Other Worlds to Save

the girl sometimes slipped off

the brocaded ambassadorial robes

she wore through endless negotiations

with more alien species

than she ever thought could exist


she was often too busy

to miss Earth, her parents, corn dogs

but when melancholy descended

she pulled on the ratty t-shirt and jeans

she had worn when she left home


her hosts had offered to replicate

the clothes in larger sizes, but for now

she was grateful the originals still fit


the girl curled up in a plush chair

bare feet tucked beneath her

and pulled out the gaming system she’d brought

the one her parents gave her

during her last Christmas with other humans


her hosts had offered to modify the system

so that it never needed charging

that offer, the girl happily accepted


and so she sat there and played games

of wayfaring warriors and airships and swords

for a while ignoring

the actual space port beyond her window

the burden of Earth’s future

upon her shoulders


after all

there were digital worlds to save

and she needed to level up

before she tackled the next dungeon boss


(Editors’ Note: “Other Worlds to Save” is read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 33A.)


Beth Cato

Nebula Award-nominated Beth Cato is the author of A Thousand Recipes for Revenge from 47North (summer 2023) plus two fantasy series from Harper Voyager. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cats. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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