BEAUTIFUL, BROKEN THINGS by Rose Blackthorn

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

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BEAUTIFUL, BROKEN THINGS
by Rose Blackthorn

He noticed the store-front within the first week of moving into the neighborhood. The broad window was curtained with sheer black hangings and a coral pink neon sign flickered Open over an array of oddities. There was no business name over the mirrored glass door, just a hand painted plaque with a large black crow holding an eyeball in one clawed foot.
The street was filled with little shops, all of them grimy and worn in the ever-present overcast. There were pawnshops, tattoo parlors, adult book stores, and little food stands with two or three tables or a narrow counter with barstools. This was not the best part of town to work in, let alone live, but Trey didn’t have a lot of options. Unless a person had the money to pay for walls and security, this was the best he could get.
“Have you ever gone in?”
Trey started, glancing at the painted girl who stood near him. She had candy-pink hair and wore a white sequined dress that left little of her browned figure to the imagination. “Huh?”
The girl laughed, a tinkling sound that was decidedly out of place. “To the Morrigan’s. Have you ever gone in?”
He looked back across the street, to the wooden sign displaying the crow and eyeball. “No. What did you call it?”
The girl pulled a case out of the beaded bag dangling from her wrist, opening it to reveal tiny iridescent tablets. She put one under her tongue before returning the case to her bag. “The Morrigan’s.”
“What is it?” Street lights made pools of dingy gold on the dirty pavements up and down the street, and vehicles skimmed past on their silent airfields, sending bits of paper and plastic wrappers scooting along the cracked sidewalks. Trey kept from asking about the tablets. He was clean now. He repeated it as a silent mantra, clean now clean now clean now.
“My name is Nousha,” she said breaking through his inner monologue. “You’re new around here. What’s your name?”
“Trey,” he answered, clean now clean now ran on in the back of his mind.
“The Morrigan is a magic shop.” Her dark skin shimmered, picking up the yellow of the street lights and magnifying it.
“Like card tricks, sawing someone in half?”
She laughed, more tinkling. “No, not that fake stuff. Real magic. Spells and hexes, love potions and such.”
He stared at her, half hypnotized by the glimmering shifting colors on her skin. “No such thing.”
Nousha shrugged, her bright pink hair like the neon signs along the street. “You could see for yourself. Or not.”
Trey looked back at the dark window with the Open sign stuttering against the glass. Past the glass, behind the sheer black curtains, he thought he could see someone standing there looking back at him. But it could have just been a reflection. Or maybe he’d caught a partial high off the painted girl’s glittering skin.
A car pulled up and stopped, window opening to reveal a heavy-set man of middle age. He glanced at Trey, then to Nousha. “Feel like a party?” he asked, voice gravelly and low.
“If you’ve got the creds, I’m up for anything,” she said in a sexy purr. She winked at Trey, then got into the car. Her skin picked up the blue and violet lights from the interior, glimmering hyacinth and wisteria before the window slid shut and the car’s airfield whisked it away.
Across the street, the Open sign buzzed and flickered. If anyone had been standing behind the curtain before, they were gone now. Trey felt as though he buzzed and flickered, clean now repeating again and again in the back of his mind. He turned and went down the street to the barred security door, punched in his access code, and went up two flights of dingy stairs to what was now his home.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


roseRose Blackthorn writes speculative fiction from the high mountain desert of eastern Utah.

She has published online and in print, including “Stupefying Stories”, “Necon E-books”, “Cast of Wonders” podcast, “The Wicked Library” horror podcast, “Interstellar Fiction”, “BuzzyMag”, “Books of the Dead” and “Jamais Vu”. She is also included in the anthologies “A Quick Bite of Flesh”, “Horrific History” and “Shifters” by Hazardous Press; “New Dawn Fades”, “The Ghost IS the Machine” and “Fear the Abyss” by Post Mortem Press, “Eulogies II: Tales from the Cellar” by HorrorWorld, and “Equilibrium Overturned” by Grey Matter Press. She has stories scheduled for release from Sirens Call Publications, Sekhmet Press and Eldritch Press. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association.

