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Horror Holiday Thriller

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

(CW: Violence, Language, crude humor, blood, comic mischief)

A frozen blanket of ice glazed the roads on Fern Street as the Wallace family headed home from a busy day of shopping. The houses were adorned with multi-colored lights, and blow-up decorations were as far as the eye could see. Every door had a festive wreath to showcase the spirit of the season, and carolers sang songs of merry for all to hear.

Yes, my friends, it was Christmas Eve once again. A time when boys and girls dream of toys and candy, and parents wish for peace on Earth. Even grandparents put their worries away and enjoy watching their loved ones celebrate the traditions they have passed down through the years. There was no doubt about it—the holidays have always brought joy to the entire world.

As John Wallace pulled into the driveway, he noticed his neighbor, Ben Foster, hanging his Christmas lights. He parked his blue reindeer-decorated Subaru, looked at his wife, Martha, and said, “It’s a little late to be hanging lights, isn’t it?”

Martha took a sip of her hot chocolate and rasped, “Oh, give him a break. Ben’s getting older, and ever since his wife, Alice, passed away a few years ago, he hasn’t been the same.”

John lifted his brow and shrugged. “Yeah, but all things considered, don’t you think it’s a little counterproductive?” He looked at Ben and continued, “I mean, after Christmas, all this stuff has to come down, so what’s the point?”

“He likes to be included,” Martha said. “Alice used to decorate that house every year, so I suppose he wants to honor her memory.”

“Hmph,” John huffed. He looked in the back seat to see his twelve-year-old daughter, Sarah, glued to her phone. “Hey, kiddo, we’re home. You wanna go over and help Ben put up his lights.”

Sarah removed her earbuds and snapped, “What?!”

“Do you wanna—”

“I heard what you said, Dad!” Sarah’s words cut deeply. “Why should I do that?”

Martha put her hot beverage in the cup holder and spoke firmly. “Sarah, we don’t need that attitude right now. It’s Christmas, so why don’t you lend some good cheer and help our neighbor? We have to put these groceries away anyway. You can watch your TikTok videos later.”

Sarah ruffled her face, pinched her lips together, and fired, “Fine!”

John widened his eyes as Sarah exploded from the car. “Be good,” he said. “It’s the holidays.”

The cool air was comforting because Sarah’s insides were boiling. She unzipped her pink jacket and removed her black toboggan snow hat. She reached up, parted her brown hair behind her ears, and marched across the snow. Her unicorn boots sparkled in the moonlight, which matched her black leggings.

Martha and John gathered their bounty and smiled as their little girl approached Ben. They were glad to see Sarah heed their words because they had some presents to hide, and the distraction was a welcomed surprise.

“I’m glad to see her do something besides messing with her phone,” John said. “She’s been so distant lately.”

“Yeah,” replied Martha. “Teens will be teens.” She gave Sarah a quick wave and entered the house.

“Hi, Mr. Foster,” Sarah greeted with a quick flutter.

Ben was straggling the ladder near his front porch and snapped in another staple to a strand of lights. He nearly fell off when he heard Sarah’s voice. When he regained his footing, he looked down and uttered, “Oh, you startled me, little one!”

Sarah looked up and said, “Do you need help? My parents sent me over.”

He cleared his throat, pointed to a box on his porch, and muttered, “Well, darlin’, you could hand me those other lights in that box. It sure would help these old legs of mine.”

“Alright,” moaned Sarah. She grabbed the lights and noticed a red machine about the size of a lawnmower resting by the sidewalk. She glared at the contraption for a few moments before Ben’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Don’t mind that, sweetie,” he said. “That’s just the snowblower.” He lowered his hand and grinned. “How about those lights?”

Sarah ran over to the ladder and reached as high as she could until Ben grasped the lights. She watched as he stapled one strand at a time with his shaky hands. This is going to take all night!

The access line with the plug dangled beside Sarah like a slithering snake, and she pulled out her phone and began recording.

“What are you doing?” Ben asked.

Sarah sighed. “I’m recording this moment so I can upload it to my TikTok channel later.” She lowered her voice and mumbled, “My friends will be so excited to see how boring my life is.”

“What’s Tiki-Tok?”

Sarah wrinkled her eyebrows. Really? “Don’t worry about it. It’s just a social media thing?”

“Ha! Don’t worry,” said Ben. “I know all about social media. I watch the news all the time!”

He continued stapling the lights and began humming Jingle Bells. The access wire kept creeping along and got tangled around Sarah’s boots. She stumbled a bit but didn’t fall. Once again, her attention turned to the snowblower. She grabbed the cord and placed the end of it in the machine’s blades.

This will show him not to trip me again! This thing should strip all those lights, and then I can go home.

She saw a lever on the control panel that said, “On,” and pulled it. With a soft hum, the blades engaged, and the loose wire was pulled into the machine. Sarah stepped back and positioned her phone to capture all the chaos.

