People did all sorts of things with their jars in the beginning. Most people hid them, eventually. Many a glass container lived in dusted yet moldy basements, dormant until they weren’t. Popping open on any old day, whatever lived inside would kill the owner. Some people, however, felt a greater pull toward what lived in their jars.
Everyone stared at their jar at least once in their life, attempting to size up the contents within. Those with seemingly empty jars checked the lid after every cough and sneeze, waiting for the virus that would send them to their graves. More melancholy folks attempted to open their jars. Some found themselves successful and able to use the gun or poison inside. Others tried to open their jars for the thrill of it, maybe as a goof with their friends. “No way, bro! A toy truck is going to kill you!” the teenagers would laugh. The next week, they’d attend the funeral of their buddy, freshly t-boned by a vehicle of the same make and model as the one in his jar.
Some tried to soften the blow for their loved ones. Parents would spray paint their newborns’ jars and attempt to seal the lid. As a result, some adult children still did not know what awaited them inside. Lovers would trade their jars, hoping to spare each other from their own fates, or to at least have fair warning when the other’s time came.
And the bold and lonely would display their jars, carrying them with pride or placing them with great care in display cases. This went particularly well if something strange lived inside. These people tended to tempt fate. “How long do you think it needs to be?” one man would excitedly ask others as he held a jar of his own long hair up for them to see. Then, he’d untie his flowing locks, still attached to his head, for show. “I think it’s nearly there,” he’d smile.
For years, decades, centuries, this is how it worked. No one knew where the jars came from. They would appear at the post office within hours of a baby’s birth with an address and no return label. The jars broke easily after the owner had passed, and not a minute before.
Somewhere along the way, it seemed only natural to attempt to break the cycle for good. Top scientists and engineers were put on the project. Eccentric millionaires offered hefty rewards to those who came up with solutions to the jars. Some wanted immortality. Others wanted peace.
In the end, the solution was so simple, so elegant, no one could believe they hadn’t thought of it themselves. A meek postal woman spoke up the day after her son’s jar opened.
“What if we just didn’t deliver them?”
The jars still arrived at the post office, of course, so each building was boarded up and turned into landfills. Citizens found other methods for communicating with each other. People still died, but at least they had the peace of not knowing and, sooner or later, forgetting.