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Refuge

by Ben Cardy about a year ago in fiction
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Ice

Blistering snow hurls around me, tarring over my pupils with a thick and constant caustic white paint. From the little vision I have left, my eyes focus solely on my deep brown boots that penetrate the snow repeatedly, each step polluting a shard of my memory in its wake. Behind me should lay thousands of soil diseased footprints laying as corpses in the beautiful, vile baron desert. But no, the scars of the mountain ripped by my very steps had been buried long ago, the monstrous blizzard hysterically hiding any hopes of finding salvation back down this inescapable path. Like a disease of the brain, the sinister snow claws and gouges at my mind relentlessly, ripping any sense of sanity that I may claim to have once possessed. We both know one day he will slash its way in and take refuge in my puny, weak human mind, a fate worse than death.

I fear it is set in stone now, this summit is my very own catacomb, it calls to me now in a very literal sense. Bullet like wind sings such sweet songs of death straight into my ears, it beckons me like a witch callously summoning her next victim in the dead of night, knowing they will fall into its trap and I for one willingly stagger into this tomb. It is the only thing I can do now, all hope of choices were drained from me days ago, bled from me like that of a mangled pig hanging upside down with its guts ripped out untimely in a bloody slaughterhouse. So I stumble on, as this mighty power permits me to, the further I walk the more humanity is stolen from me, with each step the man I once was slithers further into the darkest pits my brain can fathom, leaving an empty carcass of a man ready to be possessed by the dark mistress of fate.

Memories of my past, flicker wildly yet depressingly as a torch in a damp cave, waiting to be diminished and extinguished forever, whilst the peak lets me I clutch on to these thoughts as my Excalibur facing an onslaught of winged, scaly monsters of the night. I see a man who I scarcely recognise as myself, the man I long to be again, I am standing proudly 6 foot 1 with my black greasy hair swaying gently as a candle in the wind. A child! I have a child, this is their day of birth, what was there name, oh God why can’t I remember their name. Is this a twisted joke being played on me, the jester of this mountain, whatever entity is pulling me further up this hellscape must be laughing with its rotten mouth smirking at my torture. I see my wife, no particular features appear, I know she is my wife but only an outline comes to me, a blank canvas of the women I once so dearly loved is standing and holding my baby. I should have treated her kinder, I should have rekindled our dwindling relationship rather then dousing it entirely in the arms of another women, with the burning knowledge of my wrong doings kept blissfully away from my beautiful wife. Perhaps I deserve what has come to me, this baron wasteland of dull placid shades is my very own purgatory, if only I could believe that. Instead I am cursed with knowing that this sadistic place plagues the very planet that my family live upon and I will die up here with them none the wiser.

Seduced from me are these pleasant memories and replaced with the harrowing calls of the breeze. “Higher, higher, cower in refuge, we are waiting”. Haunting me recurringly are these sharp whispers, with a sound incomparable to any that a human could make, yet as best I can describe is the sound of stridor, in a marked patient awaiting to be swiftly carried into the warm grasps of death. Each step brings louder, almost excited echoes of the avalanche of cries, evidently I am being dragged closer to this cavern that they so long for me to take refuge in. Even dying has been fractured and isolated from my will, I must keep walking, I must keep walking, I must find them.

Plunging a knife of dread into my heart, I see it. A frostbitten cave, ominously waiting for me to enter its jaws of solitude. It stands powerfully, a deeper black than fresh oozing ink rests idly inside. The extremities of the cave, a dark magenta, similar to the colour of my rotting, broken toes, without the icy white metatarsal that pierces them. The screams of the storm almost deafening now, flood my mind with glee, yet not my own joy, no, that of the will of the entity, a much more masochistic idea than any that I could bare. Its sadistic moans gnaw at me until I take the plunge, entering the ocean of fear that lay before me, I pray one final time, that God may have mercy on my soul.

