BHM Cover Your Assets

Dimensions Magazine

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Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Cover Your Assets
by JackCivelli

Pt 1

Imogen sat at her desk with her hand on the mouse. Her finger hovered over the left mouse button. Her eyes were fixed on a green rectangular button on the screen her cursor floated over.
“Don’t do it.” the reasonable part of her brain chimed in. “It’s not worth it. It’s not worth the thrill. You were doing so well. It’s been almost two weeks. Don’t break your streak now…”
The little voice tried. It tried incessantly to convince her. Then another voice spoke. This voice was much weightier, though it didn’t plead the way the first voice had. It sounded so casual, teetering on the edge of boredom.
“Just do it. You know you’re going to eventually cave anyway.”
As if suddenly unchained, Imogen’s finger fell hard onto the mouse button. The little green button on the screen turned blue, indicating it had been pressed.
“Bet Placed - $200 - Thank you for using WayGer”
The tiny voice was silent. It had lost. Imogen closed her eyes. A euphoric rush washed over her. Goosebumps formed on her skin. It was like being gently kissed on the back of the neck by a new lover. Not only euphoric, but exhilarating. Then came the guilt, tinging and polluting the high like a fart during sex.

“Imma, did you just do what I think you did?” This voice came from behind her instead of in her head. She spun around in her chair, lip bit guiltily, and locked eyes first with the prominent belly, then the face of the individual who was standing at the entrance to her cubicle.
“H-he-hey Ken, what’s up?” Imogen sputtered, sitting up straight in her chair, hoping her head would obscure his view of her computer screen.
“We talked about this already, didn’t we?” the portly ginger asked, knowing full well that they had.
“I-uh…” she had so many defenses she practiced just in case she was ever caught gambling at work again, but none of them would shake loose under pressure.
“What did you bet on?” Ken asked.
“Um...I, uh... Schrodinger’s Cat.”
“What?” Ken was confused.
“Sorry, it’s a racehorse. They always have weird names. I mean, it’s not even a cat. How do you confuse a horse with a cat, am I right?” she offered an awkward laugh.
“Okay, okay…” she sighed. “I know I can’t do this at work, but I got a tip about this horse and I couldn’t pass it up. Please, please, please don’t tell Schmidt about this.”
“I can’t cover your ass forever.” Ken folded his arms. “You can’t keep taking advantage of our friendship like this.”
“No, no, no, I’m not trying to take advantage of you, dude. I have a problem, okay? I’m sorry, I can’t help it.”
“Im… you need to get some help.”
“I know.”
“If you would focus on your work, you wouldn’t even have time to waste your money with that damn WayGer site.”
“That’s the problem. I’m done with everything Schmidt gave me to do. I shot him an email an hour ago to see if there’s anything else I can get done, but as always, he didn’t respond. So I’m left to wait out the clock with half a day left. I’ve watched everything I care to on Netflix already, I gave up on level 86 of CandyCrush, and I’ve already separated out and sorted all of my colored paper clips.”
“Good for you. Most people in here have trouble just finishing their workload. Schmidt is a busy guy. He’s not going to take time out to find you a task. But get up and move around the office. See what other projects you can jump on to and get involved in. Schmidt notices stuff like that. He might even give you a raise, or a bonus or something.”
“So… are you gonna rat me out?” Imogen asked, twirling the ends of her straightened brown hair.
Ken sighed.
“No, I’m not going to rat you out, but if this keeps happening, I’m going to have to, eventually. Schmidt has the IT guy randomly track computer usage to see if anyone is slacking off. He knows we’re friends, so I’ll get the boot at the same time you do.”
“Okay, no more looking for betting advice at work.” she promised. “If I don’t even look, I can’t be tempted to bet.”
“Let’s hope not.”
“Did you come over here for a reason other than to shame my gambling habit?”
“Oh, uh… yeah, I kind of lost my train of thought. I wanted to warn you, watch your things around the cleaning crew. A lot of people are missing personal items and Schmidt thinks the cleaners are swiping things. We’ve told security about the concern and they’re going to be watching for any signs of theft.”
“Oh, wow. What’s gone missing?”
“Marion Whateley is missing a ring. She said she takes it off sometimes to lotion her hands and forgets to put it back on. Jim Hubert usually takes his iPad home after work, but he left it here on Tuesday and now its gone. David Kaplan just got a really nice new pedometer watch a few days ago, and it turned up missing this morning.”
“That sucks. Is that all?”
“Oh, no. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Marilyn Oates’ handbag, Hsu Chen’s wallet, Daniel Mendez’s jacket, Audrey Lambert’s bluetooth speaker… there’s a lot missing.”
“How long has this been going on?” Imogen furrowed her brow.
“It’s been happening on and off for a year or two really sporadically. Most people weren’t entirely sure they hadn’t just misplaced their missing property. But now it’s occurring so frequently it has to be someone swiping these things.”
“Okay. Thanks for the heads up.”
“You got it.” Ken said, turning to walk away.
“Tell Jules I said hi.”
The jiggly red head offered a chubby thumbs-up without looking back. Imogen watched his gut sway back and forth as he half-walked, half-waddled away. She’d been friends with Ken and Julie since before any of them worked at AstraScape Solutions. They’d met in college, when Ken was only 185 lbs. Imogen liked chubby boys since she was old enough to like boys at all, and she’d been drawn to Ken by his pudgy belly and big appetite. She knew he was bound to gain. Julie was her roommate, and although the two of them chatted about guys on campus they thought were attractive, Imogen never revealed to her that she was into big guys. But she kept hanging out with Ken, and he came over a lot. Imogen always had something ready to eat for him when he came over, and when they hung out around town, she always tried to get together where there would be food. Ken never disappointed, nor did he fail to impress with how much he could pack away in one sitting. She often marvelled at the mountain of food he referred to as a “snack”. She was attracted to his body, and his eating habits, but something just didn’t feel right about being in a relationship with him. There wasn’t a spark. And if Ken felt anything for her other than friendship, he kept it well hidden. Julie started hanging out with them more and more, and one night after a weekend spent with him, Julie asked if she had any feelings for him. When Imogen said that he was just a friend, Julie confessed her immense attraction to him. As it turned out, Julie had always been into larger men, too. Like Imogen, she found it difficult to admit that to others, especially to friends and family members. With Imogen’s blessing, the two dated for almost a year, when Ken proposed to her. He’d gained nearly 80 lbs in that time, and in the 6 years they’d been married, he’d put on about 200 lbs more. She felt guilty about being more attracted to him now more than ever.
Turning back to her computer screen, that text was just waiting for her gaze to return so it could punch her in the gut.
“Bet Placed - $200 - Thank you for using WayGer”
Imogen clicked the X to close the window and put her head down on her desk in shame. She had to stop this. It would end up costing her everything. She knew it would. It nearly had, many times in the past. $200 wouldn’t make or break her by any means, but this was how the cycle always began. She would bet more and more until she was gambling with rent money.
Last edited by a moderator:
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Pt 2

