Story competition 5

Submission deadline: September 4, 2011
Voting deadline: September 12, 2011

Write a story beginning with the following sentence: I looked the fiend straight in his feral, glittering eyes and said, "Let's do this."

 

Contest winner:

Saving Lorelei

By Sonya Lano

 

I looked the fiend straight in his feral, glittering eyes and said, “Let’s do this.”
His response was a quick, victorious grin, then he spun around with his black sword drawn and lunged at the shadow demons crowding around us. Blood sprayed and he leapt over the dying bodies, hovering suspended for an ephemeral, ethereal moment against the slate gray sky, his shriveled red and black wings in sharp relief.
I’ve heard rumors of his prowess in battle, but the reality is breathtaking.
Yet there is no time for admiring my enemy’s skill.
I follow close at his heels, my own blade slashing, drawing black blood and green from my foes, and I keep my mind carefully blank of the bargain I have struck. There was no other choice. There was no way out but one.
This one.
They say the enemy of your enemy is your friend, but it’s not true. Though technically the enemy of my enemy is now my ally, I know he will never be my friend, never hold close the same values, never fight on the side I stand on. Even though we fight this battle side by side, we wage the war from opposite trenches.
He is of the Crimson Tainted, those with withered wings of black and crimson, who know the touch of the world and revel in its desires, who will always be at odds with the Untouched, those of us with immaculate white wings, who know not the touch of the world, desire not what mortals do.
Despite our youthful faces and the fact that we appear to be separated into male and female, we Untouched are in reality ageless and sexless, asexual and emotionless. We view everything objectively; unbiased, impartial, with none of our own feelings or wishes to pollute our judgment. In our world, we are the judges of all matters mortal and divine. We are the blind justice that holds the balance.
The Crimson Tainted were once like us, but they allowed themselves to fall prey to the greed and lust of the mortals, and their wings shriveled and blackened, tinged with red. Fallen, they long for the rest of us to fall, as well.
And today…
For Lorelei, I remind myself coldly, feeling no fear, no sadness, no regret – such things are foreign to me, mere insubstantial concepts that I cannot fathom…yet.
It is all for her, I repeat, and I fight on, aware that my ally…my foe has cleared a path that would otherwise be impossible to pass.
He had known that escape would be impossible without him. That was why he had come. Not to save Lorelei and me out of any well-meaning intentions, but out of cold, hard envy, or maybe lust. Not understanding either notion, I hardly know what his motivation is. I only know that with his help, Lorelei will escape.
She has to escape. I know this with a certainty. She is my sister, the child of prophecy. Whichever side she claims will ultimately triumph over the others. This means she cannot remain with the shadow demons, who are madness embodied, evil incarnate, what every man fears and every wicked thing craves. It would throw the world into eternal chaos if she remained here.
And so the bargain had been struck.
I can hear her behind me, her breath soft, her eyes taking in the death my blade is dealing. Blood flows over my hands, splatters my face, but I keep her shielded, untouched.
I wonder if she sees how my wings are turning pink. Soon they’ll be the color of blood. And after the bargain is fulfilled…
I fight on, no remorse clouding my mind, no fear slowing my hands…not yet.
And suddenly we’re out of the horde. Free. Slaughtered bodies of demons lying all around. Their leader slain.
With his death, the magical chains binding our wings disintegrate.
Lorelei takes flight, her immaculate white wings outstretched, dazzling white against the darkening heavens, beautiful, exquisite. Without a backward glance, without a shadow of sorrow to mar her flawless brow, she soars away from me. The Untouched know no emotion, not even love or devotion to one another.
There is no reason for her to look back.
I nearly take wing after her, but the Crimson Tainted grabs my wrist and drags me back down to the gory battlefield. I catch a glimpse of my wings. Already tinged with ruby from the blood that I’ve shed.
“Our bargain,” he reminds me, and lowers his mouth to mine.
And this is just the beginning.

