In The Between

In The Between (1990)

In The Between

an Ian McCanus short story


It was their last meal and the Torhns had lost their appetite.

Their world was about to end, the two black holes on either side of their planet were about to tear it apart, split it, right down the middle and that’s all there was to it. No amount of food could change that. Even the Schgleg they were about to consume knew something was amiss.

” Go, shoo.”, Yichn ordered.

The Schgleg, feeling unwanted, slimes out of its tray and leaves the table.

“What’s the point?”, Yichn asked rhetorically, “It’s all going to end anyway.”

Her husband, Gnok, had no answer for her.

“You’re upsetting Igli: calm down.”, he answered.

Little Igli was only 300 years old, she had no defined idea about what was going on. She had just wet herself, though.

“I don’t care! It’s the end! I can do what I want!”, Yichn continued.

“That’s not true, you have a responsibility: you’re her mother.”

“Oh blow it out your flaaagn…”

“I know how you feel but you can’t let it get to you, let’s just finish our last meal with dignity. As a loving family.”

“A loving family? You think I don’t know about you and Griil?”

“W-what do you mean?”

“Oh forget it…”

Gnok turns to his daughter, wiping the urine from her face.

“Go to your room, Igli. Mummy and daddy need a moment alone.”

“Wammy?”, replied the infant.

“That’s right. I’ll be in there to tuck you in right away. Just give me a couple of months, ok?”


Igli leaves the table and walks to her bedroom leaving a trail behind her. Gnok turns back to Yichn and gently places his tentacle on her shoulder.

“You’re upset, I understand that. But we have to make the most of our time together, while we’re still alive. The planet is splitting in half, that doesn’t mean we should do the same.”

Yichn promptly knocks his tentacle away with her paw.

“That’s just it: maybe we should do the same! After all, if nothing means anything, why shouldn’t we? Why should anything?”

“Yichn, calm down…”

“Why?! Why be calm? Who is there to wake up? Besides you?”


“You’re the one who needs waking up! You’re asleep! Asleep from the truth!”

Yichn stands up. Now hysterical, she starts to turn purple as her antennas vibrate from side to side (a sign of stress). Gnok walks to her slowly, trying to calm her down.

“Settle down, Yichn. You’re having a breakdown…”

“You’re asleep, they’re all asleep!”

Gnok moves his tentacle towards her.

“There there, it’s gonna be alright. Just give me your paw and we’ll talk.”

“Don’t touch me!”

“I’m not gonna hurt, no one is…”

Just then, Yichn opens her third mouth and bites Gnok’s tentacle hard: she eats half of it. Gnok screams, flapping his remaining tentacle around the room, breaking vases and glasses in the process.

“There there…”, Yichn says in a dark monotone, “It’s gonna be alright.”

Yichn falls on top of Gnok and devours him on the spot, her mouths taking large chunks out of him with every single bite. Gnok struggles and screams throughout, his orange blood splashing over every family portrait, every inch of the room.

Minutes later: Gnok was no more.

Meanwhile, Igli is lying in a puddle in her bed, counting Niays, her favourite animal. Yichn knocks gently on her door and walks in, still completely covered in blood and foaming at the mouths.

“Hi honey, you asleep?”


“You are asleep, aren’t you…”


“Hungry? I’m hungry too.”

There’s a knock at the front door. Startled, Yichn gets up and goes to answer it. Igli continues counting Niays.

Before opening the door, Yichn enquires:

“Who is it?”

“It’s Poyng! Open up! One of the black holes imploded in on itself. It’s gone! Our world is safe!”

Trembling, Yichn finally opens the door.


More from Ian McCanus soon.

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Man Made Of Steel

Man Made Of Steel (1938)

Comic Man Made Of Steel 2

a Jerry Jones comic-book

Extract from the 6-pages-long novelization


“Look! Up there!”, the woman gasped.

“It’s a bird!”, her husband guessed.

“It’s a balloon!”

“It’s a bird!”, the husband guessed again.

“No! It’s Man Made Of Steel!”, said an older lady who had joined them on the scene.

Indeed, Man Made Of Steel had just flown across the sky after, quite probably, having saved yet another life. It had been a month since the first sighting of the fearless hero and crime in the vibrant city of Bigtown had reached its lowest point. The metallic wonder had been a blessing.

