Toasted Cake 220! In which we really just want an iPhone.

On my 16th birthday, dad bought me a nuke.

This story first appeared in the Worthing Herald.

Liam Hogan is an Oxford Physics graduate and award winning London based writer. His short story "Ana", appears in Best of British Science Fiction 2016 (NewCon Press) and his twisted fantasy collection, "Happy Ending Not Guaranteed", is published by Arachne Press. Find him at happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk or tweet him at @LiamJHogan




Toasted Cake 219! In which we hatch an ecosystem.

The back door is tinged purple when I go out to throw my morning coffee grounds onto the compost heap.

This story first appeared at Fireside.

Hugo and three-time Nebula Award finalist Caroline M. Yoachim is a prolific author of short stories, appearing in Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, and Asimov's, among other places. Her debut short story collection, Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories, came out in 2016. For more, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com.

Toasted Cake #218! In which we consider the noses on the eggs.

After the faces appeared on the egg shells I could no longer bring myself to cook with them.

This story originally appeared at The Colored Lens.

Steve Toase lives in Munich, Germany. His work has appeared in Lackington's, Aurealis, Not One Of Us, Cabinet des Feés and Pantheon Magazine amongst others. In 2014 Call Out (first published in Innsmouth Magazine) was reprinted in The Best Horror Of The Year 6. From 2014 he worked with Becky Cherriman and Imove on Haunt, the Saboteur Award shortlisted project inspired by his own teenage experiences, about Harrogate's haunting presence in the lives of people experiencing homelessness in the town. He also likes old motorbikes and vintage cocktails. You can keep up to date with his work via tinyletter.com/stevetoase, facebook.com/stevetoase1, stevetoase.wordpress.com and @stevetoase




Toasted Cake 217! In which we try not to fall into the sweetmeats.

Lord Seetseet Reetseetseet, Earl of Breakaday, alit on the rim of the sweetmeat chalice and pecked at the candied plum atop the pile.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Aimee Ogden is a former science teacher and software tester; now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her work has also appeared in Shimmer, Apex, and Escape Pod.



Toasted Cake 216! In which we unwrap the Impermex.


Kurt Gasman hurried home to his wife, eyes on every moving shadow and flicker of light.


This story first appeared in Every Day Fiction.


S. Hutson Blount has had the usual odd employment history common to those engaging in the disreputable business of fiction. Though possessing no higher education, he pretends that his Navy technical training counts as college. He was spotted in Seattle in the summer of 2005 associating with more talented graduates of his Clarion West class. When he's not thinking up more ways to tell lies to people for money, he masquerades as a devoted husband.



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Toasted Cake 215! In which we delete.

The basket scratches my skin, but I hold onto it, dreaming of the smell of freshly boiled bamboo and my mom's humming as she turns the ladle.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

D.A. Xiaolin Spires steps into portals and reappears in sites such as Hawai'i, NY, various parts of Asia and elsewhere, with her keyboard appendage attached. Besides Toasted Cake, her work appears or is forthcoming in publications such as Clarkesworld, Analog, Strange Horizons, Nature, Terraform, Grievous Angel, Fireside, Galaxy's Edge, StarShipSofa, Andromeda Spaceways (Year's Best Issue), Diabolical Plots, Factor Four, Pantheon, Outlook Springs, ROBOT DINOSAURS, Shoreline of Infinity, LONTAR, Mithila Review, Reckoning, Issues in Earth Science, Liminality, Star*Line, Polu Texni, Argot, Eye to the Telescope, Liquid Imagination, Gathering Storm Magazine, Little Blue Marble, Story Seed Vault, and anthologies of the strange and beautiful: Deep Signal, Ride the Star Wind, Sharp and Sugar Tooth, Broad Knowledge, Future Visions and Battling in All Her Finery. She can be found on Twitter: @spireswriter and on her website: daxiaolinspires.wordpress.com.




Toasted Cake 214! In which we nope out of the story.


It was another damn cottage, another damn grandmother, frail and helpless, waiting for a handout sent via grandchild.

Tara Campbell's story Another Damn Cottage first appeared in Spelk.


Every mermaid's mother warned against the dangers of rescuing humans.

Alethea Kontis's story Well-Behaved Mermaids Rarely Make Fairy Tales first appeared in Tales of Arilland.


