Short Stories
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The Room That Swallows People

Author: G. Jefferies

 

 

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“What are you doing in my house?”

The words stirred Amelie Hamilton from a dream about a dog she had grown up with as a child. Griff, a golden retriever and long walks in fields where it always seemed to be sunny and cool at the same time. One of those memories where hay-fever didn’t exist, it was sunny but not sweltering and being an adult was a long way off.

“Excuse me” she managed trying to shake off a mind groggy with sleep.

“I said, what are you doing in my house?”

Amelie sat up. How strange, not the sort of thing a burglar would confront you with she thought. It was dark and her alarm clock revealed it was 12.01 a.m., barely into the next day.

“This happens to be my house thank you very much so what are you doing in it?” She was speaking to an empty room which was even more curious.

Just to make sure she switched on the bedside lamp. The darkness retreated leaving peripheral shadows. Definitely no-one in the room. She blinked and got out of the bed. Slowly, she turned around, just to be sure.

“Is there anybody there?” Rather clichΓ©d, she thought, just knock once for yes, twice for no.

There was no response. Her light went out.

She cursed and muttered under her breath, “Another damn power cut.”

From under her door there was a flickering orange glow and voices.

The woman spoke again but sounded far more distressed.

“What are you doing in my house?”

Amelie paused. She wasn’t talking to her at all and it appeared there was more than one person in her house and downstairs. Creeping back to the bedside table she picked up her mobile. No signal.

Dammit.

Returning to the door she opened it and moved towards the top of the stairs to peek over than bannister rail. Things looked different. Her modernized Victorian semi-detached house was no longer modernized and the wall that made it a semi was missing. In fact the stairs she was at the top of were absolutely not hers at all. They were central for a start and far more in keeping with the original Victorian manse later split in two.

No wonder the voices carried.

The under the door glow was coming from gas lighting that ran at intervals down the landing. Panic was setting in. She stepped backwards and into her room and then came out again; my house, not my house. Her palms were getting clammy and she was trying to control her breathing.

Long slow breaths, stay calm this must be a very bad dream. She returned to the top of the stairs but held back out of sight.

“But I love you Elisabeth.” A man’s voice, desperate and pleading.

She heard a chair move. The woman, Elisabeth was more urgent.

“Jonathan, you can’t be seen here…my husband will be home soon.”

The man spoke again, his voice cracked. Amelie imagined he was crying.

“But you are carrying my child.”

Elisabeth grew angry and insistent.

“Never say that.” The words were spat out with vehemence. “Get out now and never come back.”

Amelie felt there was a degree of horror in the tone.

“Or I shall call for the Peelers.”

There was a thump as something hit the table;Β Jonathan’s fist perhaps, she thought.

“Very well” he said, “but I shall not be held accountable for my actions.”

A door slammed and Amelie could hear crying. She returned to her room and sat on the bed shaking. This time the door was left slightly ajar so she could see if things outside reverted to normal. They did not. Settling back she felt her own baby move; third trimester, she was agitated too. Her own husband was at a conference in Holland presenting a paper on something to do with particle physics. She was never quite sure what that meant at the best of times. CERN was just a word meaning big vacuum tube thing where things you couldn’t see flew round in circles crashing into other invisible things that were even smaller. Did her head in, although a scatty memory and interrupted sleep wasn’t helping and made dealing with things you could see tricky at the best of times.

Downstairs she heard a different male voice.

“My apologies for being so late Torrie, the meeting ran over slightly.”

“Not to worry Alfred, these things happen”

She lies well thought Amelie.

There was the sound of breaking glass and a scream. Amelie moved back to her vantage point, this time daring to look over the bannister. What she saw made her heart beat a shade bit faster.

Flames were expanding from drapes that were drawn across two windows to the left of the front door opposite the base of the staircase. Glass was strewn across a tiled mosaic floor and the curtains flapped in a breeze from outside fanning the flames which were now spreading.

Alfred was moving toward the door but staggered away as he opened it falling backwards onto the floor, his head covered in blood. Jonathan stepped through, a hammer in his left hand; it was stained red and dripping leaving a trail of bloodied drops.

