This story was written for last week’s Microcosms flash fiction competition (where you have 300 words max for the story). The elements I had to use for the story, was creature, in the dark, and steampunk.
What the Ether Let Through
Ether shimmered in the dark alley as the creature appeared and stalked along the cobblestones on all fours. With only dark holes for eyes, it had to rely on its sense of smell and, even now, it sniffed and blew its stinking breath at the slit beneath one of the alley doors. It knew very well where its prey was hiding. The smell of decay hung in the room on the other side of the door. But it was not the decay the slime-slicked creature had come for. It had come for the living person hiding behind the door. It took a deep breath, feeding on the scent of fear and, for a moment, its eyes glowed a sickly green.
Henry pressed his ear against the wood of the door and listened to the snuffling. As intrepid explorer he had done away with many a predator and tonight would be no different. His eyes drifted over the room. His specimens had cooperated very well and was now catalogued and pinned in place. All but one – the one which emitted the awful stench. That one he would not keep – the photos he’d taken were enough to make anyone insane; that eyeless face, the matted hair covering the body, the all-too-human-hands clenched into fists.
An insistent scratching started at the door and Henry jumped.
“Devil take you!” he shouted and headed for the table with the abomination. How could he have known that a simple steam-powered machine could rip a hole in the ether?
Henry picked up the creature, carried it to the hearth and tossed it in. Flames licked at the fur and face even as the door was rent and the parent creature stormed in and ripped at the explorer with razor claws.