But who was this phenomenon?

Where had he come from?

That’s what ace reporter Sally Sullivan, of the Bigtown Daily, was trying desperately to find out. As yet, she had only been able to catch a glimpse of the mysterious helper, not enough to paint a full picture. Somehow, she knew she would need to get closer to him, be the first reporter in town to get an interview.

The Olsen twins had been no help at all.

The Daily’s go-to photographers, Jack and Jack, had been joined at the elbow since birth, which made their career twice as hard but, despite the occasional crooked shot, they often surprised their colleagues with impressive results.

“Anything on that Man Made Of Steel, fellas?”, Sally asked the twins.

“Not yet.”, they replied in unison.

“Well, be sure to let me know first, if and when you do get something worthwhile. With my words and your pictures, we’ll get that story if it’s the last thing I do.”

“Will you go out with me?”, the twins asked, again, in unison.

But Sally had already walked away without hearing their question. She was deep in thought.

Where would a Man Made Of Steel go?


Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a child was crying.

With a “whoosh” and a “thump”, Man Made Of Steel appears and lands next to the child. Upon seeing him, the boy’s eyes widen in wonder.

“Gee whiz! Man Made Of Steel!”

“What appears to be the problem, young citizen?”, the hero asked somewhat robotically.

“It’s my kitty, Charlemagne, it’s stuck in that tree!”

“Have no fear. Man Made Of Steel is here.”

On that note, Man Made Of Steel deploys a cannon from inside his back and points it at the tree in question. Without warning, a thick, blood-red laser beam booms out of the cannon rendering the entire tree to ashes.

“But…”, the child is too stunned to finish his thought.

“No need to thank me, citizen. I do this for justice.”

Man Made Of Steel goes to ruffle the boy’s hair playfully but, his strength much too great, he instead proceeds to mistakenly crush the child’s head like an egg. Not noticing anything wrong, Man Made Of Steel’s laser cannon folds back into him and he is soon off, up and way, flying to further adventures.


“A fire has broken out in downtown Bigtown. Next to nothing is known about the cause of this sudden disaster as yet but we will bring you the details, as they come. In the meantime, what’s the weather like, Bobby?”

Sally turns her radio off promptly.

That’s it!

Man Made Of Steel couldn’t possibly pass up a heroic act like extinguishing a fire like that. I only hope I get there in time!

Running out of her office, Sally calls out to the Olsen twins.

“Jack, Jack: big fire, downtown Bigtown! Be there.”

She sees one of her colleagues, the rather sheepish, forgettable Cal Karlson, exit the elevator and yells at him from across the room while running towards him.

“Hey! Karlson! Where were you?”

Cal goes to answer but Sally interrupts him.

“Never mind, you’ll tell me on the way.”

Cal goes to ask a question but she interrupts him again.

“I’ll tell you. On the way.”

They both get in the elevator and the doors close.


Downtown Bigtown.


By the time Sally and Cal finally arrived at the scene, the fire had already engulfed six blocks. Dark smoke filled the sky, fire engines everywhere, chaos.

“My god…”, Sally said to herself out loud.

“I know. Horrible, isn’t it?”, Cal confirmed naively.

“Man Made Of Steel abandoning his duties…”

“Tragic.”, Cal said in complete agreement.

“What a scoop!”, Sally finished her thought, “I can see it now: ‘HERO TO NOT HERO: THE MAN MADE OF STEEL STORY’. What do you think, Cal?”

Sally turns to look at Cal but he is inexplicably nowhere to be seen.


The fire marshal suddenly spots something above, in the sky.

“Look! Up there! It’s Man Made Of Steel!”

Everyone promptly drops whatever they were doing to look at the hero who has, indeed, appeared up in the sky, above the inferno he himself created.

“Fear not, citizens. Man Made Of Steel is here.”

Swooping down through the fire like a phoenix, the metallic justice man starts blowing the fire away with a giant fan he had deployed on his chest seconds prior. The fire doesn’t so much disappear as it does spread to previously unaffected blocks. Man Made Of Steel proceeds to move the fire all the way across town to the neighboring metropolis: Gothtown City.

