The Kaleidoscope


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.”

Original Author: Unknown

34 Comments on 'The Kaleidoscope'

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  • Commented on May 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Wonderful pasta.

  • Commented on June 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Very nice.

  • Commented on November 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    holy crap! this is wonderfully written.

  • Commented on December 13, 2013 at 2:44 am

    This one never gets old to me.

  • Commented on February 10, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Very tasty 8.5/10

  • Commented on March 31, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Short but sweet

  • Commented on May 31, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    like this alot

  • Commented on June 12, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Love it. Casual and creepy.

  • Commented on March 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Love the ending. Great story.

  • Commented on May 1, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    This pasta was tasty. I love it.

  • Commented on May 15, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    This is most likely my favorite I have read today! I sometimes wonder what it is that surrounds us; things that are outside the visible spectrum.

  • Commented on May 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I want that kaleidoscope

  • Commented on June 24, 2015 at 1:02 am

    Best super short story I have read.

  • Commented on July 12, 2015 at 1:09 am


  • Commented on July 23, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Loved it, straight to the point

  • Commented on August 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm

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

  • Commented on October 18, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Short and Scary. I loved it!

  • Commented on October 20, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    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

  • Commented on November 2, 2015 at 5:25 pm

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

  • Commented on November 23, 2015 at 7:03 pm

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

  • Commented on December 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Awesome pasta 5/5

  • Commented on December 17, 2015 at 8:18 pm

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

  • Commented on January 7, 2016 at 5:28 am


  • Commented on February 26, 2016 at 5:34 pm

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

  • Commented on March 15, 2016 at 2:52 pm

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

  • Commented on October 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    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.

  • Commented on January 18, 2017 at 3:10 am

    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.

  • Commented on March 27, 2017 at 6:56 pm

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

  • Commented on April 6, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    I love this!!!!

  • Commented on June 11, 2017 at 7:36 am

    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.

  • Commented on November 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    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?

  • Commented on December 6, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    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.

  • Commented on January 3, 2018 at 8:59 pm


  • The Best
    Commented on February 3, 2018 at 6:04 am

    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?

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