Tag Archive | Pen of the Damned

New Story – Confessional

It’s been a couple of years since I explored the wonder and mysteries of Catholicism in my book, Evil Eternal, albeit it in a very overly dramatic fashion. I decided to dip my toe back in the holy water with a new short story, Confessional, available exclusively at Pen of the Damned.

Growing up an altar boy and singer in the church choir, the one aspect of my faith as a good Irish Catholic that frightened me was the act of confession. I was always worried that the priest would see  me in a different, negative light once he knew I lied to a teacher and took the Lord’s name in vain (thanks to my grandfather for that one – he used ‘goddammit’ with positive flair). The act of confession doesn’t get easier as you get older.

Priests are, after all, only human. Could you look the other way if someone you were close to confessed to abusing a child, or cheating on their spouse with numerous partners, or robbing a liquor store, or even worse, murder? We ask for forgiveness, release our burden, perform our acts of contrition. But just as energy can never be destroyed, perhaps so the weight of sin. Confession is an act of transference, so though you may leave the church with a lighter heart, what happens to the priest?

Confessional

These are the things nagging at my brain as I wrote Confessional. If you’re curious as to what goes on within its confines, I suggest you bow your head and step inside….

Once you’ve cleansed your sins, post a comment here on or on Twitter using #HunterConfesses and you’re eligible to win a signed copy of Evil Eternal. I’ll announce winners next week.

Most of all, what do you think of confession? What are your experiences?

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Damned Words

Because I’ve been working on a huge project and beset with other issues, I was, unfortunately, not able to be with my fellow damned on this one. Hell, they didn’t need me anyway. Check it out…

THOMAS BROWN

One of Pen of the Damned’s most recent features is the addition of Damned Words into our schedule – once a rotation we review an image, photographed and supplied by our own Nina D’Arcangela, and each write a one hundred word flash inspired by what we see.

It is wonderful to see the weird places each of our different personalities takes us. I’ve said it before but I will do so again – the world is made up of billions of people, and each of them different. Exercises like this are a pleasure and a treat because they serve to highlight those differences. We are working from the same image, we write with the same dark predilections, but still we produce different stories, exploring different themes, told in different voices and tones… It is this unique opportunity to share another person’s private perspective of the world that makes writing so…

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Fallen Angels and the Debut of Adriana Noir

I was fortunate enough to meet stunning new author Adriana Noir through my association with the Pen of the Damned, a collective of talented writers with a flair for the ghastly. Adriana is now a bonafide published author, thanks to her debut novel, Requiem : Book of the Fallen. It’s a dystopian tale of fallen angels, demons and the struggle for the fate of humanity; heavy stuff crafted with passion and finesse rarely seen with first novels.
As part of my plan to promote Adriana with every drop of my blood, I’ll start with an interview so you can get to know her and also read an excerpt from her book. Read on…
OK, who exactly is Adriana Noir? Tell the readers of this old blog and chain a little about yourself, how you came to get sucked into the madness.
Ooo! Chains! How exciting! You certainly do know how to roll out the welcome mat here.
Who am I? Hmm. That is a good question. According to my brethren over on Pen of the Damned, I am the Goddess of the Dark and the Seductress of Sin. I am not sure if that’s accurate or not, but you must admit, it does have a catchy ring, no? I am mystery, dear Hunter, and as to who I am, well that answer is probably as elusive as the shadows.
I got sucked into the madness because madness is appealing in its own way. I fell in love with reading as a child and I’ve always been accused of having an overactive imagination. There were so many times I would read a book or watch a movie and wonder ‘what if?’ From there it just all sort of evolved into me walking around immersed in my own little world and characters. Most frustrating to those around me, I am sure…but I truly can’t help it. I like it here. There’s cookies and all sorts of devious stuff.
Your debut novel, Requiem : Book of the Fallen, just hit the streets (so to speak) in October, through Wynwidyn Press. I have it in my Kindle and will be reading it over the Thanksgiving holiday (I save special books for my extended down time). For those who aren’t in the know, give us a taste of the book and make us crave more! 

Yes, yes it did.  You’ll have to give me a minute here. I’m really excited that you’ll be reading my book!

