"The F.O.G."

by Michael D. Merrett

Chapter 1


The fog comes on little cat feet


“It’s Saturday night in Boston!” came a DJ’s booming voice over the radio that was sitting on the ground to Jimmy Hernandez’ right. WKRP played nothing but the best in contemporary hip hop and it was the only thing that kept him awake as the wee hours of the morning approached. Jimmy took a cigarette pack from the inner pocket of his long black trench coat. It was his second pack of the night and by now he just wanted to call it quits and head home.

He glanced impatiently up and down the street at the intermittent flow of traffic. It was 11:55 PM and sales had been slow. That might all change in the next hour or two as he hoped that more of the wealthy upper class white suburban buyers would make their presence known. They were his best customers and usually came in two waves. The early group arrived around 7 to 8 o’clock and the late crowd around 12-2 AM. He had come to depend on their business to make his daily quota. Cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana were the drugs of choice although heroine use was up with the breakthroughs in delivery methods, allowing the user to consume the drug orally instead of through injections which were never popular with the white-collar crowd.

            He took a long drag on his cigarette and exhaled slowly. Even though the money was good, he was getting tired of this lifestyle. Preying on the misfortune of others was beginning to wear on him, and for that matter, he never felt very comfortable with it to begin with. He looked up and down at the rows of three story houses that lined both sides of the street. Wooden structures for the most part, and the paint on the exteriors was faded so badly it was near impossible to distinguish colors anymore. This neighborhood had seen far better days. He could still remember when he was a kid and how much happier life seemed. He used to play in these same streets without fear of getting punched out, shot at in a drive by, or accosted by drug pushers.

            Jimmy was not unmoved by these thoughts and there were more than a few occasions when he would look at himself in the mirror with self-loathing and curse the decaying world around him. He was acutely aware that at age 24, he was on a desperate road to nowhere.

            He had not seen his family in years, did not even know where his mom, dad, and two sisters were living anymore. They had disowned him as soon as they discovered he had joined up with a local gang. He missed them terribly and he thought about them often. He loved them and felt badly that he had disappointed them, but he chose the security of a gang as a means of survival, not out of choice. The danger this lifestyle represented was evident in the fact that his first gang had already lost four members to rival factions. As a means of survival he decided to change colors and had joined up with the powerful KSA (kick some ass) just three weeks earlier. In the past two decades, gang membership in the United States had skyrocketed and more and more youngsters were turning to the gang lifestyle out of peer pressure and a need for security, tenuous as that security might be.

            A cold breeze was beginning to swirl up and down the street but that was typical this time of year in a coastal city like Boston.

            Jimmy pulled his collar up around his neck. He looked to his right and noticed two transients walking into an alley between two abandoned buildings down the street. Homeless people were a common sight to Jimmy but even he noticed that their numbers were increasing dramatically over the past few years.

            There were only two businesses that remained in operation on Dooley Street. The “Kiss it Goodbye” pawn shop one block down to the left and the Dooley Street Liquor store directly across from it represented the only businesses that managed to survive the tough times that the neighborhood had been through. No matter how difficult life became, people would always find the money to buy booze. The prostitution racket was also alive and well in this part of town and streetwalkers were a common sight. It was no secret in and around Boston that if you wanted sex or drugs, Dooley Street was the place to find it.

As Jimmy stood there waiting for customers, there were at least 20 other dealers in the neighborhood that night along with the usual smattering of hookers and pimps.

“Hookers,” Jimmy thought to himself. He always considered that term rather humorous. In Hollywood, actresses like Sharon Stone will go to bed with anyone for the right price and she is referred to as a “Star” and appears on the cover of “GQ” magazine. On Dooley St., a woman engaged in such an activity is called a tramp by society, simply because of geographics. Taking your clothes off and rolling around in bed in front of a camera makes it OK apparently. “Any self-respecting society always needs a healthy dose of double-standards,” he once said.

            Cars continued to roll past him in a slow, steady cavalcade. He leaned against the badly-weathered chain link fence of the house behind him and looked into the windows of some of the homes across the street. Most of the shades were pulled down and there didn’t seem to be much activity going on within. Residents rarely, if ever, ventured out after seven o’clock as if they were restricted by a curfew. They had long since surrendered the neighborhood to the vice peddlers who frequented the many alleyways, hangouts, and intersections up and down the street. Intimidation was their primary M-O and it was very effective.

