Archive for the Occult Detectives Category

50 Years of #Kolchak

Posted in Occult Detectives on January 11, 2022 by Occult Detective

The TV movie, The Night Stalker, aired January 11, 1972, less than two months shy of my sixth birthday. I was enthralled, to say the least, and while I didn’t know it at the time, the adventures of the intrepid reporter sparked a love for the occult detective genre that still has me in its clutches now 50 years later.

I owe a lot to Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson, and to Darren McGavin of course. They took Jeff Rice’s unpublished novel and made something truly remarkable, something that improved upon the source, and sparked the imagination of a child living in the rural Midwest, promising that those things that go bump in the night were worth pursuing.

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (4/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

IV

I stagger through the thick snow, following the vampire’s trail into the woods that run alongside Pipe Creek. My vision is blurred and I’m losing too much blood. I cast a quick spell, but it’s a mere band-aid. My whole world is pain. I set it aside and press on. The cruor geminus will not go far. It can’t. The smell of my blood will be too much for it to ignore. It will come for me and most likely finish me off, but not without a fight.

            My head is swimming now. I’m in someone’s backyard. I can hear the creek behind me, smell the pine of the woods. I don’t know how I got here. Everything’s coming and going in flashes. The bite on my arm isn’t deep, but it’s poisonous. The vampire’s foul venom is working its way through my system. I have to find it. Have to end this. A shadow ahead. I see a manger scene, the baby Jesus surrounded by its mother and father, animals and wisemen. The shadow is framed by a Christmas Angel hovering above the manger, its lights blinking in an eclectic rhythm. My heart thunders in time with those angel wings.

            “Landon.”

            The voice is coming from the angel.

            I stagger toward it, lumbering, limping against the pain in my ravaged knee, cane dragging along through the snow loosely, carving a snaking trail through the fresh powder. The shadow comes forward revealing a different angel.

            “Sarah,” I choke. I taste blood on my lips. “You shouldn’t… be here. Run, young one. Be safe.” I lose my footing and descend to the ground onto my hands and knees. “Run, damn it.”

            “No, Landon,” she says. She lowers herself to me, cups my face in her hands. “I’ll not abandon you, my dear sweet Doctor.” I’m lost in her eyes. In her youth… her beauty. She leans in toward me, lips parting, coming dangerously close to mine.

            This is how it ends for the occult detective? With a kiss from a fiery-haired angel, bled out in the snow with the failed dream of winter on my lips? I rise up on my knees as she lays my head to the side. Her lips brush mine on her way to my neck. I feel her hot breath on my cold flesh. Then she’s gone… an explosion erupts across the lawn and I see two Sarahs — one struggling up from the ground, a spray of blood across the virgin snow —  the other holding a smoking Ruger .357.

            “Get away from him, you monster!”

            The beast transforms before my eyes. Sarah no more as it assumes the shape of Edward and marches toward her. Sarah fires again, and once more, but the fiend shrugs them off. I reach deep down inside me and rise, raising my cane and swinging it with all my might. It connects with the back of the cruor geminus’ head. The beast spins about and I charge.

            With the cane before me like a knight’s lance, I drive the shaft home, straight through the vampire’s chest, piercing the foul thing’s heart and driving it back into the manger. The angel overhead comes crashing down and the cruor geminus becomes entangled in the wire frame and blinking lights. As the sun rises, the fiend dies before our eyes, its body bound by the illuminating lights of a Christmas Angel.

            “Huh,” Sarah says, “I guess sometimes vampires do sparkle.”

The End

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (3/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

III

Magick has its advantages. Case in point, I am standing in the corner of a fifteen year old girl’s bedroom, completely invisible to any who might look my way. No scent to detect, no heat signature to register, not even the sound of my breathing can be heard. On the bed, Sarah Jones, lies suggestively draped across the top of her pink and mauve comforter, dressed in a black tank top and skirt that makes her pale flesh seem like alabaster. As she clicks away on her laptop computer, I make the mental calculations necessary to ensure that she does not become victim number four.

