by Diana A. Hart My paws pounded against the carpet, a furious thunder that matched the drumming of my heart. A meowl tore from my throat. I dropped flat, claws digging into the fiber, and lashed my tail as the visions hit me again. My pupils dilated. Nine versions of reality poured into my skull and smothered my senses, each a fluttering glimpse of what could be.
by Luna Corbden I am a toad. And I want you to lick me. Your tongue won’t hurt me at all. It’s wide and rough and relatively short, but it will only tickle. I promise. You think I’m merely an animal (you’d be wrong about that), not even a very smart animal, a fat round reptile (you’d be wrong about that, too), just out to catch flies from my hollow next to the desert river.
by Michael H. Payne “Public domain?” Jack Pumpkinhead always sounded to Ozma like he should be blinking in confusion, but the carved holes that served as his eyes simply didn’t allow it. “What does that mean, dear father?” Ozma sighed. “It means you’ve been calling me your father for longer than anyone out in the Reading World has been alive.” She shifted on the green velvet cushion of her throne, the verdant light that cascaded down from the windows high along the walls of the circular room not quite as soothing as it had been a moment ago. “And the joke itself is so old, its whiskers have grown whiskers.”
by Mark Mills Several years ago, a certain gardener tied a decorative stone mask to the branches of a willow tree. The mask hung slightly askew, causing the lower half to fill with water after storms. Insects and birds drank and took leisurely dips in the deep chin during hot afternoons. One day after a particularly strong downpour, rain so weighed down the mask that it dropped into a puddle of mud. There a tree frog happened upon it and laid her eggs.
by Voss Foster Light. Beauteous, dappled light filtering through autumn leaves. SleekClaw allowed the impotent brightness to pass over his voluminous gray coat as he waited for something to appear to him. It would, in time. There. Yes, yes, off to the right, on the very edge of that eyeless vision, the sight above sight of the Crossing. The leafy treetops parted to reveal stars, gleaming in a sky too bright to ever allow them. They danced and twinkled, and SleekClaw took their meaning, piecing it together as naturally as curling his long, bald tail around the branches of the oak trees.
Welcome to Issue 4 of Zooscape! In furry fiction, some animals are the staples, and others are the spice. Doing a round-up of stories in our first year, for instance, Zooscape has published four times as many cat stories as, say, elephant or octopus stories. People like cats, so there are a lot of stories about them. Fewer people seem to feel compelled to write stories about, oh, manta rays or sentient piñatas. In this issue, the staple is foxes and wolves, and the spice is turtles and insects. Wolves who are out of their element; foxes who are on journeys. Turtles who carry entire worlds on their backs; and…
by Allison Thai For the first time in her life, Hvita stokked for no vaeli in her dreams. She didn’t dream at all. Instead something jumped at her—little paws that batted her fur. “Aunt Hvita, Aunt Hvita,” her sister’s kits called. “Wake up, wake up.” Hvita flattened her ears, but she could still hear the yapping chorus. “Let this poor fox have her sleep,” she groaned. “If Ylirr is not up yet, I won’t be either.”
by Amy Hammack Turner No male pheromones have ever affected the farmer so strongly. At the entrance to a side corridor, she stops in her tracks, antennae waving, oblivious to the press of eager workers behind her. Though she is still young, she has mated many times, and knows how to sort out the signals of age, health, and ancestry. All of those signs beckon strongly, joined by something mysterious. She turns and follows the tantalizing scent.
by Ville Meriläinen The wasteland opened before us, cold and bleak like we’d stepped inside a predator’s eye. Blue Girl sat on Huntress’ back, shoulders drooping, the hem of her dress ripped at the knees. She’d be fine tomorrow. Until then, the wolf would gladly ease her burden. Blue Girl had a smile to cut glass and enough heartache to kill a man, but we liked each other well enough and were useful to one another, so we journeyed together.
by Hannah Montine Finnigan wanted the weight of a world on his back. It was his right, his responsibility, his entire reason for existence as a Cosmic Turtle. Why couldn’t Grandfather Bumi understand that? “I do understand, Finn,” Grandfather said. Being several billions of years old, his intuition into the thoughts of others was all but omniscient.