            A blue and white late model sedan pulled to the curb in front of Jimmy containing four young male occupants. He recognized them from a few previous encounters and walked over to the passenger side of the vehicle as the occupant nearest to him rolled down the window.

            Jimmy leaned in to speak with the driver. “Yo, what’s it going to be homes?” He glanced around at the other three. All were well dressed, well groomed with money to burn no doubt. College kids out to spend daddy’s hard-earned money on a quick fix to bring back to the frat house party.

            “Hey, my main man!” the driver said trying to impress his companions, as if he and Jimmy were close friends. Jimmy just gave him a blank stare.

            Then the driver’s tone turned more serious. “One eight ball if you’ve got it,” he said.

            Jimmy reached into his pocket and took out a small plastic bag containing a marble shaped rock of white powder. He glanced up and down the street as a precautionary measure, although he knew full well that the local authorities showed little interest in this neighborhood’s ills. Cops only showed up when they absolutely had to, usually in response to shootings or domestic violence that got out of hand. Drugs were not very high up on their priority list and Jimmy had not been hassled in almost seven months.

            He handed the bag to the driver and in return the blonde haired teen in the passenger seat handed him three one hundred dollar bills.

            “That cover it?” the boy said nervously.

            Jimmy counted the bills. “Yeah, that’ll do it, “he muttered with no emotion. “Shake it easy,” he said as he turned to walk away from the car.

            The transients he had seen entering the alleyway a few moments earlier had lit a fire in a large metal barrel at the deepest part of the alley. The two men, both in their late fifties and wearing tattered overcoats, worn out shoes, and dingy fedora hats warmed their hands over the orange and blue flames. The walls of the two red brick buildings that lined both sides of the alley were once furniture stores but they had fallen on hard times and were forced to close. The walls now provided some shelter from the elements but the alley tended to become a wind tunnel at times depending on the direction of the currents on any given night.

            Jimmy noticed a group of five of his fellow gang members coming towards him from that direction which would take them directly past the entrance to the alleyway. He hoped they would not see the transients.

            The two men were oblivious to anything taking place outside of their little temporary home.

            “Winter is coming sure enough,” said Petey, the older of the two. “I ain’t looking forward to another New England winter on the streets of this city.”

            “No kidding,” answered his friend Chester. “Winter stinks!”

Petey took a bottle of red wine from his pocket and held it out to Chester. “Vino?” he said.

            “Robert Mondave!” remarked Chester. “You’re moving up in the world. Where did you get that?”

            “Stole it,” said Petey with a grin. “Some lady was having trouble with her car keys and put it on the ground. She got distracted and I moved right in. She looked reasonably well off so I don’t think she will miss it much.”

            The two men passed the bottle back and forth while continuing to rub their hands together over the flames. Strewn all about them was a fair amount of trash and discarded furniture from the buildings’ previous owners.

            Jimmy continued to look in the direction of the gang members but they had stopped at the entrance to the alleyway. They were still a good distance away but he was reasonably sure the first figure was Spike, the feared leader of the KSA.

            “Oh man,” he muttered to himself. “Just let ‘em be!”

Petey suddenly noticed the activity near the entrance to the alleyway.

            “Don’t look now but I think we’ve got company,” he said nervously.

            Chester turned around and could just make out the silhouetted shapes of five figures moving slowly towards them.

            “Probably folks just like us,” he muttered apprehensively.

            “I hope you’re right,” Petey answered, his voice shaking.

            As the figures drew near however, the two men sensed that lady luck was not with them this night. The lead individual, a large man wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and leather boots came into view and stopped about five feet away from the burning barrel. The other four were still indiscernible as they stopped about five feet behind him.

            “Evening homes,” came a sinister voice that sent chills up Petey's spine. “Nice night for a fire huh?”

            Petey slowly retreated towards the back wall of the alley, almost tripping over some debris as he moved.

            “Yeah, hell of a night,” he answered skittishly. “Anything we can do for you boys?’

            He and Chester both studied the group of men and struggled to comprehend why they would bother with two harmless old timers like them. “They must know we don’t have any money,” Chester thought to himself.

