I sat on my hard, worn-out couch, chain smoking as I stared at the constant black and white static showing on my ancient television set. I’m so tired but cannot sleep. I can’t remember when I was last able to rest, let alone feel safe or secure in my home. I’m so bored that I hope that something – anything – will happen, but at the same time I’m conflicted, because I know what occurs in this cursed building and all the fear and chaos that comes with it. But, even if I’m experiencing pure terror pulsating through my veins, then at least I’m feeling something…
The noise has stopped at least – the constant banging and scratching on the walls and disembodied voices emanating from the walkways outside of my door. These unnatural sounds are always unsettling and they mean I am never at ease, but somehow the ominous silence is even worse, as I hear nothing but the buzzing static from the TV, reminding me that I’m all alone.
Eventually, I dragged myself up from the couch, my old bones creaking as I slowly walked towards the window and looked out at the empty wasteland beyond. The landscape is lifeless – a desolate hellscape going on for as far as the eye can see, and all is shrouded in darkness.
It is always night here. The building is lit up by flickering strip lights in the corridors and apartments, but the only illumination outside comes from the pale orb in the black sky above – not the sun or the moon, but something else. I can’t remember when I last saw sunlight, blue skies, clouds or any greenery whatsoever – and God, I miss them all. I didn’t know how lucky I was in the old world, in so many respects.
I don’t spend long looking out into the darkness, as I know its dangerous to do so. Several of my neighbours have gone mad after staring into the abyss for too long, as the darkness consumes them and destroys whatever glimmer of hope they have left. And then there are the inhabitants of the outer world – the beasts that stalk the land, their hideous silhouettes barely visible under the dim light of the pale orb, although one can occasionally hear their predatory roars or banshee-like wails in the distance, carrying across the empty plains.
Thankfully, the land beasts rarely approach our isolated building, and even if they did the walls should keep them at bay. The winged beasts from above are a different matter however…
It’s never seriously occurred to me to try to escape from our prison and take my chances in the desert wasteland. Oh, a couple of my neighbours have attempted this, managing to force open windows or cut through the wire mesh above the courtyard. But those few who’ve made it out always return, their eyes wide with terror as they ramble incoherently about monstrosities and horrors beyond all comprehension. Those unfortunate souls will often barricade themselves inside their small apartments, sealing the doors shut and boarding up all the windows. It can be years before they emerge again, if they do at all.
I continued to ponder such terrors when I was shaken back to reality by the crackling sound emanating from my walkie-talkie, my primary means of communication with our cursed community, the neighbours who are my responsibility to supervise and support.
When I lifted the receiver, a dull and emotionless voice told me that the delivery of ‘special items’ had arrived at the front entrance, and I must go down to sign for and collect said items. I felt relieved that at least now I have some purpose to my day, although I dread the chaos that will likely follow the distribution. Nevertheless, this is my job and responsibility, and so I took a final drag on my cigarette before descending to the ground floor.
I opened the first door and came face-to-face with the dead eyes of the deliveryman, his wrinkled face devoid of expression or compassion. I gave up trying to engage this man in conversation a long time ago. In fact, I’m not sure that the deliveryman is even human. Perhaps he’s nothing more than a supernatural drone worker designed for this sole purpose.
Behind the unblinking deliveryman is the second door, sealed tightly shut. I’ve never seen what lies beyond that outer door and I have no desire to do so. Instead, my focus is on the bulky boxed items that I’ll take ownership of and deliver using my trusty sack barrow trolley and our not so reliable old and creaky elevator.
I avoided the deliveryman’s dead eyes as I scribbled my signature on his sheet and began shifting the containers and boxes into the lobby. I have no idea what the point of me signing my name is and can only assume it’s some kind of meaningless bureaucratic ritual designed to further sap my morale. In any event, I quickly transferred the contents into the lobby and shut the door on the zombie-like deliveryman, sighing with relief as I heard him exit through the second door, returning to whatever hellscape lay beyond.
The items took me some time to deliver, as I brought the different sized containers up one-by-one in the elevator. Dr Marshall’s item is always the largest – a heavy ice cooler box filled with…I dread to think. The Doc will empty the cooler box and leave it outside his door for me to collect, while he does whatever he does with its contents.
