• Published 28th Oct 2018
  • 4,691 Views, 69 Comments

After I Looked Up, The Stars Had Gone Away - Seer



Have you ever felt yourself suddenly terrified, for no apparent reason at all? We all know that 'gut feeling' isn't a real thing, and that there's nothing to be afraid of. It doesn't help though, does it?

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Finalem: What Have You Let In?

Twilight pulled her duvet over herself, it didn't matter how pathetic she must have seemed. She had faced down old gods and worse as an element of harmony. Tonight was the first time in so, so long that she was feeling true fear. She had almost forgotten what was like.

Once she had managed to get her legs to carry her upstairs into her bedroom, the librarian had finally had a little time to think. Of course it was just some mistake or new experiment on Luna's part that had led to the sky being so terrifyingly bare. Of course everyone else in the town was just asleep now. Sure it wasn't very likely that Twilight was literally the only pony awake, but it certainly not impossible. Of course the way the weather seemed to contort around her, windy and battering when she was in the library and unnaturally still the moment she stepped outside was because of the temperamentality of night weather.

The scream... it was unlikely that even happened, wasn't it? A trick of sound or something imagined or dreamed and so, so quiet, almost as to have never even occurred at all. But even if it did, even if someone out in Ponyville really screamed tonight, for every sinister reason there were a million benign ones. Spike and the crusaders were having a sleepover tonight anyway! It was probably one of them, playing some childish game. That would certainly explain the unsettling twist of glee she could detect in it.

Twilight knew, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt there was nothing going on beyond that. A weird night and an overtired little unicorn, her usually sharp mind blunted by exhaustion and playing tricks on her. Downstairs, there was a clacking noise. It was even quieter now she was a further storey up, but it was there. The noise was erratic and without pattern, just like a loose window being blown open and shut by temperamental, erratic night weather, which was without pattern itself.

Twilight whimpered and hugged the duvet closer.

"Dear Princess Celestia," she began, "I can't wait for you to read all the things I've found about macromolecular catalysts."

Fetching the parchment and quill had almost been unconscious. Hearing herself talking out loud helped to soothe some of her shot nerves. As long as it was something other than that clacking, or the ever-present ringing, so, so much closer now. As long as it wasn't the blood thundering through her ears, or god-forbid that awful smiling scream, the one that couldn't have really happened.

"It's been a weird night here! Tell Luna that I wouldn't recommend she make the night starless every night. Her nights are usually so beautiful Not that the effect isn't beautiful in its own right, but I love the stars so much Princess. I've really missed them tonight. It's such a weird feeling, to wish more than anything that you could see the stars again. But I know that you know that feeling better than anyone.

"I need you I'm just so excited about the research that I'm sending this now, in the middle of the night. I know it'll wake you up, and I know that as much as you tell me that I can always contact you, it'll secretly bother you a little. I know that you value your sleep, it's your time off. I also know that Luna comes to visit you in your dreams and that it's been the high point of every single day of your life since she came back.

"I suppose, even knowing all of that, if feels that when it really comes to it you'll always be there for me. Not when I get over-worried about an assignment or have some middling tiff with a friend. But when I really need it. The truth is princess, I'm so terrified

"It's been so long since you came to visit, and this research is so incredible! You should come, please come

"I'm scared, please come help me because

"Why did Princess Luna take the stars away?

"More than I miss the stars, I miss the sun.

Downstairs, the clacking sound had become rhythmic, regular, sure as Twilight's hammering pulse. Twilight listened, and looked out of her window into the still, still night. The leaves on the trees barely moved. She made a noise between a sigh and a sob.

"The truth is princess, I'm really scared. I don't want to say it, not to myself and certainly not to you. But something's happening here and I'm terrified Princess. I don't know if I've ever been this scared. When I was scared of being sent back to magic kindergarten, I knew I could avoid it if I just worked hard enough. I know it was ridiculous but that is what I felt. When I was scared that the dragon on the mountain was going to kill us, I knew that if I dodged and hid well enough, I could escape.

"When my friends and I faced Discord and Nightmare Moon, I knew that there was some puzzle piece I could find that would fix my problems. All my life, I've always known how to fix my fear. More than that, I always knew why I was afraid, I always knew why everything was happening.