Elisabeth’s mouth opened and closed as she stumbled against a table that offered temporary support. Her face was white. She spoke in a terrified whisper;

“What the hell are you doing Jonathan?”

He just glared back, eyes filled with the red mist and staggering with the gait of a mad man riddled with liquor wielding a raging slur,

“If I cannot have you then no-one will.”

He moved toward the table; Elisabeth backed off. The flames were moving down the room and behind her. She turned too fast and tripped, crashing her head against the corner of the table before landing on the mosaic. A pool of red liquid grew from her hair.

Jonathan dropped the hammer and fled.

Amelie could feel the heat as her own escape route was cut off. Thick smoke was driving up the stairs forcing her to retreat back into the room. The window was jammed shut and smoke began crawling underneath the door. In desperation she smashed the glass. The ground was a long way off and 30 weeks pregnant was not making things easier. She began to cough and the smoke made the decision. Her world went black as she slumped to the floor.

###

Across the road, and most definitely in the present, Allan and Joseph Carmichael were surfing the web looking out at the old Hamilton place, as they had done for the five years since Amelie Hamilton had gone missing. Both sides of the semi-detached large Victorian house were boarded up and had been for three years. James Hamilton had originally bought them both hoping to renovate the house back to it’s original state prior to the fire in 1875.

Being paranormal hobbyists they were renting this particular house on the basis the local population believed the Victorian place opposite was either haunted or possessed. Urban myth had it logged as a place people went into and sometimes never came out again. They said it woke up every five years and wanted feeding. To date the brothers had found numerous accounts of missing persons that either owned or visited the place. Evidence was less numerous; the police had been unable to trace any of the absent inhabitants and had even held James Hamilton in custody whilst exploring the possibility he may have disposed of his wife.

Eventually they let him go, whereupon he was admitted to a psychiatric ward for treatment. The Carmichael’s had managed to interview him but retrieved very little apart from a series of notes from a disturbed mind.

“The place is possessed by the devil.”

“There is a room that swallows people.”

“It’s alive with ghosts of the dead.”

A year later, James gave up and had the place boarded. Some say he boarded it from the inside and was never seen again. Certainly after the interview Allan had been unable to locate him and since the police had received no missing persons reports little help came from that direction.

Allan was currently staring at the house opposite. The more he looked the more unsettled he became.

“Who’s watching whom?” He was talking to himself.

His brother startled him from the reverie.

“Al, look at this.”

Joseph stared into the screen displaying an archive for local news relating to the fire. “Amelie Hamilton was pregnant!”

Local businessman Jonathan Webster was, today, accused of setting a fire with intent to incapacitate and murder Albert and Elisabeth Beechworth and their unborn child. In addition the remains of an unknown female, also with child, were discovered in an upstairs room. Being of unsound mind the accused was spared the hangman’s noose and admitted to an asylum for the remainder of his days. When inquisition as to motive was applied by the prosecution the only words uttered by Mr. Webster were

“Get out of my house.”

 

Β© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in: Short Stories

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Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the blog will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career writing from home around children!

113 Comments

  1. Ohhhhh snap! That was awesome! I am in charge of ghost stories at my middle school. I’m going to have to read this to the kids (maybe a little less detailed at the murdering parts) . (We have to give breaks the first weeks of school as they settle in.)

    • Wow, what an awesome role in school! so envious!! Awesome comment too and feel free to use it, but do let me know how it is received πŸ™‚

      You might like Ghost Walk too; that has a twist, in fact the whole of this series has a supernatural slant; a couple with Knights Templar eg Monks of War… oh hang about, just had another notification from you lol; seems you are working through them already !!!

      Really appreciate your feedback too. Elisabeth actually features in a novel I’m not far from finishing too; it became the prequel to this after I got to part 8 and stopped, well paused… I found a story growing and the rest of this one depends on how that book ends. I want to actually turn this series into a follow on book too πŸ™‚

      • Ooh! So cool! I’m actually the band teacher, but I am approached for ghost stories often. The first weeks of school we other teachers give breaks while core teachers take breaks- it’s to get the kids used to their new classes for the year. So for two weeks, I freak kids out for 30 min. It’s fun πŸ™‚

        They would love your stuff, I will share what they thought when I see them near September!

        Very excited that you are writing a book! I would love to read it!

