What the Eyes Covet and the Stomach Craves

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Brunch at the All Alien Cafe, March 2024

“I haven’t eaten in a month,” Am-lei tried to say, but her mouth was so different that the words came out as a jumble of incoherent, fluting sounds.

Like a delicate crystal vase, the hard shell of Am-lei’s chrysalis cracked, spilling out the furled up, new-grown, riotously colorful wings inside.  Still wet, the wings hung from her changed body, pulsing with life, heavy and dragging her down, out of the chrysalis that had held her, dormant, for the last month.

The month had passed like a dream.  Am-lei remembered her body itching all over, and her mouth overflowing with gooey silk-spittle.  She remembered climbing up the walls of her room and gluing her feet to the ceiling as her squishy, green caterpillar skin split down the middle, shedding like a winter coat on a hot day, revealing the hardened chrysalis that had developed underneath, her new outer shell, as the rest of her melted and mutated inside. Continue reading “What the Eyes Covet and the Stomach Craves”

Techno Babel

by Daniel Lowd & Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Kaleidotrope, October 2017

“How could an insensate automaton, a mere button-pusher and lump of cargo, touch our brilliant, shining world mind?”

We are alone now, all of us.

I still remember what it was like to communicate, to share thoughts and visions, to think together.  But now, the Judgment Virus makes my mind fuzzier with each passing hour.  Soon I shall lose the ability to communicate with myself, and my own thoughts shall be as lost to me as the silent strangers that were once my friends. Continue reading “Techno Babel”

The Fish Kite

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Electric Spec, November 2017

“He was so fragile now.  He had been all along, but when he’d been on the memory drugs, he could hide it.  A lion made of glass.”

Joan opened the door to see her ex-fiancé slumped against the door frame.  Leland was a lion of a man.  Tall, blonde, preternaturally confident.  She’d only seen him looking haggard and haunted like this once before, ten years ago, when his memory drugs had worn off.  That had been the beginning of their end.

“Come inside,” she said. Continue reading “The Fish Kite”

Small Smooth Pebble

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Every Day Fiction, October 2015

Jenny felt inside her pocket.  There was a small, smooth pebble that she’d been hiding since she was tiny.  A multi-dimensional creature had appeared to her and begged her to keep it safe.  If she dug her fingernail into it…

But she mustn’t.  She mustn’t.  She had to be strong.

See, it was the self-destruct button for the universe. Continue reading “Small Smooth Pebble”

Heaven is the Best Moment of Your Life, Infinitely Remixed and Played on Loop

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Opposite of Memory: A Collection of Unforgettable Fiction, February 2024

“…while you’re frozen, we’ll keep your brain stimulated, causing it to form an endless dream centered on those seed memories.”

When I was a kid, cryogenically freezing yourself was something crazy rich people with more money and desperation to live forever than actual common sense did to themselves to escape dying.  It was a joke.  And I can’t entirely get over seeing it that way.

And yet, here I am.

I put my daughter in charge of my finances years ago, and she assures me this is affordable and works.  She’s good with numbers and research, like her dad was.  I’ve always been the impulsive one.  Continue reading “Heaven is the Best Moment of Your Life, Infinitely Remixed and Played on Loop”

Two Roads Diverge

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Opposite of Memory: A Collection of Unforgettable Fiction, February 2024

“People use the hypercrystals for all sorts of reasons, of course. Not just big decisions, like this one.”

Sometimes two roads diverge in a wood, and you can never know what would have happened if you’d taken the other path.  Or so I’m told.  It hasn’t been that way since before I was born.

Like my mother before me, I lay my hand on the hypercrystal when it’s time to decide what I want to do with my life — whether I want to have a child and become a mother or… not. Continue reading “Two Roads Diverge”

My Sister, the Space Station

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, August 2023

“Will a space station — where people just live their lives, instead of doing groundbreaking scientific research — be painfully boring after having been my own glorious self, inhabiting and haunting the computers of Wespirtech?”

The people walk my halls like it’s any normal day.  Scientists work on their research.  Administrators try to balance budgets without understanding why they’re constantly coming unbalanced.  (I unbalance them.  Humans don’t know what they should spend their money on as well as I do.)  And everyone acts like it’s a perfectly normal day.

But it’s not a normal day. Continue reading “My Sister, the Space Station”

Commander Annie – Part 6

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Part 1 2 3 4 5 6]

“It had been a long day, but it made her happy to spin with Callie.  It reminded her of the world with carnivorous purple dolphin creatures and how the two of them had spun on the slippery surface of an iceberg after slaying one.”

The Checkerboard Ultrarocket shot through the hyperspace portals linking Zorpa II’s location in the universe back to the Milky Way galaxy, the terran solar system, and finally Earth.  The greens of Earth’s continents looked richer and the blues more regal compared to the faded shades of Zorpa II’s honeydew green oceans.  Earth is a beautiful world, and all worlds are like gemstones set in the black backdrop of space.  Even dusty, rocky asteroids and icy hunks of comet, hurtling aimlessly through space, are the bits of gravitational color that make the universe complicated and exciting. Continue reading “Commander Annie – Part 6”

Commander Annie – Part 5

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Part 1 2 3 4 5 6]

Annie reached out too, but hesitated before touching the silvery surface.  “May I?” she asked.  “Is it safe?”

“Can I show you something?” Ootel asked, standing up from the bed and stepping toward the closet.  “I’ve been building something too…  Not a spaceship, but I had hoped it would let me travel to other worlds.”

Ootel scooped a bunch of the clothing off of the floor of the closet and dumped it in the corner of their room; then they kicked a few of the remaining robes out with their hind hooves.  Once the closet was clear enough for both of them inside, Annie followed them in.  Ootel pushed aside the hanging clothes, and behind them, Annie saw the two of them reflected in an oval mirror.  A green bipedal giraffe standing beside a human girl, both of them wearing simple, practical clothing.  Annie smiled.  She knew that Callie thought their space helmets looked goofy, but she loved how she looked in a bright red bicycle helmet.  Space helmets are cool. Continue reading “Commander Annie – Part 5”

Commander Annie – Part 4

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Part 1 2 3 4 5 6]

“Annie’s heart jumped at the idea of bringing Ootel back to Earth with her to visit.”

Annie resisted the temptation to explore the rooms more thoroughly and simply scanned each of them from their color-coded doors to see if her Roomba was inside.  Though when she came to the topaz paneled room, it seemed to be a pantry of some sort, filled with objects that her scans suggested were edible.  She grabbed a few handfuls of brightly colored blobs wrapped in some kind of foil paper.  They looked like candy, and she stuffed them in her shorts pockets and the empty spaces in her backpack.  She couldn’t turn down sustenance.  She might need it later.  At least, that’s what she told herself, but truly, after the deliciousness of the baby’s chocolate cake, she simply couldn’t resist stealing this alien candy. Continue reading “Commander Annie – Part 4”