            I know what you’re thinking. No, I’m not some kind of pervert, though I might be scolded for placing such a young and vibrant child in mortal danger. Thing is, Sarah Jones is not your average fifteen year old. Imagine Nancy Drew, if you will, but with a bit more piss and vinegar. As Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes had his Baker Street Irregulars, I too have allies that fall somewhat south of the legal drinking age. Sarah is a paranormal investigator, being an integral cog in the so-called Ghostwriters Society that are comprised of author Steven Parker’s sons Dale and Allen, and Sarah’s cousin Cassidy Martin. They have been tested by fire on more than one occasion. Still, I feel somewhat guilty for using the fiery-haired teen as my proverbial hare in a snare. She was, of course, willing enough. Quite eager even. But as a rock gently raps against her bedroom window, I pray that my confidence in hers and my ability is not found wanting.

            Sarah rolls off the bed and approaches the window. She steals a glance toward me and I grind my teeth in anticipation. It must be unnerving for her, trusting that, though she cannot see me, I am in fact there ready to spring into action. She grips the window and opens it cautiously, the bitter cold of winter racing into the room.

            “Hello, Bella,” I hear the cruor geminus say. Softly. Seductively. “May I come inside?”

            Does her skin crawl? No. I see her sway, sense her body’s relaxing shift from heightened awareness to that of wanton desire. Can the creature’s powers be so overwhelming? She backs away from the window and calls to him.

            “Come to me, my love.”

            She is entranced. There is no mistake. My plan is unraveling before me. I prepare a counter spell, but already it’s too late. The creature is inside the room in an instant. She and I see it as it wishes to be seen, as a handsome young man with powder white flesh and full, pouting lips. It’s hair in a mock pompadour, flashing pearly white teeth behind golden eyes. The illusion is intoxicating, even for me. It leans in toward Sarah, its lips parted, moist and hungry.

            Leaping forward from my concealing spell, the head of my cane flares to life, bright and as radiant as the sun. It is enough to give the beast pause. What I didn’t expect was for Sarah to turn on me, grabbing a pair of scissors from her nightstand, and charging at me like a thing possessed. Yes, possessed — enthralled — and filled with lustful desire for her faux-Edward.

            I raise my cane too late as the scissors find the back of my hand. As I push her aside, I am met by the creature’s full force as it barrels into me, knocking me into the girl’s closet, splintering the bi-fold doors. I collapse to the floor, clothes falling from the rack overhead, blinding me as a rain of furious blows connect with my ribs, arm, and face. It’s fangs find bare flesh. It burns like fire. The smell and taste of my blood has the beast in a ravenous frenzy. It is by sheer willpower that I am able to conjure a magical counter to its devastating assault.

            A blast of eldritch energy explodes from my left hand hurling the cruor geminus into the far wall. I struggle to my feet, telekinetically call my cane back into my bleeding right hand, and approach the foul creature wearing a heartthrob’s face. Bearing its fangs, I grimace as I meet its aggression by swinging the cane like a bat, striking the beast full in the face. The cruor geminus falls back and through the window amidst a crash of broken glass. I approach cautiously but caught unprepared as Sarah buries the scissors into my right shoulder. I scream in agony, but am able to turn and grab the girl by her face.

            “Quiesco,” I say, softly, and Sarah Jones crumbles to the ground.

            The pain is exquisite. It sets my mind afire and it’s all I can do to jerk the instrument free. I stumble forward, to the window, and climb out, bleeding profusely from hand and shoulder. I can feel my ribs grinding in my chest and I’m all but certain that I’ve a fractured forearm.

            This is not how I’d planned tonight’s operation.

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (2/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Yuletide on December 3, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

II

Let’s get a few things straight. First, vampires don’t sparkle, despite what Megan Gamble’s late night reading might suggest. That’s right, of the eighteen varieties of bloodsucking fiends my family has cataloged over the years, not a one of them shimmer by sunlight. Granted, a couple of them do burst into flame when exposed to the sun’s attention, but that’s a far cry from all that sexy glimmering.