After it is all over, I find myself weeping. Overwhelmed, dazed by emotions I have no control over. Is this what it means to be a Crimson Tainted? To be swept along in a maelstrom of desire, helpless against the flood? For the first time in my life I feel alive and terrified, sated and horrified. Too many sensations at once make me dizzy.
He drops a kiss upon my shoulder and I feel hatred for what he has done. Hatred…so ugly, it makes me feel sullied, so I banish it…or try to.
He has awoken my sleeping soul, I tell myself…and destroyed your wings, my hatred murmurs back.
It feels odd with them now misshapen and curled in on themselves, although their color surprises me. They are a brilliant scarlet at the edges that blends into midnight blue near my spine. There is no black as I suspected there would be. They are lovely in a despicable way, like a blazing sunset fading to eternal night, a last vestige of beauty before dark descends.
I feel regret for their loss of purity, and sadness that I hadn’t even realized when they’d shrunken and withered…although ironically I know the exact instant they did: the instant I’d forgotten about them. They’d shriveled at the very moment the tremors had begun, the very second ecstasy engulfed me and blocked out everything else.
His fingers graze my shoulders, and my senses surge to tingling life from that small touch, like a spark igniting a flame. When his breath brushes over the skin of my neck, I shiver as restless desire stirs within me. Part of me wants to hide from it, and part of me wants to bury myself inside it and hide within.
His voice caresses me from behind, low and seductive. “Was it worth it?” he whispers.
“Lorelei is safe,” I say in a voice thick with unshed tears of raw shame, an emotion so new to me I wonder how I know what to name it. “That’s all that matters.”
He chuckles softly. “Poor Eilessa, you still haven’t guessed, have you.”
I stiffen and his long, slender fingers grip my chin to draw my head to his for a deep, luxurious kiss. Passion wells up within me. Beautiful in its treacherous way, undeniable in its loveliness, drawing me once more into the arousing, disturbing turmoil of sensation and making me feel helpless, powerless, and insatiable. Things I’ve never felt before. Things I have no defense against.
“She isn’t the child of the prophecy,” he says softly.
I stare incredulously into his triumphant eyes. What is he saying? A bitter, acrid taste of defeat rises like bile on my tongue. Is this fear? I wonder. 
“You’re the child of prophecy,” he smiles slowly. “And you’ve just given yourself to the wrong side.”

Story competition 5 contributions

37 Steps

Damien 04/09/2011
I looked the fiend straight in his feral, glittering eyes and said, "Let's do this."

He nodded at me once, slowly, and then stepped aside so his two goons could frogmarch me out of the cell towards the execution chamber next door.

I knew from previous trips that it was 37 steps from my flea-ridden mattress on the floor of my cell to the kill room. I was used to the charade by now. I had been locked up for two months, and every day it was the same thing.

Once in the morning and again in the afternoon I was taken into the room next door and ordered to stand against a white-washed wall facing a firing squad. The trumped up charges would be read out and I would be informed that a 'tribunal' had found me guilty and sentenced me to death.

The 12 guns opposite me would be raised, the command to fire given, and then I would hear 12 hammers click on empty chambers. Then my captor would give a cruel laugh and I would be led back to my cell.

The first few times this had happened I had actually believed they were really going to kill me, but then I had rationalised things and realised that they needed me alive. I was the President of one of the most powerful nations on earth. Killing me would start World War Three, which is something nobody, least of all my captors, really wanted.

I was a little surprised I hadn't been 'rescued' yet though. I'd long ago told them everything I knew about how I ran my country and how the Prime Minister and Vice President would react in a crisis such as my being kidnapped by extremists.

Brutal force, had been my answer. And yet, here I was, two months later and still no sign of rescue.

That was another one of the charades we played. We had the daily mock executions, and I played along with the idea that my captors weren't really working for their government. Eventually, when they got bored with the game, they would stage a dramatic rescue and I would of course feign gratefulness and sign all kinds of treaties with them to show how thankful I was that they had saved my life.

For now though I would just have to go through the motions and wait until they were ready to let me go. So I did what I always did, stood against the wall while the bogus charges were read out, and looked each one of the 12 riflemen in the eye as they took aim.

It took me a moment to realise that the puffs of smoke when they were ordered to fire this time meant that the guns were actually loaded, and then I felt the rounds hammer into my body. This couldn't be happening, I had time to think. They couldn't REALLY be killing me. And then the wave of pain hit, before I was overcome with blackness....