I did a small piece over on Pen of the Damned a few months ago called I am Seir It’s an introduction of sorts to the main character and the circumstances surrounding Requiem. The story starts out in a world that’s caved beneath full social and economic collapse. Nothing’s left: no government, no electricity, no food. The world’s this barren sort of wasteland. People are pretty bad off, and that’s were Seir and his kind come in.
Requiem’s told from his point of view. It’s got it’s own unique flavor and spin. He can be a bit of a sarcastic ass at times, but the character is a lot of fun to write, and hopefully for people to read. Being a Fallen, he’s not too keen on humans. Then again he’s not really too fond of his own kind either. Seir is a bit of a loner, but he makes some interesting connections throughout the book…a lot of which bring conflict and upset he could do without.
Here’s a fun little excerpt:
===========================================

Alistair screamed his rage and fought to break free of his dying host. I lunged, knocking my stunned opponent to the ground. Huge slates of plaster plummeted around us. The steel bathroom doors twisted like they were made of foil, tearing from the hinges to whistle through the air. The building’s structural beams groaned; the walls threatened to give.

Metal shelving units popped free from the walls, and cement screws volleyed through the air. Searing pain ripped through my shoulder as one of them hit their mark, then another. Beneath me, Alistair’s true form threatened to break free of its host. Maniacal laughter erupted as he fed off my wounds.

Enraged, I seized his throat, squeezing the slender column until it threatened to pop. Time was running short. Another minute and the ruined building would implode from the force of our destruction. Coiling over him, I sank my teeth deep into the base of his neck, tearing flesh free from bone with a vicious shake. Warm fountains of blood spurted on my face. Geysers of life pumped from the mangled jugular. The fluid was bitter and sticky against my tongue. Grimacing, I spat the foul taste from my mouth, my eyes burning with hatred. Alistair made a strange gurgling sound, his hand reaching out in a last ditch effort, but his strength faded with each weakening beat of the human’s heart.

Lips curled into a sneer, I knocked his arm away and, seconds later, his eyes went black. I remained hunched, shoulders heaving while I caught my breath and shook the last threads of anger. Throwing my head back I bellowed, releasing the last shreds of violence and ire.

The ground stilled, and an eerie silence settled over the store. Only the sound of my own labored breathing reached my ears. Wiping the blood on the sleeve of my coat, I stood. Concerned, I sought Ava among the piles of rubble and found her clinging to Remiel. She was still wide-eyed and trembling. Her fists twisted in his torn cloak as if attempting to hold on to his very life. I ached to offer her a reassuring smile, but instead I found my gaze riveting upon the speechless angel at her side. He stared back in silence, tense, but calm despite the chaos.

“You,” I growled through clenched teeth, “are worthless.”

“Seir . . .”

My eyes snapped to Ava in question, though I still struggled, aching with the urge to rip her friend from the floor. Several agonizing seconds ticked by, measured only by my beating heart as she struggled to form coherent thought.

“W-what are you doing here?”

“I was in the neighborhood.” It was a dry quip, but I was still seething with annoyance. I turned to confront Remiel, pinning him a scathing glare. “It’s probably a damn good thing, too, seeing as you were nowhere to be found.”

His chin lifted a notch in defense. “I was shielding her. I kept her safe.”

A humorless smile lifted one corner of my mouth; my shoulders lifted in a snort. “Keep on telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.”

“I suppose you want to eliminate me now as well?” Wariness crept into his voice and he pressed his lips together as if bracing for the answer. I found myself wondering how he’d ever worked his way up the angelic ranks, all the way up to Arch. I’d seen arthritic field hands with more backbone and gumption over the years.

Behind him, Ava had staggered to her feet. Her steps were wobbly and slow, laden with fear. I rolled my eyes, dismissing Remiel with a terse wave. “You aren’t even worth the effort. Unlike you, some of us didn’t revive our energy with an afternoon nap.”

Ava’s shrill scream broke the spell of resentment brewing between us. Alarmed, I rushed to her side, worried that I had somehow mistaken my assessment of Alistair’s condition. Her eyes were flared to comical proportions, almost bulging from their sockets in a state of horror and disbelief. I moved to comfort her, trying to wrap an arm around her trembling shoulders, but she whirled away, her feet scrabbling in an attempt to put distance between us.