"Only now, something's happening that I don't understand Princess. It all feels so wrong, it's like when you walk into a room full of ponies you don't know and they all stare at you. I'd vomit as I am writing but I already did that earlier. I can deal with sudden feelings of fear, I can deal with weird noises. This would all be just merely uncomfortable if it weren't for that sky Princess. Because why would Luna take the stars away? All my life I've known that it all stopped with you, because you're so wise, so kind and so completely magical. What could compare with all that? But now it seems like something might have.

"All the stars have gone away Princess, and I feel like everyone else has gone with them, and left me behind with... something else.

"Please come help me."

With a flash of her horn, the tear-stained parchment dissolved into smoke which faded into the aether. Twilight waited, huddled in her bedclothes. Princess Luna had made a mistake, or this was an experiment. The steady, rhythmic clacking was some unseen wind. The scream didn't exist, there was nothing out there... Oh god.

Seconds became minutes, minutes stretched eternally. Twilight knew how to send personal correspondence to Celestia, she let Spike do it because it had always been his job and she knew how proud he was. But tonight she didn't have the luxury of waiting for Spike. She also didn't need Spike to ensure that when this letter materialised, it would do so with a flash and a deep boom of magical energy release. It was rude and was bound to upset Celestia, but it would get her noticed. She did all of that in spite of knowing that the Princess would wake up when the letter found her regardless. She always did.

So where was she? What was the explanation this time? Of course there were many. Celestia was the diarch of their entire nation. She could be in the middle of difficult negotiations and not have the time to read a midnight letter from her student. Maybe she was with Luna in the dreamscape, both so engrossed in their one true time to bond that Celestia couldn't be stirred by some paltry firework display from Twilight's correspondence. Maybe Luna was too so preoccupied that she hadn't even noticed that all above them, the moon sat alone.

Maybe Celestia was tired and didn't want to talk to anyone. Twilight was certainly a talented unicorn, but her magic was a moth's wingbeat compared to a solar wind here. It wouldn't have been hard for the Princess to set up a spell to prevent mage-letters coming through. But not Twilight's letters... never Twilight's letters.

She peered out of the window into the night. How was it that black so deep could ever exist? The moon was a perfect white disc in the hungry infinity. It looked like a portal to another world and Twilight wished so much she could go there now. Maybe that's where everyone else was.

"Where are you?" she muttered into the duvet. She pulled it over her eyes and began to cry again. Night's apparent only sentinel was sat in her guard tower, crying and wishing so much for Celestia, for her friends, for her mum and dad. The clacking downstairs stopped. Twilight's ear flicked, only now had she become aware of the lack of the sound. The wind must have stopped. She forced herself to think that over and over as she almost wished the noise would come back.

There was a single thump, so much louder than anything that came before, that silenced the entire world. Even the ringing in her ears stopped, and, aside for her breathing, Twilight Sparkle heard nothing more. Of course, it could only be that a final gust of wind, much stronger than those before it, had slammed her window shut, never mind how difficult the clasp was to work from the outside. It was probably just that strong a gust of wind.

The librarian peered out of the window once more, hoping more than anything that she could see the trees being battered around by the truly formidable winds that must have been silently raging outside. Twilight saw no such vision, but only because she could no longer see the trees. The sky seemed to have stolen the light from everything, save for the moon sneering down on her. She fell from her bed and heaved again, her carpet spared by the fact that her stomach was long since empty.

Something had shut her window. And now something was creaking downstairs.

In an old oak tree such as hers, even a mouse scampering around could set off a series of creaks as the old wood protested. It was a fact of living here and something Twilight had gotten used to a long time ago. That was what she forced herself to remember, that and all her brilliant ideas about Luna and the wind and that scream that couldn't have happened while she repeated under her breath that the creak she had just heard could not have been the sound of a door opening.

Of course not, because Spike kept the door hinges well oiled. That creak was so small and so insignificant, perhaps it didn't even happen at all. It couldn't have, because if it did, it meant that there was something down there now, on the second storey of her home. Teleportation was scarcely even an afterthought at this point, she needed so much more focus than she could possibly muster.

Celestia wasn't coming, that much was clear. The unicorn wondered whether she had even gotten the letter. Maybe, in the state she was in, she had sent it to someone else. She thought of Rarity squealing in fear as the letter appeared with a flash of light and sound, the fashionista would frantically paw at her sleeping mask as she tried to shake off the last remnants of drowsiness and work out what the hell had just woken her up.