Re: 37 Steps

nick clarke 07/09/2011
i vote for this....short, but tells a whole story in a short time....nicely, simply written too

Saving Lorelei

Sonya Lano 02/09/2011
I looked the fiend straight in his feral, glittering eyes and said, “Let’s do this.”
His response was a quick, victorious grin, then he spun around with his black sword drawn and lunged at the shadow demons crowding around us. Blood sprayed and he leapt over the dying bodies, hovering suspended for an ephemeral, ethereal moment against the slate gray sky, his shriveled red and black wings in sharp relief.
I’ve heard rumors of his prowess in battle, but the reality is breathtaking.
Yet there is no time for admiring my enemy’s skill.
I follow close at his heels, my own blade slashing, drawing black blood and green from my foes, and I keep my mind carefully blank of the bargain I have struck. There was no other choice. There was no way out but one.
This one.
They say the enemy of your enemy is your friend, but it’s not true. Though technically the enemy of my enemy is now my ally, I know he will never be my friend, never hold close the same values, never fight on the side I stand on. Even though we fight this battle side by side, we wage the war from opposite trenches.
He is of the Crimson Tainted, those with withered wings of black and crimson, who know the touch of the world and revel in its desires, who will always be at odds with the Untouched, those of us with immaculate white wings, who know not the touch of the world, desire not what mortals do.
Despite our youthful faces and the fact that we appear to be separated into male and female, we Untouched are in reality ageless and sexless, asexual and emotionless. We view everything objectively; unbiased, impartial, with none of our own feelings or wishes to pollute our judgment. In our world, we are the judges of all matters mortal and divine. We are the blind justice that holds the balance.
The Crimson Tainted were once like us, but they allowed themselves to fall prey to the greed and lust of the mortals, and their wings shriveled and blackened, tinged with red. Fallen, they long for the rest of us to fall, as well.
And today…
For Lorelei, I remind myself coldly, feeling no fear, no sadness, no regret – such things are foreign to me, mere insubstantial concepts that I cannot fathom…yet.
It is all for her, I repeat, and I fight on, aware that my ally…my foe has cleared a path that would otherwise be impossible to pass.
He had known that escape would be impossible without him. That was why he had come. Not to save Lorelei and me out of any well-meaning intentions, but out of cold, hard envy, or maybe lust. Not understanding either notion, I hardly know what his motivation is. I only know that with his help, Lorelei will escape.
She has to escape. I know this with a certainty. She is my sister, the child of prophecy. Whichever side she claims will ultimately triumph over the others. This means she cannot remain with the shadow demons, who are madness embodied, evil incarnate, what every man fears and every wicked thing craves. It would throw the world into eternal chaos if she remained here.
And so the bargain had been struck.
I can hear her behind me, her breath soft, her eyes taking in the death my blade is dealing. Blood flows over my hands, splatters my face, but I keep her shielded, untouched.
I wonder if she sees how my wings are turning pink. Soon they’ll be the color of blood. And after the bargain is fulfilled…
I fight on, no remorse clouding my mind, no fear slowing my hands…not yet.
And suddenly we’re out of the horde. Free. Slaughtered bodies of demons lying all around. Their leader slain.
With his death, the magical chains binding our wings disintegrate.
Lorelei takes flight, her immaculate white wings outstretched, dazzling white against the darkening heavens, beautiful, exquisite. Without a backward glance, without a shadow of sorrow to mar her flawless brow, she soars away from me. The Untouched know no emotion, not even love or devotion to one another.
There is no reason for her to look back.
I nearly take wing after her, but the Crimson Tainted grabs my wrist and drags me back down to the gory battlefield. I catch a glimpse of my wings. Already tinged with ruby from the blood that I’ve shed.
“Our bargain,” he reminds me, and lowers his mouth to mine.
And this is just the beginning.