Tara Campbell is a Kimbilio Fellow, a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and an MFA candidate at American University. Prior publication credits include stories at Masters Review, Strange Horizons, and Toasted Cake Podcast; as well as a novel, TreeVolution, and a collection, Circe's Bicycle. Her new book, Midnight at the Organporium, will be released in April 2019. Find her at taracampbell.com.

Alethea Kontis is a New York Times bestselling author, a princess, and a geek. Author of over twenty books and contributor to over thirty more, her award-winning writing has been published for multiple age groups across all genres. Host of "Princess Alethea's Fairy Tale Rants" and Princess Alethea's Traveling Sideshow every year at Dragon Con, Alethea also narrates for ACX, IGMS, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders. Alethea currently resides on the Space Coast of Florida with her teddy bear, Charlie. Find out more about Princess Alethea and the magic, wonderful world in which she lives here: hpatreon.com/princessalethea.





Toasted Cake 213! In which we totally clear our upliftings for safety and sociability.

Dear Dr. Higglebottem, The board has received troubling reports from a group of hyper-dolphins about your recent activities on Tau Ceti f.

This story first appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

This story has a content warning for mild swearing.

Stewart C Baker is an academic librarian, speculative fiction writer and poet, and the editor-in-chief of sub-Q Magazine. His fiction has appeared in Nature, Galaxy's Edge, and Flash Fiction Online, among other places. Stewart was born in England, has lived in South Carolina, Japan, and California (in that order), and currently resides in Oregon with his family­­--although if anyone asks, he'll usually say he's from the Internet.



Toasted Cake 212! In which we split our lifeline in two.

Alina's family had a history with witches.

This story first appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

Lina Rather is a speculative fiction author from Michigan now living in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in venues including Shimmer, Lightspeed, and Flash Fiction Online. When she's not writing she can be found cooking, knitting, or perusing the local comic shop. She can be found on Twitter or at her website, linarather.wordpress.com.



Toasted Cake 211! In which we try to hide the collection.

There's a lot of preparation that goes into death--crafting a will, getting your finances and investments in order, signing up for a life insurance policy, specifying to family if you'd rather be buried or cremated--you know, just in case something happens.

This story first appeared in the anthology Alternate Hilarities: One-Star Reviews of the Afterlife.

Tiffany Michelle Brown is a native of Phoenix, Arizona, who ran away from the desert to live near sunny San Diego beaches. She has been published by Electric Spec, Under the Gum Tree, Pen and Kink Publishing, Transmundane Press, and Prolific Press. When she isn't writing, Tiffany can be found on a yoga mat, sipping whisky, or reading a comic book--sometimes all at once. Follow her adventures at tiffanymichellebrown.wordpress.com.


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Toasted Cake 210! In which we learn how to cast on.

None of it would've happened if Jane had known how to pick up a dropped stitch, and that's exactly I told Pastor when he popped in to investigate the peculiar noises coming from the Fellowship Hall.

This story first appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she's left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Daily Science Fiction, Nature: Futures, and is forthcoming from Analog. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. For more info, visit wendynikel.com.



Toasted Cake 209! In which we consider tunnel number 5.

It's cold and sunless in the tunnels.

This story first appeared in Nature.

Natalia Theodoridou is a writer of strange stories that have appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Apex, and elsewhere. Natalia's story "The Birding: A Fairy Tale" won the 2018 World Fantasy award for short fiction. For more, visit natalia-theodoridou, or follow @natalia_theodor on twitter.


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Toasted Cake 208! In which we reeeeeeeallly want the Milanos.

Ten hours smiling at potential donors to the Temporal Branching Lab, and two more tour groups to go, but my snack stash held only a box of crumbs, without even a fleck of chocolate.

This story first appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

(this story has a content warning for a little bit of swearing)

Benjamin C. Kinney is a SFF writer, neuroscientist, and the Assistant Editor of the science fiction podcast magazine Escape Pod. He no longer creates cyborg monkeys, after too many nights delivering them Prozac. His short stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Diabolical Plots,, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and more. You can find him online at benjaminckinney.com or follow him on twitter @BenCKinney.



Toasted Cake 207! In which we don't forget people.

They bonded over zombies, while at a writers' convention.

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Suvi Tausend lives in dreams and fantasies. When not working as a professional destroyer/creator of worlds and realities, she grows medicinal mushrooms and crafts jewelry. Contact her on Twitter at @SuviTausend


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Toasted Cake 206! In which we redecorate.