It didn't matter who it reached, if she knew them they'd read it and see it all. They'd see just how terrified she was and march right over to the library, stars or no. They'd come up the stairs and tell her how silly she was being, and in a week this would all be a silly little memory.

Another little creak, maybe that was them now? The thought made her want to laugh, but most of all it made her want to cry.

Owlowiscious was supposed to be nocturnal. Since he started living with Twilight she had found that he had adapted to a more equine schedule. But this didn't mean he wasn't still an owl, it could very well be him down there, landing on tables and shelves, all creaking. All so likely, certainly more likely than any alternative.

Maybe it was tiredness, mental, physical or simply tiredness of being scared, that compelled Twilight to cautiously trot over to her bedroom door. The old tree's floor's complained as she moved. When she stopped in front of the door the wood took a moment to become silent. Then, from somewhere else, there was another imperceptible creak.

Twilight forced herself not to shake as she pressed her ear against it. She waited, even her heartbeat was muted now. Everything was silent save for her breath, steadier than it had been a couple of moments ago. She pressed her hoof gently against the wood and waited. She didn't know when the feeling started, but she knew when she worked out what it meant.

Twilight pushed herself away. Her hindlegs were brittle, unusable, so she fell the ground and pulled herself across the room, hyperventilating. Something had been out there, something had been on the other side of that door. She tried to rationalise it, tried to tell herself that it was ridiculous.

It was ridiculous after all. Surely something coming up the stairs would have caused much greater creaks than the few tiny ones she had heard. It didn't even matter really what she felt. She hadn't seen or heard or felt this supposed presence. There was no such thing as gut feeling, Twilight knew this. Her feelings had no basis, it didn't matter how real they seemed. It didn't matter how it had felt like she could feel something tracing her hoof on the other side of the door. How she could almost feel its heat penetrate the cold, oiled wood.

She pressed her hooves against her head as she tried to banish the terror, because it was all so baseless when you thought about it. The next creak was on the stairs just outside the door. Twilight wept again, she probably hadn't even stopped before. She managed to get to her hooves to tiptoe over to the window on three legs. Her right forehoof was busy being jammed in her teeth. She gave it a harsh bite everytime her hoofsteps creaked to stop herself from sobbing. There was nothing out there, but she didn't want the nothing to know she was in here. By the time she reached the window her tongue picked a coppery tang.

She pushed open the window and leaned her head out. She could barely make out anything in the black. Of course it was just because her eyes needed to adjust, she knew this. She gave it a couple of moments and they didn't.

Twilight wanted to scream and cry out for someone to come help her. This was a decent town, it was her town. There wasn't a pony here who wouldn't come if she needed it. A cursory glance at the sky showed the moon to be even brighter now, or was everything around it just getting darker? It didn't matter, it had the same effect. Twilight scanned it again, not knowing exactly what she was hoping to see. It all was still the same.

All the stars had gone away.

"Help." The voice that left her was teary and pathetic, and she heaved the second she spoke. Something about speaking into this unnatural stillness mortified her to her core. The feeling of trespassing returned stronger than before. She only gave the night a split second to respond before she plugged both ears with her forehooves. The idea of hearing that scream again sending her into full-blown hysteria. She dove onto her bed again and sobbed while frantically trying to summon enough telekinetic focus to shut the window.

Once it was closed, Twilight cocooned herself in her duvet and forced herself to even her breathing. The surging panic attack fell from its zenith and she managed to reclaim some semblance of rational thought. She was too tired and frazzled to teleport, and even then the idea of going out into that night seemed like the worst idea in the world. If she stayed like this, she genuinely thought she might have a heart attack. It was too much. That left one option.

She looked over at the door.

There was nothing in the night that could hurt her. A starless sky was the foolish idea of the younger princess, a distant clacking the fault of the pegasi not taking the night's winds into account. A scream in the night might not have even existed at all. Twilight knew all of this, because she didn't believe in gut feelings. Nor did she believe in misguided supernatural claptrap. Occam's razor was absolute and not subject to one overtired filly's fears.

