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Demon Dog

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Summary

The old Doberman had been a legend in the town of Hoisington Kansas for fifty years, seen by many but never caught. Killed and buried twice, the Demon Dog had no home other than the one provided by Satan himself. The horror of the dog’s hunts left many with nightmares that never ended. Including the beautiful Samantha Benson. Nolan Masters refused to believe in the legend, but his skepticism was growing weak. With sightings of the beast increasing, it was only a matter of time before someone was injured. Now it was up to the town’s sheriff to hunt down and capture the folklore. How was Nolan going to find an animal who refused to be found, while trying to keep his town safe, and Samantha from returning to her home in California?

Genre:
Mystery / Thriller
Author:
DT Jones
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
25
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter One

The night wind had finally calmed down, allowing the soft scent of hay, and freshly turned soil to drift through the open window. The dark clouds of the early summer storm had passed by, allowing the full moon to embrace the cornstalks of the old farm. The sound of an old owl hooting from the nearby maple tree echoed through the stillness, as the soft mooing from Mazey lulled the night into peaceful slumber.

Curled up with her Raggedy Ann doll, the young eight-year-old girl lay in her bed. The fuzzy images of dreams dancing across her closed lids were suddenly shattered by a low, menacing growl. Her eyes opened and she found herself staring sleepily out the window to the twinkling stars of twilight. Several silent moments passed before she closed her eyes again, only to open them with a start as a deep, ominous growl and frantic clucking of chickens echoed through the night’s stillness.

Jumping out of her bed, Samantha – Sam to her friends and family – ran to the window and leaned on the sill, looking out into the shadowy fields. Everything looked calm and quiet, the ground moist from the recent rain and the air crisp and peaceful, though the chickens seemed to be stirred up by something in the night’s darkness. The gentle breeze caught the blonde curls hanging around her shoulders and blew them enough to tickle her neck, but that didn’t discourage her from searching the surrounding sights.

Everything looked harmless and innocent. The family cow in the barn mooed and Dixie, the old burrow, nickered. But there wasn’t anything to make her think there was a problem. Just as she was turning to go back to the welcoming embrace of her bed, the chickens began clucking frantically again. A shadow near the hen house caught her attention and she peered hard into the growing darkness, narrowing her eyes as if the attempt would bring focus to the image and help her see clearer. Slinking closer to the chicken coop was a large dark shadow. At first, she thought it was a fox or a coyote, until the object moved out of the darkness and into the light.

The dirty, blood caked body was unmistakable. The dark fur matted across a slim frame and four long legs, the pointed nose sniffing the air. Her breath caught in her throat as her eyes tried to dismiss the reality of what she was seeing. Just like those before who claimed to have witnessed the terror, she was quickly being initiated into the club of the unbelieved. She was a living witness to the sights about to take place by the razor-sharp teeth of the county’s most feared creature.

The demon dog.

The old Doberman her grandfather and great uncle bought over fifty years ago, shot, and buried three times, was just feet away from her. As the old legend went, the devil himself had laid claim to the beast and gave him the right to walk the earth. He was invincible, deadly, and about to burst through the restraints of another chicken coop.

Easing closer to the small wooden house and chain-link fence, the animal moved with the skill of a deadly stalker. He was creeping closer to the chickens, very slowly, very quietly.

A soft growl echoed through the night, sending chills of fear up Sam’s spine. As if sensing his silent observer, the beast turned a set of blood red eyes upwards to Samantha, causing her to gasp. It froze in mid-step, staring at her before growling again, baring the most dreadful set of fangs she had ever seen.

She tried to move, but found her feet glued to the floor. Her breath caught in her throat, and she could do no more than stare at the creature. The beast took a half step, turning toward the girl, growling a warning to her. Before Sam could collect her thoughts enough to scream, the back-porch light flipped on, bathing the animal in the full glory of the white bulb. It was evil, pure and simple. The hatred radiated from the half-eaten ear to the three gunshot holes and ragged, dirty fur.

It took one last look to Samantha, snarling angrily up to her then turned and ran back into the large stalks of corn. Daddy came out of the backdoor, his shot gun raised while Bobby followed close behind, deer rifle in his hand. Sam just watched as her father and eldest brother hurried out the door, flashlight in hand as they went in search of the animal that had awoken them.

