Sarah Flowermane and the Unicorn

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, September 2022


“I want to grow a mane,” Sarah stated simply. “A mane of flowers. I know you have magic. Can you help me?”

The lion cub hid among the rushes and narcissus flowers at the edge of the lake and watched her father, King of the Jungle, meet and talk with the shining white unicorn who presided over the deep dark woods adjacent to the lions’ sunny savanna home.

Sarah thought the unicorn’s forest looked more like a jungle than their savanna did, and she wanted to tell the unicorn that… but she’d promised her father to hide quietly during his meeting.  He only brought one cub with him at a time to these meetings, and given her plethora of sisters, brothers, half-siblings, and cousins, Sarah’s turn to accompany her father didn’t turn up very often.  She wanted to prove she could be a good little cub, so she stayed quiet as a mouse. Continue reading “Sarah Flowermane and the Unicorn”

My Magic, My Spell

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Abyss & Apex, January 2020


“But you didn’t ask. I didn’t give permission. You pulled the spell straight out of my body, and then you used the spell you’d learned earlier that night — the one that would let you keep it.”

You stole a piece of my power from me. And it took me fifteen years to recognize it.

We were acolytes together, studying under Mage Dawlins. I studied ice magic. You studied fire. And Tilly was studying flora spells. She is part of this. She always was. We both loved her. No, I’m giving you too much credit. I make that mistake. I’ve been making it for years. It’s a hard habit to kill. Continue reading “My Magic, My Spell”

The Were-Raptor and the Seamstress Robot

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, July 2020


“”You only get one wish,” the genie said. “You touched my lamp at the exact same time, so you have to share it.””

Angie and Tyler’s hands touched the green-gold brass of the magic lamp at the same time.  The metal was slick with creek water, and they had to dig away the mud and wet moss that had half buried the lamp using their bare hands.  Their fingers smeared the mud, leaving their hands and the lamp dirty.  Someone must have thrown it into this creek, deep in the woods, years ago. Continue reading “The Were-Raptor and the Seamstress Robot”

Fish Heart

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, April 2020


“She no longer wanted to eat the little fish, only to gaze at her and talk to her and share every thought that crossed her mind while the fish blinked at her with adoring eyes.”

The surface of the decorative pond in the neighbor’s yard shone like a mirror, smooth and bright, reflecting the overcast sky in shades of pale gray and silver.  Cora wanted to know what was hidden underneath the mirror, so she jumped down from the fence and stalked over to the stone ledge around the pond, tail lashing behind her.

Keeping her paws braced carefully on the stone ledge, Cora lowered her head towards the water, sniffing.  The angle changed, and suddenly the reflection of the sky and her own orange and black splotched face disappeared.  The calico cat could see directly into the underworld of water as clearly as through a pane of window glass.  Green, silty, and mysterious. Continue reading “Fish Heart”

In the Roots of the World Tree

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Typewriter Emergencies, November 2020


“…the fastest way home was to do what Queen Seltyne wanted. Then she would be sent home through the summoning circle, instead of slowly collecting enough life-leaves to summon her own portal, high in the world tree’s branches.”

Alia heard water dripping all through the city.  Every surface was damp, cold and slick.  She smelled mold in the air.  It came in great huffs as the wind moved.  The summoning circle would open around her, and suddenly, mold would be all she smelled.  She hated it.  She loved water, but not like this.  She longed for the open ocean of her home realm, but she’d been called here.  To Dornsair, the city beneath the hanging roots of the worldtree.  The rotten bottom of the world. Continue reading “In the Roots of the World Tree”

Summer Strawberries

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Voice of Dog, April 2020


The golden sunlight flowed outward like dripping honey, extruding itself into the glowing form of a snarling bear.” (Art by Lane Lowd)

Jenna slammed shut the refrigerator door and kicked it.  The strawberries were gone.  Mom knew Jenna was saving them but must have eaten them herself or fed them to the baby anyway.  Jenna was so mad she could scream.

She stomped into the computer room where Mom was working at the computer with Baby Riley asleep on her lap.  Mom shushed her and whispered, “You need to be quieter.  Riley’s sleeping.” Continue reading “Summer Strawberries”

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 Fire In Her Claws

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, April 2020

“How could they ask someone to take her claws away? How can hate look so much like love?”

Apricot dozed in her cat-carrier, enjoying the warmth of the sunlight pouring through the car window and down through the grated metal top of her carrier.  She had an old, rough towel to sleep on, and she was extremely comfortable.  The occasional bump in the road roused her out of her semi-sleep, and she heard her humans in the front seat of the car talking.  Continue reading “The Fire In Her Claws”