            I guess that leads into my second point, as in why I know these things to be true. My name is Landon Connors — Dr. Landon Connors, actually — and I hunt monsters (among other things). I came by this ‘profession‘ honestly enough. I guess you might say it’s the family business, though family is a looser term now seeing as I’m the only one left and I’m not exactly the marrying kind. My official title is ‘occult detective’ and yes, I wear a trenchcoat and fedora. Some cliches are just too good to mess with.

            Back at Caer Caliburn, the aged Victorian that my family has called home since the late 1800s, I diligently peruse the tattered Liber Monstrorum, a grimoire and bestiary of sorts that my forefathers have passed down through the years. Reading an entry by my great-grandfather, Gabriel Connors, regarding the cruor geminus, I find confirmation of my suspicions regarding Megan Gamble’s killer. Of course, she is not the only victim. There have been two others in as many months. All with the same telltale throat wounds. All with the same proclivity for reading material. Each a wannabe Bella. Each an eager vessel drained dry by a foul creature wearing an Edward mask.

            The cruor geminus is a nasty little beast with the ability to assume the appearance of someone their intended victim knows and trusts. And I’m pretty sure I’ve tracked this particular one before. The Cullen thing certainly fits his modus operandi. In the nineties, it trawled for victims wearing the face of Brad Pitt’s Louis. It’s a game for this damnable creature, wearing the cinematic face of the vampire, enticing its victims by playing to their erotic fantasies.

            But the game’s almost over. Though the three most recent victims had no physical connection to one another, I uncovered a cyber one. Each belonged to an online community, a messageboard upon which they poured out their longings for a romantic tryst with their undead paramour. All I needed was someone to use as bait for the cruor geminus, a lovely young girl to which the beast could not resist. Unfortunately for it, I have just the girl in mind for the job.

Yuletude Spirits: Dreams of Winter (1/4)

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

I

A line from Longfellow comes to me as I stare at the pale, lifeless child at my feet. ‘The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark.’ The Dark, capital ‘D’, if you don’t mind, has been of particularly nagging interest to me of late. As for mournful rustlings, well I’ve been knee-deep in those too. And it’s starting to piss me off.

            Surrounded by the girl’s belongings, it’s not hard to fathom how Megan Gamble’s mind worked. There’s a poster of a shirtless Alexander Skarsgard on the back of her door. Bookshelves overflow with Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, and Charlaine Harris urban fantasies, a well-read copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight rests on the nightstand. Evanescence, Pretty Reckless, and Nightwish CDs are scattered on the floor beside an old school jam-box. The clothes in her closet? All black and lots of lace and frills, plunging necklines and short skirts.

            I crack a window, light a cigarette, and watch the snow fall. Dreams of winter, I muse. No more dreams for her. I’ve got the itch for a drink, but I let the nicotine placate my self-destructive tendencies for now. I do my best to ignore the sounds of the cops behind me, grumbling about their business and their distaste for my presence. The feeling’s mutual. Grim thoughts give way to grim tidings and I’m on the verge of giving myself over to them, but there’s work to get to. Dark work.

            I flick the spent cowboy killer into the night air and ask the crime scene unit to give me a few minutes alone with the corpse. They look to the homicide detective at the door, my old pal Ellis DeTripp, and grouse at his nod of approval. They file past the hulk of a man — DeTripp stands an easy  six feet-four inches and tips the scales at more than twenty-two stone — and he closes the door behind them.

            “You too, Ellis,” I say, removing my coat and hat and laying them on the girl’s bed.

            “In your dreams, Connors. No freaking way I’m leaving you in here unsupervised.”

            “What’s the matter, Detective,” I scowl, “afraid I’ll lift something?”

            “Nah.” He kneels down awkwardly beside the girl’s body. “We already searched the room for drugs.”

            “She’s got the latest Dresden Files.”

            “Cute, but I know you don’t read that shit.” DeTripp casually traces the outline of the girl’s jawline with his fat forefinger, lingering near the gaping but bloodless wound at her throat. “You live it.”

            “What? You never climb inside a Michael Connelly novel?” I join him on the floor, just as awkwardly, my ruined knee groaning in protest. Without the support of my cane, an heirloom from late father’s collection, I’d be all but worthless in situations like these. Dead bodies require an up close and personal touch.