        • A musician too!! you must have something about you that makes them ask you for ghost stories. How on earth do you initially end up doing that? Have you ever done one with a haunted school???

          Be nice to have some younger folks feedback too. This series isn’t written to exclude on age grounds I don’t think. A few bits can be tweaked out, but generally it’s tamer than some things I’ve written outside the blog!!

          The post link I gave has more info on the books I’m writing and the various stages they are at. Hoping to do another update soon πŸ™‚

          • Thank you for that link, I will definitely check it out today! Our school is haunted, it’s a school that was around when integration was forced in the south. There’s a lot of history and places you just don’t go after dark. The kids assumed I’d been there at the school awhile and had heard it was haunted. So they asked me for school stories. I was new and could not oblige so I gave them ones I knew instead. The word soon spread after that.

            • Oh my word; that’s totally awesome! Granted I am a writer with a penchant for ghost and horror stories, but you can’t not appreciate history, myths and how such can enter a buildings psyche.

              And the kids asked you for stories? How cool is that! You should look up Borley Rectory if you haven’t already. That is rumoured to have been the most haunted house in England, if not the world. You may see parallels in Elisabeths house too; such as it burning down πŸ˜‰

                • Used to be a hobby of mine; looking up haunted places and their history. Seems we have that in common already!!! Mind you I love historical ruins too. Deadmen of Dunharrow is based on a very real castle in Wales. I did that for a friend who moved to Utah. When she mentioned it used to be her favourite place I took the brothers on holiday there and they found a few more things going awry

                  • I love touring old homes and historical sites. I am also a great watcher of documentaries. I just like to learn πŸ™‚ I think its a wonderful idea to base stories or elements in the story on real places and hauntings. That is a good tip that I will have to try! I am excited to look up these things and then perhaps read your tale… or maybe read it and then look it up! I am not sure πŸ˜€

                    • It very much sounds like you can tune into the sense of history too. That can really make hackles rise in my experience. I have two memoirs on here that touch that. One is called “Ghost Carp” and based on an estate lake whose hall fell into ruin. It’s also an elegy to one of my best school friends who lost a battle with prostrate cancer a few years back. Whilst the lake is where we angled for carp the memoire is about monsters. The second one is called “Of Wine, Nature and Elegies in Oak.” Again that is about an abandoned farm cottage where we used to go scrumping in the orchard outside. Both (I hope) tune into the past and are dedicated to my friend.

                      Carreg Cennen Castle is the one in question wrt the piece I mentioned πŸ™‚

                    • I am very sorry for your loss! It looks like I have a lot of reading to do! Enjoy your day and I bet your social media is filled with notifications! Yesterday was a good day! I will be publishing in about 10 minutes that family curse story I was telling you about. I hope its something you enjoy and have a chance to read later on! Enjoy your day!

                    • Thank you, but it’s OK now. Another part of life’s journey and I have some fabulous memories to work with. I’ve kept the notification about your post and look forward to reading it. Might be in the morning now though as time has shot past this afternoon !

                    • I bet! The days do seem to zoom by before you know it πŸ™‚ thank you for your attentions to it, I appreciate an author’s look! I’m glad again you have positive memories to draw from this and can use them for your creations!

                    • Too right, triple chemistry on Friday afternoons at school crawled past, sometimes I think time even went backwards! Maybe now is payback! I might read yours now, but comment tomorrow. Don’t want to rush that part 😊

                    • Well, I have read it and will now digest and reply in the morning properly. I think I’m social media’d out today!! Hope the tummy troubles are short lived or it might be a long night!

                    • It’s been my pleasure, engagement is what it’s all about yes? Besides, how else do bloggers get to know each other. No doubt I shall see you on the blog group over the weekend! Have as good an evening as troubled tummies allow !

    • Thank you Ritu. This was supposed to be a one off, but it lead to an 8 part series that needs finishing and a follow on novel. I want to go back to this and revamp it in a book though!!

        • Well, I’m going to post the other pieces over the next few weeks; At present they do work as stand alones, but you are not the first to say there is potential so I feel obliged to carry on now πŸ™‚ THANK YOU xx

          • 😊😊😊😊 one-day I shall direct you to my work in progress… then you can give me the kick up the backside I need to carry it on… if you think it has potential!!!