Ben whipped his head like a startled rodent and yelled, “Turn that off—”

His words were cut short as the looped wire around his neck became taut and flung him off the ladder. His body hung in the air while the snowblower pulled against the stapled lights. He tried to break free, but his old hands didn’t have the strength. He gasped for air, but none would fill his lungs. Within seconds, all the life in Ben’s writhing body ceased, and his eyes grew cold.

“Oh… shit!” Sarah gasped, turning off the snowblower. “That was… awesome!”

Later that night, Sarah awoke to flashing red and blue lights shining on her ceiling, and they were not Christmas lights. The police were on the scene, and Sarah watched through her bedroom window as the paramedics took Ben away in a black body bag. 

“Sarah!”

A thousand snakes slithered down Sarah’s spine when she heard her mother’s cry. She ran down the stairs as fast as her little legs would carry her and found her mom and dad sitting at the kitchen table.

“Honey,” John said with a long, drawn-out tone. “You were with Ben this evening. Did you notice anything strange?”

Sarah clasped her hands behind her back and mumbled, “N-No.”

“Are you sure, sweetheart?” Martha asked with tear-filled eyes.

“Well…” Sarah started and then paused to scrunch her lips. “I may have done something naughty.” She walked closer to the table and leaned against the marbled countertop.

John stood up, placed his hand on Sarah’s shoulder, and asked, “What did you do?”

Sarah fumbled for the right words but couldn’t find them, so she turned her back.

“It’s alright,” John said, looking at Martha. “If you had something to do with what happened tonight, we have to tell the police.”

“He’s right, dear,” Martha said.

Sarah wrinkled her forehead, clenched her jaw, grabbed a sharp blade from the knife block that was right in front of her, turned, and slashed her father’s throat. A thick stream of blood painted Sarah’s pink unicorn pajamas, and her mother screamed.

John grabbed his severed neck, fell to the floor, and choked on his own blood.

“No!” Martha screamed. “What did you do?”

Martha ran to John and held him in her arms as he breathed his last breath. When she looked at Sarah through bloodshot eyes, the last thing she saw was the glimmering blade as it penetrated her skull. The blade bit strong and true, and as it pierced Martha’s brain, visions of her life flashed by like lightning strikes, and then darkness took her.

Sarah gripped the knife and yanked it out of her mother’s head. A weary smile crept upon her face as she turned to her phone that she had placed on the countertop earlier. “TikTok is gonna love this.”

Suddenly, Sarah heard footsteps coming from the living room. She grew silent and heard the faint sound of bells jingling in the distance. Out of curiosity, Sarah tiptoed out of the kitchen and peeked around the wall to see a white-bearded man wearing a red suit with black boots putting presents underneath the tree.

“Santa…?” gasped Sarah.

The jolly man turned and bellowed, “Ho, ho, ho!” Sarah ran towards him with the knife held high, and his tone quickly changed. “Ho, ho, ho, Oh, no!” He grabbed her arm and took the knife away. “Put that away! It’s Christmas.”

“No, you big fat bully!” Sarah yelled. “Let me go!”

Santa looked at Sarah’s blood-soaked pajamas and said, “Something tells me you’ve been a naughty girl this year. I knew I should have checked that list twice. I guess I’m getting a little lazy. I should have listened to Mrs. Claus. She’s always right. What did you do, little girl?”

“I’m not telling you,” Sarah snapped.

He held Sarah’s arm and walked into the kitchen, where he discovered the cold bodies of her parents. “Oh no!! You have been a bad girl! What should I do with you? Hmm… Well, this is Christmas, and I think you should come with me until I fly to the police station. You must answer for this crime.”

“No!” Sarah yelled. “You can’t make me do anything!”

“Ho, ho, ho, I’m Santa Claus, and I will do what’s best for you.” He grabbed Sarah’s arm a little tighter, placed a finger on his nose, and they disappeared up the chimney in a puff of magic smoke. They appeared in Santa’s slay on the roof, and with a quick dash, they were off flying with his nine reindeer—Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.

Sarah pulled out her phone and pressed the record button. No one is going to believe this!

They flew around for a few minutes before landing on the next roof, and Santa quickly delivered his gifts. When he emerged from the chimney, Sarah folded her arms and scoffed, “I thought you were taking me to jail?!”

“Ho, ho, ho!” huffed Santa. “I plan on doing just that after I make a few more deliveries.” He laughed, and Sarah couldn’t believe that his belly did indeed shake like a bowl full of jelly. “It is Christmas, after all, and time is of the essence.” He grabbed the reins and said, “Now, hold tight… Here we go. HO!”

Like a twinkle from a Christmas light, they were off again, soaring through the clouds. Sarah expected to feel the freezing temperatures, but was toasty warm in the sleigh. Santa’s red gift bag was neatly tucked in the back seat, and Sarah decided to have a peak.

