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  • Writer's pictureRassy

A gleaming black Escalade whipped into the parking lot, still bouncing from taking the slight incline at high speed. The driver turned sharply into a parking spot, missing it by two feet.

He turned off the engine and hopped out of the car, laughing. Slowly, his passengers exited the vehicle.

"Chase!" a young lady complained, "you almost made me spill my latte!”

Another girl chuckled. "Yeah, and then your entire car would smell like pumpkin for a month!”

Chase glared at his girlfriend. "Jenna, don't you get that shit in my car! I just had it detailed.”

"Nice parking job, bro." A young man surveyed the back of the vehicle where it straddled the white line of the parking space.

"Yeah Chase, ya wanna straighten that up?”

Chase glanced at the car and shrugged. "That way, nobody will park next to me. Besides, it's not like anybody's here.”

Three couples stood in front of a small brick building off the main road.

Having finished her latte, Jenna tossed the cup into a nearby bush. "It doesn't look haunted to me," she whined. "I think Tonya's full of shit!”

"Kiss my ass!" Tonya laughed. "I'm telling you, there's all kinds of accounts of weird things going on at this place.”

"Like what?!" Jenna scoffed.

"Disappearances, weird noises, all kinds of things!" Tonya pulled out her phone and began to read. "It's said that it's run by two witches that never come out!”

The collective rolled their eyes.

"Don't look at me, Dave was the one who told me about it." Tonya confessed.

Dave shrugged with a smirk. "No one ever goes in, no one ever comes out. No one can ever seem to remember what it used to be, or who owned it. It's just... always been here.”

"I don't know about witches," Britney spoke up, "but I do know that all year it just sits here... dark. And then suddenly, on Halloween, it opens." She lowered her eyes. "Only on Halloween.”

Chase looked around at his friends. "So, what's it like inside?”

Blank faces met his.

"We don't know," Bryan said quietly. "Every year there's some kind of party here. But it's strictly invite only.”

Chase shook his head. "You guys are a bunch of pussies! Come on.” He grabbed Jenna's hand and headed toward the building.

"What are you doing?!" Britney said.

"I'm getting us in this place," he said.

"I don't think that's such a good idea, Chase," Bryan mumbled.

"Not you too, dude!" Chase groaned. "What are you, one of the girls, now? You turnin' bitch?!”

"We can't get in, Chase!" Tonya warned.

"Trust me, I can get us in." Chase spread his arms with a cocky grin. "Let's just see if there's anybody home first.” He pounded hard on the door with his fist. “Helloooooo? Wiiiitcheeesss!" he laughed. The sound died in his throat at the slight movement he saw in the darkness.

The glass was thick, making it hard to see inside. Chase leaned closer, squinting his eyes to see if he caught the movement again.

Jenna turned her head, pressing her ear to the door. "I think I hear something inside," she whispered.

Chase banged on the door again, this time with more force.

"That's enough, Chase. Let's just go." Dave said.

Chase continued knocking. "I told you, I'm getting us into this place!”

Suddenly a series of clicks rattled the door, causing Chase and Jenna to back away quickly. The door parted slightly with a creak, and a pair of dark eyes fixed on the group.

"We're not open," an oddly pleasant voice said from behind the door.

Chase gave her his best and most charming smile. "We just wanna come in and take a look around.”

"Try your luck on Halloween," the lady said, shutting the door.

"But, we're already here!" Chase wedged his foot in the opening. "I told my friends I'd get them into this place, and I mean to.”

The eyes glanced down at his foot, and one eyebrow arched in annoyance. "I'm not interested in what you…"

Chase grabbed his wallet, pulling out a handful of bills. "What about now?" he asked. "Does $300 get you interested?”

The eyes blinked slowly, in silent contemplation.

Sensing victory, Chase pushed the bills toward the opening in the door. When he felt them slip from his grasp, he smirked. "That's more like it.”

The door opened and there stood a woman, fairly average looking, except for the mound of gray hair that tumbled down her shoulders. It was a direct contradiction to her youthful face. She wore a dress that looked like it belonged in a museum, or in the attic of some gothic mansion.

Chase scoffed, turning to his friends. "See, I told you I'd get us in.”

The woman stepped aside, clearing the threshold. "Welcome to The Black Flower," she said.

