You may recognize artist Keith Thompson's work from Scott Westerfield's Leviathan books and as those creepy doodles from the remake of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. In addition to those projects, Thompson's crafted a nightmare fuel gallery of necrotic creatures with pedigrees in both science fiction and fantasy. Just behold that stomach-churning Pripyat Beast above. We're sorry.
Here are some of Thompson's creepiest creations and their backstories — prints are available at his website (should you enjoy making your dinner guests antsy). You can check out some more of Thompson's art io9 has featured previously here, and you can find further strange characters in his illustration gallery.
When the secondary explosion occurred at the reactor, spewing an almost immeasurable torrent of radioactivity into the jet stream, surrounding locales could only survive long enough to form mass graves for their dead. The under supplied, unprotected and ultimately doomed clean up crews sent their overseeing emergency committee a flurry of distress signals and sporadic reports of beasts emerging from the piles of bodies on the outskirts of towns. These beasts were said to vary dramatically, and appeared to be sickening amalgamations of people and livestock.
Madame Theodosia hearkens from the Aeolian islands and is part of a long lineage of necromancers. Growing up in a family with a long tradition of raising the dead, she was uncharacteristically shaken to learn of her barrenness, and in a rather emotional state vowed to give birth, if not to a new life, then to an already passed life. For this purpose she had found assistance in fashioning a steel, pressurised womb in which the souls of the freshly dead were to be trapped and condensed.
This gestating entity came to be referred to in hushed tones as The Collect. The expectant mother now unnerves her followers with a detached resignation towards her eventual agonizing death; a necessity to feed her newborn babe in a self-sacrificial fashion akin to a mother spider.
While not undead themselves, these corpseherds bear down on the aftermath of battle fields, reanimating the strewn dead and consuming the irreparable. These beings loom up eight feet, headless with unreadable faces set in their chests, mumbling to each other as they collect their cattle and return to the hills.
The twisted children of Lilith and Adam, these creatures are almost as old as the earth itself. Able to don complete facades, it is said that even the busiest settlements are riddled with their presence. They tend to only be discovered when they carelessly let their personage last, unaging, for unnatural stretches of time.
When experiments testing the viability of tapping into the quantum vacuum for energy were performed on the Apollo 21 Lab Station, reports devolved into strange ramblings about how their conclusions were inconceivable to human minds. Before all communication ceased, garbled messages were sent to earth from the astronauts about their experiments revealing to them the "howling face of the sun." A rescue crew was violently repulsed from the station by corpses in the astronaut's space suits. Footage of the incident show ghostly images of tormented figures hanging just behind these corpses, struggling, but seemingly unable to pull themselves apart from their decaying bodies.
Many commanders panic as the Allied forces press on to Berlin. Some disappear, others commit suicide, and most don blinders to the future, continuing their tasks regardless of the futility. A select few however begin to pull back from directionless rationalism and pore over the occult texts so commonly passed around among the officer classes. This infusion of unwholesome study coupled with the inventiveness of a strained weapons industry has seen soldiers unable, or unwilling to continue defense of the Fatherland return to the front cinched into obscene contraptions. These mutilated puppets are often left behind during controlled retreats, erupting from piles of corpses amidst the oncoming Allied troops working their way through the wreckage.