Henry the Kitten


Author: Sarah Lauzon – Third Place (tie) 2018


It was the middle of a frigid, starless night. In a trash filled alley lit only by a dim, flickering lamp post, a Brown tabby she-cat lay on the cold, concrete ground.

“Tom…” she groaned. “The kits are coming!” She yowled in pain as a spasm gripped her body. “Tom? Tom, where are you?” She yowled in pain once more, then the still, cold air was filled with high pitched kitten mewling.

“Someone…” the she-cat groaned “Someone, please help…” The kitten found his way to her stomach and began nursing.

The kitten shrugged. He pressed closer to his mother. His fur bristled when a huge bus drove past on the street, temporarily lighting the dark alley.

A cold wind blew into the alley, closely followed by a loud clash of thunder.

“Momma,” the kitten whimpered, flattening his ears. “Momma, I’m scared.”

Rain began to sprinkle down from the dark clouds covering the stars. Tired and freezing cold, the kitten pulled his mother’s tail over his back and laid on the ground.

“Goodnight, Momma.” he murmured, settling his small head down on his paws. “Momma, goodnight.” he repeated, hoping for a response.

“I love you.” he mewled. “Please talk to me. Okay. Well, Goodnight.” Freezing cold, and drenched in rain, he fell asleep.

Chapter One

It was a hot, sunny morning in Chicago. Cars whizzed past a small, trashy alley. In the alley, the tiny brown kitten began to wake from his night’s slumber.

“Good morning, Momma.” he meowed. No reply. “Momma, wake up.”

The kitten stood up and parted his jaws in a yawn. For the first time, he felt the strong rays of the sun on his pelt. A warm breeze blew, ruffling his fur.

Suddenly, there was a banging noise from across the alley and a dark furred tom cat with menacing green eyes hopped out of a dumpster.

“Hey kitten,” he said, his lip curling back in a snarl. “This is my alley. Get outta here before I bring out my claws.”

“I’m sorry,” the kitten meowed innocently, pressing closer to his mother. “I was only born yesterday and this is my momma.”

The tom-cat peered around the kitten and looked at his mother. “Well,” he asked. “What happened to her?”

“What do you mean?” the kitten cocked his head. “Nothing happened to her.”

The dark tom-cat hissed. “I don’t have time for your games. How did she die?”

The kitten looked back in horror. “Is that why she won’t wake up?” he mewled quietly.

“Probably.” the dark tom-cat answered. “Look, kid, I feel sorry for you and all but — ” The tom-cat cut off and his eyes filled with horror. He immediately sped away.

“Where are you going?” the kitten asked loudly. That was strange. He thought. Why did he run

Suddenly, a sharp pain pierced his neck. “Ouch!” he screeched. He was being dragged from the alley onto the sidewalk. He looked back and saw a man with a stick with a pinch collar at the end of it easily pulling his small body backwards, toward a huge truck. He could hear animals yowling for help inside of the truck.

“Help me!” he pleaded, trying to dig his claws into the sidewalk. “Someone please help!” He thought for sure he was done for, then a loud human voice sounded.

“Stop!” It said in a female voice. “Let go of that cat!”

The man who was pulling him stopped. “Why should I take orders from you?” he asked, irritated.

“Because that’s my cat!” she said.

The kitten looked toward the woman. Her long blond hair was blowing in the wind, and black glasses sat upon her nose. She was rather skinny, and a defensive and worried look was on her face.

He felt relieved he wasn’t being dragged away anymore, but the kitten was confused. He had never met this human before in his life. He was released from the pinch collar and the female human walked across the pavement and lifted him in her two hands.

She looked into his eyes and said, “Let’s go home…. Henry.”

Henry… The kitten thought. Not bad.

“I’m sorry m’am,” the man apologized. “I thought he was feral.”

“Nope.” the woman said. “He’s mine. Right Henry?”

“Have a good day!” the man called, hopping into his truck and driving away.

“That was a close one.” said the woman. “Let’s go.” the woman carried Henry a few blocks down to an apartment. “Here we are,” she said. “You’re not allowed in here, so stay quiet.” She slipped him into her coat pocket and went through the door.

Henry couldn’t see anything, but there was a series of bumps and lots of strange scents before he was taken out of the pocket and set on the ground. He looked around. There was a bed, a dresser, a fridge and a microwave all in one small sized room, with a bathroom connected to it.

