The Kaleidoscope

4.4 0
3 min

While honeymooning in Maine, my wife and I stopped in the picturesque town of Boothbay on a particularly dreary and rainy day. Since our planned picnic was out of the question, we sought shelter in a dilapidated little antique store near the harbour. While my wife inspected the large chests and side tables near the door, I eagerly examined the antique tools and seafaring equipment inside the glass sales counter at the back. Being a collector of optics and mariner’s instruments, I hoped to find a sextant, or perhaps an old leather-bound telescope.

A particularly interesting piece caught my eye. It appeared to be a heavy brass flashlight, bearing a worn brown patina but remarkably modern in design. I asked the shopkeeper, but he could only tell me it was found in the same old sailor’s chest as several of the compasses and the sextant also on display. He inquired as to whether I would like to purchase it for five dollars, or perhaps have it for free. “It’s worthless to me, nobody wants it.” When I remarked about the price, he sighed wearily, and then reached into the cabinet and retrieved it for me.

“Here, see for yerself, feller.”

The craftsmanship was wonderful, quite durable and apparently hand-made, perhaps somewhere in Europe. Worn lettering indicated it might be German, or perhaps Austrian in origin. I twisted the bulb housing and a weak red beam swept out. Poking it into a dark corner of the shop, I was greeted with fantastic monotone swirls, moving and entwining with each other like a pit of eels. As I stared further into this unusual projector-kaleidescope, my fanciful mind invented ghoulish faces and sinuous, gnarled tendrils. Shutting the device off, I turned excitedly to the shopkeeper.

“Fantastic!” I said. “It must have an oil filter of sorts in front of the lens! I have two Victorian kalediscopes, but none that are illuminated like this”

“You don’t get it, do you? Nobody gets it. They all come back to return it after a while.” The shopkeeper leaned on the counter and I could see that he was breathing heavily and perspiring. “They all think it’s some sort of trick… till they start seeing it when the light’s off.”

“That ain’t no projection, mister. That… damned thing, that light… it ain’t makin’ up those creatures. It’s just lettin’ your eyes see what’s already there.”

Leave a comment

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Best
The Best
6 years ago

It’s scary when you realize what is going on. It’s the same as the human eye can only see the 3rd dimension, but what about the 4th?

6 years ago


GriffFromDiscord avatar
6 years ago

seems like that one movie… spiderwick i think… with the stone disk thing that they can see trolls through… would love to see a horror movie made about this.

GhostMummy avatar
6 years ago

I’m confused. The Shopkeeper seemed eager to get rid of it, offering it for five dollars or free. Then when the man wants to buy it the shopkeeper is treating him like an idiot and warning him about it. Does no one else see this gaping flaw? [spoiler][/spoiler]

EmotionlessPassage avatar
6 years ago

Very well use of descriptive words, I heavily enjoyed this small yet very interesting short story that has you on the edge of your seat wanting to know more.

Ninjaskitzo avatar
6 years ago

I love this!!!!

CreepyAnonymous avatar
6 years ago

very well written, short but written so well it derserves its five stars

7 years ago

This writer knows how to tell a tale. It was short, but detailed. The ending was wonderful. The only thing that would have made it better would be to continuw on to see what happened after the object was purchased.

Crystal07 avatar
7 years ago

I would really like to get those to see if there’s actually “something” out there except me but at the same time, I would prefer not to get the scare of my life.

spawnofcthulhu avatar
7 years ago

Awesome work, man! Really well written and the ending twist is a nice one.

thedollunderthesink avatar

One of the few short stories that actually get to you. Delicious pasta, I must say

TheMadGamer avatar
8 years ago


CKCK avatar
8 years ago

Short and realistic(somewhat) and logical….I love it!!!!!!

8 years ago

Awesome pasta 5/5

munsen51011 avatar
8 years ago

W….O…..W…. wow mind totally blown loved it thank you so much for this

Jhake97 avatar
8 years ago

I really want that kaleidoscope I want to see things as well.

thatcreepytrainer avatar
8 years ago

i need that kaleidoscope it will be awesome to show as a party trick to friends and surprise them with the truth of the object

OliviaRomineD avatar
8 years ago

Short and Scary. I loved it!

kyriavg avatar
8 years ago

i love these kind of stories which make you jump when you ‘realise’

BloodyMind avatar
8 years ago

Loved it, straight to the point