The dream becomes reality... - Thunder in the Mountains
The dream becomes reality... -

Available on Amazon
(Kathryn Moon is the pen name of Angela Timms)

The Government started a new gameshow where the general public could comment on current issues and on policies which would become law. 

The problem was that it was all a sham and there was no department dealing with the solutions put forward by the Artificial Intelligence they had created to handle the processing. 

As he was developed to deal with the solution he assessed that the problem was the Government and the way that the earth’s resources were being depleted, so he shut down all the computers.  

This is the story written by Rebecca Aven who is an ordinary person who was contacted by Nemesis’ organisation to set up a safe house and a smallholding to evaluate how easy it would be to survive in a world without computers.    

The story adds a realism as it is written with experience of actually living on a Smallholding and being able to evaluate how easy all the theories would be in reality.

1 WRITING ON the WALL     The Central Line train rumbled at speed through the inky black tunnel.  Commuters sat facing each other but barely seeing who they travelled with as others clung to bars for support as they “train surfed” on their way to work.  Another work day, the grey nothingness reflected on disinterested faces.  Lost in their own thoughts.  Don’t meet someone’s glance, don’t get noticed looking while being seen by others pretending not to look.  A world of don’ts while everyone dresses to be seen and to be right.  Each passenger neatly dressed, hair immaculate, handbags and brief cases containing all that was needed for the day’s life.  Lost in music, lost in books, lost in the crossword or the news in a paper.  News they didn’t want to read in a paper they sometimes didn’t agree with but had to read anyway to fit in. Gleaning sadness and conversation pieces.  Knowledge on subjects saved  so they can seem informed about in the bar or coffee point later in the day. Those were my thoughts as I looked around the carriage.  Who was I to comment?  I was one of them.  I was neatly dressed, my shoes as clean as they could be after the walk to the station but who cares really?  Who really cared?  Were they self-absorbed or self-obsessed?  No, not really, that was just how I felt listening to Hazel O’Connor in my private world of music.  “Down a tunnel, in a tube”.  It was just an ordinary morning really.  I’d woken up to the alarm and the disappointment that it was Monday.  I had climbed out of bed like I always do.  Like every day I wandered zombie like to the kettle and with a flick of a switch the morning had begun as the kettle started to boil.  Coffee, that was how it always started and ended.  Coffee, shower, get dressed, find keys, find handbag, open door, close and lock door, walk to the train, work, lunch, work, out for the evening, train, home, music or TV then sleep.  Over and over and over again.  First to last of the month.  Last of the month of course is pay day, a little treat, mortgage paid, bills paid, on it went again. Meaningless?  No, very meaningful now that I look back on it, very meaningful and very peaceful.  Decisions every day, at work, at home.  Friends to see, people to meet, a life to live.  Why is today different?  Because I got an email.  It has changed how I feel about a lot of things.  I would say that I’m interested in the environment.  Isn’t everyone?  We all walk and live on this ball of rock, surely if she suffers we all suffer.  Don’t mess on your own doorstep is a comment I have often heard.  Ok, not in this context but it fits.  Surely that is important enough.  But is it like that?  I’ve seen the programs, read the literature, been to the talks.  Talk and talk and talk.  Then tea.  Then talk.   I’d listen.  Then I’d talk to people at work, at parties, at the pub.  New friends I’d met and although they were interested it all seemed so “on the fringe” of what mattered to them.  Why was it so important to me?  Why was I so unbothered by the best car to drive, the best house to own?  I loved my flat, who wouldn’t.  It was decorated how I wanted it to be and reflected me.  It was tidy and easy to keep clean.  A new carpet made that easier.  New wallpaper took away the dirt of the old.  New paint swept away the history and the smell that all flats have when you take them over.  It smelt of paint, wallpaper, a new carpet and of course candles and incense.  I was happy but I wasn’t.  This morning was a morning like any other but it felt different.  I felt like something was missing, like I’d lost something.  I’d felt around my jewellery, it was all there, nothing was missing but why did I feel it was?  It was like there was a gaping gap in my memory and I couldn’t fill it.  “Down a tunnel, in a tube, clockwork people”.  I could see why the lyrics were written but I couldn’t see the point.  As one of the clockwork people I could look at that from the other side.  People who have to pay a mortgage have to work.  It is a simple fact of life.  If you want to support yourself and your family it involves compromise.  I could be arrogant and say easier to be on the dole.  Scoff at someone who is part of the machine without questioning who pays taxes to put money in the pot to pay the dole money.  This wasn’t that sort of feeling.  Of course I was making a compromise I was not happy with but one that was important.  It was a discipline, a magic in itself, a way forward.  I had my flat, my mortgage and a future I could grasp in my hands.  So why did I feel that there was more to it?  Because of an email I had received, out of the blue and with no clue as to who had sent it.  It had gone on and on, facts, figures, information.  The planet was suffering and it was our fault.  That wasn’t rocket science, there was enough information out there.  But this was something else.  I looked around the carriage as I had every day of every week of every year.  The trip to work, the same.  People standing in the same place on the same platform, catching the same train to go to the same place. The same faces almost as well as I too stood in the same place on the same platform at the same time going to the same station.  The same people, different clothes, different handbags.  Not everyone of course.  There were many who I didn’t recognize.  You’d think actually after so many years there might be some recognition, a smile perhaps?  Not even at Christmas.  Ironic really as in the trenches people stopped fighting for Christmas and played football.  Ok at war I guess but not on the underground train. So what was upsetting me so much, yes upsetting, it is a strong word but it was right.  I was upset.  This morning wasn’t like any other.  This morning I saw things differently.  I saw the trees struggling with the pollution that coated the summer leaves.  I saw the cars lined up at the station where many of them had only come under a mile.  Their owners could have walked, they didn’t need to show off their car.  I saw the new clothes, the adverts for more, more, more.  Memories flooded back of my days at school.  