She wished to everything that all her knowledge stymied the waves of nausea crashing on her as she once again rose to unsteady hooves. She was tired of being scared, all she wanted was the night to be over. It would be worth it.

Twilight had always known the answers. Pinkie could keep everyone's spirits up, Fluttershy could tend to wounds, Rainbow, Applejack and (to Twilight's enduring shock) Rarity were pretty capable when it came to kicking some flank. Twilight couldn't really do any of those things. What did have was knowledge, she could direct her friends, act as the strategist. Without that the librarian didn't know what she amounted to.

She pushed herself towards the door again. There were no creaks this time. None is this room and none far away, she couldn't recall that ever happening before. Every step was a battle, but she knew there was no such thing as gut feeling, so she persevered. This was nothing but a series of coincidences and paranoia, she knew it. Of course she knew it.

Twilight reached the door and lightly pressed a hoof to it again. For a second, it was like her heartbeat connected with something out there. She withdrew it like it had been burned, but this time Twilight didn't retreat to the pseudo-safety of her bedclothes. She stayed put because she knew that the way her gut was screaming at her to get away, to be anywhere else but here, didn't amount to anything in reality.

She couldn't fight, she couldn't heal, but Twilight could do this. Her knowledge was a library. She couldn't allow it to be dulled by baseless fear, because she knew there couldn't be anything to be afraid of out there. She had to trust that knowledge like she had done so many times before. Twilight stared at the door, and ignored the feeling that it was only the wood preventing something from staring back. She turned her head and looked out of the window, beyond the ever-brightening moon and ever-darkening, starless sky. For just a second, she thought she could see Canterlot.

"I wish you would have come," she muttered before turning back to the door. Twilight knew there was no such thing as gut feeling, this was what forced her against every instinct to place her hoof on the door handle.

She really hoped she'd get to see the stars again sometime soon.

Twilight pulled open the door.

Comments ( 57 )

Hm. Not bad. The Lavender Unicorn Syndrome (the unicorn, the librarian etc) was a little jarring and I saw an instance of footsteps instead of hoofsteps, but other than that, it was fairly solid.

Fuck thay was uncomfortable! Literally nothing but my heart is pounding. I'd really like to get some sort of explanation, but as of now it seems like in her studies Twilight somehow accessed a different realm or potentially let something into hers. Or perhaps it was nothing at all but a series of strange coincidences and a gut feeling.

*Incoherent screeching.*

... *Settles into a corner.*

----

Forreal, this is exactly how the reptilian brain likes to approach things. Sometimes I'll wake up and there's just this... crawling, this knowing, and all you have to just do is stay still, act like you're still asleep, and everything will be fine.

Good unsettling story.

Kinda reminds me of Reading Room #36

A very nice and wonderful story. I also love how you left it up to the reader what it was all about.

9258406
Cheers mate, I looked over the story and edited it slightly to alleviate some of the LUS.
Love your fic 'A Shadow Hangs Overhead' btw

9259057
Thank you for the kind words :)
That's definitely an interesting take, I'm gonna be one of those author's unfortunately and leave it pointedly unresolved, but the accompanying blog post on my profile may give you some context as to why the story is so vague.

9260390
T H E
P O W E R
O F
T E C H N O L O G Y

9260405
Haha that's a great way of describing it mate, I love playing with the irrational despair you can develop in scenarios like that I'm glad it resonated with you :)

9262854
Thank you kindly, unsettling is definitely what I was going for as opposed to outright terror, glad it seemed to come across.
I've had that on my read later list for ages now, is it a decent fic?

9268475
That's very kind of you, I appreciate it :)
I'm glad you liked the vague ending, I was afraid it may turn some readers off

9268492
Definitely, although it goes deeper into existential horror.

Also, I can recommend A FLEet|ng LIght |n thE DArknEsS by the same author.
This story is somewhat similar-ish to yours.

9268492
It'd be better if the knowing thought that it's obvious you're awake because you're too still wouldn't worm it's way in.

Forreal, I wonder what causes that feeling so randomly in the middle of your sleep cycle - sleep paralysis, a hypnagogic hallucination, or just a dream you held on to as you awoke?

Edit: I also heavily recommend reading Reading Room #36. It's amazing. One of my favorites.

9259057
Yeah the whole premise reminded me of a horror movie called the Banshee Chapter where some people tune in on a radio frequency that causes Lovecraftian creatures to sort of come in on the signal and just mess stuff up.

