"Classifieds" | mariteaux

"I just don't get it. He puts a thing in the classifieds for a computer he's getting rid of, and he lives in the woods. The woods!"

Kevin shifted his weight. "Maybe he had it in storage."

"And not just like—the corner of the woods, or the edge of town. The middle of nowhere. We could die out here and no one would notice."

"Seb, town hall's right there."

"Ugh. I hope he gets out here soon, my feet are wet."

We stood at the top of the hill, in the frigid autumn air, staring down at a camper coated up to the tire cutouts in dried mud. The curtains inside were all drawn, and the mirrors and bumpers were held on by ash grey duct tape and positive thinking. It looked like a meth lab on wheels more than anything else, in truth.

And this guy had my new computer.

The van started to rock a little, and one of the doors flew open. Nothing followed. I held my breath for a moment, waiting for something to pop out at us. I could feel Kevin's curiosity grow, and maybe his inhibition.

A lone tennis ball rolled out and fell to the ground with a small rustle. I glared.

"What is this, performance art?"

"I-I'm just checking!"

"...Checking for what?"

A rattled little bunny, fur coated in motor oil and dirt and God knows what else, stumbled down out of the van. He twitched restlessly, like he'd never even heard of sleep. And this guy? Had my new computer. Apparently.

My first glances inside the camper only made me more suspicious. The carpets were matted with dirt and crumbs, and old, ratty blankets were tossed about the bed. Torn movie posters and old maps of the coast dotted with colored pins were plastered to the walls, and every last bit of random junk you could think of was in those cabinets. Tools for cars, a grumbling weather radio, an empty terrarium filled with spores, film cannisters, and various tins of rations and other surplus junk. Nothing I'd ever eat...or touch, for that matter.

I stood a little closer to Kevin as the bunny shambled towards us. "Are you here for the computer?" he whispered.

"No, I'm here to be violently ill."

"Seb..."

"Oh, the cave aliens—they get violent, man. You don't want that."

Kevin tilted his head. "Cave aliens?"

The bunny caught a glimpse at Kevin's legs and latched onto his waist with one of his grubby hands. "You're in danger, man. You got pants on, armadillo man, but they're gonna want your shins."

"What are you on about?" I asked, squinting.

"I've been hunted by cave aliens for seven months and 14 days now. Can't trust them." He grabbed the open camper door. "Here, in the van—"

I hissed. "I am not going in there!"

He recoiled, covering his muzzle like he was in fear for his life. "Okay...okay...okay..."

"...Can we see the computer now? Please?" My patience waned; I couldn't tell if a half-competent meth dealer would've been preferable at that moment.

He climbed back up into the van and started pulling what I thought was the computer tower towards the door...until he seized up in panic and produced a blue spray bottle from the counter, spraying it at us.

"What the fuck are you doing?" I shouted, jumping back and gagging at the strong smell of vinegar clouding around us.

"It dries out their skin!"

"But I'm not a cave alien!"

By now, I wasn't sure I even wanted the computer, but he dragged it out the rest of the way after that, so I was obligated to peek inside. It looked to be a basic beige box, but it was covered in what I can only describe as inky black scuff marks that were sticky to the touch. I was gonna need to bathe this thing in boiling water before it even went in the house, that's for sure.

With hesitation, I grabbed my disposable gloves from my pocket and pulled the side off. Things weren't much better inside: everything was coated in a thick layer of dust, and if I didn't cough at the strong scent of vinegar emanating from the camper, this would've done the trick.

"So what were you—doing with this then?"

The bunny's gaze darted around as if he was being interrogated. "Well, I used to use it to watch storm systems—but there's no internet out here."

As I poked around inside, something grabbed my attention, something in one of the expansion slots. It was a black card littered with chips. With a bit of force, I yanked it free and brushed off the detritus. My eyes widened.

"...This is a Voodoo. Holy crap, you have a Voodoo in here?"

The bunny looked unsure. "Um, no, I have Windows."

"I've been needing another Voodoo for an SLI rig I was planning!" Why he had a dedicated 3D accelerator card in a computer meant to watch doppler radar, I don't know, but seeing it just about made my day. Suddenly, this ugly, disgusting, debatably-working machine was much more valuable to me. I had to have it. "How much?"

"Um...$600?"

I stuffed the card back in and tried not to breathe. "$600? Deal. Fuckin' deal. Kevin, can you um—carry this home? I need a mask...and a vacuum..."