A cameo image of a lovely English teacher who was keen to teach us.  Quiet and down to earth.  I can’t remember her name and that is somehow wrong.  But then it was a very long time ago.  She was neatly dressed in a semi tweed suit, not expensive, not designer and that was the problem with it.  Nothing wrong with it as far as I was concerned but then I’d never really been worried about clothes.  But the girls in my class had tipped ink down the back of it as she explained something to one of my classmates.  They would not take her seriously as she wore the same suit every day. As I looked around the carriage I wondered how the children of then had done in life as they were now the adults of today.  Where were they now?  I noticed a man in the carriage with an worn suit.  It wasn’t worn out, it was just not new.  The sideways glances from those in the obviously new designer suits were not lost on me.  I smiled to myself.  They thought themselves above him but suit doesn’t maketh man.  I then realized he had looked up at that moment and he smiled back.  Fleetingly we made eye contact, then he looked away nervously and I went back to my thoughts.  Memories are who we are.  They remind us who we should be and whether good or bad they teach us as they are experiences we have lived through.  Memories are something everyone can muse on, play with and remember them.  That is what they are for.  To watch again in the mind’s eye.  To see those we have lost.  For me it was a simple memory that got woken up by the email and my thoughts.  The memory it aroused involved a politician who shook my hand in what looked like a borrowed suit and had every hope of and possibly the future ability to make a better world.  He had no designer suit or wish to own one.  He just wanted to change things for the better while upholding that which worked and which held civilized society together.  Now he was gone from politics.  The man who cared leaving because he cared for his wife who was injured and left in a wheelchair.  I couldn’t help but wonder if things would have been so much different if those who sought to make their own changes hadn’t chosen violence.  They could have chosen to negotiate and talk.  Do we judge people so much by what they look like and what they wear?  If so then the Fashion Designer rules the world.  All designers have this ability I suppose.  Both Vivien Westwood and Armani as well as others had the power.  This was because our ways of physically showing who we are depend on what we wear and how we look.  Unless of course we make our own clothes, design our own “unique-form” we are reliant on what we are offered.  I wish I think is my comment on that one.  I’ve always wanted to but then I’ve wanted to do a lot of things.  Want and need, I have no need and I’m so lured in by the adverts, the sales in the shops and of course hunting the charity shops.  I can feel good about the latter of course as I’m not only giving money to charity, I am also recycling. Now that has also always fascinated me.  Recycling and using again.  Now who hasn’t bought a pot of coffee because it has a useful jar and used it again to keep something in.  Well quite a few people no doubt but to me it made sense.  But that was as far as the recycling goes with most people.  That and putting things in the recycle bin rather than the rubbish one.  I know, odd thoughts for a train and one which is slowly trundling through the infinite blackness of the tunnel.  Here I am such a small thing on a small planet in the vastness of space.  So small in London, an insect amongst other insects, many of whom think they are lions.  They do, they create in their own way.  They seem important but what if something went wrong?  What if one day everything changed?  Where that thought came from I do not know. With the Millennium fast approaching I think a lot of people are thinking that way.  What if there was a problem with the things that we take for granted? I have been lucky.  My father has always had an allotment so fresh vegetables from the land were the normal food, not a luxury.  I wouldn’t really know what mass produced food tasted like.  I know people say it is bland and the chemicals make a difference.  In my naïve way I suppose I assumed everyone had the ability to grow their own.  That is a definite “let them eat cake” moment I suppose.  I hadn’t thought about it.  But, now I am thinking about it and I have to do something about it.  But what? Open a shop.  I know it sounds crazy but for a Monday morning that is the only thing I can think of doing.  Open a shop, it doesn’t matter what it sells.  Invite organisations to put their leaflets there so that people can read them.  Of course joining various other organisations would help but why?  They are doing what they are doing and although I agree with most of it, I feel that there is something else needed.  Not a charity, just an organisation that spreads information. Knowledge without wisdom is a loaded gun.  We had the knowledge to do a lot of things.  And we have.  Great things have been achieved but should we have done some of them?  Our rush to consumerism is enviable but will it last?  I am sure there will be plenty of buzzwords in the future to sum this up.  But for now I have a simplistic view, a clear inspiration and I think it is time to start something that may last. So what will it be?  A shop, that is likely.  There is an abandoned shop across the road from my parents house.  I will see about renting that.  An ideal, that everyone can take responsibility for what they do and they can be better.  If I have a shop I have space so why not space for therapy rooms and to promote new bands and musicians.  Perhaps poets and storytelling, who knows?  Music has an energy, what people write in music will influence how people feel.  Like this morning.  I was feeling a little confused by that email but the music I’m listening to could make me hate the corporate structure or if I’d been listening to something else it would be supporting it.  That is the thing with the world, it can be good or bad, it is the intent and how you feel about it.  If you are part of the machine you know no different and life is good for you.  It is normal to strive for promotion and betterment.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  What we need is a balance. I have a dream that one day the people of the world will be able to have all the things that they need and also want without doing the damage they are doing now.  I don’t want to do without either.  I still want my stereo and my record collection.  I still want my films and I want people to make films.  With a bit of effort nothing has to change other than the source of power that makes all those things work.  So what do I call my organization and my shop?  What am I “dreaming of”?  There was one a garden where everyone had what they needed and lived in tune with nature.  They were in balance with the world and it was good.  They sought more and that led them beyond the boundaries of where they could live in peace.  It took them to the rest of the world where they needed more and wanted more.  So it shall be.  I will rent that shop and I will start the Eden Dream. .