The group entered the building, letting their eyes adjust to the darkness, as the woman closed and locked the door. She turned to see that the had already begun to spread themselves out, taking in their surroundings.

"It's just a bunch of dusty, old shit in here," Jenna complained.

"I think the word you're looking for is antique, Jenna," Britney said.

"Fine... there's nothing but a bunch of dusty, antique shit in here..." Jenna corrected.

The rest of the group laughed as the woman stood silently.

"So what did this place used to be?" Bryan asked.

"It was a lot of things... to a lot of people..." the woman answered, indicating a far wall.

The group gravitated to the wall, covered in pictures of lives and days gone by. While all the rest of the room was covered in a thick layer of dust and neglect, held together only by cobwebs, each portrait was immaculate. Frames gleamed in the dim room and the eyes within each memory shined bright.

A nearby tapping of heels caught their attention. "Jezi! you didn't tell me we had company!”

A sweet voice, brimming with excitement filled the room. A lovely woman approached, dressed like the other, but with a single, long braid laying casually over one shoulder.

"Jezi?" Dave asked.

"... Jezebel," the woman answered.

"Jezebel?!" Tonya cackled. "Like, that chick from the bible?!”

Jezebel remained stoic amid the young girl's laughter. "... something like that.”

She turned her attention back to the conversation. "Forgive me, Desi, but these young people were just... dying to see inside.”

"So what does that make you?" Tonya interrupted. "Desibel?" she laughed at her own joke.

She was greeted with an unamused smile. "Desiray, actually.”

Bryan smiled at Desiray, taking in her style of dress. "Wow, you guys really take this stuff seriously, huh?" he asked.

Dave laughed, "Yeah, I'm assuming you are the two 'witches' that own the place huh?”

Jezi chuckled. "Goodness, no." she made her way further inside. "We don't own The Black Flower.”

Desi's smile deepened as she followed Jezebel. "We're simple caretakers…"

The group shared a look among themselves before trailing after. On a table was a cake, adorned with candles. On the wall above the table was a large portrait of a man.

"Is it somebody's birthday?" Britney asked.

"It's The Black Flower's birthday," Jezi answered.

"And just how old is The Black Flower?" Dave probed.

"Tsk. Tsk. Tsk." Desi said. "It's rude to ask a lady's age!”

Jenna rolled her eyes. "Who's this guy?" she asked, pointing to the portrait on the wall. "I saw him in a lot of those other pictures.”

Jezi stared up at the portrait with a soft smile. "That's James... James Bartholomew. He built The Black Flower.”

"Well, now at least we know who used to own it," Chase said.

Jezi and Desi glanced at each other with a secret smile.

"Well, I think $300 entitles us to a tour of the place," Chase said. He turned to Jezi. "How bout it?”

Jezi looked at him calmly. "... If you wish.”

"You know what, Chase. Let's just go, we've seen inside..." Bryan said.

Britney grabbed hold of Bryan's arm. "Yeah, Chase, we've taken up enough of their time…"

"Speak for yourself! Twitter is gonna shit a brick when I post a selfie from our exclusive, private tour!" Jenna squealed.

"I've been dying to see this place forever," Dave confessed.

"Come on, guys. I just wanna go." Britney looked around uneasily.

"Do what you want, but we're going." Tonya barked.

"You heard her... 'if I wish'.. and I wish!" Chase laughed. He threw his arm around Jenna's shoulder. "I told you I'd get us in.”

Without another word, Jezi led the way. Four immediately followed her, while Bryan and Britney wrestled with their decision.

"If you want," Desi chimed behind them, "you can stay here and have a drink with me," she suggested.

Bryan smiled gratefully. He couldn't seem to stop doing that whenever Desi spoke. There was something about her voice that made him happy. "That would be great, thanks.” He tugged a hesitant Britney behind him.

"Maybe we should just wait for everybody outside, Bryan.”

"Oh lighten up, Brit. We've already come this far!" Bryan said. "Besides, who can say they had a drink inside The Black Flower?”

"Not a soul can say that..." Desi glided behind the bar, dusting off a beautiful crystal decanter. She placed three golden goblets on the bar, encrusted with jewels.

"Oh my god! Are these real?!" Britney gasped.

