Copyright ÂŠ Kevin T. Parrett 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
ovember 11th in the year 1111 A.D. marks the most magical date in history. It isn’t celebrated annually and it doesn’t appear in any history books, at least not in the ones read by humans. That date marks the day in which Leprechauns were given their magical powers. Prior to that date, Leprechauns were ordinary. Sure they were extraordinary by human standards because their life expectancy is roughly 500 years, but in terms of their magical capabilities, they had none. They lived ordinary lives and did ordinary things away from humans. They lived peacefully in towns and villages full of Leprechauns and Fairies. Fairies, on the other hand, have been magical since the beginning of time. They understand the elements of nature unlike any other in the universe. They lead magical lives, yet enjoy the company of the “ordinary” Leprechauns who share their cities. Rarely
seen by humans, they are satisfied to live their lives without human acknowledgement of their existence. Fairies actually use magic to hide entire cities with thousands of Fairies and Leprechauns right under the noses of humans. Humans are content to believe that Fairies donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exist. With the help of magic, Fairies have helped humans with this belief. Although Fairies possess the power of magic, their lives would be meaningless without the Leprechauns. Even with all of the power in the world, if one is unable to enjoy life, that power is useless. Leprechauns taught the Fairies how to live. They love life and live it to its fullest. Leprechauns are creative and artistic to the same extent that Fairies are magical and powerful. Leprechauns taught the Fairies how to enjoy music, art, and fashion. Leprechauns used manual tools like quills, paintbrushes, hammers and chisels to amaze and entertain the Fairies. They would write extravagant stories, paint the most impressive paintings, sculpt lifelike sculptures, and design clothing and shoes that the Fairies yearned to
have. The Fairies returned this entertainment and culture provided by the Leprechauns with the gift of protection. After centuries of living under this cooperative relationship between the Leprechauns and Fairies, came what was viewed as the most magical day in the history of the Earth; 11/11/1111. The number eleven is a powerful prime number with great magical meaning. Because of this belief in the power of numbers, this date was deemed the most magical date in history and would remain the most magical for the next 10,000 years. The Fairies and Leprechauns spent decades planning for that day. Festivals and parties lasted for an entire year prior to the day and continued for months after it had passed. The long celebration of life, magic, and love was essential to ensure that the magical energy of all living beings was at its peak when November 11th finally came. On the big day, the Fairies surprised the Leprechauns with a gift. They used the magical energy that had been generated over
the decades of planning to present a gift unlike any other given in the history of the world. They provided Leprechauns with the gift of magic. The Leprechauns were extremely grateful for their gift of magic. They quickly learned how to use it from the Fairies and continued to grow in their magical capabilities as time passed. After only a few short years, the gift went terribly wrong. Leprechauns started to exhibit human flaws such as pride, greed, and a thirst for power. These new flaws caused the Leprechauns to fight. They wanted to show others that they were the most powerful of magical beings. Fights became battles and battles became wars. Hundreds of Leprechaun armies were formed to prove their power and dominance. During the first years of fighting, it was quickly realized that most of the Leprechaun armies were equally matched. Very few wars had clear winners or losers. Around the year 1117 A.D., several armies learned a trick that gave them a competitive edge over the other
armies. It is uncertain which Leprechaun army did it first, but the magical impregnation of wolves allowed entire armies to be wiped out. This tactic became a differentiator among the Leprechaun armies. Wolves are ferocious by nature and when empowered by magic, they can defeat almost any living being. Armies were built with so many magical wolves that by 1119 A.D., almost half of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population of Leprechauns was eliminated. After wiping out hundreds of thousands of Leprechauns, some of the armies wanted a new challenge. Many of them declared war against humans. Even without magical powers, humans were viewed as the most feared beings on Earth. Their flawed personalities and assumed dominance over nature enraged the Leprechauns. They felt it was their duty to put the humans in their place. Because the humans were not aware of the declaration of war, the Leprechauns chose to attack humans individually instead of allowing them to form their own armies. To avoid exposing their