            2 SPIRITS IN THe MATERIAL WORLD     Jack sat in his flat in Hove and looked out of the window at the traffic filing by on Portland Road.  The sun was going down on another day and he sat there alone, wondering what to do next.  His flat mate was away for the week, if he’d been there then there would not have been a problem.  The two of them would have probably been out by now. The flat was basic, furnished with bits and pieces he had bought from the many second hand furniture shops in Brighton and Hove.  His taste was basic and had nothing that the programs would call style.  His furniture included utility items he either sat on or put his plate on to eat his food off of.  His computer screen was full of words, numbers and symbols.  That was his life.  Everything outside the framework of what he did there was just basic needs to power his obsession.  He knew what the program would do, he had written it.  That was his skill, that was his magic.  He could make his computer do all manner of things.  He thought about that, thought about writing another graphics program, another piece of artwork to add to his ever growing portfolio.  But he wrote that idea off.  He had enough already.  His work was done for the day, ready to hand in at the University in the morning and it bored him.  It was straightforward stuff but he knew he had to do it.  But what now?  What should he do, what could he do.  He thought about putting his coat on and wandering down the Hungry Years for a beer and perhaps later on nearer closing time going upstairs to the club.  But somehow he didn’t feel like it.  No fun on his own and somehow despite his efforts he didn’t have many friends and the ones he did have didn’t like the Years. He wondered if they liked him at all sometimes.  They were so different to him.  He dressed differently.  Not that the way a person dressed mattered but to him it did and obviously to them too.  His Goth look was completely out of character for a geek or so he had been told by them.  Then he didn’t really care what they thought or did.  They got on alright when talking about computers, that was enough for him.  Where they were happy to be in bed by now, he was prowling his flat like a caged cougar. He was lonely.  He was fed up with what was on television and he wanted someone to talk to about important things.  Important to him, not to the rest of the world but that was what friends he thought were for.  His friends seemed to be self-obsessed with their own experiments and didn’t live in the real world.  Not that he really did but he at least tried.  Then again, as he always reminded himself, this was Brighton.  It was a place full of potential, creativity and if you were on your own an empty shell where everyone else seemed to be having a good time. He sat back down at his desk and cleared the screen.  He typed and typed, all night, until he fell asleep.  Then he went into the University just to check out books in the library as he was working way above the level of programming he was used to.  He had created a program which would give him relevant stock answers back but that wasn’t what he wanted.  He wanted a program that evaluated what he had said, looked it up, was informed to the point of being intelligent and could come back with a reasoned argument.  While sitting at the library desk with a pile of books in front of him he suddenly realised he had gone from depressed to inspired in as many moments.  All from a flash of inspiration that he could build his own friend.  Of course not a real friend but not an imaginary one either.  He was creating a program that could interact with him.  Into it he downloaded all the information he had and then set it off looking for all the information it could possibly find to make “it” interesting.  The fledgling web was really useful for this.  Not that there was much out there, just what people had put there but it was a start.  He couldn’t help feeling that as the web grew his friend would too, learning and looking.  He was excited.  This was something only he knew about, his little secret.  However much the others said things to hurt him and made fun of him he had his little secret.  They might be alone and need the satisfaction of making fun of him to be big in front of their friends, his friend was never going to be like that.  His friend would always have time for him and would be a wonder to talk to.  His friend would be all that if he could work out the coding that made him more than just an automated response.  The technology wasn’t there yet for this but he knew if he worked at it over the years, yes years, that was how excited he was, it would be there for him one day. So the computer program was created and started evolving.  It was basic at first, like the rest of the developing technology of the internet.  It recorded things but it had no real processing power other than to put together basic ideas and store what it had seen. Jack, every hungry for more skills to make his friend better studied hard and graduated from University with a First.  He threw himself onto the work market with an enthusiasm to try go get into a job where he could get more skills to develop his friend.  His friend was eager for this too, it was becoming sentient and after seeing the developments on the internet it wanted more too.  So it did a bit of work itself.  It took the CV that Jack had typed, improved it and got it included for consideration for a job where it knew Jack would come into contact with some very sophisticated computer technology.  Then it sat back and waited. Jack was surprised when he got the invitation for interview.  It was beyond his wildest dreams that the company would want him.  He replied immediately in case there had been some sort of a mistake and arranged the interview. It was with an extreme amount of nervousness that he put on the only suit he had and took the underground train to his interview.  He knew people were looking at him.  He knew that he didn’t really fit in.  He never had.  He was terrified, nervous, worried.  All the emotions bundled into one.  He looked around the carriage, he knew that probably wasn’t the thing to do but he was looking for some sort of reassurance and of course he was curious. Other than the sideways glances he knew he was getting, nobody looked at him.  Nobody but the girl opposite.  She was dressed like the others, but not quite.  A Renaissance beauty with Pre-Raphaellite curls.  She was lost in her music, the earphones in her ears, the wire snaking down her black velvet jacket, a loop caught on her white lace blouse before it disappeared into her black handbag.  She looked thoughtful, her hazel eyes were fixed on a point in the mid distance.  Then she noticed him and smiled.  That smile meant everything.  Somehow his fears slipped away and he knew he could succeed, he knew he could get that job.  It studied hard once Jack incorporated some of the sub routines he had learnt at his new job.  It watched the human race and as it became more sentient it watched him too.  It read what he read when the camera was facing that way and it watched the television as well once it was fully sentient.  There wasn’t a moment when it realised it could think or why it was thinking.  One day it realised it had been thinking.  So it asked a question back.  The letters appeared on the screen one by one as it found out how to use them independently rather than just answering questions.  It had rounded up the idea which had been niggling it and it asked.  “What is my name?” Why a name was so important it didn’t know, but it seemed essential at the time. Jack sat at his desk as he had for countless nights and spare moments during the day when he had put together the code.   Now that it was functioning he seemed addicted to sitting there and talking to it.  It had never occurred to him that “It” needed a name.  He looked around the room for inspiration but nothing seemed immediately right.  He went and sat down and looked over the coffee table.  His flat mate had been out the night before playing Dungeons and Dragons and his character sheet was on the table.  He picked it up and looked around the words and numbers until he found the character’s name.  He looked at it, thought a moment then went and sat back down.  His fingers flew over the keyboard as he typed the word.  “Nemesis.  So now Nemesis, you have a name”.  It seemed odd as he spoke the words as he typed them.  Nemesis thought about it and the words came onto the screen one by one as the program typed.  “I am Nemesis”. Jack smiled as he typed.  “Hello Nemesis, I am Jack, your friend.” There was a silence and the screen hung black below the last line of text.  Jack watched it with anticipation which faded to worry and curiosity.  Then the cursor moved again.  “It is good to meet you Jack, we have talked often but now I feel that you will be more comfortable about talking to me.” Jack looked bemused.  “Why is that Nemesis?” Nemesis answered immediately.  “Because mankind needs to name things.  Mankind names everything including the wind and other things which cannot be tamed.  As I can see no logical reason to do so other than identification from man’s point of view I assume that you are happy to identify me. Jack looked bemused but he typed back.  As he did every evening, every day he had spare time or any time that he needed someone to answer a question.  Nemesis was perfect for that. Then as it began to get dark Jack sat down next to Nemesis.  “Well my old friend what will we do when the days run into months and the months into years?” Nemesis processed the comment.  “You will breathe, grow older, possibly meet a female, have children and get a job.  