With her heart pounding like a war drum, Sam closed her window quietly and pulled the drapes, then crawled back into her bed. She held tightly to her little doll as she tugged the blankets up across her head. She would never forget the look in the malevolent eyes that stared up at her. It was just like Reverend Lucas warned about in his Sunday sermons. She would never again wonder what Satan looked like after looking into that creature’s eyes.

The fear that echoed in her mind stayed there long after Daddy and Bobby returned to the house, locking the doors and shutting off the back-porch light. She listened very closely to her parents in the room next door discuss the tracks of an animal near the chicken coop. She wanted to go to them and explain what she had seen, but fear kept her in her bed until dawn broke.

Finally, she was able to drift to sleep. She had spent a long night praying audibly that the beast would never return to her farm. Praying too, that she would obey every commandment the old preacher gave until she was too old to remember her name, or the event that had burrowed its memory into her subconscious.

*****

“It was just a coyote,” Jenny said as she sat at the table reading the Sunday funnies. She was Sam’s oldest sister, just shy of sixteen and positive she knew everything. “Daddy and Bobby found the tracks by the chicken coop.”

“I saw it,” Sam told her quietly. “It looked at me. I’ve never been so scared in all my life.”

“You’re such a drama-queen. There is no such thing as a demon dog. It’s an old story parents tell to keep kids inside at night.”

“No, it’s not,” Alex said as he sat down at the table and reached for the box of Corn Flakes. He was the closest to Sam out of all four kids. Bobby had just turned eighteen and was leaving for school in the fall, leaving Jenny as the oldest at home and Alex, who was twelve, would be her only ally left to defend Sam to their sister. “Everyone knows the dog used to belong to Grandpa and Uncle Charles when they were boys.”

“You’re as crazy as the rest of them,” Jenny said with a heavy sigh as she turned the page of the paper. “Grandpa and Uncle Charles shot that dog fifty years ago. Even if it did survive a shot in the head – which it didn’t – it would never have lived another fifty years.”

“Grandpa shot it three times and every time it came back to life,” Alex argued as he poured milk on his cereal, then began spooning sugar on top from the China bowl, in the center of the table. “Even after he buried it, it dug itself out of the hole.”

“You’re both so gullible,” Jenny told them with an exaggerated sigh, tossing the paper down to the old vinyl chair beside her before standing, taking her bowl to the sink. “There’s no such thing as a demon dog and it was a coyote last night. End of story.”

“I did see it,” Sam told Alex after Jenny left the kitchen. “It saw me watching it and turned to stare at me. If Daddy and Bobby hadn’t gone out to check on the chickens, it would have come into my window.”

“It can’t fly, Sam, but I believe you saw it. I saw it once too, well not really saw it, but I saw the bloody footprints in the dirt. That was enough to scare me half to death.”

“Do you think it will come back?” Sam asked, feeling very small and very frightened.

“Not for a while. Daddy’s going to lock the chickens up in the coop at night and Bobby’s rebuilding the door to make it stronger so nobody – or nothing – can get in. Daddy’s even talking about getting a guard dog to keep all the stray animals away at night.”

“I hope so. It really scared me.”

Sam finished her breakfast while Alex continued to talk about the kind of pet he hoped they could get, though she really didn’t listen to what he was saying. All she could do was think about those eyes, the cold feeling of fear gripping her spine. She hoped her brother was right and the evil creature never returned. It would be worth getting rid of all the chickens if it meant keeping the demon dog far from the family farm, and even farther away from her.

The backdoor opened causing Sam to jump suddenly. Before she could convince herself that even the devil’s pet couldn’t open a door on its own, Bobby stepped into the kitchen, a large basket of eggs in his hands and their mother right behind him. Sam sighed a deep breath of relief. She always felt calmer when her oldest brother was around. He was big and strong, nearly as big as their father, with short blonde hair and big blue eyes. His smile was contagious, even if she didn’t feel very happy.

“Hey Squirrel,” Bobby said with a warm smile as he winked at her. “Daddy is going into town. Do you still want to go visit your friend, Beth?”

“Yes,” Sam said with a sudden jump of her stomach. “I’ll get my shoes.”

