Death is just around the corner A Black death story
Ancient human skull and bone decorations in Sedlec, Czech republic.

Death is just around the corner A Black death story

Death is just around the corner….

Dear Diary, March 7th, 1665 

 My dear family is so frightened, frightened of our own neighbors. They are frightened of  small children that play in the stone streets and jump rope. They are frightened of small  boys that play ball in their yards gleefully. They are frightened of their mothers and fathers.  I plead to mother to go out to the market and to buy some more apples because I am so  dearly hungry. She shakes her head and hushes my cry. 

 “Please be patient now, Amelia, we will buy food soon, right now you just have to wait,”  mother would say. I am never good at waiting. I am very impatient.  

 It wasn’t my idea to have a diary. Mother told me too. She said it would help learn how to  write letters. It’s the least I can do right now.  

 I sit in my room and write in my notebook. My room is very small, with only a bed and a  small wardrobe that contains my dresses and coats. The wooden floor is hard and old, but I  do not mind. A small mirror hangs next to the door. While I sit on my bed, I can glance up to  see myself in the mirror. My eyes adjust and my figure slowly appears. My long brown hair is  up into a pony tail and my blue eyes stare at the unknown girl. 

I am very pale. Mother says  that anyone could mistaken me with a cold. Dark circles shadow my eyes from no sleep at  night. I almost smiled at myself, but stopped short. I can only wish that I could smile at a  moment like this.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, March 27th, 1665 

 I understand now why my family was so frightened. Father has the disease. He is so weak,  he lays in bed all day. I come in to see him, but I never get close. Mother warned me ever so  sternly to stay away from him as much as possible. When I walked into the bedroom, father  had his eyes closed, but I could tell he was not sleeping. He looked like me, pale, thin and frail.  He opened his eyes and smiled weakly.  

 “Hello dearest,” he murmured. From his chin to his feet, the bed sheets covered him. There  was nothing behind his face, as if he was a hollow tree. He was normally so strong and  healthy-looking, but now, he was nothing. He readjusted his neck, and I almost cried out. I  saw a bubble, a bubble on his skin. A bubble on his neck. It was black as if someone stuck an  ash under his skin. I looked away quickly toward the other side of the wall. Then I ran out the  door as fast as I could.  

 At supper, mother served soup for all of us. We barely had food left. My two older sisters,  Rachel and Elizabeth were twins, while my younger brother, Abe, was only six years of age.  While all of us children ate, mother disappeared into her bedroom with a bowl of soup in her  hands. She reappeared just a few minutes later and returned to her seat at the table.  

 Later in the evening, before the sun set in the sky, Reverend John walked up to our porch. I  watched him from my window. He open his Bible and said a few words. I could only watch  from inside. He dipped a brush into some red paint, and painted on our door. I couldn’t tell  what he was painting from where I sat. He then walked down the cobblestone street. 

 I wonder about father. I wonder about my family. I wonder what will happen to Rachel  and Elizabeth and Abe. I wonder what will happen to me.  

 I wonder what the weeks will bring. 


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, April 14th, 1665 

 My father. My father that stayed strong for all these weeks, longer than any other  person in England that I could ever know. My father died yesterday, of a Black death. And  now Elizabeth has it. She lays in bed all day, vomiting right onto her legs because she is too  sick to get up. She rubs her head and complains that her head aches. She lays in bed all day,  waiting for death to put her out of her misery. I see the bubbles on Elizabeth too. I count them  each day, hoping I will get the same number. There are two on her neck and one under each  arm. No others have appeared, but they grow bigger and bigger as the days grow on.  

 I asked her, “Elizabeth, what do you want to do, before your time on this earth is over?”  She thought a moment, then she smiled faintly.  

 “I want to have a bite of mother’s apple bread, then I want to sleep soundly.” She  sounded so sure, I was going to tell mother about what she wanted, but I stopped short. Of  course we couldn’t have apple bread, we don’t have what we need to make it. I felt so sad. My  sister is going to die hungry.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, April 20th, 1665 

 I was correct. I sat by my dear sister while she was taking her last breaths. Her neck had  two black bubbles on each side. They were the size of oranges. They were cut at the top, with  pus oozing out. I only kept my eyes on her frail face. She sneezed to the other side of the bed.  Elizabeth was careful as to not get me infected. She wheezed constantly and every breath  was a struggle.  