Desi simply smiled as she unstopped the decanter. The air was filled with the heady aroma of fruit and a dark sweetness. Desi poured some into each of the goblets. Bryan and Britney each took one.

"What shall we toast to?" Desi asked.

"How about to Chase?" Bryan asked.

"Bullshit!" Britney argued.

Bryan shrugged. "You have to admit, he did get us in…"

"That's true..." Desi agreed.

Britney shook her head, laughing, as she pulled out her phone. She held it at arm's length, sliding closer to Bryan. "Wine Selfie!" she called.

Desi leaned forward across the bar, holding up her goblet. "To Chase!" she said, seeing their faces reflected on the small screen.

They clinked their glasses together, then drank deeply.

"Jesus, that tastes amazing!" Bryan exclaimed. "And I don't even like wine.”

"Thank you, Dearie," Desi said. "It's my own special brew.”

"What's in it?" Britney asked, draining her cup.

"It's a mixture of elderberry, raspberry, blackberry, arsenic, strychnine, and just a pinch of cyanide... you don't want it to be too sweet.”

She caught Britney's head before it dropped onto the hard surface of the bar. She laid it down gently, smoothing the girl's hair over her head, tucking a strand behind her ear.

Bryan stared at her, his eyes wide, his breath coming in short, hard bursts. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Desi smiled at him. "Mmm... I knew you were strong," she said, coming from behind the bar.

"Don't worry, it won't hurt," she reassured, "you'll simply... drift away.”

She closed Britney's eyes, thinking they may be disturbing Bryan's final moments. "You children... you really should be more careful about what you let your friends get you into.”

She cradled Bryan to her, softly stroking his hair as his breath slowed. "Not to worry. They'll get it much worse than you." She placed a light kiss on the top of his head. "I liked the two of you.”

When he slumped against her, Desi placed his head on the bar, next to Britney's, and closed his eyes as well.

She removed the phone from Britney's tight grip, placing her hand in Bryan's. On the illuminated screen was their faces, frozen forever in their last bit of happiness. Desi smiled at the picture as she opened the window seat.

"To Chase..." she whispered.

As the screen went black, she tossed the phone into the window seat to join the rest of the collection.

She walked to the table, looked up at the portrait, and began to light the candles on the cake.

"...We have a present for you.”

  • Writer's pictureRassy

Jezi strolled down the hallway, four youngsters in tow. The corridor was stuffy, and cobwebs dangled from much of the molding. The walls were lined with large portraits in ornate gilded frames.

Tonya held up her phone to illuminate the nameplate on the first portrait. “Ma-Matthias The Fox Higgins…” she read. “Who the hell is that?”

Jezi continued walking as if she hadn’t spoke.

Jenna followed suit, peering at the next painting. “T.J. Jordano.” She wrinkled her nose. “Never heard of him,” she said with a shrug.

“Ay, yo. This one looks like ol girl downstairs…!” Chase declared. “Raven B.B. Caruso.”

“Who are these people?” Dave asked.

Jezi smiled. “Their stories are best kept for another time, I fear.”

Tonya rolled her eyes. “Worst tour guide ever,” she grumbled.

Dave ran to catch up to Jezi. “And what about your story?” he asked. “How did you get stuck with the name Jezebel?”

“I expect the same way as you,” she replied. “… My mother gave it to me.”

“What kind of mother would name her child Jezebel?”

Jezi stopped in her tracks. “I can’t imagine… Chase.”

“Didn’t Jezebel get eaten by dogs or something?” Jenna scoffed.

Jezi seemed to smile faintly at a distant memory. “Indeed she did.”

Tonya grabbed Dave’s arm “Every woman has been eaten by a dog at least once.” she giggled.

Chase whispered something in Jenna’s ear, causing her to giggle as well. “Jezi….” She said in an all too sweet voice, “where’s the bathroom?”

“Yeah,” Chase added. “I have to pee.”

Jezi sent a skeptical look to the couple, and then indicated a side hallway. First door on the left is the men’s room, the second door is the ladies’ room.” She gave them each a very pointed look. “One at a time in the bathroom, please.”

Chase and Jenna ambled down the hall, laughing hand in hand.

“Fucking tour sucked, anyway,” Chase mumbled.

“… But so do I, “ Jenna whispered with a smile.