They were all called Barbie, and they all lived in the castle.

This story is original to Toasted Cake. Megan Lee Beals lives in Tacoma, Washington with her husband and an ancient one eyed cat. She works in a bookstore and collects hobbies like they're Pokémon. At the moment she is knitting a sweater, cutting stencils, and rebuilding a 1970's camper van with her husband. Her fiction has appeared in Cast of Wonders, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and The Iowa Review. You can find her, and a variety of illustrations for her stories on Instagram @meganbeees, or at meganleebeals.com.




Toasted Cake 205! In which we have mixed feelings about mistletoe.

"Are you sure you don't mind having a tree in the house?" Glitter's eyes flick from me to the perfectly-coiffed pine tree I'd just coaxed from our hardwood floors.

This story first appeared on the Rampant Loon.

H.L. Fullerton writes fiction--mostly about monsters, occasionally about aliens--which is sometimes published in places like Lackington's, Flash Fiction Online, and Daily Science Fiction.



Toasted Cake 204! In which we do not expect the cosmonaut.

One deca before Aphelion my pro-gens sat me and my sib down and told us that Yuri Gagarin would not be visiting us this rota.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Shannon Fay is a writer living in Nova Scotia. She can be found online at ayearonsaturn.com and on twitter at @shannonlfay.


Toasted Cake 203! In which we chase the sugar.

When I was little, I never thought about where the sweets came from.

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Eleanor R. Wood's stories have appeared in over a dozen venues, including Pseudopod, Flash Fiction Online, Deep Magic, Daily Science Fiction, Galaxy's Edge, and the Aurealis-nominated anthology Hear Me Roar. She is an associate editor at PodCastle, where she gets to feed dragons and read a lot. She writes and eats liquorice from the south coast of England, where she lives with her husband, two marvellous dogs, and enough tropical fish tanks to charge an entry fee. She blogs at creativepanoply.wordpress.com.



Toasted Cake 202! In which we pupate.

Balanced on his tail end, the prince ripples around his dungeon office. 

This story originally appeared in the anthology After the Happily Ever After: a collection of fractured fairy tales, from Transmundane Press.

KT Wagner writes speculative fiction in the garden of her home in the lower mainland of British Columbia. She enjoys day-dreaming and is a collector of strange plants, weird trivia and obscure tomes. KT can be found online at www.northernlightsgothic.com and on twitter at @KT_Wagner.




Toasted Cake #201! In which we try to order a drink.

It's not my fault. I swear he said "djinn and tonic."

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

(This story has a content warning for one use of the F word.)

Patricia lives in Austin, Texas with way too many cats and way too many chronic illnesses. Most of the cats are fosters. You can see them on Instagram at @mimsandsiggy.




Toasted Cake 200! In which we can write our own ticket.

Even with all the lights on, my room is dim. In the sunset of my life, I live in a perpetual, hazy twilight.

This story first appeared in the Stanford Anthology for Youth. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken Liu is the author of The Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (The Grace of Kings (2015), The Wall of Storms (2016), and a forthcoming third volume) and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016), a collection. He also wrote the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker (2017).



Toasted Cake 199! In which we try to stop the trolls. 

Mei's contract specified she would only get paid if both the bride and groom, along with at least fifty percent of the guests survived the wedding. 

This story first appeared in Fireside.

Aidan Doyle is an Australian writer and computer programmer. His short stories have been published in places such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and Fireside. He has been shortlisted for the Aurealis, Ditmar, and XYZZY awards. He has visited more than 100 countries and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia, and ten-pin bowling in North Korea.

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Toasted Cake #198! In which we do not do as we're told.

Sistren, I thank you all for gathering here today with me in our holiest of places, the Casbah.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

(This story has a content warning for swearing)

Emma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire in the U.K. and now lives in Midcoast Maine. She is a writer and librarian. Her stories have appeared in Wicked Haunted, a New England Horror Writers anthology and The Muse & The Flame, an anthology of bizarre romance. Her poetry has been published in The Pedestal Magazine and she was a runner-up for the 2017 Island Verse Poetry Prize. Emma lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra and M. Bison (also known as Grim). She is a member of the New England Horror Writers and the New England Speculative Writers. Her website is emmajgibbon.com.

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Toasted Cake 197! In which we stare at the nougat-filled eyeballs.