            “That’s different. Harry Bosch is the real deal.”

            I brush the big man’s hand away from the girl and examine the throat wound more closely. “And Harry Dresden isn’t?” I frown at the lack of blood, on the body or anywhere in the  room for that matter.

            “You know I don’t cater to all that magic mumbo-jumbo crap.”

            “And yet,” I say as I allow my hand to hover above the victim’s head, the telltale glow of magical energy sparking between my fingertips, “here I am.”

            “Again — different.”

            “Do tell?”

            “Meh,” he barks, groaning as he rises up from the floor, “just give me your goddamn theory so I can catch whoever did this before my ass is in a sling.”

            “Well, she was definitely killed here.”

            “Bull shit. No blood.”

            “Of course not.” I struggle to my feet, leaning heavily on father’s cane. “The killer took it with him.”

            “Landon Connors, I swear on my mother’s grave…”

            “Your mother’s alive. I had dinner with her last week.”

            “Just don’t freaking say what I know damn good and well you’re going to say.”

            “Fine.”

            We stare at each other uncomfortably long — he with a scowl, me with bemused acceptance. I know what’s coming next. I light a cigarette and wait for him to break.

            “Alright,” he barks, “…alright. Go ahead and say it.”

            “If you insist.” I exhale slowly. “Detective DeTripp, your killer is, without a doubt, a bloodsucking creature of the night.”

            “God damn it, I knew you were going to pull that shit on me.”

            The detective turns toward the door and throws it open in a huff, storming into the hall and past the awaiting crime scene investigators.

            “Would you have preferred that I used the word vampire?” I yell after him.

            He is not amused.

Magic(k) in Paranormal Investigations with Shawn, Michelle, Eilfie, and Me

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on November 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

“Bob Freeman, Eilfie Music, and Michelle Belanger talk about the use of magic before, during, and after paranormal investigations. They all share their personal practices and stories of real-life investigations.”

A few nights before All Hallow’s Eve I joined Shawn Hebert for a roundtable discussion regarding the use of magic(k) in paranormal investigations to launch the second season of his podcast, The LVX Files. The real stars of the episode were the whimsical and ethereal Eilfie Music, whom I adore, and the erudite and perspicacious Michelle Belanger. Both are paranormal television veterans, having cut their teeth on Paranormal State which ran from 2007-2011. Michelle, of course, in addition to being an author, has gone on to be a part of a number of other programs, including Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman’s Portals to Hell.

Just to give you a few insights into the discussion, firstly I was very much under the weather. I had been suffering from a pretty nasty ear infection and between the pain medication and antibiotics it’s a wonder I was coherent at all. Luckily, Eilfie and Michelle were on top of their game and did the heavy lifting. Secondly, I was having all kinds of technical issues. Not only was my internet dropping in and out, but the overhead in my den was giving me fits, hence the dim lighting.

All that being said, man did I have a ball in this discussion. This was my second time as a guest on The LVX Files and Shawn is a terrific host. He’s just so comfortable to talk with and is able to direct the conversations effortlessly. I appreciate that he is always a part of the moment. A lot of interviewers tend to be aloof and separate from the subject. Shawn is not shy about climbing into the mud with his guests and that’s much appreciated.

While our roundtable tended to focus on the television side of things, which was completely reasonable considering Michelle and Eilfie’s pedigree, there was a lot of good general information that dropped.

Let me explain things a bit from my perspective. I have zero interest in gathering evidence to prove a location is haunted to the public. I have zero interest in whether the public at large believe in the multiverse of dimensions that exist and are home to the vast array of entities that make up what some call the spirit world. I have a vested interest in helping people who do believe they have encountered these beings, in whatever form they take, and I am compelled to interact with them, for my own interests and in the interest of helping those in need.

I don’t feel like the so-called “scientific method” used in paranormal investigations is of much use beyond looking good on television. The gadgets tend to give an air of verisimilitude to the viewer. It gives them something tangible to focus on when, in reality, the best tool an investigator has is their 5 (or 6) senses. Unfortunately, that does not make for “good television”.

