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”

The Seamstress Robot and the Insect Bride

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, July 2023

“Am-lei’s mother had, at least, enjoyed the benefit of having beautiful, colorful, butterfly wings that distracted humans from the Kafkaesque qualities of her actual body.”

The Seamstress Robot’s shop was a little hole in the wall in the Merchant’s Quarter of Crossroads Station.  The seamstress robot herself looked a lot like a giant mechanical spider — all spindly silver legs, overly jointed and coming to extremely delicate points, capable of grabbing, manipulating, and piercing fabric.  Also, generating fabric.  The seamstress robot, like an actual spider, could generate silk.  And synthetic cotton.  And synth wool.  And velvet, taffeta, patterned prints, fake leather… just about any material you could imagine could be generated, strand by strand, from the tip of her 3D printer leg. Continue reading “The Seamstress Robot and the Insect Bride”

Jetpack and Cyborg Wings

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, October 2018

“Neither of them wore spacesuits — their exoskeletons protected most of their bodies, and a thin coating of amphiphilic goo around their joints sealed the gaps up well enough for an hour long joy-jaunt around the station’s exterior.”

Lee-a-lei and her clone-daughter Am-lei perched in the Crossroads Station recreational airlock with their long spindly legs folded.  The two lepidopterans exchanged a glance with glittering, multi-faceted eyes.  Lee-a-lei was nervous and kept flapping her mechanical wings, but her daughter looked excited.

Am-lei didn’t have wings.  She’d followed the traditions of their homeworld and had her yellow-blue-and-purple wings cut off after she metamorphosed.  So, she wore a simple zero-gee jetpack like a human or one of the canine Heffens would.  The jetpack strapped around her thorax, firmly secured.  Lee-a-lei had checked her daughter’s straps several times. Continue reading “Jetpack and Cyborg Wings”

Veins of Black, Dust of Gold

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2018

“The green skin of her face split open revealing a smooth crystalline surface underneath.”

Am-lei had been growing stiffer by the day. Her long, green, tubular body was usually lithe and flexible. She could twist her way through the grav-bubble obstacle courses on the Crossroads Space Station playground better than any Heffen children in her class. Their canine bodies couldn’t bend in half, twist into a pretzel, or grab onto an extra jungle gym bar with a sixth pair of arms. Continue reading “Veins of Black, Dust of Gold”

Wing Day

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, October 2018

“She had no reason not to be excited — she’d known all along that the wings she’d grow were vestigial and would need to be removed.”

Lee-a-lei had never been to a Wing Day party, much less thrown one herself.  The butterfly-like alien crossed her uppermost pair of fuzzy exoskeletal arms and watched her clone-daughter scurry around their quarters, excited, sugar-crazed, and impatient for the guests to arrive.

Am-lei flapped her new wings, throwing herself into the air — she bounced off the ceiling and landed awkwardly on newly-long, spindly legs.  A month ago, Am-lei had been a pudgy green caterpillar-babe.  At least, Lee-a-lei had thought of her as a babe, even though she was nearly ten years old. Continue reading “Wing Day”

One Alien’s Wings

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Empyreome, September 2017

“They’re vestigial,” Lee-a-lei intoned, holding out a knife with one of her six claw-like hands. “Cut them off.”

Lee-a-lei’s wide wings fluttered, casting pools of colored light that chased each other across the walls of the robotics laboratory.  The harsh fluorescents from the ceiling softened to warm reds, golds, and chips of blue or green as they passed through her translucent wings. Continue reading “One Alien’s Wings”

Sheeperfly’s Lullaby

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Literature, Issue 2, March 2016

“Butterflies don’t live as long as sheep, and Soft-as-Snow feared her tiny daughter would die. So she sang White Wings lullabies filled with sadness and fear, hope and protection, woven through and through with love.”

Sheep tell many tales as they graze. There’s little to do in a grassy field but count the clouds, search for four-leafed clovers, and tell tall tales.  Yet, some of the sheep’s tales are true, and when Soft-as-Snow stares at the clouds with her liquid brown eyes, she isn’t counting them.  She’s searching, seeking, and hoping against hope — waiting for White Wings to return to her. Continue reading “Sheeperfly’s Lullaby”