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first broadcast - 30th March 1968
running time - 25mins 34secs


(ROBSON enters the room and the CHIEF calls him over.)

CHIEF: Chief!
ROBSON: What's the matter?
CHIEF: Mr Robson, that noise in the impeller, it's started again. I think we should go down and check the main valve.
ROBSON: Oh, you do, do you?
CHIEF: It's right where we think the blockage is.

(ROBSON catches the "We".)

CHIEF: Well, Mr Van Luty...
ROBSON: Mr Van Lutyens. I thought he'd get his nose in.
ENGINEER: Come on!
ROBSON: You lot get back to work!

(He spots VAN LUTYENS and starts to march up to him.)

ROBSON: Van Lutyens, I want to talk to you.

(VAN LUTYENS is standing by the actual pipeline.)

VAN LUTYENS: Mr Robson, there is something alive in the pipeline.

(It is clear that ROBSON is just holding onto his temper.)

ROBSON: You're out of your mind, there's nothing down there.
CHIEF: I promise you, sir, I did hear something.
ROBSON: You've been unnerving my crew. Now you, get out!

(The heartbeat starts up again.)


(The CHIEF hears it too.)

CHIEF: That's it!
ROBSON: Did you hear what I said?
VAN LUTYENS: Shut up and listen will you! Down there... in the darkness... waiting...


(In the bedroom, the DOCTOR and his companions are looking at the seaweed on the floor while HARRIS is trying to wake his sleeping wife on the bed. JAMIE reaches out to pick up the seaweed...)

DOCTOR: No, Jamie, don't touch it.
JAMIE: But it's only a piece of seaweed.
DOCTOR: Yes, unless it really did move like Victoria said.
JAMIE: Oh, how can it move. It's not a living thing, is it?
DOCTOR: Everything in the sea is living, Jamie.
VICTORIA: Well it did move! It gave me a shock. It was like a spider.

(The DOCTOR takes out an empty polythene bag.)

DOCTOR: Yes, well we're not taking any chances. Hold that for me, will you?

(He hands JAMIE the bag.)

JAMIE: Well what's this for?
DOCTOR: We're going to take a closer look at this weed. Now bring the bag down here. Right onto the floor. Don't let it touch your fingers.

(Using a pencil, the DOCTOR puts the seaweed in the bag.)

DOCTOR: Careful, slowly does it. Mind your fingers. There...
JAMIE: What are you going to do with it?

(He seals the bag up.)

DOCTOR: We're going to see if an ordinary piece of seaweed really can move.

(HARRIS sits on the bed. He has been unable to wake MAGGIE up.)

HARRIS: Doctor, my wife, will she be all right?
DOCTOR: Oh yes, I think so. I don't think there is any panic, but I'd get her under medical supervision if I was you.
HARRIS: Yes, I'll go back to the Medicare Centre at the Compound and arrange for her to be taken in there.
DOCTOR: Yes, you do that.

(He leaves his quarters - a very upset man.)

VICTORIA: Poor man.

(JAMIE realises something...)

JAMIE: Aye. Hey! I thought we were supposed to be prisoners?
DOCTOR: Yes, so did I. We better make the most of it, um. We've got a lot of work to do back at the TARDIS. She seems to be sleeping peacefully. Come on.


(The three men were still discussing the heartbeat.)

CHIEF: What is it, that sound?
VAN LUTYENS: It's uncanny... it's like a heartbeat.

(The heartbeat stops.)

CHIEF: It's stopped again.
VAN LUTYENS: Well this is surely proof enough!
ROBSON: Proof?
VAN LUTYENS: That there is something down there blocking the impeller

(ROBSON doesn't believe this.)

ROBSON: Rubbish! Hysterical nonsense.
VAN LUTYENS: But you heard it. That dreadful sound...
ROBSON: I heard a fault in the base of the impeller.
VAN LUTYENS: But the impeller isn't working! Don't you believe a thing until you see it?

(But ROBSON has had enough.)

ROBSON: I want that pump operational in half an hour! Now get to it!

(He storms out...)


(In the Science Room, the DOCTOR drops his seaweed specimen into a small glass tank. Attached to the side of the tank are two miniature metal cylinders containing two transparent tubes inserted through holes on either side of the tank.)

