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The Real Life Legend of Slender Man

There are legends and myths that have been around for  centuries and have seared themselves into our minds and culture. Then there are  those that have been brought to life by way of modern technologies reminding us  of nightmares that should have been buried and forgotten. One such legend is  known through internet popularity as Slender man.

The creature known as Slender man is said to have the appearance of a tall, lanky man in a black suit.  Not so scary, right? Just wait.

He towers at six to seven feet with  unusually thin limbs. His face, if you can call it that, is featureless and  white, though some say that it can morph into whatever you fear the most. His  arms, however, can stretch out to grab his victims and bend in unnatural ways  with long, talon-like fingers used to scratch at the windows of children. Yes  that’s right. While he haunts everyone who has the misfortune to see him, he  prefers to devour those that are 16 and younger. He is also said to hav  multiple arms sometimes seen as long tentacles used to ensnare whomever catches  his eye, or should I say, the void where his face should be.

Slender man  is a silent stalker that likes to hide in plain sight and is usually spotted in  wooded areas where he could blend in amongst the trees and dark corners of the  forest. When he finds his victim of choice, he follows them home and upon being  seen through the window, can use a form of hypnosis that compels you to walk  right into his spindly arms. Usually glimpsed at a distance, once he’s close  enough to get a good look at, that’s when he slinks into your home appearing in  dark hallways or blank t.v. screens. American legend says that he was once a man  who was tortured viciously, first being beaten with a log, then impaled with a 2  foot stick and hung from a tree with his arms and legs pulled from their  sockets.

When captured, you will wake to find Slender man standing above  you. He will ask one question and if you’re lucky and get it right, he breaks  both your arms and legs. But if you are wrong, then he slowly sticks his fingers  down your throat pulling out the heart. In circles on the internet Slender man  is claimed to be the creation of a website called Somethingawful.com. Many say  that this alone debunks the mysterious legend and closes the case on the  creature’s fictitious existence. Well, not quite.

It appears that the  Slender man myth goes back a lot farther than is claimed. He is based on  something called Der Grossman, meaning “tall man”, which is the Germanic  version. Legend says that children would site him in the Black Forest days  before their disappearance. All that was left behind would be the mutilated  remains of livestock and in a few cases, village inhabitants would be found several miles from their homes impaled on the higher branches of the trees.

A Romanian folktale tells of twin sisters Sorina and Stela that were led  out into the woods one day by their mother. They could see Der Grossman close  by, waiting dressed as a nobleman, his arms boneless as snakes and sharp as  swords. The mother, under the order of the creature, told her daughter Stela to  cut a circle in the ground with a knife and have Sorina lay down in the middle  to be cut open. Stela refused and ran home to hide under her bed. When their  father returned home, his terrified daughter told him what had transpired and he  then went into the forest to track down the twins’ mother. The girl fell asleep  to be awakened by a knock on the door. “Open the door, it’s your father,” a  voice said. The girl refused. “Open the door it’s your mother,” the voice  continued. Upon refusing once again, the door flew open to reveal the horrible  sight of her mother holding the severed head of her sister Sorina in one hand  and the head of her father in the other. “Why?” cried Stela. “Because,” said her  mother, “there is no reward for goodness in this world, nothing but cold steel  teeth and scourging fire for all of us. And it’s coming for you now.” At that  moment, Der Grossman, or Slender man, slid from the fireplace clenching the  surviving twin in his burning embrace. And that was the end of her.

Internet fiction or not, Slender man indeed has  horrifying origins and lore from the old world. What makes this myth so fearful  is the fact that to this day, people are still questioning the existence of this  humanoid creature. Websites flooded with people claiming to have had sightings  of him especially those that live near wooded areas. Even more terrifying is  that he has been known to imitate the voice of a human calling out your name in  the dark. And it seems that the more you talk about or research Slender man, the  more likely you are to encounter him bringing life to a supposed legend.