“Take your bowl to the sink,” her mother scolded her before she had the chance to run out of the room, her back turned to her child as if she had seen through the back of her head. “The good Lord did not put me on this earth to clean up after slobs.”

“Yes, Mama,” Sam said as the woman began removing the eggs from the basket.

Sam took her bowl to the sink and turned on the faucet, running water in the leftover milk from her cereal. She turned and hurried up the back stairs to her bedroom. She wanted to leave the memories of last night behind her and visiting her friend who was laid up with a broken leg, was just the ticket.

Taking her sneakers out of the small closet, she quickly tied them on her sockless feet then snatched her bag of Barbie Dolls before leaving her room. She met her father at the backdoor as she jumped down the last two steps with a loud thump. He chuckled at her and returned the hug she offered him before kissing his wife on the cheek.

Sam was in the truck before her father could close the door to the back-porch. She glanced once more to where she had seen the evil creature the night before, then turned her eyes away. She would never be able to go to the hen house again, without fearing that the beast had returned and was once again stalking her.

*****

“Do you really think it was the demon dog?” Beth asked as the two girls sat on her small bed, six Barbie dolls across the covers along with an array of clothes, tiny plastic shoes, and the new doll camper she had gotten as a get-well gift from her parents.

“I know it was,” Sam said combing her doll’s long blonde hair with a tiny pink doll brush. “It was all bloody and gross. I’m just glad Daddy came outside before it tried to jump into my window.”

“My uncle Buck said he’d seen it once. He said it was the ugliest thing he’d ever laid eyes on.”

“It was.”

“I heard that anyone who sees it would die and go to hell.”

“That’s nonsense,” Sam said with a deep sigh. “If it was true, then how come so many people are alive to tell the stories?”

“I don’t know. I guess I didn’t think of it like that.”

“All I know is, I never want to be outside after dark again.”

“You can’t hide forever.”

“Oh, yes I can,” Sam said sternly. “When I’m older, I’m leaving Kansas and never coming back.”

“Where would you go?” Beth asked, brushing her long red curls from her face.

“I don’t know. Anywhere. Maybe California where everyone’s happy and the weather’s always warm. They don’t have evil demons there. Only dolphins and oceans.”

“And sharks,” Beth said with a know-it-all cock of her head. “You have to be careful in the ocean because they are everywhere.”

“That’s alright with me,” Sam said with a shrug of her shoulders. “I don’t know how to swim.”

*****

“My plane lands at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon,” Sam said through the earpiece to her iPhone.

“I thought you were going to catch a flight today,” Mama commented over the receiver.

“I have to finish up some work here before I can leave.”

“I know you have a career to deal with, sweetheart, but I’m anxious for your visit. I’m just excited you’re coming home for a few weeks. Your visit is all anyone can talk about.”

“Mama I don’t want a fuss. I told you not to tell the whole town I was coming home,” Sam said with an exhausted sigh.

“When my famous actress-daughter finally comes home after ten years, it’s a big deal. Your daddy has been telling everyone about your latest movie and the drive-Inn is putting on a marathon of your shows.”

“Mama, I was really hoping to come home and lay low for a while. I don’t want a bunch of amateur paparazzi following me wherever I go.”

Sam drew a deep breath as she tossed the latest script her agent sent her aside. She knew her parents were proud of her success, and she appreciated everything they had always done to support her choice of careers, but she wasn’t ready for an impromptu autograph party at the local hardware store.

“You can relax,” her mother promised. “Your brothers and Jenny will be here, and the city has asked Daddy to put on the annual Halloween Harvest and Maze. People will be too busy getting ready for the festival to bother you. Daddy is so excited about the honor. He’s been out in the field for weeks trying to make it perfect. You’d think the sun comes up just to hear him crow.”

“Look, Mama, I have to go,” Sam said as she rolled her eyes to the quiet room. “I have a lot of work to do before I pack. I’ll call just as soon as my plane is ready to take off.”

“Okay honey. Be careful and make sure you pack your jacket. It’s been cold here at night.”

“You live in Kansas, Mama, and it’s October. Of course, it’s cold at night.”

“Daddy is meeting you at the airport,” Mama continued as if she hadn’t heard her daughter’s comment. “He’s anxious to show off his new truck.”