Visit Rose at: http://www.facebook.com/RoseBlackthorn.Author
or at: http://roseblackthorn.wordpress.com
or on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/rose_blackthorn

HAIR SHIRT DRAG by Gordon White

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

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HAIR SHIRT DRAG
by Gordon White

I ain’t never read the Key of Solomon, but I read the Book of Kings. Rest of the Bible, too, back when Mama thought that’d help me fit in. It didn’t, I won’t, and, truth be told, I ain’t all that broken up about it. It’s hard being the only son in a family of powerful women, harder still when people say you aren’t even man enough for that. But I’m just about over it all, really.
It’s a humid July evening, as Mama says, accenting both syllables. We’re on the porch, listening to the crickets and the frogs settle into their nightly delirium as fireflies rise up across the tobacco fields like ghost lights. Mama’s got a mouthful of needles as she helps me pin the dress I’m wearing. She’s ain’t thrilled to be doing it, but I need help on the back and at least out here the cicadas drown out her disapproving clucks.
An engine rattling across the field and a red dust cloud barreling down the driveway interrupt our work. It ain’t even really dark yet, but the car’s headlights are beaming like two wide eyes scared that something’s going to jump out at them. As it gets closer, I recognize Emma Turner, a girl I knew from school and the kind that shakes her long, blonde hair when she gets out of her car like this was a shampoo commercial. Almost without thinking, I brush my hand across the nearly shaved side of my own head, bristling out a fine mist of sweat. I’m not petty or anything, but she and I have never gotten along.
“Evening, Ms. Overhold,” she says to Mama.
Mama nods. “It is.”
Emma’s mouth hangs opens as she hesitates, deciding how to address me.
See, Overhold is a matrilineal name, passed on through our family’s women, although I ended up with that gift, too, despite my sex. Which was fine, until I got to Bushrod Johnson High and the kids all started calling me “Sissy,” but since that’s a diminutive – sometimes even an affectionate – of names like Melissa or Jesse, I could pretend it wasn’t all that bad. You know, if you squinted hard enough. Anyway, I never let it give them power over me because if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: Words don’t mean nothing. It’s only intention that makes things happen.
That’s important.
“Jesse,” Emma settles on my boy name, smiling as if she and I were on speaking terms. “You’re looking thin.”
Her eyes laugh the way her mouth wouldn’t dare in front of Mama. I must look a mess, hair frizzed out and make-up smearing in the damp air, probably more than a little five o’clock shadow. But girls like Emma eat weakness, so I lean in and smile back.
“You, too, Goldie.” It sounds innocuous, but she and I both know the rumors behind it.
Her smile hardens and she shakes her hair again, probably not even meaning to, yet ruled by an instinctual vanity. She tugs at her curls, a tell she’s had since middle school when lying to teachers or her boyfriend Tommy Stinz. “I like your,” her free hand waves, “get-up. Trash chic.”
Half made-up though I may be, I look good in this dress. The sharp lines, cut-outs, sloping hem and everything else is my design and my construction. So if queen bee wants to start start pulling on threads, jealous that I look better than she ever will, well, that won’t end nicely. I sweep the longer part of my hair out of my eyes to stare at her.
“How’s your family, Miss Turner?” Mama is louder than the question warrants, pushing herself into the conversation. “Your mother and the Sheriff doing well?”
I’m over it. I let go of the moisture-swollen railing, peeled paint stuck beneath my nails. It’s too hot for this nonsense.
“Yes, ma’am,” Emma says. Her smile is as thin and painted on as her eyebrows, but she sounds sweet as honey.
“That’s good to hear.” Mama hands me my pincushion and waves Emma onto the porch. “What can we do for you?”
“Well, ma’am,” Emma says, “I been told to come ask about your medicine.”

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


gordon1Gordon White lives in New York, but was born and raised in North Carolina.  As a result, his tastes are equal parts urban noir and Southern Gothic; bagels and barbecue.  His fiction has appeared in venues such as Cease, Cows!, Lakeside Circus, and Dark Fuse’s Horror D’oeuvres.  When not writing, Gordon also reads submissions for Kraken Press and contributes reviews to Hellnotes.  His own much-neglected website is www.grizzlyspectacles.com.

You can find Gordon here on Facebook.