The other boxes vary in size and weight. I don’t know what’s inside the majority of them and – once again – I’m happy to remain ignorant. I walked the balconies on each floor, looking down at the empty courtyard below and up at the black sky above, glancing warily through the wire mesh secured to the roof of our building. Carefully, I left the boxes on each and every doorstep, but I did not knock on said doors or attempt to interact with the residents inside of the apartments. I would be quite happy to avoid my neighbours for as long as possible but know this is unlikely.
As always, I feel conflicted – as I dread my interactions with the crazies and damned souls who live within this hellish complex but at the same time yearn for any kind of human contact. Nevertheless, I avoided the others as I finished my deliveries, then returning to my own dark and decrepit apartment alone, as the sweat poured from my skin. There are no seasons in this realm that I can tell, but the temperature is always either uncomfortably hot and humid or bitterly cold. I can only assume that these changes in climate are at the whim of whatever sadistic deity designed this hellish world.
I dropped my own special item on the coffee table, a fresh carton of cigarettes that will allow me to continue my filthy habit. My wife Janet was always nagging me to quit, but in this place chain smoking is the only stress relief I have. Besides, it’s a little late for me to start worrying about lung cancer.
I went straight to my small bathroom, splashing cold water on my face and enjoying some small relief. But then I glanced up and saw the red patch growing on my bathroom ceiling, watching the slow drip of crimson liquid falling into my bathtub. I knew what it was in an instant – blood.
I suppose the natural reaction to seeing blood leaking through one’s ceiling should be disgust and terror, but what I felt in that moment was angry frustration. I stormed back out of my bathroom and grabbed my walkie-talkie from the coffee table, my hand still shaking with fury as I set the frequency and made the call.
“Dr Marshall.” I stated firmly down the line, barely supressing the anger in my voice.
There was a lengthy pause before I received a response, as a surprisingly meek voice broke through the static.
“Yes, can I help?”
“Doctor, I need you to come down here straight away.” I ordered.
“Oh, I see.” the Doc answered, “Okay then, I’ll see you shortly.”
Two minutes later and Dr Marshall was standing in my bathroom, glancing up at the blood stain in my ceiling with a look of mild embarrassment etched across his thin, pasty face. Dr Marshall technically wasn’t a fully qualified MD, although I understand he did attend a couple of years of medical school where he picked up some surgical skills. He used what he’d learnt to indulge his disturbing interests until the authorities caught up with him and he ended up here.
But – as they say – a leopard cannot change its spots, and this is the cause of our current predicament. Dr Marshall isn’t much to look at, being a slight figure with pale skin and a thinning hairline. He speaks in a soft and apologetic tone and seems very unassuming and unthreatening at first glance, but of course there is a dark side to the man that makes him very dangerous. Nevertheless, the Doc knew why he was here and so was immediately on the defensive.
“Oh dear, I must apologise for this mess. All very unfortunate. I’m afraid I let my enthusiasm get the better of me, such is my passion for my work.”
He smiled thinly as he glanced across at me with his killer’s eyes. I avoided his gaze, feeling a cold chill running through me as my discomfort lessened my anger.
“Doc, we agreed that if you were to continue your – experiments – you would make sure to keep the blood and the smell under control. This isn’t the first incident. I have received other complaints.”
There was an annoyance in his voice as he answered. “Well, perhaps you can bill me for the damage?”
It was a facetious question of course. He knew very well that I had no power over him, except for that one thing.
“Doctor Marshall,” I said firmly, “You know very well that your special deliveries come from management, and if they were made aware of these incidents, they may well reconsider this arrangement…Now, you wouldn’t want that Doc, would you?”
I did make eye contact with the man after I finished delivering my thinly veiled threat. I instantly regretted doing so however, as he shot me a murderous glare, and I could imagine what was going through his mind in that moment, as he was surely fantasising about dissecting me inch-by-inch inside of his bathtub. But the Doc was smart enough to know this wasn’t possible.
After a tension-filled pause, his eyes softened, and he spoke in a more conciliatory tone.
“I apologise profusely sir. This will not happen again.”
I didn’t believe him. We’d had this conversation before and no doubt would again, but right then I wanted him out of my apartment and so I accepted his false assurances.
