Fidelity Hormone (A Short Story)

Dear Reader, here is my little present for you: a humorous, yet contemplative short story of what might happen if people went completely crazy, destroyed their world in a war, and had to be saved by… dogs! Enjoy! 

Any feedback (in comments below or via the contact page) is very appreciated!

I.

In my defense, the moon was full

and I was left unsupervised.”

A popular saying

Hey, Donnie!”

Just look at him! No reaction!

Donald!”

You see? He didn’t even move a muscle!

Mr. Trump!”

Silence. Well, all right, then. You win…

Mr. President, will you please, look at me?”

There. He finally turned his head.

Mr. President, your breakfast is ready. Your Big Mac Meal is on the table, you are welcome.”

There, he is coming. Great. Oh, what a relief. I was afraid he would refuse his food at all until Rex is back, and five days of diet is quite a long time for a human guy, don’t you think?

Good boy. Here’s your juice. We’ve got the best orange juice here…”

Just look at his displeased face! He scowls as if he swallowed a fly. Ah, never mind. Most importantly, he started eating, which means all is well.

Eat, good boy, eat. Want more? No problem… Cheese? Ham? You are welcome. There. Good boy… Hey, Vladimir Vladimirovich, why don’t you join Donald, eh? Oh, no, wait! Not that way, you can’t remove that partition, all right? You two will have to remain separated. I don’t want another fight here, you see? I had enough yesterday… Hey, come on, guys, talk to each other! All dogs get along sooner or later, and you people should learn to be friendly, too! You guys are going to stay in this house together till the end of the week… so, please, stop being cranky, okay? Why don’t you play a game or something?”

Uh-huh, these presidents are such a headache! Rex asked me to take care of Donald for him while he is away on a trip to Siberia to pick up the recently rescued people. We take the survivors to our homes – whoever we can find, of course. It’s been a year since the war ended, but we still find humans here and there. Many hide in the woods, especially the Germans, the Indians, and the Russians.

Rex told me, by the way, that he had been to a village in Siberia, where people still know nothing about the war! Can you believe it? They also know nothing about the Great October Dog Revolution, nor about the Four Decrees, nor about the current situation in the world, nothing! Nothing at all!

Rex says they have no electricity there, so there is no press, no phones, no Internet… not even roads, just forest and snow! Well, those people have heard about President Putin, of course, for the guy was at power for nearly twenty years in Russia, and twenty years is longer than a whole dog’s life, you see?

So, I mean, when we find such old-timers somewhere in Siberia, we let them stay where they are, unless they ask to be taken to America, of course, which rarely happens, but we always take their dogs and bring them here for rehabilitation, because these savages keep their dogs on chains, feed them trash, and never let them into the house even in winter! Can you believe it? I say that is slavery!

When I heard this, I told Rex, “You go there, Buddy, do your job. You are doing the right thing. Don’t worry, I will take care of your human guy.”

We call them all “human guys” or just “guys” because calling them “minions” or “wards” would be snobbish, and calling them “males” and “females” sounds a bit…scornful.

Okay, where was I? Ah, yes, Donald… Oh, he is such an upstart…, I mean, he is spoiled! At first, he was spoiled by his family, then by numerous bootlickers, and then – what does not surprise me a bit – he got a depression after the last year’s stress. Poor guy. His wife left him, his children turned their backs to him – all at the same time, as soon as they found out that he was no longer a president. I heard a rumor that his daughter and her man are still hiding somewhere on an island in the Pacific. Yeah. Sad.

So, when the shooting died down, Rex found Donald and brought him to his home. He treated him like a child – gave him pills, played music to him, walked him two times a day – he did everything he could to get Donald back to normal life… and finally spoiled him even more! I’m telling you, this crafty dodger has a perfect nose for kindness and makes use of everyone on his way! To be honest, he makes me sick.

Take VeeVee. He used to rule a country, too, but he does not have such whims. VeeVee is a short name for Vladimir Vladimirovich – I made it up for my own convenience – but when I face him, I always call him by his full name, of course. Courteous treatment is a big thing to him. Well, I don’t mind. You want it by your full name? Okay, no problem. You are welcome.