HÄXENHAUS by Nick Kimbro

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

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Häxenhaus
by Nick Kimbro

06 Jan
The Häxenhaus resides on the northern edge of the Black Forest. This is the fourth time I’ve been sent away.
“I’m very sorry, Kramer,” Father Schulz says. “But being here will not help your grief. You should be with your wife.”
“My grief has nothing to do with it,” I say. “I’ve come only to serve our Lord and Savior.”
He shakes his head. “I’m sorry, but even if it were so it would not be right for you to have part in this. Go, and God’s peace be with you.” He makes the sign of the cross and I bow my head. Then he closes the door and it is dark again, and cold.
I glance at the road leading back to the village, then circle around to the creek. The water is freezing. I wade waist-deep, slide my fingers through the metal grate, and peer into the bowels of the Häxenhaus. I can’t see much—just some dim light flickering against the stone—although their screams are like crystal. They begin at a high pitch and become low and guttural as their suffering deepens. The sound carries to the far bank where, somewhere, familiars lift their voices in an awful cacophony of howls and mewls and chirps and croaks. Vague outlines of stakes stud the ground like charred headstones.
I listen until the numbness in my legs turns bitter and I can no longer control my breathing, then I go, back through the forest to my home in the village, where my Helga waits for me in bed. The musky scent of old bed clothes greets me as I lift the blanket and climb in. I slip my arm around her stomach and she grunts. When I realize where my palm is, I readjust.
When I cannot sleep I like to imagine the witches’ screams. Although, eventually my thoughts must shift to the familiars and their mourning song. Only then do I grow weary. Then, I sleep like a babe.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


nick1Nick Kimbro received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Hello Horror, Surreal Grotesque, Space Squid, Heavy Feather Review, Spring Gun Journal, The Yoke, Danse Macabre, and numerous anthologies. His novella, SURFACE INTERVAL, was published by Jersey Devil Press. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his beautiful wife and writes supernatural horror because she doesn’t do gore.

NUMBER ONE ANGEL by Allison M. Dickson

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

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Sekhmet Press is honored to have Allison M. Dickson as a special guest in this, our third anthology in the WRAPPED Horror Anthology series. Her short story NUMBER ONE ANGEL can also be found in one of her original collections, AT THE END OF THINGS.  Allison is currently represented by Stephanie Kip Rostan at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

Number One Angel
Allison M. Dickson

Mama carried her plate of cake to the living room and plopped down in her ratty old recliner, its broken frame crunching under her weight. Louise always thought one day the woman would fall right through and end up with a piece of splintered wood stuck right up her old fat ass, but none of that mattered now. This was the last time Mama was ever going to sit down anywhere, if everything went like Phelan said it would. And it ought to. Louise had done just like he showed her.
“Now you listen up, Little Louise,” Mama said. “Any man who says he’ll lasso the moon for you is a no-good liar.” She crammed a huge bite of cake into her well-oiled gob, and Louise watched her swallow it nearly whole, like a snake eating a mouse. “Truth is, you ain’t never gonna get a man that’s worth a damn, cause you ain’t no better’n me. And you seen what kinda men I ended up with. Only thing Danny could lasso, God rest his soul, was six-packs of Natty Light and a hundred-fifty a week in unemployment.”
Louise didn’t utter more than a few agreeable grunts here and there. It didn’t matter what she said. Mama never listened. She just liked to do the talking part, and Louise thanked the heavens it wouldn’t have to go on much longer. The woman was vicious most times and downright boring the others, rattling on about how she knew better than anybody about everything, or about her dumb soap operas or some end of the world crap she’d watched on the Discovery Channel. Louise hated those shows. Hated most television, really. The people on it were mean or always trying to scare folks. She only watched it because she wasn’t much good at reading. These days, though, she preferred to spend time with Phelan. He was better than the best TV shows all rolled into one.
Mama took another bite of the birthday cake Louise had cooked up special. Carrot, Mama’s favorite, with a thick spackle-like coating of cream cheese frosting. It was way too much cake for two, but Mama didn’t have any other friends to share it with, and probably would’ve hogged it all up for herself even if she did. The mean old bitch loved her some cake, and probably thought she’d have this one all through the week with every meal. Too bad for her, though, she wouldn’t survive the next few bites.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


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amd outsideAllison M. Dickson writes dark contemporary fiction, covering both speculative and realistic realms. Her debut psychological horror novel, STRINGS, released to rave reviews in 2013 and has topped Amazon’s bestseller lists several times. She is also the author of an abundance of short stories as well as the 1940s sci-fi noir Colt Coltrane series. Readers can look forward to her upcoming dystopian epic, THE LAST SUPPER, later in 2014. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found wandering the urban sprawl of Dayton, OH with her husband and two rapidly growing children, or crawling some dungeon in search of good loot. For more information on how to reach Allison or to read her blog, visit allisonmdicksonbooks.com.