Sally, unaware of the colossal damage caused by the hero over the rest of the entire town, looks at the wreckage left by the fire and starts feeling both moved, especially when she spots the bones of a dead child on the ground next to her (his head barely looking like a head anymore), but also a peculiar sense of pride.

Man Made Of Steel had proven himself a true patriot, he had come back for us.

“What’s all this, Sally?”, a voice called to her nearby.

It was Cal, still wearing his good-old prescription glasses and looking completely unfazed by the events.

“Where’s the fire?”

“You mean, you didn’t see any of what just happened?”

“I was buying a hot dog.”, he replied candidly, not holding a hot dog.

“You know… you look strangely familiar to me. I never noticed it before.”

“Oh Sally, you must be suffering from smoke inhalation. Let’s get you to a doctor.”

Sally could not put her finger on it.

There was something about Cal’s red eyes, his straight posture, his hard, blockish shoulders and his monotone way of talking that somehow felt uncanny. Which was bizarre. After all, Cal was just your normal, paper-pushing, eight-foot tall reporter.

But there was something…

“You know Cal, I think I love you.”

Cal beeps.


More of Jerry Jones’ unique comic-books coming up soon.

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“Futurearth” (1995)

Futurearth Book Cover

a Brendan M. Midnight short story

Inspired the motion-picture “After Earth”


The young soldier was cold.

Outside, the cold had made everything cold: even the trees.

As he lay down waiting for death, a beard of snow grew on his face.

Colonel Unfeer, meanwhile, sat in his pod, powerless. He thought of his son, he thought of his late daughter and he thought of his wife.

He thought.

All at once, he thought of all of them and how he had failed them. If only he had been there when the unthinkable happened. He could not fear. He had evolved and they hadn’t, but did they deserve a fate worse than his? The answer was no.

Fear was a choice, he once believed.

Now, he wasn’t so sure…

If only there was a way to save all he had left: his son.

His wife didn’t matter right now.

And then he remembered.

“Birds…”, Unfeer said to himself.

Both his legs had been broken in the crash and he was losing blood rapidly but he still had his brain.

“Computer, find me a bird. A big one.”, the Colonel ordered his screen.

“Processing…”, the computer replied.

Still lying on the frozen grass, young J.D. Unfeer could feel the fear leave him. Perhaps he had finally attained the nirvana of self-control his father had often spoken of, or perhaps he was dying. His eyes turned to the grass around his right hand. On it, was an elaborate slug-like creature wearing what looked at first like a very small leather jacket but was in fact another layer of skin.

The creature starts climbing on J.D.’s hand, leaving behind it a trail of blood and scars. The young soldier, frozen solid, could not feel the pain or anything else. He could only stare at the creature, paralysed, and let it do what it was doing. Which, it turns out, was defecating.


Back in the conapt, Colonel Unfeer was losing patience.

“The birds, goddamn it! The birds!”

“Processing…”, replied the computer.

There had to be an easier way.

A legend told of an early form of technology which allowed humans to tap into any living creature at a distance. He remembered his great-grandfather teaching him this. How, long before the Earth perished, a form of primitive communication known as the “Internets” evolved into a wireless web connecting everything to each other telepathically and, therefore, spiritually. This, of course, was only a tale he had heard as a young child but if he could only remember the details of how humans learned to control that technology, perhaps…

Finally, he knew what he had to do.

It hit him like a bold of lighting, in his brain.

“Computer, locate mind darts.”


“Come on, come on…”

“Mind darts detected.”

On-screen, a blue dot appeared on the map of the ship: it was very close to the red dot which depicted Unfeer’s current location.

J.D. was about to lose consciousness. The slug had reached his lower back.

Crawling down the ship’s unlit corridors, slithering with great difficulty, Colonel Unfeer felt tremendous amounts of physical pain but the adrenaline pumping through his arms which pulled him forward again and again kept him focused. Behind him, a trail of blood was left by his gushing legs. He had soon arrived at the Science Quarters, a pod which, like all the others, was made of bone.

The scientists onboard the ship used this room to do science.

Crawling inside the room, Unfeer saw the fleshy pocket which contained the mind darts, embedded inside the wall next to the eye-nets, the ivory stomachs and the tri-toothed crystal chopsticks.

“Computer: release compartment B-12.”

