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”

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”

Shiny Red Chassis

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, August 2019

“She was programmed to seek out organic lifeforms in need of help, but those youthful organics who raced her through the sloshy pipes of the plumbing system had not needed her help. They said they did, but she no longer believed them.”

Reeree3 had been blessed with a shining red carapace by her creator, but it was blotched with rough orange patches of rust now.  She’d been taken on a joyride through Crossroads Station’s plumbing system, like a common toy being raced for fun, and she hadn’t been given a chance to properly dry out.  So, she was hiding under one of the food carts in the Merchant Quarter, watching the crowds of organic creatures of all species pass by. Continue reading “Shiny Red Chassis”

The Fisherman’s Robot

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, July 2019

“Every trip back from New Jupiter, Ayla brought Sebas7 to visit her roboticist mother and plead for yet another upgrade.”

Sebas7 opened her mechanical eyes to see limpid human eyes staring at her.  She recognized them as human eyes from using a pattern matching algorithm on her massive internal database of labelled images.

“Hello, friend.  Don’t worry, you’re perfectly safe.” Continue reading “The Fisherman’s Robot”

Salvador Dalí Smile

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, July 2019

“Because Maradia had programmed Roia378, she believed that she had some wisdom or knowledge, some kind of superiority at all to the robotic woman. When in fact, she had none.”

“My brain isn’t working right.”  Roia378 — gleaming and silver, everything a robot should be, strong, aesthetically pleasing, a sculpted work of art that could build a stone castle with her bare metal hands — clutched her head, as if it ached, but she was not designed for pain or headaches.  Pain of any sort was useless; a mere note in her electro-net brain logs mentioning that a part of her mechanical body wasn’t in proper working order served the same purpose and easily sufficed.  No need for anything as dramatic as pain. Continue reading “Salvador Dalí Smile”

Prototype Dino 1

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, May 2021

“After three more tries, it became clear that Wisper was not interested in inhabiting a robot body today. She was busy reading about dinosaurs in the paleontology archives.”

Maradia’s fingers flew over her keyboard as she uploaded the reservoir of files that collectively were Wisper, an AI program she’d been writing over the last several months, to Prototype Body 1.  She ran a quick check to make sure the files had uploaded properly, and then she pushed her rolling chair away from her desk with a grin on her face.  She spun around, kicking her feet out, and feeling like the kid she’d once been who’d dreamed of becoming a roboticist some day.  And here she was.  Ready to turn on her first fully automated robot, controlled entirely by a quasi-sentient AI. Continue reading “Prototype Dino 1”

Too Cuddly

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, May 2021

“”Okay, so you don’t want to be a giant teddy bear,” Maradia said. “What do you want to be?””

“Where did your plush exterior go?”

“I stripped it off.”  Anxlo7’s shiny metal interior gleamed, skeletal and mechanical, without the cinnamon brown teddy bear fur that usually covered her.

“But now you look… scary,” Maradia said to the robot she’d designed for Crossroads Station’s upcoming children’s carnival.  “You’ll scare the kids.” Continue reading “Too Cuddly”

Where Have All the Mousies Gone

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, December 2021; recipient of the Ursa Major Award for Best Short Fiction

“My grandmother died ten years ago when the cats invaded our world, landing their flying saucers on top of our cities, crushing our skyscrapers, and then chasing our people like we were nothing more than animated rag dolls.”

Does it matter what your last thoughts are when you die?  If you could choose them — they would be hope, wouldn’t they?  A bright future.  Waiting.  Ready.  And you’re going to miss it, but wouldn’t you rather die looking out on a shining expanse of golden sunlight, reflecting off ocean waves and filtering through leafy forests?  Cities full of smiling people, whiskers turned up in happiness.  Bare paws dancing on the concrete streets, and long tails tied together, turned like skipping ropes as adults, filled with laughter, act like mere kits. Continue reading “Where Have All the Mousies Gone”

Green Skin Deep

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in All Worlds Wayfarer, September 2020

“The two photosynthoid aliens greeted each other in their own language, sounding like a dance of bells and wind chimes.”

“We’re so much alike,” Trinth said, forming the sound of the words through her flute-like reeds.  She certainly didn’t look much like S’lisha, a reptilian alien.  Trinth looked more like a cosmic rosebush — she saw through flower-like eyes; spoke with flute-like reeds; and used grasping vines to walk and grab. Continue reading “Green Skin Deep”

Brain-Dead Baby Jesuses

“Miley skimmed the article, but it was clearly ridiculous — it claimed that swarms of nano-drones were flying around the country, finding women who had said pro-life things on the internet, and then entering their bodies.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Kaleidotrope, July 2019

The snow came down in flurries.  It swarmed outside the window of Miley’s dorm room, brushing softly against the third story window in gusts of wind.  Tiny flakes.  White crystals, pinging against the glass.  Miley had been checking the weather app on her phone, watching the forecast fluctuate back and forth all week — snow on Friday, no wait, now on Saturday, back to Friday, and then only freezing rain.  She’d been praying for snow. Continue reading “Brain-Dead Baby Jesuses”