After it is all over, I find myself weeping. Overwhelmed, dazed by emotions I have no control over. Is this what it means to be a Crimson Tainted? To be swept along in a maelstrom of desire, helpless against the flood? For the first time in my life I feel alive and terrified, sated and horrified. Too many sensations at once make me dizzy.
He drops a kiss upon my shoulder and I feel hatred for what he has done. Hatred…so ugly, it makes me feel sullied, so I banish it…or try to.
He has awoken my sleeping soul, I tell myself…and destroyed your wings, my hatred murmurs back.
It feels odd with them now misshapen and curled in on themselves, although their color surprises me. They are a brilliant scarlet at the edges that blends into midnight blue near my spine. There is no black as I suspected there would be. They are lovely in a despicable way, like a blazing sunset fading to eternal night, a last vestige of beauty before dark descends.
I feel regret for their loss of purity, and sadness that I hadn’t even realized when they’d shrunken and withered…although ironically I know the exact instant they did: the instant I’d forgotten about them. They’d shriveled at the very moment the tremors had begun, the very second ecstasy engulfed me and blocked out everything else.
His fingers graze my shoulders, and my senses surge to tingling life from that small touch, like a spark igniting a flame. When his breath brushes over the skin of my neck, I shiver as restless desire stirs within me. Part of me wants to hide from it, and part of me wants to bury myself inside it and hide within.
His voice caresses me from behind, low and seductive. “Was it worth it?” he whispers.
“Lorelei is safe,” I say in a voice thick with unshed tears of raw shame, an emotion so new to me I wonder how I know what to name it. “That’s all that matters.”
He chuckles softly. “Poor Eilessa, you still haven’t guessed, have you.”
I stiffen and his long, slender fingers grip my chin to draw my head to his for a deep, luxurious kiss. Passion wells up within me. Beautiful in its treacherous way, undeniable in its loveliness, drawing me once more into the arousing, disturbing turmoil of sensation and making me feel helpless, powerless, and insatiable. Things I’ve never felt before. Things I have no defense against.
“She isn’t the child of the prophecy,” he says softly.
I stare incredulously into his triumphant eyes. What is he saying? A bitter, acrid taste of defeat rises like bile on my tongue. Is this fear? I wonder.
“You’re the child of prophecy,” he smiles slowly. “And you’ve just given yourself to the wrong side.”

Re: Saving Lorelei

nick clarke 02/09/2011
interesting stuff...read it quickly , but need to go back and read it again...which is a good thing....

Re: Saving Lorelei

VOTE (Radek Lano) 05/09/2011
I wonder how it continues and even how it started :-)

Re: Saving Lorelei

Vote 06/09/2011
I love it!--Brandy

Re: Saving Lorelei

pistik 07/09/2011
Short but strong.. Almost forgot to breathe.. ;)

