The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - Stolen From Various Sources, Since All The Cool Kids Are Doing It
November 28th, 2012
09:02 am

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Stolen From Various Sources, Since All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

Tell me about a story I haven’t written, and I’ll give you the opening sentence from that story.

That one’s been going around, and I’m intrigued.  (The original meme says “I’ll give you a sentence from that story,” but I write all my stories in strict chronological order anyway, so it’d be the first sentence regardless.  Mise well be a challenge.)

Sufficiently silly responses won’t get a sentence; oh, I know many think it’s funny to ask me to write about the sentient whipped cream that ate Roger Ebert, but I AM SRS AUTHOR.  (Also, and more relevant, purposely ludicrous ideas usually don’t get my motor running.)  But if it’s an actual story idea, I’ll approach it with all seriousness.  FOR I AM SRS AUTHOR.

(So srs that I technically “won” NaNoWriMo last night, at 51,000+ words, but I’ll consider it my personal victory if I can finish Act II before the month is over.  More on that in a bit, though.  This morning is therapist and then unfucking my dev environment for work.)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/266170.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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(103 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

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From:tooth_and_claw
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:06 pm (UTC)
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A story about a woman whose anxiety over the passage of time causes her to slow all events around her, until she lives in a nearly frozen reality.
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
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At first she thought it was the caffeine, so she switched to decaf. Then, when the trembling in her hands and that feeling that her eyeballs were lined with grit never subsided, she decided the sugar, it must be the sugar. A therapist, who saw her gray and trembling on the couch, filled her full of Prozac and Paxil...

...but what really caused her anxiety, she realized, was the approach of the therapist's appointment. The upcoming hour, the solidity of the deadline, that 10:00 standing before her like an iron gate, was what caused Alysia to panic.

(Good one.)
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From:asakiyume
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
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How about something from The Blood Horses?
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:14 pm (UTC)
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Janna was young, but her gloves were old and worn, which is why she lost her finger.

(As we all know, of course, the blood horses are very dangerous to touch, with leechlike bodies that trap and destroy any living flesh that lands on them.)
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From:tithenai
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:16 pm (UTC)
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How about a sentence from that story of yours where drums are a divinatory tool?
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:28 pm (UTC)
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Jules often wondered if John Bonham had known what he was doing.

It was hard for him to listen to Bonham's extended suicide note in "Moby Dick," but Julies applied himself to it with the scrutiny that any diviner uses when they pushed their finger through moist dregs of tea. To the rest of the world, "Moby Dick" was the part of the Led Zeppelin concert where you went and got another beer - four minutes of furious drum solo, a dense polyrhythmic stew of paraddidles and crashes, with Bonham arcing up and down the scale in frantic, galloping rolls.

To Jules, though, the beats spoke of darker things. If you listened with the right ears, you could hear Bonham charting his future in detail, his mania, his despair, the rise of Zeppelin and his addictions. And when that final, thunderous beat came, the culmination of everything, he could hear Bonham bringing down both the sticks and the end of his own life simultaneously.

Had he known? Had Bonham understood that he was casting a spell? Or had he just, inchoately, been attuned to something that was nothing but instinct to him?
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From:chess
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:19 pm (UTC)
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Someone invents an actually functional, non-intrusive lie detector - you can just place it in a position that can hear a person talking and observe their face, and it can accurately glow if they do not believe what they are saying. They are smart enough to have realised the implications of this and backed up their work thoroughly / arranged for it to be publically released if they disappear mysteriously...
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
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"I know what you're thinking," Alice said, gesturing to the wall of machinery behind her that in fact displayed just what her backer was thinking.
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From:kilbia
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:23 pm (UTC)
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A wanna-be Hollywood star makes a deal with the devil, only to find out that the surrender of hir soul means s/he doesn't appear on film (or digitally recorded media) anymore.
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
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Brenda was a star in high school, the belle of her college acting club, the most gorgeous girl of her hometown. But in Hollywood, where the stars of every high school had drifted in the hopes of fame, she found that she was now below average. At everything.
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From:fatbunnyghost
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
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A hunter wounds a duck but it's too far out in the water for him to retrieve so he leaves it wounded in the water only able to flap one wing. The duck can't go south for the winter and he finds it there a month later frozen in the ice.
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
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I'd actually have to put more thought into this than I've got right now, since the story would not be about the incident itself, but rather about the aspects of the hunter's life that mirror this incident and give meaning to it.

Srs.
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From:celandine13
Date:November 28th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
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Magic is real, but it's addictive. It feels *so good* to make fire spring from your hands that you don't want to do anything else, and a lot of "gifted" folks wind up on the street because they can't hold down a job.
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From:bart_calendar
Date:November 28th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
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Been watching Joss Wheedon shows lately?
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From:bart_calendar
Date:November 28th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
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Apple invents the iMind, a chip that you can have implanted in your brain to listen to music, surf the Internet, download television shows, check your email, etc...

