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Series 3 Episode 4

In some ways, Josh was bubbling with excitement. He had been waiting for this day for quite some time; the past couple of months had felt like an eternity in some respects, but the wait for what promised to be a genuinely safe and stable foster home had been an even longer wait. He couldn’t wait to settle down in one place for an extended period of time.

He had more hope than usual that this would be the one. However, this led to some nerves, too. He’d had terrible luck with foster homes, and was expecting this to end up the same way. Besides, he hadn’t exactly had the best rapport with Dylan in the past. They had turned a corner, but Josh knew he had done some messed-up shit. He knew he’d struggle to forgive and forget in Dylan’s shoes.

Surprisingly though, he was being supportive every step of the way. Dylan had even instigated the entire scenario. It was unthinkable just months before. Now he was moving in with him and Caroline, his mum, who was the loveliest person Josh had ever met.

One positive was that he wasn’t the only new boy in the house – Ed, the Sheriff of Crystalshaw, was also moving in the same day. He was Caroline’s partner, and set to be Josh’s foster dad. At least they could both settle in at the same time.

The car journey was almost over – they were arriving. Dylan’s house was on the edge of the forest, about half an hour walking distance from school. A pretty cool location, he couldn’t deny.

As the car parked up, the front door opened. Caroline and Dylan were both there, eagerly anticipating his arrival. Josh collected his belongings – he only had two bags, he wasn’t very materialistic and many of his keepsakes had been lost across the various foster homes he used to live in.

“Fancy a cuppa?” Caroline asked, skipping any useless small talk.

“Yeah,” Josh sheepishly replied, politely giving a tiny wave goodbye to the social worker who dropped him off, hoping he would never have to see her again.

“How do you take it? Milk, sugar?” Caroline pondered, leading the way inside. Dylan grabbed one of the bags for him.

“Milk, two sugars please,” Josh answered.

“Come on, I’ll show you to your room,” Dylan suggested, leading Josh up the staircase. It was decorated with framed photos of Dylan, Caroline, and the man Josh assumed was Dylan’s dad. They all looked so happy. Maybe he could find that happiness here too.

Arriving at his bedroom, Josh immediately noticed how bare the room was. It was like a blank canvas – neutral cream paint on the walls, a plain darker bedsheet, and little else beyond the furnishings including a bedside table and wardrobe.

“Mom said we could go out later and pick colours for the room. We left it plain on purpose so you could put your own stamp on it,” Dylan explained.

“You choose. I’ll cock it up like usual,” Josh sighed.

“You can learn from your mistakes then. You might get it wrong, but you can only make that mistake once,” Dylan encouraged, “I’ll bring your tea up.”

He gently pulled the door to. Josh sat on the bed, examining his surroundings. This was home now, and Dylan was right. He could only make the best of it.

Dylan could hardly believe his eyes. It was an odd sight – the school car park, totally empty. Especially during the school day, when it was almost impossible to find a spare parking space.

Now, only four cars adorned the concrete space – cars belonging to Jono, Yasmin, Freddie, and Lily. Three of them were outside the building with Dylan, and he hadn’t yet decided if the sight of Lily’s car was good or bad. On one hand, they knew where she was. On the other, she hadn’t managed to escape the building yet. No news was definitely not good news in this instance.

Dylan led the way to the main entrance. They were rarely shut during the school day, especially during the boiling hot summer temperatures. He tried pulling down on the bar to open the door, but no luck. It was getting stranger by the second.

“Wait, it’s locked? That breaks so many health and safety procedures,” Yasmin thought logically.

“Not if nobody’s inside,” Freddie suggested.

“But Lily’s in there. She has to be. I’d bet on Josh and George being with her, too,” Jono noted.

“You’re right,” Dylan approved, “We need to split up. Yasmin, Freddie, you two check all other exits. Jono and I will look for an open window. The others nodded. Dylan knew they would succeed. They simply had to. All he could think of was Josh, and how he would protect him at all costs.

Backed into a corner, Lily was trying to think fast. It was usually her speciality – she could come up with the most brilliant excuses for any situation within seconds. She trusted her instincts and her reflexes more than anything. However, a creature with the ghastliest deformed face was staring at her through its horrific pitch-black eyeballs. George and Josh were either side of her, and she knew their brains would be feeling just as petrified as hers.

