The Train Beasts Only Came Out at Night

A weird way to be woken up.
A weird way to be woken up.
Image: X. B. Saintine/British Library (Fair Use)
FictionFictionJourneys into unfamiliar worlds, imagined futures, and altered states of mind.

On the clearest nights, a sudden fog would envelop the streets, heralding the unearthly screech of their whistles and horns. The railway graveyards would empty, but were these locomotive creatures of the night here for good or ill? Come tell us.


Welcome back to another io9 Concept Art Writing Prompt! We’re still on the look out for more cool art to share that can help stoke your mind into coming up with some short fiction, so here’s another treat from the British Library’s excellent public domain Flickr archive. This particular steampunk horror is from Joseph Xavier Boniface’s (writing under the penname X. B. Saintine) 1861 novel Le Chemin des Écoliers. My French is a little rusty, so I’m not quite sure why this man only seems slightly miffed that his sleep has been disturbed by a feral looking train-cat, but why don’t you weave us a tale in the comments to explain why?

Concept artists, want your work featured on io9 for a concept art writing prompt? Email us at, with the subject line “Concept art writing prompt.” Do it quick, before the train beasts come for you...

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!