VeeVee is a quiet little guy – silent, taciturn, even a little mysterious at times. I think it’s because he is lonely. He spends days sitting in his room, looking through the window or playing Battleship with himself. At times, he would go to the bathroom, open the lid, and sit motionless on the toilet looking at the running water for hours… what a strange guy! Hmm. Very strange. Well, between us, I feel sorry for him, too, but I never show it, for I would not want to get him spoiled, like Donald.

Well, all in all, I must admit that people are not an easy type to me. Very tricky creatures, they are.

By the way, I just thought that during this whole year, since the first day of the Great Canine Revolution I had no single day-off! Can you believe this? These human beings are so needy. It is always something, you see? Now they need a shower, then they want to change, a moment later they decide to watch movies, or to read some books, or to go jogging…Phew! With two human guys in my home, I have no time to itch or scratch, to say nothing about having a nap on the living room carpet, or gnawing a bone, or just watching birds behind the kitchen window, you know.

Well, at first I thought it was my personal problem – just bad luck with particular human guys, but other dogs don’t seem totally happy, either. Take Molly, my old friend; she also complains now and then, and her situation is dozens times better – she got the same family which she’d had before the war started. She grew up with her man, who was, by the way, a well-known writer; Stephen King is his name.

Oh, this Stephen-guy is a soft touch, wouldn’t harm a fly, I can sniff it in him, I swear. He is pleasant and neat, smiles a lot and smells really well. Molly loves him, and Stephen adores her, too.

Well, Donald has already mentioned to me, by the way, that he does not approve of Stephen, but I can’t think of a reason why.

When the dogs took power, Molly’s writer guy had a terrible stress. He spent weeks on a couch in his room, sitting alone in disturbing silence. But with time, Molly said, he got better. Since then, he’s been writing about dogs – horror stories and mystery plots, you know – but the problem is, who is going to read it? In a time like this, reading horror is the last thing the human survivors would do.

To be honest, I don’t think it was the Dog Revolution that scared that writer; it was their war, the Big Human War. Whole nations of people died every day! Billions perished! Oh, it gives me chills even to think about those days! Well, if it weren’t for the dogs, people would have destroyed the whole planet, I give you my word for that!

All right, I will give it more thinking some other time, and now I will try to remember how it happened, day after day.

II.

Found a dog: no collar, a bit aggressive,

especially towards cats; doesn’t like baths,

but she was pretty dirty. Took me all night,

but now she’s resting comfy on the bed.

If you recognize her, inbox me.”

A Facebook post of 2017

As I mentioned before, I got VeeVee when the decision was made to take all human survivors to our homes and look after them, each and every one, individually. I remember how Rex came up and looked me straight in the eyes. “Listen, Rocky,” he said, “I know you well, I respect you more than the others, you are an honest and brave Labrador. I can count on you, and I trust you just like I trust my own teeth. Help me out, Buddy, and please, don’t say no…would you agree to take care of the most notorious of all Russians?”

As he said this, he gave me a leash, so I raised my eyes and saw Putin: He stood on the other end of the leash, slouchy and thin, sad and quiet, cautiously looking sideways with the eyes full of fear. I guess it wasn’t a usual thing for Putin to stand in the middle of the street with no security guards and no gray suit guys around. I took hold of the leash, and we headed toward my home, as Rex snarled to my back, “Just don’t let him have any alcohol, and make sure he has no access to sharp objects, okay? He has a weakness for fighting, you know.”

So, we started living together in my spacious home in DC. I was heavy-hearted then, too: my master had just died in the war. We’d been really big friends, he and I. We played, we jogged, we walked in the woods… ah, to hell with those memories, that life is over. There is no help howling about the past.

Okay, where was I? Ah, yeah, VeeVee Putin. I will be honest; we’ve had many different moments with him. I am short-tempered – you show me a cat and my hair sticks up, as I jump like a rooster – but VeeVee is not getting younger either, and he has a few quite annoying old habits, you see? It took us some time to get used to each other.

At first, he would run out of his bedroom at night, shouting, “A phone, f*** you, give me a phone! Get me Pyongyang! Now!”

Yeah, it was quite a task to be friendly with him at first. He refused to eat, threw his shoes at me, locked his door from inside, tried to hide or escape a few times, or grew cranky without a visible reason; I think he just could not believe he had lost all his power and wealth. Then, little by little, I tried to convince him that here, in my home, he was safe. I tried to explain that it was not just him, that the entire human species who were lucky to survive were now staying with dogs, so finally he believed me. Or, well, if he did not believe me, at least he accepted the fact in the end.