Adrian walked into the control room, took off his jacket, and hung it on the back of the chair.
“Hey, man.” Devon said, putting down his manga.
“Hey.” Adrian said, clocking in. “What’s that? More anime?”
“Anime is cartoons, Adrian. When you read it, it’s manga.”
“Whatever. Its weirdos with crazy blue hair and gigantic eyeballs and mouths.”
“I told you, the faces are drawn exaggeratedly because the Japanese want the characters to be able to show their emotions without having to speak them out loud.”
“Okay… but that still doesn’t explain the blue hair.”
Devon laughed. “It’s just a difference in culture, man.”
“Any coffee left?”
“Yeah I just started a new pot.” Devon said, clocking out. “Is it still raining out there?”
“Oh yeah, man. It’s really coming down.” Adrian walked into the adjoining room where the coffee pot was. “Where are you parked?”
“On the north side. I’m gonna get soaked.”
“Good luck to you, amigo.”
“Hey, by the way, I almost forgot. There’s a directive on the desk.” Devon pointed to a piece of paper printed on the AstrakScape Solutions letterhead. “They think the cleaning crews are stealing personal items from the offices. I watched all day but I didn’t see anything.”
“Yeah right, you were reading about blue-haired people.”
“I do my job.” Devon sounded defensive.
“Yeah, I know you do, man. I’m just busting your chops.” Adrian eased up.
“Anyway, I didn’t see anything on my shift, but watch the overnight crew. My bet is that they’re the ones who are taking ****. The building’s nice and quiet, and they’re the only ones here.”
“Except for me,” Adrian said, sitting down in front of the cameras with a styrofoam cup of coffee, “and i’m watching…” he took a sip “...always watching.”
Devon walked out of the control room and down the hallway. Adrian watched him on the CCTV monitors as he walked through the empty lobby of AstraScape Solutions and stopped at the front door. Holding his book over his head like it would shelter him from the rain, he opened the door and darted out into the wet, stormy night. Switching to the outdoor cameras, Adrian watched Devon run down all the way around the side of the building to the north lot, tripping and dropping his anime book, or whatever, in a puddle of water. Adrian snickered as Devon picked up the drenched book. His lips were moving, and even though there was no audio on the CCTV cameras, Adrian could practically hear the cussing he knew was flowing like a river out of Devon’s mouth. Fishing the keys out of his pocket, Devon unlocked the door to his white 1992 Nissan Sentra with one brown quarter panel and hail damage. It took him a few tries to get the engine to turn over, then he drove out of the north lot, flipping off the gate camera as he left.

Adrian picked the directive up off the desk and skimmed it.
“Damn cleaners.” he laughed. Then he grabbed a flashlight of the shelf and walked out of the control room toward the elevators. The dark building gave him the creeps the first few nights he did his rounds, but he’d gotten used to it. He took the elevator up to the second floor and started walking around the offices. It would be another hour before the night crew showed up,so he wanted to look around at potential targets first. It looked like employees had been warned. There wasn’t much left out, and what was, was of little value. Nothing a thief would want to take. He went up a floor to 3, but it was the same story. 4th floor, 5th floor, then finally on 6 he found a silver Zippo cigarette lighter. It wasn;t worth much, but it was shiny and looked nice. Adrian looked around to see where the nearest camera was. It wasn’t too far away, but he knew it had been configured to permanently watch the vending machine in the corner, after Jerry Vargas beat the hell out of it when it didn;t give him the Snickers bar he paid for. Adrian pocketed the Zippo and continued with his patrols, making sure he never walked near the banged up vending machine. He felt a rush of excitement taking the lighter of the desk, and it gave him a sense of fulfillment every time he felt the weighty lighter sway in his pocket.

Adrian was a kleptomaniac. He had been a thief for years. He felt like he couldn’t help it anymore. If he didn’t steal something, the desire to would burn in his brain,hotter and hotter, until he had to quench it. The higher the value, the more satisfying, and his appetite for theft had grown out of control lately. He knew he had to stop, but he felt powerless to. Somewhat resigned to keep going until he got caught, he took everything he could get his hands on during his patrols night after night, as long as he knew it wouldn’t be caught on camera, or that the camera footage would leave no one to blame for an item’s disappearance but himself. He felt guilty that the cleaning crew was taking the fall for him, and though he put on a callous facade for himself, it troubled him deeply. The addiction, however, had taken so strong a root in him that he felt powerless to fight it.
Adrian walked up and down the office floors, but he found nothing else worth taking. On the way back down, he took a pen that he found on someone’s desk, a small spiral notepad he found on another, and a coffee mug that said “Gingers Do It Best” that he found in one of the break rooms. He wasn’t satisfied with the pitiful haul, but he took it back to the control room nonetheless and stashed them in his backpack.

Through the night, Adrian tried to occupy himself with watching movies on his phone, watching the rain over the CCTV monitors, watching one of the younger cleaning ladies who he thought was kind of cute, and browsing social media, but the desire was burning in his mind. Eventually his hands shook and he started to sweat. He could think of nothing but taking something that didn’t belong to him. So Adrian took a last swallow of coffee and went back up stairs, desperate to find anything he may have overlooked.