“I’m Brooklyn,” said the woman. “But my friends call me Brooke.” She picked up Henry and placed him on her bed. “I’ll be right back. Stay here.” she said, then left.

Henry took one last look around his new home, then laid down on a pillow and fell asleep.

Chapter Two

Henry woke to the noise of the door of the apartment opening up. “Hey Henry!” Brooke said, closing the door behind her. She walked up and set some bags she had brought in on the floor. She pulled a collar, a litter box, litter, food, and two bowls out of the bags. “These are for you.” she said, setting them up around the house.

Henry leapt off of the bed and smelled the bag of food. Smells delicious! He thought, his mouth watering.

“I bet you’re hungry,” Brooke said, placing the litter box in the bathroom and filling it with litter. She opened the bag of food and filled the metal bowl with the yummy smelling pebbles.

Henry ran over to it and gobbled up some of the food. Wow! He thought. It tastes delicious too!

A few minutes later, Henry was interrupted from his munching by a knock at the door.Brooke ran over to the door and looked through the peephole. “The landlord!” she exclaimed quietly. “Come on, we’ve got to hide you!” She scooped Henry up and put him in the closet, along with all of his supplies.
Henry heard the door open. “Hey, Mr. Sanders!” he heard Brooke say.

“Hello, Brooke.” The landlord said in a low, rumbling voice. “I just came to remind you to pay your heating bill.”

“Oh, yes of course!” Brooke exclaimed, putting her palm to her forehead. “It must have slipped from my mind.”

“Well, hurry up with it.” the landlord mumbled.

“I promise to have it paid by tomorrow night.” Brooke said.

“You’d better,” the landlord glared at Brooke.

“Well, thanks Mr. Sanders! Goodbye!” Brooke said, closing the door. She sighed, walking over and opening the closet door. “That was a close one.”

Chapter Three

Henry scavenged for warmth in his apartment. Brooke had left the window open when she left for work, and the cold winter breeze blew into the room, making it impossible for Henry to sleep.
Maybe in the closet it’s warm.. He thought. So he went over to the closet. It was closed. Darn it! He would have to open it. He went into a pre-jump position with his his hindquarters underneath him and his eyes on the doorknob.

Ready……. Jump!

Henry flung through the air, stretching his claws out to grab the door handle, but he was nowhere near it. His head hit the door, and he fell to the ground with a thump. Dazed, he got back up to his paws. Well, that’s not gonna work. He concluded. There’s gotta be another way…

He got an idea. He would climbed the shelf, jump onto the window-sill and close the window. Henry readied himself to leap. He climbed onto Brooke’s bed and dug his claws into her blanket. He crouched, wiggled his hindquarters, and leaped. He grabbed onto the windowsill and heaved himself up, but he stumbled.

“Whoa… Whoa… Help!” Henry wailed as he tipped over the edge. He felt the bitter wind of Winter ruffle his fur as he fell. “Help!” he wailed again, flailing his legs as he grew closer to the concrete ground. This is it, he thought. I’m going to die!

Suddenly, a flash of Orange whizzed underneath Henry. Instead of feeling the cold, stone ground slam against him, he felt a warm fuzzy orange fluff. He yowled as his back leg wrenched, but he was alive.
“Hey pal, you okay?” a soothing she-cat’s voice sounded

Henry looked up. “Yeah, I’m okay.” He had lived! This cat had just saved his life! “I’m Henry,” he meowed. “Thank you for saving me.”

“No problem,” the plump she-cat purred. “I’m Peaches.”

Henry looked up to his window. He had fallen all that way! How will I get back up?

“Can you walk?” Peaches asked.

Henry looked back at his leg, which was twisted awkwardly. “I don’t think so,” he replied.

“That’s okay,” Peaches said, lifting Henry onto her back by his scruff. “Where are we going?” Henry asked.

“You’ll see,” Peaches answered.

“But my owner!” Henry meowed nervously, looking back at his apartment.

“Don’t you worry,” Peaches reassured him, trudging through a pile of snow. “We’ll get you back to your owner, but you need to get warmed up and healed first.”

Peaches was right, but Brooke would be home anytime now. “Here we are,” Peaches said, slipping into the mouth of a tunnel behind a building. It had a stale scent of human and a strong scent of cat. The walls were worn stone and the ground was soil.