Immediately I am choked by dreadful paranoia, it cruelly fills my lungs with each sharp inhalation of the eerily warm smoke. I have never been one to scare easily, but this foul cavern juxtaposes my once childish ideas of safety, no one is safe with this horror planted firmly on the planet. I am convinced it watches me, mocking me as I endeavour to crawl further and further into its blackened heart. The darkness is blinding, it houses only shadows, I care not to indulge in my brains twisted fantasies that it concocts about what else may reside here waiting for my back to be turned to them. Instead I battle on, dragging myself further as the voices demand, until I finally hit the end of the cave, cracking my skulls against the slimy cobblestone before me, my sight pulsates and the jet black cloak of night washes over me suddenly, they allow me to sleep now, I really can not remember the last time I rested, I was a different man then and depressingly I know I will awake a different man once more, a further detached and merciless man, but still a man.

As I sleep, my mind is kidnapped and slung to a forgotten recess of my consciousness, I am curled up in the midst of a claustrophobic and intimidating bedroom I recognise it as my childhood bedroom, a room scorched with rage and abuse, the room I dread most of all and the sadistic denizens of my soul know this. Ominously leeching from my youthful tears is a behemoth that does not belong. No features present themselves, just a shadow of a scaly monstrosity that watches intimidatingly like a shark biding its time until it can exact a fatal strike. Impossibly complex ideologies of insignificance and hopelessness ricochet wildly through me, my conscience is bedlam and soldiers of insanity course through my veins cremating my cells as they flee. Still it watches, I feel a harrowing connection with the beast, whether he be a metaphor for my drunkard father or a premonition of what is to come in the future, I do not know, I fear both equally. Bellows of murderous intent suddenly thunder towards me, his eyes ignite and burn right through my soul scolding me furiously, its jaws rip open vertically going both left and right and revealing two hissing tongues that dart towards me, as inevitable death approaches I freeze up with fear and await fate.

Fine rays of light beam sparingly through the ever-crushing teeth of the entrance, graciously waking me from a black hole of unconsciousness and refracting on to the crumbling colossal wall of twilight. It seems somehow a virgin of the sun, never daring to have been touched by the kind warmth of day, instead acting as an agent of murky dusk, spreading anxiety and hate to the unfortunate victims forced to gaze upon it. Crimson! A dark red hue appears in the crevice of my eye, images bleed into my mind, much like the cave drawings discovered by archaeologists just to be buried in a sea of boring words within a failing log of work. Sprawled across the bowels of the wall I see poorly drawn scribbles depicting what seems like a man eating a rotten, maggot infested leg of lamb and then an ugly crudely illustrated specimen standing before a corpse, inferring murder and brutality I presume. It seems nothing more than a manipulative act of deception to me, slashed into my surrounding whilst I lay soundly, the whispers and the cave perhaps forming a coalition to destroy and control me, I bestow my trust upon nothing, least of which my fracturing tormented perceptions of ever shattering reality.

The cursed and forbidden timeless knowledge fills me with a morbid, grey and ever swelling unease about my destiny, in some intrinsic way I sense that these illustrations were always meant for me, ageing and maturing in perfect conditions, locked away from the outside mortal world so that my prophesised pupils would seldom singe themselves upon them. From what I understand some great almighty beast resides in my vicinity, sniffing me out from the dull home that I find myself in, or potentially biding his time until a ignorant fool like myself wanders in and regretfully disenthralls it from whatever chains are locking him to this arctic prison. An icy chill sets the hairs on the back of my neck aflame with this thought, every step I am forced to take could be drawing me closer to a monstrosity just begging to snuff out my life and ferociously draw my final breath from my chilblain smothered lips. Could it be watching me at this very moment? Ever since I found myself in this arcane hellish landscape I have been burdened with infectious scopophobia, resulting in every waking moment being strangled with dread of alien eyes staring at me with a piercing gaze of red devilish intent. Not to mention, that grotesque beast that monitors my thoughts every time my eyes shut for a fleeting second. I speak of these events as if contemplating them will have any influence on my dire situation, which of course it will not, I am a puppet in the hands of whatever false God toys insatiably with me, I live for as long as I am required to and I shall cease to exist upon the exact moment that the world bores of my incessant torture. My mind writhes and wraps around knowledge of impending doom like an anaconda playing with its prey, all the while killing my hopes, my memories and my optimism, I am terrified beyond belief.

