Marian Campbell left the meeting at the White House as frustrated as she’d ever been. As usual, absolutely nothing had been accomplished. The president, a fire-breathing red dragon named Zoth-Avarex, was much more worried about how his new rap song was doing on the charts, or about how much delicious skienox fear secretion he was getting on his next meal, than about any actual problems the country was facing.
The most pressing of those problems was the zombie apocalypse.
An outbreak had started soon after the dragon became president, and now zombie hordes were everywhere.
Marian had worked her way up to being the dragon’s top advisor with the secret goal of finding a way to assassinate him. But in the meantime she took her job seriously, and it was seriously frustrating trying to get Zoth-Avarex to do a goddamned thing about the zombies or any other problem.
So tonight, she intended to do something herself.
As she headed toward the secret hideout of her small group of freedom fighters, Marian switched on the radio.
 A quick recap for those unfamiliar: Zoth-Avarex was conjured to America by people at a secret magical site. He broke free and threatened the government with destruction if he didn’t get a record-breaking hoard. There was a split in reality, and in one of those realities, ZA became the president, and things went to shit pretty quick.  Skienoxes are giant goat-like creatures from another realm that release fear secretions when frightened. They’re the new president’s favorite food, mostly because of those fear secretions.
“…and remember,” a warm, calming voice said over the airwaves, “zombies can only be destroyed by a clean head-shot or decapitation. Always be ready.”
When the all-too-regular public service announcement ended, a radio DJ spoke up.
“Up next we have the number one song in the country, right now. Straight Fire by Z-A has rocketed up the charts not only because it’s the only song we’re allowed to play, but also because it might just be the greatest song ever made.”
As the music for Zoth-Avarex’s ridiculous song started, Marian bashed the scan button.
The next station was playing the over-the-top, sycophantic Bob Toadie Show. Marian hated listening to Bob Toadie even more than the dragon’s song, but she left it on to see what kind of propaganda they were pumping at the moment.
“According to a Dragon News Network study,” Bob said, “zombie numbers are way down. The so-called zombie apocalypse has been exposed, yet again, as a creation of the illegal media. This new study is a perfect example of that. They report numbers climbing while the numbers are, in fact, plummeting. It’s a typical reaction from those who want to see our president, and our country, fail.”
Marian rolled her eyes as she swerved to avoid a group of zombies that had congregated in the middle of the road.
“You know,” Bob Toadie continued, “we are living in extraordinary times. Never in the history of our great country have we had such a multi-talented leader. When have we ever had a president who could, say, level France single-handedly if it became necessary? When have we ever had a leader that was this knowledgeable about the universe? There is nobody who knows more than him about anything. I mean, and this goes without saying, nobody knows more about magic, or alternate realities, or flying, or blowing fire. And yet. . .I’ m sorry, I’m starting to get worked up, here. . .and yet, the illegal media thinks it knows better than him. Than him! Are they frickin’ kidding me? They know more about running the country than him? They know more about zombies than him? Give me a break!”
Marian shook her head.
“I don’t know why people are complaining. I mean, look at me. I’ve risen from relative obscurity to hosting the number one radio show in America. I did this not only during the Avarex presidency, but because of the Avarex presidency. If a humble radio host like me can make it, anyone can. It’s all about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. My hard work and dedication got me to where I am today. I alone had the courage to—”
Marian smashed scan again, and kept scanning until she found a pirate station playing the top hits of the pre-Zoth-Avarex days. When she looked up from the dial, another small group of zombies had entered the road.
“Move it,” she said, more to herself than the mindless zombies, and honked her horn. It was just a reflex from those pre-Zoth, pre-zombie days, because the sound only drew them closer. Instead of trying to dodge the car, they slogged in her general direction. She tried to avoid them, but clipped one on the edge of the group, sending it spinning to the ground in a heap. “Sorry!” she said from the safety of her car as she watched the zombie regain its feet in her rearview mirror.
After a few turns, Marian crossed over the modified cattle guards into the grounds of the hideout. She parked, scanned the area, then got out of her car holding her katana. She hurried to the construction elevator on the outside of their building and took it up to the second floor.
Once inside, she found Ana and Silvia Flores kicked back watching an anime movie. When she entered the room, they jumped up.
“Hey, Marian,” Ana said, waving.