The Slender Man is an alleged paranormal figure purported to have been in existence for centuries, covering a large geographic area. Believers in the Slender Man tie his appearances in with many other legends around the world, including; Fear Dubh (or, The Dark Man) in Scotland, the Dutch Takkenmann (Branch Man), and the German legend of Der Großmann or Der Grosse Mann (the Tall Man). Appearance
The Slender Man is a being male in appearance who looks like a man with extremely long, slender arms and legs. He also appears to have 4 to 8 long, black tentacles that protrude from his back, though different photographs and enthusiasts disagree on this fact, and therefore it is theorized he can ‘contract’ these tentacles at will.
He is described as wearing a black suit strikingly similar to the visage of the notorious Men In Black, and as the name suggests, appears very thin and able to stretch his limbs and torso to inhuman lengths in order to induce fear and ensnare his prey. Once his arms are outstretched, his victims are put into something of a hypnotized state, where they are utterly helpless to stop themselves from walking into them.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm6PGh2fvTg]He is also able to create tendrils from his fingers and back that he uses to walk on in a similar fashion to Doctor Octopus. The superhuman stretching ability could also be seen as a similarity between himself and Mr. Fantastic. Whether he absorbs, kills, or merely takes his victims to an undisclosed location or dimension is also unknown as there are never any bodies or evidence left behind in his wake to deduce a definite conclusion.
His face is pale and slightly ghostly, and almost appears to have been wrapped in a type of gauze or cloth. his facial features are also an object of debate, and many people believe that his face looks different to each person, if it is seen at all. He sometimes is portrayed wears a hat, which is sometimes a bowler, a fedora, or sometimes a tophat. He may also be seen wearing a long flowing necktie or scarf, which is either red or grey. He often keeps his long, pale hands crossed politely behind his back or hanging loosely at his sides. His suit is black, sometimes portrayed as pinstripe in artwork, a common misconception thanks to the very similar Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas. He has long coattails which he lets flow proudly. He wears long dress shoes, which are always shined a perfect, gleaming black.
Behavior
Much of the fascination with Slender Man is rooted in the overall aura of mystery that he is wrapped in. Despite the fact that it is rumored he kills children almost exclusively, it is difficult to say whether or not his only objective is slaughter.
Often times it is either reported or recorded that he can be found in sections of woods, and these generally tend to be suburban. He also has been reported seen with large groups of children, as many photographs portray. It is commonly thought that he resides in woods and forests and preys on children. He seems unconcerned with being exposed in the daylight or captured in photos.
It is often thought as well that he enjoys stalking people who become overly paranoid about his existence, purposefully giving them glimpses of himself in order to further frighten them. For this reason, it seems like Slenderman very much enjoys psychologically torturing his victims.
He also often appears to float or drift around rather than walk, which suggest the possibility of him being an ethereal being rather than a creature or a man. This would also explain why he is able to remain mobile in spite of his poorly proportioned body.
Even though Slender Man was fabricated on SomethingAwful forums (or was he?), some people have already claimed sightings. He is seen mostly at night peering into open windows and walks out in front of lone motorists on secluded roads. His main intentions appear to be kidnapping children, as when he is seen near them in photographs, they usually disappear shortly afterwards. The Slender Man has also inspired many stories such as those of Marble Hornets.
Historical References
Brazilian Cave Paintings
The earliest argued reference to the legend is within the cave paintings found in the Serr da Capivara National Park in the Northeast of Brazil, which are believed to date from as far back as 9000 BC. These paintings show a strangely elongated character leading a child by the hand, but make no reference to the extra appendages.
Egyptian Hieroglyphs
The next known possible reference to the Slender Man comes from around 3100 BC in lower Egypt, with references to the “Thief of the Gods” or the “Thief of Kuk” becoming common place during the reign of Pharaoh Wazner. Hieroglyphic carvings representing the Thief were found in the pharaoh’s tomb, who was rumored to have had some kind of encounter with the entity. The carvings resemble a strange figure with multiple upper limbs, one that has never been found in any other hieroglyph language.
German Woodcuts
Renowned German woodcutter Hans Freckenberg created at least two woodcuts featuring a character he described as Der Ritter (The Knight) during the mid-sixteenth century that were discovered in Halstberg Castle in 1883. Whilst Freckenberg was well-known for his realistic depiction of human anatomy – something that was unusual among woodcuts of the time – these pictures featured a skeletal, multi-limbed character. Historians are unsure of the exact symbolic nature of the character, with some claiming that it is a personification of the religious wars that raged in Europe at the time, while others say it represents the mysterious plagues that have been believed to be the reason for the mysterious abandoning of the Hastlberg Castle and the nearby village in 1543.
However, many insist that Freckenberg was attempting to represent “Der Großmann” (the Tall Man). According to legend, he was a fairy ho lived in the Black Forest. Bad children who crept into the woods at night would be relentlessly chased by Der Großmann, who wouldn’t leave them be until he either caught them or they were forced to tell their parents of their wrongdoing. Even then, there is a chilling account from an old journal, dating from about 1702:
“My child, my Lars… he is gone. Taken, from his bed. The only thing that we found was a scrap of black clothing. It feels like cotton, but it is softer… thicker. Lars came into my bedroom yesterday, screaming at the top of his lungs that “The angel is outside!” I asked him what he was talking about, and he told me some nonsense fairy story about Der Großmann. He said he went into the groves by our village and found one of my cows dead, hanging from a tree. I thought nothing of it at first… but now, he is gone. We must find Lars, and my family must leave before we are killed. I am sorry, my son… I should have listened. May God forgive me.”
Romanian Mythology
There is also a Romanian fairytale which tells the legend of the Tall Man, featuring this description which may have taken to refer to the Slender Man
“The tall man stood in a clearing, dressed as a nobleman, all in black. Shadows lay over him, dark as a cloudy midnight. He had many arms, all long and boneless as snakes, all sharp as swords, and they writhed like worms on nails. He did not speak, but made his intentions known,”
In the fairytale, the Tall Man causes a mother to kill her husband and child, before he slid from a fireplace and “clenched her in his burning embrace.”

