The engine sound annoyed me, I wasn't used to gas vehicles; but it was soothing and something to anchor myself to time and reality.
I was nervous, this was my first time, my sister's third. I tried to calm myself down, "There's nothing to worry about," I thought, "The area is secure, the buyers are secure. People have us backed up. I'm fine."
My sister was in charge of the package. A satchel bag that looked empty, but kept its shape of a thin, rectangular box. "Are you guys ready?" My aunt asked me and my sister. "I'm still a bit nervous" I said. "Relax," She comforted me, "John's gonna be around the corner, I'm ready to shoot anything that moves, your sister can hit moving targets fifty meters away, we were all wearing ballistic bulletproof vets. We've got this."
"Has one of these exchanges ever gone wrong?" I asked. "Once, the buyers tried to pay us with counterfeit, but that's why we always check." She smiled at me and waived a marker in the air. "What happened to them?" I asked. "We set the 'cash' on the ground and left. They can't buy from us anymore. Whatever, their loss."
The engine noise left my mind. The road made most of the noise now.
"Dark market stuff isn't as scary as it is in TV, its mostly boring. The fun part is after this where you have to be naked in front of four strangers!" She added. I looked at her with a face. The face wasn't anything specific, it was just... a face.
"Who are we selling to?" I asked.
"A gang, like usual."
I looked out the window. So many five story buildings, some six; all a light cream color, with square and orderly windows.
"We're one minute out, get ready." My uncle said.
I reached under my seat and grabbed the box under it. It was about the size of a lunchbox, but thinner, and about the same weight as one. I opened it. A pair of gloves, a counterfeit marker, and a .66 handgun with a clip and silencer. "You're giving me a *gun*?" I asked. "Yeah, but be careful with it," My aunt warned, "and make sure to put the gloves on before touching anything."
I put on the gloves, perfectly my size, and comfortable too. I picked up the hand gun and inspected it, heavy, solid, and chilling. I suddenly realized what was happening; I felt more nervous than before, more existential, more terrified. Everyone else laughed a bit. "Relax, it's not loaded. You think we would trust you to not accidentally shoot us this soon? No way. You're just the counter. You know what do do right?"
"Yeah." I said. "It's supposed to be mine." My aunt said, "Please give it to me before you shoot something." I gave the gun to my aunt's reaching hand. She changed out the clip, and got other things in order.
We slowed down and stopped. "We're here," My uncle said, "dial them."
My aunt pulled out a phone, an old Samsung running a custom, locked down OS. The cameras had been painted over. She clicked a few things on the screen, warned us not to say anything, and waited for the other person to pick up. After about ten seconds of ringing, my aunt greeted the person on the other end, "Yooooooo..! whaddup chrissay?"
"Please don't do that. we're not friends." The voice said. It was filtered to remove any voice print. "Do you have the merchandise?" The man asked.
"Hold up, are you using a proxy?"
She looked down at the phone, "NordVPN, in.. Charlote. Good choice."
"Wait, how dow did you-"
"And do you have the $1,000,000, in hundreds, in two separate bags?"
"I will start by getting out of the car with one of my associates." My aunt and sister got out of the car, and left the door open. "Please put the first half in the center of our two positions." Two people got out of the other car, one average height, the other larger-built and a few inches taller. The taller one walked a duffel bag to the center, set it down, and walked backwards back to his group's car. My aunt nodded at my sister, who went, slowly, scanned it for any electronics or bugs, and picked up the bag, and walked backwards to the drivers-side back door, put the duffel bag on the seat next to me, and turned back around. I opened it. It had more cash than I had seen. I immediately grabbed the first bundle. The process was simple, first flip through the cash to make sure they were all hundreds, than check for counterfeit by holding the bundle in a C shape and marking along the end with the counterfeit pen. All of the cash checked out.
I put all of the bundles in another bag, and weighed it with a baggage scale. It read 6.5 kilograms, 5 kilograms for the cash, and 1.5 for the bag. I went into another bag on the middle of the two back seats and took out a laptop. It was heavy, about 5 kilograms. The body was made of black aluminum. The reflections on the modern, polished, golden HP logo glared back at me through the bubble wrap. I handed it to my sister, who walked up to the front of the car.
"As agreed, the package, as discussed, is a laptop." My aunt spoke into the phone. "It runs a special version of TAILS which includes the programs you will need to read the file. Instructions of use are on the desktop. The OS and data is on a 16TB bulletproof SSD to keep the laptop working in case of damage. This is fully encrypted with the passphrase we have previously discussed. The data is encrypted with a passphrase I will text you once we have receive the second half of the payment. Both the SSD is bulletproof. In case of damage to the laptop, contact this same contact for a single complementary by-mail replacement. Subsequent replacements will cost $50,000, limit of two. The SSD will never be replaced, so don't loose it."
"I already know that, are you bragging?"
"Yeah, I Guess."
"You're bragging to no one... Bring the laptop now."
I couldn't tell what drug that man was on.
My aunt nodded at my sister, who set the laptop down in the center, and walked back. The taller man went and picked up the laptop, brag it back, and brought back another duffel bag. My sister picked it up, and brought it back to me to count. The cash was good, and its weight was too. I nodded at my sister, who grabbed both of the duffel bags the buyers used. and walked to the front of the car. "The cash is good, thank you for your purchase. She pressed a few things on the screen, You have received the decryption and will now receive your duffel bags back, we will leave as soon as the runner gets back to the car."
"I get my bags back too?" The voice said, "that's cool."
My sister put the duffell bags in the center, went back to the car, and got in; my aunt got in after and locked the doors. My uncle changed gear and drove away.
The next step, the cleaner, was only three minutes away. It was a long drive of angst and worry. Finally, my uncle drove up to a garage, which opened after a few seconds. My uncle drove inside, and the garage door closed behind us. Lights came on, there were about six or seven people waiting for our arrival.
I stepped out of the car, and was instantly grabbed at the hand by someone who rushed me to some room of the warehouse which had three other people waiting. Twenty seconds down, forty remaining I put my arms out, and immediately they started to undress me. All of it was placed in a trash bag to be incinerated. My vest was placed in a chemical mix to get rid of any DNA. thirty seconds down. The people continued to undress me. they took off my shirt, shoes, socks, then pants, then my underwear. Forty seconds. My clothes were sitting on a table, I ran over to them and put them on, Fifty seconds.
I ran back over to where the car was, which was replaced with a sleek, dark gray Tesla model X. I got in the passenger-side seat in the middle, at the same time as my aunt, uncle, and sister got in their seats. We quickly drove off. Sixty seconds.
A wave of relief rushed over me.