I went on to plaster and paint my bathroom ceiling as a temporary fix before I sat back down on my couch and waited, although for what I could not say. I don’t know how long it was before I received the next call through my walkie-talkie. A noise complaint, about No. 13. That was Mrs Jackson’s apartment, across the walkway from mine. I groaned aloud, dreading the house call that would follow but knowing it was necessary.
Soon after I found myself in Widow Jackson’s front room, sipping tea from the woman’s finest china as I scanned the neatly decorated and immaculately maintained surroundings, with quirky little ornaments set upon carefully dusted shelves, alongside lovingly framed family photographs – reminders of better times.
Mrs Jackson herself sat on the chair opposite me, smiling politely as she offered me a biscuit from a neatly stacked pile on a matching plate. She’s a frail woman with kind eyes and a sweet smile, but the wrinkles on her face told a story, as did the immeasurable sadness behind her gaze. Life had not been kind on Widow Jackson, and she’s paid dearly for her mistakes.
The cosy living room seemed warm and welcoming to the casual observer, but there were subtle signs that something wasn’t right – if you knew where to look for them. At closer glance the family portraits were disturbing. There was Mrs Jackson, her late husband and three children, except the face of the middle child had been scratched out on each and every photograph, replaced by an ominous dark circle. This was Johnny – the black sheep of the family and the only child still with his mother.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I thought of the padlocked bedroom just yards from where we sat, and I hoped that the door was secure enough to contain the monster within. I smiled faintly after taking a sip of the sweet tea and cleared my throat before bringing up the difficult issue.
“Well Mrs Jackson, I thank you for your hospitality as always, but I’m afraid this isn’t a social call.”
“Oh, I see.” the widow answered, her smile disappearing as her face suddenly dropped.
As if on cue, Johnny began one of his furious tantrums, slamming his fists against the door and walls and screaming like a banshee. The terrible din made my head pound as Mrs Jackson screamed out.
“Johnny! We have a visitor! Behave yourself, damn you!”
I could hear the anger and frustration in her voice and recognised a woman on the edge. Johnny took little notice of his mother’s shouted words, continuing to scream and bang with all the fury in hell until he eventually tired himself out.
With peace temporarily restored, Mrs Jackson looked up at me with tears in her eyes.
“I know they’re a problem…Johnny’s outbursts. But you need to know that I’m doing my best. It’s not fair on him, being locked up in that room all the time.”
I shook my head whilst interjecting. “You know we can’t let him out, not after what happened last time.”
My body shook as the horrifying memories came flooding back. Mrs Jackson surely shared my trauma, as all the colour suddenly drained from her face.
“Oh no!” she exclaimed defensively, “I’m not suggesting that at all. But surely we can make some alterations, to make him more comfortable? And the medicine they send for him…I keep saying the dosage is too low. Can you speak with management sir? You can make them listen, I know you can!”
She was pleading with me, begging for my help. I felt terrible because there was nothing I could do. Management would never agree to her requests, and there was no point even asking them. Still, I couldn’t bear to say no to Widow Jackson, not after everything she’d been through.
“Okay, I’ll talk to them.” I finally replied.
“Thank you sir,” she answered emotionally, “you’re a good man.”
Suddenly, I couldn’t bear to stay in that room, because I knew she was wrong. I wasn’t a good man, far from it. I made my excuses, setting down my mug and heading for the door. But to my surprise, Mrs Jackson jumped up from her chair, placing a firm hand on my arm as she stopped me from leaving.
I turned to face the woman, seeing her eyes now filled with an uncharacteristic intensity. She spoke to me like she’d never done before as the raw emotion seeped through in her words.
“They say he’s a monster…And I know he’s done terrible things. God, I know that better than anyone! But he’s my son…my baby boy. I can’t turn my back on him, not ever. Johnny’s all I’ve got left and I’ve got to protect him. You understand, don’t you sir?”
I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, her words having struck me like a fist to the stomach. I broke free from her grasp, muttering something incoherent before darting to the front door. And as I ran out, I heard Johnny begin yet another furious tantrum, screaming and banging as his mother pleaded for him to stop. I couldn’t deal with this however, instead fleeing like a coward as I retreated to the relative sanctuary of my own apartment.