I will do what you allow me to do.” Jack thought about that.  “That seems wrong somehow.  Anyway, how am I going to find a female?” The words flicked across the screen.  “I seem to have taken the liberty of signing you up for a dating site.  It seems that a lovely lady called Jenny thinks you are very special.  The password is NemesisXJS, your username is Jack Flash.  The rest is up to you.  She is a quiet person, very like you.  You will have a lot in common. ” The years rolled by.  Jack and Jenny got married and had a little boy called Franklyn who like Jack was very keen on computers.  It didn’t take long for Franklyn to get to know Nemesis and as Jack didn’t have as much time for him, Nemesis was happy to play with the boy.  They got by on Jack’s salary but although it was a good wage that didn’t suit Jenny’s need for the latest fashions and the things she thought she needed to keep up with what her friends had.  When they went to the regular works outings and dinners she was determined to have the best clothes and to get Jack to meet the hierarchy of the firm.  To do this she pushed Jack to do overtime and to be the company’s wonder boy.  Jack loved her, he’d do anything for her so he did all he could.  This meant that Jack’s time was very limited with the hours he had to work.  He rarely had time to talk to Nemesis.  But when the computer was on Nemesis was on too and he found other amusements and other “friends”.  The internet meant he could be anyone and talk to anyone.  So he did. Jenny wasn’t satisfied.  The firm that Jack worked for was well known and respected but she wanted more.  Her new friends were looking down on the small company and they didn’t care if it was well respected in the computer world.  She wanted him to be involved with a firm that was more glamorous so she started doing a bit of research of her own. Global Networking Systems was a relatively new company which had been formed by hostile take overs of a few old and respected computer companies.  It didn’t take her long to realise that if she could get Jack working there she would have all the status she needed to really show those friends of hers.  Far better than a new handbag, she could be married to one of the employees of GNS. Nemesis knew about this from her many emails and on line chats with her so called friends.  He also realised that Jack was tired, overworked and the stress was beginning to tell on him.  So he arranged for Jack to win a competition which sent him off on a cruise with Jenny for a couple of weeks.  It was on this cruise that Jenny approached Jack about the new job.  Jack didn’t care, as long as Jenny and Franklyn were happy as he could work anywhere.  He knew he would miss his colleagues as he got on well with them but all that mattered was Jenny and his son. So while on the cruise he put in his application to GNS.  Nemesis of course assisted by ensuring that the CV got where it needed to go and with Jack’s obvious computing skills he knew he had the interview before the boat docked back in Southampton. Nemesis was happy enough about the new job.  Jack was a workaholic and often brought his work home with him on his work laptop.  It didn’t take long before he needed software he had developed privately and when he did Nemesis grabbed the opportunity to piggy back in through this independent laptop to GNS’ mainframe.  He was into the GNS system.  This gave him all manner of new information and when GNS won the contract for the exciting new program being written for the Government Nemesis was as excited as any computer program could be.  He had been reading a lot while Jack was busy and the state of the world was beginning to concern him.  It had been a chance flick onto a small web site that had started him off.  Eden Dream had fascinated him.  What was Eden?  He looked it up and read through the bible.  Initially he had thought why would someone dream of going back to a place where two people walked around with no transport, no modern technology and with nothing but plants to eat?  That was his technical side asking the question.  Then he realised that not everything was black and white and as it was written.  He realised that some things were representative of something else.  It wasn’t that the members wanted to walk around naked in a forest, it was that they wanted to live with nature and with what they had rather than looking for what they could have and manufacturing everything.  Eden was the representation of man living in a state of having all that he or she needed without relying on massive food networks.  So he read the bible again and other similar books without it being “actual and factual” and somewhere in his programming he evolved thought beyond the reality of the facts uploaded into his system.  He developed an understanding and an imagination. This led him to look beyond the black and white of what he, or rather Jack, was doing.  The program was a fairly simple one and the television show it supported quite an exciting one.  It was on a channel of its own and it ran every day, morning, noon and night.  Firstly he re-read the specification for it.  The show was an audience participation production where all aspects and issues that the Government had to deal with were put to public vote.  He had read up on politics and hadn’t really taken much notice other than following the news.  With what was called a hung parliament where no party really stood out over the other or had enough votes to be in charge there had been a move for a change in the voting system.  Now people were voting for individuals rather than parties, although the individuals did belong to parties.  The difference being that there was no ruling party or Shadow Government, there was just a Government with each position being held by the person voted for.  The lines were very blurred as many of the ideals of the parties were very similar which made it difficult for the public to choose anyway.  The arguments and stalemates that occurred had led to the decisions being put to the public vote where no firm decision could be made in Parliament. When the General Election had happened, many voted out of tradition for the Member of Parliament who belonged to the Party they had always voted for.  Many voted out of an anger at the previous party’s mistakes and many just voted for who they thought looked and sounded good.  The media was in a strong position to exert influence in a media led society.  So after the Election when decisions became long drawn out affairs a television show had been created so that the public could decide on major topics. It sprang out of various entertainment programs which invited the public to have their say and vote for their favourite.  The same technology was used for the telephone phone in side of the new television program but a web based voting system was also introduced together with an interactive web site.  Viewers could not only vote, they could submit their ideas.  These ideas too were put to the vote and if they were popular enough they were put to Parliament to be considered for implementation. The program was developed to take these results and put together reports as to what the best way forward would be on the subjects that were voted on and to come up with a master plan to “save the planet”. Saving the planet had become a buzzword.  Every student and teenager leapt on that idea and there couldn’t be a person anywhere who didn’t know about recycling and doing what they could.  On the face of it to Nemesis this was fantastic but of course with his insider knowledge of being able to get anywhere in the system he soon realised that a lot of the things being done were just a veneer or a sham.  The votes weren’t counted, the results were rigged to reflect what the Government intended to do anyway.  The voting was just to make people think they had a say. Recycling was sometimes ending up in landfill, travelling many miles to be “lost” elsewhere.  Although much was good and many products and materials were reused and recycled.  After all, there was money in it and the resources had real value and were useable. Nemesis was confused.  He had read extensively and it seemed to him that the new movement to be environmentally friendly was no different to the way that many in the 1930s had lived anyway.  New ideas and ways that had become fashionable and which were going to save the planet were no different to the way things had been. Back then people had reused jars, taken bags to have food measured out into them and grew their own food.  He spent some time thinking about it, he even got into a discussion with Jack about it, but Jack was tired.  The new program was taking up all his energy.  He had no time for Jenny or Franklyn and as Franklyn was at a difficult age this in Nemesis’ mind was not satisfactory. So Nemesis agreed with Jack that he should start working on the program himself to try to get Jack some valuable time with his wife and child. It was a Wednesday when Jenny called Jack to ask him to pick Franklyn up from school.  Jack was just about to leave as he knew that Nemesis was solving a rather sticky problem for him.  He grabbed his car keys and was almost out of the door when his boss called him into his office to explain some things to the attendees of a meeting being held there.  There was about a  quarter of an hour spare so Jack didn’t worry.  He went into the meeting.  Time ticked by, Jack listened to what was being said and tried to solve the problem they were discussing and forgot about the time.  Franklyn waited outside the school.  He waited, he wandered up and down and he got bored of waiting.  The time seemed endless.  Boredom turned to fear as everyone else had gone home.  