She looked around her, praying for some inspiration to pop into her mind. She took note of her surroundings. Directly next to the door: a fire extinguisher. Lily didn’t need to think twice. She’d seen this on television so many times. She aimed the hose at the creature, still slowly approaching them.

“Stand back,” Lily warned. She had to give it a chance. Maybe it would have a conscience after all? It didn’t utter a word, instead continuing to creep eerily towards them.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Lily uttered, before pressing down on the extinguisher. White gas began to spray violently in the direction of the creature, clouding its view.

“Now,” Lily commanded, making a run back through the school. It was a huge building, they should easily be able to hide out until they could get help. She had to get hold of Dylan, and fast.

Fed up of finding locked door after locked door, Yasmin was close to giving up. She and Freddie had covered almost the full perimeter of the school, but every single exit had been locked shut. They were running out of options. She was praying that Dylan and Jono were having better luck, but her instinct told her they probably weren’t.

“Some first day back, eh?” Freddie commented. They had been surprisingly quiet around each other the whole day. She knew to call him as soon as she found herself in Emily’s bedroom. It was like a reflex, which was a reassuring sign. However, things weren’t quite the same since she got back to Crystalshaw. She’d hoped that absence might make the heart grow fonder, but it seemed to evaporate any chemistry they had. They’d have to start from square one again.

“You’re telling me,” Yasmin smiled, “Not quite what I had in mind.” Freddie laughed before it fell silent again. It was awkward and uncomfortable, as if there were an elephant in the room.

Yasmin approached the final door – the kitchen’s back door. As she reached her hand out, anticipating the lack of movement from the locked bolt, Freddie broke the silence.

“Did you miss me?” he questioned.

“Honestly?” Yasmin turned to her right, facing him eye-to-eye. His gorgeous blue eyes shone against the dark backdrop of the alley they were stood in. His luscious blonde shoulder-length locks were glistening in the slight breeze. He looked picture perfect, “Every single day. Another guy, he tried it on, but I didn’t even entertain the idea. I only ever wanted you.”

“So why didn’t you call me more? Some days, all I needed was to hear your voice,” Freddie confessed. Yasmin felt guilty. She’d been selfish, not without reason, but without thinking how Freddie would feel.

“I didn’t call because I couldn’t,” Yasmin answered, “Hearing you would have made me miss you more. I couldn’t do it.” Freddie simply stared, as if he were digesting what Yasmin said. Then Yasmin noticed the tear slipping down his cheek. She wiped it away gently, softly rubbing and soothing Freddie’s smooth cheek.

“I’m so glad you’re back,” Freddie admitted, holding back further tears.

“Me too,” Yasmin replied. She rarely cried, but she was holding back tears too, “Right, let’s see if this door is gonna welcome me back warmly.” She pressed down on the door handle, and unsurprisingly, there was no such luck.

“Wait, look,” Freddie pointed through the translucent glass pane that made up the top half of the door. Just visible through it was a key in the lock, a lock that was sizeable and old-fashioned.

“It must have been an inside job,” Yasmin deduced, “A sloppy one, too.”

“We can get it, can’t we?” Freddie suggested. It had to be worth a try. For once though, Yasmin felt out of options.

Dylan was getting flustered. All windows seem to be shut tightly, even those at the very top of the tall building. He was a werewolf, he could have climbed his way up there. However, it didn’t seem like he would get the chance. Not even a werewolf could climb through a shut window. Jono looked just as concerned as he did, and with good reason, too. They both had their siblings in there. Panic levels were understandably high.

“We’re never gonna get in there,” Jono sighed.

“We will, there must be a way,” Dylan remained optimistic, but he wasn’t sure he was convinced by his own words.

“Where? I don’t see it,” Jono was getting frustrated, but he remained self-aware, “Sorry. I’m so worried about her.”

“You don’t have to apologise. I feel the same about Josh,” Dylan admitted.

“Sorry, I forgot. Still getting used to it I guess,” Jono realised.

“Me too. I always wanted a brother. I mean, my parents were always cool but it was never the same as having someone my own age in the house,” Dylan reminisced.

“Could be a blessing in disguise, Lily drove me mad growing up,” Jono laughed, “She always demanded things cause she’s the oldest.”