The tight cord of fate pulls tightly upon my bloody heart and the voices of torment start up again, this time, however, screaming, screeching and howling directly into my nervous system. “Down, down, crawl to your sickening salvation BOY!”. Hopelessly my knees give way crushing down on the sharp boulders below and before me sits a miniscule tunnel, roughly the size of a soil stained potato sack, once upon a time this would be an impossible fit, although with the time I have spent here famished and starved my body has shrunk into an adolescent state. “How Fucking Long have I Been Here”? Scraping my loose, bruised skin with every weak heave, I pull further into this abyss of hatred and isolation. My flesh grates relentlessly against the stone daggers and my once pale skin hath giving way to red, raw muscles and meat now exposed to the harsh elements that plays sardonic jokes upon me. Crackle! Halfway through the claustrophobic and tightening rat hole now, behind me emerges noises of scurrying and crumbling walls, it speeds up, faster and faster the sounds chase me, something vile chases me, with the dwindling energy hiding in me I push with all of my final efforts, fuelled by adrenaline keeping me from the pits of Hades’ underworld. The creature that ferociously crawls after me, almost certainly snagging at my swollen feet, salivating at the taste of my immense fear, forever gaining on me and getting ready to banish me from the world of the living. I hurry anxiously to the ominous flickering glow of candlelight at the end of this depressing wormhole, praying that the savage mutant after my scent reduces its speed miraculously, I fight against the tears, sweat and blood that insists on smothering my sight, finally nearing the end, with a monstrosity close behind.

Hurtling myself out of the tunnel, I turn frantically only to be confronted with an empty chasm of lonely brimstone. “What is happening to me, where is it, what is it, where on God’s pitiful Earth am I?” Corruption and insanity may have finally consumed my soul by now, but this is not the time to think about it, I stress that once again its not my choice, I can only do as commanded, so I feel drawn to continue. Surrounding me is slimy, puss like fluids gradually drawing from the clutches of dark grey slabs. Continuously dripping is a dense, pungent thick orange sludge reflecting the oceanic cyan light of a mounted thatch and wood torch that furiously burns on, waging war with the army of predatory shadows that slither around my bare legs. Shockingly no comforting warmth emanates from the raging blue flame, instead a dense pressure pushes sturdily against me as if trying to possess the next living thing it can before the fire is snatched from whatever realm I currently seek refuge in.

A vomit inducing sight attacks my vision as I turn to look in the corner of the room. Motionless, an unidentifiable body lays sprawled across the cold grounds, radiating off it an offensive, horrific aura clouds the room, painting a picture of warning and despair across the air, pleading that I stay back yet enticing me to take one step closer simultaneously, respirating this rotten oxygen causes rage to consume me and blind me towards any rational thinking. I fear I am becoming Icarus getting too close to a titanic, immense ball of flaming hell, yet still I move on stupidly and passively. Even looking at the monstrosity in front of me feels somehow offensive and wrong, my eyes tarnished as criminals, eating upon the forbidden fruit of unspeakable knowledge in Eden. Its very existence combats any hopes that a God can exist, in no planet blessed by Omni potency would this abomination be allowed to live or even die upon the same land as a human being. Unless of course, Earth truly is hell, a disguised slow punishment for those unworthy of ascendance during a rapture years ago.

It feels illegal to pen the appearance of this creature, but I feel it important to warn any unfortunate readers to stay far, far away from the mountains and never to enter a morbid looking cave planted firmly in the centre. A thick scaly yellow body guards any vital organs, the scales appear to have secreted a thick slime, with only a crusty residue remaining, four strong muscular legs pierce from the creature with wide black feet revealing monstrous serrated blade like tips, perfect for slitting a throat or cutting down a decrepit corpse. The spine has long sharp spikes protruding rancid in regular intervals as if to hold deceases bodies for transport to its den so that it can ravish and rip apart meat from bones. A spiked round head sits aggressively on top of the repulsive lean body, brown eagle like eyes cave into the head used to watch prey from miles away, unaffected by bastard blizzards, below a curved pointy nose rests, curving down to the slaved ground that the monster stands upon. No mouth, nor ears cling to the face however, no, this leads me to perhaps the most horrifying detail of all. Flat on the torso is a hideous second face, where the wide-open jawed mouth sits in waiting, like a venous fly trap just waiting to be fed. I am no raconteur and whilst all memories of my past life are evanescent, this fucking face plagues even my most mundane of thoughts.