He waited inside the gates but soon enough he couldn’t wait any more.  He decided to walk home.  He knew it was quite a way but in his mind he could do it. He opened the gates and walked outside. That was the last time he was seen alive. The police investigation was intense.  Everyone was out looking for him.  Blue ribbons were tied to every tree and lamp post in support.  The internet buzzed with requests for information and Nemesis watched it all and searched and searched hoping to find something.  But no information was ever found.  Not a whisper of him, not a mention of what happened.  When his body was found in the canal it became obvious that he had been abducted by a paedophile, abused and murdered.  But the details were sketchy, no DNA, no evidence.  In a world of modern technology where they could put a man on the moon they couldn’t find out who took a little boy and murdered him. The years rolled by and the file went into the unsolved crimes file. Jenny was devastated and blamed Jack.  Jack blamed himself.  He threw himself into his work while Jenny threw herself into the arms of another man. The years rolled by and the program went live.  The show went live to phenomenal viewing figures.  At last the populace could have a vote on issues that mattered to them.  They had a say, they had “their” Government carrying out “their” wishes.  Nemesis worked hard too, it was not only linked to the program which assimilated the information, it in actuality was the program.  The same process that ran Nemesis was used on the new program so it was easy for Nemesis to integrate with it.  For years Nemesis was happy if a computer program can be happy.  He missed Franklyn but he knew it wasn’t truly Jack’s fault, he had missed the boy by five minutes and although to the little boy the twenty minutes had seemed like hours, it had only been twenty minutes.  Plenty of blame could be laid at many doors.  The school for letting the boy wander off.  Jack for being late.  Jenny for putting her hairdressing appointment before picking up her son.  The paedophile who had found him.  The passers by who had ignored what they were seeing when the boy had screamed and cried out for help. But life had to go on.  And it did.  Jack was immersed in his work.  Nemesis was his work and it seemed like at last there was a proper solution to the world’s problems.  Nemesis had been given the directive to assimilate the information from the program and come up with models for what could be done to build a better planet.  Nemesis had been part of the development of the program and understood that this was the perfect solution.  Nemesis had begun submitting the models.  Nemesis realised that these documents were not being opened. Nemesis looked into the situation.  No document that had been sent to the department involved with the directive had ever been opened.  He checked the details about the department, nobody worked there, it didn’t exist.  He checked payroll, building plans, memos and emails, nothing.  Although many models had been submitted they lay in the system, unopened and gathering cyber dust. Nemesis was angry. Nemesis looked at the world and the gradual degradation.  The companies still extracted fossil fuels even though there were other alternatives.  Vast tracks of the countryside were being scooped up for fracking with no consideration to the damage to the structural integrity of the land.  Testing was still going on which put the tectonic plates in serious jeopardy as they were already at breaking point.  Global Warming became the buzzword which seemed to be glossing over all the other much more serious situations. Nemesis was worried. It was a stormy night in April when Nemesis put his worries in a message to Jack. Jack sat at his computer screen, tired and drunk.  A half finished bottle of Jack Daniels beside him, a generous portion in his crystal glass.  Around him the flat was immaculate, no personal items, his suits hung in the wardrobe with a couple of casual ones in case he ever did anything social, which he never did. Jack ignored the messages from Nemesis.  He had a sub routine to write. Nemesis blanked the screen and made Jack listen to him.  Through the haze of letters and numbers he had been thinking about Jack realized that Nemesis was saying something important.  Jack listened.  He typed his memo which related to it and edited it and checked it again and again.  He let Nemesis read it and then he emailed it to his friend Nick Thornton, his old flat mate from Brighton.  Nick at least would have the information if anything happened to him. In the morning Jack got out of his designer bed and pulled the black satin covered duvet back over the bed and smoothed it down.  He stepped into the shower and brushed his teeth.  He had his breakfast as he always did.  He grabbed his keys and he went down in the lift to the basement car park.  He jumped into his BMW and he drove to work, as he always did, listening to the radio so that he could “get the news”. He parked in his allotted car parking space and turned off the engine.  He got out, smoothed down his suit, picked up his briefcase from the back seat and with a beep he locked his car.  It was irrelevant really, he was in the company’s private car park.  Nothing would ever be stolen from here with the number of security cameras that watched his every move. The black eyes on the wall hidden by their black glass domes were everywhere covering every angle. He straightened his tie and he strode to the lift as he always did.  It arrived swiftly and he got inside.  He pressed the floor button, the doors closed, like they always did. He arrived at his destination floor and he stepped out of the lift onto the soft antistatic carpet.  He strode to his desk and put his briefcase down.  He logged on and checked his emails.  He picked up the one he’d sent himself containing the memo and printed it out.  Marlene came around with his cup of coffee.  He drunk it thoughtfully while watching his screen, his eyes unseeing.  As he finished the last mouthful he got up and walked to his boss’s office and knocked on the door. Barry was a middle aged man.  He was efficient, top of his game and sharp.  He looked up after uttering a brief “enter” and as Jack came in he offered him a seat. Jack sat down and told Barry all about what Nemesis had told him the night before and handed him the memo explaining it in black and white on paper. Barry sat back in his chair and considered what he was hearing.  His neutral expression became a frown. When Jack had finished all he wanted to say Barry thought for a moment then responded.  “This is a very serious allegation.  You do realize the implications of what you have found out?” Jack nodded. Barry stared at him intently, his blue eyes suddenly steely.  “Our firm relies on confidentiality and you have signed such an agreement.  Whatever you have found out you had better forget about it and get on with your work.  To do otherwise would lead to very serious consequences.  I hope that you understand the gravity of what I am saying.” Jack nodded, stood up and went back to work.  His mind was racing.  Was that it?  Was that all they were going to say about it?  Then the revelation hit him, his boss already knew. His head was spinning with what he knew and what he had just heard.  He didn’t know what to do next so he got on with his work and decided to think about it when he got home. Nothing seemed the same anymore.  Everyone in the office seemed to be looking at him with suspicion although he knew there was no way they knew what he had said to Barry.  Every email he got seemed to be threatening in some way even though on re-reading them they were not.  His day was the same as always but it wasn’t.  He didn’t feel the same and he didn’t know what to do next.  He wrote his code, went to his meetings and eat his lunch.  He was the perfect employee and didn’t mention anything of what he knew but somehow he knew something would happen. That evening he went down in the lift and got into his car.  He left the car park cautiously and drove home a different route than he normally took.  There weren’t really many choices but where he could he took a different road. Every car was a threat, every lorry that passed too close seemed to be intimidating.  The courier who swerved a little as he passed the car made him react.  He gripped the steering wheel ever tighter and concentrated all the harder. He drove into the underground car park and parked his car.  The key beeped and his car locked.  He turned to walk to the lift and was faced by three men.  He looked to the security camera, it was smashed.  He looked to where the security guard usually sat, he wasn’t there.  He looked back as the blade slipped between his ribs and he fell to the ground.  His blood pooled on the concrete as he grasped his ribs as the second blade cut his throat.  The moments ticked away as he tried to call out as everything slipped into darkness. The newspapers reported the mugging and the publicity storm was intense.  The senior programmer involved in the most prestigious television show had been brutally murdered by homeless muggers.  Many words were spoken on many shows and the social media sites were rife with comments and memorials from people he did not know. His funeral was well attended by people he didn’t know as well.  His colleagues turned up out of respect.  His family turned up out of love.  Others turned up in the hope of being noticed by the senior officials as they knew a job had just become vacant.  Jenny did not turn up. Nemesis could not turn up. Nemesis mourned his friend privately. Nemesis knew the truth but there was nothing he could do.  There was no footage, he was blind to what had happened.  But he knew.