The first, second, and third floor had nothing. Absolutely nothing worth taking. The fourth and fifth were the same. Andrian was getting frustrated. Management had warned the employees too well. They’d left nothing behind. Then, on a table in the break room on the 7th floor, Adrian saw a box of donuts left over from the work day. He opened the lid and found six donuts left. He’d never considered taking food before. Picked up the first donut, a chocolate glazed with pink sprinkles, a took a bite. This felt… different. He finished the donut in a few bites and started on the second. This was satisfying in a brand new way. Not only was he stealing, he was actually taking his stolen items into his body, which felt wrong in a satisfying way. Like scratching a mosquito bite. You know you shouldn’t do it, and the itch will only get worse afterward, but in the moment it feels so deliciously satisfying. Adrian ate the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth donuts and left the empty box on the table. He wasn;’t accustomed to eating so much at once, and felt pretty full. He started to walk out of the break room to return to his desk, but then he saw the refrigerator. The donuts were probably community. Up for grabs. And they would probably be thrown out in the morning anyway. That was barely stealing at all. But the refrigerator held things that people were planning to eat. Personal items, purchased by employees, would be inside. There was a note taped to the door of the fridge.
“If it’s not yours, DO NOT EAT IT”
That sealed the deal. Adrian pulled the door open to see a smorgasbord of office lunches. A sandwich, a cup of yogurt, a pack of string cheese, a salad, a candy bar, a tupperware of something yellow that tasted vaguely of cheese… Adrian slowed down. A protein shake. A slice of cheesecake. An apple… a bag of jerky… a can of soda… Adrian shut the door to the fridge. He was not a heavy man by any means, but his normally flat stomach bulged out in front of him, painfully and nauseatingly packed with stolen food. It made loud gurgling and churning noises. There was no mirror in the break room, but Adrian was quite sure he was green. He slowly trudged down the hallway, his heavy stomach feeling like it was pulling him down to the ground. In the elevator, on the ride down, he felt certain he would throw up, but he managed to keep it together. Once he was back on the ground floor, he very slowly and carefully made his way back to the control room and plopped down in the chair at the desk. The buttons on his uniform were puckering over his distended belly. He unbuttoned the tight buttons, unbuckled his belt and there was instant relief. Adrian rubbed his tightly packed gut and burped. Ahh… more relief. Then, once he wasn’t so preoccupied with trying desperately not to regurgitate, the feeling hit him. That euphoric rush you can only get by scratching the worst of mosquito bites. This was so much more exciting than stealing, and it looked like they were on the lookout for thieves now, too. Food was safere to steal, but he had to stop anyway. Stealing food may have have been less wrong than stealing property, but it was still wrong, and Adrian hated thinking about how people would feel knowing their things had been stolen. The stomach ache he had felt satisfying in another way. It felt like a deserved punishment for his thievery. He craved that almost as much as the high of the theft in the first place.
But none of that mattered. It had to stop. Tonight was the last night. This could never happen again. Ever.
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Pt 3

Adrian ended up falling asleep for most of the rest of his shift, and woke up to find his belly was still swollen. In fact, it actually seemed like it had gotten even bigger. His gut had produced a lot of gas from his impromptu gorging, and the way he slept, balled up in a chair, cradling his distended stomach, didn’t help the situation. He felt huge and was barely able to button his uniform or buckle his belt. In fact it was quite painful to do so, but he got it done before his relief arrived. He covered his balloon belly up with his jacket as he clocked out, said nothing to his relief, and waddled to out into the parking lot. The storm had subsided, but the outside world was drenched. On the way to his car, he passed a very attractive brunette who was just showing up for work.
“Good morning!” she said with a smile and a wave.
Adrian gave her a nod in response but didn’t speak. He had to get home as soon as possible. He held one hand over his jacket as if she might notice his bulging stomach through it.

The security guard seemed strange to Imogen so she looked at him more closely as he walked to his car. He seemed like a pretty attractive guy, but like he was embarrassed or hiding something. Then, when he took off his jacket to get into his car, she saw how big his belly was. He didn’t look fat, just incredibly bloated. The buttons on his uniform were strained to bursting. He tugged at his uniform trying to get it to fit right, before giving up and just hopping into the car.

“Oh my god…” escaped her lips before she could stop it. The guard looked over at her again and she quickly broke eye contact, hurrying into the building. Both of them felt embarrassed.
Adrian drove home and went straight to his medicine cabinet for some pepto bismol, then went to bed to sleep while his body digested what felt like a bowling ball in his stomach.

At work, Imogen could barely think of anything other than pulling up WayGer and checking on her bets, but she knew if she did, she would end up placing more bets. So, instead she got to work. She put her nose to the grind stone and focused on what she needed to do that day.
Imogen had always been a fast worker and when she really focused, it was like she had tunnel vision. As long as she could stay distracted with work everything was fine. But as usual, she ran out of work before noon. Her first instinct, of course, was to get on WayGer, but instead she took Ken’s advice and walked around to some of the work groups in her office to see if there was anything they needed help with if they were shorthanded. AstraScape Soltutions was big on assigning work groups to tackle issues management was either stretched too thin, or were just too lazy to do themselves. Schmidt was especially bad about it, often letting things go far too long before trying to catch up. When he saw how hopeless it was, he would assign it to a work group. The work groups usually met in unused conference rooms, so she walked down the east wing of her floor, past the conference rooms, and just poked her head in to see if she any looked especially hard up for help. Groups were usually at least 7 or 8 people, but she found a group that had been designated by Schmidt to reduce company expenses that only had 4 people in it. They were Charles, Tracy, Edward, and Annette, all accountants. Imogene was good with numbers so she offered to help. The overworked accountants were more than happy to oblige, and soon, Imogen had more work to do than she had in a long time. Ken even came by to congratulate her on finding something productive to do. He was so much more charming when he was smiling instead of scolding her. Ken’s brief check-in with her was the only thing that had been able to momentarily break her concentration. There was something about a portly man in a button down and a tie that did something for her. Once again, a feeling of guilt came over her when she realized that she was beginning to feel giddy like a school girl with a crush when she saw him now. He was just getting so… big.
It was said of Imogen that she did not idle well. This was definitely true. With nothing to do, she fell into worse and worse habits. But with a simple accounting task she was able to put her nose to the grind stone and not let up until the job was done.
Time moved forward but she barely noticed. Charles broke her concentration when he announced “that’s 5 o’clock, folks! I’m out of here!“
Was it really already 5 o’clock? She looked at the clock display in the corner of her monitor and sure enough it was 5:01.
“Go ahead.” Imogen said to Charles. “I think I want to stay a little longer. I think I’m on to something.”
“Suit yourself.” Charles said. “I’m going to happy hour down at MacMillan’s.”
Tracy, Edward, and Annette, stayed another hour with Imogen since she seemed so invested in the task they’d been given, but soon they too called it a day.
“Hey, Imogen.” Annette said. “Thanks again so much for your help today. We cut a pretty good amount of expenses for Schmidt. We’re going to meet Charles at MacMillan’s. Would you like to join us?”
Imogen, however, didn’t even want to think about quitting. It went beyond her fear that she would go back to making bets. She’d found a thread to pull and she wanted to see how far it went and just what it was connected to.
“Thanks for the offer, but I think I’m going to work late tonight.”
“You know, you don’t have to, right? Schmidt will be happy with what we found.” said Edward.
“I’m sure he will, and I do appreciate the offer, really I do, I just really want to follow this thread right now.” And she wasn’t lying. Most nights she would have loved to go to the bar with some potential new work friends, but the laser focus had her. She was locked onto something and she wasn’t even sure what it was yet, but it pulled her in like a tractor beam.
So she kept working. She worked until she was the last one in the office and they turned the daytime lights off.
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Pt 4