JAMIE: What are you doing, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well you see, Jamie, these two cylinders contain a small amount of natural gas. It should be quite interesting to see what sort of effect it... it has on the weed. How are you doing, Victoria?

(VICTORIA is at a workbench nearby, heating some liquid in a test tube over a Bunsen flame.)

VICTORIA: I don't know, I think you ought to have a look.

(The DOCTOR took the tube.)

DOCTOR: Um... Oh yes, well that's got the natural iron... content.
VICTORIA: Well I did the Bunsen test, like you told me, but I found something which worried me.
DOCTOR: Oh yes, I'm not surprised. Is this hot?

(VICTORIA reaches across to a bulb-shaped glass container. Inside is a small particle of the seaweed specimen floating in a colourless liquid. The sides of the container are tarnished with something which resembled rust...)

DOCTOR: You see this a... this rusty stuff here.
DOCTOR: Well it means that the weed is giving out a gas - probably toxic.

(JAMIE is at the DOCTOR's table, peering into the microscope.)

JAMIE: Hey, Doctor! What are these little wriggly things in the weed?
DOCTOR: Now just a minute, Jamie... looking at...

(What JAMIE has just said makes the DOCTOR turn about.)

DOCTOR: ...little wriggly things! Where?
JAMIE: Here, look. Look in there.

(The DOCTOR gives VICTORIA the bottle and goes over and takes over from JAMIE and peers into the microscope.)

DOCTOR: Jamie! This is it! There's molecular movement! Come and see, Victoria. There! Why, that's amazing.
JAMIE: What does it mean?
DOCTOR: Hmmmmmmm...

(Getting no answer from the DOCTOR, VICTORIA decides to spell it out for JAMIE.)

VICTORIA: It means, Jamie, that the weed is just as much alive as you and me.

(They look at the seaweed in amazement.)


(HARRIS, coming back into the Control Cone, bumps into VAN LUTYENS.)

VAN LUTYENS: Ah, Mr Harris. I've been trying to get hold of you. Mr Robson won't listen to reason.
HARRIS: (Snaps.) I'm sorry, Van Lutyens, I've got something more important on my mind at the moment.
VAN LUTYENS: Important! What is more important...?
HARRIS: My wife is ill! Get out of my way, man.

(He charges out into the corridor and marches into the Control Cone.)

HARRIS: Price!
PRICE: Yes, sir
HARRIS: Is Doctor Paterson back?
PRICE: No, we've heard nothing from D Rig, sir.
HARRIS: Right. Get on to the Matron at the Medicare Unit and tell her to send a couple of orderlies over to my quarters with a stretcher to bring my wife in. She's ill.
PRICE: Yes, sir.

(ROBSON notices the new arrival and marches over, ready to have a go at him too.)

ROBSON: What's the panic now, Harris?
HARRIS: Oh, and get on with it.
ROBSON: Harris, I asked you a question.
HARRIS: My wife is ill. She needs medical attention.
ROBSON: What's the matter with her, she got a hangover?
HARRIS: She's very ill, Mr Robson.
ROBSON: Who says so, that Doctor fellow? Incidentally, where is he and the two kids?
HARRIS: Oh... well, I left them in my quarters when I found my wife was ill.
ROBSON: You what? Those three prisoners were in your charge and you left them there?
HARRIS: I was worried about my wife. I didn't have time to think about it...
ROBSON: That's your trouble you never do think, do you Harris, when you should. Those three prisoners were in your charge.
HARRIS: I don't care. Don't you understand? My wife was lying on the floor when I got there. She was unconscious and that smell of toxic gas was there. She's been poisoned, Robson, poisoned!
VAN LUTYENS: And this toxic gas, where does it come from?
HARRIS: Oh, I don't know.
ROBSON: And none of us will know now you've let them loose.
HARRIS: How could they possibly have anything to do with it?

(Both men's voices rise with the argument.)

ROBSON: That still doesn't alter the fact that you let those prisoners go without my authority.
HARRIS: Prisoners? A harmless old man and a couple of... teenagers?
ROBSON: That "harmless old man" is probably a saboteur. It's probably him that's been tampering with that release valve on the shoreline. Creating all those variations in pressure you got so excited about!
HARRIS: Oh don't be so ridiculous, Robson. You're clutching at straws, stupidly blind to the real facts!
ROBSON: Don't shout at me, boy!