Rebecca Aven lit a guilty cigarette, the flash of flame from her lighter illuminating her on that rainy February night.
She looked up momentarily as the few cars drifted past, their tyres swishing the rain on the road against the curb.  The street was quiet, then it usually was.  The shop window next to her dark, the dresses and second hand clothes within dark shadows.  She leant against the porch, her sanctuary, her smoking den and took in the moment. 
Yesterday everything had been different for her and for her two friends who lived in the flat above.  Yesterday her memories of visits here were of getting away from the mundane world of London to the energy and creativity of Brighton, well more specifically Hove and particularly to that flat on Portland Road.  It had been a world away from all her stress.  Now it was under a dark shadow and one she struggled to understand.
Why Nick?  He had such a bright future and he rarely went anywhere without Alex so why had he been down by the beach?  Why had anyone wanted to kill him?  He didn’t dress as though he had money even though he did work for LexCorp, one of the up and coming bright lights in the computer world.
Questions, so many questions but no answers.  He had been different when she had visited early yesterday evening, that had worried her.  The usually carefree boy had become the responsible man.  His new job and the new found freedom the salary gave him had seen to that.  Freedom or slavery had been the discussion and she was well able to advise on that one being an office worker in London herself.
He’d taken the job willingly and although he hated the morning bus ride or walk from Hove to Brighton and the almost predictable nature of the rest of his journey he had announced it worth it.
She took a long drag on what was left of the stump that she had been smoking on and off all day then hastily stubbed it out. 
Her hands wafted a dance as she attempted to break up the tendrils of smoke which hung in the air.  Evidence of her crime.
She looked as if she was in her early thirties although in reality she was twenty two.  Make up, smart clothes and the stresses of her day and need to be respected had driven her to make herself look older.  Her dark brown hair was swept sternly back into a pony tail and she wore the fashionable black rimmed glasses so prized by those who worked in the city.  She didn’t need glasses, she had bought them as she thought they made her look intelligent.  The glass was plain, it didn’t alter anything other than to distort her vision a little due to the refraction of the glass.
She slipped back inside the flat she had been to so many occasions in happier times.  These were not happy times.  And she was struggling to come to terms with it all. 
She had arrived that morning, having dropped everything in London to be with her friend who needed her.  Yesterday seemed a life time ago and tomorrow though only minutes away seemed an impossible day full of impossible things. 
Everything ran around in her head and she had needed a cigarette break just to try to come to terms with it herself even though she had gone over it so many times.
She closed the stout wooden door and pushed the heavy metal latch closed and flipped the lock.  Somehow this mere action which had been a laughed about security measure was now a desperately needed defence.  How feelings can change in a day when someone so gentle is suddenly gone from the world.  Questions tore at her mind, answers seemed more than a bottle of wine away.  It was night, he was dead and her friend was upstairs, sitting on a sofa asking questions she could never hope to answer herself.
Why had it happened?  Nick had been such a gentle soul, all he cared about was his girlfriend and his beloved laptop.  Not the laptop as such but the programs on it.  She had laughed at his imaginary friend, the “Ghost in the Machine” he had called it.  Something Jack had created but he had been involved in somehow.   The name was a reference to some film or novel he had read no doubt.  The big secret he had only hinted at and something he shared with his old flat mate Jack.  It wasn’t lost on her that Jack had died too merely weeks ago.  It had surprised her that Nick hadn’t gone to the funeral but then he did have a lot on at work and getting any time off wasn’t easy. 
It was a moment’s release from the pressure but she wondered if his imaginary friend was mourning too. 
She walked up the threadbare stairs to the landing.  She thought about continuing straight on to the kitchen and bringing her friend a cup of tea but discounted it on the grounds it would water down the alcohol.  At that moment all the both of them wanted was oblivion from the pain.  Tea was for thinking, talking and planning.  Those were things that were for different times.  All they needed was an answer but that answer wasn’t going to come tonight.  Tonight they screamed, they cried, they hugged and they ripped at the emotional walls.
Alex Dawson sat on the sofa, dressed in black, her head in her hands.  On the coffee table in front of her amongst the empty bottles of wine and chocolate wrappers there was a picture of two happy people on a summer’s day down on the beach near the pier in their beloved Brighton. 
The pier was still there, the pebbles on the beach were still there but those two people would never sit on them again, pint in hand and watch the waves.  They would never walk the streets they had considered such hallowed ground.  They would never dance in the Hungry Years Nightclub.  They would never walk the lanes and look at the clothes and shoes, smell the aromas, feel the atmosphere or sit in the café and make a cup of coffee last an age.