Jezi continued, her last two charges following in her wake. They came to a door at the end of the corridor. Jezi pulled a key from her bodice and slipped it into the lock with a click.

“What room is this?” Dave asked.

Jezi turned the knob. “The dungeon,” she replied.

She swung the door open and they were met with nothing but darkness.

“Aren’t dungeons supposed to be in the basement or something?” Tonya asked as she peeked in.

Standing behind them Jezi smiled, reaching around to switch on the light. “Indeed they are.”

Before the young couple could marvel at the large gaping hole in the floor, Jezi pushed them both into the abyss. They fell a story below with a sickening crack of broken bones.

A single chandelier barely illuminated the room, as Jezi stared down into the pit. She waited for a moment, until she saw slight stirring. "Oh good," she said, "I was hoping you would survive the fall.”

Tonya groaned as she struggled to sit up, she looked over at Dave's twisted body and vacant eyes. "Oh my god. Dave!”

"Yes... that is a shame," Jezi sighed, "although, I don't think he would've handled this next part as well as you. She moved out of sight, but Tonya could still hear her voice.

"After all, every woman has been eaten by a dog... at least once.”

The light switched off and Tonya was left in stifling blackness, hearing the low growl that came from a far corner, where a pair of red eyes seemed to glow.

Chase and Jenna stood in the hallway, kissing passionately. Chase looked down the hallway, and began to pull Jenna towards the bathroom.

"Ugh, there's no way in hell I'm screwing in a guy's bathroom," she said.

"Fine, let's go in the ladies..." Chase pushed her towards the door.

Jenna pressed against his chest. "And what if our hostess decides to come back and check on us?”

Chase looked past her and smiled. "There's a third door... let's go in there!”

Jenna glanced behind her, and walked backwards towards the door. She tested the knob and the door creaked open. Chase found the light switch and turned on bright fluorescent lights.

"What the hell IS this place?" Jenna asked, disgusted.

The walls and floors were covered in gleaming white tile, and a narrow padded table was bolted to the middle of the floor, straps hanging down from either side.

Chase laughed. "Looks like someplace perfect!”

"That's not funny, Chase. This place is weird!”

"Where's your sense of adventure? You can be the one girl to do what no other girl has in The Black Flower," he suggested.

Jenna smiled, liking the idea of how envious her friends would be. She slowly entered the room running her hand over the cold wall. She turned to Chase with a flick of her hair.

"Doctor, there seems to be something terribly wrong with me," she whispered dramatically.

Chase closed the door behind him and turned the lock. "Well, then. You'd better get your ass up on that table.”

Jenna squealed, then hopped up on the table. She laid back, raising her arms above her head, her fingers glancing against something cold. She laughed, pulling the object up over her head.

"Oh... my god. There are cuffs!”

Chase's eyes flashed, and he ran to the head of the table, fitting the cuffs around each of her wrists, fastening the buckles. "I wonder what those two do in this room..." He leaned over to kiss Jenna, when a distant scream echoed through the floor.

"What the hell was that?!" Chase asked. He slowly walked towards the door, when Jenna screamed behind him.

"Shit! Spider! Right there... Chase, kill it!" she screamed.

Chase looked at the tiny spider on the wall and rolled his eyes.

Jenna began tugging against her restraints. "Chase, let me out of here, I wanna go now!”

"Calm down. It's just a little spider. I'm gonna kill it, then we can pick up where we left off.”

He turned and didn't see the spider anymore, until a slight movement on the floor made him jump. "Fuck!" he yelled. He chased the spider into a crack in the corner, then heard a sharp gasp and a squish. Chase spun around, to see a giant spider, with her fangs deeply embedded in Jenna's chest.

"Shit! Wha-the…"

Chase fell against the wall as the spider crawled over Jenna's limp body towards him.

"Tsk tsk tsk... naughty children," Jezi said from the doorway.

Chase looked at her, with tears streaming down his face, not able to form the words to beg for her help.

Jezi tossed the $300 on the floor. "Tour's on the house.”

Chase tried to inch towards her, towards the door, but the spider pounced on him, wrapping him up in her web as he screamed. A tiny body slowly exited the crack in the corner and stopped at Jezi's feet.

"Go on, little one," she encouraged, "... dinner time."

"Well, everyone's fed, except us," Jezi sighed.