Promptly, the wall purse burst open.

The transparent jelly-like wax poured out and the box of mind darts (made of eggshells and hard milk) hung there, ready to be plucked.


J.D. had finally fainted, his snow beard was sparkling in the chilling wind.

The slug was now in him.

It was then that it came for the boy.

A great, impressive bird he had encountered prior had swooped down and was now dragging the young soldier with its claws over the grass. The poor bird was cold, but it wasn’t about to give up on J.D..

Soon enough, the latter found himself, still unconscious, resting in a warm hole in the ground, covered with leaves and the bird’s own comfortably hot faecal matter. But the frost had taken its toll on the unfortunate beast and after lying on the leaves over the boy, it fell asleep never to awake again.

The next day, J.D. opened his eyes feeling  predictably cool but unexpectedly alive.


But how?!

That was unexpected.

J.D. starts to crawl out of the hole, still unsure as to how exactly he could have ended up in that particular location safe and sound. Once up and out, however, it all made sense.

Before him lay the bird, dead.

He remembered the previous day, when he had tried to save its young but mistakenly destroyed their nest, killing them in the process. The bird had followed him here and saved his life, all because he had risked his own life for its brood.

Or, at least, that’s what the young soldier thought before getting a closer look at the bird’s body. On its side and on its neck were small glowing darts made of teeth and elbows.

“Father?”, J.D. enquired.

“You have done well, my son.”, replied the bird’s neck, “You have made me proud.”


More from Brendan M. Midnight soon.

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Star Trek Into The Darkness – Fan-Fiction

“Star Trek Into The Darkness” (2012)

Into the Darkness Poster

a G.J. Adams pre-imagining 

Written 6 months before the release of the motion picture “Star Trek Into Darkness”


Extract from Chapter XIV:

“The Last Generation”


The Enterprise had come to an abrupt halt, in space.

Where was John Harrison’s ship? Was it somewhere else?

The USS Defiant, which Harrison had acquired seconds before entering the black hole,  had pierced through first and although the Enterprise had promptly followed, the rival ship was gone. Now the Enterprise was floating aimlessly over an unknown planet in an unknown corner of the universe.

They had gone into the darkness and now there was only darkness.

On the bridge, Captain James T. Kirk sat and pondered.

“Spock, any thoughts?”, Kirk said finally.

“Several, though seeing as it appears we are currently marooned on the other side of the galaxy, it is very likely that none of them will qualify as valid.”, the Vulcan answered.

“Indulge me.”, Kirk said playfully.

“By going through the black hole, space and time could have been affected. If you remember, my older self, in a similar situation, found himself travelling back into time.”

“What are you suggesting, Mr Spock?”

“It is possible that John Harrison, by piercing through the black hole first, landed the Defiant in another space, in another time entirely.”

“Fantastic…”, Kirk said sarcastically.

“I fail to see the positive aspect of this theory.”

“Sarcasm, Spock. Look it up.”

Spock raises an eyebrow and quietly judges Kirk. Meanwhile, Uhura, who had been working on confirming the ship’s current coordinates, intervenes.

“Captain, I believe I’ve found the Defiant.”

Kirk promptly stands up and walks to the elevator, instinctively opening up his communicator.

“Chekov, prepare to beam us onto the Defiant.”

“Aye aye, Kieptain.”, was the thickly accented answer from the communicator.

Uhura stands up and walks up to Kirk, concerned.

“Captain, I wouldn’t beam onto the ship if I were you.”

“And why is that, Uhura?”

“The ship has crashed onto the surface of the planet below. We don’t know how bad of a state it’s in.”

“Then I’ll beam down around the crash, walk in and search the ship.”

Dr McCoy, who had been quietly listening to the conversation from a corner of the room, walks up to Kirk. He looks worried, angry and sweaty.

“Jim, you can’t be serious! For all we know John Harrison was devoured by Glorbs and they’re still hungry!”

“Bones, Harrison is genetically enhanced and virtually undefeatable, I’m sure he’s fine.”, the Captain replied calmly.

“But what about you? You’re about as genetically enhanced as a Romulan boar!”

“I know”, Kirk replied with a smile, “That’s why you’re coming with me.”

“For god sakes Jim, I’m a doctor not a…”

Mr Spock promptly intervenes.