In the basement, there is candy.


This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Michelle Muenzler, known at local science fiction and fantasy conventions as "The Cookie Lady", writes fiction both dark and strange to counterbalance the sweetness of her baking. Links to her published short fiction and poetry can be found at michellemuenzler.com, and if you are feeling exceptionally brave, check out her squidgy-weird buddy adventure novella, The Hills of Meat, the Forest of Bone, on Amazon. It probably won't bite. Much.




Toasted Cake 196! In which we make the tough decisions.

He thought about declining, of course. Everyone did -- but he thought longer than most, sitting on the hard-backed orange chair of the immigration office, elbows on his knees.

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Leah Cypess is the author of four young adult fantasy novels, starting with MISTWOOD (HarperCollins 2010), and of numerous short stories. Her website is at leahcypess.com.

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Toasted Cake 195! In which we kind of really do take it personally.

"Is this accurate?" the insurance adjuster asked. "Thirteen different protection and concealment spells for a single building?"

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Curtis C. Chen's debut novel WAYPOINT KANGAROO was published in 2016 and was a finalist for the 2017 Locus Awards and Endeavour Award. The sequel, KANGAROO TOO, was published last summer. Curtis's short fiction has appeared in Playboy Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and MISSION: TOMORROW. He is a graduate of Clarion West and Viable Paradise. Find him at curtiscchen.com .

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Toasted Cake 194! In which we hatch.

If there is any justice in the world, Priscilla Reardon's associate-hatchling will be a walking, talking pile of dung.

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. She's a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cats. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.



Toasted Cake 193! In which we get help with some super minor not that murdery problems.

Dear 8B, I may have accidentally laid eggs in a human.

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Matt Mikalatos is the author of the YA novel, The Crescent Stone. Learn more at www.thesunlitlands.com.


Toasted Cake 192! In which we curl up to watch Jupiter's pyschedelic storms.

The first time, we stayed together for fifty years.

This story first appeared right here in Daily SF.
 
S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. Her novella 'Runtime,' is a Nebula Award finalist, and her short stories have been published at various magazines including Apex, Uncanny, and Tor.com. She co-edits the Hugo Award-nominated podcast, Escape Pod, with Mur Lafferty. Find her on Twitter @divyastweets or at www.eff-words.com.



Toasted Cake 191! In which we light up in technicolor.

About midnight, the party came to a crashing halt when one of the dive team seniors arrived with a case of beer.

This story first appeared right here in Daily SF.

(For those of you listening with kids, this story has a content warning for underage drinking.)

Kat Otis writes speculative fiction - everything from historical fantasy to urban fantasy, with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure. She lived a peripatetic life for almost two decades and is now rather bemused to be living in one place; she's not recycling her book boxes just yet! You can find her online at katotis.com and on twitter at @kat_otis.



Toasted Cake 190! In which we receive free age-appropriate nutrition tips.

Thank you for purchasing the TurboLuxe SmartFridge 3000.

This story first appeared right here in Gathering Storm Magazine.

Tara Campbell s a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and an MFA candidate at American University. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Strange Horizons, and Toasted Cake Podcast. Her debut novel, TreeVolution, was published in 2016, her collection, Circe's Bicycle, was released in spring 2018, and her third book, Midnight at the Organporium, will be released by Aqueduct Press in 2019. Find her at taracampbell.com


Toasted Cake 189! In which we imprint.

Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital.

This story first appeared right here in the ROBOT DINOSAURS! anthology.

Rachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, and acquired several degrees in the arts and sciences. Now she writes speculative fiction in Portland, Oregon. Her debut novella, Every River Runs to Salt, is out now with Fireside Fiction. Contrary to the rumors, she is probably not a secret android. Rachael is a World Fantasy Award nominee and Tiptree Award honoree. Her fiction has appeared in dozens of venues worldwide, including Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and all four Escape Artists podcasts. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones.



Toasted Cake 188! In which we really don't want to come across as if we're spying on our neighbors.

Warm greetings from the Oak Hills Homeowners Association!

First appeared right here in Daily SF.

Mari Ness lives in central Florida, where she keeps a wary eye out for alligators and unicorns. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous publications, including Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Apex, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, Nightmare and Daily Science Fiction. If she sees any unicorns, she will tell you on Twitter at mari_ness.



Toasted Cake 187! In which we do literary mash-ups. In space. 