(The CHIEF enters from the Impeller Area.)

CHIEF: Mr Robson, sir. Mr Robson. The impeller, it's moving again.
ROBSON: Good man. I told you it was only a mechanical fault, didn't I?
CHIEF: It just started quite... suddenly.
ROBSON: Well keep it going, man.
CHIEF: I don't know if we can...
ROBSON: Don't lose it now.

(ROBSON shouts out at everybody.)

ROBSON: You fools! You stupid fools!
CHIEF: Well the fault's not this end! It must be jammed at the base.

(The Controller whirls about on VAN LUTYENS in fury...)

ROBSON: You wanted this, didn't you? It's just what you wanted!
VAN LUTYENS: You should have listened to me, Robson.
ROBSON: What? Turned off the flow? Ruined a reputation of thirty years.
VAN LUTYENS: Reputation! Don't you realise that what is going on here is beyond your comprehension? That whatever it is that is in the pipelines - that's jamming the impeller, has taken over the rigs - is a menace and a threat to us all?
ROBSON: The only menace and threat around here is you, Van Lutyens and you Harris. Listen...

(He notices the other members of the Control Cone staff are looking at him.)


(Back to the other major members of staff...)

ROBSON: I want that impeller working in half an hour. I'll be in my quarters. Let me know as soon as the impeller starts moving again.

(He storms out of the room.)

VAN LUTYENS: (Swearing in Dutch.) He's cracking up, Harris.
HARRIS: (Starts to leave the room.) Look. I've got to get back to my wife.
VAN LUTYENS: Harris! You can't go now. He's losing control.
HARRIS: My wife's been poisoned.
VAN LUTYENS: She's in good hands, ya? She'll be brought into the Medicare Unit. What can you do?
HARRIS: But I ought to go and see her.
VAN LUTYENS: To hang about and worry, that's all. Robson is cracking up. You're the only man with authority to take over. We need you here.

(HARRIS gives it some thought and then calls the CHIEF over.)

HARRIS: Chief.
HARRIS: Mr Robson, you know him better than any of us... How do... do you think he's all right?
CHIEF: Well he's under a lot of pressure, I think his nerves are a bit...
VAN LUTYENS: Yeah pressure, strain. He's cracking up, I tell you.
CHIEF: Well you're not helping him you know.
VAN LUTYENS: That's not my job. I'm here to give technical advice, which he ignores. All right, he knows a lot about engineering, but not all. And what he does not know is the state of mind of those men out on the rigs.
CHIEF: He ought to know. He was out on those rigs himself long enough.
VAN LUTYENS: Oh Yeah, yeah, yeah. Plenty of professional experience of normal conditions, but these are not normal conditions. There is something very strange going on here, but he refuses to accept the new factor.
CHIEF: So what... what do you think he should do?
VAN LUTYENS: I know what I would do - close the Compound, evacuate the rigs!
CHIEF: He'd never do it.
VAN LUTYENS: We've lost contact with two rigs. We have a major blockage in the main pipeline. The impeller is jammed, and we still don't know what is causing the trouble.
CHIEF: But we regained contact with Baxter on Rig D and he said everything was under control.
VAN LUTYENS: Yeah, and we've not heard from him since. And what about Rig C?
CHIEF: Oh that could be a telecommunications fault somewhere.
VAN LUTYENS: Yeah, it could be, but we have to check that it is, and we have to check the valve at the base of the impeller. But what does Robson do? Nothing! Nothing!
HARRIS: Well I suppose he might listen if we all put it to him. What do you think, Chief?
CHIEF: You're absolutely right of course. We must check.


(The DOCTOR has got an old dusty book open. He finds a page with a picture of the Weed Creature.)

VICTORIA: That's it, Doctor! That's the creature I saw back at the Compound.
DOCTOR: Yes. Yes, I was afraid it would be.
VICTORIA: But how did it get in this book?
DOCTOR: Well I told you, Victoria, this is a book of legends and superstitions. This particular drawing is supplied by ancient mariners in the North Sea in the middle of the eighteenth century, Jamie.
JAMIE: That's my time. You mean to say, this is the creature Victoria saw back at the Compound.
DOCTOR: Yes I think there's no doubt about it.
JAMIE: Well, what about these great clumps of weed.
DOCTOR: Well there's obviously some connection between the weed and the creatures themselves.