“Where is everyone else?”
“They went on a mission to get fuel for the generators and some other random stuff. We stayed back to hold down the fort.”
“I think the fort is held down,” Marian said. “You guys up for a possibly world-saving expedition?”
“Where?” Silvia said.
“To the Zombie Research Facility. The team there called the White House today and said they had made some major breakthroughs, but our glorious leader had his song debut, so he couldn’t be bothered.”
“So you want us to go with you and see what they found?” Ana asked.
“You’re a master at stating the obvious,” said Silvia, Ana’s fraternal twin sister.
“I’d appreciate it if you would.”
“Alright.” Silvia switched off the movie and clasped her gun belt around her waist.
On the way to the Zombie Research Facility, Marian spotted a group of humans who had been cornered by zombies outside of an abandoned outlet mall. She swerved into the parking lot and cranked up the pirate radio, which was playing “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Without a word, Ana and Silvia jumped out of the car as it stopped. The zombies had already been drawn by the sound of the music, but Silvia popped a shot in the air to more thoroughly attract their attention.
Like the well-oiled, zombie-fighting machines they were, the three women took their places in front of the car—Marian and her sword standing between Ana wielding her wand and Silvia pointing her guns.
There were about twenty zombies that had been converging on three weaponless non-zombies. This would be quick and easy.
As the music continued to blare, Silvia began to shoot at the slowly approaching horde. Ana was only a second behind, firing her magical bolts into zombie heads with an efficiency that came with months of steady practice.
Marian stood ready for any zombies that had made it through the barrage of bullet and bolt fire, but she wasn’t needed this time. She sheathed her blade as the final zombie fell—cleanly decapitated by a bolt.
As if they had set the whole thing up, the song faded out as the smoke cleared from the scene. Marian reached through her window and switched off the radio. When she rejoined her friends, the three freshly saved people approached them.
“Thank you,” they said, nearly in unison.
“What were you doing out here?” Silvia scowled at them. “With no weapons?”
“What, because of the zombies?” one of them, a tall, heavyset man, said. “We knew the odds were good that we wouldn’t get attacked.”
“But you did get attacked.”
“Yeah, but that was just bad luck.”
“Roaming around weaponless in a zombie apocalypse is inviting bad luck.” Silvia threw her hands out to either side.
“Zombie apocalypse.” Another man, this one much smaller and mustachioed, let out a derisive snort.
“Are you saying we’re not in the midst of a zombie apocalypse?” Silvia said.
“I’m saying the illegal media likes to make it seem like things are so bad and scary. But the real source of information, the Dragon News Network, reports that numbers are actually way down. This apocalypse, as you say, is overhyped and overblown.”
“But you can see with your own eyes that it’s not!” Silvia was really exasperated now. “If we hadn’t just happened to drive by right now, you’d all three be zombies yourselves!”
The woman who was with the two men said, “That’s just anecdotal evidence.”
Marian, who could see that talking to these people was going to be akin to bashing their own heads into brick walls, and wanting to get off the open street sooner rather than later, cut in. “We’ve got to get going,” she said. “And I wouldn’t feel good about leaving anyone out here, so why don’t you three come with us?”
Prompted by the appearance of a few zombies lumbering into he parking lot, the group reluctantly agreed.
Marian sped away toward the research facility.
On the way, they found out that the big man was called Big Tom, the mustachioed man’s name was Roger, and the woman, Roger’s wife, was Danielle. They were all big Zoth-Avarex fans, and Danielle recognized Marian’s face from some news conferences. After that, they only wanted to ask questions about the stupid dragon.
“What is he like?”
A prick. “Uh. . .he’s very powerful.”
“I bet! Does he actually have conversations with you?”
Only when he wants something. “Yeah. All the time.”
“Wow! What are skienoxes like?”
Stinky as fuck. “Like giant goats.”
Marian was thankful when they finally arrived at the research facility.
After passing through extensive safety protocols, during which the newcomers complained constantly, they were met by a tall woman in a lab coat at the front door.
“Thank you for coming, Ms. Campbell,” the woman said. “I’m sorry that the president has not come with you, but we will do what we can. I’m the lead researcher at this facility. You can call me Samiya.”
“You can call me Marian. Thank you for having us. Unfortunately, the president is. . .busy with other pressing matters at the moment.”