“Captain, may I offer a suggestion?”

“Don’t worry, Mr Spock, you’re coming too.”, Kirk turns to Sulu, “Mr Sulu, you have the conn. If we’re not back in an hour…”

“Yes Captain?”

“Warp the Enterprise out of this god forsaken place.”

Kirk, Spock and McCoy proceed into the elevator as a single tear rolls down Uhura’s cheek. And Sulu’s.

In the transporter room, Kirk approaches a nearby red-shirted security officer.

“Jones, is it?”

“Yes Captain.”

“You have been equipped with a working phaser?”

“Yes Captain.”

“Good, you’re beaming down to the planet surface with us.”

“What’s my mission, Captain?”

“Survival.”, Kirk said simply.

Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Jones get ready to beam down. A worried-looking Chekov prepares to activate the transporter.

“Ready Kieptain?”

“Energise.”, was Kirk’s reply.

“Wery good leck, yentlemen.”

A single tear rolls down Chekov’s cheek.


The crew beam down successfully.

The planet surface is an unfriendly setting to say the least: a sea of sharp blue rocks with harsh, freezing winds and geysers of red ash popping out of the occasional crater. A Starfleet ship is close by, lying half-crashed into the ground and therefore barely recognisable. It looks worn and completely out of use. The crew approach the ship carefully. Kirk sets his phaser on “burn” and burns an entrance into the ship.


“Yes, Mr Spock?”

“Based on the Defiant’s damaged structure, I can hypothesise that it did not crash recently. Quite the opposite, in fact.”

“We must have skipped over a few years when we… entered the black hole.”

“A few years or many.”

“How many?”

“Approximately 40 years, Captain. Also…”


“Whatever ship this is, this isn’t the USS Defiant.”

They all think about that for a moment and finally enter the ship.


Inside, the unlit corridors reeked of old. It was like nothing had passed through them in decades. Spock is scanning for lifeforms.

“Report, Mr Spock.”, asked Kirk.

“I have only found a single lifeform.”

“Harrison…”, the Captain said quietly to himself.

“Perhaps. Whoever he or she is, they are located on the bridge.”

“Damn it, Jim!”, interrupts McCoy, “What if it is John Harrison? He’s indestructible! What can we possibly do?”

“Bones, you forget his position. He has… nothing. He is lost… on an… unknown planet in an unknown time. Why… would he resist arrest? I, for one, believe he’d welcome a ride.”

“I concur.”, Spock confirmed, “Logically, Harrison would have more to gain by accepting our arrest peacefully than by setting up an unmotivated attack.”

“Open your eyes, you green-blooded son of a bitch! Nothing about any of this is logical! He’s not logical. He’s a demon!”, McCoy yelled out mindlessly.

“You’re letting your emotions get the better of you, Doctor. May I suggest you rethink your previous statements.”, Spock warned with the quiet sternness only a Vulcan can express.

“Why you…”

“Alright, you two, enough bickering.”, said the Captain, “We’re on a mission here. Focus, for crying out loud!”

McCoy grumbles something inaudible and remains quiet for the rest of the walk towards the bridge. Spock goes back to scanning.

They arrive at the door leading to the bridge. Kirk turns to the rest of the crew.

“Set phasers to “stun” but prepare to switch to “kill” on my orders. Jones, come with me.”

“Me, Captain?”

“No, the other Jones. Yes you!”, Kirk replied, sarcastic.

They approach the door after changing the settings on their respective phasers. It “shhhhh’s” open. Inside, is a foul stench like nothing any of them have ever experienced, except Dr McCoy, whose experience conducting autopsies made the smell almost smellable. Around them, the skeletons of what used to be the ship’s crew pepper the bridge. They approach the Captain’s chair, which is turned back the other way.


“Yes Captain?”

“Turn that chair around for me.”

“Y-yes Captain.”

Jones gets close to the chair and turns it around. He is suddenly shot by a phaser and dies instantly. Kirk, Spock and McCoy point their phasers at the person responsible: a very old man, aged 80 or 90, bald, thin, British, well-spoken and tired-looking.

“You can lower your phasers, gentlemen, mine is now… powerless. As am I.”, he said.

The old man drops his phaser.

“We will drop nothing. Who are you?”, enquired the Captain.