(JAMIE's face suddenly starts to curl. He is building up to a sneeze.)

JAMIE: Ah, aahh.

(JAMIE sneezes, but the DOCTOR points back at the seaweed specimen in the glass tank. It has doubled its size and its tentacles are hanging menacingly over the edge of the white foam-covered tank. The heartbeat sound is increasing in strength.)

DOCTOR: Gas! Jamie! Jamie, help me get the lid on! Oh, no... quickly!

(VICTORIA screams out loud, just as the DOCTOR dodges the tentacles. To their amazement the heartbeat stops and the tentacles flop back inside the tank. The two men push the top over the glass tank.)

DOCTOR: I was right. The weed formations are feeding off the natural gas beneath the North Sea and giving of toxic gas. Come on. We must get back to Harris'... Harris' quarters. Come along. Just a minute, that weed went back in its tank very suddenly, didn't it? I wonder why? Come on.

(All three rush out of the room.)


(From the observation deck, ROBSON has listened to the others' ideas and now... totally loses it...)

ROBSON: (Screaming so that everybody looks at him.) No, I will not listen! It's you Van Lutyens, isn't it? Isn't it? You've been undermining my authority ever since you came here. You and Harris. You've been stirring up trouble just to get at me, haven't you? You've even got the Chief on your side now. One of my oldest and trusted friends.
CHIEF: Mr Robson...
ROBSON: At least I thought I could trust you.
CHIEF: Mr Robson, all we wanted to do is...
ROBSON: I know what you want! I know what you all want! You gonna get at me, just to give up! I'm not going to give you that pleasure. Why don't you go and join him? Go on, join Van Lutyens! Go on, join him! What are you standing around for? What are you starring at? I'm in charge! I'm in charge here!
HARRIS: Mr Robson!
ROBSON: I'm in charge of this Compound, Harris! It's my responsibility! Mine! My responsibility!

(And he rushes out of the room.)

VAN LUTYENS: Do you still think he's capable of running this place? You do what you like. I'm going to get in touch with my people in the Hague.
HARRIS: What can they do?
VAN LUTYENS: Well they might push your people in London into some sort of action. (To PRICE.) Give me a direct line to Van der Post, Hague Central!
PRICE: Yes, sir.


(ROBSON slams the door behind him and locks it. He takes a picture out from a drawer and stares at it. It's the picture of a young woman. He then collapses on the bed, trying to rest. Outside the room, Mr. OAK moves forward and tries to open the door. ROBSON is alerted to the fact that somebody is at the door.)

ROBSON: Who's there? Go away. I'm not to be disturbed.

(Mr. OAK smiles and moves to a switch marked EMERGENCY VENT. He turns the switch to OPEN... In the cabin, ROBSON is lying on his bunk, trying to sleep. Suddenly, his eyes spring open and stare at the ceiling. He hears a slight hum coming from the ventilation grille. For a moment nothing happens. Then the heartbeat starts up and a large bit of white foam erupts from the ventilator grille!)

ROBSON: Aaarrgh!

(The foam lands on ROBSON's face... Outside the room HARRIS hears ROBSON's screams.)

HARRIS: Mr Robson!

(HARRIS tries to open the door, but ROBSON opens it himself. He is in a state of panic.)

ROBSON: No... no... aarrgh! My face... aarrgh!

(HARRIS sees the white foam. He tries to hold ROBSON and get him to explain what's happened, but ROBSON pushes HARRIS out of the way and runs down the corridor.)

HARRIS: (Shouting.) Mr Robson, wait! I need your permission to send two men down the impeller shaft...

(But ROBSON was out of sight.)


(VICTORIA helps the DOCTOR down the corridor towards the quarters.)

DOCTOR: Well, thank you, Victoria. Yes, nobody here. Better that way.
JAMIE: You speak for yourself. I'd rather... ah!
JAMIE: Ahtchoo!

(This alerts the DOCTOR to the fact that there is gas in the Quarters.)


(All three cover their mouths.)

VICTORIA: Where's it coming from?
DOCTOR: Jamie, try the kitchen.