Adrian sat at his desk, staring hard at the CCTV monitors. It was so still in the building at night, especially before the cleaners got there. He pulled up Netflix on the security terminal and put on a horror movie, but it didn’t hold his attention. While staring at the copmuter screen without paying much attention to it, he suddenly became aware of a sharp pain in his left thumb. He looked down to see that it was bleeding from the cuticle. He absent mindedly picked at his cuticles whenever he was really stressed out, and stressed out he was. The desire was back. Stronger than ever.
He stood up and paced back and forth in the control room. His hand
“I have to get this under control.” he told himself. “It’s getting too far out of hand. Besides, if I take any more, they’ll know. They’ll figure it out. Sooner or later I’ll slip up.”
But it was no use. The urge grew and grew until it drove him mad.
“Just one or two things. Maybe I can slow down how much I’m taking. Go back to only a couple of items a week…”
He took the elevator up to the second floor and began his nightly sweep of the high rise. He went through the offices one by one on 2, 3, 4, and 5. Then, on the 6th floor he found a gold watch laying on a desk. His addiction drew him to just walk over and snatch it up, but his instincts told him something didn’t feel right. He approached slowly, not getting too close to the desk. He scanned around the room. The only camera in sight was facing a different direction. The coast looked clear, but he couldn’t take the watch. It was off somehow. Things were amiss. Adrian scrutinized the desk that had several other personal effects on it. The name plate read “Grant Nguyen”. A few photos showed an Asian man with a wife and one daughter. An elderly couple appeared in a few photos who Adrian supposed to be either Grant’s parents or his in-laws. There were several pictures of a restaurant, including some in construction. “King Wok” read the sign on the restaurant. There was a menu from King Wok, and one of those mechanical porcelain cats that waves endlessly. It was the cat that unsettled him. The watch was placed a foot or so away from the cat, but the cat was directly in-line with it. Adrian could hear a very faint mechanical hum, barely audible unless you really listened for it, and he noticed the cat had one dark blue eye and one black eye. The black eye looked strange. Almost like a… camera lens!
Adrian backed away from the desk. Was the cat actually a hidden camera? Was the watch a plant meant to catch the thief? Or was he just getting paranoid? The urge to swipe the watch was strong, but so was his fear, and he left quickly, hoping he’d stayed far enough away that he wasn’t in frame, if indeed it was a camera inside the cat.

Adrian walked briskly back to the elevator. He’d been spooked. If that was, in fact, a camera, they were more serious about catching the thief than he thought. That was it. He had to stop. He’d chop off his hands if he had to. But his addiction kept him from fully committing to that vow. He knew he was going to have to replace his kleptomaniac addiction with something else. Then he thought again about food. At first, all he could think of was how sick he felt after shovelling all that food down his throat. But then he remembered the euphoria of it.
“Maybe if I slow down and take my time instead of wolfing it down in a hurry I won’t get sick.” he thought. Pushing the button for the second floor, he decided to head back down and start his search over. This time, looking for food.
The first floor was only the lobby, security control room, parking garage access, a janitor’s closet, public bathrooms, and one rarely used conference room, so he decided to skip it. The offices started on 2 and went all the way up to 28. So he ducked into the breakroom on the second floor and right away he found a ham sandwich. It wasn’t his usual fare, but unwrapping and eating someone else’s sandwich scratched that itch just right. On the third floor he found a jar of pickles, so he helped himself to two of them. He also found a box with one jelly donut left in it. Jelly erupted from it as he bit into it, smearing his face and a few drops dribbled onto his uniform. If he was just eating lunch, that would have been plenty. But Adrian had a lust to slake. A lust that was quickly transitioning from stealing valuables to stealing food. On the fourth floor he found a big tray of cookies and cupcakes left over from an office party. He bit into one of the cookies, and for the first time since he stole his first donut, he ate it because it looked delicious instead of purely out of a compulsion to steal. Adrian tried a chocolate chip cookie, followed by a sugar cookie. Then an oatmeal raisin, a snickerdoodle, and a ginger snap. He wasn’t sure if the chocolate chip was better or the snicker doodle. The chocolate chip had a great flavor, but the snickerdoodle was so soft.

