Somewhere Over the Ocean

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Boldly Going Forward, March 2020


“The inhabitants of Oceanica were not alone in the universe, and the aliens who had come to them from the void above the sky were strange. They breathed the thin gases that floated above the true world, rather than good, nourishing water.”

A’loo’loo swam eagerly back and forth, impatient for the spaceship above her, floating on the ocean’s surface, to open its hatchway.  There had been so little warning — A’loo’loo had only discovered the burst of radio waves coming from her planet’s orbit three tides ago.  Everything had changed since then. Continue reading “Somewhere Over the Ocean”

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”

The Spider In Her Lungs

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Abyss & Apex, October 2019

“The newly hatched spider had been nothing more than an eight-legged splotch of light on that x-ray, but Moira liked to imagine that her spider glittered like gemstones, ruby red, a living piece of jewelry hidden inside her chest.”

Moira felt a tickle in her throat. She pulled the handkerchief from her pocket and covered her mouth before coughing. It was a hacking cough that wracked her body, deep into her lungs.  She felt the slime of silk on her tongue and spit the silky strands surreptitiously into her handkerchief before tucking it back in her pocket. Continue reading “The Spider In Her Lungs”

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”

Hypercrystal Wish

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2018

“In her mind, she wasn’t playing alone — she was voyaging through space, meeting alien races even weirder than herself, and making all kinds of friends.”

Jeko coiled her long nose around one of the glittering hypercrystals.  They weren’t really hypercrystals.  Just shiny bits of polished, angular glass.  Spiky, colorful shapes.  But Jeko liked to pretend.  She liked to pretend that they were hypercrystals and could grant wishes.  She picked up a green star-shaped one and rolled it carefully across her desk with a gentle toss from her prehensile nose. Continue reading “Hypercrystal Wish”

A Jetpack of a Different Color

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Renewal: Queer Sci-Fi’s Fourth Annual Flash Fiction Contest, September 2017

“Flooffle didn’t answer, so the human girl went in, expecting to find her fuzzy six-legged friend struggling to get a jetpack settled onto his thorax.”

Wendy shifted the jetpack on her shoulders and knocked on the door to Flooffle’s quarters.  “Come on!  I want to hit the ammonia waves on New Jupiter before the lava moon freezes over!”

Flooffle didn’t answer, so the human girl went in, expecting to find her fuzzy six-legged friend struggling to get a jetpack settled onto his thorax. Continue reading “A Jetpack of a Different Color”

One Alien’s Wings

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Empyreome, September 2017

“They’re vestigial,” Lee-a-lei intoned, holding out a knife with one of her six claw-like hands. “Cut them off.”

Lee-a-lei’s wide wings fluttered, casting pools of colored light that chased each other across the walls of the robotics laboratory.  The harsh fluorescents from the ceiling softened to warm reds, golds, and chips of blue or green as they passed through her translucent wings. Continue reading “One Alien’s Wings”

Sky River

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Theme of Absence, July 2017

“Over the last six decades, less than a lifetime, the Lottians had schemed and plotted to claim their birthright in the ice that had taunted their ancestors’ dreams.”

The blue sun of Lottie IV glinted off the watery world’s ice rings.  Rocky chunks of diamond gleamed with sapphire light, stretched in a crescent across the world’s pale sky.  Its inhabitants — a long-spined, thick-furred, water-breathing, lutrinae species — had stared at that crescent of glittering ice from Lottie’s oceans for generations.  Out of reach.  Unconquerable. Continue reading “Sky River”

Treasure Moon

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, December 2017

“A mechanical turret rising out of the middle of the mountaintop base swung around and cast invisible laser beams, searching for the intruder, but Rikkita threw herself to the ground and spread her wide, bushy tail over her back.”

Alarm bells rang out and lights flashed red from the corners of the buildings on either side of the street.  A mechanical turret rising out of the middle of the mountaintop base swung around and cast invisible laser beams, searching for the intruder, but Rikkita threw herself to the ground and spread her wide, bushy tail over her back.  The fur on her tail was ultra-dark black; it would confuse the algorithms processing the data from the lasers.  As long as she held still, she was safe. Continue reading “Treasure Moon”