            The lead figure took one more step closer. Petey could make out his face now. He had a huge scar under his left eye. His skin was worn and the look in his eye was cold and lifeless. They reminded him of the eyes of a snake he had seen on a National Geographic program some time ago.

            “A cobra,” he thought to himself. “That’s what they remind me of, a cobra.”

            “Actually,” Spike said in a low, guttural tone, “there is something you can do for me.” He leaned down and picked up a two by four piece of wood that was lying at his feet and violently jammed it into the barrel. “You can tell all your worthless friends to stay the hell out of my neighborhood. That’s of course when we are done laying a beating on you.” A sick sadistic grin came to his face.

            Fear gripped the two men like nothing they had ever felt before. Chester backed away but there was no place to run. The five thugs were blocking the only way out of the alley.

            “Now wait a minute fellas...” Petey stammered, his voice shaky and cracking. “We never did anything to you guys. You let us go and we promise to never come back. I swear!” He was swaying back and forth and wasn’t even aware of it. His mind was reeling from the intensity and danger in the air.

            “Sorry, but that wouldn’t enhance my nasty reputation very much now would it?” came Spike’s cold response. “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. You know what I mean?” He turned to his four fellow gang members standing behind him and nodded his head signaling them into action.

            “For God’s sake, wait a minute! Please!” Petey implored as the men moved towards them menacingly.

            Jimmy was back at his perch wondering why the car he had just sold the eight ball of cocaine to was still sitting there when he heard something metallic clanging in the street in front of him. He turned to see what looked like a small metallic ball rolling in the middle of the street.

            “Hey, who’s throwing shit on my street?” he asked the occupants of the car. “Don’t you know it’s not polite to litter!”

The boys in the car glanced up and down the trash-laden street, then back at Jimmy with puzzled looks.

            “Hey, we didn’t throw anything,” said the driver.

            Another canister landed about twenty yards to Jimmy’s left and rolled into the curb.

            “Who the hell is throwing shit?” he muttered, looking around and then up at the houses and building tops. Against the darkness of the night, he thought he saw a figure dropping down from the sky. Before he could clearly focus, there was a series of loud pops all around him followed by a hot blast of air that almost knocked him off his feet. Jimmy froze in fear.

“Not another drive by!” he thought to himself but then the entire street became enshrouded in a dense cloud of gray smoke. In a matter of seconds, he was unable to see two feet in front of him. He grabbed the fence behind him to get his bearings and bent to his knees trying to get out of harms way.

            “What the hell is going on here?” he muttered in disbelief.

            Up and down Dooley Street, bedlam broke loose. Car horns were blaring, cries and shrieks of alarm came from every corner.

            “Roll up the windows!” the driver of the blue sedan shouted to his passengers as the cloud engulfed them. They couldn’t see a thing but whatever it was, they wanted no part of it.

            Jimmy continued to crouch against the fence not knowing what to expect.

“Damn, I can’t see a thing,” he said, reaching inside his trench coat for the .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol he always carried with him. Just as it cleared his jacket, he noticed something moving off to his right. It was just a shadow but he could make out the silhouette of a large person moving very quickly with no apparent difficulty.

“How the hell can he see in this shit?” he muttered as he pointed the gun in his direction but he never got off a shot. He felt something slam into his rib cage from his left and then everything went black as he slumped to the ground.

            In the alleyway, the lead assailant was just about to raise the wooden club in his hand to strike Chester when the cloud began billowing towards them. Petey noticed it first, as he was facing the entrance. In an effort to momentarily distract their attackers, he shouted, “Hey, look!” and he pointed at the fast approaching cloud.

            His effort worked as all five of the assailants turned just as the cloud engulfed them.

            “What the hell!” Spike shouted, then Petey lost all ability to see him clearly. He reached out blindly with his hand and managed to clutch Chester who was still standing to his right. He dragged him to the deepest corner of the alley where they both cowered in fear.

            As they remained there too terrified to move, they could hear shrugs and groans emanating from the direction of their would-be attackers. There was a tremendous struggle going on just yards away from them but they could not see any of it. One by one they heard what they hoped were gang members being thrown against barrels and debris until after just a few moments all was silent. Petey clutched Chester’s arm even tighter now. Would whatever had thrashed the gang members now turn its attention on them? He sat there rigid, terrified to move. He tried to control his breathing, and prayed that he would remain unseen to this unknown intruder.