“I should try that, Josh is two months younger than me,” Dylan laughed, “Come on. We gotta get them out. I know there must be a way.” Jono nodded. They had the determination; all they had to do was to prove themselves right.

The staircase wasn’t a problem for Josh. He was running on adrenaline, and werewolves could run faster and for longer than humans anyway.

Lily and George weren’t coping so well though. They trailed behind, although Lily continued to dish out instructions to keep on going. She seemed to know where they had to go, which was something, it meant at least one of them did. Josh was following blindly, putting his trust in her. George was bringing up the rear, constantly looking behind him. There didn’t seem to be any sign of the creature following, but Josh knew better than to count his chickens before they had hatched.

“First door on the left,” Lily directed them into one of the IT suites, filled with computers. She immediately ducked below the furthest table, obscured from view from the front door. It made perfect sense as a hiding place too – there was a second door, into the adjoining classroom, just behind them, waiting ajar for them to creep through if necessary.

All three of them crouched down, not uttering a single word. Josh became very aware of his breathing all of a sudden, worrying it was too loud. He tried to focus his hearing beyond his own self, knowing it could give them the upper hand. He put his finger to his lips, signalling to Lily and George that he was listening. Nothing was there, though. Not a footstep, not a breath, not even a pin dropping.

“No sign,” he relayed to the others.

“It can’t have just gone,” Lily noted.

“Maybe we lost it after all and the plan worked,” George suggested, “We gotta find a way out.”

“No, we need to lay low. We only move when we have to. First, we need to call Dylan,” Lily decided.

“How do we know he hasn’t vanished like everyone else?” Josh pessimistically considered. He certainly prayed it wasn’t the case – if something bad had happened to Dylan, he didn’t know how he’d cope.

“We don’t, so let’s check,” Lily continued, opening the contacts on her phone. She held it to her ear while Josh prayed they would get an answer.

“Nothing,” Lily reported. Josh sighed, “It didn’t even ring. Something must be blocking it.”

“So, we’re on our own,” Josh worried.

The last place Jono had to check was the alleyway behind school, heading to the back entrance of the kitchen. This was their best shot at an open window; the kitchen staff were extremely lazy. The amount of “polite,” notices Mrs. Harding, their headteacher, had asked him to include in the newsletter regarding closing windows was hilarious, and each of them seemed to indirect the kitchen staff.

Alas, they were out of luck. Not a single open window across the whole school. They had, however, found Yasmin and Freddie.

“Any luck?” Freddie asked hopefully.

“Nope. You?” Jono regretfully answered.

“Maybe. Come see,” Yasmin suggested. Jono’s heart began beating faster and faster. Maybe they weren’t without hope after all? Yasmin led them to the back door, and sure enough, there was a key in the lock on the other side of the door, “I’ve tried nudging it but no luck.”

“Have you tried your claws?” Dylan instantly asked Freddie. Freddie’s eyes widened. Jono knew that look anywhere – it was his “I wish I thought of that,” expression.

Dylan stood in front of the door, priming his claws in front of the door lock. It was a nervous watch. Jono almost couldn’t look, scared they wouldn’t succeed and it would be back to square one.

Dylan’s claws were impressive – they slotted straight through the old-fashioned lock with ease. Jono noticed the key on the other end begin to wobble. Sure enough, as Dylan pushed his claw in as far as it could go, the key plonked down onto the floor. A sigh of relief came from Jono’s mouth.

“Alright smart brains, how do we get it from there?” Freddie pointed out. He was right – the key was now on the floor, just a couple of centimetres from the floor most likely, but no werewolf skills could squeeze under a rock-solid door. However, Jono had a brainwave. An idea that was so simple, it might just work.

“Wrist,” Jono said to Dylan. He looked confused and examined his wrists, before cottoning on. Jono adored Dylan’s shoulder-length locks, either tied up or flowing free. Dylan didn’t like to wear it up very often, but sometimes he gave in when it was particularly unruly, and always kept a hairband on his wrist just in case. Jono adored it regardless. He still couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have someone as beautiful inside and out as Dylan. He knew it wouldn’t happen, but the slightest thought of losing Dylan made him feel sick. Jono would do everything he could to keep their relationship going forever.