Desi smiled. "So shall we soon enough.”

Jezi looked at Bryan and Britney side by side at the bar. "Aww, sweet little lambs.”

Desi clapped. "I was thinking they'd make a lovely soup! It is Monday, after all.”

Desi went over to the wall and rang the bell. Seconds later, a tall imposing figure filled the doorway.

"Ah, Biggun, there you are!" Desi pointed to Bryan and Britney. "These two are for the pot.”

"Yes, Mistress," Biggun replied.

"Do you need help with them, Dear?" Jezi asked.

Biggun shook his head, slightly offended. "No, Mistress.”

He tossed Bryan over his shoulder, and hefted Britney in his other hand, like a piece of luggage.

"Very good, " Jezi praised. "Do tell Liam there is a mess to clean up in the dungeon, and possibly in the operating room.”

Biggun nodded as he lumbered out of the parlor. "Yes, Mistress.”

Desi watched him as he left. "We did a good job with him, you can hardly see the bolts.”

Jezi winked at her.

Shuffling and a squeaky wheel, with the usual chorus of grumbling heralded Liam's approach.

"Go clean the dungeon, Liam... leave the bones for the dogs, Liam... I'm like a bloody slave…"

"Something on your mind, Liam?" Jezi said loudly.

".... hmph.... no maaaaa'aaaam," Liam said sarcastically.

"Good to hear," Jezi replied with a smile.

Desi leaned over and whispered, "Let me turn him into something Jezi…"

Jezi shook her head. "Another time, Love. All Hallows Eve is less than three weeks away and we have much to prepare.”

Desi sighed. "Fiiiiine. I'll get started on the soup."

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  • Writer's pictureRassy

Jezi stretched her aching muscles, scenting homemade soup in the air. She always forgot how big this place was, until it came time to clean it. The aroma drew her to the parlor, where a steaming bowl awaited her on the bar. Desi stood behind it, a smile on her face.

"I thought that would get you to take a break," she teased.

Jezi slid onto the barstool and inhaled the contents of the bowl. "Our little lambs are going a long way aren't they?" she asked. "We've gotten almost two weeks of meals out of just the two of them.”

She rocked lightly on the barstool, letting the soup warm her from the inside out. Jezi looked around, taking a mental note of everything that still needed to be done.

"Have you seen Liam?" Jezi sighed. "I haven't seen him all evening, and there's a lot of things I need for him to do.”

Desi inspected her fingernails. "Hmm... I wonder where he could be…"

Jezi continued distractedly, shifting on the barstool once again. "I don't know. Biggun said he hadn't seen him either..." She tried and failed to get comfortable, causing her to finally readjust once again.

Jezi wiggled slightly, noticing it's unevenness. "What's the matter with this barstool?" she asked.

Desi's face looked unnaturally innocent. "Hmm... is something wrong with it…?"

Jezi looked into Desi's wide eyes and narrowed her own. Finally, recognition dawned and she leapt off of the stool. "Desi!" she shouted.

"Hmm?" Desi smiled.

"You change him back this instant!" Jezi commanded, "We don't have time for this!”

Desi flicked her wrist with a giggle and Liam sprawled out onto the floor with a thud.

"You... crazy... witch!" he sputtered, "You... You…"

Jezi helped him to his feet. "Alright Liam, that's enough. Why don't you go to the kitchen and get something to eat?”

Liam shook a finger at Desi, "You don't treat people this way!" he shuffled away with a grumble. He turned, pointing at Jezi. "And you, if you're going to sit on someone, you might want to…"

"You might want to not finish that sentence..." Jezi warned.

Liam quickly decided to agree with her and ran away in complete silence.

Jezi spread a hand across her stomach with a pout.

"Stop it, you look lovely," Desi assured her.

Jezi sighed and pulled up another barstool. "This isn't Biggun, is it?" she asked.

Desi smiled. "If it was, I'd be sitting on it.”

Jezi resumed eating her soup, glancing at the wall of portraits. "Are you excited to see your great-great-great-great grandmother again?" she asked.

Desi smiled. "Yeah. What about you? Are you excited to see…"

"We've got much still to accomplish," Jezi interrupted, "but, I think we're in a good place.”

