“I’m sorry Uncle, but could you explain what it is and what it does? That is a very odd name.” Johnathan shifted uncomfortably.
“It is and does exactly what I just said,” Edward responded sharply, “Though I suppose it is a bit odd if you aren’t familiar with them. This is a Killing Jar. A Killing Jar is typically used by entomologists to kill and preserve insect specimens. This particular jar is the only one of its kind. I had it specially created for my newest project.”
“Forgive my curiosity Uncle,” Johnathan began, “But what on Earth could you need such a large container for?”
“I’m glad that you’re curious Nephew, it means that you ought to handle the work that I have for you with the inquisitiveness and delicacy that it requires.” Edward said gleefully. “You see Nephew, I have become a bit of a collector in recent years. I had taken a trip to a friend’s house, and he is an avid insect collector. He showed me his collection, which spanned multiple large galleries in his home. I became inspired! This collection was impressive, but many people have insect collections. There is nothing unique about one of those except for maybe a few exceptionally rare individual specimens. What intrigued me was the prospect of taking the techniques of insect collection and creating a much more one-of-a-kind series of galleries. To that end, I have begun to collect all manner of creatures, common and exceptional alike, and preserving them in a fashion not unlike an entomologist might. The difference being that my galleries include everything from insects to arachnids, amphibians to reptiles, invertebrates to mammals. I currently have the most extensive collection of preserved creatures ever known to man, and it is expanding constantly!”
Edward was nearly bouncing from foot to foot as he finished his explanation. Johnathan had never seen his Great Uncle this excited about anything.
“So the Killing Jar is for killing and preserving all manner of creatures?” Johnathan began slowly, “And the reason for the size is to accommodate even the very large creatures, which might not fit in a Killing Jar used for insects,” Johnathan finished.
Edward smiled broadly, “I knew you were the right one for the job Nephew, you’re such a bright young man. You will begin your work in the morning. I have many individuals collecting samples for me. They will be delivering the specimens through the rear entrance to the conservatory. They will handle the creatures, your work will consist of preparing the Jar with the appropriate chemicals for each specimen. The goal is for the specimen to suffer no damage except the minor inconvenience of not living any longer. You will have one creature per day, delivered at 10 am sharp! It will likely take most of the rest of the day for the inevitable to happen. You will then press the switch in the library indicating that your work is done for the day. My laboratory assistants will take care of preparing your work area for the next day. They prefer to work overnight, however, so you shouldn’t have much interaction with them. After you retire for the evening, what you do with your leisure time is… your business,” Edward smiled his discomforting smile again.
“What is Elena’s part in this work Uncle? I’m sure it will be frightening for her,” Johnathan asked, concerned.
“Ah yes. The young lady.” Edward’s eyes glinted, “She is here to record for posterity every minutiae of the process from the preparation of the Jar until the specimen is ready to be delivered to my galleries. She has been informed of the nature of the work, and seems to possess the constitution necessary to properly record the events.”
“Then I will have the Jar prepared by 10 in the morning Uncle!” Johnathan exclaimed, “Though, might I ask as to the nature of the first specimen?”
“I believe you will be starting with something small and not likely to give you any trouble: a fruit bat,” Edward said, “Now off with you, I will see you at dinner.”
Johnathan returned to his room filled with excitement. He was never sure what he had planned to do for employment, but he was pleasantly surprised to realize that he was intrigued by the work he would be doing. Maybe he would find some direction that would keep him from ending up working in a retail shop for the rest of his life.
Johnathan joined is Great Uncle for dinner at 6 pm as he had many times before. There had never been much conversation at the table, which was not unusual. Great Uncle Edward never seemed to have much to say when he wasn’t discussing his work.
After a quiet but pleasant meal, Johnathan returned to his room. He suddenly felt weary from his day of travel and decided to read a bit before bed. It wasn’t long before the words began to swim on the page. Johnathan laid the book aside, changed into his sleep clothes and went to bed early.
Johnathan woke before his alarm and couldn’t sleep again. He was much too excited about the work awaiting him, as well as the co-worker he expected to spend the day with.
After showering and getting dressed for the day, Johnathan went down to breakfast. As usual, his Great Uncle had been and left the table. He was gone to his study to continue working. Johnathan ate a modest meal, and left plenty of time to get to the conservatory. He had to keep himself from hurrying to the library.
As he approached the library, butterflies erupted in his stomach. It had been four years since Johnathan had last seen Elena, and she had been growing more beautiful by the minute then. As he knocked quietly and pushed the door open, he saw Elena sitting at the desk that had been prepared for her. He was not disappointed.