I dwelt on the encounter with Widow Jackson for some time after, her words repeating in my head as I experienced intense feelings of pain and guilt. Did she know what I’d done? Was she privy to the terrible secret I carried in my broken heart? I suppose none of us our innocent in this place. My train of thought was suddenly interrupted by a ruckus outside of my door, as something big and fast tore along the balcony below. I instinctively jumped up, sensing danger as I grabbed my shotgun from its cabinet and filled my pockets with spare cartridges.
A moment later I was out on the balcony looking down, my weapon in hand as I searched for the threat under the dim strip lights. I saw a figure below who I initially didn’t recognise in the dark, but then the figure called out to me from the courtyard, and I recognised his voice.
“Don’t shoot sir! It’s only me. I’m afraid Cerberus got loose again!”
I rolled my eyes in frustration before replying.
“God damn it, Mr Jones!” I exclaimed, shouting down at my downstairs neighbour. “I thought I told you to keep that beast under control!”
“I know! I’m sorry.” Jones replied, “He’s a good pet really, just a bit boisterous.”
I could’ve laughed at Mr Jones’s flippant statement. Calling Cerberus ‘a bit boisterous’ was like saying Jack the Ripper was ‘a bit naughty’, but it was my responsibility to help bring the beast to heel before it did someone serious harm.
“Where is he?” I demanded impatiently.
“Last time I saw him he was headed for the basement.”
“Fantastic!” I replied sarcastically, shouldering my shotgun and returning to my apartment to retrieve my torch, before I descended in the elevator to join Mr Jones and begin our search.
I slowly made my way through the darkened basement, torch in hand as I surveyed the scene of damage and devastation, observing the shelves and boxes that had been knocked over during Cerberus’s wild rampage. I turned back to Mr Jones, shining the torch to illuminate his face and taking some satisfaction as his old eyes blinked from exposure to the light.
“We best split up to cover more ground.” I said, instantly realising what a bad idea that was.
“Don’t be shooting that damned gun at my boy!” Mr Jones cried.
I scoffed before turning away. Frankly, I doubted the buckshot in my gun would do the beast much harm, even in the unlikely case I could get off a shot. I followed the trail of destruction, my heart beating fast in my chest and my breathing becoming laboured as I nervously scanned the path in front of me, the torch shaking in my hand.
I froze when I heard the low, animalistic growl coming out of the darkness. Instinctively I backed off, only to trip over a discarded box, falling heavily and dropping my gun and torch. The beast recognised my weakened state and charged; its huge frame propelled across the dark void. I felt the immense weight hitting my chest, forcing me back down to the floor. Sharp claws dug into my ribcage, making me scream out in pain and shock.
I heard its jaws snapping just inches from my face, and I closed my eyes, preparing for the worst. But suddenly there was a high-pitched whistle and the beast looked up, releasing me from its death grip and galloping across the basement floor. I warily looked up in time to see the silhouette of Mr Jones standing in front of the basement door with the dim artificial light from the stairwell behind him. The wolf-like form of Cerberus jumped up to meet his master, the beast’s aggressive nature now transformed into friendly obedience as its owner rewarded him with a ‘treat’.
I gathered myself, retrieving my torch and gun before shouting angrily at my neighbour.
“Damn it Jones! That monster almost bit my head clean off! How many times must I tell you – keep him on a leash!”
“Yes, yes.” Mr Jones replied, as he patted his ‘pet’ on the head, “This will be the last time, I promise.”
I rolled my eyes in frustration, knowing he was full of crap but realising there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
I returned to my apartment and examined my claw wounds in the bathroom mirror.
Unsurprisingly, my shirt was ripped to hell but my injuries had already started to heal. This was always the way in this place. Sometimes I wished I would receive a fatal wound that would end my misery once and for all, but I knew there was no chance of this happening. Management wouldn’t let me off the hook so easily. I cleaned myself up and went back to the couch, sitting silently and awaiting the next inevitable emergency.
I don’t know how long it was until I received the next call – an ominous burst of static that came through on my walkie-talkie. I reached out, instinctively knowing it would be something bad.
“Hello?” I began.
“It’s back. You need to get up here. Bring your shotgun.”
My stomach churned upon hearing those words. The caller hadn’t introduced himself but I recognised his voice. Mr Hastings – one of my less troublesome neighbours if I’m honest. Mostly he kept himself to himself, but Hastings had the misfortune of living on the top floor, which put him on the frontline so to speak. His call for help and request for me to bring my gun could only mean one thing – we had a fight on our hands.