            • One day soon…I can procrastinate for two very easily!! Thing I’ve learnt in my writing so far is we need buddies that also write. They are the ones that understand the highs and lows, trying to go on thinking it’s not good enough even when positive comments come in. They empathise more. Close friends and family are often “obligated” to say nice things. My proof reader tells me that a lot !!!

  2. Pingback: Elisabeth Awakens | Fiction is Food

  3. Pingback: The Dead Men of Dunharrow | Fiction is Food

    • This was the first attempt at the series involving the two paranormal brothers. I thought you’d already seen this one!!
      Thanks for the comment and time taken to read it πŸ™ƒ

      • Yes I thought I had..the app on my phone has control issues though, so I may have liked it and moved to the next story without reading..sorry…suffice it to say I thoroughly enjoyed it! Great read, detailed, vivid and immediate-thank you!

        • Ahh! Phone apps…great when they work and just not when they don’t. No need to apologise though. It might easily be amnesia on my part !!!
          I’m still amazed that people like this though !!

  4. Pingback: The Monks of War | Fiction is Food

  5. Love your imagery and suspense in this story! Terrific plot with the right amount of scary and the unknown.

    • Thank you my friend…even if it’s ages and way too long since I visited you!! Personally, I like to keep readers minds guessing or filling bits in, throwing in unexpected twist. Is this really the first time you’ve seen this one? If so then it’s interesting, because it says blogs must be full of writing that newer followers just don’t see. Food for thought there methinks πŸ€”

      • Gary, when I have time, I LOVE to read through previous posts. I never seem to have time to read them all but I sure try.

        • Time is our great enemy…it takes loads just to keep up with your own blog, never mind others!! There’s no rush, I put the links to the other ones in each story. Dip in and out whenever it suits. I will be doing the same on yours 😊

  6. Pingback: The Marsh Awakens | Fiction is Food

  7. Great start. I’m really interested to see how the rest of this story plays out, so I’ll definitely be giving the other parts a read. Paranormal stories are always kinda cool.

    • Thank you kindly Sarah…this was never originally meant to go anywhere. Alas it be she two short stories dabbing in a vague idea and then three and…. It’s not my best writing I don’t think, but often I find I hate my own work depending on what time of day it is 😊😱
      Thanks again and by return I shall be visiting you shortly 😊

  8. Pingback: Witchcraft and Conspiracy | Fiction is Food

  9. I loved this Gary, honestly it felt so atmospheric. It really involved me in the story, you’ve got a great way of telling the story.

    I love the surprise element of this story. Keep up with the great story. I can’t wait to read more!

    • Thank you Dany, it’s one of my earlier ones. Originally a short story one off type of thing that grew. Now it’s shaping into a series that I’m currently blogging and may even give me enough material for a book…obviously reworking these posts a but 😊 Next one is An Absent Child Revisited, part two if you like 😁

      Thanks so much for the visit πŸ™ƒ

  10. Pingback: An Absent Child Revisted | Fiction is Food

  11. Pingback: Ghost Walk | Fiction is Food

  12. Ah, nice, I’ve been looking for some good creepy horror, you’re the first I found. I’ll be making my way through your collection.

    • That is a most generous comment indeed. This was done quite a while ago as a dabble into fiction writing. My genre is horror / dark fantasy fiction althoug on here there are two memoirs that are dedicated to a departed school friend. The second part in this series is fleshed out in An Absent Child revisited (revisited because it was just an exert first time and readers requested the full piece). Dead Man Walking ones are from a book chapter, anything under The Bequest is from another I’m working on and the rest are similarly taken from books.

      Be warned though, I’ve side tracked into challenges too πŸ™ƒ They are not creepy horror !!