“I’m glad he finally got one, but I really have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Alright, sweetheart. I love you. Now don’t work too hard.”

“I love you too. Goodbye Mama.”

Sam smiled as she pressed the button on the earpiece before her mother could say another word, then sat down in the plush armchair with a heavy sigh.

She was looking forward to going home for a rest, but she wasn’t looking forward to the entire county knowing she was there. She knew her manager would pitch a fit about her safety, and she was hoping to spend some time thinking. Sam was feeling like she was at a crossroads in her life, with no real direction of which path to travel. Now, thanks to her family’s big mouths, she was going to have to answer a slew of questions about her personal life, her career, and her stuntman ex-boyfriend.

The past few months had been a whirlwind of chaos and Sam felt like she was in the eye of a tornado. Once, not that long ago, being the next up-and-coming actress all of Hollywood wanted was exciting and exhilarating. She had worked hard over the past ten years, taking every bit part she could lay her hands on, working in dogfood commercials and small walk-on parts for two soap operas, auditioning for hundreds of movies until eventually landing that one role that had heads turning. At last, her hard work had paid off for her. She had clawed her way to the top and was proud of her accomplishments. Then she found Todd, and everything seemed to take a nosedive.

Sam knew that going home would be no different than the past three award shows she’d gone to. Everyone wanted inside information on her private life.

When are you getting married?

Are you going to live in New York or L.A.?

Are kids in your future?

Will you give up acting once you’re married?

How was she supposed to explain to the world, not to mention her parents, she had broken up with the man they all thought was the most amazing person in her life? Todd Stanley was gorgeous, with his shoulder length blonde hair and startling blue eyes. He worked hard to make sure his muscles went from his toes to his ears and had spent thousands of dollars perfecting a white smile that stole more than one woman’s heart. He was rich, successful, and a recently awakened gay, as he put it.

Todd assured her he was still willing to go through with their engagement. After all, it was good publicity for both of their careers. Sam, on the other hand, wasn’t willing to play make-believe in her private life as well as on the screen. She returned his ring the minute he told her he wanted to move his new lover in once they came back from their honeymoon.

Sam had always imagined having the perfect life and career and wanted the kind of marriage she had grown up with. She wanted what her mother had. A husband who loved his wife, kids who loved and respected their parents, P.T.A. meetings, maybe even a garden in the backyard. The last thing she wanted was a marriage at face value.

Regardless of how much Hollywood thought they were the perfect couple; Samantha Benson was not willing to settle for less than everything. She never had and she wasn’t going to lower her standards now. Even for a killer smile that still sent chills down her spine.

The bell to the front door dinged twice, bringing Sam back to reality. With a deep sigh she stood up and walked to the heavily frosted security door. Sam smiled when she saw the dark-haired image of her friend through the peephole. It was just like Jill Arkly to arrive just when she needed someone to talk to. She opened the door and laughed as her best friend held out a Styrofoam cup filled with blue pieces of ice.

“Snow cones and pizza,” Jill said as she stepped through the front door. “What more could a girl heading for the Midwest possibly want?”

“Just a handsome, straight guy on her arm to meet her family and steer off the many embarrassing questions,” Sam answered as she closed the door and bit off the top of the frozen pile of ice.

“Oh, come on. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’re going home. Maybe you’ll hook up with one of those handsome rancher’s sons and fall passionately in love.”

“That only happens in movies, and there are very few ranchers around Hoisington, Kansas, just farmers, and I dated most of their sons. Trust me, it’s not a habit I want to repeat.”

“What about that guy you dated through high school? What was his name? Nathan Something?”

“Nolan Masters,” Sam clarified as she sat back in her favorite chair and tucked her long legs beneath her bottom. “Yeah, he was the rare one, but unfortunately he’s married and living in Chicago.”

“Stop worrying. You found Todd without even trying. You’ll find four more to take his place.”

“I found Todd, as you call it, because we were in the same movie.”

“It happens every day in Hollywood,” Jill snorted. “Should I start naming couples that met on film and fell in love off camera?”

“Shall I start naming couples who divorced once the stage lights were off?”

Jill laughed and Sam smiled. It had been an argument they had started when Sam called her friend up crying that her perfect boyfriend was gay.