“Captain, I believe this is the man we are looking for: John Harrison.”, explained Spock.

Kirk turns back to the man dramatically.

“Harrison? Is… is that you?”

“It is I. Captain James Tiberius Kirk, it has been a very, very long time.”

“It certainly appears that way. What happened to you?”

As he answers, Harrison is weak and struggling with every word.

“I have lived a life beyond the one I once possessed. After entering the black hole, I was picked up by a ship. Starfleet. It was the future. Suddenly I was not superior, I was… not stronger and smarter than most. I was a dinosaur. I lived a life at the heart of Starfleet, my expertise allowed me to go up the ranks relatively quickly. I rebuilt myself. They gave me the Enterprise.”

“The Enterprise? They… gave… you… the Enterprise?”, asked a shocked Kirk.

“Not the Enterprise you know. I became the most respected Starfleet Captain since… well, you. But after a particularly feisty battle with the Borg, I was thrown off-course and landed here. Where I remained for decades.”

“The… Borg?”

“Advanced race of leather-wearing intergalactic… oh never mind. They are irrelevant.”

“John Harrison, you are under arrest for your crimes against Starfleet back on Earth and for attempting to manufacture a war between us and the Klingons.”

John Harrison laughs before coughing uncontrollably. Kirk turns to McCoy and nods: knowing exactly what he is thinking. The doctor promptly walks up to Harrison and scans him.

“My god, Jim. He’s dying!”, was the Doctor’s diagnosis, “We’ve got to get Harrison back to the Enterprise at once!”

“Leave me! I am dead already. I have been left buried alive for a reason, to pay for my crimes.”

“That’s for a court to decide, Harrison.”, Kirk defiantly explained.

Harrison starts staring at Kirk with a deadly serious expression on his face, never blinking once throughout the following revelation.

“My name is not John Harrison. That was only a smokescreen to conceal my true identity. Back when I was a heartless killer with nothing to live for, with no code to live by. My… name… is: Jean-Luc Picard. I… am the Captain of the starship Enterprise. The starship you are now, as we speak, currently, at present, right this second, standing in.”

“No, it can’t be…”

“I only ask one thing, before I go where many have gone before me.”


“Tell my wife I love her. She’s in sick bay, growing babies for dinner.”

A cloud of blankness passes over Picard’s eyes and his heart quietly stops, never to beat again. McCoy scans him promptly.

“He’s dead, Jim.”

A single tear rolls down McCoy’s cheek. Kirk turns to Spock.

“Spock, I want you to keep scanning for lifeforms. If you missed Picard’s wife, there’s a chance you might have missed others.”

“Agreed.”, the Vulcan agreed.

“Bones, come with me.”

Spock starts scanning around the bridge as Kirk and McCoy exit towards sick bay. As Spock walks towards the ship’s smashed screen, he steps onto something crunchy. He looks down to find what appears to be some kind of small air-filter for someone’s face.


A single tear rolls down Spock’s cheek.


On the way to sick bay, McCoy starts sweating more than ever.

“What’s troubling you, Bones?”

“Did… did he say his wife was growing babies?”

“I believe so, yes.”

“TO EAT?!”

They arrive at sick bay and point their phasers forward, before walking through the door which awkwardly “shhhh’s” open. Again, they are suddenly faced with a horrendous stench as they notice the room is filled to the brim with babies in glass jars. Thousands upon thousands of babies in jars.

“Mrs Picard? This is Captain James Tiberius Kirk, of the starship… well,  Enterprise. But not this one, the old one.”

They hear a lower-pitched voice than they were expecting.

“The legendary James Tiberius Kirk?”, was the reply the Captain received.

“I… suppose.”

Just then, a male android walks in from the back of the room. He is naked but only the top half of his body still has human skin graphed onto it. The rest is all metal and wires.

“Welcome, Captain. It is an honor.”, the android said politely.

“Who are you?”

“Data Picard. Formerly Data.”

Data holds up a twitching, drooling half-grown wet baby.

“Care for a bite?”

A single tear rolls down Kirk’s cheek.


G.J. Adams’ “Star Trek Into The Darkness” can be found in most second-hand bookshops, behind several other books. More Star Trek fan-fiction coming soon.

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