“This is not happening! What is going on here?” Tears streamed down her face and she shivered as the onset of shock kicked in.

“Ava . . .” I took a step forward.

Her hand shot up. “Don’t touch me. Tell me what is going on! What just happened here and what the hell is that?”

She pointed to the inanimate corpse on the floor. Slate black eyes stared unseeing at the ceiling. They reflected the fathomless abyss of darkness and despair that had once inhabited the soul. Alistair’s presence had infected the body, and with his demise the flesh began to wither and shrink. The once human face was contorted, the bones displaced beneath the surface. In death, they had shifted to resemble something closer to the demon’s true form as he lie trapped within. The gaping hole in his neck appeared even larger, standing out in vivid contrast against the gaunt, mummy-like remains.

“Him?” I asked, shrugging. “He’s dead.”

Just to be sure, I nudged the putrid miscreation with the toe of my boot. “Quite, in fact.”

“You are not funny, Seir!”

“It was worth a shot.”

======================================

I’ve read your poetry and shorts and am always blown away by the dark beauty of your prose. I know how hard it is to struggle for that first book deal. What was your road to publishing success like and how long did it take? How did you find Wynwidyn Press, or did they find you?

Thank you, Hunter. That truly does mean a lot to me coming from you. You’re making me blush so hard it burns–burns like the sun!
You know, this may sound strange, but I don’t quite consider it a success. Not yet. I’m still not where I want to be. There’s still a long and arduous road stretched ahead of me, but I fully intend on getting there. 😉
As for Wynwidyn, I was lucky. I’d run into their CEO, Robin Moyer, a few times on a writing site we both belong to. She’d had the opportunity to read a lot of my work, and when a mutual friend of ours mentioned I was ready to publish my book, she said she’d be interested in reading the manuscript. A phone call was arranged shortly thereafter, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Aside from being a full time writer, what would be your dream career?
*smirks* Dream? Oiling down the firefighters they find for those calendar shoots! I’m not sure one could make a career out of that, but honestly…I’d be willing to give it my best try. 😉
Have you ever been to any writer conventions or cons within the genre in which you write? If not, do you have any plans? I know you’re going to have a legion of fans who will want to meet you face to face.

Legions? That’s almost as good as having minions! I’ll take it!

Sadly, no I have not. I have always wanted to though, so it is definitely in the plans for the future. I really enjoy getting together with other writers and talking. Everyone’s journey is so different, and there’s something so fascinating about picking someone’s brain and finding out what makes them tick. That alone would be worth going for. So many awesome people attend those events, and let’s face it, horror has the some of the best readers and fans out there.
What are your 3 favorite movies and why?
I love the Friday the 13th stuff. My Facebook friends get a steady stream of Jason Voorhees stuff from my timeline. I don’t know why, but I have a serious soft spot for the big lug. Sure he is a hulking beast, but face it…as a kid he was bullied, drowned, and then watched his mother get murdered. I also have a sick fixation with masks, cloaks, and hooded fiends. Jason just tops that list. Make that boy mad and things are going to get bloody!
Gladiator:  I’ve watched that movie so many times I have most of it memorized. I love the history of ancient Rome. It’s always fascinated me and that movie has such a great, sweeping story line. The feeling is so panoramic–the soundtrack is epic. Okay, I’m gushing…
The original Bonnie and Clyde: Here goes my reputation: I don’t know what it is with that story, but it makes me bawl like a baby every time. I sob at the end. I think I have an extremely warped sense of empathy. *grimace*
What’s your current work in progress?
Weeellll, I have two. I’m currently working on Requiem’s sequel, Blood of the Damned. It picks up where the first book left off and explores the aftermath of everything that’s happened. (The first chapter is included on the Kindle version of Requiem) Things are getting bad for Seir in a hurry. There’s some really fun stuff in store there.
My second work in progress is full-blown horror. No demons or angels here, just one very large and hulking monster named Red. He’s got a bloodstained mask, an ax, and some major Daddy issues. His brother is pretty sick as well. I really can’t wait to unleash him on the rest of the world.
Where can people find all of your work and how can they get in touch with you?
AdrianaNoir.com  or my Amazon Author Page you are also more than welcome to look me up on Twitter or Facebook

A Gothic Tale For Halloween – Mercy

My favorite day is finally here. And even though Hurricane Sandy has pushed the festivities in my area to Saturday, we’re all going to do our best to keep in the spirit today.

