The Black Claw of Once, Not Twice

A while ago now I had an idea for a story.

It would feature a character who was haunted by visions of a scabby black claw that climbed and clambered around the edges of doors, walls and other objects in his life. And each time this poor guy spotted the claw he would see it only once, because when he blinked he inadvertently made it disappear. The constant appearance of a devilish black claw is a metaphor, an allegory, whatever you like. Most of all, it’s a weird story. It didn’t really fit anywhere and I wasn’t sure anyone would ever want to read it anyway.


So I threw it online and gave it a website of its own. Having worked with the guys behind Monocle (which is open-source ebook software that basically lets you embed a paginated book on a webpage) I used that software, came up with a super basic design and bought the story’s corresponding URL – I thought it was a nice idea to be able to share the story easily with a quick (but indicative) link.

Then I spent quite a few late nights coding the website and making it work on differently-sized devices. I seriously extended my HTML and CSS skills during those late nights/early mornings. And I even started to understand some old jokes about coding which spoke very closely to my experience. This one, for example:


I did some illustrations and redrafted the story over and over and over until it was in a halfway decent shape. Then I brought the story and the web together, putting the text into a proper HMTL format, deciding on the font details and working out the best way to present the illustrations in a reflowable format.


It was an interesting exercise. There are things I think I did well (I like the main, front-page illustration of the claw) and things I’d improve on in the future (such as making the entire website responsive rather than having different versions for mobiles, tablets and desktops).

Now it’s online for as long as I keep paying my web hosting fees. It’s a nice record to have of an odd story I felt compelled to do something with. And I’ve already secured the URL for the next one.

If you haven’t read The Black Claw of Once, Not Twice you totally should. Hope you enjoy it.

4 thoughts on “The Black Claw of Once, Not Twice”

  1. Well done! Shared it on Facebook. I was impressed by the way the meaning of the black claw is elusive to the reader in the same way as the black claw is to the protagonist. Almost an allegory, but not really; perhaps a direct symbol of one specific other thing, but so many things almost fit. It feels like an updated, briefer, and unklunky successor to Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Shadow.” Thanks for sharing your work, Andrew.

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