My time of shock and terror was cut violently short when a powerful sound of chaos struck upon the tunnels cunning façade of comfort, an avalanche! Tonnes of hateful rock and ice raced down the steep descent until finally crushing into the flat level parallel from me, assaulting the beams of light until they inevitably died out and leaping upon the only viable entrance like a dark cabal of vampires feasting from an empty vessel for life. Either a victim of the snatched oxygen or the cunning reverberation of stone, the only light with me was murdered and carried away to the glaring oblivion of darkness. I so wish to say that I was astute and stubborn enough to save myself from the destitute situation that I found myself, to use my own strong will to pull myself out of this chasm of dread and sorrow and live a long happy life with my wonderful wife and children, this simply was not the case. No, a long series of cataclysmic, awful events are soon to come into fruition, however, excruciatingly I must admit that I will set steely eyes upon my soul mate again, one ultimate time.

Frozen between the disconcertingly anorexic veils of life and death, I slump rigidly against the putrid wall as if already a maggot infested carcass, now feeling the accumulated horror of starvation, polydipsia, insomnia and cruel heartless isolation, no mortal torture could ever compare to this, this pain was concocted by Lady Earth herself and spat upon me personally. Time, just a medieval concept to me now, I have no estimations that could accurately sum how long I have been here now, it feels like centuries, but it can’t be, can it? Taunting me every second is the unforgiving knowledge that somewhere in the darkness lies a cure for my hunger, a mangled, revolting body of a beast lays dormant ready to taint my very existence with a single bite, I have resisted for so long but time bullies me constantly, tearing my morals apart one by one until I lay naked weeping, battered, bruised and changed. Even the voices have given up now, I sense they know that I will soon give in by my own choice and that is somehow more of a humiliation to me for them to remind me of repeatedly. Clawing and dragging my pathetic body from wall to wall feels like crawling from north to south pole, consuming all will and effort from me, my tight ribs sanding themselves down with each cursed heave, leaving but stumps of bone ominously showing from my grossly discoloured and ripped skin, I rejoice and vomit when I regrettably smack against a moist soggy body and clumps of bloated flesh below me. Mocking me, my own senses have unfortunately grown stronger due to the lack of vision, meaning bile inducing odours ambush my nose with smells of unexplainable torment, imagination can only touch the surface of horror, when hiding below the surface is a whole iceberg of retching stomach turning potency. Fighting alongside the smells is the sound of the writhing squelches of corpse lapping over and peeling onto hungry stones underneath. This is to be my final meal, a gory and gruesome sequence of depressing chews and crunches yet a meal, nevertheless.

Starting with the slender arm that is melting into a frozen plate of stone I begin my feast as a depressed hyena sucking at the scraps of meat I have been given, tender muscle leaks into my warm throat like slow cooked pork yet tasting unearthly and leaving an offensive ghastly taste of death on my crying tongue. Almost immediately my breathing seizes, I grow incandescent with fury, fiery burning rage erupts from my heart, aggressively torching my veins and coursing its way through me like burning hot magma. Blasting from my frozen eyes scorching my humanity and ethics in one spectacular blaze rendering me powerless, frothing from my mouth is lava like venomous saliva, it wildly spews across the room as I spasm in devilish seizures, cracking my cranium everywhere against the hard floor.

Scarlett leaks through my capillaries and my pupils only allow the world around me to be seen in red. An overwhelmingly high pitch ringing resonates from ear to ear ripping at them like a predator, tinnitus would be a blessing compared to this agony bestowed upon me from Beelzebub himself, if not for the writhing and seething occurring I would happily yank the deathly organs from my head without a second thought. All at once by bones twist and contort into malformed shapes of ghoulish proportions, doubling in size, this mass transformation means my muscles are restricted, squashed and policed by the growing containers of marrow. I feel nerves fire off ridiculous quantities of pain pinging across my body, my skeleton stabbing through all of my muscles and slashing open my tissue like pikes covered by barbed wire all simultaneously. Chambers burst open as my heart implodes and sharply shrivels into half the size that it previously was both physically and as a metaphor for potential of love and kindness. Shrinking of any heart is an unendurable agony too much to bear but the voices cling onto me forbidding me from slipping into the velvety pleasure of warm welcoming death. The reduction of my heart feels like a thousand heart attacks squished into one foul terror, it causes my barbaric blood pressure to sky rocket, shooting against my arteries like tiny red darts of poison that scrape against my veins on its way to continue the everlasting cyclical sequence of torture. Scars and scales scratch onto the surface of my quivering raw body each one of them splitting me into shards of a human it is most comparable to the feeling of dry ice and salt being stuck to every inch of me. I scream, but not for long as worm like strands of my own skin turned against me smother my lips and pull tightly weaving a blanket of pale mucus like yellow to suffocate me in sickening sudden silence. My hands nails discolour and harden into legendary claws like those of a werewolf bathed by the blinding light of a full moon whereas my feet solidify into a serrated tip like that of a chainsaws blades, sharper than any weapon that could be forged by a mere homo-sapien. Under the influence of another being my muscular arms reach up threateningly and rip the hair from my head revealing a pus oozing slimy head of snake like scales, they crack apart revealing long sharp spikes of inky blackness, these same spikes infect and invade my crooked convulsing vertebrae and eject out of the flesh to feel the chilled breeze for themselves.