A large majority of wealthy and upper middle class people buy it.

/b/ hooks up with Occupy Wall Street and decides this is their one shot at the one percent and they hack the system so it sends a virus laden OS update.

The government needs to find someone who can upload a new virus protection program into the iMinds before the virus takes effect. But, the only anti virus programer smart enough to create the virus protection in time is on the run in South America after being framed for a murder he may or may not have committed while on a designer hallucinogen.
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 04:28 pm (UTC)
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Timesha drank the beer, even though she did not want it.

(Of course you start with the girl who he falls in love with as she works as a beer girl at the local Tanzanian bar, drinking fifty beers a day and vomiting out the excess, to chronicle just how strange and bizarre this virus programmer is. Then she dies at the end of the first chapter. Then the virus strikes in chapter 2.)
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From:flavortext
Date:November 28th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
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A story about a woman who discovers a bookbag that has two unusual properties:

1) Its contents show up as a few changes of clothes on airport scanners, no matter what those contents actually are.

2) There seems to be no upper limit to how much the bookbag can hold.

She does some massive-scale smuggling for a while before she's brought in on an unrelated charge and the feds learn what her bookbag can do. She finds herself pressured into the US Army, and has to deal with the ramifications of being a human personnel carrier in an active warzone.
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
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Evelyn had taken a flashlight in with her, a compass, enough food to last for weeks, bringing a bag inside the bag. The compass had been useless once inside The Sack, its needle jittering nervously in every direction, but she'd been smart enough to bring several cans of spraypaint to draw jagged arrows on the wrinkled proplyene surface.

The fabric cavern around her was lightless, sagging, occasionally sighing as mysterious winds rippled the cloth. Nothing lived in here. There was no water. Just a cave that went on until she ran out of paint, and a never-ending line of rough arrows pointing back to to the unzipped entrance.

This was no ordinary book bag.
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From:sunscald
Date:November 28th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
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A story about a choice-plague that sweeps the globe. Thousands die of indecision.
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From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
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From:stm4e
Date:November 28th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
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I don't know if this is serious enough, but it's been rolling through my head for a while, so...

The Schoolhouse Rock song "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here" is about a 3-generation family who run an "adverb store", selling adverbs and singing their praises. They gloat in the song that the adverbs are "absolutely free".

How do they pay their rent? (How do they eat?) What do the women in this family think, married to a bunch of zealots who don't ever bring home any money, but run a family business giving stuff away for free?
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:November 28th, 2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
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Hrm. I'd have to do some serious worldbuilding on that one.

That said, the obvious opening is "We are absolutely, positively, unquestionably, horrifically, and grievously starving," said Lolly, Lolly, and Lolly, speaking frankly.
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From:alexmegami
Date:November 28th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
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An air traffic controller begins having terrible headaches at work, finally culminating in a vision that allows him to prevent the next major 9/11 style attack. But it's not just the Feds that are interested in him now, but also a psychic underground network that's been waiting for their prophecy to be filled...
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From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
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I'd have to do more research on this one than I feel like doing now. Not that it's a bad idea, but I'd start by researching something quirky that only happens to air traffic controllers, a mundane weirdness of an odd profession that bootstraps into the real weridness.
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From:das_hydra
Date:November 28th, 2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
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A story where the world loses its seasons.
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC)
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The sun rose into a cloudless blue sky, as it always had; the trees were leafy and green, as they always had; the weather was short-sleeve-and-jeans weather, just nippy enough that you didn't want to go bare-legged, as it always had. Every morning was a perfect reenactment of the day before, a rerun, if you will, and nothing would ever change again.

Somewhere, coats moldered in closets. Shorts acquired infestations of bugs. The world had frozen, and it was a sort of beauty, but the stasis ate at Gregor's soul.
[User Picture]
From:richlayers
Date:November 28th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
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A story about a woman who can plant fairy tales on scraps of paper and grow a garden of variations.

Though maybe that's more of a setting than a plot.
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC)
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The mice in her garden continually tried to turn her pumpkins into carriages. She sprayed them with pesticides.
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From:pachamama
Date:November 28th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
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In a world where first-person subjective experiences can be harvested and delivered for virtual experiencing by punters, there obviously grows a significant black market in the less palatable aspects of human experience (the virtual experience version of snuff films).
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From:zzzzsleep
Date:November 28th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
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Isn't that just Strange Days?
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From:ravenblack
Date:November 28th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
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A subversive organization somehow exploits the system that's designed to keep third parties from getting elected, to get their third party elected (or to lock out one of the big two to give someone else a shot).