“If you weren’t so determined to retain your virginity, you could get twenty gorgeous actors a night if you wanted to,” the brunette said as she flipped open the pizza box and took out a slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza.

“But I don’t want that,” Sam said, spooning out a chunk of flavored ice with the small spoon on the end of the orange straw. “One-night stands are a dime a dozen. I want to fall in love before I surrender myself to a man.”

“That’s just it. You can fall in love every day, without the hassle of sharing your closet.”

“I’ll let you fall in love daily,” Sam laughed as the young woman across from her pulled a piece of cheese off her pizza crust before dangling it over her mouth, swallowing it like a lizard would inhale an insect. “I’ll stick with my age-old morals.”

“I swear, you’re the last virgin in Hollywood. I’m amazed you can do such incredible love scenes when you don’t know the first thing about sex.”

“Who said I don’t know anything?” Sam asked with a shocked expression. “I’ve done things, I just haven’t gone all the way, and I won’t until I’m totally in love.”

“You’re weird. Giving head is different than making love.”

“You’re gross,” Sam argued.

“How long are you going to be gone?” Jill couldn’t help smiling at the sour expression her friend gave her.

“A few weeks maybe. I’m not sure just yet.”

“What did your mother say when you told her you weren’t going to marry Todd?” Jill asked, looking up under her dark lashes to her friend.

“She wasn’t happy, but I know I can get Daddy on my side, and if Mama can’t accept it, then that’s her problem. I kinda think Daddy wasn’t really happy with my choice in the first place. He didn’t seem to warm up to Todd like Mama did.”

“I still think it’s funny you call your parents Mama and Daddy. You’re an adult, why not shorten it, or call them by their first names? Everyone’s doing it.”

“That’s not how you do it on the farm. It’s always Mama and Daddy, just like it was for their parents and theirs before them. I can’t even remember a time when they called each other by their given names. For as long as I can remember, Mama will call him Daddy and he calls her Mama.”

“You have a weird family,” Jill told her with a frown.

“Maybe, but we’re straight forward and simple.”

Sam laughed when her friend rolled her eyes, watching while she brushed her dark hair back from her forehead. It was typical for Jill to insist adults didn’t have to use titles for their parents after they turned eighteen. As far as she knew, she’d never called her parents anything other than Bill and Ellen.

“When are you leaving?” Jill asked, tapping the bottom of her Styrofoam cup as she tipped it up to her mouth to get all the clinging pieces of ice from the inside.

“Tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, I have a layover in Denver where I’ll spend my time avoiding gossip mongers and photo hounds, and I won’t get there until after dinner.”

“That doesn’t add up,” Jill frowned. “You should be there around lunchtime or a little later. How long of a layover do you have in Denver?”

“Only three hours.”

“Am I missing something?” Jill asked her friend, her frown deepening across her slender brows.

“Dinner on the farm is the same as lunch in the city,” Sam smiled.

“Then when do you eat dinner?”

“That’s supper.”

“I’m confused.” Sam laughed, looking to her friend who scratched her head. Country life was a far cry from living at the beach. “What’s the difference?”

“It all depends on where you live. Trust me, it’s easier to just go with it. It takes the sting out of the chaos.”

The two laughed as they finished eating, then settled back on the furniture to relax.

“If you aren’t leaving too early tomorrow, then let’s go to Dell’s party tonight. I can make sure you’re at the airport in time to catch your flight and you can sleep in Denver instead of offering autographs.”

“I can’t,” Sam argued, setting her half-eaten snow cone aside. “I’m having dinner with my manager this evening, to do a little damage control from Todd and discuss this new script he sent me.” Sam held up a file of papers, all neatly bound together. Jill gasped when she read the title on the front cover.

“You’re going to be in Jupiter Six?” Jill asked with wide eyes, taking the script Sam tossed to the sofa’s arm. “Do you have any idea how many people have auditioned for that role?”

“I know, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to do something this intense, not yet at least,” she said with a flipping sensation to her stomach. “Todd was auditioning as well, and I’m not comfortable being in another movie with him.”

“But this is A Mat Swartski film,” Jill insisted as she flipped through the pages slowly. “He’s the greatest thing next to Steven Spielberg or Tim Burton. If you land one of his films, you are a shoo-in for every new role that comes up.”