“What are you doing?” Yasmin was baffled.

“Watch and learn,” Dylan grinned the cutest grin, nudging the hairband under the door. Using it like a lasso, he shifted the key out. Success.

“Bingo,” Dylan celebrated, scooping it up. He unlocked the door, and instantly, Jono felt a sigh of relief. The battle wasn’t over yet, but Lily was within reach at last.

Pushing through the kitchen and into the main school corridors, Dylan was alarmed by how empty the building was. He had never seen the school so vacant before, and it didn’t make him feel comfortable.

On the bright side, he was one step closer to finding Josh and the others. However, it was extremely likely that something else was in there with them. Something with access to the keys that locked the doors and windows. He guessed that whatever happened at Emily’s house was happening at school too; it had to be the creature that Mr. Forsyth had warned them about.

“Can you catch a scent?” Yasmin queried.

“It’s school, there are so many scents,” Dylan started to fluster again.

“Focus. You know how, and you can do it,” Yasmin encouraged. She always used the best and most supportive words. She was right, too. He could do it. He focused on his nose, honing in on any familiar scents.

“This way,” Dylan picked up on Lily’s perfume. He was used to that scent more than most, Jono’s house was coated in it.

It led them all the way through the school, Dylan peeking in every empty classroom in the hope that someone – anyone – would still be there. Alas, they were definitely alone.

Ultimately, Dylan led them up a series of steps on the way to the top of the building. The scent led right up to the second floor, where the IT classrooms were located. There were four rooms up there, and with an unnecessary number of doors, it was often like a maze.

As they reached the top, Dylan consulted his nose once again. Where next? Two doors faced him, leading to two separate classrooms. The one on the left seemed to bear the strongest scent, so he followed it. He trusted his sense of smell more than ever. It must have been part of being an alpha – he could run faster, focus hearing better and track scents more efficiently.

He felt even closer to the rest of the pack, too. In his head, Dylan pictured it like an unbreakable bond, not only between his fellow werewolves Drew, Josh and Freddie, but every other member of the pack too. Every one of them was valuable to him.

Dylan continued through the door, still taking the lead. The alpha was full of confidence, and Dylan was trying to follow in its footsteps.

It had been about twenty minutes since they started hiding, and Lily hadn’t seen nor heard even a peep. If the creature knew their location, it sure was taking its time. Maybe that was its plan. Luring them out of their hiding place. Perhaps they were just sitting ducks.

“Something’s there,” Josh warned, keeping his voice as low as possible. Lily felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. This was it. They had to plan their getaway.

“Come on, quietly,” Lily commanded, making a move towards the door behind her. She crawled along the floor, still remaining out of view to anyone at the front door.

“Wait,” Josh halted, “I can smell Dylan’s scent. He’s close.” Lily breathed a sigh of relief, feeling the strain on her muscles as she stood up for the first time in twenty minutes.

Sure enough, Dylan was in the doorway. She immediately ran into his arms, so relieved to see a familiar and helpful face. Just behind Dylan though was an even better sight – Jono. She was so relieved he was safe, and she thoroughly enjoyed wrapping her arms around her baby brother.

“I’m so glad to see you,” she confessed.

“You and me both,” Jono replied, squeezing the hug tightly. It felt amazing to be reunited. She watched on as Dylan and Josh shared a similar hug. It was so heart-warming to see the relief on both of their faces, while Freddie and George high-fived each other. It was hilariously casual, just as she would expect from someone as chilled as George. It felt good to be back as a team, but she noticed someone was missing.

“Wait, where’s Drew?” Lily queried.

Taking the long route into school, Drew could hardly be bothered. He was fed up of Dylan dancing around problems instead of tackling them head on. They had a troll stalking them, and the means to trace them. Why could they just do it themselves? Involving the stupid Sheriff would just risk exposing their secret further, and he couldn’t allow that.

Unfortunately, he still had to get to school – the last place he wanted to be in such a shitty mood. The car radio was off, and all that filled his ears was the whirring of the car’s engine. He needed quiet time whenever he was annoyed. It was the only way he could gather his thoughts.

He took in the sights around him – he could afford to, within reason, as his enhanced senses allowed him to keep track of the road regardless. The trees surrounding him provided comfort; they felt much homelier than almost anywhere else. Of course, he enjoyed his bunker too, but that didn’t provide the freedom and fresh air of the forests.