Revolution

nick clarke 30/08/2011
I looked the fiend straight in his feral, glittering eyes and said, "Let's do this." The bullet zipped into his head. Not so difficult really, put him out of his misery. The tanks rolled by me. Shit! It was really happening! Revolution in our time! I reloaded the rifle and crouched behind a Ronald McDonald plastic figure in the street. There were a few dusty suited men in the distance trying to take shelter in a car phone warehouse showroom; they were taking pot shots at anything outside. There was a whistling in the air. The tank blasted into the building. The noise shuddered through my body and I felt as if I wasn’t in my own skin, I sweated and shook a little. Keep calm, this is real, this is the best thing that can happen,go with it. I swigged from my small brandy bottle. Now's the time! 'Fuck it' I shouted and gritted my teeth and leaning on Ronald .I opened fire again! 'Mother fuckers!'
How does this bloody thing work! That’s it..one..two..Hello! Date: September 15.Year 1989. This is a recording to try and give some sort of understanding to future generations, or even my kids if I ever have any, into how the present state of affairs came about and also how we go about the states affairs! It will be a personnel account, not just a Stalinist record of things, as this was a personal revolution as well as a social one. And why am I doing this you may ask? Well, who’s to say how long things will last, as we speak, I feel we are speaking to each other even though I don’t know who you are or even if you even exist, even, sorry, waffling on. As I sit here now, in London there are reactionary forces at work trying to bring down everything. I’d always wanted to live in London, you know do all the things that the beautiful people did, go to all the best clubs, bars, restaurants, to be in with the ‘in crowd.’ Without connections they said it wasn’t possible, now here I am elected as council member for my area. Elected by the people and accountable to the people! And now I can go to those places, with no money! We are all the ‘in crowd.’ Cus that old lot, those movers and shakers, those sloanys and fakers, well. We shot um! Ha ha! Sorry, not really funny to talk about death like that, but we did shoot um, we had to. It was us or them. And we were on the side of right! Right? Right!
I know, I know, every bloody political persuasion says that but wait a while and I’ll explain to you why we were, sorry are right! And those, well tossers really are wrong! It’s not just a matter of opinion! It’s a fact. A logical, scientific fact and if you cant see that, if you cant understand the difference in what we are doing and if you think there is a better way for society to be run, well of course I’m willing to listen but I’m also willing to bet that what you come up with is exploitative in some way; is tantamount to someone being shat on by someone somewhere. That’s why we had to kill some people, ok a lot of people, but they wanted things to carry on as they were, people living in shit, millions of people dieing in poverty and in the name of democracy and human nature. Those people were benefiting from the misery of other people and they didn’t want things to change, so they had to die. I mean we asked them nicely, we asked them in the name of humanity, we asked them to be with us and built a better world for all, but, well they didn’t want to basically. They took up arms to defend the murder of millions of people in the name of money. So they had to die, sad but necessary.
Oh god! I’ve just played that back and I sound like a right nutcase! A bit of a Stalinist or fascist myself! I’m not going to edit it though, I think it’s better if I just go with the flow you know, just say what I feel and hopefully from the story and my feelings you can make up your own mind. You can decide if I’m right or wrong. That’s what it’s all about really! The whole thing is about us telling the truth. Being truthful and proving logically that we are right. No that’s not right; it’s about us showing you through deeds, deeds! Jesus! It’s like I’m quoting the bible or something! It’s basically giving it to you straight. No holds barred! Worts an all! Secrets and lies! Pie and mash! Anarchy and chips! Popa's got a brand new bag! I think I need a drink..
Ok I’m back. Brandy and lager or lager and brandy rather. In that order, half a fosters lager with a straight brandy. I got into that in Manchester when I was working for the council. spending me evenings off pub crawling in Cheetham hill, Oh happy days. Now where was I..
Well I’d better get to the story or I’m in danger of just spouting ideological bullshit. Anyway I was a shop steward on those building sites at that time, I was trying to organise the guys to stop any work for dole schemes the government were trying to introduce. The guys I represented were a good bunch, salt of the fucking earth working class gezzers. From the local shag anything that moved to the miserable skeptic, but all in all good bloke. Trouble was to get um interested in politics. Of course they were interested in stuff when it affected them, well when it affected there pockets. So I got disillusioned with the working class. You know I had all these illusions, I had visions like a poster from the Russian revolution, you know, the great burdened beast rising up to shake off the shackles of oppression, but the guys just wanted enough cash for a night out with the missis, a good second hand motor and a few quid to bring hope, from all 5 runners coming in.
But actually when I needed some backing for the union meetings , where I could push through some radical policies I got it. Well they basically let me do what I wanted as long as got their holiday pay sorted or got any more money from the union or council they were happy…
But In 1984. Things changed, came to a head so to speak. The miners went on strike. Basically they wanted to shut the pits, now you may think that was a good thing, And cus you are spoilt now what with all the environment problems more or less sorted out now, and so you think automatically, 'yeah right on' a good thing, nasty environment damaging coal and all that shit and yeah I agree, but it was us who introduced all the environmentally sound energy, wind farms and all that to try to undo all the shit capitalism has pumped onto our planet. But the reason they wanted to shut um down was not cus of any worries about the impact of the pits it was cus they were uneconomical. What did that mean? For who? What that meant was they didn’t make enough money! And also the bloody miners needed a bloody nose cus if they hit them first then they could go after the rest of the working classes without any worries. Shit! maybe I should explain that a bit better cus maybe you haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about. You see, you know the Stalinist states had one good idea, all the history of the working class that was forced into peoples heads would save me the bleeding trouble of explaining all this shit but that’s the price you pay for a proper revolution….
Anyway, the miners were the vanguard of the workers! Fucking vanguard, I’m still using all that jargon used by all those weird Trotskyite splinter groups. Sorry can’t help it. Basically the miners were the dog’s bollocks when it came to fighting against the man! Now I sound like a 60,s bleeding beat poet. Speaking plainly they were very radical, and organised and experienced and worst of all well fucking paid. So anyway the government decided to shut all the pits down and also to smash the miners unions in one go, therefore paving the way for attacks on any other organised workers, therefore smashing the unions, lowering wages or moving any factories to other countries where it was more profitable. Its easy really, to understand I mean, capitalism. They wanna make loads of cash which means we exploit people and pay um only a small amount to live on, just enough, just a little taster, you know cus some fuckers gotta buy the shit we make, that kind of stuff. I wont go on about it, cus its obvious, well its obvious now for you guys. I mean you’ve got it easy now, its all so fucking clear and..sorry I sound like a right old wanker. Oh you don’t know your born, kids today. That’s why we fought these wars for you know! For your generation.
Sorry had to stop the tape there.
Strange actually listening to myself then. I sound like my granddad's crowd after the second world war, they always sounded like that. Going on about how tough they had it. Shit, now I’m doing the same, sorry. But we did really, capitalism was really really crap. Here's a few examples, you might find them crazy but I swear they are true..
People had to pay for their health and if you didn’t have any money you didnt get a doctor, no really! Weird or what?
People starved! yeah I know, hard to believe! People had no where to live, people had no jobs. I could go on, but you may get the wrong impression and think I’m making this shit up. Some kind of futuristic novel, you know some kind of crazy society in the future. But no, really, this was how things used to be. That’s the crazy kind of world we lived in..
Anyway, I must try to keep this thing as clear as possible. Sorry for digressing, woffling on, its not easy to put this thing into some kind of clear logical order but Ill try, so here we go.What the fuck! No please! What the hell are you doing...plea..Argh!

