I don’t know what I was thinking really. I had been drinking with friends and got home drunk. I decided to open Tor and one link led to another. I ended up on a marketplace website that was selling all sorts of shady shit. I could buy my own weight in Cocaine if I saw fit, and had the money. Though something caught my interest. A posting said, “Mystery Box – Made to Order – $250”.
I read the description, which listed what it could contain. A brand new iPad – that was it, that was the thing that made me send $250 worth of bitcoin to some random guy in some random place on the Internet. I had vague memories of sloppily messaging the seller that I really wanted the iPad. Oh God, I remember sending them an extra $50 to sweeten the deal. What a dickhead.
When I woke, my head hurt. I had a full blown migraine. It wasn’t until I’d had breakfast, showered and opened up my laptop that I remembered. My heart sunk. I didn’t have money to waste on shit like that, but I did. I clicked the button to message the seller to tell them I changed my mind, but nothing happened. I refreshed the page and as you can guess the listing wasn’t found.
Now, I didn’t think myself to be an idiot. I wouldn’t fall for 411 scams, I know no Nigerian prince wants to send me money. But drunk me… he’s a bit of an asshole. I checked my bitcoin account to see it tell me that I was out of untraceable money. I swear I had at least $750 worth in there (if you take the exchange rate of the day – with the way it fluctuates it may have been only worth $300).
I was depressed for the rest of the day, I promised myself I wouldn’t do anything like that again. But then drunk me is a real… you-know.
Weeks passed and I completely forgot about it. To be honest, I didn’t want to remember how stupid I was. Today though I did remember. I walked downstairs to see a large brown box on the kitchen table – addressed to me.
My dad must have received it from the mailman when he was getting ready for work. I stared at it, shocked to see it had actually arrived. I picked it up, the weight was lopsided, but it was heavy. That was a good sign. At least it wasn’t filled with packing chips.
I pulled off the tape and opened it up to reveal a lot of packing chips. I chuckled to myself before plunging my hand in.
I pulled out an anonymous red sweater. I held it to my face, it smelled of perfume – it was used. I was slightly disgusted, but what did I expect from the dark web. I placed it on the table next to me. The next item was a set of keys. I examined them and wondered why on earth that was part of this parcel. It was literally like the guy just shoved some random things into a box and sent it off. I was beginning to feel ripped off.
I placed my hand in again and pulled out a small bag with a note attached. I knew what it was before I read it. I was excited.
A little thing to make the time pass more calmly – written in Sharpie. It was a good amount of weed. I’d never bought drugs off the Internet. I opened the bag to see if it was the real deal and that strong skunky smell rose up. I took a deep breath and sighed. I’d say it was $70 worth give or take. I pushed it into my back pocket, worried that my mom could be up in any minute and catch me with it.
I was intrigued to see what was remaining, maybe I’d make my money back yet.
The next item was a small wooden box. I opened it to see a few pieces of silver jewellery. I checked each one having no idea if it was worth anything. There were two necklaces and two rings. I wondered if these were stolen or bought from a pawn shop. I placed it next to the red top.
The next was another baggie, with another note written in Sharpie.
You’ll need these – trust me 😉 – I was a little anxious when I read the note and saw a small box of Xanax inside. What the fuck did I need anxiety medication for? I was not one to dabble in prescription drugs. Weed and a little mushrooms was all I needed. I knew some friends who’d pay good money for that. I had no idea how much they were worth, though. I’d look it up later. I assumed $50, so that was $130 so far. And to be fair, for something off the dark web, if I only lost around half my money, I should count myself lucky.
I fished around in the box again and couldn’t feel anything else. I picked it up to feel it was still heavy. I placed it down again and stood up. I reached all the way to the bottom and felt something large and slender. I pulled it out. It was a fucking iPad. Holy shit! Jackpot!
It was slightly scratched, but it wasn’t a 1st generation, it was light and thin, it was at least an Air. I was stoked. It was then my mother popped her head around the corner.
“Hey honey, did you get a package?”
“Yeah,” I said, suddenly aware I could smell the weed in my back pocket.
“Hey, you found my sweater!” she said delighted, “where was it?”
“Uhh,” was all I mustered.
She picked it up and unconsciously the keys too. She walked away. I sighed, worried she’d smelled the drugs.
“What’s that?” she said turning.
“I’m holding it for a friend,” I said without thinking.
“What?” she said, not paying attention, “What’s my jewellery box doing down here?”
I stared at my mom slack-jawed.
She picked it up and opened it, studying if anything was missing.
“Well, answer me!” she demanded.
“It was in the package,” I said honestly.
“Don’t bullshit me. Were you going to sell this?”
“No! I promise!”
“Just wait until your Dad gets home! Jesus, Darren.”
“I swear this is not your stuff. It was in my package I bought off the net.”
“You expect me to believe you bought my exact top and my jewellery box off the Internet? Why in God’s blazes would you do that?”
“It was a mystery box! It could have contained anything.”
“You come up with some shit sometimes. I think its best if you go to your room.”
“I’m seventeen,” I said.
“When you’re under our roof, it’s our rules.”
I picked up the iPad and went upstairs.
I laid on my bed and turned the device on. I was surprised to see it still had power. A few non-standard apps appeared on the desktop as I swiped to unlock. Nothing of interest though. I checked the email program to see that it was blank. I was worried it was stolen and knew I couldn’t keep it if there were any personal data on there.
I checked the Photos app – there were around a dozen photos. I tapped the first, it was a low light shot of a street, could have been any. I swiped and the next was of the front of a house. The light was on in the front room, but in the low light, it overexposed the shot and made it hard to see any detail.
The next was of the side of a house. The horizontal white wood siding looked similar to ours. The next was of what appeared to be a rear door.
Then one of a kitchen. I did a double take – the place looked identical to ours.
Then one of the living room. The TV bright and hiding the faces of the people who sat on the couch and chair.
Then one of the stairs. The brown waxed wood of the floor was uncanny and my heart thumped in my chest.
Then one of the landing. This was no coincidence, it was our house. The family portrait that hung on the far-side wall, even in the low light, was obviously ours.
I panicked and didn’t want to swipe again, though I did.
My parents bedroom. My mother asleep on the bed, the bed covers pulled taut.
The next few, the covers being pulled back gently. My mother pulled her legs up from the sudden cool air.
The cupboard open, a black gloved hand reaching out and searching.
The hand holding a red sweater.
A dark photo with lines of light obscuring the view.
Another dark photo this time the exposure was better and I see it’s from inside the cupboard. My dad was in the room.
The next my dad getting into bed next to my mother.
Then one of the bed, my parents sleeping.
I swiped again and saw the covers pulled back. Whoever it was doing this wanted to be caught, I was sure of it.
After that, in the hallway again, the black gloved hand holding the jewellery box outstretched.
Only one photo remained and it was above a bed with someone sleeping below. It was me. My blood ran ice cold. I threw the iPad to the floor, hearing it crack against the side of my desk. No no no! – I said to myself.
I leaped up and saw the screen stare back at me with a rainbow mosaic of broken LCD and glass. What was I going to tell my parents? They’d never believe me.
I pulled the bag of pills out of my back pocket and read the note again.
You’ll need these – trust me 😉
I turned it over to read a date. It must have been when the package was sent. I read it again and realised that’s tomorrow. Fuck.