In the corner of his eye, he spotted something. Something that moved, just slightly. It probably wasn’t something to be alarmed by though. There were any number of creatures scattered all over the forest, it was probably a deer or something of that ilk.

He kept on driving through the empty road, until he forced the car to grind to a halt, slamming the breaks down. There was someone in the middle of the road, their back turned to the car, and dressed all in black with a hood up covering the back of their head. The hairs on Drew’s arms stood on end – quite why, he wasn’t sure.

“Get off the road,” Drew yelled as he beeped his horn, annoyed that his pleasant calming journey was being disrupted. The person didn’t budge. Furious, Drew got out of the car and approached them from behind.

“Get off the road you dumbass,” Drew ordered once again. Still nothing. He went to stand in front, hoping to catch a glimpse of their face, but the hood and the diminishing sunlight were shrouding it still. Drew took a step back, realising something didn’t feel right, “Are you okay?”

“No,” a male voice replied. He pulled his head down, showing his face for the first time. Drew recognised him from around school. A member of the kitchen staff, he thought.

All of a sudden, the man’s face flickered, like a dodgy television signal. Except this wasn’t on television – it was real life, and unlike anything Drew had seen before. The new face flickering through was gruesome and deformed, and distinctly not human.

Drew attempted to run back to the car, but the face stopped shifting and settled on the horrific figure. It grabbed Drew’s arm tightly as he tried to get away. Though he endeavoured to struggle, it was pointless. Drew feared as the grip was too strong, but he couldn’t give up.

After his strop earlier that day, Dylan hadn’t given Drew much thought. He had been pretty busy regardless, but he was quite annoyed at him too. Where was the teamwork? For someone who so desperately craved a pack, he was pretty terrible at working as part of one.

He also knew Drew very well though, and after he had cooled down, he would likely come around and give them a helping hand. Now though, he was the only one missing. It wasn’t a stretch to suggest that this was a targeted attack on Dylan’s pack, and he was the only one absent. He had genuine cause for concern.

“How do we know he hasn’t vanished like everyone else?” Freddie suggested.

“Look at us. We’re the only people left around here. That’s no coincidence,” Dylan reminded, “Drew is the final piece of the puzzle.”

“We’ve got to find where he’d be,” Yasmin proposed.

“His bunker,” Jono immediately mentioned.

“Not when he’s annoyed,” Dylan corrected, “He prefers fresh air.”

“Oh great, narrows it down to just about anywhere,” Josh remarked, teasing Dylan. He cracked a smile in response – their banter was improving.

“The forest. He grew up there,” Dylan specified.

“Guys, you might wanna see this,” George interrupted. Dylan hadn’t noticed until then that he was sat at one of the computers, away from the rest of the group. He ran over and sat down next to him, keenly looking at the screen, “I noticed it was logged in. Must have been a lesson in here. Then I noticed the email account it had up.”

“ That’s the one that emailed me,” Lily identified with a chill in her voice.

“Whose school account is that?” Dylan anxiously enquired.

“Hold on,” George pressed the start button, exposing the account holder’s school photo next to the log-off button.

“That’s Chase,” Yasmin identified, looking at the shaggy-haired surfer-looking guy in the photo, “He's in our class. He’s Emily’s brother.” Dylan was furious. Somehow, it answered more questions than it solved.

“Why? That’s so random,” Freddie was baffled.

“I think I know why,” Dylan recalled, “It was not long after I was bitten. Yasmin and I asked him for help, and I think he saw me start to shift.”

“I remember. You weren’t in control. He’s not said a word to me since,” Yasmin noted.

“I’d assumed he didn’t see anything. Obviously he did,” Dylan sighed.

“Come on. We gotta save Drew. We can worry about that loser later,” Jono picked Dylan’s motivation back up, just like he always did.

“Wait, isn’t that thing still here?” Lily worried.

“I think this was a giant trap,” Yasmin deduced, “It wanted us out of the way so it could get to Drew, the lone member of the pack.”

“Some of us should stay here though, just in case,” Dylan suggested, “Jono and Yasmin, come with me. The rest of you should be safer here. Let me know if anything happens.” The group nodded. Now they had to get Drew back, and fast.

