No Catch

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Queer Sci Fi’s Innovation, August 2020

“I’ve seen enough movies to know something this… cute… perfect… it has to have a catch. This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but with a purr?”

“What’s the catch?” I ask, watching her pet the silky soft fuzzball cupped in one palm.  It’s green like the inside of a kiwi fruit, and about the same size.

“What do you mean?”  She lowers her head, touches her brow to the curve of the fuzzball’s… back?  I can’t tell what kind of anatomy it has.  The thing doesn’t seem to have a head or face or eyes or mouth… anything recognizable. But it does purr. A soft cooing sound that soothes a troubled soul. Continue reading “No Catch”

Crystal and Rainbow

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in New Myths, December 2019

“Your colors are escaping your glittering crystal exoskeleton too. Because you’re afraid too.”

I am a cracked crystal vase holding a rainbow cloud.  The colors leak out through the cracks. The crystal is too rigid; it can’t contain them. The colors are too strong, too big. Too bold. And the crystal is precise. It desperately wants — no, needs — to be precise. But the colors have no patience.  They can’t wait for precision. They happen. Whether the crystal is ready to contain them or not. Continue reading “Crystal and Rainbow”

The Empty Empire

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, December 2016

“I was good at building worlds now — I could churn them out, one every several years. So, I kept building…”

It took a hundred years to design and build the first planet.  Multi-dimensional bulldozers and hyper-spatial cranes arranged the mountains, the icy spires, the cozy sea-green valleys in-between.  Everything was perfect; ready for a feathered avian species to take roost in the frozen castle-like heights or maybe a variety of vine-swinging primates to set up their homes in the valleys.  But no one came. Continue reading “The Empty Empire”

Treasure in the Sky

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, December 2020

“Then he backed away from the yawning window, as if it were a portal that he could fall through and never land, floating forever, lost in the void of space.”

The short, stout, furry alien stared out the starship’s curving bridge window at the star-studded black sky.  His black fur blended into the sky like a shadow, but the blaze of white over his forehead stood out like a brand.  His rounded ears splayed, and he curled his heavy claws into fists.  “I don’t belong here,” he muttered, and the ship’s computer translated it.  “None of my people do.” Continue reading “Treasure in the Sky”

The Night Janitor and Alien Oceans

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Typewriter Emergencies, June 2018


“Rerin’s rounded ears flattened, and she looked out the window at those oceans again. Was there someone down there?”

Rerin jostled the control panel while rubbing it down with a rag.  The racoon-like alien didn’t know how the day-crew got the bridge controls so sticky.  They were supposed to be searching the oceans on this world for signs of sentience — not snacking and boozing on Eridanii brandy.  Rerin had expected janitorial detail on a starship full of human and s’rellick scientists to be an easy job.  Instead, the naked-skinned primates partied all day, and the s’rellick shed scales everywhere — not to mention the extra work involved in tending to their live food.  Ugh.  Terrarium after terrarium filled with scuttling insects and rodents.  Rerin would not be signing on with this ship again. Continue reading “The Night Janitor and Alien Oceans”

Pegacornus Rex

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2014

“Mom! I made myself a birthday present!”

Marla realized that she’d left the 3-D printer running.  She’d been up late synthesizing a chef-bot she’d found the pattern for online.  Sure, she could have just baked the damn cake for Leia’s tenth birthday party herself, but the chef-bot would do a better job.  And it was programmed with the recipe for homemade hard candy — she could put that in the piñata she’d printed up. Continue reading “Pegacornus Rex”

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”

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”

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”