After introductions were made, Samiya led the small group on a tour. The three newcomers joined, always looking at Marian as if she were a celebrity.
The lead researcher took them down a large hallway with several rooms behind glass on either side. Inside the rooms were zombies in various states of experimentation. One was completely submerged in a tank full of water, one was being subjected to a series of electric shocks, and one was being shown an episode of Full House on a big-screen TV, A Clockwork Orange-style. There were many other experiments taking place, but they continued down the hall and Marian didn’t get a clear view of any others.
“What’s that smell?” Big Tom asked.
“Skienox fear secretions,” Marian answered.
“She’s right,” said Samiya. “They are integral to our research, as you’ll soon see.”
The group convened in a conference room where a Power Point presentation was cued up on a pull-down screen.
“You asked about skienox fear secretions,” Samiya said once everyone had settled in. “We’ve identified those very secretions as the source of the quote unquote zombie transformations.” She changed the slide to a series of words connected by arrows. “You see, fear secretions are the path to zombies. Fear secretions lead to anger secretions. Anger secretions lead to hate secretions. And hate secretions lead to zombies, so to speak. That’s the basic path, extremely watered down for expediency’s sake.”
The next slide showed a picture of a man listening to a radio.
“The previous explanation was more of an abstract, metaphysical run-down of how we think this is happening. We’ve since come up with a more concrete picture of what exactly is causing the transformations.” She paused and took a sip of water. “When our field research team went out to study cases of initial transformations, they found the same thing at nearly every site.”
“What was it?” Marian said.
“The radios were all turned on—”
“They were all tuned to the Bob Toadie Show, or something similar.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“We agreed. At first. But subsequent experimentation has proved this link to be critical. We’ve discovered that the two ingredients needed to turn a human being into a zombie are fear secretions and a sycophantic voice in their ear. Well, either that or being bitten by another zombie.”
“So what can we do?”
“We have found that some of the skienoxes the dragon brings here have a genetic mutation that alters these fear secretions. They have seemingly evolved away from panic and fear, and actually changed their physiology, making them more clear-minded and better able to avoid predators. We’ve been studying their love secretions in—”
Samiya must have seen the disgusted looks on her audience’s faces, because she stopped and smiled. “It’s not as gross as it sounds. We’re calling them love secretions for lack of a better word at the moment. But they’re really a kind of chemical that helps them to think clearly in tense situations. Fear is the mind killer, you know? It’s the little death that brings total obliteration. So without an overabundance of fear, these evolved skienoxes are able to survive much better than previous iterations.”
She switched to the next slide, which read: Plant-Based Defense Systems, but switched back quickly.
“What was that?” asked Roger.
“Nothing I’d like to waste Ms. Campbell’s time with. We need to—”
“Well, I wanna see it.” Roger’s voice was almost demanding.
“Me too,” said Danielle.
“Okay, real quick.” Samiya changed the slide twice.
On the screen was a picture of a strange, almost cannon-like plant.
“Our main goal is to find a cure, and we think we’re making progress in this area, but we have a division that has been working on better ways to protect ourselves from the zombies until then. Our Defense Division has created a range of plants that have been genetically modified to protect against a zombie attack. This one, when placed around a home, will fire projectiles at approaching zombies, rendering them immobile when they eventually fall apart due to physical trauma.” She changed the slide to a picture of another plant that looked like the carnivorous one from Little Shop of Horrors. “This plant will eat any zombies that come near it. It has—”
“That’s awesome!” Big Tom said.
“Yeah! Let’s go see those,” Roger agreed.
“There is no time for that,” Samiya said, raising her voice to match their intensity. “What I was going to say is that we think we’re very close to a cure, but our north wing is the place where we have all of our love secretions stored, and that wing has been over-run by zombies.”
“We can get it,” Marian said, matter-of-factly.
“You can?” Samiya looked cautiously hopeful.
“Sure. Just tell us where we need to go and what we need to grab.”
Samiya explained to them that the north wing was behind a set of fortified double doors. Once inside the wing, they would need to turn right at the first hallway and go to room 137 at the end on the left. In that lab were several vials of an aquamarine liquid in a refrigerator. If they could just collect those vials and bring them back, a cure could be in sight.