Yeah I will definitely read your post!

*Edit - I'm an idiot and replied to my own comment. The real horror begins now

That was really good. I want to be able to write like this. It really brought out the fear of the unknown. Or the fear of the known, because surely nothing that happened was unknown! Definitely had me listening for odd little sounds myself, reading this at 2 in the morning.

It could be anything, from nothing at all, to trickster fae, to incomprehensible eldritch being. I honestly don't know which would be worse.

Now that was creepy. Excellent work.

9393789
Thanks very much mate, that's very kind of you to say, it's always lovely to hear something you wrote struck a chord with someone.
Congrats on your feature in the RCL by the way! Got your fic lined up to read and I can't wait :raritywink:


9465467
Whatever the hell it was, I'd bet it's a lot less scary than your avatar! 😛


9519579
Cheers boss, creepiness was definitely the motif I was shooting for above more blatant forms of horror so I'm glad it came across :twilightsmile:

9524957
Thank you! It was rather unexpected, but a very pleasant surprise when they told me I'd be featured. Thanks for inspiring my story with this one. I feel like yours is very underappreciated. Hope you enjoy mine when you get around to it!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

This is one of the best horror stories on this entire site.

9574259
Very high praise indeed! Thanks mate, that's very kind of you to say and I appreciate it :twilightsmile:

Yooo, congrats on the RCL feature! This story certainly deserves it!

9596179
Cheers mate! It was a nice surprise to be sure

Ok The Seer, I'm gonna read this horror story at 10pm with a window to the outside in my hotel room. If I can't sleep. That means you're story's amazing.

And...

Here...

I...

Go!!

(Gonna regret this)

9602092
Ur not the only one. Except I'm on a cottage middle of nowhere so yeah ur not alone

I wanted to sleep tonight

One of the most primal of fears is the fear of the unknown. Very well done, very... visceral.

Thanks for letting my fear of the unknown latch onto something tonight.

This was a pleasantly intense read. I think there were parts that you drew out a tad more than necessary, but this is solid work.

I don't know if this is what you were aiming for, but this is a pretty dang good metaphor for panic attacks, which fits twilight nicely. Overall, well done.

This was horrifyingly tense from beginning to end. This is gonna keep me up tonight, so I guess you succeeded completely as a horror writer. Well done.

Forgot to comment. And add to favorites.
Because I was cowering under my bedcovers.

This story was good. It used the concept of the unknown to generate fear, and that fear latched on. Fear is more scary than anything else, even the most scariest of things. throughout the entire story, my heart was pounding in fear. For once, I was scared reading a horror story.

The Seer, you're story's some good shit. 10/10 would recommend.

9602092 9614733
Thanks for the nice comments on the story mate! I'm big on dark and unsettling art so I'm glad this was able to tangibly scare a few people, a horror writers dream to be sure :P

9602178
Hope you had an interesting time reading it in that setting!

9602391
Sorry friend but ya got S P O O K E D :raritywink:
Thanks for the comment!

9602410
Thanks mate! You're very right there, I'm a firm believer that the scariest things are those you don't see

9602712
Very nice that a lot of the recent comments have highlighted the story genuinely frightening
Glad you liked the story mate! Cheers for the comment

9602716
Hope you managed to have a good night regardless! :P

9603390
Thanks for the comment mate, I'll have to keep an eye out for that I do have a habit of saying in 100 words what could be done in 10 :twilightsheepish:

9604044
That's a really interesting take man
I wouldn't know much about panic attacks personally but its fascinating that you got that from the story. Big thanks for pointing that out :twilightsmile:

9605560
I'm really glad you said that because I agree that that was one of the most unpleasant things I put Twilight through
Thanks for the comment :)

9608815
Cheers man that's very nice of you to say!
Glad I was able to give you a scare hope you enjoyed the fic!

Very nice.