Desi smiled at her abrupt change of topic. "You worry too much," she said. "Every year, you worry and freak out, and every year, it turns out fine.”

"It turns out fine because I worry and freak out, and make sure of it," Jezi replied. She finished her soup, then returned to work. As she floated down the hall, she stopped to look at each individual portrait.

There were so many memories, so many good times. There were so many people she loved in those paintings.

She closed her eyes for a moment, and let the past wash over her. In an instant, the Black Flower took on its former glory. She heard the music, saw the familiar faces. She could practically feel the leather booths and smell...

Jezi's head whipped around, her eyes widened in panic. She felt a pounding where her heart should be, and for a second, felt as though she couldn't breathe. Retracing her steps, she returned to the parlor.

"Desi, are you smoking in here?" she asked.

Desi glanced at her, thoroughly confused. "Uh, I don't smoke. You know that, Jezi.”

Yes, she knew that, but she was hoping that Desi had suddenly decided to take it up. "Liam!" she yelled.

Liam peeked around the corner, afraid to fully enter. "What?" he snapped.

"Are you smoking?" Jezi asked abruptly.

"No smoking inside the premises, Liam!" he mocked. "You think I wanna give that maniac over there any reason to turn me into an armoire?!" he scurried away. "Not that she ever needs a reason..." he mumbled.

Jezi turned her nose up to the air and sniffed frantically, her steps ambling.

"Jezi, are you okay?" Desi asked.

Just like that, it was gone. Jezi blinked a few times, trying to shake the feeling, but something seemed off. "Yeah... I'm fine. I just thought..." She shook her head, pasting a smile on her face. “Nevermind."

She once again made her way down the hall, trying to ignore the goosebumps that made their way down her spine and across her arms. She distinctly smelled a faint waft of cigar smoke, and if she closed her eyes, she was certain that was the aftertaste of fine scotch on her tongue.

Jezi took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders. She was overworked and overtired. She worried too much about making sure everything was perfect. She was always on edge when it was close to the time to bring them back.

Once a year, the Black Flower lived, and every soul tied to it could roam free. It was enough to make anyone imagine things. Jezi chuckled to herself, choosing to believe the sound was genuine, and not laced with fear.

She looked up, realizing she'd stopped in front of the portrait of James Bartholomew. Her hand went to the place just above her ribs, an involuntary motion that led her to the place that still bore the scar of that night so many decades ago. She was one of the souls tied to this place, and had vowed to do anything to protect it.

A knock resounded throughout the building, snapping Jezi back to the present. She mentally rolled her eyes and groaned. She really didn't feel like entertaining any more curious children. She made her way towards the door. "What fresh hell is this?”

Jezi squared her shoulders and walked briskly towards the door. Annoyed, she threw the door open. "... Yes?”

Three young men looked silently back at her, taking in her old world attire.

Jezi arched a single eyebrow, in no mood to prolong the proceedings.

"Uh," the soft spoken young man before her began, "I'm sorry if we disturbed you. We were hired to perform on Halloween, and were just wondering if we could get a look at the stage…"

"Hired? ... By whom?”

The trio sent uneasy glances at each other. "Uh, we were contacted by a ... Desi?”

Jezi rolled her eyes and stifled a groan. She was going to kill her.

"And... you are?" she asked.

The young man removed his sunglasses and took her hand in his, leaning into a slight bow. "We're The Great American Witch Hunt." He placed a swift kiss across her knuckles with a smile.

Jezi nearly laughed out loud at the irony. "Are you, really?" She looked at each of them in turn, an enigmatic smile spreading over her face. Finally, she backed away from the entrance. "By all means... come in," she invited.

As they entered the Black Flower, self proclaimed witch hunters, all other thoughts and concerns were forgotten. Jezi closed the door, bolting it, sealing them all inside.

"Gentlemen, if you take that hall to the salon at the end, you may put your instruments down and I'll be along shortly," she said.

Looking around, they made their way down the hall, taking in everything about the place, as Jezi watched their procession.

Squeaking overhead drew her attention, and Jezi flinched at the bat that seemed to have trouble flying. "Desi!" she screamed, "Change him back!”

"Whaaat?!" came the reply with a giggle.

Jezi shook her head as she followed the trio, Liam's body falling heavily behind her.

"This ought to be fun," she mused.

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