Imogen looked up from her computer. Her brain was fried. She couldn’t concentrate anymore. A quick glance at the clock told her it was 2:00 am.
“****.” she muttered.
She stood up from the table in the conference room and walked to her desk where her things were. Across the large room, she saw a someone bent over a table. Her eyes were burry from strain, but after staring for a moment, she could tell it was a security guard and he was stuffing his face with cookies. Imogen wasn’t sure what she was witnessing at first. This seemed different somehow than just a hungry and kind of sloppy security guard. She quietly sat down in her cubicle and peered around the divider. The guard turned around with a cupcake in each hand. One chocolate, one pink. His belly was distended from gluttony. His belly was exposed in a gap in his uniform where hed either popped a button or unbuttoned it himself for comfort. The guard bit into one cupcake, then the other, back and forth, until they were gone. His face was covered with food and so was his shirt. He burped and rubbed his belly.
“Pink is better.” he said. Then he walked toward the elevator.
Imogen recognized him from that morning when hed passed her in the parking lot. Was this a regular thing for him? Stuffing his face on left over food all night? She wanted another look at that gorgeous gut of his, and she was curious as to what he was up to. So she waited for him to get on the elevator. The digital display showed that the elevator stopped one floor up on 5, so she hurried to the stairwell and run up to the fifth. She slowly and quietly opened the stairwell door and peeked her head out into the offices. She saw the guard walking away from her, so she decided to follow him. He found more leftover donuts, and he put away a good portion of a meat and cheese tray that was left over from a conference. He moaned and rubbed his belly. It was getting huge. If it wasn’t for the fact that she could see his belly through the gap in his uniform where a button used to be, she would have thought he was hiding a watermelon under his shirt. She watched him force a bag of chips into his ever-swelling stomach and saw another button pop off. It flew across the room and bounced off the wall before landing in the break room sink.
“Oh, ****.” Adrian groaned. He hadn’t even realized he lost the first button, and now two were gone. Taut belly flesh bulged from the opening in his tight-to-bursting uniform and his very shallow belly button was exposed. Adrian poked at it playfully, clearly amused by how distended his midsection was. Turning his gaze to the open refrigerator, he looked lustfully at all the food inside, but after a fit of hiccups, he closed it again. Imogen hid amongst the cubicles as Adrian walked back out of the breakroom to the elevator. He took it down to the first floor and waddled back to the control room. He’d managed to gorge himself with even more stolen food than the day before, but having slowed himself down to a manageable rate, he didn’t feel sick, just overstuffed and enormous. His breathing was shallow and he was so packed with food his sides rubbed against the arm rests of his chair.
“Is this what it feels like to be a fat guy?” he wondered. The thought amused him. “I’ll be one for sure if i do this every night.”
Then, movement caught his attention on the CCTV cameras. There was a woman walking out of the stairwell on the third floor.
“What the-... where the hell did she come from?” he said. Adrian picked up the phone to call the police, but then he wondered if this woman was really an intruder. She was dressed business casual. All employees who worked late were supposed to call the security office and let them know, but maybe this woman wasn’t familiar with that policy yet. He decided to rewind the tape to see if she’d broken in, or if she came out of one of the upper offices.
Adrian turned white as a ghost when he reviewed the footage. He saw himself walking through the offices, glutting himself, and this woman trailing him from a distance. She was definitely following him. Then he rewound the tape back to the point where he stuffed his face on cookies and cupcakes. Even though the tray was out of view of the camera (he’d made sure of that before he started), he saw the same woman peeking out of a cubicle, watching him. He turned off playback to view the live cameras again and he found her walking through the lobby toward the main door. Adrian ran out of the control room and down the hall to the lobby.
“Hey!” he shouted at her.
Imogen looked at him, but didn’t know what to say or do, so she did the only thing she could think to do.
She ran out the front door toward her car. Adrian ran after her, but his painfully swollen abdomen slowed him down significantly. He saw her get into her car, take one more fearful look at him, then drove away.
Adrian went back inside, feeling once again like he was going to puke. He wasn’t sure if it was from the running, or having just been caught, or both.
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Pt 5

Adrian finished his shift without reporting anything. He felt sick. Not from overindulgence, but from having been caught. He felt on edge throughout the rest of his shift. Then the sun came up, and Barry, the morning guard, relieved him. Barry noted that he “looked like hell”, but Adrian was barely aware of it. He gathered his things and went home. It was Saturday morning, which was the worst. It was usually good because Adrian had the weekends off, but this weekend he would have the sword of Damacles hanging over his head. At some point, the woman who caught him would report what she’d seen. Maybe she already had, or maybe she would report it on monday. Either way, he would likely hear about it when he reported for duty on monday night. He hoped he would simply be fired outright, and not made to explain himself. There was just no way to explain his behavior without telling the truth, and that was completely out of the question. Maybe the police would take him away if he admitted to being the thief. Maybe Schmidt would call the men in the white coats to come take him to the loony bin. Neither would be as embarrassing as being confronted with it in the first place. Adrian laid down, but he couldn’t sleep. He tried to watch tv or play video games to take his mind off of it, but he couldn’t concentrate. Normally, when Adrian was stressed out, his kleptomania went through the roof. Now all he could think about was food.
It was early evening by the time he decided to order a pizza. “Actually, make it two”, he said into the phone, “extra large. With that crust that has cheese inside. And a large order of boneless wings. And one of those cookie-brownie-pizza things.”
When the delivery guy showed up with the order, Adrian felt embarrassed how obvious it was that he was the only one living there, and that all that food was clearly for him. In reality, Dennis the pizza boy didn’t give a ****, and didn’t think twice about, what was to him, just another order. He was far more interested in getting home and binge watching Orange is the New Black. Again.

Adrian sat down on the couch and dug into the pizza. He was hungry, but this was more than he’d ever eaten in one sitting. Getting lost in the flavors and the sheer overindulgence was like morphine for his soul. The fear, the embarrassment, the anxiety all felt lightyears away. They felt like they belonged to a different person. Someone called Adrian. This being, the one gorging himself on pizza, wings, and an abomination of a dessert, was not that Adrian person. He was “the eater” and his entire existence was about eating all this food. And when it was gone, he would have accomplished his life goal. He would be self-actualized.
Things started to get difficult when he started on the second pizza. Adrian unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned his pants. The feast continued as his belly began to stretch and bulge, trying to accommodate all that was being stuffed inside of it. With the second pizza down, Adrian’s glutted gut was even bigger than it had been after his feast at work. His shirt, no longer able to cover his expanding midsection, rode up, exposing his belly button. It wasn’t long before this annoyed him, so he took the shirt off entirely. Now he could see just how big he was getting, and he couldn’t deny a growing part of him that enjoyed it. He slowly ate the large order of wings as his gurgling stomach moaned and bellowed its protest. By the time they were gone, he was painfully full and breathing was difficult. Adrian looked the pizza-brownie-cookie thing with both lust and disdain. He felt like it would be impossible to finish it, but he also knew that he was going to try. Every bite felt like an entire thanksgiving turkey in his stomach, already feeling stretched to its limit. But piece after piece it disappeared. Adrian kept waiting to feel sick, but he never did. The pressure only intensified. And although he was stuffed to the point of pain, he liked it. He even craved it. And when he swallowed the last bite, having completed his obscene meal, he fell back onto the couch with a contented sigh. His turgid middle barely moved it was packed so tight. Adrian rubbed it, feeling how taut his skin was. It felt hard and dense. There was no give when he poked it.
“I think I’m at critical mass.” Adrian laughed. There was an undeniable elation about being so incredibly glutted that he wasn’t sure if he could stand. It was intoxicating. It was better than stealing. And at that moment Adrian knew this new fixation had overtaken his kleptomania, and he wondered without fear or trepidation if he had given himself an eating disorder. He didn’t care. The food had consoled him.