As a special treat, here is chapter 3 of my gothic tale of possession and intrigue, MERCY. The first 2 chapters were published on Pen of the Damned.  If you need to catch up, you can read chapter 1 here and chapter 2 here. The 4th and final chapter will be posted in early December on the POTD site.

Now sit back by a roaring fire, turn down the lights and go back over 120 years to the land of Mercy, where evil is afoot and two girls find themselves alone in the Old Manse…

MERCY – PART 3

Father had to go to Royal Tunbridge Wells on business, and said he would be back in a week’s time. We so wished he would stay, but daren’t ask that of him. He was an important man, and his business kept us in a lifestyle that others envied.

Esther remained in hospital. Her condition had gown dire as infection spread from one leg to the other. Blood poisoning, they called it. No one knew what had done such a thing to her. It must have been an animal, perhaps a sick wolf that had come round our house. It was the only theory that made sense.

Mother had been sedated to the point where she was nothing more than a slip of a phantom, drifting throughout the Old Manse at odd hours. Most days, she didn’t even recognize us. Her occasional jabberings as she roamed the dark house at night chilled me to the bone.  My mother had become the shambling embodiment of my nightmares.

Jessamine and I did the cooking and cleaning while Father was away, and made sure Mother didn’t waste away to nothing in between doses of laudanum.

I was bringing up a tray of broth, brown bread and cold chicken when Jessamine shouted from Mother’s room.

“Mercy, come quick!”

Placing the tray on the floor, I ran to the room. Jessamine stood by Mother’s bed, her mouth agape. Mother slept, unaware of our intrusion.

“Blood!” I exclaimed.

Streams of crimson stained the crisp, white sheets.

“Look!” Jessamine said, pointing at mother’s left hand.

Good God!

Mother’s ring finger was gone. A nub of yellow bone poked  out of the gore that remained of her finger. There was no trace of the finger itself; only the bloody show left in its leaving’s wake.

“What…what happened?” I said. My vision began to tilt and I felt ready to fall. Jessamine’s firm grip on my arm kept me upright.

“I don’t know. It looks like most of the bleeding has stopped. Here, press the sheet against it while I go get Dr. Fenimore”

Even though it was Mother on the bed, wounded yet serene, the thought of touching that space where her finger used to be brought a a wave of revulsion that threatened to spill from my mouth. I recoiled.

Jessamine was insistent. “I know what you’re feeling, but you must do what I say. I’ll return with the doctor before you know it.”

Before I could protest, she was down the stairs and out the door. I heard the clatter of our mare’s hooves pound upon the path to the Old Manse. Mother slept on while I prayed, my trembling hand doing its best to keep pressure on the nub. I looked longingly at my room across the hall, wishing I had Lucy under my arm to comfort me.

 

 

“And you didn’t see or hear anything?” Dr. Fenimore asked. His bulbous, veiny nose twitched when he spoke.

“Nothing,” Jessamine answered. “I was right next door, reading, and Mercy was downstairs preparing supper for mother.”

I nodded, slightly afraid of the corpulent, old doctor. His body and his personality filled the room.

He snorted. “This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Not counting Esther, I thought.

“How on earth could an animal waltz right in and do something like this without either of you noticing? It makes no sense.” He reached into his valet and extracted a bottle of clear liquid and a thick pad of gauze. “Your mother is going to be disoriented when I wake her up. I need you both to keep her calm and help me get her to my carriage.”

He poured the liquid on the gauze and wafted it under her nose. Mother’s eyes fluttered open and she sat up gasping.

When she saw the blood, she asked excitedly, “What’s this? Why is the doctor here? What have you done?”

We did our best to sooth her, but when she saw her hand, she began to wail until she was in full hysterics.

“Get her on her feet and help me walks her downstairs,” the doctor ordered.

It wasn’t easy, and her blood, flowing once again, spattered the walls and floor. Once she was in the doctor’s carriage and sedated , he turned to us and said, “I’ll send word to your father. You mother will have to go to hospital. I don’t want what’s happened to your charwoman to repeat itself. Keep your doors and windows barred and be wary of any stray animals about. Do you hear?”

