A Real Stand-Up Guy

by Daniel and Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Allasso, Vol. 3: Storge, April 2014


“Topher tried a few more routines, but he felt the audience growing colder and colder. He preferred to steer clear of the cat jokes, but he really wanted that money.”

Topher checked his watch and peeked out around the dusky red stage curtain.  There was a full house in the bar tonight.  If he played them right he could get all the tips he needed, and tonight could be the greatest night of his life.  Continue reading “A Real Stand-Up Guy”

The Carousel of Spirits

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Sorcerous Signals, February 2014


“When the first star appeared in the purple sky, the stillness in the room changed. Wooden bodies that had stood stiff all day shifted, flexing muscles, drawing in breaths through carved nostrils.”

The carousel turned, and Artie watched the ponies go by.  He shifted his weight as he sat on the green, metal frame bench.  It was one of many around the edges of the giant, window-walled room that housed the carousel.  Artie was beginning to think that he should upgrade the benches.  These ones looked nice, but they weren’t easy on an old man’s back. Continue reading “The Carousel of Spirits”

Cyclops on Safari

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published by Penn Cove Literary Arts Award, June 2013

“He peeked out the window again and sneered at the pathetic unicorn horns. Those simple spikes were nothing to the beautiful branching of a moose’s antlers.”

The little boy pressed his nose up against the minivan window, twisting himself up under his seatbelt.  He strained his one eye, trying to peer all the way across the golden field littered with shiny white unicorns, gamboling and playing, their manes rippling in the wind.  Danny was sure that if his parents would just let him roll down the window so he could stick his head out, he’d be able to make out a moose in the forest edge beyond.  Instead, all he could see was stupid unicorns. Continue reading “Cyclops on Safari”

One Night in Nocturnia

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tails of a Clockwork World: A Rainfurrest Anthology, September 2012


“In my own eyes, my mouse life was nothing more than grist for the mill of Nocturnia’s stomachs. Yet, those stomachs were connected to hearts that loved my kind for our sacrifice. Was I the monster?”

Mice tell a myth of fearsome creatures with scaly talons, massively muscled bodies, and sharp, hooked beaks. Death from the sky, instant death, for any mouse foolish enough to be above ground when these creatures come hunting.

The name of the myth is owl, and few mice see one and live to tell the tale. Owls are creatures of shadow — both the shadows of trees in a darkening forest and the shadows of misremembered tales retold by forgetful minds. Continue reading “One Night in Nocturnia”

Fox in the Hen House

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Dancing in the Moonlight: Rainfurrest 2013 Charity Anthology, September 2013


“…the chickens began to court their young squire. Some sang songs to him in warbling voices; others followed him around, plying him with eager compliments. As always, Henry loved the attention.”

The eggs never hatched. Henrietta and all her coop-mates laid eggs every day, and every day the Coopmaster came and took the eggs away. No baby chicks. Henrietta had so much love in her feathered breast and no one to spend it on.

Only nine inches below the slatted floor of the coop, a cold and hungry litter of fox kits waited for their mother to return. One by one, the kits closed their eyes and fell into a patient sleep. Their breathing slowed. Their hearts slowed too. Still, the mother did not return. Continue reading “Fox in the Hen House”

Panda-Mensional

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Neo-Opsis, May 2015


“We’d have never even discovered that pandas have a gene allowing for quantum mechanical space jumping if we hadn’t improved their diet enough that they had the energy left over to use it.”

I point at the star map again, angrily saying, “Come on, Meijing! We only have a few hours of air left!” But the black-masked eyes blink at me impassively, profoundly uninterested in the yellow spot on the view screen under my fingertip. Continue reading “Panda-Mensional”

All the Cats of the Rainbow

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Necromouser and Other Magical Cats, September 2015


“A harmony of meows — higher pitched from Violet, Blue, and Indigo; subtly lower from Red — expressed surprise and confusion. All seven of Sarah looked at each other with wide green eyes, unchanged by the prism.”

Sarah was one of three dozen kittens who all lived in a cozy garage that had been retro-fitted into the perfect Persian cat playground. Scratching posts and cat toys littered the floor. The walls were a veritable maze of carpeted shelving — perfect for perching. Sarah ran wild with her sisters, brothers, litters worth of cousins, four aunts, mother, and grandmother. They were all fluffy, white, purebred fuzzballs just like her. She felt safe and loved. Continue reading “All the Cats of the Rainbow”

Songs of Fish and Flowers

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Lakeside Circus, March 2015


“She blinked her sun-dazzled eyes, surprised to see that, though the roses didn’t sing, they changed color.”

Pink roses twisted their petals, soaking in the afternoon sun. Red begonias and calla lilies decorated the edges of the rose beds. And, Carly, a white-faced calico sunned herself in the grass, enjoying the subtle scent of mint, rosemary, and catnip that drifted to her on the gentle wind. Continue reading “Songs of Fish and Flowers”

Shreddy and the Dancing Dragon

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Dragon’s Hoard, June 2015


“Night after night, the demonic PlayCube with its animated dragon summoned Shreddy’s Red-Haired Woman to it. Hour after hour, Shreddy watched her life being sucked away.”

The cardboard box, labeled Yay! PlayCube! on its sides, was more than big enough to hold Cooper, the blonde, curly-furred Labradoodle. Yet, somehow, Shreddy knew better than to hope that the Red-Haired Woman had brought in such a large, sinister box for any reason as comforting as to haul the annoying Labradoodle away. Continue reading “Shreddy and the Dancing Dragon”

Lunar Cavity

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Furry Future, January 2015


“Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes… massive geological instability.” The words were hard to say. He felt that each time he named one of these horrible side-effects that he might be conjuring one to crush loved ones, light years away, back on Wrombarra.

The air was too cold and the gravity too strong. But, Druthel liked the cave-like architecture. He was on the moon-world of Kong-Fuzi, a naked rock without even an atmosphere — only a few small atmo-domes, a scattering of boxy, airtight buildings, and a subterranean tunnel complex connecting them all. It circled the planet Da Vinci, capital of the Human Expansion, and it hosted the renowned and arrogantly named Wespirtech, the Western Spiral Arm Institute of Technology. Continue reading “Lunar Cavity”