Man discovers vial with wick that has the incredible property of absorbing all ambient sound when extended from vial. Man becomes addicted to silence & overuses wick with disastrous consequences.
The depiction of how the man began using the wick sparingly—but gradually became consumed by his need for silence—was exceedingly well-developed.
There’s a limit to how much I can add; I read the story just once, at least 30 years ago. I believe it was quite short, 10 pp or less. I think it was in an anthology, though it might have been a collection by one author.
The wick can be extended gradually, and the “quieting power” is directly proportional to wick exposure. The man who found the wick eventually abuses it by operating at maximum all the time, absorbing all sound in his vicinity. He overloads the device, which abruptly releases all the acoustic energy it has accumulated. I can’t recall the specific consequences, but they were unpleasant.
I hope to find & read again…