(JAMIE tries the kitchen, while the DOCTOR and VICTORIA try the Bedroom. The DOCTOR switches on the bedroom light... The air is immediately pierced by the thumping, heartbeat sound. VICTORIA screams hysterically as the floor crawls with clumps of pulsating seaweed, whose bubbled tendrils reach out from the mass of white foam. Realising that there is no one in the room, the DOCTOR and VICTORIA rush back out.)

DOCTOR: Mrs Harris! She's gone away!
VICTORIA: Mrs Harris?
DOCTOR: Mrs Harris. Oh yes of course, Mr Harris had her taken over to the medical centre. At least I hope he did.
JAMIE: Doctor, quick help me!
DOCTOR: That's Jamie!
JAMIE: Doctor, I'm in here.

(The DOCTOR burst into the kitchen to find JAMIE in real trouble. The patio door is wide open and JAMIE is balanced precariously on top of a table in the middle of the room. All around him, the floor is covered in foam, just like in the bedroom...)

JAMIE: I can't hold out much longer.
DOCTOR: Quick! The terrace!

(JAMIE still keeps shouting for help, and the DOCTOR and VICTORIA keep on moving about the house.)

DOCTOR: Victoria, follow me!
VICTORIA: What are we going to do?

(The DOCTOR notices a pair of long curtains hanging at the hall windows.)

DOCTOR: Give me a hand!

(He tears down the curtains with VICTORIA's help.)

DOCTOR: Come on!

(They both rush to the terrace.)

DOCTOR: Jamie, Catch this!

(The DOCTOR throws one end of the curtains to JAMIE who catches it.)

DOCTOR: Come on, you can do this! Come on.

(JAMIE manages to tie his end of the Curtains to the leg of the Table.)

DOCTOR: Press it down, Victoria!

(And they start to pull JAMIE's table out of the kitchen to safety.)


(HARRIS, VAN LUTYENS and PRICE burst into ROBSON's cabin.)

HARRIS: In here, look!

(There is nothing there. The ventilator the grille is broken.)

HARRIS: Well it was in here. I saw it!
HARRIS: Yes, it was moving. Something alive. You don't believe me!
VAN LUTYENS: Oh yes, I believe you, Mr Harris. It must have come out of the ventilator grille, like it did in the oxygen store.
HARRIS: You mean when that girl Victoria was locked in.
VAN LUTYENS: Yeah. And having achieved its purpose, back down the shaft.
HARRIS: Purpose? What purpose?
VAN LUTYENS: Who knows? We know very little about it. And no one's tried to find out.


(During this conversation, VAN LUTYENS and HARRIS walk back from ROBSON's Quarters to the Control Cone.)

HARRIS: I know.
VAN LUTYENS: Least of all Robson.
HARRIS: Yes, he rushed out of here as though he were... he was out of his mind.
VAN LUTYENS: You better alert security. He may do himself some harm.
HARRIS: Yes, you're right. At least the stuff won't get out of here.
VAN LUTYENS: Oh really, Mr Harris. There must be hundreds of grills in this Compound. And once the foam has got into the shaft it could emerge from any one of them.
HARRIS: I suppose you're right. Then we must insist that all emergency ventilators are kept shut.
VAN LUTYENS: Mr Harris, you know what you must do now?
HARRIS: (In puzzlement.) Do?
VAN LUTYENS: Assert yourself. Take over the Compound.

(The two men arrive at the Control Cone.)

HARRIS: Price!
PRICE: Yes, sir.
HARRIS: I want you to alert the security posts. Mr Robson may be ill. I'd like to know his whereabouts.
PRICE: Very good, sir.
HARRIS: And order all areas to keep their emergency air vents closed. Understand?
PRICE: Yes, sir.
VAN LUTYENS: You're taking over then?
HARRIS: Robson is still officially in charge.
VAN LUTYENS: I've already informed my authorities at the Hague. You must do the same with your Director in London.
HARRIS: Yes. Price.
PRICE: Yes, sir.
HARRIS: Get me Board Headquarters. I want to speak to Megan Jones.


(The DOCTOR and his two companions walk back down the corridor towards the Control Cone.)