The next morning, when the food was all digested and gone, the fear and embarrassment were back. Adrian didn’t even hesitate to think about it for a moment. He repeated the process, only with a series of drive-thru orders. Keeping himself stuffed and delirious, he managed to keep trhe anxiety away all weekend.

On Monday night, he realized that buttoning his uniform was more difficult than usual. Inspecting himself in the bedroom mirror, he saw that the buttons over his midsection were puckering. It appeared he had the beginnings of a potbelly, and his sides were growing the first hints of lovehandles. His belt still buckled at the same notch, but it felt noticeably tighter.

Adrian growled. He hadn’t anticipated all that overeating altering his waistline so soon. But he realized that if he put on his security jacket, you could hardly even tell that he had gained any weight. Then he wondered if tonight was the last night he’d ever put his uniform on and felt suddenly hungry. But he staved it off until got to work.

Monday night was full of anxiety. Devon, shoved a DVD into Adrian’s hands when he first arrived.
“Watch it.” Devon told him. “Just… watch it.” Then he left.
Adrian, already freaked out about what the night may hold, feared that Devon had seen the video of his food raid on friday night, but when he looked down at it he was relieved, if not mildly annoyed.

“Cowboy Bebop: The Movie”

Ok… you know what? I could use a distraction tonight.” Adrian said to himself. He popped it into the Security terminal’s CD drive, and by the end of it, he realized he actually kind of liked it. He spent the rest of the night distracting himself by looking up anime.
“Maybe Devon is onto something after all…” Adrian mused.
Before he knew it, the sun was up and Barry was walking into the control room to relieve him.
Adrian clocked out and walked slowly to his car, looking over his shoulder the whole way. Looking over at the east lot, he could see Schmidt’s car. He was already there, like usual, but he hadn’t come down to chat with him about his future at the company, or to demand and explanation. Everything seemed to be okay. Maybe the woman hadn’t reported him, afterall.
Then he turned his head to look at his own car and saw a familiar car parked beside it. The woman from friday night got out of it and the two caught each others’ gaze. Her eyes widened in recognition and she hurried past him, pretending not to have seen him.
Until that moment, Adrian was feeling better. But then the embarrassment came roaring back at full force. As he got into his car, he realized that he was starving.
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Pt 6

A few days later, Imogen sat at her desk, working mindlessly. She was usually done with the day’s work by then, but today she was working a lot slower. Her mind was on that guard. She felt a great deal of embarrassment when she saw him, and avoided him at all costs. But at the same time, she kept day dreaming about that night, watching from the shadows as he stuffed his face. That embarrassed her too, it made her feel like a voyeur, but at the same time it excited her to think about. A gentle tapping at the entrance to her cubicle snapped her out of a daydream and she realized she’d been staring at the computer screen for some time without actually doing anything. She turned around to see Ken’s belly poking into her cubicle, the she looked up to see his face.
“Hey, Imma…” he started.
“Sorry, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m kind of zoned out today.” she said, assuming this was about being caught daydreaming.
Ken chuckled.
“You’re doing fine.” he said “And good job taking initiative with that work group. I see from the IT report that you haven’t logged into that gambling site in a while. I’m proud of you!”
“Oh, well, thank you” she said with a smile.
“About that report, though…”
“Schmidt wants to talk to you about it.”
“Schmidt?” Imogen squirmed in her chair. “Is something wrong?”
“Wrong? No… I, uh… I think he want to talk to you about it himself.”
“So you know what it’s about?”
“I do.” Ken said. “But I think it’s better if Schmidt tells you. Don’t be intimidated. I know he has this… reputation. But he’s a good guy. I work with him every day.”
“Should I be nervous?”
“I think you should just talk to him. Everything’s fine.” Ken said.
Imogen walked down the hallway to the elevator. Ken wouldn’t send her into the big boss’ office to get fired or chewed out without a warning, would he? Surely he wasn’t that sold out to AstraScape, was he? He still put their friendship first… right?
She hit the button in the elevator for the 27th floor. The elevator felt like it would never get there, and when it finally did, she wished it had taken longer. Stepping out of the elevator, Imogen remembered Schmidt’s office was a right out of the elevator and through the big double doors at the end of the hallway. She’d only been there once. The day of her interview. Schmidt was one of those bosses who liked the final say in every applicant in the company. She remembered him seeming full of himself and a little condescending. She’d had very little interaction with him since then. Feed back from him usually came through memos, or through Ken. Most people who worked with him closely said he was a prick. Ken was one of the few who actually didn’t seem to mind working with him directly.

Imogen nearly jumped out of her skin. Schmidt’s secretary, Shana, practically ordered her to freeze like a cop. Imogen had to fight the urge to put her hands over her head. Shana was a beautiful woman. In another life, she could have been a supermodel. She had long, jet black hair, dark eyes, and an olive complexion. Her clothes weren’t tight, but they were custom tailored to accentuate her perfect hourglass figure. She sat behind a desk right beside Schmidt’s door.
“Mr. Schmidt is on a call right now. Do not interrupt him.”
She spoke with a cold intensity. Imogen pictured her as being some femme fatale working for the Gestapo in a 1940s film noir.
“Oh… okay. I’ll just-”
“Take a seat.” Shana cut her off. “Mr. Schmidt will be finished momentarily.”
Imogen heard Schmidt on the phone. He sounded angry. She couldn’t help but wonder if this was about her. She wanted to ask Shana if she knew what this was about, but Shana didn’t look like the helpful sort.
She heard Schmidt hang up, but several minutes passed and she was not sent in.
“Um, excuse me…” Imogen began, but Shana didn’t look up from her workstation. “I think he’s done with-”
“Shh!” Shana quickly shushed her and picked up her desk phone. “Yes, sir, she’s here. Right away, sir.” she hung up the phone. “Mr. Schmidt will see you now.”