      Thanks for take the time to read and comment though 😊

      • Yeah, I side track a bit as well, I think it’s part of the natural process…. not sure. Nevertheless I’m keen to read the follow up.. in fact, I’ll head over there right now πŸ™‚

        • I think it is part of the natural process although it’s up to us to decide how far we allow the sidetracking to go. I’m working on that part. I need to schedule things so I’m told to keep focussed… Especially writing πŸ‘»

  13. Wowsers! My room is filled with strange happenings too! My head I meanπŸ˜„

    • I feel your angst….my head is clearly suffering similar strangeness…more so by having several weeks of not writing fiction….antagonists are now knocking. Once my last kindness challenge post is up this weekend then I’m hoping to get back on track with the stories 😊 Thank you so much for taking the time to read this 😊

  14. As I was scrolling down your blogs, “The room that swallows people” was the one that wanted me to read it and know about it. I did.i read it and it’s great. I love it.
    Keep writing some of this, more. Would love to read them. πŸ™‚

    • There are actually several parts of this story already written. Most of it is by short story although the crux seems to be about the paranormal brothers who are following strange goings on trying to figure out what is happening. The house is an interesting one though and a few bloggers have asked for more so once the kindness challenge is over I shall get back onto writing and putting samples up again.

      Thank you so much for commenting too. I appreciate that more than you could imagine 😊

    • Thank you kindly…I’ve decided I may serialise this lot due to unexpected comments….to me it was always just a bit of practice to help me on another project…never really rated it myself πŸ‘»

  15. Wow this is creepy good!! I love all things paranormal so this is right up my alley. It really drew me in and I could imagine it in my mind. Your writing is excellent. Pardon me for saying, but I think there is a mix up in names a couple of times, once Amelie turns into Emily and another when Jonathan hits his fist on the table, is it not Amelie that thinks that’s what it was not Elisabeth? Or am I wrong?
    That picture is magnificent!!
    OH I can’t wait to read more of your stories!!! I’m off to the next one.. πŸ™‚

    • You’re probably not wrong…Emily frequently ends up in places outside of her book because she’s a core character elsewhere and she’s always chattering in my head because of what happened in Half A Twin πŸ€• Thanks for the spot though…I’ll check it out over the weekend.

      And thank you so much for the positive comments. I was sceptical of this set of short stories a while back but thought I’d give them a bash here to see how they went down. I might put them all up here as a series run πŸ™ƒ

      • Oh that would be awesome…definitely a good read!! I look forward to reading them if you decide to do so. πŸ™‚

        • Got a couple of catch ups to do first but I will certainly think about it…might be intersting to see reactions as the plot progresses πŸ€”

    • Thank you for taking the time to visit and read my ramblings 😊

      And for the positive comment too. Feedback means so much when you put up stories that personal critic hammers loads πŸ™ƒ

  16. Many thanks firstly, for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate that more than people might imagine 😊

    Next, thank you so much for the generous comments too. In this series the room is one of several locations that have, shall we call them, issues πŸ™ƒ

    I think I’ve got about seven in total so far. Still needs working to completion but I might serialise it on here if folk are interested 😊

  17. Oh this is excellent! It gave me goosebumps it was so good! πŸ˜„ Thanks for reposting about it, it deepens the mystery of that room even more.

  18. ‘An Absent Child’ post has led me here! What a brilliance!! Both the posts!! The detailed description of the room, the mystery, the ‘What-next??’ kind of feeling you get when you dwell yourself into a book written by a professional, or the visual imagination that erupts out of engrossed reading–>This was how I felt!! Great work Gary! I’m so pleased to meet such a talent! Each one here in the blogosphere is special in their own way, but I haven’t really come across anyone, so close to intrigued writing, that keeps me hooked!! πŸ™‚ Can’t wait for your books! How are things shaping up?

    P.S: Have you started blogging in 2014? But bounced back this year? Glad you are! πŸ™‚

    • OMG…that’s made my day for sure…too kind methinks…proof is due back end of June so that’s when the next phase on that one can start. In the meantime I will put up the fuller Absent Child piece and see if folk still feel the same πŸ€” But thank you so much for the postive comment…I find it terribly hard to think of myself as any good…a while ago I decided it’s up to readers to judge me. I expect it may not be everyone’s tastes in genre but if people like you feel it’s engrossing then that’s about the best compliment I can get…and hooked too…I don’t get that everyday 😊