We both nodded. Before we could ask a single question, he cracked the whip over his horse and rumbled out of sight.

 

 

That night, the Old Manse was bathed in gloom. Not just from the moonless night, but from the heaviness in our hearts.

Normal sounds, like wind against the eaves or the bark of a stray dog, made us jump. We lit as many candles as we could to defy the dark. Jessamine suggested we spend the night in the parlor, surrounded by our family’s books, craft works and piano.

“We could play music until dawn. That always cheers you up,” Jessamine said. Her fingers nibly braided my long hair.

“I’m not in the mood for music,” I said. I sat on the settee with Lucy in my lap. Her painted blue eyes looked into my own. Lucy wasn’t afraid. I so wish I could be like Lucy, a creature of porcelain and fabric, fearless and unaware of the dangers that lurked about our home.

Jessamine sighed. “It’s just as well. I don’t think I have the mind to play anyway. What should we do?”

An idea blossomed.  I exclaimed, “Father always said that knowledge is power. We’re afraid because we don’t know what’s happening. Like when you were…”

“Possessed,” she said, staring at the floor.

I didn’t want to hurt her, but most of all, I didn’t want to open the doorway for the evil to return, not even the slightest crack, just as Father had warned me.

But then, I thought, wasn’t some form of evil alive in the Manse yet again?

“Well, when it first started, we were all so terrified. We spent months in a kind of daze, ” I continued.

“I remember, at least in the beginning.”

“It wasn’t until father began reading, searching for the cause of your sickness, that things began to get better. Once he knew what was happening to you, he also knew what needed to be done to stop it.” I was beginning to grow bold, bolstered by my own logic.

“Do you think the demon is back, within me? Do you think I’ve done this to Esther and Mother?” Jessamine’s eyes were wide and wet, shivering like disturbed pools with terror.

I violently shook my head. “No, of course not. Believe me, I would know if that was the case. You were unrecognizable when you were under the devil’s spell. No, this is something different. Maybe if we look in the books that Father gathered back then, we can find our answer!”

The old grandfather clock chimed nine o’clock. We both let out a sharp cry.

“Look at us, afraid of clocks,” Jessamine said with a quivering laugh.

“Not for long,” I said. I pulled an armful of books from one of the shelves and poured them onto the floor. “After you.”

We read deep into the night, skimming through Bibles, books on witchcraft, Medieval monsters, essays on chimeras, beasts and tales of shape shifters. They should have frozen our blood with their stories of godless  creatures and death, but we remained true to our task.

To find the truth of the matter.

Some time after midnight, I closed a heavy book with a loud thunk and leaned back against Father’s chair.

“My eyes are going cross,” I said with a yawn.

Jessamine didn’t reply. Her head remained within the pages of a black, leather bound book that was almost as big as me.

“What do we know so far?” she eventually asked, her voice muffled behind the book.

“That Esther and Mother both had parts of their bodies eaten by a supposed animal. Yet no one has seen or heard anything.”

She slammed the book down on the floor and pointed. “I think I found our culprit.”

I moved round to sit by her side.

Her finger rested on a drawing of a horrid creature. It was short, standing on two deformed legs, skin the sickly color of an algae-infested pond, with warts suppurating along every inch of vile flesh. Sharp fangs sprouted from the overbite in its mouth and talons dangled from fingertips that were twisted like an old tree.

“That’s disgusting!” I gasped.

“Most ghouls are,” she said. “They can transport from one place to another with merely a thought, and people claim they are able to change shape in order to camouflage themselves within the real world. Here’s the part that caught my eye.”

I read aloud. “Ghouls exist for one thing: to consume the flesh of humans, whether dead or alive. Demonic in nature, ghouls have been known to lead people, especially small children, astray so they can feast upon their flesh. Once a victim has been marked by the bite of a ghoul, it will come back often, taking what it can, until life can be sustained no more. A man or woman marked by a ghoul is marked for death.”

I felt hot tears well up in my eyes and my vision blurred. “Mother’s going to die?”

“Not necessarily,” Jessamine said. “Read on.”

To free a victim from the ghoul’s poison, one must catch the ghoul in the act of extracting its scrap of human meat. The ghoul can be destroyed by the kiss of flame to its evil eyes. Be wary! Ghouls are as hard to restrain as they are to find. Beware of its bite, lest you be marked as well.”