Henry jumped at the sound of another cat. An old, scrappy gray cat with blind yellow eyes limped into the light. “You got another kit there, do you?” he rasped.

“Yep, I saved him from a fall.” Peaches told the elderly cat. “I’ll go put him with the others.”

Others? Henry thought. “What is this place?” Henry asked nervously.

“This is my home,” Peaches replied. “Roscoe and I take in cats who are sick or injured and nurse them back to health.”

Henry sneezed when the smell of sickness swamped his nose. Cats lined up against the wall licked their wounds, coughed and slept. Henry saw where the kits were, altogether in one big pile of moss. Four kittens already lay there sleeping. Peaches set him down there, next to a sleeping gray she-kit.

“I’ll be right back with some food.” she meowed, walking out of the tunnel.

Henry sneezed again, waking the gray she-kit beside him. She lifted her head to reveal a big, yellowing patch where her right eye should be. Henry flinched and mewled in fear.

“I’m sorry,” the she-kit apologized. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Henry felt a wave of empathy for her. “It’s okay,” he meowed. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Hope,” the she-kit meowed in reply. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Henry.” he answered.

“Be quiet!” a hiss sounded from the other side of the moss-pile. “I’m trying to sleep over here!”

“Leave us be Jake,” Hope hissed back. A Black tom-kit climbed over the moss-pile.

“Who is that?” the tom-kit asked

“I’m Henry.” Henry answered. Just then, Peaches nudged him from behind.

“Here’s your prey,” she meowed, dropping a freshly killed mouse in front of his paws.

Henry squealed and jumped back. “You expect me to eat that?” he exclaimed. “With the fur and everything?”

Jake snorted in laughter. “He’s a housecat!” he teased.

Peaches purred. “Here,” she meowed, taking the bones and fur out of the prey. “Better?”

Henry cringed. It didn’t look as good as the food he got at home, but it wasn’t terrible. “Okay, I’ll try it,” he meowed, reluctantly bending down and taking a bite. “Delicious!” he exclaimed. He gobbled up the rest of it as the cats there purred in laughter.

“Guys, what’s all the commotion about?” a tiny little kit crawled out of the moss-pile. Henry gasped at her size. She’s no bigger than the mouse I just ate! Her pelt was white with brown and orange patches.

“Hi, Wish,” Hope rushed over to the miniature kitten. “We have a new friend.” She led Wish over to Henry.

“Hi, I’m Henry.” Henry bent down to Wish’s eye level. Wish touched noses with Henry and purred a tiny purr.

“Nice to meet you.” she squeaked.

“You too,” Henry purred.

Hope nudged Wish back into the moss-pile. “You get some more sleep.” she told her.

Suddenly, A brown tom-kit popped out of the moss-pile, looking around. Jake rushed over to him, pointing to Henry with his tail.

“Sunny’s deaf,” Hope explained to Henry. “So he can’t talk either.” He walked up to Sunny and dipped his head in greetings. Sunny dipped his head back, then took a seat.

“So,” Jake asked. “Henry, what happened to you?”

Henry turned around to show them his injured leg. The cats barely winced, but he understood. Compared to their injuries, this was nothing. But there was one thing he was confused about.

“Jake, what’s your injury?”

Jake shook his head. “I have no injury,” he answered. “I am only here to help Sunny. He’s my brother.”

Henry nodded. For the first time he realized that he was very tired. “I’m going to take a little nap.” he told everyone, settling down in the moss pile. He closed his eyes and pictured Brooke. She was probably home by now. She would be looking for him everywhere. Don’t you worry, Brooke. I’ll be home soon.

Chapter Four

Henry woke to the light of dawn. Had he really slept that long? Hope sat next to him, cleaning herself.

“Hi,” she meowed in greetings. Henry stood up and looked around. All of the ill or injured cats started to wake from their slumber. Henry felt excited. I can go back to Brooke today!

Peaches padded over to the moss-pile. “Good morning,” she meowed to the kittens. “How is your leg feeling?” she asked Henry.

Henry put pressure on his injured back paw. It hurt, but he held back a wince. He wanted to get back to his apartment. Get back to Brooke.

“It feels fine.” he lied.

