On entering the taxidermy laboratory in Melbourne Natural History Museum’s department of Preparation on the morning of January 18th, at approximately 9:25, Beatrice May Ross noticed six unusual things, all of which turned out to be of utmost significance. The things (in no particular order) were:
a. The clock on the wall was running three minutes fast, putting the time at 9:28.
b. On the third shelf from the right (four shelves down), a jar marked “Eyes, mammal, XL” was missing a lid.
c. Gus, the head taxidermist, was eating a wholemeal sandwich containing roast chicken, mayonnaise, alfalfa sprouts, plastic cheese, tomato and beetroot.
d. The beetroot was about to make a desperate bid for freedom and head for the relative safety of the front of Gus’s bottle green Natural History Museum hoodie.
e. Gus didn’t seem to be particularly concerned that Bee was running 25 minutes late (or 28 if you believed the clock on the wall).
f. Someone else was in the laboratory. A young man, probably a couple of years older than Bee. He had artfully messy dark brown hair, black plastic framed glasses and a glint in his eye that Bee found simultaneously alluring and deeply irritating.