“Sounds easy enough,” Marian said. She turned to Ana and Silvia. “You guys in?”
When they both consented, Big Tom said, “What about us?”
“No offence, but without weapons you guys are more of a liability than anything.”
“What about those?” He pointed to a table.
Shockingly, an axe, an assault rifle, and a crossbow sat on that table.
“I like to cover my bases.” Samiya shrugged. “You guys can use them if you want.”
Like kids at a candy store, the three formerly weaponless people snatched up their favorites—Big Tom with the axe, Roger with the rifle, and Danielle with the crossbow.
“Do you know how to use those?” Silvia looked very skeptical.
“Of course we do,” said Danielle.
“I don’t think you should come with us,” Marian said. “I think it’ll be too dangerous.”
“We’re coming along anyway! Right, guys?” Roger said, eliciting confident nods from the other two.
Marian knew they had no business joining the little expedition, but she couldn’t force them to stay behind.
She drew her sword and headed for the north wing.
As the doors to the north wing opened, a mass of zombies began to meander toward them. Marian estimated at least fifty in the immediate area.
“Never mind,” she said as she closed the door and bolted it.
“What are you doing?” Big Tom asked.
“There are far too many,” Marian said. “In closed quarters. We’ll never make it.”
Before Marian could react, Big Tom blocked her out with his hip, unbolted the door, and opened it back up.
“Let’s get ‘em!” he roared as he charged into the room, axe raised.
Danielle rushed in behind him, aimed her crossbow, and squeezed the trigger. But it didn’t fire. “What’s wrong with this stupid thing?” she said, shaking it.
“Try the safety,” her husband said, squinting to look at the trigger area. “There.” He flicked a switch, then raised his rifle.
Big Tom buried his axe into the clavicle of the first zombie, and was barely able to pry it out before he was bitten. Danielle shot a crossbow bolt into the arm of another zombie, only ten feet away.
Roger began firing at the slow-moving zombies. He hit a few of them, but as the rifle recoiled, he began blasting the wall and ceiling, raining down plaster on the zombies’ heads. He struggled to regain control of the gun while continuing to fire.
Big Tom went down with a cry of pain as he swung his axe—Roger had shot him in the back.
“Shit!” Roger shouted. “Sorry, Big Tom.” He ran to him and tried to help him to his feet as the slow but consistent zombies pressed forward. Danielle tried to pull Roger away, but he wouldn’t leave Big Tom. And the zombies were almost upon them.
Ana and Silvia entered the room, unleashing bullets and magic on the zombie vanguard, but it was too late for Big Tom. Several zombies were already on top of him, biting into his flesh.
Silvia shot a zombie in the forehead, then pulled Danielle and Roger out of the room.
Marian slammed the doors and bolted them again.
She led the group back to Samiya’s office.
“We had to abort that mission,” she said to Samiya, shaking her head. “It’s not feasible until we get some serious reinforcements.”
“Where’s the other guy?”
“We lost him,” Marian told her.
Roger and Danielle were sobbing in each other’s arms under the doorway.
“What’s that?” Samiya pointed to a wound on Roger’s arm.
“It’s nothing.” Roger backed away from his wife and covered the wound with his other hand.
“Let me see it,” Samiya insisted.
Reluctantly, Roger uncovered the wound. It was a symmetrical semicircle of tooth-sized puncture wounds.
“That’s a bite mark.” Samiya eyed a nearby door.
“No it isn’t,” Roger said, as if she were an idiot for even suggesting such a thing.
“It’s got perfect little teeth marks and everything,” Ana said.
“Were you bitten?” Marian asked, looking into Roger’s eyes.
“You need to tell us, right now,” said Samiya, flashing glances at Marian and her crew.
“No, I don’t,” Roger said, defiantly. “I don’t have to disclose anything to you. What, am I supposed to officially declare every time anyone bites me? What is this, Nazi Germany? And who’s to say, even if that is a bite mark, it was even a zombie that bit me? I’ve seen some pretty convincing videos online that say this whole zombie thing is a hoax.”
Marian noticed a similar bite mark on Danielle’s left leg, made eye contact with Samiya, and tilted hear head toward the wound.
“Okay, okay,” Samiya said in a sweet voice. “You know what you two need? A nice comfortable place to be alone. Maybe even have some ice cream.”