Rex says he had lots of trouble with Donald, too. The guy keeps demanding to give him his golf clubs, but clubs are a strict taboo here, as are other items that people can use as a tool of aggression or conflict. You want a soft toy, a Frisbee, a ball? No problem! You can have television, paper cards, paints and pencils, or books, but don’t ask for a club, or a bat, or a racket, or a hockey stick, they aren’t allowed. Well, I hope I can get Donald Trump to like playing checkers.

My two human guys are too different, though. It’s a pain in the ass, but…well, I’ve been trying to benefit from the fact. I’ve been watching them do stuff and making recordings with the help of my collar thought-transmitting device. In the current situation we dogs, need to know how the humans adapt to the changing conditions. Just a year ago, human beings were masters of the planet, you see? Man was always the master, while the dog was no more than his faithful companion and friend, and we never resisted that mode. Today, when everything turned upside down, these bipeds seem very unhappy…They are angry and very upset… I can smell it in their bodies and blood.

Today, vaccination of people is our hope. We vaccinate every newborn human child, so I am quite sure we’ll have perfect contact with the new generation soon. However, the vaccine does not work on all grown-ups; this is really strange but true. Well, normally, we can see the effect right away: the vaccinated guys become friendly to dogs, very kind, and their eyes become calm; their anger, aggression and greed disappear. This is how the vaccine has gotten its wonderful name – fidelity hormone. We dogs have a lot of it in our blood, but the human body has a worrisome deficit of it. To be honest, I don’t understand how mankind survived this long with such a lack of the hormone. They should have destroyed this world long ago.

Now, here is a secret. For a few weeks now, I have been in touch with a lab, where dogs, along with people of science, have developed the hormone stimulator for a human body, so we’ve been putting it into human food, in very small doses, of course. In most cases, the results are fabulous, but this stuff does not work on all people; some human bodies are kind of immune to it, and you know what’s interesting? All these immune ones used to be kings, presidents or mafia bosses before the war…well, I mean, they used to show off too much. We are exploring this phenomenon now.

All in all, the fidelity hormone works well and really quickly; after a week of taking it, their hair gets thicker and nails become hard. Well, some humans, especially the elderly ones, welcome the change.

Ah, there! VeeVee is coming down for breakfast. Okay then, I’ll go and ready his cottage cheese. He always has the same food for breakfast, and I’ve been feeding him with fidelity hormone since Monday. So far, I can see no change in his hair and his eyes – there’s nothing but anguish in them, I’m afraid. Well, we’ll see..I’ll continue working on this.

Anyway, you know what? Sometimes I have a feeling that VeeVee…erm…likes me. I really do. Well, really, why not? I heard from someone that Putin has always loved Labradors.

III.

The world is a dangerous place.

You have to be ready to fight.”

Donald Trump

Finally! Yes! It has finally happened! This morning, during a walk in a park, my presidents talked for the very first time! They kept ignoring each other since Sunday, I was already preparing to tell Rex that they never established a contact, when all of a sudden, I look up and I see how VeeVee pushes a paper note under Donald’s elbow!

Oh, that was a relief!

At last, I thought, at last he has found a partner for Battleship game!

They kept exchanging notes and throwing glances at me for a while, but later, at home, they moved their chairs close to the fireplace and sat muttering stories to each other all day. They even burst out laughing a few times, and then chatted excitedly for a while, so by the time of the six o’clock news I got tired and began to lose the thread of their talk. I relaxed on the carpet in front of the screen – just like I had done in the good old times – and before I could realize this, I fell asleep.

I woke up to the smell of cigars and saw my human guys sitting elbow to elbow, the wooden partition now stood in a corner, away from the fireplace, against the wall. As I listened to their relaxed conversation, I remembered my master and felt sad.

Tomorrow, I will go to our lab and get a new collar, they just got this new model with a built-in translator that can easily recognize all human accents and translate them into the dog mind. It’s the most recent toy, designed by a few Japanese science guys, whom we recently rescued and brought to DC from a bombed ocean island. They’re good guys – smart and industrious, faithful like dogs and very hard-working. I would not blink an eye to sacrifice my dog life for people like them. No kidding, I mean it.