(I actually have a lot of ideas for this story, it's a complete trilogy of dark movies in my head, but I simply can't figure out a way to A. make it interesting - the focus is too big, and B. make it sympathetic - most people don't like subversiveness.)
[User Picture]
From:ladywind
Date:November 28th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
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most people don't like subversiveness
... Highlighting once again that apparently, I'm nobody's target demographic. Can haz subversiveness?
[User Picture]
From:darksunlight
Date:November 28th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
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The kid attempting to become a famous writer, by using magic on a writers stolen memorabilia.
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:32 am (UTC)
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Janice's iPhone held twenty times more processing power than the antiquated IBM XP she had just spent her life's savings on. The hard drive, which was rattling like an old washing machine, was a prodigious ten megabytes, and ran an old word processor that predated WordPerfect. The drive contained nothing but empty, random bytes, having been wiped clean as a matter of course before being handed over to her.
[User Picture]
From:dornbeast
Date:November 28th, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
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A ghost story in space. (Or would that be, "A ghost story IN SPACE"?)
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
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Floating in the emptiness was a different kind of emptiness.
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From:gentleeleos
Date:November 28th, 2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
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The U.S. Government actually followed through with their plan to blow up the moon with nuclear weapons as a show of force for the benefit of the U.S.S.R. because Carl Sagan was unable to convince them that the consequences of such an act would be dire for the entire planet. (And, yes, this was an actual govenrnment plan...and, yes, Carl Sagan -- a PhD student at the time -- was the one who convince them it was a bad idea.)
From:philippos42
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)

:O

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That's horrifying.
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From:platypuslord
Date:November 28th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
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Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, this novel describes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and taking as his wife Gertrude, the old king's widow and Prince Hamlet's mother.
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From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:35 am (UTC)
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
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From:scruloose
Date:November 28th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
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An alien race consciousness-swaps one of their own into a newborn human to act as an advance observer, growing up as one of us, getting to know the biology, culture, language, etc. Said race has done this before--the consciousness-transfer is permanent, so they eventually extract their forward observers and use the insights gained to decide how to approach first contact. They are essentially the de facto ambassadors of a loose affiliation of starfaring races.

This time, however, things go horribly wrong in a way they are unprepared for. First, newborn humans are pretty helpless for a long while, which is inconvenient but well within mission parameters. Second, their forward observer is being abused and tormented by her own parents (although they are completely unaware that she's a, well, "changeling"). After something over a decade of this, she is finally able to escape her abusive parents and try to scrape together the materials to contact her people and get rescued. Her debrief will presumably lead to some ... very interesting discussions at the galactic UN about how to approach Earth (Rehabilitation? Quarantine? Extermination?)

(I'd love to see someone write this whole story some day, to be honest.)
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
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The most difficult part was being squeezed out head-first. But she'd anticipated that.
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From:trebor1415
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:24 am (UTC)
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This isn't exactly what you asked, but I have a similar challenge for you.

I've got a title, but no story yet. The title is "The Girl Who Ate Time." We each write a story based off of that title and hen we're done we can look at how we each approached that idea.

Up to you if that sounds interesting or not.
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From:theferrett
Date:November 29th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC)
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I'm not in a short story position now, and usually my story ideas rise to the top by some sort of mystical process that I don't really feel like I have a handle on it. So even if I did take the challenge, I might not complete it for years.

That said, the first thing that came to my mind was, "It took forever to eat a minute."
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From:fluffworld
Date:November 29th, 2012 05:10 am (UTC)
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A story about a soul-eater who has come to the bitter conclusion there is no afterlife and collects family and/or worthy souls so they can live in soul-eater forever, in a sort of approximation of heaven.
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:December 3rd, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
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She had to disable her stomach first.

(Next up: the long list of things a soul-eater would have to do to ensure that a) she didn't starve, and b) she didn't eat those she engorged. Then the very sad story of how she tried to make her body a heaven.)
[User Picture]
From:korvarthefox
Date:November 29th, 2012 11:35 am (UTC)
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A little late to the party:

In a fantasy world, a disgraced monk discovers a dancing manual that hides a long-lost fencing style, and also the key to a system of magic that may be the only thing to stop a demonic conspiracy...
[User Picture]
From:heldc
Date:December 3rd, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
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I wanna read that book!
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From:delicious_irony
Date:November 30th, 2012 05:57 am (UTC)
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Human sin-eaters are a dim race-memory of a coexisting nonhuman race. One day, you meet one.
[User Picture]
From:theferrett
Date:December 3rd, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
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Tough one. This one would take more effort than I'm willing to put into it right now, because a) it's a second-person story, b) the trick to this is that it's not about the sin-eaters but whatever function they would serve to improve or negate "your" life, and c) I'd have to devise a whole character that "you" are to have this happen to and then figure out the most interesting non-sin-eater thing up front in order to keep things entertaining enough until we reach the sin-eating part of the story 500 words in.

In other words, it's a completely mundane story until it isn't, and mundane stories are tough to make interesting.
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