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Paranormal

Intruders and incubi: The waking nightmare of sleep paralysis

Brian Barrett Motherboard

© Nicolas Bruno

Once, when I was 17, I woke up in the dark and couldn’t move.

I could hear, at least. That’s why I was awake to begin with: someone was banging on the front door in the middle of the night, insistent, sharp, angry.

I could see, too. My eyes were open to the ceiling above me. My head, though, was locked into position by some invisible vise. I tried to yell, to warn my parents about the angry intruder outside, and the irrevocable harm I was convinced he would do. I couldn’t yell. The knocks got louder.

No matter how insistently I begged my body to jump out of bed and find a place to hide, it remained a slab. Something terrible was about to happen to me, to my family. The door was going to give way. The outsider was going to come in. I was going to face whatever—whoever?—came after completely immobilized and alone.

It was the most afraid I’ve ever been in my life. What I realized, looking back later, was that it still would have been even if it weren’t for those knocks on the door, and my certainty that something awful would follow. My deepest fear came from the realization that my body, in that moment, had become completely dissociated from anything I recognized as myself. It was a car sinking to the bottom of a lake, my mind its captive passenger, waiting to drown.

I don’t remember how long it lasted, but eventually it wore off. I quickly found out that the person on the porch was my older brother, home at an unexpected hour on an unexpected visit from college. It took me a few more years to figure out that the other part, the immobility, the sense of self reduced to flickering consciousness, even the deepness of the fear I felt, had a name. It was sleep paralysis.

At least, that’s what we call it now. Dr. S.A. Kinnier Wilson coined the term in a 1928 edition of the medical journal Brain. His description then should feel familiar to anyone who has experienced sleep paralysis today: a man dreamed of a murderer, then carried that dream over to a conscious state. The patient in question “lay thus, flat on the floor, motionless but suffering acute mental stress.

That’s not to say that sleep paralysis is a relatively new human experience. A Dutch physician named Isbrand van Diemerbroeck published several case histories that accurately describe sleep paralysis in 1664, one of which, titled “Of the Night-Mare,” may as well have been penned by Mary Shelley.

“In the night time, when she was composing her self to sleep, sometimes she believed the devil lay upon her and held her down, sometimes that she was choaked by a great dog or thief lying upon her breast, so that she could hardly speak or breath, and when she endeavored to throw off the burthen, she was not able to stir her member,”van Diemerbroeck wrote, suggesting moderate exercise and plenty of juice as a possible remedy to the invisible nighttime demon attacks. [17th century sics implied throughout.]