Marian could see the both of them starting to turn.
Samiya led them to a door and opened it. “There’s ice cream just in here. You guys can get some and we’ll leave you alone and quit asking so many annoying questions.” She gestured for them to go inside.
When they were in the room, Samiya slammed the door behind them.
Through the glass wall, Roger and Danielle turned. They began banging on the door, slowly and mindlessly.
“Well, that sucked,” Silvia said.
“Yeah.” Marian shook her head, eyes closed.
The room was silent, except for the banging on the nearby door.
“What can we do now?” Marian asked.
“I do have one idea. . .” Samiya said, tentatively.
“The only other thing I can think of is to get the Dragon News Network off the air.”
“How could that help?”
“We’re not sure, but some initial research has suggested that if the zombies aren’t subjected to sycophantic messaging for an extended period of time, they may start to return to their normal human state.”
“Well, it’s better than nothing,” Ana said with a shrug.
“The station is only a few blocks from here.” Samiya looked hopeful.
“You in?” Marian said to Silvia.
“Alright. Let me go get you something real quick.” Samiya disappeared into yet another room.
While she waited, Marian picked up the latest New York Times pamphlet from a nearby desk. It read:
Zombies Getting Worse
But the President Has a New Movie
Gold, 13th, 4
Recent data collected by the Zombie Research Facility indicates that 37% of Americans are now brain-eating zombies. This number is up from 24% just a month ago. And the rate is accelerating. According to their calculations, every man, woman, and child in America will be zombified in under three months if something is not done to curb the spread.
White House Press Secretary Bill Gulley made the following statement today at the weekly press conference: “Everyone seems to be getting all bent out of shape about the latest zombie statistics. Wasn’t it Mark Twain that said, ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics?’ I mean, my neighborhood doesn’t have any zombies in it. There aren’t any zombies here, right? The reports of this supposed zombie apocalypse have been greatly exaggerated. But I assure you, the President is doing everything in his immense power to find a cure. And the genetically altered, weaponized plants will soon be put to work protecting those who can afford them.”
The White House Press Secretary went on to say, “But the big news of the day is that our beloved president, Zoth-Avarex, who has already dominated the music charts, has a new movie about his amazing life coming out. It’s called Zoth-Avarex: Good at Everything! Now isn’t that the kind of news we should be focusing on instead of this repetitive zombie stuff?”
Needless to say—
Samiya came back in and Marian tossed the pamphlet.
“I have a bomb in this backpack.” She hoisted a heavy backpack on the desk. “You can use it to destroy the news station.”
“Damn,” said Marian, “you’re going all out.”
“We have to if we’re ever going to get control of this.”
Silvia strapped the backpack to her back. “Well, point us in the right direction.”
The station was two blocks away. One to the south, and one to the east. Along the way, they didn’t see a single zombie. But when they got to the station, it was completely swarmed with them.
“How the hell are we going to get in there?” Ana said, as she scanned the crowd from the top of a burned-out car.
As they thought about possible plans, Marian heard the faint sound of the Bob Toadie Show coming from the station. It seemed to be attracting the zombies.
“We could distract them with a car radio, again.”
Marian drove down the road to the east, then cranked the Bob Toadie Show. She jumped out and started to walk back to Ana and Silvia.
“You know, I absolutely hated rap before,” Bob’s voice blared over the radio. “I hated it. Everything about it.” He paused. “But that was because no one had done it right, like at all, until Z-A came around. Once again, Zoth-Avarex has revolutionized something we used to take for granted. So I thought in this segment, we’d go through his masterpiece verse by verse and break down its brilliance.”
Marian was really starting to hate this plan, as it included listening to far too much Bob Toadie. But it was working, and the zombie swarm was making its way toward the car.
The start of Z-A’s song started to play.
“Other rappers think they spit fire (shiiit).
“Since I came they all need to retire (quit).
“They need to call time like a town crier (stop it).
“I’ll send their ass back to the Shire (Hobbit).”
Marian, still cringing, made it back to the group, and they prepared to enter the building.
“How are you feeling, Ana?” Silvia asked her sister. “How’s your magical energy level?”
“It’s good. Pretty much full, really.”
Silvia nodded as she checked the chambers of both guns.
Marian drew her sword and they crept toward the station.
