‘claws of light’

Written for Mark Welker’s Blogfolio challenge:

Every child on the Grace of Titan was told about the claws, and Tom had been no different. It was a fairy tale, a warning to stay in your bed. “Don’t unstrap from your bunk,” his mother would chide him, smiling. “The claws might be coming tonight.”

The claws were – or so the story went – an alien race that found their way onto the Grace sometime during the first century of its journey. No one living had ever seen them but the stories were still told, and children ran through corridors pointing at burn marks, shouting, “The claws were here!”

Tom was one of the ship’s oarsmen, and like the rest of his ilk, was not of the disposition that enabled a belief in phantom aliens, even when he was a pre-oarsmen child. The oarsmen were a highly organised political force on the Grace’s board of governors and Tom had recently risen to the post of First Oarsman.

The First Oarsman was one of seven leaders who could challenge to be Course Plotter of the ship. The current Plotter, was Janice, Lady of Foods, the ship’s strongest industry. Janice was ancient though, and despite the fact that she had managed to hold onto the Plotter role for seventy years, the next Plotter was unlikely to be as potent a force as the old lady.

Tom was ready. He would be the next Plotter, and then perhaps finally Grace of Titan would begin the correct journey to its destination, and arrive at the new home promised the crew that set out upon her three hundred years ago.

Tom lay in bed, imagining the day when he first drew line across the nav screen and watch the blip of the Grace respond to his command. “It will happen,” he promised the dark.

From his position in bed he saw a glint in his blackened room, and unsure what could possibly be reflecting light; he unbuckled from his bunk and floated over to the opposite wall. The light – which wasn’t reflected at all – grew before his eyes, sprouting out sharp branches like an Aloe Vera plant. The luminescent branches flexed into a fist then one branch stretched back out, pointing directly at Tom.

The branches – the claws he realised with horror – slashed through the darkness, the after effect left burning in the air. The claws moved in intricate patterns, painting a portrait in the dark. When they finished Tom recognized the face of the Lady of Foods. She was smiling.

The claws stretched towards him.


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