Tuesday, May 14, 2024

“Claws” • by Gareth D Jones


Smoke drifts, red lights glare, sirens blare. 

Metal creaks as the ship continues its tortured roll. Silence. Silence from the crew, passengers, scientists. No voices, no answer. Only the noise of metal groaning, loose items rolling across the deck.

Metal cupboard, barely bigger than a cupboard. Andjela cowers, knees pulled up against chest, arms wrapped around knees. Pyjamas, fluffy gown, bare feet. Cold. Like being in an oven waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the door to close. Through the crack of the open door, across the hold, something moves.

Red light outside. Sirens. Deck creaking, something clacking.

Andjela whimpers.

And somewhere outside—

Door hisses. Seals shut.

And somewhere outside is—

Clicks, lock secured. Green light.

Green light. Green light. Not dead. Green light.

And somewhere outside is death.

Garbled voice, recorded, synthetic. Text across a screen. Launching. Dull thud of latches popping in turn.

And somewhere outside is death, and claws, clacking and clattering across the deck. Hunting. Nobody left to hunt.

Green light. Not dead.

Only Andjela left to hunt.

A shunt and Andjela rolls to the side, pushes up against the padded wall of the escape capsule. Hugs herself tighter.

Still the green light.

Shoves away from the crippled, dying ship. Boosted clear, holding tight to knees, rocking back and forth. Clear of the ship and its degrading orbit.

Somewhere on the ship is death.

Spinning around, inertia, rolling on heels and buttocks, bumping walls with arms and shoulders.

Green light. Not dead.

Nobody left to hunt. All dead.

Steady pressure against spine. Capsule boosting away from the ship.

And somewhere outside



through the hull. Clacking and clattering.

Somewhere outside is death. Come for a ride.

Green light. Not dead. Yet.



Gareth D Jones is an environmental scientist, writer and father of five, two of whom are also published authors. His first short story was published in 2004, and since then he’s had over 200 publications in 33 languages, making him unofficially the second most widely translated science fiction short story author in the world. Why unofficially? Because there’s no official ranking. From his involvement in the field, he believe he’s second, but could be wrong.

He started reviewing genre magazines not longer after his stories started being published, when he realised that many of the small press magazines received little attention in the way of reviews. Later on, he started reviewing novels too, mostly for SF Crowsnest. He’s currently on a sabbatical from reviewing, with over 300 reviews now published. He’s written five novels and, although none of them have yet been published, he remains hopeful. He’s also written a small handful of non-fiction articles on the subject of writing.

For more information, see http://www.garethdjones.co.uk