      Yes to blogging…I set it up in 2014, posted RTSP and had a massive loss of self esteem so ran away and wrote two books, this series and started two more….gradually wading through them editing wise now. In January I was pursuaded to hit social media again and get over the esteem crisis. I revamped here, set up a Facebook author page and am trying to get a handle on Twitter and Google Plus… It’s all quite daunting still…but here…I am so pleased I tried again because everybody is so friendly and helpful. I’ve met some awesome people….like you 😊

      • Thank you! The feeling is mutual! πŸ™‚ You made great progress. You definitely should post the full version of Absent Child. I’m damn sure, it would be loved and received well. I’m not saying this just for the sake of encouragement, but I mean it! Because, I’m not much into this genre, but I was hooked to it when I started reading. This is hardly the case. I don’t get engrossed reading all the time! You have a great gift and you will go places with your books! :):)
        You are too humble my friend, my comments are an understatement to your talent. Never lose your self esteem! Will start following your Facebook page soon! πŸ™‚

        • Ok, now I am more humbled than the humble person that got a generous ping back earlier to your reflections post. To have someone say that who admits it’s not their genre is a massive accolade. Thank you so much and love to see you on Facebook too. Feel free to add me as a friend too….can’t miss my profile it has my gravitar dinosaur too πŸ˜‡

          • Haha sure! As I said, my comments are understated. Sure, would love to follow you on Facebook and I can easily find your dinosaur gravitar πŸ˜€ But how will you recognize me is the real question. πŸ˜›

            • Easy send a friend request and a message saying its you πŸ™ƒ You can get at my author page via my contact me link on here 😊

                • Cool..might be in the morning when I next look…I’ve entirely lost today in…I’m not quite sure what…busy, blinked and it’s almost 9pm πŸ€”

    • Thank you for visiting 😊 This was reblog of an older post by request from the previous one. Most are much shorter…can’t give too many spoilers away πŸ˜‡ Really appreciate the comment too πŸ™ƒ

  19. Oh, Gary…this is soooooo great…sooooo intriguing and wonderfully imaginative and it makes me sooooo curious to find out what happened….then and now…two mysteries in one…you are a fantastic and gifted writer…I thoroughly enjoyed this…I am going to read the other excerpts you kindly mentioned the other day (probably after work tomorrow)…. enjoy your Sunday πŸ™‚

    • I think it could be better….but it is part of a series as I said. The first in fact…well, at present….this is set in time before Theatre of Dreams which is a different book. The third brother never appears in these…might be Joe Stringer was right πŸ€”

      Thank you for reading once more…you are too kind πŸ™ƒ

  20. Pingback: The Room That Swallows People | Fiction is Food

  21. This is realllllly amazing! I am going to be soooo scared, being alone in a room!

    Glad to have found a remarkable writer like you. Best wishes!

    • I’m not that remarkable really…just a person that writes who loves the blog world because everybody I meet is awesome…but not sung in that Lego movie style…although it is a good tune πŸ€”

      This room has a few mentions here and there including the most recent post where I’m being pursuaded to post more. I was thinking of tightening this one up and reblogging it because it was posted so long ago and needs tweaking now. It’s also the first in this storyline…very kind of you to take time out to read my offerings too so thank you so much for that…it means a lot my new friend 😊

      • Oh wow! So I entered the room just in time. I am ready to learn from my new friend. Glad to have connected πŸ™‚

        • Ideas, feedback and discussion is why I’m here…if people can learn from me that’s brilliant..I love sharing stuff…I mean if I mess up then might as well try and stop other folk making the same mistake πŸ€”

          So good to have you onboard too. 😊

          • I’m a firm believer than, one keeps learning throughout life and each person who comes across in our life teaches us some thing. I’m an aspiring writer, so what better than to have some one give me valuable feedback. πŸ™‚
            I’m ready for a roller coaster ride or a flight. πŸ˜„
            Good night from India!

            • I like that outlook on life….always new things to learn and new people to meet. You live in a fabulous country from what I’ve seen and people I’ve met from there. Really pleased to have met you and keep engaging with writers..they all have something to offer and vice versa 😊

  22. cariadfreckles says

    Hi Mary, I totally agree with you. Gary is such a good writer and I am so happy I’ve become friends with him via a creative writing course; which we did at the same time. All of his stories he has shared with me are great πŸ™‚ We will both be posting here on our fictionisfood blog πŸ™‚

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