 “You will be okay, Elizabeth, no matter what happens to your body, your soul will be just  as powerful.” I reassured. She sighed deeply and I thought that might’ve been her last  breath. It wasn’t. She couldn’t fight anymore. She could barely talk. She could barely eat and  drink.  

 “Go to sleep,” I told her. She nodded very weakly. She closed her eyes slowly. I stood up  and took a glance at her one more time. She looked up at me, then she closed her eyes once  more. I quietly left her room and ran to my room.  

 As though everyone else had the disease, we all kept quiet and stayed away from each  other. I never saw Abe, he stayed in his room and Mother would be cleaning. Rachel reads in  her room which she shares with Elizabeth. I would stay in my room. The only time we came  together was for supper. We never had lunch or breakfast, we only had enough food for  supper. Mother only gave food to Elizabeth in the morning, so she could grow stronger. But  Elizabeth refused, she didn’t want to have home remedies done on her, she didn’t want to  spoil food, she just wanted to sleep. I try to tell mother, but she never listens.

 “Your sister must get stronger to live,” she repeated for the third time as she mopped the  floor. I fled to my room and decided to draw in my diary. I drew of father and mother  together and Elizabeth in bed sleeping and Abe playing with his toy soldiers and Rachel  eating soup. I drew me in the mirror. I know mother would yell at me if she found me drawing  in my diary, but I think she has too much to worry about now to think of me.  

 And now I lay on my bed on the stroke of midnight. The town is quiet and still. My house is  quiet and still.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, May 1st, 1665 

 I did something I wouldn’t have dared to do before, but what else could’ve gone wrong? I  went outside.  

 While mother was sound asleep, Rachel and Abe were locked in their bedrooms, I ventured  outside to see if it ever changed. It looked so much different then it did from the inside. The  sun shone on the rooftops of houses and clouds spotted the sky. I breathed in the outdoor  smell. In the distance, I saw black rats scrambling around. They had deep red eyes and dirty,  rough hair. They scurried along the streets and scrounged for food. I looked at them in  disgust and continued on my effortless pace. 

 I reached the park easily and looked around. There, swinging lonesome on the swings,  was a small girl. She had greasy blonde hair with a ragged, dirty dress. She didn’t wear any  shoes, thus her feet were covered in dirt. She looked up at me, tears in her eyes. She had a scratch that went up her nose and to her eyebrow. She got up off the swings and started  walking toward me. I stepped back cautiously, but still she continued. 

“My head hurts,” she groaned. I kept backing up as she stepped forward. 

 “My head hurts,” she kept repeating. Tears fell down onto her cheeks like a rock slide. Her  hair brushed off her shoulder in the breeze and there I saw one of the bubbles, just starting  off. It was the same color of her skin and was smaller then a grape.  

 “Get away,” I breathed.  

 “My head hurts!” she screamed. I turned and ran out of the park and into the woods. I  heard her in the distance, repeating those horrid words. I ran and ran, dodging trees and  bushes. I held my dress up as I kept running. There I wished I could fly, and drown by the blue,  bright sky.  

 After awhile I stopped to catch my breath. I thought I heard the little girls words in the  breeze, but I ignored it after awhile. I looked around and saw the other side of town in the  distance. I knew if I surfaced to that side I would be close to where my house would be. So I  started to walk in that direction. I finally saw the street, following it home. Then I heard a  carriage and the clatter of hooves. I turned to see a big black carriage with a man holding  the reins. The horses were big and muscular.  

 “What is that Mister?” I wondered. He looked down at me.  

 “This carriage is filled with the dead,” he said in a gruff, stern voice. As he passed, the  carriage smelled horrible. It smelled of vomit and revolting dead. I waited until he passed by  to cross the street to my house. But then he stopped at my house. My mouth hung open as he  opened the door and took my father and Elizabeth. He opened the carriage. I saw a glimpse  of other lifeless people as he put them inside. I saw mother appear at the door and wave  goodbye to the fellow. The carriage inched down the street and she closed the door. I looked  around to see a single man walking down the street. A chill went down my spine, so I  

hurriedly ran to my house and opened the door as quickly and quietly as possible.  

