Hands reach out in darkness. Feel the air for heat, not cold, for moisture and movement, for anything solid they could hold.
Fingers, three bones hinged together, wired, wrapped in muscle and skin, capped off with a nail. They pivot and flex through night, anxious, cautious, greedy, and strong. Straighten, bend, straighten, in the unknown these evolved worms, structured machines, must have some purpose.
Some form fists, little heart-sized balls ready to inflict. They wrap themselves over the fear, hardened against escape: keep it close, tickling the palm.
Others bend in strange shapes, foreign signs of ritual meant to conjure health or peace or even light, in the darkness.
These hands do not know much. Do they have eyes? Can light be found to bounce off skin and nail and crease and knuckle, and to tunnel through a pupil? Can a clap cause air to shamble toward a curl of cartilage, down into a series of tiny hairs?
They swim and sway like moths, like windy leaves, like derelicts on stormy seas. None finds a touch. Not one thing to press or prod. Not one thing to punch. Not in that ink.