Well, I’ve been trying to answer the question: What would have become of the Earth if we dogs were the kings of the world and the humans were our bipedal assistants and friends? Would we dogs have invented as many weapons and ways of destruction as men?

Dogs don’t murder each other, we never did. Well, of course, we have fights, I myself would tear a rival’s ear in a fight for a good female, but killing? No! What for?

Unlike us, human guys kill for fun. I saw this during their terrible war. Brr, I don’t want to remember their tricky, insidious ploys with the only purpose to grab extra power or wealth! Their armies, the wars, the political games, all that stuff with those shortened, mewing cat-names like “NA-TO” or “U-N-O”… brr, no. No way. Dogs never would have done any stuff of that kind.

Well, we have a few weirdos here, too, of course. Take Princess, my neighbor, who lives in the house across the street. She had a fight with her human guy last week, we could hear her barking all around the block! So, she grows offended at him for some reason, and what does she do? She squeals, she barks, she makes a terrible scene, and then, when she still cannot get what she wants, she finds no better solution than to pee in his shoe! Can you believe this? Ridiculous, isn’t it? And after all this, she calls herself Princess! Arghh. Stupid bitch.

Okay, where was I? Ah, yes, the Dog Revolution. As soon as it happened, we made The Four Laws in the first place:

1. The renunciation of all weapons;

2. Elimination of inequality between man and other species;

3. Cancellation of money and money relations; and

4. Division of territories with felines.

Well, the last one only concerns us, dogs, of course. But the three others are all about people. We needed to pass them in order to stop the war between people – I mean, between those few who survived. We needed to stop them from being aggressive and greedy and cranky and from showing off.

Animals died during the war as well, but the people were so busy killing each other that they kind of forgot about us for a while. I think this was the only reason why animals were not slaughtered. So, when the shooting calmed down because there were not enough living humans to do it, we dogs were the first to come out from our shelters and begin to restore what could be restored. That was when we decided to vaccinate the survivors with fidelity hormone. The idea was prompted by a very wise man, a professor from China. It was luck that he was not killed in the war. He had studied the hormone before the war… it occurred to him that the hormone can cure human stress – oxytocin is its name – and helps strengthen social ties and increases trust levels; it is secreted in the brain during emotional contact, or when you look into someone’s eyes, or if you lick their face with affection, or when you look into their eyes with love.

Now, I can’t even explain how this whole change on our lives happened…it just rolled down that way, like a ball. All in all, the survivors began to inject themselves with the hormone, and the dogs started giving them home, love and food. Then, somehow it sorted itself out; people do all the stuff that our paws are unable to do, but other than that, we share every moment of life with humans, and no one calls themselves bosses, or masters, or rulers, or kings.

I really like this new order, I do. But, to be honest, I would agree to return to the old one, if my master could somehow be put back to life and if people agreed not to fight anymore. Every dog needs an owner, you see, like every fish needs water or every bird needs air.

We have a skeptic in our science lab, a human who thinks that unselfish friendship between the dog and the man is a myth. He believes that in every mammal community, sooner or later appears a leader, who shows their power and begins to suppress the rest.

This utopian friendship cannot last long,” he said. “The humans who started the war and survived in it, will certainly start a new war, so do not relax. You want peace? Prepare for war.”

To be honest, I never trusted that guy; he is a vegan and is friends with a cat. Well, I barked at him and showed my teeth, so he frowned and shut up right away.

IV.

Man is the most vicious of all animals, and

life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.”

Donald Trump

I just thought that Rex brought Donald to me with a reason. He could take him to anyone else, but he wanted to give me a chance to study these two unique human species together, so I do.

Let us look at my VeeVee first. He wakes up very late, around midday, has his breakfast (we both have a weakness for cottage cheese), then, at coffee, he calls for his ministers; we have two Russian survivors, who used to be ministers in his government. My friends Al and Red, the black poodles, bring them in daily, at 1:30 p.m., but VeeVee makes them wait outside while he studies the latest news (He still can’t forget his presidency habits).

VeeVee never uses computers or gadgets, does not trust television, either. I have never seen him touch a newspaper. He prefers to learn the news from newspapers cuttings, which we always prepare for him in a red leather-bound folder.