So, what do I use beyond those senses?

A typical investigation finds me first doing a tarot or rune reading beforehand. Usually tarot. This gives me a feel for the place. Next, I do a sweep of the location with copper dowsing rods. This helps me isolate the active areas and gives me a clue as to what sort of energy I am dealing with. Then, I open a dialogue, sometimes using a digital recorder or ghost box app. I’ll sometimes utilize scrying mirrors, summoning circles, blasting rods… the whole occult arsenal.

Having an opportunity to chat with like-minded people was a thrill for me. It’s more rare than you’d imagine. We occult detectives are an isolated breed. And for the talk to go down with three of my favorite people, well, that’s just icing on the proverbial cake. With luck, we’ll have the opportunity to rattle the chains of the departed together, in some lonesome clime or long forgotten hall… when these plague days are well behind us.

#OCCULTOBER: Three for Thursday: Paranormal Apps

Posted in Occult Detectives, Occultober, Paranormal on October 28, 2021 by Occult Detective

Short and sweet today. As it’s usually Three for Thursday around here, and with but three days till All Hallow’s Eve, I thought we’d keep with the Samhain Spirit and I would share my three favorite Paranormal SmartPhone Apps.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sigil Engine: A technomantic tool to create magickal sigils, quickly and easily.

Runic Formulas & The Book of Runes: Elder Futhark runes what Scandinavian God gave to us is able to help, heal, and also to destroy. They help in making a powerful protection amulet or talisman for achieving success. Runic Formulas is your helper on the runic way, it contains not only a collection of runes amulets, bind runes, sigils, glyphs, talismans, and magic formulas but also a handwritten book of runes meanings with clear descriptions for every rune from Elder Futhark. Start your Viking journey with Runic Formulas.

Law Is For All: A toolbox for practitioners of Thelema

THREE

Sono X10 Spirit Box: Sono X10 Spirit Ghost Box is a great tool for both amateurs and professional paranormal investigators. We have created a Ghost Box and a Spirit Voice Box combined in one single ghost hunting tool. Control the sweeping speed, from 100 ms to 150 ms with a single button.

TWO

My Moon Phase: My Moon Phase is the best app for tracking the lunar calendar. It has a sleek dark design which makes it easy to view information such as the current moon cycle, moonrise & moonset times as well as extras such as when the next full moon will be. If you’re interested in moon photography, you can also find out when the golden hours and blue hours are so you can take the most beautiful photos.

ONE

Paranormal Elements: Explore, collect, and analyze paranormal experiences using this innovative organizational system from the makers of Spirit Story Box. Read my review of this app HERE.

#OCCULTOBER: (Ghost)Hunter’s Moon

Posted in Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 20, 2021 by Occult Detective

This evening brings us the Hunter’s Moon, harvest festivals abound, and we are less than a dozen days till Samhain. As promised last week, today I am slated to write a short missive on the favorite Occult Detective of the winner of the Shadows Over Somerset All Hallow’s Read Giveaway. The recipient of the book, Vince Dickinson, wrote in his entry the following:

Hi Bob – my favorite occult detective is YOU. To be fair, I don’t follow any others, but that still counts, right?

Well, it most certainly does. A deal is a deal.

So, how is it that I came by the moniker of Occult Detective?

I’ve been fascinated by both sides of the Occult Detective coin since I was a child. Growing up in rural Indiana, surrounded by local legends, of both the more common urban variety and the myths of the Miami Indians who once called the area home, and fed by the folktales of my family’s native Ozark roots, I was obsessed with magic and monsters and the macabre.

Before I was ten, I was reading the works of Dennis Wheatley, Richard Cavendish, Sybil Leek, Gerald Gardner, and Manly Palmer Hall… they went hand in hand with Marvel Comics, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Three Investigators.