existence and intentions, Leprechauns used their wolves to attack unsuspecting humans. The attacks on humans did not go exactly as planned. Humans were resourceful and had sophisticated weapons. Many wolves were killed during the attacks. Not to be beaten by the humans, the Leprechaun leaders unleashed an unthinkable attack on humans. They magically morphed humans with wolves to build the perfect warrior. They wanted to take advantage of the human intelligence and greed, the Leprechaun’s magic, and the ferocity of wolves. This is how werewolves were first introduced to the world, but that’s a whole different story. It was at this time that the Fairies had had enough. They couldn’t sit idly and watch the Leprechauns continue to abuse their magical powers or continue their corruption of the world’s population of wolves. Because magic cannot be taken away from a magical being, the Fairies did the only thing that they felt would capture the attention of the Leprechauns. The Fairies imposed a curse upon the
Leprechauns. The curse turned the Leprechaunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest weapon against them. Wolves would no longer be susceptible to a Leprechaunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s magic. Leprechauns would no longer be able to magically control wolves and they would not even be able to use magic to defend themselves from wolves. The Fairies also modified the DNA of wolves to thirst for the blood of Leprechauns. Left with no magical defense against wolves, many Leprechauns were killed in wolf attacks. Always looking over their shoulder and fearing attack, Leprechauns quickly ended their attacks on humans and each other. They retained all of their magical powers, but humbly returned their attention back to their arts and peacefully lived among the Fairies once again. Although several centuries have passed since the Great Leprechaun Wars, the curse of the wolf imposed by the Fairies still lives to this day. Any Leprechaun or creature associated with Leprechauns shares the risk of wolf attacks. Because of this fear of attack,
Leprechauns rarely leave the protection of the Fairy towns and villages. This secretive life has resulted in a general lack of knowledge by humans, as none of their history books have recorded any details of the history of Fairies and Leprechauns. Their history has remained unknown because humans and Leprechauns have not had any meaningful encounters, at least not until recently. This story describes what will likely go down in history as the most influential Leprechaun encounter of all time. Humans will learn all about the lives of Leprechauns and their influence on the world. Leprechauns will finally see past the flaws of humans and learn of their great characteristics that have been overlooked for thousands of years.
1. Gym Class
ain. Blinding pain spreads across my head. My eyes bulge out as if there isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enough room in my head for them to remain in their sockets. My hair feels as if it were being ripped from my scalp. My heart slams against my ribs at an alarming rate. I try to focus on something to take my mind away from the pain. I stare at the pale wooden slats in the floor. I can almost see my reflection in the shiny varnish. I try to think of something else to bring my mind away from the pain. I wonder how these floorboards are made. Does someone plane each one by hand? Is there a giant machine that chews up a tree and spits out a thousand boards at a time? I am almost lost in this thought, but reality returns as a size 8 Converse interrupts my view of the floor. My assailant has apparently shifted his feet to get better leverage. My thoughts immediately return to my pain.
Laughter erupts around me as I try to prevent the tears from leaking out of my eyes. Then I hear that beautiful sound; the sound that I had been waiting for all along. It is the sound of alarm for most in the school’s gymnasium, but it is my savior. Coach Swan has blown his whistle. The torturing headlock and fist rubbing on my scalp immediately ends. The noogie is over. This is just a single instance of a thousand other agonizing events that will make up my day. I am not a big kid. Actually, I am as thin as a twig and about as tall as a third grader. My family is not rich at all. By society’s standards, we are “middle class”, but it sure feels like we are poor as I get the pleasure of wearing hand-me-downs everyday. Nothing fits right and I feel as dorky as I look. I am told that I am pretty smart. I have actually been in the gifted program for years, but that doesn’t make up for my physical shortcomings. No one else in sixth grade cares how smart I am. They just know that they can pick on me
and tease me to get a good laugh from everyone else. Coach Swan walks toward us and gets all of the students to line up. Gym class has officially started. He walks with his whistle swinging slightly across his massive chest. He is probably trying to decide which form of physical torture to put us through during class today. Please let it be jump rope or badminton or something easy. Coach saw the assault, but won’t do anything about it. He rarely does. He thinks that it is good fun for boys to “rough house” from time to time. He doesn’t realize that it is a standard part of my day to get punched, pushed, tripped, and demoralized in front of my peers. John White is a bully and should be punished for how he treats people. It won’t happen today. “Dodgeball”. The word rings out and cheers come from all around me. My heart drops into my stomach.