DOCTOR: Are you all right, Jamie?
JAMIE: Oh, I've come over dizzy.
DOCTOR: Well you just rest a while.
JAMIE: I'll just get my breath back.
VICTORIA: Doctor, why is it that we always land up in trouble?
DOCTOR: Well Victoria, it's the spice of life, my dear.
VICTORIA: Well I'm not so sure. I don't really like being scared out of my wits every second.
DOCTOR: Is something wrong?
VICTORIA: Well I just wish that one... Oh never mind.

(VICTORIA walks off ahead of the two men down the corridor.)

DOCTOR: You 'right, Jamie? Come with me.
JAMIE: What's the matter with Victoria?

(The DOCTOR looks at JAMIE, and they move off along the corridor.)


(PRICE is talking to a woman in her late forties on the communicator viewscreen.)

PRICE: Thank you, Miss Jones. We'll see you then in three hours time. Goodbye.
HARRIS: Three hours, and the whole Compound will be crawling with board officials.
VAN LUTYENS: Let's hope the situation doesn't get any worse.
HARRIS: I only hope Megan Jones understands why I've taken over. It was she who insisted that Robson should know this particular complex in the early days.
VAN LUTYENS: You did right, I will stand by you. You couldn't let Robson go on. You had the men on the rigs to think of. They are now her responsibility.
HARRIS: If only we knew what we were up against. These creatures that have been getting into the refinery, where do they come from? We don't even know what they are?

(The TARDIS crew enters the room.)

DOCTOR: That's where you're wrong, Mr Harris. We do know what they are. At least I think we do. Seaweed!
HARRIS: Seaweed?
DOCTOR: Yes. Not the sort that you'd normally find on the beach. This seaweed happens to be dangerously alive.
HARRIS: Alive? But how can it be...
DOCTOR: I think you better listen to me. I think you'd all better listen to me. Large formations of seaweed have been coming up on the beaches along this coast. Seaweed that shows clear indications of having life like human beings.
CHIEF: Is it this seaweed that's blocking the pipes then?
DOCTOR: Yes, I think there's no doubt about it.
VAN LUTYENS: We must clear the base of the impeller.
DOCTOR: No wait! The weed is capable of protecting itself. It gives of a toxic gas. It's also a parasite. It attaches itself to other living things.
HARRIS: You mean human beings? But what happens to them?
DOCTOR: I'm afraid I don't know.
HARRIS: But my wife was stung by the seaweed.
DOCTOR: Ah yes, but she survived, didn't she? How is she?
HARRIS: Well I asked the Medicare Centre to bring her in. Price. Get Medicare for me and ask how my wife is now. Doctor, I've just seen one of these creature things that your young friend saw in the Oxygen Room.
DOCTOR: Oh, where?
HARRIS: In Mr Robson's cabin. It might have attacked him. He was in a wild state when I went in and just run out. He hasn't been seen since.
DOCTOR: Oh dear.

(PRICE turns from the communicator.)

PRICE: Mr Harris, sir.
PRICE: The Matron says she's sorry, she hasn't brought your wife in yet. But she's sending someone over now.

(This news causes the DOCTOR to rush up to the group in alarm.)

HARRIS: What is it, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well we've just come from your quarters, your wife wasn't there!
JAMIE: The place was covered with seaweed...
HARRIS: (To the DOCTOR.) Is this right?
DOCTOR: Yes. Yes, I'm afraid it is.
HARRIS: Then where is she? Where is she? I must go and find her.
VAN LUTYENS: Wait! Well where do you think she is? Do you think it has anything to do with this seaweed stuff?
DOCTOR: (With a puzzled, but mostly worried look.) I don't know. I simply don't know.


(MAGGIE HARRIS is staring out to sea. She becomes aware that she is no longer alone anymore. Expecting the new arrival, she turns her head to talk over her shoulder.)

MAGGIE: (Soft and controlled.) There is little time. You know what you must do?

(The new arrival is ROBSON.)

MAGGIE: You will obey?

(ROBSON nods... Then, like an unseen signal has been given, MAGGIE, unblinking, and with icy calm, starts to move down towards the sea. ROBSON watches her march straight into the foam-covered sea until her head disappears under the waves... All the while the unmistakable sound of the heartbeat throbs on...)

Next Episode

Doctor Who






Maggie Harris


Chief Engineer

Van Lutyens




Title Music by
and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Story Editor




(c) BBCtv 1968

Transcribed by


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