Even that landmark medical documentation isn’t remotely the first reported instance. Go back further still, and you’ll find references to sleep paralysis in medieval Persia and Ancient Greece and even more ancient (400 BCE) China. There’s probably a cave drawing somewhere that depicts a red-eyed saber-toothed tiger sitting atop a paralyzed Neanderthal’s chest. Sleep paralysis is as ageless and as universal as fear itself.

It’s not quite as simple as simply being afraid, though. It’s a complex confluence of physiological and psychological occurrences that force you to experience your deepest nightmares with eyes wide open.

Take a normal night of sleep, assuming you still have those once in awhile. Your body cycles through five sleep stages, the last of which is REM, which you probably remember from your high school biology class as being your brain’s lights-out, shut-it-down, dream-time state.

Which is great! Dreaming is wonderful, especially if you ever wondered what it might feel like to fly down Rodeo Drive with a soft serve twist cone in one hand and a chainsaw in the other. Dreaming, though, can also be dangerous, because your big dumb body doesn’t necessarily know that your brain is just playing pretend. Given the opportunity, your body will act out those dreams, which can lead to a whole other terrifying condition called REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD).

You’ve heard of sleepwalking, which can technically be a type of RBD, depending on whether it occurs during the REM stage of sleep. Many RBD episodes are much more involved than just puttering down the hall, however. Think of it like this: juggling with tennis balls and juggling with flaming swords are both technically types of juggling, but you’d never confuse the two.

Comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia turned his experiences with RBD into a very entertaining show, book, and film called Sleepwalk with Me. Well, entertaining but also terrifying; at one point in his mid-20s, Birbiglia threw himself out of a closed, second-story La Quinta motel window. At the time, in his dream, he was trying to escape an incoming guided missile.

The reason more people don’t experience RBD is that the brain also has a safety valve. “During dreaming… bursts of neural activity called PGO waves spread through the cortex, producing the imagery we experience during dreams,” explained James Allan Cheyne, sleep paralysis expert and professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo. “Simultaneously, activation spreads down the spinal column causing spinal interneurons to suppress signals that normally would produce muscle movement.”

Your body, in other words, paralyzes itself during REM sleep to keep you from throwing yourself down a stairwell when you dream about laying out for touchdown pass to win the state championship.

Sleep paralysis, then, is what happens when you wake up before that effect has had a chance to wear off. Your body has frozen to keep you from acting out your dreams. But also, haha, good joke, you’re still dreaming.

“You have aspects of REM sleep that are going on when you have waking, conscious awareness,” said Brian Sharpless, assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University and author of a recent book about sleep paralysis. “First, you’re paralyzed, and second, you are having dreams, but unlike normal dreaming these two things are happening while you’re awake and able to look around the room.”

Not just any dreams, though. Sharpless estimates that while a little less than a third of our normal dreams could be considered nightmares, 80 to 90 percent of dreams experienced during sleep paralysis qualify. “You can kind of imagine why,” he said. “If you’re lying on your back and can’t move, that’s scary enough. And if you’re having hallucinations that are scary as well, that’s a bad mix.”

My own sleep paralysis, then, was fairly textbook. The banging on the door vaulted me into consciousness but not out of REM, leaving me frozen in a liminal hell of the mind, waiting for a bad man with an axe to bust down my door. Actually, I got off easy.

As it turns out, sleep paralysis nightmares can be divided into three tidy categories, two of which—the Intruder and the Incubus—would make for decent Paranormal Activity sequels. The third is “vestibular and motor,” a less-fun name for a more-fun condition.

Cheyne cautions that these categories are broad, and the experiences the describe can vary greatly. On the other hand, he also is one of three authors of a landmark 1999 scientific paper, published in Consciousness and Cognition, that helped define them.

Vestibular and motor incidents—Cheyne calls it “Unusual Bodily Experiences” in his 1999 paper—are relatively harmless, potentially even enjoyable. “It’s fancy term for feeling like your body is being moved without its volition,” Sharpless explains. “You could feel like you’re floating, or levitating, or your arm is being lifted.” Not so bad, right? Your standard Sigourney-Weaver-in-Ghostbusters scenario.

The other two, Cheyne says, have no such upside potential.