The front door was locked, but there was a small pane of glass they were able to break. The sound drew some zombie attention, but another verse of the song came on and they were re-distracted. Silvia reached in past the broken glass and opened the door from the inside.
A receptionist sat at a desk just inside. She looked terrified.
“Hello,” said Marian in a friendly voice, “we’re going to bomb this place, so you should probably get out of here. We cleared the zombies, so you’ll have a safe path out.”
“Bye!” Without another word, the woman sprinted out the door.
Just down the hall was a lighted sign over a door that read: ON AIR. Marian opened the door to find Bob Toadie inside, doing his show.
“What the hell?” he shouted.
“You need to come with us,” Marian said.
Bob Toadie spoke into the microphone. “Some women broke into the studio and are trying to shut me down. Apparently these truth-haters—”
Silvia bashed the butt of a gun into a control panel on Bob’s desk. “Let’s go!”
“Is there anyone else in this building?” Marian asked. She had to ask it three times before a flustered Bob Toadie could answer.
“It’s just a skeleton crew. Me and my producer.” He pointed to a man in the corner. “And Janet out front. That’s it.”
“Perfect. We’re going to set a bomb in here, so you’ll need to follow us out in a minute.”
Bob’s eyes were wide. He looked like he wanted to speak, but nothing would come out.
Silvia opened the backpack and took out the bomb.
While her sister looked it over, Ana approached Bob and said, “Do you really believe all the stuff you say on the radio? Like really believe it?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I know what I’m saying is bullshit, but it’s what my audience wants to hear.”
“But if you keep pumping the same bullshit, you won’t have an audience.”
“Yeah.” He shook his head. “I am worried about that, but I guess I’m hoping these genetically altered plants they’re developing will help preserve enough humans who listen.”
“Can we leave him behind?” Silvia asked as she pushed a button on the bomb that started a two-minute countdown.
“Come on!” Marian held the door open and waved everyone through.
Bob Toadie and the producer scurried out, with Ana and Silvia behind them.
Outside the building, the zombies were starting to congregate, again. The radio in Marian’s car had gone silent.
“Shit.” Of course it had.
Marian made a quick calculation and decided she liked their chances.
“Let’s go.” She stepped outside, sword ready.
Silvia and Ana flanked Marian, and the three of them moved as one into the street.
Ana fired a bolt at the closest zombie, taking off the top part of its head. Silvia began to pick off the zombies on her side with perfectly placed headshots.
Bob and the producer stayed close to the women, crouching down behind them.
A particularly fast zombie lunged at the group. Silvia shot it, but missed its head, and the bullet in its chest didn’t slow it down at all.
Marian stepped forward and swung her sword in a small arc, decapitating the zombie. Then she backed up and took her place between Ana and Silvia.
Ana began to fire magical bolts with much more frequency, as the zombies on her side were closing in faster than Marian had hoped. At one point, Ana created a crackling electrical energy orb and launched it into a group of at least ten zombies, knocking them back at least twenty feet.
“I’m getting weak,” Ana said, not in a panic, but as a helpful status update.
“Okay.” Marian moved to Ana’s side and began chopping zombie heads. The work was exhausting, and the smell of rotting zombie flesh was overpowering, but Marian’s blade was sharp and she was deadly efficient.
Silvia put her back to Ana and continued firing as they followed the path of least resistance through the zombie throng.
With a deafening blast, the building exploded behind them. Shrapnel pelted Marian in the back and debris rained down from the sky. A cloud of black smoke began to pour from the building’s center.
The explosion captured the zombies’ attention just enough that the non-zombies were able to make it out into the open street after killing only three or four more of them.
They ran to Marian’s car, piled in, and drove away, leaving Bob and his producer to fend for themselves.
On the way back to the research facility, Silvia got a call from her husband, Jake.
“They’re back at the hideout,” Silvia said after a short conversation. “They want to know if they should come down and help.”
Marian looked to Ana, who was already looking refreshed. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m good. Almost back to normal.”
“You guys want to make another run at Plan A?”
Ana nodded. Silvia shrugged.
“Yeah,” Silvia said in the phone. “Weapon up and get down here.”
“Alright,” Marian said, feeling for the first time in far too long that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t all going to die in a zombie apocalypse. “Let’s go get those love secretions!”
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