After two hours of work, Daria got the space station's recycler back online without Hugh there to help her.

This story first appeared in Nature.

Rachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, and acquired several degrees in the arts and sciences. Now she writes speculative fiction in Portland, Oregon. Her debut novella, Every River Runs to Salt, will be out with Fireside Fiction in late 2018. Contrary to the rumors, she is probably not a secret android. Rachael is a World Fantasy Award nominee and Tiptree Award honoree. Her fiction has appeared in dozens of venues worldwide, including Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and PodCastle. Follow her on Twitter at @RachaelKJones.



Toasted Cake 186! In which we are willing to assemble thingamajigs.

Last night, while perusing cat pictures posted on Facebook by my sister-in-law, I saw your birth announcement from Mr. Zuckerberg, followed seventeen seconds later by your own declaration of independence and ultimatum to the people of Earth.

This story first appeared in Unidentified Funny Objects 6, edited by Alex Shvartsman.

A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken is the author of The Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series that includes The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms, and the collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. He also wrote the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker. Find him at kenliu.name.



Toasted Cake 185! In which we sing of adventure.

Grandma smelled of mushroom steaks sauteed in garlic butter and apples soaked in brandy and when she paused in her relentless movement between cooktop and sink and fridge and pantry the Oort cloud of flour settled around her teeshirt and jeans.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Clarion West 2010 alumni Jude-Marie Green's short story, ENDLESS SUMMER, will be included in the anthology Made In L.A., being released at the LA Times Festival of Books April 21/22. The book can currently be purchased from Amazon. Other recent short story sales are HANG TWENTY to Fantasy for the Throne: One Sitting Reads (ed. by Judith K. Dial and Tom Easton) and WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION to RE-Launch from Pole-To-Pole Publishing, both due out this spring. She won the Speculative Literature Foundation's Older Writers Grant in 2012. She holds proud membership in BroadUniverse, O.C. Writers (Orange County, CA writers collective), and LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fiction/Fantasy Society.) Her blog is at wordpress.judemarie.com.

Toasted Cake 184! In which we are caught with the Billy bookcase and the Darth Vader sheets.

Maxx Destruktinator bounced gently in his Poang chair and stroked the Persian as he surveyed his domain.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Jon Lasser was born in New York City. He lives and writes in Seattle, WA. He is a graduate of the Clarion West writers workshop. His stories have won the Writers of the Future contest and been shortlisted for the James White award. They have appeared or are forthcoming in Writers of the Future, Volume 32; Diabolical Plots; Galaxy's Edge; and elsewhere. When not writing or working in the tech industry, Jon plays with his children, cooks, and scuba dives. He prefers cold-water over tropical diving. Find him on the Web at twoideas.org and on Twitter as @disappearinjon.



Toasted Cake 183! In which we consider the glass and the shatter.

1. When she was old enough to know that her chest was flat, her father built a skin of glass around her. 

This story first appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly.

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam's fiction and poetry has appeared in over 40 magazines such as Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Hobart, and Everyman's Library's Monster Verse. She has been a finalist for the Nebula Award and Selected Shorts' Stella Kupferberg Memorial Prize. Her audio fiction-jazz collaborative album Strange Monsters was released from Easy Brew Studio in April 2016. You can find her online at bonniejostufflebeam.com or on Twitter at @BonnieJoStuffle.



Toasted Cake 182! In which the train steals our covers.

This morning, I woke up next to an Amtrak train.

This story first appeared right here in Fantasy Magazine.

Eden Robins lives in Chicago and will give you a very stern look if you speak disparagingly of the Midwest. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Apex, Kaleidotrope, and others, her long fiction has appeared on her hard drive, and by day she writes comedy videos for Big Pharma. She co-hosts Tuesday Funk, a monthly live lit show in Chicago, and leaves a trail of dead creative projects in her wake, including the flash fiction magazine Brain Harvest and the weekly podcast Should I Worry About This.



Toasted Cake 181! In which we monologue.

Founding members, new parishioners, and members of the media, I welcome you to the inaugural midnight mass of the First Church of Villainy.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

TJ Berry has been a political blogger, bakery owner, and spent a disastrous two weeks working in a razor blade factory. She now writes science fiction from Seattle with considerably fewer on-the-job injuries. Her debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, arrives July 2018 from Angry Robot Books. She's on Twitter at @TJaneBerry.



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