Hello! What the hell's this thing? Is it on? Well as it's on I may as well talk. So what happened was this, these crazy guys took over. For a long time really. I mean that everyone the same bullshit! Wheres the freedom? So we had to kill them! I know I know but they wouldn't listen, they..

Re: Revolution Vote

Damien 10/09/2011
This one gets my vote because I like the concept behind it of how it doesn't matter who's in charge, everything goes to shit anyway, and sooner or later someone else is going to come along and make promises of how everything will be so much better when they take over, but in reality they are always just as bad as the people before them.

It can fit into any culture or context as far as leadership is concerned, and while the idea may not be a pretty or a popular one, it is, unfortunately, a realistic one.

Re: Revolution

Sonya Lano 11/09/2011
The problem is that no society or social structure can be perfect as long as the people are imperfect.

The Contract

Sonya Lano 25/08/2011
I looked the fiend straight in his feral, glittering eyes and said, “Let’s do this.”
He grinned, a quick flash of crooked teeth implying an equally crooked soul, and slid the piece of paper across the table to me, the hushed rustle like a sibilant hiss in the suffocating silence of the room.
“Sign,” he invited with a depraved smile, and his voice, his tone, the gleaming look in his eyes all said that he knew what signing would entail. “Sign…and join us.”
I held my hand poised above the document. Was I sure this was what I wanted? Did I truly wish to consign myself to hell for the pittance of earthly reward I would receive?
Be certain, whispered a voice in my mind. Be very, very certain.
Before I could change my mind, I signed with a flourish.
The fiend’s grin widened, knowing he’d roped another soul into his devious scheme. “Welcome to our ranks,” he rasped. “Now it’s time to pay the piper.”
Rising, he held out his hand, motioning for me to precede him from the cramped, spartan room where we’d conducted our detestable business.
I walked on trembling legs out into a dim hallway whose bleak light reflected my doomed mood.
What had I done? Was I really so far gone that I’d signed?
Apparently I was.
And there was nothing I could do about it now. The deed was done, the contract signed.
“Follow me,” the fiend smirked, a crafty look creeping into his eyes because he knew he was leading me into the very maws of purgatory. He couldn’t wait to deliver me to perdition; his wicked glee was nearly palpable.
“Ah,” he breathed smugly and halted with complacent satisfaction before a door. “Here we are.”
I looked at the door, true horror dawning within me: I could hear their screams now, the shrieks and curses and insane laughter of the wild, ravenous demons on the other side waiting for me to enter so they could sink their claws into me. I quaked in fear. I couldn’t do this!
But my signature was on the contract; it was too late to renege.
The fiend’s smile widened. He opened the door.
It was time. No more delaying the inevitable.
Taking a shuddering breath, I stepped inside…
To begin my first day teaching high school.

Re: The Contract

Damien 11/09/2011
I enjoyed this tale a lot. I was wondering all the way through what the dreadful job at the end was going to be, and school teacher is certainly up there. I suspected it might have had something to do with a wedding, with maybe the main character being a former international rock star who had taken a few too many drugs who had to resort to being a wedding singer to pay the bills.

But a teacher works too :-)

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