Great. Now we have a supervised event where the object is to pummel me with rubber balls. Awesome. I can hardly wait. My only hope now is to be chosen as a captain. Coach pauses for a moment and selects John White and Rod Rodriguez as team captains. I should have known. John and Rod are the two biggest kids in 6th grade. They will likely grow up to be NFL players or professional wrestlers. Today, they get to recruit armies who will battle each other with rubber balls. I will undoubtedly be picked last, as usual. The game starts with Coach wheeling a large bin to the center of the basketball court. Each team lines up against the walls on their sides of the court. Coach dumps the bin over and a dozen, large, red kick balls pour onto the floor. Coach blows his whistle and the game begins. The more athletic kids sprint to the center in hopes of grabbing a ball and taking out a few opponents quickly. No surprise, John and Rod get to the balls first. Out of mutual
respect for each other, they set their aims on other kids instead of attacking one another. The initial rush to the center results in eight people getting eliminated. They were either hit with a ball or had their ball cleanly caught by an opponent. I somehow managed to dodge all of the balls that were directed at me. I try to stay behind the bigger kids and use them as human shields when possible. The game progresses to the point where each team has three players still throwing and dodging. Somehow, I am still in the game. Being the last player picked, I ended up on John’s team. John, Nicole (my best friend), and I are the last ones standing against Rod, Steven (a chubby kid in my science class), and Brittany (one of the most popular girls in 6th grade). This is the point in dodgeball where war tactics are actually used. Teamwork becomes critical. “Hey Francis,” John says to me. “Throw a ball high in the air over there.”
John wants to tempt someone on the opposing team to try to catch it. By drawing their attention toward my ball, which will easily be caught, they will be distracted enough for John to nail them with another ball. I loft the ball into the air near Steven. He looks up and raises his hands to catch it. Just before the ball lands in his hands, John hurls a fastball that hits Steven in his round stomach. I can actually hear the air being knocked out of Steven. He doubles over in pain, and is called out. While I feel horrible for Steven, I feel great that I actually contributed to our potential victory. It is now three against two. We may actually win! “Hey, John. again?”
Do you want me to try that
“Not yet.” He replies. I now have a renewed energy and sense of purpose. I run and gather balls. I throw some, but mostly just feed them to John so he can try to finish the game. I give one to John and he successfully tags Brittney on the ankle. She
is called out and slowly walks over to the bleachers to fix her hair. Oh my gosh. It’s three against one now. We may actually win the game and I actually helped. I could possibly survive to enjoy the victory! As I look around, I see that all of the kids are watching intently. The game is exhilarating and they are clearly sharing in our excitement as they yell words of encouragement. Coach, however, seems distracted. His cell phone rings and he walks to the corner of the gym for some privacy. I am clearly not the only one who notices this lack of supervision. “Don’t throw any more balls,” John instructs us. We allow Rod to throw each of the balls that are on his side of the gym, but we don’t retaliate. We hold on to the balls until he has none left on his side. Now, he is defenseless. We are setup for the perfect attack. We can all
attack Rod at the same time and someone is surely going to hit him. John says, “Hey, Franky. Throw a ball up in the air like last time.” “Why don’t we all just throw a bunch of balls at the same time?” I ask. “Because you throw like a girl and Nicole is a girl. Just throw a ball up. Trust me.” The next seconds seem to last forever. Everything slows down as if in a dream. I take a ball and walk to the center of the gym. I toss the ball as high as I can, hoping that it will drop near Rod. The ball travels toward the ceiling. All eyes are watching as gravity takes effect. It slowly arches and returns its journey to Earth. I can imagine that this will end the game and I will be an instrumental part of our victory. As the ball gets closer, Rod extends his hands and then I feel it. My pants are yanked down to my ankles. I have just been pantsed by John White, my own teammate. John had
given up the thought of ending the game for a chance to make the entire class laugh. I am now standing in the center of the gym showing off my tighty whities. Laughter pierces my ears. I immediately reach down and pull up my pants. My face is on fire and I can’t bring myself to make eye contact with anyone. To make matters worse, Rod caught my ball, so I am out. With everyone laughing at me, John uses the opportunity to hit Rod and end the game. I was so close. I could actually feel the victory just a few seconds ago. I could have actually fit in, if only for a moment. In a matter of seconds, I went from hero to zero once again. John got to be the hero and win the game. I was ruled “out” before the game ended and I got humiliated in the process. Worst part was that Nicole got a front row seat to the show and Coach Swan wasn’t even paying attention, so no one will get into trouble for it.