Fucking excellent. Incredibly well written, and legitimately scary. Psychological horror is one of my favorite genres, and this is a perfect example of why. It's well-written, it brings you in, and it's terrifying. I love the decision not to reveal what was behind the door; was Twilight just paranoid, or was something really wrong? We don't know, and we don't need to know; a solid answer would've dulled the suspense. I like to think of this as FimFiction's version of one of the greatest horror stories ever written, "Psychosis". Both stories portray the protagonist growing more and more paranoid in the confines of their home, isolated from the rest of the world, with the main difference (besides one being about ponies) being that Psychosis gives the reader an answer (which is the only part of the story I dislike). I'm making this comparison because reading this fic gave me the same feelings of anxiety, confusion, and fright that Psychosis did, and any story that can do that is a good one. 10/10

Twilight pulled open the door.

What? That’s it? You’re just gonna leave us hanging like that? You big tease.

9621711
Thanks mate! :pinkiehappy:

9668090
Wow that's some really high praise mate, I really appreciate it, especially the comparison to Psychosis, I love that piece it's fantastic. In the case of that I honestly quite liked the ending reveal for the simple reason that it kept the reader thinking the protagonist was just insane throughout it, having him turn out to be unwittingly correct as a result of, and not in spite of, his insanity felt like a nice curveball.
Then again I definitely agree with you that not revealing can make the story more unsettling. That was 100% what I was aiming for here and I'm glad you liked it
Thanks for the thoughtful comment :twilightsmile:

9672287
No resolutions, no relief, no catharsis
All horror :raritywink:

Hey is it OK if I do a reading of this and post it to YouTube. It'll be my first and I don't have a high quality mic but I think this deserves at least a reading.

9703357
Hey mate, of course you can! Thanks a lot!
Make sure to hit me up with a link when you're done, I'm sure it'll be great :twilightsmile:

9705048 Just asking, would you prefer if it was two separate videos, one for each chapter, or one long video?

9717330
I think that if you're taking the time to do a reading then your opinion on what would be better is a hundred times more important than mine mate, I'm sure however you do it will be really good :twilightsmile:

9720530
Great job man!
Can't wait for the next chapter :twilightsmile:

9722904
Reading this through once more, has filled me with fear again. Thanks for that.
Also part 2

. BAM!

9727173
Really good mate, I hope you keep it up with some more fics!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read the story, I really appreciate it :twilightsmile:

One nitpick first:

Everything was silent, has it always been this silent?

Comma splice.

Otherwise, a very nice atmospheric horror piece, with just the right balance of details and ambiguity. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

9734881
When Twilight opens the door to her shock and relief it's just Spike coming to give her the book she ordered as he had forgot to give it to her in the morning

9740688
That's what I'm talking about
Hope I could spook ya good :raritywink:

9786197
Thanks very much mate! Glad you liked it

9787530
Spoilers for the upcoming sequel 'After I Looked Up The Stars Were Still There But I'd Initially Had Trouble Seeing Them Due To Light Pollution'

this is BRILLIANT.

Would like a little spinnoff of Celestia getting that letter (but that's just me, don't feel like you have to do that.)

all in all, I LOVED this!

9798032
Haha I know right it's pretty much as creepy as the story itself :P

9847194
Don't worry, there's no such thing as gut feelings :raritywink:

9855088
There's probably nothing there at all. But then again...

9860548
Thanks buddy! That's very kind of you.
I'll admit I'm very unlikely to return to this story personally as I feel it's pretty complete as is, but really glad you enjoyed it :twilightsmile:

Jesus Christ this fic is actually terrifying.

It reminds me Flashgens “a fleeting light in the dark” (which if you haven’t read you absolutely should)

where to start with this story? a masterclass in horror truly, never once does the reader feel frustrated at twilights insistence to ignore her gut feelings. after all, can you blame her? the steady buildup of dread, climbing even still as we see the night sky unmade; the beautiful way you use twilights physical reactions to really show us the sort of overwhelming terror shes faced with. and the second chapter! THE SECOND CHAPTER! as if the extinguished sky wasnt enough, the darkness starts to feel very real. almost like a tangible force spreading out from space into her home and slowly consuming everything she once knew. just a delight

This story seems almost like cosmic, Lovecraftian horror. Nothing is given to you, it’s up to you to try and decide what’s happening. Very well written stuff, ggs

I like to think that, since the narrative unfolds from Twilight's perspective, the moment she opened the door, something happened either to her (perhaps she let in the darkness that consumed her), or to her perception of reality (perhaps a psychosis).

Or perhaps the damn chemistry book had something to do with all this, but that's just ridiculous, isn't it?

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