The Christmas Tree Barn

by Mary E. Lowd

First published in Nature Futures, December 2021, by Springer Nature


“Our trees can recognize faces and everything. They’re approximately as smart as Labrador Retrievers.”

The concrete floor of the basement was freezing cold right through Becca’s socks, and the air smelled moldy.  She hadn’t properly aired the basement out since it had flooded most of a year ago, last spring.  Becca yanked on the corner of the old, beat-up cardboard box with the robotic Christmas tree in it, and the box scraped across the floor as it pulled out from under the tool shelves. Continue reading “The Christmas Tree Barn”

Flerble Gerbil was a Hologram

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, November 2022


“I don’t want to hurt anyone, even gerbils,” the metal grasshopper said in a high-pitched voice. “Are you going to hurt me?”

A tiny metal object jumped through Lea’s open window, drawing her attention away from the Animorphs book she’d been reading.  She put down the borrowed e-reader from her mom on the bed and went over to investigate.

Lea hadn’t seen the object very well — it had been moving too fast.  Just a blur really.  But it had reflected the sunlight, shining like a quarter thrown into a fountain, outshining all the pennies around it.  So, she wondered if it might be valuable. Continue reading “Flerble Gerbil was a Hologram”

Foreknowledge

“I feel my heart swell with love for her like a balloon swelling into the tip of a knife.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Apex, February 2015


I stare out over my pregnant belly, feeling awkward.  Feeling irritable.  “Why wouldn’t I want to know?”

“Some parents don’t want to know,” Dr. Anders says.  “And we respect that.”

“It’s right there on your clipboard, right?” I point to the clipboard, and he holds it infinitesimally closer to his chest.  As if he’s hiding the results from me. Continue reading “Foreknowledge”

FemCloud Inc.

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, February 2015

“That… uh… wasn’t the machine talking,” Dr. Orton said. “That sound came from your uterus.”

Chloe lay on the table in the doctor’s office, wearing a paper sheet over her legs and one of those weird gowns that opened in the back.  She didn’t want to be pregnant, but she didn’t want to need an abortion.  She couldn’t help thinking about David — it had to be David — and what amazing genes he must have.  He’d talked like a character out of a fast-paced TV show, everything clever, insightful, and… much too articulate.  Continue reading “FemCloud Inc.”

The Best Puppy Ever

by Mary E. Lowd
Originally published in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Issue No. 15, May 2014

The Best Puppy Ever
“None of my friends at the dog park believed me when I told them that my masters had been bringing me to the hospital to have a real doctor check on my puppies.”

The hospital lights flash in my eyes, and a man wearing blue scrubs injects me with a needle.  I can’t feel my body anymore, and all I can see is his blue-clothed back and the nervous faces of my owners, Geoff and Bree, looking down at me.  I can see them holding my paws, reaching to pat my ears, but all the sensations are distant. Continue reading “The Best Puppy Ever”

We Can Remember It For You Retail

When the jingle finally ended, the voice in his head said, “Six cents have been deposited in your account.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Redstone Science Fiction #26, July 2012


Dylan reached into his pocket and pulled out his last tenner. He didn’t especially feel like drinking coffee, but he thought it’d look strange if he didn’t get something. Charlene ordered a double mocha frappacino and lemon cupcake with cream cheese icing. Dylan got the house coffee. Continue reading “We Can Remember It For You Retail”

“Viewers Like You”

“He liked the show, but he wished keeping his hand on the reader was less necessary. Sometimes, in his own room, Boston didn’t bother with the reader at all.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Lorelei Signal, July 2012


“Put your hand back on the reader,” Boston’s mother chided. The boy squirmed but flattened his hand against the panel in the chair’s arm until his presence registered. He liked the show, but he wished keeping his hand on the reader was less necessary. Sometimes, in his own room, Boston didn’t bother with the reader at all. He felt guilty. He knew his mother would be mad if she knew. Continue reading ““Viewers Like You””

A Second Enchanted Evening

His answer made her wish she hadn’t asked. “You know the memory drug I take?”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in M-BRANE SF #30, February 2012


You won’t regret this,” repeated in Bomani’s head over and over again as he made the distance from parked car to back alley door. The bulk of the bass speaker bounced with his pace, and he shifted its weight as he neared the coffee bar’s back entrance. Cradling the speaker between his chest and left arm, Bomani used his right arm to grab the door. He pulled hard, and the heavy gray-metal door swung far enough that he got his back to it before it slammed shut again. The door hit hard, square on his back, but this was his last trip, so Bomani didn’t mind. Continue reading “A Second Enchanted Evening”

The Most Complicated Avatar

“When Ken and I told her we were getting divorced… That’s when she added the tortoise shell. A big green shield covering her avatar’s little back.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, July 2012


It feels strange to me, deep in my stomach, that I can’t find my ten-year-old girl in real life — but that, maybe, I can find her here. Continue reading “The Most Complicated Avatar”

Forget Me Not

“She looked sad. But it was a cheerful sad… The kind that hides its tears.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Northwest Passages: A Cascadian Anthology, September 2005


His confidence drew her to him. The gleam in his eye said “I can take on the world,” and she believed it. Here was a man who could not fail. She was fascinated, and her fascination endeared her to him.

Michael introduced them, but neither Joan nor Leland bestowed a second glance on Michael all night. Their eyes and conversation were reserved for each other. Continue reading “Forget Me Not”