Although humiliating, it is unfortunately not unusual. This is just another day in the life of Francis Aiden Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connell.
2. My One Friend
could’ve taken him,” Nicole says as she unlocks her bike from the bike rack. Other kids swarm around us as they all try to unleash their bikes in hopes of finally leaving school to enjoy their daily sports, video games, or other afternoon fun.
“I know”, I say, “but it wouldn’t have been worth you getting into trouble for me.” Clearly agitated, Nicole responds, “I actually should have punched him in the face for it or kicked him where it hurts. It would serve him right to get beat up by a girl in front of everyone. Give him a taste of his own medicine.” “Thanks, but no thanks. I would just have more people make fun of the fact that I need a girl to fight my battles.”
I would have paid money to see that. John thinks he’s all big and bad, but I think he secretly fears girls. He picks on me to impress them and make them laugh, but he probably wouldn’t know what to do if a girl actually talked to him. He really wouldn’t know how to react to a girl picked a fight with him. We walk our bikes through the maze of kids who are running and screaming and hoping to get away from school that afternoon. We pull on our helmets and mount our bikes as we reach the sidewalk. It’s a beautiful spring afternoon and the sun glistens off Nicole’s red helmet. The sun is bright. The grass and trees are trying to regain their typical lush, green beauty. We are in the sweet spot for Florida weather. It’s not too hot and not too cold. Nicole flashes a smile and then takes off. I chase after her and feel the cool wind blowing across my face. My legs burn as I pedal as fast as I can. After a few moments, Nicole slows down and lets me catch up. Once I am beside her, we slow our pace for the remainder of our 1.2-mile journey home. The ride
doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take very long, but it is nice and peaceful. I can feel the weight of the day falling behind me. The constant bullying and the embarrassment of my dodgeball incident would probably weigh heavily on most kids or scar them for life, but it seems insignificant to me now that it is over. I guess a kid gets used to it after a while. Nicole slows her bike at her house, which is two doors away from mine and asks if I would like to come inside. Our moms work until five, so we regularly spend time together after school playing video games, riding bikes, or exploring the woods behind our houses. Today is no exception. I have no desire to go to my house. My stepbrother, Scott, is probably there waiting to extend the horrors of my day. I am content to go into Nicoleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house for a few hours until I have to go home for dinner. Walking into Nicoleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house, we are greeted by Thunder. This Thunder is not the kind that follows a bolt of lightning. Thunder is her dog. Thunder is an enormous beast. He is half wolf and half German shepherd. He is very
intimidating for those who don’t know him. I, however, have known him since he was a puppy and he treats me as if I were a part of Nicole’s family. Nicole has lived in this neighborhood for five years. I have known her since first grade and she is undoubtedly my best friend in the whole world. She and I have a lot in common. We were both brought up in military households. We had to experience the stress of watching our fathers leave on several deployments to the Middle East and we’ve experienced the same levels of joy together upon their return. Our dads were in the same battalion in the Army. Their job was to protect the civilians who lived near the borders where rebels threatened regularly. Three years ago, our worst nightmare came true. Our dads were out on a routine patrol of a secure area and were ambushed by local rebels. Nicole’s dad was killed during the attack and mine died later in the hospital from the wounds he received in the attack.
It was the most difficult time in both of our lives, but it brought us closer together. We both understood what the other was feeling and Nicole certainly helped me through it. I still miss my dad and think of him everyday. Walking through her house right now, I see constant reminders of our dads. Everywhere I look, I see pictures or medals or some form of reminder that her dad was loved very much and is missed daily. There is an emptiness that started to grow inside of me after my dad died. I can’t describe it, but I know it is there. I miss him terribly. I can’t talk about him in front of anyone else, although I am comfortable talking to Nicole about him. She knows how I feel. She understands. Nicole and I regularly tell each other our favorite memories with our dads. It’s OK if we get sad. I have cried in front of her and not even cared. Usually, one of us tries to stay strong if the other starts to cry, but it doesn’t last long. If one cries, the other shares the same pain and usually joins in. It isn’t something that I care to try to explain.
