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”

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”

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”

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”