I reached the top floor and found Mr Hastings crouched down in the shadows by the stairwell, his trusty crossbow in hand as he looked upwards with an intensity in his dark eyes. He didn’t turn in my direction as I stealthily approached, remaining low and staying as quiet as possible as I joined him, ducking down beside my neighbour as we hid in the shadows.
I knew from past experience that Hastings didn’t scare easily, but when I got up close I saw the sweat pouring from his brow, his knuckles white as he clutched too tight a hold on his weapon. He nodded upwards, drawing my attention to the scene above our heads.
To my horror I saw the dark shape of the beast which had landed on top of the wire mesh, our thin protection against the terrors that ruled the dark skies of this realm. This creature was once such beast – largely the size and shape of a human being but with a vast pair of wings that allowed it to soar like a bird of prey, and with claws and teeth which could easily rip a body to shreds. The harpy-like monster was busily working on the thin cage, diligently tearing away at the wire with its claws in an attempt to break its way through.
The winged monster was making steady progress, and it wouldn’t be long before it forced its way inside. This was something we couldn’t allow to happen. I tried to control my shaking body as I whispered in my companion’s ear, deferring to Mr Hasting’s superior knowledge in this field.
“How do you want to handle this?” I asked.
“We’ve got to outflank it. You cover me and I’ll move along the balcony and hit it from behind.”
I nodded my head, not feeling entirely confident about my neighbour’s plan but knowing I couldn’t offer a better alternative. I watched Hastings move, keeping low and in the shadows whilst barely making a sound. I looked back up at the harpy, my hand still shaking as I grabbed two cartridges from my pocket and carefully loaded them into my shotgun. But the metallic clicking sound alerted the beast to my presence, as suddenly it stopped what it was doing and glared down at me with burning red eyes, snarling as it exposed its fangs in a hideous display.
A terrifying pause ensued as I found myself transfixed, unable to avert my eyes from the beast’s demonic gaze. But then all hell broke loose, as the beast roared with fury, redoubling its efforts as it ripped the wire cage apart, determined to get at me and devour my still warm flesh.
Acting on pure fear and adrenaline, I raised my gun and fired. BOOM. And again…BOOM. The buckshot hit the winged beast, causing it pain and irritation but no serious injury. I desperately plunged my hand back into my pocket to retrieve fresh cartridges, but the harpy was almost in, ready to descend and rip me to shreds.
But suddenly I saw movement in the corner of my eye, spotting a dark figure emerging from the shadows and then a projectile flying through the air at speed. The bolt struck the winged beast in its left leg, and I took a perverse pleasure as it shrieked in pain, unveiling its wings and ascending in a blind panic, flying back up into the dark skies above – defeated and humiliated.
I breathed a sigh of immense relief as I watched the harpy disappear before Mr Hastings came back by my side, the now unloaded crossbow still in his hands. My neighbour looked up at the hole in the wire cage and shook his head.
“More will come. That will need to be fixed.” he said.
I nodded my head, shaking myself back to reality as I dealt with the shock of the last few moments.
“Yes.” I replied solemnly, “I’ll get my ladder and start work on the repairs straight away.”
“Okay.” Hastings answered cooly, before walking down the dimly lit walkway and back towards his apartment, leaving me alone to my work.
It was quiet for a time after the harpy attack, but I didn’t know how long this would last. I needed some relief after all I’d seen and suffered, and so I decided to continue with my secret project, remembering the brief glimpse I’d previously enjoyed which had kept a glimmer of hope alive in my otherwise blackened heart.
After finishing yet another cigarette, I reached for the dial on my TV set, my hand once again shaking – but this time with excited anticipation rather than cold terror. I twisted the dial to tune the device and searched for the channel I yearned for, ignoring the sinister otherworldly images and sounds that appeared on screen and reverberated through the speakers.
Finally, I saw the image I’d been searching for, finely tuning to sharpen the picture – my heart almost jumping out of my chest when I saw her face. My Janet, as beautiful as she was the day I married her, all those long years ago – her long blonde hair, deep blue eyes, and soft, delicate features all remaining unchanged and untainted. But no…she wasn’t the same, not anymore. Her eyes, once filled with passion, joy and love were now sullen and bloodshot – her expression sorrowful and grief-stricken. And there was something worse…as I realised her heart was filled with a righteous fury.