For Intruder experiences, the main sensation is the sensed presence—a feeling of something in the room,” he recently explained over email. “That something may then also be seen, heard, or physically felt. It may move around the room, approach the bed, and sometimes climb onto the bed.”

Scary! But remember, at this point you also can’t move. As far as you know, you may never be able to move again, even if you somehow survive being horribly violated by the shadow monster in your periphery. Screaming would at least be cathartic, but you can’t scream, and you can’t breathe all that well, so all that’s left is to wait.

I was fortunate in that my Intruder scenario involved an actual (friendly!) person. That gave quicker closure, presumably, than some hallucinatory demon-dog lurker might have. I was fortunate, also, that I didn’t draw an Incubus instead:

The Incubus experiences often continue this sequence by climbing on top of the ‘sleeper,’ Cheyne continues, “perhaps smothering, and even assaulting them physically and sexually.” This is how your brain works. This is van Diemerbroeck’s devil.

© Nicolas Bruno

Beginning in February of 1995, reports began to circulate throughout Zanzibar of a spirit that assaulted men and women in the dark of night. Its name was Popobawa, which means “winged bat,” because that was the form it was said to take most often, though it was just as often invisible.

As social anthropologist Martin Walsh detailed in 2009, Popobawa attacks spread quickly throughout the country, jumping from person to person, house to house, and village to village, eventually constituting a full-blown paranormal pandemic.

The bat demon was said to sodomize its victims. The response was violent. At one point, residents of Zanzibar City murdered a suspected Popobawa who unsurprisingly turned out to be a human, one who had visited the capital in search of mental health treatment. The terrors, both spiritual and corporeal, continued. Then, three months after they began, the Popobawa incidents stopped.

An entire nation plagued by a sex-starved bat demon would laughable as a SyFy channel script. As reality, it seems impossible. That it led to mobs and murder, more so.

It happened, though. And again, to a lesser degree, in 2007 (“Sex attacks blamed on bat demon” read the restrained BBC headline that time). How?

“A typical [Popobawa] assault involved somebody waking up in the night to find themselves being attacked by an amorphous or shape-shifting intruder, which was most frequently described as ‘pressing’ or ‘crushing’ their chest and ribs, and of suffocating them until they had difficulty in breathing and passed out,” Walsh wrote. “In general all of the victims experienced extreme terror, and were often frozen speechless when they were assaulted.”

An intruder. An incubus. The inability to move. The loss of respiratory control. The Popobawa, Walsh concludes, was no demon. It was textbook sleep paralysis, at a massive scale.

Zanzibar’s example is extreme, but far from isolated. Every culture has its bogeyman. Every century has ghost sightings. Everyone has heard things go bump in the night.

“We believe that sleep paralysis is a good, naturalistic explanation for a lot of paranormal beliefs,” said Sharpless. “Alien abductions that occur at night; visits by ghosts and demons; more recently, shadow people. If you look at people’s first-hand descriptions of these events, they map really well on to sleep paralysis.”

“Different cultures have come up with unique names for sleep paralysis that are descriptive of various common experiences in how it manifests,” explains Kevin Morton, who five years ago founded a site dedicated to better understanding sleep disorders as part of an undergraduate project at Stanford University. “In Japan it’s been known as ‘Kanashibari’ (retaliating spirit), in Thailand ‘Phi um’ (enveloping ghost), or the ‘Hauka’I po’ (night marchers) in Hawaii.”

In the same way that we might ascribe a happy coincidence to a guardian angel or God, we paint sleep paralysis with the brushstrokes of our deepest terrors.

Sleep paralysis being blamed on ghosts, spirits, and demons transcends cultures, but you can count on Japan to give it the perfect anime treatment.

Estimates vary as to how many people will experience sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime. Sharpless pegs it at 8 percent of the general population, with students (28 percent) and psychiatric patients (32 percent) even higher. Sharpless thinks that spike may be attributable to those groups having disrupted sleep patterns to begin with, making sleep paralysis more likely. Cheyne notes that incidence rates are higher still “in societies with an active tradition of haunting night spirits.”