Anxiously struggling, Drew was trapped. He couldn’t believe just how strong the grip of the creature was. He knew his own strength. He knew he was capable of fighting back.

It wasn’t just that he couldn’t fight back though, it was that he was scared to. Whatever this creature was, it terrified him. He pulled and pulled, trying to get as far away from it as possible, but its strength convinced him he’d probably lose a hand if he kept on going. Somehow, it almost felt worthwhile.

“What are you?” Drew yelled. He hoped that a bit of chatter might distract it from keeping grip.

“I am too weak. This body is tired,” the creature spoke with a deep, almost robotic voice. Somehow, this worried Drew even more. How could a grip be so strong from a body that’s apparently weak?

“So what do you want?” Drew questioned.

“Your body,” the creature responded. Fear shot through Drew’s body as he tried to struggle even further. Even if he broke a bone or two to get out, he knew it would be okay. He could heal easily enough.

As he tried to pull away, a car pulled up. The only car he had seen on the road that night. As it pulled up, he noticed it was Jono’s tiny car. Help at last.

Immediately, Dylan sprinted out of the passenger seat. His eyes glowed the deep shade of red that Drew was now accustomed to seeing on him. He had shifted fully, ready to attack.

“Stop!” Drew commanded, trying to do him a favour. The last thing he needed was for Dylan to get hurt too. Maybe this was the lesser of two evils?

Confused at his instruction, Dylan was extremely worried for Drew. The creature was holding him by his wrist. Finally, Dylan saw what it looked like. Two legs and two arms, like any human, but the rest of its body wasn’t remotely similar. Its face was morphed and disfigured, as if it had been burnt, and it was black all over. It even wore black clothes, covering the back of its head with a hood.

Why Drew hadn’t escaped from it was a conundrum. He was physically the strongest member of the pack, why hadn’t he escaped? Then it dawned on Dylan – he couldn’t. This creature must have been extremely strong.

“What are you doing?” Dylan yelled, feeling helpless.

“Stay back, please. I don’t want you to get hurt,” Drew commanded. He was being unusually sentimental, but it was a welcome change. He must have had a reason, “It wants my body. I’m going to let it have it. I trust that you can save me.”

“Are you insane?” Dylan was panicking like crazy. What was he doing?

“Yes, probably,” Drew admitted.
“You can’t do this,” Dylan yelled at the creature.

“A new host is required,” the creature spoke, ignoring Dylan’s words. All of a sudden, as if she appeared out of thin air, a young girl appeared next to him. She was a similar height to Dylan, dressed in her nightie.

“Emily,” Yasmin identified. Dylan was confused. Emily had died? How was she here? Then he noticed her eyes. Pitch black. It had claimed her too.

As soon as she appeared, black dust-like atoms began to slide out of her eyes, wrapping around the creature, and then gathering together in the air, just like they did when Dylan saw the creature arrive. They peeled off the creature’s body like a layer of wrapping paper, exposing human skin underneath. The dust filtered into Drew’s mouth while the now-human figure next to him collapsed to the floor. Drew flared his yellow wolf eyes, but they quickly filtered out to black.

“We will stop you,” Drew affirmed, “You just took my friend from me, that is not okay.”

“You’re an alpha,” Drew spoke using the creature’s voice, “You are not yet ready. The other alpha is required.” It then began to vanish amongst a cloud of black dust, with Emily, Drew and his body taken with it.

Dylan rushed to the aid of the man on the floor, sprawled out like he wasn’t able to control his landing. He looked drained and incredibly pale.

“I’m sorry,” Dylan apologised. Although it wasn’t his fault, he couldn’t help feeling slightly responsible.

The man’s eyes closed for the final time, his face ceasing all movement and his lifeless hand sliding off his chest and onto the floor. Dylan’s heart broke. He recognised the man from school, but although he didn’t know him, he still felt distraught. It was horrible seeing an innocent man die such a lonely and worthless death.

“What did it mean ‘the other alpha’?” Yasmin wondered.

“I don’t know. We can figure that out later. Right now, we need Drew back,” Dylan decided. He was raging, but a fire was lit inside of him that he didn’t know existed before. He was more determined than ever.

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Next: "Freedom"

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