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”

The Fog Comes On Little Cat Feet

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, April 2020


“See, he loved turning into a shadow and a storm cloud and being filled with lightning. But he hadn’t always been able to.”

Edgar Allen was a grumpy cat.  He had the sleek black fur you’d expect from a cat named Edgar Allen, but his whiskers shone like slivers of moonlight.

He wasn’t grumpy about his black fur or his shining whiskers.  When he thought about them, he was rightly proud to be such a fine feline specimen.  Humans who saw him lounging on the warm pavement on the street in front of the house where he lived invariably called out to him, begging for a chance to pet him.  He rarely obliged.  Though he would sometimes flirt with younger children, trying to lure them into dashing off of the sidewalk in hopes of reaching him.  He never let them reach him.  But he did enjoy listening to them get scolded by their parents.  “Stay out of the street!  It’s dangerous!” Continue reading “The Fog Comes On Little Cat Feet”

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”

Dry Skin

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Shark Week: An Ocean Anthology, June 2021


“I know that if I can hold out long enough, my skin will regain its natural levels of moisture. But I don’t think I can make it.”

My skin is drying out.  I can feel the withdrawal symptoms.  I want to go back home and run a bath, lace the water with sim-dopa66, and soak, soak, soak up the delicious chemical through my salamander skin.  Without the magic chemicals, I’m withering, drying up, shriveling like a water lily in the desert. Continue reading “Dry Skin”

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”

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”

A Sense of Clarity

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Chrysalis: A Fairy Tale Anthology, February 2020


“…the love story he told of an amphibioid and a photosynthetic floral alien was the stuff of fairy tales.”

He was the kind of guy who would give a fake name.  Clarity could tell by the way he tentatively tried sitting at three different tables before settling down on a seat at the bar; also, the way his bulgy, protuberant eyes kept glancing around nervously; and, finally, the way he glared piercingly at his mottled green, slumped reflection in the mirror behind the bar before answering her question.

“So, what’s your name?” she asked. Continue reading “A Sense of Clarity”

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”