            Chester thought he saw a figure standing a few feet in front of him. Then he heard a woman’s voice. It was soft and soothing and for a moment he imagined he was in the presence of an angel.

“Everything is alright,” said the voice. “Just wait a few moments and the air will be clear again. You are safe now.” Then she was gone.

            They remained in a crouched position and the silence persisted. Then the gray smoke began to clear. Petey could see the barrel where they were warning themselves just moments ago. The flames were still flickering brightly.  Chester thought his heart was going to burst in his chest as he looked at Petey in disbelief.

            “Is it safe do you think?” he stammered. “That strange lady said it would be.”

            Petey strained to see the length of the alley and the dim light of the entrance was just coming into view. It appeared that the alley was uninhabited.  He slowly got to his feet and took a few steps forward. His mouth dropped as he discovered the bodies of the five gang members strewn about and they were all completely unconscious.

            “Petey...come here,” Chester muttered, still having trouble believing his eyes.

            Petey came up beside him and saw the carnage for himself.

            “Damn...what do you think happened to ‘em?” he asked in a stupefied tone.

            “I don’t’ know,” Chester stammered, “but I’m not sticking around to find out. Let’s get out of here before they wake up!”

            As the two men reached the entrance to the alley and stepped out onto the sidewalk, they were stopped dead in their tracks by the sight before them. All up and down the street, it was as if everything had been subjected to a huge stun gun. There were bodies everywhere, cars sat idle in the street, and there was virtually no movement at all.

            Petey noticed that none of the occupants in any of the vehicles had been affected. He looked into the eyes of the female driver in the car nearest him and saw sheer terror. The woman seemed unable to speak; she just sat there behind the wheel with her mouth hanging open, her mind seemingly struggling to make sense of it all.

            Chester put his hand on Petey’s arm gently. “Let’s go Petey. I don’t like the looks of this.”

            The two men ran off down the street toward the waterfront.

            A few blocks up, the four teenage customers who had just moments before purchased their evening’s fix of cocaine now sat glancing out the window in disbelief. Jimmy was lying on the ground against the fence, his trench coat spread open and it appeared the contents of his pockets had been removed. There was no visible sign of injury, no blood, no lacerations. If they didn’t know better, he wore the appearance of someone who was peacefully sleeping.

            By now the air had cleared completely.

            “We’re outa here!” the driver shouted as he threw the transmission into drive and slammed the gas pedal to the floor. In a moment, the car turned right onto Boylston Street and was soon out of sight.



            Pablo Juarez was sitting at his dining room table in his lavish 3- story villa with the only members of his organization that he trusted. Not that he fully trusted anyone, even his wife and immediate family. In Colombia, it was foolhardy and potentially fatal to let down your guard in the world of big-time narcotics. He himself had risen to power by means of deceit and assassination but he had proven more resilient than most of his predecessors. He had sat as the top dog of Colombia’s richest drug cartel for the last four years. His longevity could be attributed to two things. He trusted no one and he ruled with an unshakable ruthlessness. His motto was to strike first and always stay one step ahead of the opposition.

            As he sat sipping a glass of tequila, he glanced around the long cherry wood table and asked for reports from each of his lieutenants. Business had been booming and the Colombian law enforcement machine had been unable to slow their progress. Even with the limited support the Americans had given them, the Colombian government still seemed totally inept and incapable of stopping the unending flow of drugs that continued to be shipped north to the world’s number one consumer of illegal drugs…the United States. Demand was at an all time high.

            Cocaine was still king but methamphetamine was quickly sweeping the country. It was not easy to make but the markup was tremendous.

            “Profits have exceeded the 25 million dollar mark for the month of September and that is the most we have ever taken in for a one month period,” said Jose Ramirez, his right hand man. “I think that calls for a toast!”

            Juarez looked at the smirking faces of the nine men. They were all disingenuous to the core but they were doing their jobs so there was no need to give them any other impression other than that he was pleased with their efforts.

            Juarez looked at his watch out of total boredom. It was just after midnight.

            “Sure, why not, a toast,” he said. He rose to his feet and brushed the wrinkles from his blue Pierre Cardin dinner jacket. “To greater prosperity and to continued success so I will not have to shoot any of you sons of bitches.” They all laughed nervously and drank from their glasses.