Carving its way slowly into my bereaved body, appears a smug looking grin infested with rows upon rows of sharp nail like rotting teeth. It speaks draconian serious whispers of cruelty and forceful commands upon me, no, to something within me. Rapidly arms swing up, slitting my ears from my bald head replacing the once ringing pain with a more severe throbbing burn of pale blood gushing from the holes that remain. At last I know what the narrators of my pain have been planning, they speak through my chest with that disgusting blasphemous smile that dribbles an oozing festering river of puss down me like a sticky maple syrup running freely from the bottle. I feel it now, much too late, an invading spirit, the soul of the mysterious and deadly beast that laid vulnerably beneath me is conquering my body and taking my thoughts and autonomy with it, it craves blood and its lusts for the darkest craving imaginable, drawn out death.

Our thoughts become intertwined to the point where I can no longer distinguish its dastardly desires from my own innocent ones, we are one in the same now and I am too burdened by intelligence to blissfully ignore the fact that it wants more than to share me, it wants to be fully in control, luckily for him I no longer have the strength to even fight it, I just prey it will finally end me. My miserable so called existence has dragged on far too long now, perhaps it should have ended long before this mountain of doom, I had certainly considered it and now must face the consequences of my foolish decision not to hang myself years ago, I must continue to live under that dark millennia year old cloud of ruthless depression. Alas now it is no longer constant boredom, burning self-doubt and loneliness that plagues me, it has become much more sinister and fatal than that, now I suffer anomie from my very own mind, I am a slave to the monsters will and my body dances for him at its beck and call like a fucking court jester. Emotions are the first to disperse from his brain followed closely by my ability to control my own bloody body, it refuses to kill me, instead I now suffer from pseudo coma or locked in syndrome, I must watch every action this beast decides to take. I feel pushed into the back of my mind, watching through my eyes like an awful eternal cinema, I play confident to its thoughts and desires, hearing an ancient long forgotten language of what can only be described as satanic, every single second of my miserable continuing ‘life’.

One last spark of hope burns amongst the rubble of my fate, not hope for me, I am long gone now, there will be no miraculous saving of my soul, no divine intervention, I am the abominable demon that is imprisoned in this cave, make no mistake about that. Hope for the outside world that lives on with childlike innocence and naivety, hope that the guard of snow that inhibits us from leaving stands strong and snuffs us both of basic essentials for living, much in the same way that the unequivocally disgraceful being that took refuge here before myself died. In fact, was that creature once human? Am I part of an infinite chain of unwitting hosts that stumble into that stinking cave just begging to be possessed and held captive in ones own body or maybe I alone am unfortunate enough to be plagued with this nightmare, I will never no and I take solitude in that fact.