 “Where have you been?” Mother said shrilly. She crossed her arms as I entered the house.  

“I was outside-” 

 “You went outside?!” she shouted.  

 “I wasn’t out for long,” I whimpered. I started to my bedroom, but she caught my arm.  

 “Were you in the city?” she asked angrily.  

 “No, I didn’t go any where near the city,” I replied honestly. The city is where most of the  people live and where the sewage vents are. Mostly the shops and bakeries are in the city. I  could’ve sworn mother was going to swoop down and eat me up. She studied me cautiously.   “Go wash up,” she said, trying to calm her voice. 

 “But mother-” 

 “I told you to go and wash up and you will do what I say,” she hissed. She let go of my arm  and walked off into Rachel’s room. I obediently went into the bathroom and washed my face  and body.  

 I calmly sit on my bed as I write this and wonder if I will ever see the light of day. I could  almost hear the coughs of Elizabeth while she lays on her death bed, but then the howls of  the wind drown out the sound. I can almost hear the wheezing of my father as he breathes  his last breath of sweet air. I can almost hear the sniffle of my mother as she cried out in  sadness near my father. I am too tired to think now, all I want to do is rest.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, May 10th, 1665 

 Today while I was reading my favorite book, I heard a scream in the kitchen. I rushed over  to the kitchen to see mother knelt down on the floor holding her hand.  

 “Mother? Mother!” I cried. She looked up at me, fear in her pale, gray eyes. She got up, still  holding her left hand. She uncovered her hand, only for me to see bite marks on her palm. 

 “No,” I breathed. She hurried over to a bucket of water on the counter and washed her hand.  

 “Mother, tell me what happened,” I ordered, even though I knew well what happened. 

 “I was cleaning the floor diligently when a flash of black ran across the floor. I was so  surprised I dumped the bucket of water accidentally and the rat ran up to me and bit me.”  she explained. I sighed. She dried her hands off with a piece of cloth and grabbed a broom.  

 “I want you to go straight to your bedroom and do not come out until I tell you to, I do not  want you to get the disease.” she ordered. I paced back to my bedroom and fell onto my bed  purposely. I looked out the window all day even to see the sun set. Now the moon is high and  everyone is asleep. I have the whole night to think and do so much more.   Sincerely,  

 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, May 15th,1665 

 Today I noticed two guards by our door. They held swords and had heavy armor on. They  never left the spot, not even when lunch comes around. 

 “Mother, what are those guards doing there?” I asked her, she looked at me.  

 “They make sure we cannot escape, because one of us has the disease.” she took my hand  to Rachel’s room and slowly opened the door. Rachel lay in bed, reading a book. 

 “Rachel?” I stared at her face. It was drained of any color, even her eyes. She coughed  twice, then closed the book. I turned to my mother angrily. 

 “Why haven’t you told me?” I cried.  

 “I thought you were going through plenty,” she excused herself and fled the room. 

 “Rachel, I-” 

“No need to be sorry, sister, I am perfectly fine with this fate.” she said happily.  

 “You are?” I was amazed. A smile spread across her face joyfully, it fit perfectly on her  round face.

 “I do not fear death, sister,” she explained, “neither should you,” I thought a moment  about this. 

“Please stay strong with me,” she pled. I knelt down before her bed. 

 “I will pray for you, Rachel,” I promised. She smiled and returned to her book. I walked out  of the room and closed the door.  

 Supper time came and mother only had enough for Abe and I. I felt guilty of having a  warm meal in my stomach when mother has none. I scooted my bowl toward her at the table. 

 “No, no, Amelia, that is your meal, not mine,” she stated. I know I was being stubborn, but  what else could I have done? I did not want to sit there and eat while my mother’s stomach  thrives for food. When I finished, I offered to wash the dishes.  

 “Now, Amelia, you don’t have to feel guilty because I haven’t a meal, I will take care of the  dishes, you rest up now.” I marched off to my room, and here I am, not resting, but writing.  

 I think I have done better at writing now, it is easier. My hand hurts from writing so much,  but I don’t mind, it’s simpler then what 

Rachel has. 