Suddenly, the sound of helicopters could be heard overhead.

            “What is that?” Juarez exclaimed.

            Jose Ramirez ran to the window and looked up. “I don’t see anything out there boss, but there is something going on.”

            “Arm yourselves!” screamed Juarez.

The men ran for the weapons rack on the far wall and grabbed AK-47’s before heading out the door to investigate. It was a clear night and visibility was good but while they stood there gazing skyward, they could see nothing but the stars overhead.

            “Stay sharp!” hissed Juarez as he strained to scan the vegetation all around him. The house was completely surrounded by cocaine fields that had matured and were ready to yield a banner crop.

“It must be a government raid,” said Juarez. “Fan out!”

            As the men sought cover behind stone walls and trees, the whirling sound of a helicopter’s blades floated over the house like a huge bumble bee. Juarez was puzzled though. It didn’t sound like any helicopter he had ever heard before. It was too quiet, as though the engines were being muffled somehow.

            One of the men began firing wildly into the night air but the copter was gone.

“What the hell are you shooting at? He’s gone already!” screamed Juarez. A fine yellow mist began to float down on the entire area.

            “Gas!” yelled Ramirez. “Get back in the house!”

            The men scurried inside and Ramirez slammed the door behind them.

“They are using gas on us!” he hissed. “The bastards!”

            “They will pay for this!” fumed Juarez. “Cover your mouths, you idiots!”



            The nuclear missile silo located near Joe Hanson’s farm in Idaho was not the most exciting place to spend a night as far as Corporal Jim Fox was concerned. He had been working the night shift for three years and had to drive through miles and miles of corn and potato fields just to get there. He always imagined that if God had set out to create the most boring place on Earth, this place would be it. “But then again, we’ll never starve out here will we?” he thought to himself.

He fully expected this night to be every bit as uneventful as any other as he began his midnight shift. He felt reasonably certain that the order would never come that would require him and his fellow marines to actually fire one of these things, which was perfectly fine with him. It had spooked him at first to be spending eight hours out of every day right next to a device that, under an unfortunate set of circumstances, could vaporize millions of human beings in an instant but after a while, he just got used to its ominous presence. Over time, it had become nothing more than a huge, cylindrical hunk of metal that just sat there and he hoped it would rot in the ground and stay exactly where it was until the end of time.

He and his fellow marines usually spent their time wiling away the hours with mundane drills, reading technical journals and catching up on world news.

            But this would be no ordinary night. As he sat staring at his control panel making data entries verifying that all systems were running properly, an ear-splitting alarm sounded.

            “What the hell is going on?” he shouted to the soldier sitting next to him.

            “You got me,” the soldier answered as he prepared to log out of the system per the locations red-alert protocols. “Another drill I guess!”

            “We just had a drill five days ago!” shouted Fox. “We never have two in one week!”

            A lieutenant poked his head into the control room. “What are you guys doing?” he shouted. “Evacuate the base! Move your asses!”

            Fox logged out and followed the other soldiers as they ran for the door and headed up the metal staircase leading to ground level.

            They had practiced evacuations in drills before but this didn’t seem like an ordinary exercise. For the entire three years he had been stationed there, the drills had become routine to the point where just about everyone knew when to expect one. As he reached the exit door, a blast of cold air rushed over him. The moon was shining overhead as the base’s entire complement of thirty men raced for the shelter located one hundred yards east of the silo’s entranceway.

            “Sign in once you are inside!” yelled the lieutenant. “We want to make sure everyone is safely out of there!”

            Fox signed in, then walked over and stood at the small view port facing the silo. The shelter wasn’t really designed to protect them in the event of the missile exploding inside the silo accidentally. The odds of such an event, short of a terrorist infiltration, were astronomically remote. It merely provided them a central meeting point where men could be accounted for and shuttled out quickly with the three transport vehicles that were parked in the shelters garage.

“What could be going on?” Fox said to a marine already standing there. “Someone report a fire?”

            “We got a report that security was compromised,” said the other marine. “They are bringing in a search team to do a sweep.”

            Fox heard the base commander’s voice over his shoulder.

            “Lieutenant! Is everyone accounted for?” asked the Commander.

