Crystal and Rainbow

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in New Myths, December 2019

“But the colors have no patience. They can’t wait for precision. They happen. Whether the crystal is ready to contain them or not.”

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”

Courtship FTL

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November/December 2020

“These are high-quality, classy, very smart ships. They don’t want captains who are going to be useless freeloaders.”

Addie stepped onto the fanciest spaceship she’d ever seen and thrilled at the idea that she might soon own it.  The twinkling lights, the shining displays, the dashboards of brightly colored buttons — all hers!  She’d been saving credits for years and finally had enough to buy a fully AI-equipped, FTL-drive starhopper. Continue reading “Courtship FTL”

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”

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”

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 Theme 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

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Overcast, February 2020


“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.”

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 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”