“Janet,” I whimpered, my emotions getting the better of me, “is that really you?”
Her reply was sharp and brutal, as she snarled at me through the television set.
“What the hell do you want, you bastard?”
I was taken aback, struggling to find the words to respond.
“I…I…want to apologise. To tell you how sorry I am.”
She laughed aloud in open mockery, saying – “You’re sorry? So what? It makes no difference. You know it’s too late for apologies.
“Look…” I desperately interjected, “I know what I did was…terrible. And you’ve got every right to be angry, Janet. But you’ve got to believe I’ve changed. I don’t expect you to forgive me, but let me see my girls at least…Please! You owe me that much!”
She scoffed in disgust at my heartfelt plea, losing control as she launched into a furious tirade.
“You will never see our children again! What happened to the girls was your fault! We don’t want you in our world…Don’t need you! You can rot in hell for all eternity for all I care!”
My jaw dropped and my whole body trembled uncontrollably as I looked into her hate-filled eyes and felt all my resolve collapsing. And then, suddenly my wife’s face disappeared from the television screen, replaced by an image that brought back buried memories of immense grief and guilt. I saw a graveyard on a lonely hillside, with black-clad, tearful mourners gathered around three coffins, watching solemnly as they were lowered into the waiting graves one-by-one. The first coffin was full-sized, while the other two were notably smaller – designed for children.
The tears were rolling down my cheeks in an unstoppable stream as I reached out to touch the cold screen, but as soon as I did so the image changed again, with a face barely visible through the static. But it wasn’t my wife’s face this time. Instead, I saw a hideous death mask – an inhuman creature with dark, soulless eyes. It opened its mouth to reveal a gaping black hole, emitting a high-pitched scream that forced me to retreat from the TV, recoiling in horror as I covered my ears in a futile attempt to drown out the awful din.
Mercifully, the hellish wailing did not last, as the TV set shut itself off and left me alone in my silent living room, shaken and terrified by what I’d just witnessed. I knew I’d screwed up badly, and there would be consequences. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
I jumped with fright when I heard the ringing, fearfully looking across to the dust-covered red phone affixed to my living room wall. This phone could not be used for outgoing calls and when it rang this only meant one thing – that the building manager wanted to speak with me.
I slowly walked across the laminate floor and reached out to pick up the receiver, holding it up to my ear as I spoke meekly.
“Hello?” I squeaked.
I expected the familiar voice on the other side to angrily berate me, but instead his tone was surprisingly sympathetic.
“What’s going on buddy?” he enquired calmly.
I felt immense shame and struggled to find the words to justify my actions.
“I messed up…I know I did. I just thought if I could talk to her, I could make her understand.”
“It’s not permitted. You know this. You’re not doing anyone any favours by trying to make contact.”
I shook my head, trying to keep my emotions in check.
“But I’m sorry…so sorry for the mistakes I made! My remorse is genuine, can’t you see that?”
“Oh, I see it.” the manager replied impatiently, “but its not enough. You committed a grave sin and this is your assigned punishment. That’s just the way it is.”
I whimpered, sobbing as I spoke my next words. “How long? How long must I stay in this place?”
“For as long as we say.” came the manager’s uncompromising reply, “You’ll stay and do your job until such time as we consider your punishment is complete. Now, I suggest you be a good warden and quit complaining. Follow the rules my friend…and remember – there are always worse places we can send you. Understood?”
An ice-cold chill ran through me as I considered his sinister words and imagined the grotesque hellscapes which lay beyond our strange little apartment block.
“I understand.” I muttered meekly, as my last resolve melted away.
“Good.” the manager responded before promptly hanging up the phone, leaving me to listen to the ominous dial tone.
And so, this is my story…or at least as much of it as I wish to share with you. I remain trapped here, warden to a bizarre apartment block on the edge of a desolate hellscape. I can’t say exactly where I am but I do know why I’m here, and I realise I deserve my punishment.
Time is difficult to gauge in this realm. Honestly, I don’t know whether the incidents I have described in this account occurred over a day, a week, a month, or even a year. It makes no odds I suppose. This is my existence – my sentence. And I shall continue to carry out my duties as warden, doing what little good I can in the hope that one day I will find redemption.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my walkie-talkie is buzzing, and I must go to work.
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