            “Yes sir, everyone has been safely evacuated. The sweep team just called in and they are on their way.”

            Fort McKinley was just ten miles east and a sweep team could be suited up and on its way in minutes.

            Fox turned back towards the silo and it was eerily quiet when all of a sudden he was blinded by a brilliant flash of light that forced him to turn away.

            “Commander!” he yelled. “Something is going on out here.”

            The commander ran to the window but by the time he got there, the light was gone. All that remained was a smoldering hole in the ground where the silo had just been mere moments ago.

            “Jesus Christ!” he muttered. “Lieutenant, get on the phone to the Pentagon. Now!”



The security operations room on the seventh floor of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York’s lower Manhattan was undergoing its nightly shift change. Officer John Ward said good night to the outgoing agents and sat down at his computer station as he prepared to look over the day’s transactions. The Federal Reserve is one of the major banks where United States government financial activities are conducted and monitored. He had specifically chosen the night shift because it was far and away the least busy of the three shifts that were available. Even taking into consideration the various time zones around the world which meant that transactions were always occurring around the clock, Saturday night was still the least active period of the entire work week.

He glanced up at the clock. It was 12:10 AM New York time. He gulped down some green tea and logged into his PC as he prepared to examine the daily data sheets. His job was merely to monitor the largest of the day’s transactions. Anything fewer than ten million dollars didn’t warrant a second look. He was one of four officers monitoring the endless flow of data and as he began scanning, everything seemed perfectly normal when he noticed a huge spike in activity at exactly 12 AM, just ten minutes ago.

“What the hell is this all about?” he shrieked to the other three officers who were sitting at computer stations around the room. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as the unusually large transactions lit up his computer terminal.

“What’s wrong?” said officer Dean Campbell sitting next to him. Campbell was the senior officer in charge for the night shift.

“Look at these transfers!” he said with alarm. “Somebody re-routed billions of dollars and I don’t see any authorization codes next to the transactions!”

Campbell and the other two officers got up from their chairs and stared down at his computer screen.

“That’s impossible,” said Campbell. “The system won’t accept a large transaction like that without an authorization code.”

Ward scrolled down the screen at a long list of transactions that had all occurred in the past ten minutes while the shift change was occurring.

“Look at them all,” he said with complete confusion. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. We gotta notify the chief.”

“Bullshit!” said Campbell. “I’m not calling him at quarter past midnight and waking him up.”

Campbell leaned over and inputted his password so he could access Ward’s terminal. Then he scanned through the various screens listing the transactions. He accessed various fields where the authorization codes were supposed to be inputted and the account numbers of where the funds were transferred. All the funds were withdrawn directly from the United States Treasury. None of the information matched up though and he was convinced the system merely “burped” as the techs called it, an event usually caused by a power surge resulting in a short burst of unintelligible and inaccurate false data while the system righted itself.

“None of this makes any sense,” said Campbell. “This can wait until morning. Let the day techs research it.”

“We can’t just sit here for eight hours and act like nothing happened here,” said Ward as he searched each of their eyes for direction. He was the least senior member of the nightshift and was thee least experienced of the group.

“We can do exactly that,” said Campbell.

“Look at the times they occurred,” said officer Pete Stanley standing next to Campbell. “All we have to do is say they were checked by the previous shift before they left. That should cover our asses.”

“Are you sure about this?” protested Ward. “It just doesn’t seem right to ignore such large amounts of money.”

“Hey, my favorite show is coming on in ten minutes,” replied Stanley. “I’m sure it is just a system glitch. There is no way that amount of funds can be transferred without authorization codes. Let the systems analyst people worry about it in the morning. I mean come on, this system is foolproof. Have you ever seen anything like that show up before?”

“Not in the 23 years I have been here,” replied Campbell.

“What about you Ward?” asked Stanley.

“Well, no,” answered Ward meekly.

“Ok then,” replied Stanley. “I’m telling you it’s a computer glitch. Forget about it and just make sure all the other transactions for the day look OK.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” seconded Campbell.

Ward turned back towards his PC in total frustration. It just didn’t seem right but Campbell was the senior guy and he wasn’t about to argue with him. The other officers went back to their stations. Ward overheard one of them remark, “You gotta admit, that is a little freaky.”

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