It has created a bond that I never thought possible. Nicole has been the one person who can look past the fact that I am just a scrawny little kid with pasty white skin, red hair, and freckles. She is not only my friend. She is my best friend. “Hey, do you want a soda or anything?” Nicole asks as we walk into the kitchen. She throws her backpack on the counter and opens the fridge. “Sure. That’d be great,” I reply. Nicole hands me a cold can. “What do you want to do? We can play Xbox, we can watch TV, ride bikes, or we can go exploring in the woods. What are you feeling like today?” “Let’s go to the fort,” I quickly reply. After giving Thunder a good rub down and allowing him to do his business, we walk through the backyard and toward the woods. Nicole has a tall wooden privacy fence that encompasses her entire backyard. We have
gotten pretty good at scaling the fence after years of practice. The woods start immediately on the other side of the fence. The walk to our fort is a short one. We can get there in about five minutes. We follow a narrow path that was probably started by animals. We have further defined it over time as our shoes have repeatedly trampled the ground traveling to and from the fort. Walking into the woods is like walking into a different world. After 30 seconds of walking, all the noises of our world change. We can no longer hear the cars in the street. The sounds of kids playing outside disappear. The sound of the underbrush crunching under our shoes takes over. The smell of pine fills our nostrils and the wind brings a soothing sound of branches rubbing against each other. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hey, look at those squirrels,â&#x20AC;? I whisper. There are three squirrels chasing each other. They jump from tree to tree and make erratic turns to avoid being caught. Even with only
three of them, it is difficult to determine which one is the aggressor and which one is being chased. They seem to change roles as soon as they land in a new tree. Nicole giggles a little as one squirrel tries to hide from the others. It seems to work for a few seconds as the others move on to another tree and seem to have forgotten their hidden friend. When the chase returns to that tree, the squirrel comes out of hiding and scares his friends. They chatter at each other and continue their game as if we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exist. We get to a point in the trail where it opens into a small clearing. It would probably make a nice campsite, but for us, it is an indicator that we need to change paths. There are several paths leaving the clearing, some larger than others. One of the smaller paths sits next to a fallen tree and that is the one we will follow. We jump over the tree and continue our journey through the dense woods. Within a few minutes, we can see our destination. It is â&#x20AC;&#x153;the fortâ&#x20AC;?.
3. The Fort
he fort is our ridiculous attempt at building a tree house. The summer following our dadsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; deaths, we spent a lot of time walking in the woods. One day, we found a pile of scrap wood that someone had dumped in the woods. We dug through the pile carefully and found that most of the wood in the middle of the pile was in good condition. The wood on the top of the pile and the wood touching the ground was water logged and useless, but the rest of the wood seemed fairly dry and sturdy. We decided almost immediately that we were going to build a fort. We found hammers and nails in our garages along with some additional scrap wood. We really had no idea what we were doing, but we kept bringing wood and nails out there and it slowly took shape. It took us several days to carry all the materials through the thick brush and trees. Eventually, we had a structure that
connected three trees together with two by fours. We created a mosaic of plywood pieces for the floor and walls. There was no roof other than the canopy of the trees. It probably wasn’t the safest place as it was almost ten feet above the ground, but it was our secret place. We could get away from reality in our fort. We would pretend that we were guarding the fort from attack and throw pinecones or rocks as if we were fending off our enemies. We would sometimes just add to the fort by nailing a new board to the structure or we would try to improve the ladder that allows us to climb up and down. We had even taken spray paint from our garages and “decorated” one day. Most days we would go out there just to talk. Today would be no different. “So what are you guys doing for spring break this year?” Nicole asks as she climbs up the ladder. “I don’t know. No one’s mentioned it yet. If I had to guess, Paul will take my mom and