Peaches glanced at his leg suspiciously. “I don’t think it does.” she meowed.

Henry sighed. “Okay, it does still hurt,” he confessed. “But I need to get home.”

Peaches shook her head. “Let’s wait just a few more weeks.”

Henry’s jaw dropped. “Weeks?” he exclaimed. “No way! I need to go home!”

Peaches’ eyes filled with empathy. “If you go out like that, your wound could get infected, or worse, you could hurt it more.” she told Henry.

Henry whimpered. “I have to get back to my owner!” he cried. “She’s probably so worried!”

Hope rested her tail on his back. “It’ll be okay.” she reassured him. “If she really is that worried about you, she won’t go anywhere. She’ll be waiting there when you come back.”

“You’ll see.” Jake chimed in. “It’ll all be okay. Your leg will feel a lot better, too, so your leg won’t hurt on your way over.”

Henry whimpered again. “I need to see her!” He wondered if she was looking for him right now. She would be searching up and down in their apartment.

Henry? Henry? He could almost hear her frantically calling his name. He flopped down onto the moss-pile. Peaches licked his head empathetically.

“How about we wait one week and see how your leg is feeling then?” she suggested.

Henry shoved his face into the moss-pile. “I wanna be left alone.” he hissed.

“Okay,” Hope said, stepping away from him. She laid down on the other side of the moss-pile, sending nervous glances towards Henry.

“He’ll be okay,” Peaches told everyone. “Just give him some space for now.”

Henry wasn’t satisfied. Fine, he thought. If you won’t let me go I’ll just have to do it in secret.

Chapter Five

It was the middle of night. The bright lights of the city shone into the tunnel. Cars drove on the streets and people walked by on the sidewalk. All but one of the sick cats were sleeping. Henry stood up in his nest. Quietly, he crept over to Hope’s nest. He prodded her in the side with his paw.

“Hope, wake up,” he whispered.

Hope looked up. “What do you need Henry?” she asked drowsily.

“Will you come with me back to my apartment?” he asked hopefully.

“But you can’t leave!” Hope said. “Peaches said you need to stay here!”

“I don’t care what Peaches said.” he insisted. “I need to get home.”

“But what if you get hurt?” Hope asked worriedly.

“That’s why I need your help.” Henry told her. “I need you to help me walk there.”

“But then I will have to go back by myself.” Hope looked worried.

“No you won’t,” Henry meowed. “Not if you stay there with me.”

Hope’s eyes widened. “I-I-I can’t,” she whispered. “I can’t leave everyone here!”

“You don’t have to stay with everyone,” Henry rested his tail on Hope. “They have Peaches, and each other. I’m going whether you come or not.”

Hope sighed. “Okay, I’ll come.” she finally agreed, looking around at all the sleeping cats.

“Alright,” Henry meowed. “Let’s go.” They approached the mouth of the tunnel, feeling the cold wind of the winter ruffling their fur. Henry dragged his injured leg behind him.

Hope shivered. “I haven’t left the tunnel in a while.”

Henry looked around. He saw his apartment building a few blocks down. “Follow me,” he said, leading Hope along the sidewalk. They kept to the side of the sidewalk, trying to stay out of eyeshot of any humans. After a few minutes of walking, they were only a street away from Henry’s apartment.

She’s in there right now! Henry thought excitedly. I’m coming, Brooke!

“Once we cross this street we’ll be there!” Henry told Hope. “And it’ll be warm! Now, I’m going to say go, and we have to run across the street as fast as we can.”

Hope gulped, clearly a little scared of the passing cars.

“You’ll be fine.” Henry reassured her. “Just follow me. Ready…… Go!”

Henry and Hope raced across the icy road, their paws barely touching the ground. Almost there….. Yes! Henry sighed in relief when his paws hit the snowy sidewalk. “See Hope, I told you — ” Henry was cut off when he looked over and Hope was nowhere to be seen.

“Hope?” Henry looked back at the street he had crossed and saw a small gray heap in front of a huge gray car. His eyes became blurry with fear. His stomach turned over inside of him. He tried to call Hope’s name but nothing came out of his parted jaws.

Humans began to climb out of their cars and form a circle around Hope. There was a pool of blood surrounding Hope. Henry raced onto the road and wound through the humans’ legs.

“I’m so sorry,” Henry whispered, curling around Hope. “This is all my fault!”