Imogen walked through the double doors into Schmidt’s cavernous office. He was feverishly writing something down at his desk, muttering to himself. Schmidt was a tall man with a muscular build from spending 3 hours in the gym every morning before work. He had chiseled features that he’d paid top dollar for. He was clean shaven, with dark, longish hair.
Imogen sat down and waited for him to finish whatever it was he was doing.
After he finished grumbling to himself, he slammed the notebook down on the table. She deduced two things about him at that moment. One, he liked to intimidate people, and two, he was trying to intimidate her.
“Sorry about that. I’m dealing with some issues involving some of our sister companies overseas.” He stood up abruptly and stuck his hand out to shake hers. Imogen quickly rose to her feet to meet his posture before shaking his hand.
“Good to have you back up here, Ms. Crain. I’d like to talk to you about this group report you did with your workgroup.”
“Yes, sir?”
“They weren’t your workgroup.”
“No, sir, they weren’t.”
“So why did you just jump into a workgroup that you weren’t assigned to?”
“I was finished with my work for the day, so I went and found something else to do. They were just getting started and it seemed like they needed some help.”
“And why did you go looking for help?” Schmidt asked. “Why didn’t you just sit at your desk and wait the clock out like you usually do?”
It sounded like a loaded question. Imogen knew he liked to play mind games. She would have to be mindful of the way she answered.
“Ken recommended that I do that instead of just sitting at my desk.” she said.
“And why did he suggest that?” Schmidt asked.
“He said it was something you valued. Showing some independence and utilizing my spare time to help AstraScape stay in the black.”
“You’d like to impress me, wouldn’t you?” Schmidt almost seemed to be flirting with her in a diabolical way.
“I’d like to do a lot of things that would further my career.” Imogen said confidently.
“Was that the only reason Kenneth suggested you find a workgroup?”
Time to fess up. It sounded like Schmidt already knew about the gambling anyway.
“No, sir, there was another reason. I have a gambling habit and he caught me placing a bet at work. I’ve been working on it, and I haven’t gambled at work since then, and I have Ken’s suggestion to thank for it. Staying busy with the work group has kept me occupied, which I find is the key to staying away from gambling, for me.”
“The report on expenses and cost cutting was turned in yesterday. Now that your work group is disbanded, how do you plan to keep yourself occupied so you don’t gamble on company time?”
“I intend to find a new workgroup.” Imogen said.
Schmidt stared at her for an uncomfortably long time. Imogen fought the urge to fill the silence or break his gaze.
“I read over this report.” Schmidt finally said. “It’s written very well. The other’s confessed that you are the primary author of this report. Is that correct?”
“Yes, sir.”
“You’ve really done your research here. It looks like aside from a few places where we’re spending too much in overhead, your chief point seems to be shrink.”
“That’s right.”
“You suspected several people in our marketing division were skimming ad revenue, and that turned out to be right. R&D is selling our old and unused patents off and pocketing the money. On top of that, we have this issue with theft. Most of it has been private property from the employees, but often it’s company property. You suspected the cleaning crew, specifically the night crew, has smuggled office equipment out in the back of their van when it’s parked on the shipping docks. We haven’t confirmed this yet, but I’m putting out a directive for security to look into it tonight.”
Imogen’s laser beam focus had surpassed everyone else in the workgroup, and while everyone else contributed two or three pages of recommendations on how to cut down costs, she’d contributed a stack. A 143 page document, broken down into categories, and included potentially unforeseen consequences for cutting costs in each area. Charles, Tracy, Edward, and Annette agreed that her report was by far the best, so they decided to glomp their own individual reports onto hers to submit as the group report. She hadn’t intended for the report to indicate that it was mostly her work, but apparently the others had given credit where it was due.
“You seem to have a real knack for this sort of thing.” Schmidt said, “So I’m starting a new loss prevention position in our company, and I’d like to offer that position to you. You’ll be in charge of internal investigations. We’re going to expand the budget for security, and you’ll be directly over them. I want you looking out for anything else going on in this company that’s causing loss. In a week’s time, you found three major financial hemorrhages and allowed us to stop the bleeding. We need more of this, Ms. Crain. Will you take this position as Director of Internal Investigations?”
Before she could even think she’d accepted the position. The rest of the meeting was a blur. She left Schmidt’s office elated. This promotion was going to double her salary and give her the career acceleration she’d been after for years.

It wasn’t until she got back to her cubicle to finish out the work day that she realized one uncomfortable fact.
She was going to be working closely with security.
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Pt 7