I watch this once body of mine, I say once as everything has been malformed and changed with agonising certainty, the box that carries me is Theseus’ ship, every aspect being different yet still claiming to have once housed me in its walls. It darts around the depraved and monotonous cave impatiently pounding against every wall until it finally breaks free from the restraints graced upon us. I intercept its thoughts, he knows we wont get out like this, we are just biding our time here, knowing full well that eventually some poor unsuspecting moron will let us out and that the first thing my arms will conspire and be manipulated to commit is pulling their warm delicious heart from their chest and swallowing it into mine. In its native tongue it laughs at my failure and inability to take control of myself mocking me reminding me that I am powerless to stop him, to stop us. Terrifyingly I feel as his thoughts change from patience to wrath, it senses something that I do possess the ability to notice, something abysmal, something coming to rescue us! They must fail they need to if the planet is to remain blissfully unaware and protected from this thin veil to hell of a cave, we must be cloaked, left to rot and die alone, forgotten about, the land that we live upon must be inflicted with dementia or amnesia and we must be definitely erased from the history books, nay, cremated and abolished, not a single cell of this vicious behemoth can remain to irreplaceably infect the snow, if we even exist as a stain on this pavement of icy marble then I fear the Earth to be well and truly doomed, a dead man walking.

Abruptly my greatest fears all charge into fruition like a squadron of despair, I finally realise much too late why this cretin now emits an overwhelming aura of brash and bold smugness, a gentle but ever growing vibration tracks and hunts us down, it is the damned noise of drilling, human tools doltishly and imprudently sawing through formations of sweet blockages that separate us from them. Hairs on their necks are surely levitating forcefully away, grasping at their spine to drag them into the safety of the known, why wont they just listen to natures simple, stern requests, they will know much too late what I can do to them. I will make them beg for death, I will grow aroused to their beautiful delicious cry’s of anguish and mourn, I will obliterate them with ease firing their lost souls straight to the pits of impenetrable heat not so far beneath us, we will, we will. I am only a passenger of this unquenchably blood thirsty vehicle its not at my request to lap up petrified blood or is it, is this what I have become or is this what has always been within me, within all of us, patiently ready to erupt from the sense of self that we project to the public eye with all the passion and anger of Vesuvius herself? Closer, closer draws the bellows of false distorted salvation, so famished I have become, hunger smites itself upon me in my abyss of perpetually aggravated viewing, even from inside this shadow of perception I grow more parched to the sweet taste of metallic haemoglobin, with every step these halfwits take more and more excitement builds intolerably to abduct the succulent, supple shell that supposedly protects them.

Round upon round of divine light shoots upon us, it had been inconceivably long since he had danced with the daylight and the sickening warmth of freedom. An utterly twisted devastating turn of the cruel hand of fate becomes all too apparent to me as an unwelcome sensation of nostalgia burns like phosphorous through us. A once delightful loving voice now rampages and riots through me like sharp static white noise, the voice of Mary, my wife…

I watch perceptively as we burst through the now weak prison of ice, launching like a phoenix from the ashes, towering down upon my wife and a timid quivering ensemble of mountain rescuers we give pause to permit their adrenaline and fear to garnish their meat. Frantically we crawl unnaturally with our spine standing proudly towards the condescending sun, scurrying towards the three heroes that saved us, immediately the first aryan looking man is disembowelled and slung like litter upon our eager spikes, the next man is slowly crushed beneath my foot, his eyes pop like explosives from his skull, swinging slowly in the wind, he whimpers and lets out a final death gargle as he is dragged from the safe floor towards me. The final puny weakling of a man is devoured solely by the face within my torso, what a sight to behold as his piss soaked body wriggles and squirms like a spider crushed by a book as he is slowly consumed by us, his meat is so tender and delicious that I almost forgot about that woman behind us. She obviously recognises my soul within this creature, that much is obvious, she makes no ridiculous attempt to run or to fight instead she stands shaking and staring painfully into me, all the way into the booth that I watch from within. Perhaps she was attempting to save my soul and appeal to my better nature, I felt nothing as I slit her throat. Nothing but warm oxygenated blood running onto my scales and a hunger beyond any other desire. She slowly crumbles into a sea of red as she is hysterically lifted into my jaw, but my God does she taste good, whoever she was.

Satisfied I heave the remaining marinating bodies back into the refuge that I may now call my home, safe and secure from any interception of heavenly or Earthly demands, lying untouched in the no man’s land between disgraced plains of existence. As the familiar darkness soaks the blessed virgin grassland below and drags itself kicking and screaming up the mountain I decide it is time to begin the hunt and go in search of new, young and fresh humans further away than I have stalked before, a final inviting thought dawns on us …

Maybe it’s time to leave the mountain.

fiction

About the author

Ben Cardy

19 year old writer, I focus mainly on short horror literature, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, HP Lovecraft and others.

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