I studied UFOs, Bigfoot, and the Occult, prayed to Heathen Gods in the Hoosier hinterlands, scoured newspapers and gossip rags for stories about Hans Holzer, the Warrens, Sean Manchester and the like, and spent near countless nights in local graveyards and prowling abandoned houses, barns, and churches…

What was the catalyst? Who can say? Was it Kolchak, Dark Shadows, Scooby Doo? Late night Sammy Terry? Maybe seeing the Legend of Boggy Creek or The Exorcist at the Drive-In? Or it could have been the seances and light-as-a-feather sessions conducted by my much older baby-sitting cousins….

Regardless, I was hooked at a young age and I’ve never looked back.

Beyond those childhood endeavors, I began really investigating the strange and unusual in 1983, and that carried over into college where I studied Anthropology with a focus on Witchcraft, Magic, & Religion. At the height of the “Satanic Panic” I consulted with the local DNR on how to identify occult activity in the Misissinewa State Forest.

In a way, an Occult Detective is something I’ve always been rather than something I became.

Anyway, all the gibber jabber is well and good, but rather then me drone on and on about myself, I’ll open it up to you. If you have a question, fire it to me either in the comments section below, or you can always email me via bob@occultdetective.com.

And thanks again, Vince for your entry. I hope you enjoy the novel.

#OCCULTOBER: Revisiting The Shadows Over Somerset Giveaway Occult Detective Results

Posted in Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 14, 2021 by Occult Detective

The Shadows Over Somerset contest was interesting. The rules were simple: email me your favorite Occult Detective and then I would draw a winner at random, sending them a signed copy of the book and writing an essay about their selection.

Here are the Occult Detectives and the number of votes they tallied:

4 Thomas Carnacki
4 Fox Mulder
3 John Constantine
3 Dean Winchester
2 Harry Dresden
2 Carl Kolchak
2 Dana Scully
2 Levi Stoltzfus
1 Greg Newkirk
1 Greg & Dana Newkirk
1 Ed Warren
1 Ed & Lorraine Warren
1 Edward Carnby
1 Dr. Spektor
1 Duke De Richleau 
1 Alexandra Trese
1 Shido
1 Hellboy
1 Landon Connors
1 Bob Freeman

I find it interesting that five of the 34 votes went to real people: myself, the Newkirks, and the Warrens. Greg Newkirk and Ed Warren each got one vote, while they and their respective partners received one vote.

The continued popularity of Thomas Carnacki among occult detective fans never ceases to amaze me.

I was surprised to see Fox Mulder tie for first place with four votes and Dana Scully received two votes. While I knew the X-Files had a huge cultural impact, I didn’t count on them still being so popular.

There were two Occult Detectives I didn’t know that received votes — Shido, a vampire character from an anime series called Nightwalker — The Midnight Detective and Edward Carnby, an investigator and researcher who is the main protagonist in Alone in the Dark.

How did Scooby and the Gang not even draw a single vote?

Overall, I was thrilled with the results of the contest and was happy to see so many entrants. As for the subject of the Hunter’s Moon Occult Detective essay, well, I am less than thrilled about that one. I’ll have to cook something up special for that…

#OCCULTOBER #ALLHALLOWSREAD #GIVEAWAY And the Winner is…

Posted in All Hallows Read, Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 13, 2021 by Occult Detective

Today I get to announce the winner of the Shadows Over Somerset All Hallow’s Read Giveaway. Whether it’s a Trick or Treat will be for the recipient to decide. Not only will the winner receive a signed (& personalized if they desire) copy of the second edition of my debut novel, Shadows Over Somerset, but they also get to pick the subject of my Occult Detective essay to be published on the Hunter’s Moon, the 20th of October.

So, without further ado, the winner is:

VINCE DICKINSON

And his favorite Occult Detective is… well, let’s share his email:

"Hi Bob - my favorite occult detective is YOU.  To be fair, I don’t follow any others, but that still counts, right?"

Well, there you go. I’ll be sending Vince’s prize out on Friday, so that he receives the book before Hallowe’en. As for the Hunter’s Moon blog post? Well, that’s a bit awkward. We’ll see if I can spice things up a bit…

Congratulations, Vince. I hope you enjoy the book and have a spooktacular Hallowe’en.

And to the 30+ men and women who entered, thank you for your interest.

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