on Europa. Trugger sounded fascinated. But all Kipper wanted to do was touch it. She felt compelled, perhaps by feline curiosity. Perhaps by something intrinsic, something sinister about the orb.
Engleine hesitated with the upgrade chip mere millimeters from the docking port in her beloved Hansel’s head. His mechanical ear flicked, and he said, “You stopped. Why?”
“Are you sure you’re ready for this upgrade?” Engleine asked. Her own conical ears — a biological mirror of his mechanical ones — had flattened behind her long head. She shuffled her hind hooves on the floor, and her keratinous hoof-fingers tightened on the upgrade chip that would push Hansel — her dance partner and best friend — from the seeming-sentience that had fooled her into believing he was fully his own person into an actual sentient robot. Continue reading “Clever Hansel 2020”