 Amelia Right 

 Dear diary, May 23rd, 1665 

 Abe is very stubborn. He ran off. He left a note in his room. The words were barely  unreadable, but I managed to read it: 

“My family, please do not be upset of what I chose. I shall return with food and bread  and plentiful fruit. Do not come looking for me. -Abe”  

 I was the first to find the note that lay on his pillow. I found our window open in the back  of the house. He must have ran into the wood and into the city. I pray that he will find some  bread or fruit some where. I pray he will come back safe in my arms. 

I am the only one that is healthy. Mother caught the disease a few days ago. She has it 

terribly bad. The bubbles on her skin grow at a fast rate and the smell of her vomit sails in the house. She coughs and wheezes just like father. She is very hot when I touch her forehead,  but she says she is cold. Rachel still lives, but I’m afraid not for long. They lay in bed all day, I  try to have them drink water, but they both refuse. I am not a good nurse, mother usually  nurses us all back to health. I do as much as possible to help them in there time of illness. I  

can only hope mother or Rachel will recover, hopefully both.  

 Can you believe that this had all started with father? I hope that this will stop.   Sincerely, 

 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, June 22nd, 1665 

 I haven’t been writing because how terribly busy I have been. Mother died days after I have  last written, and Rachel too. As her last minutes ticked by, I talked to her. 

 “Will you be safe, mother?” I wondered. She lay on the bed, almost breathless. Her brown  hair was tangled and greasy and her sheets were stained with blood and vomit.  

 “I will be safe as long as I am able to leave,” she breathed, “I must leave you so I can be in  peace.”  

 “But mother, you cannot leave me, I cannot take car of Rachel on my own,” I wailed, “you  need to get better, to help me and Rachel.”  

 “Sometimes you have to do things that are for better for yourself, not for other people.”  Her voice shook as she talked, “please go and take care of Rachel, while I fall asleep.” she  told me. I nodded and started to walk off.  

 “Amelia?” she said. I turned to stare down at her. 

 “You will do just fine, you are my brave young girl, and please, don’t be stubborn as your  old mother has been.” she smiled faintly and I turned to the door. I closed the door and  headed to Rachel’s room.  

 “We are alone now Rachel, it is just me and you now,” I told her. Tears filled her weak eyes.  

 “Do not cry now, Rachel, mother would want you to be strong for her.” I reassured her. She  nodded. I told her to rest and get some sleep and I will do the same. 

 The next morning I found her dead.  

 I am so lonely right now and for the first time in months, I cried. Tears filled my eyes and  poured down my cheeks, then the cycle would begin again. I thought of father and Elizabeth  and Abe and mother and Rachel. I cried about Abe leaving when I needed him the most. I cried  about how I am stuck in this house that is filled with the dead and the horrible smell. I cried  about how lifeless my home was, but only a few months ago, it was filled with beauty and  the smell of yeast and always there was something new to eat that mother baked. I cried  about the rat that bit mother and how hungry mother was and how I saw those bubbles on  father’s skin for the first time. I thought about when I would be in the yard reading and  eating an apple while Abe was running around gleefully. I imagined Elizabeth and Rachel  putting on mother’s makeup and when father made dinner for the first time. I cried in my bed  until the early morning. I cried until I fell asleep.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, June 29th, 1665  

 The guards have left. They have been gone this week so far. I now have a choice to flee  London, or stay here and wait for the illness to catch up to me. I decided to leave London. I  

packed what ever food was left in my haversack. I found a half of loaf of bread, two  tomatoes and an apple. I scrounged up all the money I could find and I packed two of my  dresses and one of my coats for a blanket. I packed my diary, my quill and my inkwell. I slowly  placed it in a smaller compartment and slung the haversack onto my shoulder. I opened the  door, and peered outside. The red paint that the Reverend painted on our door was gone. I  

walked down the street and into the city. I passed boutiques and tall buildings and spotted  the bakery. I saw no one in the streets, except the occasional rat scurry by with a piece of 

bread in their mouth. I tried to open the front door to the bakery. It was locked. I noticed a small alley in between the bakery and the building next door. I curiously slipped through the  alley and saw the back of the shop. It was rugged and had a fence on the far side. I noticed a  back door I could go through, but I saw my brother. Abe was slumped on the ground next to  the back door. He twitched in his sleep and mumbled something. I ran toward him, the  haversack thudding on my side.  