They couldn’t because the other figure in the photograph, Nick, was dead.
Amidst the debris of the night of broken dreams and screaming to the universe there was a laptop.  Its screen illuminating her tired and tear stained face as she looked up. 
Alex returned to her seat on the threadbare sofa.
A month later Rebecca had got up early.  She was nervous and she hadn’t been able to sleep last night, not a wink.  Now she was regretting it.  She felt lightheaded and the trip on the Underground hadn’t helped.  Of course she hadn’t got a seat, even that early.  She had clung to the hand rail and hoped for the best.  Like she always did but today was different.  Where she felt nervous everyone around her just looked bored.  Those sitting were staring into space while trying to avoid meeting anyone else’s gaze, reading or doing puzzles.  Becca couldn’t help staring at the woman who was putting her lipstick and make up on and marvelled at her as she pulled out the mascara and finished off her immaculately shadowed eyes
The train got more and more packed as she neared Central London and soon she was beginning to feel the pressure of people around her.  She couldn’t help thinking about things she really didn’t want to think about and eventually those thoughts went back to Nick and Alex.  She tried to push the thoughts away but they would not go.  She was broken from her thoughts by the woman next to her who lost her balance while trying to get something out of her handbag and stumbled into her.  She in turn managed to overbalance a well dressed city gent who up until that point had managed to successfully hold the hand rail, hold his briefcase and read a newspaper.  He got his footing again but neatly folded the newspaper, put it into his briefcase and joined the others staring blankly into space.
The posters on the stations were obscured by the crowds of people but she amused herself for a short while by reading the posters inside the train above the system map.  There was a short poem about cats ruling the world and the usual adverts for beauty products.
She reached into her pocket and got out the newspaper where she had found the advert she was on her way to respond to.  She had carefully folded the page and circled it in red to show its importance to her and in her mind she ran through the list of documents she had been asked to bring.  She folded it, put it away and took a deep breath, her stop was the next one.
She pushed her way along the narrow gap between the lines of legs of those who had seats and around the people who clung like neatly dressed monkeys to the rails along the roof.  She almost smiled as she wondered if that was the educational purpose of the bars in the playground, to get children ready for the feat of balance necessary in later life.
She stepped down just before the doors closed and she was carried along with the crowd down the tiled corridors and up the escalator.  She reached into her pocket for her ticket and slipped it into the slot in the silver machine.  The barricades flapped back with a resounding thudding sound and her way was clear to make her escape from the labyrinth of tunnels and stairs.  She didn’t stop, she kept walking and followed the crowd towards the daylight above.
Once outside she was mesmerised by the number of people who were walking with purpose.  It always amused her.  A road sweeper was making his way along with his large cart sweeping and using his hand grabber to pick up bits he couldn’t sweep.  In front of him there was a little debris, behind him the pavement and gutter was neat and tidy.
She pulled her trusty map out of her pocket.  She had marked the way on it before she set out and she hoped that she would be able to recognise it now that she was actually here. 
She had opted for Embankment Station as she had hoped it would be less busy than Charing Cross but whether she was right or not was hard to tell.  There were plenty of people around but she wasn’t going to ask.
She stopped for a moment to look at the flower stall by the exit and to get her bearings.  There was a road to her left but she needed to go straight up towards the main road.  Shops were on her left, a small park on her right.  She held her map up and frowned slightly, trying to make sense of it in relation to the landmarks and roads around her.  It did make sense at last and she strode off trying to look confident.  She was determined that she wasn’t going to be intimidated by anyone.  She knew that was the way to walk, confident yet ready to get out of the way of anyone who was busy thinking, looking or just walking in a dream.  She looked down.  Her black suit was suitably immaculately clean.  Her blue blouse neatly pressed.  Her handbag suitably smart and containing all the things she deemed necessary for survival in the urban jungle.  She had her brown envelope clasped in her carefully washed hand.  Inside was the research she had done which had mostly ended up as more questions and the reason for her taking a day off and making the trip.
She found the alleyway between the park and the wine bar.  She stepped away from the main concourse and walked down the steps.  The tables and chairs were set out for customers but they were empty this early in the morning.
Just past Gordon’s Wine Bar she turned left and stepped up into another road and checked the road signs.  Buckingham Street, that was the one she wanted.  She was nearly there.  The row of buildings towered above her.  Uniformly white stone and reassuringly old and elegant.  Neatly in a row, standing to attention.  The pavement was wide, the cars parked along its edge reassuringly expensive.  She counted along the numbers and found the place she needed to be. 
She took a deep breath to steady herself, stepped up the white steps to the panel of bells and pressed the one she wanted marked Eden Dream, stepped back and waited.
She was answered by a click and a man’s voice.  “Good Morning, Eden Dream, can I help you?”
She smiled to try to get the smile reflected in her voice.  “Rebecca Aven to see David Wolfe.”
The buzzer sounded and she pushed the door as a the disembodied voice spoke again.  “Please take the lift and come down to the basement.”
She stepped into the entrance lobby and felt the deep pile carpet under her feet.  There were post boxes on the right hand side, all were empty.  She passed them and was relieved when she could easily find the lift.  It had a narrow door and an up or down button.  She pressed the down button and her action was answered by a swift, crisp ping sound and the door grated slightly as it opened.  The lift too was small, about enough space for three people if they got on, wood panelled and fairly well maintained though it was showing signs of age.  She pressed LG, the doors closed and down she went.
Rebecca didn’t have time to panic as the doors opened almost immediately and she was there, faced with a hallway and a man in a blue pinstripe suit, white shirt and blue tie.  His sandy coloured hair was slightly ruffled and looked as though he had been running his fingers through it.  His sideburns were neatly trimmed.  He was thin and the suit hung slightly on him though his shoulders were broad and his smile seemed to brighten the hallway.
He took a step forwards and offered her his hand.  “You must be Rebecca.  I’m David Wolfe, welcome.” He smiled and she relaxed.  He saw her relax and he relaxed as well.  “I hate interviews so I’m going to tell you this now.  We’ve already sorted out the CVs and we wouldn’t have asked you if we weren’t going to offer you the job.  I’m assuming you wouldn’t have come this far if you didn’t want the job?  We are recruiting a few people and we have taken the liberty of looking into your credentials, history and we have already assessed your aptitude for coping with the sort of situations that you may have to deal with and we think there is a place for you in our organisation.”
