In honor of the Tallahassee Lambshead Cabinet Extravaganza occurring this Sunday at Ray’s Steel City Saloon (info here), I’ll be posting some special new material connected to the anthology (order it here!).
Today, we have a special treat: an expanded version of one of the best micro-submissions to the anthology and an important part of Dr. Lambshead’s cabinet: Graham Lowther’s Ear-Eye…
By Graham Lowther
This instrument functions in the same way as a periscope but is in the shape of a C, and therefore requires many more mirrors. It is apparently designed for looking into one’s own ear. A transparent casing displays the mirrors inside. Inexplicably, one of them is tinted so dark as to be minimally reflective. An employee of the caretakers of Dr. Lambshead’s house was testing the Ear Eye when he dropped it (fortunately it doesn’t appear to have been damaged) and ran away yelling inarticulately and covering the ear he had just been looking into. He seemed to want no one to see into it. He has not reported back. No one has yet been found willing to further investigate the Ear Eye.
Dr. Lambshead took notes on information given by a museum’s staff and other knowledgeable residents of the European town where the museum was located. He wrote that, by not recording the name or location of the museum and town, he was complying with the wish of the museum not to be linked to the Ear Eye.
The Ear Eye was removed from public display because of negative responses to it from some of the museum’s visitors. The museum lost its curator after a visitor complained to him about an unpleasant sound from the Ear Eye. The curator removed it from its display case and found that it was vibrating and making a sound described by others present as being a hum similar to, but not quite like, a vocal sound. The curator noted that the tinted mirror was shaking and seemed to be causing the vibration. His inspection of the Ear Eye oddly included using it to look into his own ear. After a few moments, lowering the Ear Eye, he cocked his head and struck the side of it, like one does to clear water from the ear. He said, “Something was looking back at me.”
Before unexpectedly, and without explanation, quitting his job that same day, he put the Ear Eye into storage.
The new curator chose to leave it in storage, only bringing it out several months later, when it was acquired by Dr. Lambshead for a price that led Lambshead to believe the museum “absurdly undervalued” it. He wrote that it was “shunned by the entire museum staff and half the town.”
The card that had identified it, on display, as “Ear Eye” also had this line: “Put your eye to your ear, you will see what you hear”. The new curator said he did not know where that line had come from or what it meant, that the Ear Eye’s age and origin were unknown, and that the identity of the previous owner was confidential. Dr. Lambshead suspected the curator had other reasons for not giving the information: “He knew more than he was willing to say. The walls of his office were covered with thick soundproofing. He was captivated by the smallest, most inconsequential sounds. At one point in our conversation, when I shifted my feet loudly (the shoes I was wearing were quite heavy), a little creature leaped out of his ear, ran across the floor, and went under the door. It moved very fast. I did not see it clearly. It seemed reflective, glistening brightly in the light from the glaring overhead bulb. I rushed to open the door but my movement was hampered by those damn shoes and when I entered the hall, the creature was nowhere in sight. Behind me, the curator was yelling, ‘The instrument does not reveal the things you hear, it puts them there alive!'”
The Ear Eye was “on display” in Lambshead’s Cabinet tightly wrapped in cloth, so that only its shape could be discerned. He wrote that he disliked seeing the tinted mirror.