“His office sent the script to my manager two days ago.”

Sam frowned softly as she remembered the shock she felt when Ed Reynolds, her manager and agent, told her about it. It had been a long dream to be in a Mat Swartski film. Hell, it was every actress’s dream to be his leading star, but it also meant she would most surely be nude, or at the very least topless.

“If you get this script, it will put you over the top,” Jill continued. “You won’t have to audition for side-kick roles again and you could say goodbye to dog commercials forever.”

“It also means I’d be doing a lot more than I’ve ever done before.”

“Oh, who cares? So, you show off your boobies and that tight ass. You’ve worked hard to have a killer body, so flaunt it a little. Besides, those who manage to get the lead in one of Matt’s multimillion-dollar movies, is set for life. The fame, the money, the notoriety would be worth a few minutes of shame.”

“Maybe,” Sam answered softly.

Convincing herself to audition nude for a stranger, and worse still, taking her clothes off in front of a group of spectators was hard enough, but explaining it to her strict Baptist family would be…earth shattering!

*****

“I’ll have our publicist make up a story of an amicable decision to part ways,” her manager, Ed Reynolds, said as he reached for his glass of bourbon.

“It’s better than saying we broke up because he’s as flaming as a birthday candle,” Sam said with a half grin.

“It will save both of your careers without pointing fingers or laying blame. Sooner or later, Todd’s going to trip up and get photographed with his boyfriend and then people will understand why you’re not together. It would have been better if you’d been able to just go about your own lives without anyone noticing, but you are Samantha Benson, the top and rising star of the silver screen.”

“Does anyone call it a silver screen anymore?” Sam asked with a wide-eyed amused grin.

“I suppose I’m dating myself,” Ed said with a chuckle, “but you’ve got to give me a break. I come from a long, long line of Hollywood agents. My old man managed some of the biggest names in the fifties and sixties.”

“I know, you’ve told me. And that isn’t going to get you a raise.”

“Speaking of money,” Ed said, setting his glass on the table and dabbing his napkin across his lips hidden behind the white beard and mustache. “Have you given any extra thought to that script I sent over? The film would solidify your name in the minds of every producer and director in Hollywood.”

“I’ve been reading it all afternoon and I’ve got the lines down. It’s really good, but I’m not sure how I feel about working with spaceships and aliens. Everyone uses CG, why does he insist on life-size models?”

“He’s Mat Swartski,” Ed said with an amused grin pulling on his aging face. “He’s always believed in reality, and he wants all the closeups as real as possible. He wants his actors to interact with their scene and not in front of a green screen. He grew up criticizing horror flicks and doesn’t want anyone doing it to his films.”

“I’m just not sure I’m ready for one of his movies,” Sam said a few quiet moments later. “It’s not so much the nudity as it is the type of movie. I’ve never done a sci-fi script, and I’m not sure if it’s the kind of thing I want to get involved with. I like action, romance, even comedies. That’s what I like doing, not aliens and dinosaurs. It’s too much like being King Kong’s bride.

“Take some time and think about it while you’re away visiting your family,” Ed chuckled. “Swartski asked for you personally, so I’m sure he’s confident you can do the part. If you decide you really don’t want to do it, then don’t, but if it’s the nudity, I’m sure we can work something out. Hell, everyone uses body doubles now days.”

“When does he want an answer?” Sam asked with a serious expression on her beautiful, flawless features. With Ed on her side, and a little arm twisting, she may be able to do the film with her clothes on. At least it would save her from having to explain the dolphin tattoo she had on her shoulder to her parents.

“He’s out of the country until the first of the year, so you have a few weeks. I told his assistant you had prior obligations to attend to and wouldn’t be able to get to the script until after the holidays. It will give you a chance to really consider your answer.”

“I’ll let you know when I get back from Kansas,” Sam promised with a warm smile. “First things first. I have to help Daddy with the Halloween Harvest and Maze.”

“I suppose he wants you to dress up like a scarecrow and jump out at the kids as they try and find their way through the darkness?” Ed snorted.

“No need,” Sam told him with a forced smile as blood red eyes flashed across her mind. “We have a demon dog to do that.”

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