SHE MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

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SHE MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL
by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
Jamie checked his watch against the computer clock, then, with a sick stomach lurch, desperately glanced up at the clock on the wall. “No. No, no.” Shit. He wasn’t going to make it home on time. Jamie grabbed his files and briefcase, then dashed for the elevator, tapping his foot as the numbers slowly lit, begging it to move faster. When the doors finally slid open, he entered and breathed a sigh of relief to find it empty. No one was going to slow him down with small talk or ask how he’d been, how things were at home…
“Wait!” a woman’s voice called from nearby. “Please! Hold the elevator.”
Jamie stuck out his hand to block the automatic doors.
Hannah, a sweet new hire from Accounting, slid into the elevator and flashed him a smile.
Cold sweat prickled over his neck. Jamie could smell her, he realized. She was wearing some flowery perfume that sent him into a panic. His hand shot out to block the doors again. “You know, I think I’ll take the stairs instead. It’s better for me, anyway,” he muttered as he rushed out of the elevator. Jamie was out of earshot before she had a chance to reply, hustling his way down the echoing concrete stairwell.
On the drive home, he sped whenever he could, trying to earn back the minutes, but at that hour, everyone else had the same plan, and he found himself snarled in a traffic jam that sucked away the time. Jamie kept flashing hateful, frightened looks at the dashboard clock, swearing at it for doing its job so goddamn precisely. Sweat broke out across his skin, even though the AC was on full blast, and no matter what radio station he switched to, nothing could take his mind off the clamoring refrain pounding in his head.
I’m gonna be late.
Elena’s gonna be furious. She’s gonna punish me.
But it’s not my fault! I can just tell her-
She’s not gonna listen. She’s gonna make me crawl.
The car behind him honked, and Jamie rolled forward a few feet, before the fear-song began again:
I’m gonna be late.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


braddShenoa Carroll-Bradd lives in Southern California and loves writing horror and fantasy stories.
Short stories were her first love, but she’s currently working on several novels, screenplays, and a graphic novel series.

Her writing idols are Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, and George R. R. Martin. 

You can find Shenoa on Facebook here.

PIG ROAST by Aaron Gudmunson

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlackCOVER


 

PIG ROAST
by Aaron Gudmunson

Chet fancied himself a mustard aficionado. It was more than that though; mustard was his passion. Chet loved red meat, period. He didn’t care that he stood shy of six feet and pushed 300 pounds–food was his life and if that meant forfeiting a few years at the far end, that would suit him fine. Nothing compared to food. Not his ailing mother, who he’d placed in a cut-rate nursing home last May, not his lackluster job as a claims adjuster for a second-tier insurance company, not even his Great Dane Groucho. Food. Was. It.

In his lifetime, he’d scarfed bushels of burgers, mountains of meatloaf, bundles of bratwurst, and cables of kielbasa–all of them enhanced by the glorious spice of mustard.

Arch’s Market was a throwback to the years before big box stores combined gardening with groceries. Arch’s was old school, a squat seven-aisle shop smack in the center of town. It specialized in specialties–it was the only place within a hundred miles where you could buy thirteen varieties of honey and three hundred types of cheese. The in-house bakery pumped out pumpernickel–his all-time favorite bread–in basket after basket of steaming loaves. Arch’s butcher was an artist, fileting and dicing and chopping like a master craftsman, which he was.

And then there was the mustard aisle. Well, half an aisle anyway. The opposing shelving held standard condiments like ketchup and pickles and corn relish and the like, but Chet never even glanced their way. They were all so pedestrian.

His pulse quickened every time he stood before the golden wall of goodness. There were Dijons and deli-styles, honeys and hots, spirited and sweets, whole grain, fruit, beer, and lovely simple yellow. He’d sampled many brands and varieties and had narrowed down his favorites. But there were still so many to try!