Despite the prevalence of sleep paralysis, especially among certain groups, there’s been no large intervention trials to determine an effective treatment for it. In a 2014 paper, Dr. Sharpless and co-author Jessica Lynn Grom outlined a few preemptive methods (e.g., changing sleep positions and patterns), as well as techniques to help mitigate the impact mid-episode. Among the most effective of those? Simply trying to calm yourself down in the moment, if you can manage it. Focus on trying to move your extremities. Don’t worry about the demon on your chest.

That’s more easily accomplished if you’re aware that you’re experiencing sleep paralysis, or even of what sleep paralysis is. It’s a condition that’s been largely (apologies) in the dark, in part because it’s not an easy thing to talk about. I didn’t tell anyone about my experience for years, and even then it was only after I had found out what it was. Until then, I was too worried that it signaled something deeply wrong with my body or mind or both.

“Sleep paralysis has quite a large awareness bias associated with it,” says Morton, whose site has received hundreds of submissions from people who have lived it, and a magnitude more visitors looking for answers. “It is such a crazy experience–waking up with your body paralyzed, often hallucinating frightening dream imagery, occasionally of a sexual nature–that those who experience it often don’t talk about it with others, usually out of fear that they will be seen as crazy or possessed, or just otherwise stigmatized if they bring it up.”

Morton is optimistic about the internet’s power as a great normalizer; all it takes is a quick search of symptoms to find out that you’re neither possessed nor insane. Sleep paralysis also seems to be having a larger cultural moment beyond the web, if a phenomenon as old as consciousness itself can be said to have moments.

That’s a brief clip from The Nightmare, a documentary from Rodney Ascher, which brings brings to life people’s real descriptions of sleep paralysis events. Ascher, who previously directed the critically lauded Room 237, pursued the topic after experiencing it himself. Devil in the Room, a short film released in 2014, takes a similar approach, while photographer Nicolas Bruno has a series of photographs depicting the horrors he has experienced in his years of sleep paralysis.

Most dreams stop when they want to, not when you tell them. A modicum of awareness, though, helps with what comes after. Even if you can’t beat sleep paralysis, you can cope with its reverberations.

There’s comfort in knowing that the demon on your chest actually resides in your mind. Or at least, that yours isn’t the only mind with demons.

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Paranormal

The Charlie Charlie Challenge – what is the spooky craze?

A strange new viral phenomenon has left social media buzzing with attempts to summon a Mexican spirit.

Although it has been around for quite some time, the challenge, which involves using pencils and a piece of paper to summon a spirit named Charlie, has really taken off this week.

To play, participants are required to take a piece of paper, balance two pencils in a cross shape in the middle and then write the words “yes” and “no” at the four corners of the page.

To begin, those taking part must then clearly recite the phrase “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?”.

If the pencil moves then, according to the myth surrounding the game, the spirit of Charlie will have arrived to begin answering your questions.

Despite the widespread uptake of the challenge on social media this week however the mechanism behind this alleged paranormal communication is actually very simple – the pencils will invariably move by themselves no matter what because they are so precariously balanced.

The vibration of a footstep, someone shuffling around in the room or even a subtle draft from a window or door can make it seem as though Charlie has come out to play.

Nevertheless with the “Charlie Charlie Challenge” becoming increasingly popular online it is likely that we will be seeing quite a few reaction videos of pencils moving over the next few weeks.

Source: Independent

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Paranormal

A Drug Addict Changed His Ways When He Saw Something Strange In This Photo

While some consider ghosts to be expert photobombers, they’re certainly not alone in the world of paranormal photobombing. Demons also seem to be quite good at it. In fact, demons might actually be better photobombers than ghosts, which is something Joe Martinez learned a few years ago in the most shocking way.

Martinez, who was heavily involved with drugs at the time, went with his wife to his in-laws’ wedding anniversary celebration. It was a fairly ordinary party by all accounts. At one point in the evening, however, someone snapped a picture of Martinez posing with his wife. No one thought anything of it…until the picture was developed.

Could it actually have been a demon? Perhaps it was a trick of the light? According to Martinez, several reputable paranormal investigators examined the photo and found no evidence of tampering. Even stranger is the fact that the demon creature did not appear in any other photos from the anniversary party. Fake or not, at least this photo did some good in getting Martinez to clean up his life.

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