Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Bottle of Wyrms

A spectacularly eerie exhibition of pickled animals opened to the public at Berlin's Natural History Museum on Tuesday. The collection contains fish, mammals, spiders and reptiles preserved in alcohol, some of them over 200 years old. Thousands of jars containing fish, mammals, worms, crabs, spiders and reptiles preserved in alcohol have gone on show in Berlin in a spectacular new exhibition at the city's Natural History Museum...."For me the biggest gift is that only six jars broke during the move," Peter Bartsch, the curator of the collection, told Bild newspaper.

"Only" six jars broke?  Six horrors from the past unleashed on a na├»ve society, with no practitioners of the arts that are necessary to defeat these protean monstrosities?  Well, no practitioner save one . . . Doctor Voorslanger:  Natural Philosopher, Mesmerist, and Monster-Hunter!  That he has been missing for fifty years is an obstacle, yes, but the fate of unified Berlin hinges on our finding him!  Quickly, fuel the airship.  We're off to Tibet.

Tibet?

Yes, Spacklowe, Tibet.  Don't you see the mandala under all of this dust?

I thought those were just footprints.

That is why you fuel the airship and I set the course, Spacklowe.  One more thing . . .

Yes?

Pack my dueling pistols.  There may be trouble on the other end of this trip.

Trouble?

Yes.  Voorslanger and I didn't part on the best of terms, you see.  A bit of a dust-up at Northchester Academy over a young lady.

You went to school together?  They allowed Germans into proper British preparatories?

Before he was expelled from the country for stealing forbidden texts from poor Professor MacAllister's private library, yes . . . too bad the old fellow went mad.

But all of this was decades ago.  Surely he's moved on from some adolescent intrigue.

Ah, Spacklowe.  When you're talking about Victoria Stenwyck there is no "moving on."

You mean Lady Stenwyck, who disappeared last week?

The same.  Come then, I want to be making revolutions for the Orient by seven o'clock this evening.  But first. . . .

Tea?

Quite.

--Steve Kilian

Mr. Bingles


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