“Brain-Dead Baby Jesuses” by Mary E. Lowd

The snow came down in flurries. It swarmed outside the window of Miley’s dorm room, brushing softly against the third-story window in gusts of wind. Tiny flakes. White crystals, pinging against the glass. Miley had been checking the weather app on her phone, watching the forecast fluctuate back and forth all week—snow on Friday, no, wait, now on Saturday, back to Friday, and then only freezing rain. She’d been praying for snow.

The snow was finally here, but online classes don’t get cancelled due to weather. So, while her eyes kept straying from her laptop screen to the window behind it, Miley had to finish her essay before she could bundle up, go outside, and catch those tantalizing flakes on her tongue. Her fingers itched, impatiently, as she typed, and she kept switching tabs from her essay to Facepage, telling herself that frequent breaks actually helped her concentrate.

“So unfair! Snow outside, and I’m stuck inside writing about economic theory!” Miley posted.

Two sentences of economic theory later, her Facepage tab lured her back with two notifications.

“Ha ha loser,” from Brendan. She couldn’t believe she’d ever had a crush on him.

And “Snow? What snow? You live two buildings down from me?” posted by Carol.

Miley snapped a picture with her phone of the flurry outside her window. The white flakes glowed in the light of the camera’s flash. She posted the picture, saying, “See—SNOW. Told you prayers get answered, Carol. God is good.”

Miley had been trying to convince Carol to come to church with her for more than a year. Carol was a good person. Miley would reach her eventually. No, God would reach her.

After a couple more sentences of essay writing, Miley checked Facepage again. This time, Brendan had posted an article link. He was always posting junky liberal fake news to her timeline. This one was especially weird: “Nano-drone Bio-Engineer Uses Facial Recognition Software and Social Network Hacks to Identify Pro-Life Women and Artificially Inseminate Them.”

Miley’s cheeks burned. She wished she’d never told Brendan that she was pro-life. It had been one of those nights where a group of friends stays up until dawn, sitting in a circle, telling each other everything. Quintessential college. She’d thought that she and Brendan were getting really close; she’d been thinking about admitting her crush to him. But then abortion came up, and he’d said he’d never sleep with a girl who was pro-life—too dangerous. Miley had told him that if he really loved a girl, he wouldn’t sleep with her until they were married anyway. It got worse from there. The more Miley explained her beliefs, the more awkward and quiet everyone became.

It was hard being Christian at a liberal college.

Miley went back to work on her essay, but a few minutes later, her phone buzzed—a call from Carol. Miley answered, and Carol said in a rush, “Did you look at that article about the nano-drones?”

“What, Brendan teasing me again? No, I didn’t.”

“You should read it.”

Miley skimmed the article, but it was clearly ridiculous—it claimed that swarms of nano-drones were flying around the country, finding women who had said pro-life things on the internet, and then entering their bodies. Once inside, the nano-drones re-engineered the women’s own eggs into sperm and altered the sperm’s DNA so that the ensuing immaculately conceived babies would develop with an unusual, non-fatal form of anencephaly. Normally, anencephalic babies live no longer than a few hours after birth; these specially engineered babies would be able to live long, brainless lives.

The money quote from the mad scientist behind it all read, “I intend to create an army of brain-dead baby Jesuses to waste the energy of pro-lifers. Or else cause a whole lot of hypocrites to get abortions.” He was already in jail, but his nano-drones were supposedly still at large.

“This article is extreme crazy-sauce. Why am I supposed to read it?”

“I checked it on SnoopTruth,” Carol said. “This one checks out.”

A tingle of fear passed down Miley’s spine. Even if it was a hoax, the idea was still appalling. Miley had never even had sex. She couldn’t get pregnant with a brainless baby. That wouldn’t just stop her from finishing college… It would take up the rest of her life. “Why would anyone do this?”

Carol didn’t answer, but her silence spoke volumes. They’d had some pretty ugly fights about what Carol called “abortion rights” versus a baby’s right to life. Carol didn’t understand that God gave babies their souls the moment they were conceived.

Except… what if God didn’t make the baby… a nano-drone designed by a Godless scientist did?

No, that was wrong. Only God made babies, and even atheist scientists could be God’s tools. Miley looked out the window and saw God’s majesty right there—beautiful and pure, nature at its finest. She needed a break from all of this—college life, liberal “friends,” her essay on economic theory. Maybe it was time for that walk in the snow.

Before Miley could hang up the phone, Carol said, “Look, I found another article… It… It describes what the nano-drone swarms look like. I’ll… send you the link.”

“I’m not interested,” Miley said, but the article popped up on her Facepage anyway. The picture looked very familiar. It looked exactly like the picture she’d posted earlier of the snow.

“I don’t think you should go outside tonight,” Carol said.

Miley hung up on her.

She stood up, leaned over her desk, and looked out the window more closely. The white crystalline flakes beat at the window pane. But one story up and one story down, the air was clear. All around the dorm, except for Miley’s window, the air was clear. The snow had come for her.

Miley sat back down and began scrolling through Facepage, deleting every post where she’d mentioned God or the sanctity of life, hoping it wasn’t too late. But she knew the drones had already identified her. The snow was watching her. It lusted for her.

A stone crashed through the window, and a voice from outside screamed, “Pro-life bitch!”

The flurries swirled through the broken glass, and Miley spread her arms wide to accept them. To accept God’s future for her and the love He was bringing her, no matter what form it came in. The first flake tingled as it touched the tip of her tongue.

Mary E. Lowd is a science-fiction and furry writer in Oregon. She’s had more than 130 short stories published, and her novels include the Otters in Space trilogy, several spin-offs, and The Snake’s Song: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel. Her work has won an Ursa Major Award, two Leo Literary Awards, and two Cóyotl Awards. She edited FurPlanet’s ROAR anthology series for five years, and she is now the editor and founder of the furry e-zine Zooscape. She lives in a crashed spaceship, disguised as a house and hidden behind a rose garden, with an extensive menagerie of animals, some real and some imaginary. Learn more at www.marylowd.com.

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