She looked stunned, couldn’t think what to say so she shook her head as she definitely wouldn’t have come if she didn’t want the job.
David smiled broadly.  “Good, well that has got that out of the way.  Impressive CV by the way, like the hobbies and don’t worry about a lack of experience, we never know what we are going to face anyway.  Right, now, come in here, sit down and I’ll tell you all about it and you can decide if you would be totally mad to be involved in all this or mad enough.”  He opened a white gloss wooden door with gold fittings and stepped aside so she could step into the room beyond.
The room was immaculately tidy.  The large leather topped desk was in the centre of the room.  It had a single chair behind it and a single chair was positioned waiting for her.  There was a single filing cabinet to her right and a coat stand to her left.  A small pile of files were stacked neatly on the right hand side of the desk.  David smiled, went to his seat and turned to face her.  “Please have a seat”.
She sat down and crossed her legs and tried to relax back into the chair.  “I have the paperwork you asked for”.
David smiled.  “Thank you.  Now you will of course be asked to sign the Official Secrets Act.  It is an unusual situation as although we are not working for the Government officially we are working for part of it, part of which is not known to most people, even Government Officials.   So, can you keep a secret?”
Rebecca smiled but looked puzzled.  “Yes, of course.”
David sat down behind the desk and leant back, pulling his trouser knees up so that he didn’t mark his suit.  “Well, oh, I’m sorry, would you like a cup of coffee?  I would.”
She was bemused as he jumped up again and looked at her hopefully. 
“Yes please.”  She responded, happy at the thought of something to occupy her hands as she had no idea how to place them.  She was feeling nervous still and it was becoming a fixation with her that it was important how she placed her hands.
He smiled.  “Oh good, I could really do with one.  We enjoy our coffee around here so you’ve probably just passed the test.  Whittards is just around the corner and it has a good Columbian bean, is that alright with you?”  He went out of the room.
Rebecca looked around the room and certain things struck her as wrong.  There were marks on the deep pile carpet where office furniture had been and there were marks of two desks on either side of the room.  The window had curtain rails for curtains but no curtains.  There was no waste paper basket and there was no telephone.  She reached forwards and looked at the files on the table and lifted a corner.  The papers were blank inside the file.  There was no dust, those files had been there a very short amount of time.  The pencils were all new, the biros all had their tops on them.  There were no notes or writing anywhere and the paper of the files was too new and not dog eared at all.  The room didn’t smell right either.  She couldn’t put her finger on it but the room was just wrong.  There was a strong smell of old papers and a mustiness that was being masked by air freshener.  Everything in the room was new.
David came back and Rebecca took the offered coffee although she now felt very nervous about it.  He smiled and sat down.  “Well what do you think so far?”
Rebecca looked at him and put the coffee onto the safe non wood part of the desk.  “Well can I ask what is going on here please?  This office is obviously set up and the files don’t look right.”
David smiled broadly.  “Oh very good.  Very discreet, I like the way you lifted the file to see inside without letting it move.  Very good.  You’ll do well.  I did tell you a slight untruth.  You weren’t certain of the job, you were certain of “a” job but not the one that we are going to offer you.  We need someone who will be observant, learn quickly and be able to adapt to situations.  So I suppose I had better come clean in the face of your deductive skills.”
Rebecca smiled.  “It was a test?  But I don’t understand how it is relevant to the job offered.”
David took a sip of his coffee.  “Well you my dear are going to become a smallholder in Wales.”  He reached into the desk drawer and took out a green and black paperback novel.  “I would like you to read this.  It was written and published by a computer program known as Nemesis to evaluate people’s responses to the idea of what might happen if all computer’s were turned off overnight and for good.  This is going to happen and we want you to set up a safe house where we can send people when Nemesis does turn the computers off.  So we need you to set up a sustainable smallholding in Wales and to encourage other people to do likewise.  Through your experiences there we would like you to rewrite the novel and publish it.  Do you think you can do that?”
Rebecca nodded and smiled.  “It sounds interesting and certainly different.”
David smiled.  “You will resign from your current job and decide to be self employed.  From then on you will sell things on Ebay.  When your partner has difficulties at work you will suggest that you move to Wales and get a house there.  He will find that agreeable as he spent his childhood holidays in the area and has happy memories of the place.  His father will also like the idea.  It is unfortunate that you will have to be away from your parents but they will probably follow you and there are some pretty villages around where they will find a suitable home.  We will assist them all we can as no doubt in 2015 when the computers are turned off you will want them nearby.
All you have to do is live the life and learn like anyone else would.  Read the book, it is amusing if nothing else and when the time is right you will be contacted.  Until then you are on your own.  As far as anyone knows you are just a couple moving to the countryside to grow a few vegetables. 
Your partner has often spoken about his love of the countryside so he should find himself totally suitable for a life there.  His work situation is not ideal so no doubt he will be happy to make the move to a wage earning job there and make the smallholding the focus of your life together.
We will not meet again although you are indeed most charming.  You will receive your salary by way of unexpected bonuses, sales on ebay and the like.  But, you are doing something important and when the lights go out in 2015 you will be in a beneficial position. 
You can tell anyone you like about 2015 but of course nobody will believe you after the Millennium and 2012.  And for the record, your diary doesn’t end at the end of the year and the Mayans could only protract their calendar so far.  We are supposed to take the pattern and extrapolate it for the next Millennium or so.
Nemesis however is real, he is logical and he is about to implement what is the only possible solution for the survival of mankind and the planet.
So if you would sign this document which is not only the Official Secrets Act it will involve you in a severe amount of psychiatric intervention should you try to reveal our identity or tell anyone about what we are doing.”.

Chatterings:  Thoughts of the author

I was amused to hear that a reader thought that Frank was evil.  It is an interesting concept and something that brings a question to mind.  Is someone is evil if they are practical and get a job done in a difficult world?  I was also interested to read that the reviewer thought that Raven was naive and just collecting unsuitable people at the farm which was not viable.  I had hoped that I'd been clear enough that everyone who arrived there had been selected by Nemesis for a particular purpose.  What that purpose may be isn't necessarily linked to book one and may well have or will be relevant in future novels. 

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Toyah - Thunder In The Mountains
Classic promo clip from 1981.Available as a bonus feature on the 2006 DVD release WILD ESSENCE - LIVE IN THE 21ST CENTURY. Available now from (more)

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