 “Abe! Abe!” I cried happily. I knelt down and shook his shoulder. He looked up at me  sleepily. He was covered in dirt and his clothes smelled and his hair was greasy.  

 “Amelia?” he looked at me through squinted eyes. He held himself up with one hand, while  another was holding his stomach.  

 “Yes, it’s me, Abe!” I grinned, “are you feeling well? Why did you run off ? Are you hungry?”  I questioned.  

 “Is Rachel fine?” he asked curiously. I looked at him for a moment, seeing his dazed  expression. 

 “No,” I replied, “Rachel is dead. Mother is dead too. I was the only one left.” I spoke  soberly. He looked down at the ground quietly.  

 “I am fine,” he answered after awhile, “I ran off only to think it would help you and  mama and Rachel. I only thought that if I left it would be one less mouth to feed.” he told me.  

 “I am not hungry, the back door is open if you want to grab something,” he offered. I  thought a moment.  

 “Is not that stealing, Abe?” I pointed out. He sighed tiredly.  

 “No one is inside to see the robber whom stole it,” he spoke weakly. I stood up and looked  at the door. I opened it slowly and cautiously. A chill went down my spine. The day light filled  the empty kitchen as I walked inside. I looked around, seeing a big black stove, a refrigerator  and old, dusty countertops. I saw a half eaten fruit cake and a loaf of bread near it. I  examined the bread, then put it in a nearby bag and stuffed it into my bag. I ran outside to  see Abe falling asleep again. I knelt down and shook his shoulder once more. 

 “Abe! Get up! You are coming with me,” I yelled. I took his cold hand and pulled him up.   “Where are we going?” he wondered. We squeezed past the alley and onto the street.  

 “Anywhere but here,” I replied. We walked down the windy streets. Toward sundown, we  tried to find a place to stay. The best place we found was an old, run-down building. It had  a good structure and no one lived in it. We entered the house, and got comfortable on the  floor.  

 Right now Abe is fast asleep while I am writing this. It has been such a long day, I cannot  imagine what tomorrow will bring.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, July 1st, 1665 

 Yesterday we stopped at Oxford, but today we are in Woncester. I split a tomato with  Abe as we sat in the street. It was busier compared to London. Men passed buy in formal  wear, women pass by with children in their arms and at their heels. Some children looked so  sad, but others skipped gleefully in front of their mothers. We finished our pieces of tomato  hungrily.  

 “Come Abe, we must keep going,” I helped him up and slung the haversack onto my  shoulder. We marched off into the streets, occasionally asking directions to Nottingham.  

Abe lags behind, sometimes dropping to the hard ground completely. I pull him up harshly.   “Amelia, I am so weak, just let me rest for just a moment,” he pled. I shook him hard.  

 “No Abe,” I said sternly, “you are the only one left, we must keep going. I have heard  Nottingham has an operating hospital. We might be able to enter, but we must keep going,  it is a long journey.” I informed him. He sighed tiredly and walked beside me.  

 “Where are we heading beside Nottingham?” he asked.  

“We are going to France, I have planned, it is safe and peaceful there.” I reassured him  

with a small smile on my face. Smiling was so weird, so old. It felt as if my smile was gone for  a long time, but woke up once in awhile to poke up from the grass like a worm. He looked at  me worriedly, but returned his gaze to the ground.  

 We found a spot in the woods nearby tonight. I moved aside some sticks and piled up  leaves for Abe and I. I wish my smile would return more often.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, July 4th, 1665 

 We reached Nottingham yesterday. Abe has gotten weaker, and I am afraid he might  have the black death. I am not sure, but I try not to think much of it. We entered the hospital  and went to the front desk.  

 “Good afternoon, ma’am, my young brother and I are very tired and homeless, will you  house us?” I could have begged, but it would be much too embarrassing.  

 “I’m sorry, miss, but we house plenty of the ill, but we do not house the homeless.” she  informed me. Her black hair was tied up into a bun and she had green eyes.  

 “My brother is sick,” I blurted out. I went against my mother by being stubborn. I was much  too desperate to think of myself. I could only think of Abe’s well-being.  

 “Oh? How so?” she asked, examining him.  