Scott to some tropical island and leave me at home again.” I have to look away as these last words fall from my lips. Paul is my stepdad. He and my mom got married about a year after my dad died. Paul has a thirteen-year-old son from his previous marriage that also lives with us and likes to make my life horrible. His son’s name is Scott. He is in seventh grade and goes to our school. “That sucks. I can’t believe they did that to you last year. What kind of moron leaves a kid at home on purpose while the rest of the family goes on vacation? It doesn’t seem fair or very nice.“ Nicole also looks away and lowers her voice, not sure if she should get mad or feel sorry for me. “It’s really no big deal. I kind of liked it last year. Remember, I could stay out as late as I wanted. We got to watch anything and everything that was on TV at my house, even scary movies. They left enough money for me to order pizza a few times and there was plenty of food in the pantry. I can take care of
myself and preferred the time alone.” I try to put on my tough guy act. “Who wants to go to Washington, D.C. anyway?” The truth is I cried like a baby when my own family left last year. It hurt my heart to feel like they didn’t want me to be around. My stepdad Paul and I don’t get along. He picks on me and just doesn’t like me. I hate how he treats me. We argue all the time and because he is the adult, he always gets to assign punishment when I make him feel stupid. Paul is not a very intelligent guy and I think my intelligence intimidates him. He sells life insurance for a living and spends his free time picking his bellybutton and making my life miserable. Last spring break was the first time the family left me behind while they went to Washington D.C. Paul explained to my mom that I was old enough to stay at home and there would be no fighting or chance of me embarrassing them if I stayed home. Apparently, they had such a great time without me that they chose to do it again when they
went to Key West during the summer and a third time skiing in Tahoe during Christmas break. “What are you and your mom going to do?” I ask, hoping to change the subject. “Mom is still dating that guy from her work. They’ve been dating for a long time now. He is trying to be all buddy/buddy with me. He says he is going to take us to some fancy resort in California. He promised to take us to Disneyland and Hollywood and a bunch of other places. I bet I could get him to buy you a ticket to come with us if you want me to ask. He is trying so hard to be my friend, I can convince him to do just about anything.” “Ha. Wouldn’t that be funny if I could end up going on a better vacation than my own family?” I say jokingly. “It would certainly be fun, but I wouldn’t feel right intruding upon your family vacation.” “It would actually be much better if you did.”
“Well, if I end up staying behind and you end up leaving, I can take care of Thunder for you guys. I can feed him and walk him and stuff so you don’t have to send him to a kennel.” “Thanks, but I’d rather have you come with us. I am dead serious about getting this guy to pay for you to come. He seems to have money and likes to show it off. I’ll let him spend money on me all he wants. I just hope he understands that it doesn’t make him my dad. He will never be as good for me or my mom than my dad was,” Nicole looks away again. “I’m sure he’s a nice guy.” For some reason, I feel the urge to defend this guy and I don’t even know his name. “He probably really likes your mom and just wants you to accept him.” “You don’t know that. He could be a psychopath hoping to fly us to a private island so he can eat our brains.” Nicole finally cracks a smile.
“I never thought of that,” I laugh out loud. “Maybe it was a mistake to watch Night of the Living Dead with you over Christmas break. It seems to be giving you daymares.” “What’s a daymare?” “It’s like a nightmare, but it happens during the day,” I answer. “That is possibly the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” Nicole smiles again. “But it’s brilliant at the same time. I’ll have to start using that word.” Nicole and I continue talking about potential vacation locations. We occasionally throw in a zombie reference to keep each other laughing. As the sun starts to get lower in the sky, we decide that we should probably head back home so we don’t get into trouble for being late to dinner. It’s 5:30 when we get back to Nicole’s house and we can see her mom’s car coming down the street. We meet her in the driveway as I am walking my bike from the garage.
“Hi, Mrs. Taylor!” I smile and wave at her. “Hey, Franky. You two are keeping out of trouble, I hope?” She smiles. Mrs. Taylor is extremely nice. She plays games with us, talks with us, and treats us with a level of respect rarely given by an adult. “Yes, ma’am. I was just heading home for dinner. I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” I jump on my bike and glide slowly down the driveway and toward the street. A few quick pumps of my legs and I find myself climbing the slope on my driveway. Both cars are home. Hopefully I’m not late for dinner.
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