After reading the news, he swims in our pool and spends some time in a gym, then he takes contrast baths and finally puts on his suit for the office. Poor ministers wait all this time in the lobby, and Putin loves spying on them through security cameras. When he finally gets bored of keeping the ministers behind his door, he meets them– without a shadow of interest on his face.

He always has his dinner alone and always demands preliminary testing; he still seems to be afraid about being poisoned! Well, these are typical signs of a lonely, depressed human guy – an introvert living in fear of betrayal, whose only partialities are sports and absolute power.

There’s an interesting thing: VeeVee seems to like dogs, but he is certainly disgusted with people.

Now, let us take Donald. My impression of him is totally different. First, he sleeps very little and always quite restlessly. He gets up before dawn and, as soon as he turns up from his bedroom, starts babbling that only the lazy ones like sleeping late. Then he grabs his smartphone and never lets it go till midday; it’s his Twitter account, to which he is always logged in. It’s amazing, he still believes he has 22 million followers on Twitter! Ha! Today, one can hardly count two thousand people all over the Earth!

So. While VeeVee likes sports, Donald spends most of his time twitting and watching television programs; he loves Fox News and never misses a Bill O’Reilly show (I got him tons of recordings). Rex says he also behaved strangely in the past, like asking to get him a limo in the middle of the night and rushing to one of his constructions to check the works. Thankfully, nothing of the kind happened since Donald turned up in my house.

Well, putting it briefly, Donald is a very ambitious and intractable guy. I don’t trust him an inch. He is openly disgusted with dogs, because he is afraid of germs and infection, and he seems to treat people scornfully, while he himself adores to be praised.

And yet today is a good day, because with all the differences of characters my presidents made friends. To mark the occasion, they summoned all human guys who happened to be around: the two Russian ministers, a gardener, VeeVee’s doctor, and Donald’s hairdresser, and – you won’t believe it! – requested to have a big dinner together! They could have invited the writer-neighbor Stephen, but I think he would not have come anyway: they are really different people, but anyway, I was so happy to see them together that I allowed them to have some alcohol with their dinner.

Donald refused his vodka at once, but I saw how Putin poured some Stolichnaya right in his cola glass when he was not watching. After having their food, they relaxed and leaned back in their chairs; Donald’s eyes became watery and somewhat mild, then he put his arm around the doctor’s shoulder and started whispering vividly, with excitement. The doctor was smiling with pleasure.

Oh, I loved it! It looked like the hormone was beginning to work in them, too.

There. VeeVee called me up and reached for my head to stroke it – oh, that was a wonderful moment! Nothing of the kind had ever happened before!

This made me relax; I stretched on the floor, belly up, and let VeeVee stroke me just like my master had done long ago. O-oh, I’d been longing for that since the war!

As I lay on the floor with my eyes shut and my body completely relaxed, VeeVee kept scratching my belly and chest. My thinking slowed down. Through the haze of blissful oblivion, I could hear slow chat of my human guys: they were watching a movie with a shooting and chase, just like my master had done every night.

I guess my fidelity hormone level soared up due to gentle, sedative treatment. I remember thinking that happiness is quite easy to reach; you just need to relax and enjoy the hormones’ rotation within your body. Every human, I thought, could be lovable, kind, and tender – even presidents, even kings…

Why the hell don’t they do it? I thought. Then I covered my nose with a paw and dosed off for a while.

V.

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too.

They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

Stephen King

I woke up to a prick on my leg and saw VeeVee standing above me. His eyes were not caring or calm anymore. I sensed danger. Something was wrong.

A disturbing, sickening smell made me sneeze. I dashed forward, but my muscles were viscous and soft, no effort could make them tense, so I lay like a log, unable even to show my teeth.

VeeVee’s doctor came up. He examined my eyes and said, “It is working. Let’s go.”

Everything came to motion at once. VeeVee crashed an old chair against the wall, and they each grabbed a leg, then some glasses fell on the floor, someone’s foot on fragments of glass and I heard lots of violent swearing, and above that came Donald’s powerful voice: “Arm yourselves! Grab the chair legs, bottles, stones…aim between their eyes! You hear me?”

For the very first time I heard VeeVee’s laughter; it rocked right above me, and through it, he yelled, “Set vodka on fire! Hey, you two!” He grabbed the Russian ministers by their sleeves. “Out! Into the street! Stop the dog patrol on the corner!”