 “He is very weak, and he complains of back aches,” I answered honestly. She told me she  would house him for a few nights, but I was not welcomed. I nodded and thanked her  greatly. They took Abe from me. I was relieved yet sad that I was alone. The woman told me  to return after three nights. I nodded and head out the door. I wandered around the town,  passing by all different people.  

 I came across a small cottage. I knocked and a small woman answered the door. She had  short grey hair that was in a low pony tail and her eyes were a pale brown. Her face was  chubby and round and very pale but she wore light lipstick. She had a long blue dress on with  blue slippers.  

 “Good afternoon young lady,” she greeted me.  

 “Good afternoon, uh, may I stay for a few nights?” I pled. I stared up at her round face as  it turned to a smile.  

 “Why of course, young lady, you can stay with my husband and I, please, come inside.”  She gestured me to come inside, and I entered the small house. I saw a long couch with a chair  and a table.  

 “I am making dinner now, are you hungry at all?” she asked, pointing toward the kitchen.  

 “Oh, no thank you, I have some food, I don’t want to be such a bother.” I opened my bag  but she stopped me. 

 “Nonsense, you shall come and eat with my husband and I, I am making some warm soup  fresh off the stove.” she told me to go to the table and then her husband slowly joined me.  

When we all sat down and the old woman gave our meals, I politely started to eat. 

 “What is your name?” the old woman wondered. I looked up from my soup and smiled.  

 “Amelia,” I answered, “Amelia Right, may I call you Miss?” I asked her, being on my best  behavior.  

 “Please, you can call me Anne.” she informed me. 

“Where did you come from?” the old man questioned in a gruff voice. He had shaggy, grey  hair with bangs and brown eyes.  

 “I come from London,” I answered honestly. They both gasped.  

 “You have the illness?” Miss Anne said, leaning away from me.  

 “No, no!” I refused, “I do not have the illness. My mother and papa and two sisters had it,  but not my brother and I.” I lowered my eyes to my soup and took another sip.  

 “Oh, I am so very sorry,” Miss Anne apologized, “where is your brother? Forgive me by  asking so many questions, I am always curious.” she said.  

 “My brother is at the hospital, it’s the least I can do for him,” I answered honestly, “I do  

not mind so many questions, I am good at answering questions.” I pointed out. She nodded  thoughtfully, then taking a few sips of her soup.  

 “Very miraculous you haven’t the sickness,” the old man said thoughtfully.  

 “What may I call you, Mister?” I wondered. Miss Anne got up from the table and cut bread  slices. She gave me two slices of bread and one to her and her husband.  

 “You may call me Ronald,” the man smiled, showing yellow, dirty teeth. I smiled politely  back, and dipped my bread into my soup.  

 Miss Anne gave me a sheet and a pillow on top of a mattress. The room was hot and  stuffy, but I did not mind. I sit on the hard floor right now, and I am drawing the old couple. I  hope Abe is fine and clean and healthy. I hope he will be well and be snug in a bed as I am  tonight.  


 Amelia Right 

 Dear Diary, July 7th, 1665 

 I am so devastated, I can hardly write down what has happened. I left the cottage,  thanking the couple, and found the hospital again. I entered and asked the woman if I could  see Abe Right.  

 “I am sorry, but we had to release him,” she apologized, looking up at me from behind her  escritoire.  

 “That can not be!” I cried, “why did you release him?” I was infuriated with the woman,  but mostly terrified of what happened.  

 “He had the plague, and we could not let him stay, I am sorry.” she replied innocently,  “We could not send you a letter, I did not know where you were staying.” she wore eyeglasses,  and returned to her work.  

 “Where did you release him?” I demanded. I could have cried, but I would not let myself in  front of the perpetrator.  

 “In front of the hospital, heaven knowns where he is now,” she looked down at a stack of  papers. I would have asked more questions, but marched right out of the hospital.  

 As the day went on, I called to Abe in the streets. I asked every person on the streets and in  their homes. They shook their heads soberly to my plea. I called to him until my throat was  dry and hoarse. When the sun fled the sky, I slumped to the street. I have lost my brother, and  now I have no choice but to leave this town and to go to the next. As for now, I am so tired of  wandering around the city, I only want to rest on the cold ground. 



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