Hope lifted her head and smiled. “No it’s not.” she whispered, then fell limp.

Henry let out an agonized wail, then everything went black.

Chapter Six

Henry woke to Brooke’s face in front of his. He slowly lifted his head, then he felt his stomach turn as he remembered the series of events that had happened before he blacked out.

“You’re awake!” Brooke lifted Henry into her arms. “I missed you so much.”

Henry purred in the comfort of Brooke’s arms. He nuzzled her and licked her ear. At least he was with Brooke now. She would protect him and comfort him now.

“I bet you’re hungry,” Brooke said, placing Henry on the ground. She filled up his food bowl with the brown pebbles that Henry loved.

Henry padded to his bowl and gobbled up the food, remembering the first time he had eaten it. He had been happy then. Suddenly, he remembered his injured leg. He glanced back at it. Seeing a white piece of cloth wrapped around it. It didn’t hurt anymore.

“Well, I have to go to work.” Brooke picked up her purse and got her coat on. “You stay safe,” Brooke closed the door behind her. Henry finished up his food and layed back down on his bed. Remembering Hope’s warm smile, he drifted slowly into sleep.

Henry woke to the door opening. He meowed in greetings to Brooke, but she didn’t say hi back. Instead, she flopped down onto her bed and began to sob. Henry padded over to her and nuzzled her, wondering why she was so sad.

“Not now, Henry,” she whimpered. “I just lost my job.”

Henry’s eyes widened. How would she pay for her apartment? Would they be kicked out? Would they have to live on the streets?

Brooke reached out and stroked Henry’s head. “It’s all going to be okay,” she told him. “I’ll just have to find another job.”

Henry laid down next to Brooke and started to purr, hoping to comfort her. He knew how hard this must be for her. Brooke got up and grabbed a microwave meal off the table. She put it in the microwave and turned it on.

Henry ran over to his food bowl. “I’m hungry!” he cried, knowing that Brooke couldn’t understand him.

Brooke looked down at him. “I bet you’re hungry,” she said, filling up his food bowl. Henry gobbled up the food quickly, then laid down on his bed and tried to sleep, but he couldn’t seem to. He was still worried about Brooke’s job. What if she didn’t find another job? Then what would they do?

“You okay little buddy?” Brooke sat down next to Henry with her microwave meal and scratched behind his ear. He relished her love. It was the only love he got.

Brooke pulled out her smartphone and searched for a new job. “McDonalds…. Walmart…. Subway…..” she listed them off. “None of these will pay enough, though.” Henry listened to her soothing voice as he drifted slowly into a soft slumber.

Chapter Seven

Henry woke up. Brooke had already left to find a job. Henry padded across the room and began cleaning himself. He worried about Brooke’s job. What if she didn’t ever find a job? Where would they go then?

Suddenly, Brooke opened the door. She flopped down on her bed and silently began to sob. Henry ran over to her. He began to purr as he settled down on her leg. He hoped to soothe her.

Brooke reached back and stroked his head. “Thanks Henry,” she sniffled. “I love you. And don’t worry, I’ll find a job. I’ve got to.”

Henry wasn’t so sure, but he tried to stay positive – for Brooke. There was a hard knock at the door. Brooke sat up and put Henry in the closet with his other stuff.

“Brooke,” said an angry voice after Brooke opened the door. “You need to pay your rent!”

“Yes, of course,” Brooke said. “I will have it paid by the end of the week. I promise.”

“You’d better,” the landlord growled. “Bye,”

“Have a nice day!” Brooke said, closing the door. “Oh, no.” she began to sob again. She picked up her purse from the counter. “I have to go find a job, Henry,” she said. She let Henry out of the closet and left.

The next day, Henry was settling down for a nice nap on his bed when there was a knock at the door. He flattened his ears anxiously. They weren’t expecting any guests today! He was scooped up by Brooke and placed in the closet, along with all of his other stuff.

Brooke walked to the door and opened it. “Hello, inspector!” she said cheerily.

Oh no! Henry thought. What if he finds me?

“Good afternoon,” a British male voice replied, stepping into the room. “I hope you don’t mind if I take a look around.”

“No, not at all!” Brooke replied, stepping to the side of the doorway. The inspector walked around, checking things off on his clipboard.

