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 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”

The Ugly Sapling

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Empyreome, January 2019


“If it couldn’t be a fruit tree like them, it didn’t want to be a fruit tree at all.”

Once upon a springtime in a magical garden, three saplings were planted in a row, along the bank of a sapphire lake.  They were barely more than sticks, standing awkwardly in the sandy ground with their branch-arms raised toward the sky.  All three looked alike, and they shivered together in their nakedness.

Continue reading “The Ugly Sapling”

Ecto-Busters One

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Midwest Furfest 2019 Conbook, December 2019

“I’m sure the fire-spitting portal-thingy at the top of the Great Dane Building will hold for forty minutes or so while we eat some wontons.”

Sunny’s belly gurgled, and she adjusted the heavy weight of the techno-ecto-pack on her back.  The hardworking yellow Labrador hadn’t been able to grab a meal all day long.  Not even a snack.  Her ecto-busting team was too busy dissipating ghosts, exorcising possessed buildings, and laying ghouls back to rest.  It had been one haunt after another, non-stop, ever since the first phone call that Halloween morning.  But what were they supposed to do?  Who else were the good dog and cat citizens of Dogotham City gonna call? Continue reading “Ecto-Busters One”

Heart of an Orca, Grace of a Cat

“The cat’s ears flicked. Her black and white patches made her look like she was wearing a tuxedo, terribly overdressed for the wild, windy beach.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Furvana 2019 Conbook, September 2019


Jamie watched the roiling waves, searching for unicorns in the white spray.  She sat on the golden sand of the freezing Oregon beach, clutching her favorite book, The Last Unicorn, to her chest.  Her toes were red and numb from wading.  The water was too cold for swimming.

Continue reading “Heart of an Orca, Grace of a Cat”

Geese and Gingerbread

“She sang to the geese as she washed clothes in the river or gathered mint leaves for the witch’s baking.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, January 2018


A hundred-some baby geese wandered through the field of mint.  Shanna watched them from the river’s edge where she was busy washing the kitchen rags and tablecloths.  She’d heard stories about geese who laid golden eggs and brothers transformed into swans, but she had no brothers who’d gone missing, and when she finished with the washing, she found no glints of gold hidden in the mint.  Only a smooth, round stone that felt nice in her hand, so she slipped it into her pocket. Continue reading “Geese and Gingerbread”

Memory Sprites

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, Issue 5, December 2016

“Phyllis hands one mug to me and keeps one. She pours the third onto the fire, and the hot chocolate explodes in a cloud of steam.”

Camping with my sister Phyllis feels like a cargo cult.  If she hikes into Uncle Mark’s forest, stakes out a tent in the dirt, cooks instant stuffing on a propane stove, and toasts hot dogs on sticks, then she believes the happiness of childhood will come flooding back.  But all I see is a sadly empty camp site.  There are no cousins climbing trees, rock-hopping across the river, or searching for frogs — they’re all grown up and scattered across the country.  Hell, Erika lives in Australia.  Instead of aunts and uncles laughing over a lively game of Brain-Dead Bridge around the campfire, it’s just me, Phyllis, and her travel backgammon set. Continue reading “Memory Sprites”

Missing: Friendly Spook

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Fantasia Divinity, Issue 9, April 2017

“At night, I wander the neighborhood, watching for feline-shaped shimmers and am disappointed every time I see one, only to realize the shadowy figure is opaque, solid, alive.”

I wake up in a cold sweat, but nothing is wrong.  There is no supernatural wailing; no undead yowling; no eerie scratching at my door.  Not even an unsettling purr.  All is silence.  As it has been, for the last several nights.  I wrack my memory, but I can’t recall how long it’s been since I heard Cassie, carousing in the dark, haunting my house and keeping me awake. Continue reading “Missing: Friendly Spook”