I could hear barking from the outside. Something swished through behind the window, and right away, the air exploded with a harsh, plaintive howl.

In the house across the street, Princess’s frightened voice squeaked, gasped and stopped, swept by a heavy blow. Someone fired a few shots; they were followed by swearing and a blast right behind my window. A thick column of black smoke darted into the room; nauseating, sour smell of burning filled my nose and my ears flooded with a frightening roar of fire, which I know from detective movies.

Hundreds of howling voices – anxious, frantic – started coming from all sides, and my misted mind built the words:

It’s a coup! These bastards betrayed us!”

Oh, those biped creatures! They have no peace in their minds…no matter how kind you are to them, they need fighting and domination…

The howling and shooting came closer and louder.

You, stupid fool,” I scolded myself, swallowing bitter tears of shame, “stupid, naive, brainless dolt! Idiot! Blockhead! How could you trust these crafty villains? You see what you’ve done?”

I gathered my body, breathed in, tensed, straightened out…

VI.

Everything will probably never be OK.

But we have to try for it.”
V
ladimir Putin

and woke up.

Master! My dear Master – alive and well – was patting me on the shoulder.

Hey, Rocky, wake up! Time for a walk.”

I shook my head to drop the terrible dream off my mind.

The window was closed. Behind it, two pigeons sat on the window sill. My nose caught smells of vanilla pie, watermelon and soap. A Stephen King’s book spreading the odor of very fresh printer’s ink appeared on the low coffee table.

Master bent down and patted my back. “Rocky, what’s up? The movie is over. Let’s go!”

I jumped up, licked his hand and dashed forward, past him, to the door.

On the way, I looked back for a moment. The screen on the wall was mumbling the news:

President Trump’s visit to China…

…Russian leader’s statement on the military threat…

arms race escalation

…threat of war to the world…

Thank God, I thought, everything goes as usual.

I grabbed the leash and happily poked my nose into master’s leg. The door opened, sweet freshness of the evening filled my lungs.

I should not sleep under that screen anymore, I thought to myself. Tomorrow, I’ll try a new place, away from the noise, under the floor lamp.

A Dog's View

Building Tension in a Story

Suspense Wilde quote

In her recent article Plot Devices that Work, Myra Fiacco suggests two winning techniques that help create anticipation in a story: ‘the clock’ (which is really popular among authors) and the so-called ‘the other shoe’, or “the point in a story when one or more of your characters has a moment of realization, revealing the missing piece of a puzzle that ties the story together.”

Making these two techniques work in a story is not so easy; it certainly takes working on every scene again and again after the first draft has been finished. I am not surprised that writing every novel takes brilliant authors like Donna Tartt nearly a decade; I am sure such authors rewrite their works hundreds of times before they can feel satisfied… So, what are other writing techniques to create and keep tension in a novel?

I have been thinking about these:

The increasing feeling of time pressure. If my character has a goal that must be reached really soon, plus some circumstances will keep breaking in and making the charcter hurry even more, then the reader will probably be more satisfied by the pace of the story.

The tension should come from all sides. If the pressure us high, plus more and more troubling signs of impending danger are revealed to the main character, this may also help a lot. But in this case, the author should not forget about balancing tension with the other elements of the plot. Too many elements of tension in a story may turn the book into a real rollercoaster for the reader.

I like it when the protagonist is a thinking preson, who keeps asking questions and trying to find answers to them. The questions should arise from internal and external conflicts of the story, and it is very important to reveal every answer for the reader before you write ‘the end’ phrase.

The chrescendo technique is a method of keeping the reader interested by gradually increasing emotional tention in the story, and it says: avoid too many sudden jerks in the plot. As a reader, I don’t care for the plots where every plot point comes a real catastrophy: this makes me emotionally tired of the book.

Well, I am sure there are more ‘tricks’ to develop tension in a story; here are just a few articles I read recently on the topic. I hope they might help you answer your questions just like they helped me:

How to Build Tension to Heighten the Stakes by Jessica Page Morrell;

Seven Tension Building Tips for Writing Action Scenes by Joan C. Curtis

How to Create Dramatic Content by Sean D’Souza

Here is some infographics from nownovel.com blog:

Infographic-how-to-create-tension-in-stories

 

 

 

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