Chet loved the 4th of July because the Park District held an annual pig roast and oyster bake. For eight bucks, you got a plate of seared pork with baked beans, cole slaw, a buttered roll and all the oysters you could shuck. Now the rest of the stuff could go to hell, to Chet’s mind, but the pork was utterly to die for. He’d stand soaking in the smoke at the edge of the stone pit while the pig spun over the open flame. He’d savor it. Foster it. Turn it into a deep crave which would start as a black hole in his belly and threaten to devour him whole. By the time the beast finished blackening, Chet’s mouth would fill with saliva so fast he’d have to subtly spit into the grass. By the time he got his plate, he’d pay extra for doubles.

And he always brought his own mustard. He’d carry the jar in a fanny pack, usually a spicy brown. Mustard made everything taste better. Everything.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


 

aaron g1Aaron Gudmunson lives and writes in the Chicagoland area. He has worked as a contributing writer and columnist for local and regional periodicals. His work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Apex, Dark Moon Digest, and Empirical Magazine. His debut novel, Snow Globe, is available now in Kindle and trade paperback formats, as is Emma Tremendous, his first novel for young adults (written as A.D. Goodman). Visit him on the web at http://www.aarongudmunson.com.

NEWS: Wrapped In Black

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We are very proud to announce the contributors for

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVERIt wasn’t easy to narrow down the fantastic submissions we received, but we think we’ve picked 13 amazing stories from 13 talented authors and we hope you will agree. 

Stay tuned for more links, interviews, excerpts, release date, cover reveal and more!

CLICK the NAMES to visit their Facebook Author pages.

Patrick C. Greene

Rose Blackthorn

James Glass

Aaron Gudmunson

Michael G. Williams

Eric Nash

Shenoa Carroll-Bradd

Mike Lester

Gregory L. Norris

Gordon White

Nick Kimbro

Solomon Archer

and Special Guest

Allison M. Dickson

Wrapped In White: Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Allison M. Dickson, Bryan W. Alaspa, James Glass, Michael G. Williams, New Release, NEWS, Patrick C. Greene, Sekhmet Press LLC, short stories, Solomon Archer PhD, Suzi M, Wrapped Anthologies, Wrapped In White

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NOW AVAILABLE!!

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from the creators of  WRAPPED IN RED

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

(meet the authors here)

Tragedy begets terror, then circles back on itself, and a cycle is born that ripples through the worlds of the living and dead eternally, until satisfied by love, tears–or blood…

The creators of Wrapped In Red have struck again, unfurling thirteen gossamer shrouds of woe and weirdness, laying bare the faces of fear that watch and wait in the shadows of cemeteries, the corners of ancient structures, the thoughts we wish we didn’t think . Some will crawl under your skin, some will batter you senseless with limitless otherworldly power, others will walk a line as thin as the veil between us and them.

Leave the lights on for this collection–but know that no precaution will keep its tales from haunting you even into the noonday sun…

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Open Call * Submissions * Horror Anthology – CLOSED

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As we approach the March 25th release of

WRAPPED IN WHITE

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Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Sekhmet Press is pleased to announce

our next anthology in the successful WRAPPED series!

wrapped in blackWRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales

of

Witches and the Occult

Here is your chance to be a WRAPPED contributor!
We are very excited about this third anthology and we look forward to filling available slots through open-call submissions. You may submit your story as an attachment to sekhmetpress@gmail.com between May 18, 2014 and June 8, 2014. Contributors will be announced in July. Expected release date for Wrapped in Black is October 2014.
Original stories only please. No reprints.
Any submissions or inquiries sent anywhere other than sekhmetpress@gmail.com  will be deleted. Submissions received before or after open call dates will be deleted.
Stories should range from 2,500 to 5,000 words.
We are not looking for stories reflecting religious dogma.
In your email, make sure to include your full name, the title of the work you are submitting, and a word count.
A short Bio will be requested upon acceptance of story.
Please spend time proofing and editing your submissions before sending them. Submissions with incorrect grammar, misspellings or formatting will be automatically excluded from the review process. Those submissions that are accepted must be open to receiving minor editorial corrections.
If your story is chosen, pay rate is $0.01 per word, within 30 days of acceptance/signed contract and one paperback copy of WRAPPED IN BLACK within 90 days of publication. Publisher will retain first worldwide publication rights for one year from publication date.
Good luck

Submission Guidelines:

TITLE
Author Name
Word count
e-mail address

12pt Garamond or equivalent

Single Spaced

Do not use TAB key. New paragraphs should be formatted with a 0.3 indent.

Do not use symbols such as # or * between sections. A single blank space is sufficient.

Now go write a story!

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