I wiped a tear from my eye. “That’s little help. It doesn’t tell us how to find or catch one, if that’s truly what’s plaguing our family.”

“But it does say it’s demonic in nature. Mercy, I’ve already danced with a demon. I know that I would be able to feel its presence if it came near. I think that’s why it’s gone after Esther and Mother. It’s kept clear of me to remain hidden.”

“So what do we do?” Despair began to take hold of me and all I wanted to do was saddle our mare and find Father, even if it meant riding all night, alone in the dark.

Jessamine closed the book and pulled me close. “Tonight, you stay by me. I doubt any ghoul would dare come to you as long as you’re in my embrace. I’ll stay up and watch over you. Get some sleep. Tomorrow, we’ll think of something.”

I fought sleep for as long as I could. I desperately wanted to stay awake. However, my eyelids felt like great slabs of stone and I couldn’t stop from yawning.

“You promise you’ll hold me all night, and never take your eyes off me?” I asked.

She smiled, and brushed a lock of my hair from my face. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

I nestled my head into her lap, pulled Lucy under my arm, and let the sandman in.

My Halloween Boomstick!

October for horror writers and lovers is like April for accountants – pure madness. And madness is damn good. I’m gearing up big time for Halloween and have a lot of treats to share (so no egging my house!).

First off, Swamp Monster Massacre is tearing it up. So happy to see skunk ape love out there. The reviews have been nothing short of fantastic. Here’s what some folks had to say (you can click on each to see the full review):

” This is one to read with the lights turned down low at night!” — Charlayne’s Review

“My oh my did I enjoy myself when I read this book! 5 stars! — Turning the Pages

“A total must read for all thriller fans. 5 stars” — My Cozie Corner Reviews

Like a good little horror ghoul, I’ve been watching horror movies all month. Rememebr to follow me on Twitter and check out #Terrortober for the list and my reviews of each, as well as the books I’ve been reading. The movies have spanned from 1920 to 2011, so there’s a lot to see.

The Monster Men unleashed our second annual Halloween episode. We have a brand new theme song and some funny surprises peppered throughout. We go from The Great Pumpkin to hanted asylums and slasher flicks. Check it out!

Speaking of the Monster Men, Jack and I will be interviewed on The Secret to Everything radio show on Wednesday October 24th at 7pm ET. Lord knows what stupid things we’re apt to say. I’m sure it will be archived at the same link.

Coming later this week will be an interview with my favorite ghost hunting team, Pink Kitty Paranormal. Get ready for a wild ride!

On Halloween, I’m going to post chapter 3 of my free gothic story, MERCY. You can visit Pen of the Damned to catch up.

Last but not least, I had a fun book event at The Wicked Wolf Tavern in White Plains, NY this past weekend. I was there along with author Robert Stava, who premiered his new book, At Van Eyckmann’s Request. We had a tarot card reader on hand, giveaways, filmed Monster Men episodes and had many, many drinks. That Jeagermeister shot machine was the end of me. Thank you to everyone who came. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a glimpse…

   Forget the Avengers. This is the greatest group of guys ever assembled.

Jack and I with Jerry, the man behind the Monster Men logos. Ok, the Jaegermeister has kicked in at this point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Gothic Horror Story For You : MERCY

I’m back from a tiny vacation and working like a madman down in my dungeon where I keep my computer and ghosts in a jar. I’m very happy to share my first ever gothic horror tale, MERCY. Part 1 is featured on the Pen of the Damned website. It starts with an exorcism, and goes into dark, myserious places from there. You can’t beat the price (Free!). Check it out when you have a chance and hit those share links at the end of the story to let folks on FB, Twitter, and everywhere know where to find it.

Special thanks to my ghoulish assistants, Ivy and Veronica Shea, who dreamt up this creepy story and gave me inspiration.

All rights reserved by microshlaft

Now, Part 2 isn’t scheduled to be out for another 7 weeks, but if I get enough demand, I’ll feature it right here on the blog sooner, followed by Part 3 on Pen of the Damned. It’s all in your hands now. (cue sinister laughter)

And if you dig this, Evil Eternal is right up your alley!

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