Henry’s fur bristled when he heard the sound of his footsteps coming close to the closet door, but the inspector walked right past. A few minutes later, he stopped.

“Alright,” he said. “Everything’s fine.”

“Thank you,” Brooke said. “Have a nice day!”

The inspector walked out and Brooke closed the door. “That was close!” she said. She took Henry out of the closet and set up his stuff again. She grabbed a wand toy with pom poms at the end of it. “Do you want to play?” she said, twitching the toy across the floor.

Henry dropped into a hunting crouch. He pricked his claws into the carpet and wiggled his hindquarters. He knew that if he just imagined the toy as that bully he had met on his walk, he would catch it. His pupils widened, and he got ready to pounce. 3….2….1….

The door opened. The inspector stepped in. “I am terribly sorry, I forgot to — ” His eyes widened when he saw Henry. “This is a non-pet apartment!” he exclaimed.

Brooke seemed at a loss for words. She stared at him with her with her jaw dropped, fear filling her eyes. Henry was also scared. He flattened his ears and ran underneath Brooke’s bed, laying down in the middle so nobody could reach him.

The inspector lifted his chin and straightened his tie. “I am telling the landlord.”

“Wait!” Brooke said, but the inspector closed the door.

Henry was scared. What would they do with him when they took him away? He heard loud, stomping footsteps coming toward the door.

“Oh no!” Brooke exclaimed, which made Henry even more nervous. The footsteps stopped, and then there was banging on the door.

“Brooklyn!” said the Landlord angrily. “Open this door! Right now!” Brooke sighed and walked up to the door, opening it.

No! Henry thought. What are you doing? He’s going to take me away!

“Give me the kitten. Now!” the landlord barked. Brooke walked over to the bed.

“Come out Henry.” she said sadly. “It’s time for you to go.”

No way! Henry thought. Are you crazy?

“Henry, you can’t stay here anymore.” Brooke said. She reached her hands under the bed and lifted him into her arms. “I’m gonna miss you.” she whispered.

“Hurry up with it!” the landlord’s voice boomed from across the room. Brooke turned around, and Henry saw the landlord’s face. It was scrunched up and furious. Henry scrabbled at Brooke’s arms, trying to escape.

“No Henry,” she said. “You gotta go.”

So this is goodbye…. Henry thought sadly. No, this can’t be goodbye!

The landlord looked down and his eyes met with Henry’s. His furious gaze bored into Henry’s, but only for a moment. His gaze suddenly softened. His face un-scrunched, and he smiled. “Awwww…” he said softly. “It’s so cute…”

Henry looked up at Brooke. She looked surprised, and Henry was surprised too. The landlord didn’t seem like someone who would like to cuddle with a tiny little kitten, but he did.

“Can I hold him?” He asked Brooke.

“Of course!” replied Brooke, handing Henry over to the Landlord. The soft touch of the Landlord’s hands was surprisingly comforting.

The landlord looked up. “Okay,” he said. “You can keep the kitten.” Relief flooded through Henry. I get to stay with Brooke!

“Thank you so much!” Brooke exclaimed, taking Henry back into her arms. “I’m glad you changed your mind!”

The landlord nodded. “Just be sure to keep him out of the halls.”

“Of course!” Brooke confirmed.

“Goodbye!” the landlord said, leaving the room. Brooke turned around and looked at Henry.

“Did you hear that, buddy?” she said happily. “You get to stay with me!”


A few days later, Brooke’s grumpy landlord adopted his own kitten. Her name was Alice and she and Henry got along well, and when they grew up they had 3 kittens.

About a week later Brooke found a job at a nearby cat shelter. She eventually found Peaches’ tunnel and nursed every last cat and kitten there back to health.

Henry and Alice both grew to 16 years old, and they both passed away peacefully in their sleep. All three of their kittens outlived them.

When Brooke retired from her job at the cat shelter, she had enough money to move to a bigger place. She moved to Colorado and adopted many more cats. She took in the rejected cats, like the deformed and black-furred. She stood up against the cruel action of declawing, and even published some books about holistic health care for cats.

Hope, Henry and all the cats from the tunnels now roam without worry in heaven, along with every other cat that a human has lost.

“Many people will walk in and out of your life,
but the true friends leave paw prints on your heart.”

– Author Unknown

The End

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