Adrian got out of his car with the buttons on his shirt puckering. He could feel new weight in his middle where he was starting to get a belly. He’d ordered new uniforms a week ago, but the third party company that supplied their security uniforms was slow. ‘No later than Thursday’ they assured him when he’d called earlier that day. He was glad to be working alone. He just had to suck in his gut until Devon left, then he could relax and unbutton his uniform shirt. He’d intentionally skipped eating before coming in, to minimize his swelling figure as much as possible, and he intended to fight the urge to stuff his face on his shift again so he could suck his gut in once more when he was relieved by the morning guard.
He strolled into the control room and clocked in, pretending that he was not struggling to keep his would-be protruding belly at bay. Devon walked out of the back room, and was followed by a pretty woman in business attire.
Oh ****…
“Hey, Adrian. Meet our new boss.” Devon said.
Imogen stuck out her hand to shake his.
“Hi, I’m Imogen Crain.” she said with a big smile, pretending not to recognize him. “It looks like we’ll be working together.”
Adrian looked like a deer in the headlights. He didn’t speak.
Devon cleared his throat but Adrian didn’t snap out of it.
“You must be Adrian Harding.” Imogen said.
He nodded.
Devon got between them to clock out on the office phone.
“Dude,” he whispered, “I know she’s hot, but get your **** together.”
Adrian rubbed his eyes and said, “Oh man, sorry, its still morning for me. I’m a little groggy before coffee.”
“I know the feeling.” Imogen said. “I poured you a cup. Black, right?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Adrian said, taking the cup from her.
“You good?” Devon whispered to him.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Cowboy Bebop was good, B-T-dubs.” Adrian whispered back.
Devon left and Adrian and Imogen were alone in the security control room.
“So, I take it you haven’t read the memo yet.” Imogen said, handing a copy to him. “It’s from Schmidt. You can read it if you like, but the gist of it is that security is being integrated into a new department. The Internal Investigation Department. I’m the department’s director. So now, we’re going to not only be focused on making sure no one breaks in or steals office equipment, we’re going to be looking for evidence of embezzlement and theft of intellectual property.”
“I… uh…” Adrian stammered.
“I don’t know how to do that stuff.”
“Well, that’s part of why I’m here, so I can teach you what to look for and how to report it.”
“I don’t know if I want to do this.” Adrian said. “I was happy just being a regular security guard.”
“I understand that.” Imogen said, secretly hoping he would quit on the spot and end the awkward tension. “Schmidt want us to offer the current security staff the opportunity to learn and stay on under the restructured department. It comes with a 75% pay raise if you finish this training course. And then a guaranteed raise every year, just like all the other positions at Astra
A 75% raise was a game changer for Adrian. It would be hard to say no.
“So, are you willing to give it a try?”
Adrian was silent for a minute.
“I’ll give it a shot, yeah.” his stomach was starting to hurt both from hunger and from sucking his gut in.
“Great!” Imogen exclaimed. “Come with me and I’ll show you what we’re going to have you start with.”
“We’re leaving the control room?”
“Yes, you’ll have to do a lot more than just watching cameras and doing your rounds at night now. I know that this is a big change and it’s not going to be easy at first, but you’ll get the hang of it, I promise. This is a positive change. It turns your job from an entry level one into a career track.”
Imogen and Adrian walked out of the control room and the two rode up and down the elevator, going to different floors so she could show him the departments of interest, the procedures and protocols that would be implemented over the next few months, and explained things to look for under his new job duties. Adrian did his best to listen, but his stomach was killing him, and it began to gurgle louder and louder. Soon, Imogen took notice of it, but said nothing.
While passing by the breakroom where she’d watched him that night. There was a tray of cupcakes left out.
“Ugh…” this is what I’m talking about.” Imogen said. “These office managers are terrible about overbuying food for the employees, then leaving it out to go to waste.”
She picked up the tray and headed for the trash with it.
“No, wait!” Adrian called out.
Imogen froze.
“Uh..” he hadn’t meant to actually say anything. It was more of a reflex. His stomach was screaming for food.
“Is there a problem?” Imogen said, waiting.
“It just seems like an awful waste to just throw them all away… maybe we could bring them downstairs for the security guys to finish. They’d like that.”
“These cupcakes have been here since this afternoon. Its 11 o’clock at night now. You and I are the only ones here until 7 am. You want to save fifteen stale cupcakes for the one guard coming to relieve you in the morning?”
“I, uh… no. I guess that’s pretty silly.”
“Are you hungry? Your stomach has been growling since you walked in the door.”
“Uh, yeah, I’m pretty hungry. Didn’t have time to eat before I left.”
“Well, why didn’t you just say so? Here, take a couple of cupcakes and I’ll order us a pizza.”
Adrian happily accepted the cupcakes before Imogen threw the rest of them away. She noticed he was blushing as he unwrapped one and ate it. Back in the control room, Imogen saw there weren’t any pizza places still open in the area, so she logged into her UberEats account and started an order from McDonalds.
“What do you want to eat? It’s on me.” Imogen said.
“Thanks, that’s very generous of you.” he said. “I wouldn’t say no to a double quarter pounder, a couple of big macs, and two large orders of fries. And a large chocolate milkshake.”
“Is that for both of us?” Imogen asked.
“Umm… no, that’s just what I was going to get. Oh, and an apple pie. Make that two.”
“Wow, you are hungry.” Imogen said, filling out the order.
“Thanks.” Adrian said. “I kind of have a big appetite.”
“I’d say so.”
She fought back a wry smile as it tried to sneak its way across her lips. She felt some excitement over the potential of watching him eat such a big order in front of her.
When the food got there, Imogen tipped the driver and laid the bags on the security console. Adrian tore into his food like a ravenous animal, while Imogen took small, sensible bites of her modest filet o’ fish and small fries. Adrian’s pace slowed as he got fuller, and the straining buttons on his uniform were at their limit. Finally, one gave up entirely and with a POP! Itr flew across the room.
“Damn it!” Adrian turned his chair around to face away from Imogen and he held his shirt closed, looking around for something to serve as a replacement. He picked up a stapler off the desk.
“Are you about to staple that shut?” she asked him.
Adrian didn’t speak.
“Don’t do that, it will only happen again, and tear the shirt when it does. Is your uniform too small?”
“...yeah. I guess I gained some weight recently and now they don’t fit right. Sorry. That’s embarrassing.”
“Don’t be embarrassed.” Imogen said. “The security department has been way under funded for a long time. They probably won’t spring for new uniforms, will they?”
“They will, supposedly. I ordered new ones a week ago and they still haven’t arrived yet.”
“You’re wearing a t-shirt under your uniform, right?”
“Just take the uniform shirt off.”
“But… I won’t get in trouble for being out of uniform?”
“I’m your boss, and I’m telling you it’s ok. Don’t worry about it. It not your fault. That way you’ll have room to finish your food and you won’t have to keep sucking your belly in.”
Adrian was blushing before, but now his whole face was beet red.
“You could tell that, huh?”
“I could, yes.”
Adrian took off the uniform shirt, revealing a t-shirt that was barely covering his growing paunch.
“Feel better?”
“I do.” Then he dug into his food again. When it was gone, he reclined in his chair and burped.
“Excuse me.”
Then Imogen looked into the bag and pulled out a 20 count order of nuggets and another double quarter pounder.
“Oh, wow, they gave us extra food.” she said, knowing full well that she’d ordered it on purpose.
“Yeah,” Imogen said, “I’d eat it but I’m stuffed. You want it?”
“Oh, man, I don’t know if I should.” but the words were barely out of his mouth before he was biting into the burger. Once it was gone, he reclined in his chair, slowly eating the nuggets one by one. His shirt had ridden up, unable to fully contain his growing gut, and Imogen could just see the lower half of his belly button. His belt was cutting into his big belly, and Imogen told him he could unbuckle it if he wanted to and she wouldn’t be offended. He did, and unbuttoned his pants too. She couldn’t stop herself from staring. She wanted to reach out and touch his big round belly, but she knew that was too far.

After the meal, Imogen decided that they could work more on training later. The first night was for getting to know each other.

“You know, Ms. Crain, you’re pretty cool for a boss.” Adrian said.

“Please,” she said, “call me Imma.”

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