She gave Santa a double take to make sure he wasn’t watching her and untied the thick golden rope around his bag. She raised her eyebrows when a blinding light began to show itself through the opening. The warmth and power caressed her soul. It was a strange feeling. What is this?

“Ho, ho, ho! It’s the Christmas spirit of love,” Santa said with a warm smile. “It’s something that you have closed your heart to.”

He turned and watched Sarah close the sack. Her droopy eyes and frown showed the beginnings of sorrow.

“I think people sometimes forget that I know all and see all… It’s so annoying, ho, ho!” Santa reached up and patted his white fluffy beard and continued, “What you need to understand is that while this world is filled with hate, there is also hope. Hope to overcome hardship and faith to do good. I believe you have that warmth in your heart, and all you need to do is admit your wrongdoings and let the healing begin. Everyone can change.”

No words came from Sarah. She sat stone-faced and seemed lost in deep thought.

Santa nodded and steered his beloved reindeer to the next house. “Not to worry, Sarah. Forgiveness will always be there for you when you want to accept it.”

As Santa landed on the snow-covered roof, he stood next to the chimney with his red sack of presents and gave Sarah another cheerful look. “I won’t be long. Our next stop will be the police station, and then your healing can begin, ho, ho! Sit tight. I’ll be right back.”

He touched his nose, transformed into a dazzling, colorful mist, and swooped down the chimney. He filled the stockings hanging by the fireplace with candy and do-dads and placed a handful of presents under the sparkling tree. A plateful of peanut butter cookies caught his eye before leaving.

“Oh, my favorite!”  he beamed. “How can I say no? Ho, ho!”

Santa ate every last crumb and drank the full glass of milk that was left for him. Most people believed that he preferred chocolate chip cookies, but the savory taste of peanut butter was his weakness.

Time was getting on, and Santa snorted his way back up the chimney. When he emerged from the smoky funnel, he fell to his knees, and his rosy face turned red. The snow-covered roof was painted blood-red, and the reindeer were gathered in a circle, snooting and grunting.

As the reindeer parted, Santa saw Sarah sitting on Rudolph’s mutilated carcass, eating his red nose. A slight trickle of bright red ichor flowed down her chin.

“It does taste like a cherry!”

Santa rose with a clatter and yanked Sarah off of Rudolph. “What have you done?!” His face shook like a bowl full of molded pudding. “I thought you could change. I believed you had some good in your heart—”

“Ack!”

His words were cut short when Sarah quickly slashed his throat with the knife she found in the front seat of the sleigh. Santa should have left it at Sarah’s house when he took it from her, but mistakes are habitual.

Santa’s white fluffy beard soaked up the blood like a thick towel and turned crimson. His jolly-filled eyes twinkled and rolled back into his head, where visions of Christmas pasts grew dark. His jingle-bell knees quivered and gave out, and he collapsed in front of Sarah like a deflated blow-up decoration.

Sarah’s eyes danced in the bloodshed twilight, and she laughed with a bubbly voice, “Ha, ha, ha, ho! Merry Christmas, you fat bastard. You thought you knew what I needed?! Well, screw you!”

She grabbed her recording phone that was positioned on the sleigh, held it up, and said, “To all my TikTok followers and the non-believers… The spirit of Christmas can be killed. That’s how you do it, my friends!”

Sarah stopped recording and noticed the goosebumps forming on her slender arms. Jack Frost was wickedly biting into her bones as the warmth of the Christmas magic faded. Her pink blood-covered unicorn pajamas were no match for the freezing temperatures, so she ran over to Santa’s rotting corpse, removed his heavy red coat, and put it on.

The coat was too big for her small frame, but in an instant, Sarah’s insides stopped quivering, and a circle of warm magic dust swirled around her. All at once, the jacket adjusted itself to fit her body perfectly, and Sarah felt a power that only dreams could bring. She heard children’s voices and saw their dreams as they slept. Sarah automatically knew who was good and who was bad. There was an overwhelming sense of joy, and she swatted it down with a gust of hatred. 

“Well… who would have thought?”

Sarah watched as the reindeer instantly took their place by the sleigh, and Prancer gave her a look that would kill most people.

“What?” she asked, shrugging her shoulders. “I’ve always been the love of my own life, and it’s only fitting that I become the Queen of Christmas!”  

Sarah knew exactly what to do. Christmas must go on. There was no question about that, but what form would it take?  

She pulled out her phone again, hit the live stream button on TikTok, and laughed as the number of viewers crossed the billions.

With the device held high to capture the perfect angle, Sarah smiled a devilish grin and rejoiced, “It’s time to spread some Christmas FEAR!”

“Ho, ho, ho, ha, ha, ha!”   

December 19, 2023 22:23

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35 comments

Trudy Jas
06:32 Jan 20, 2024

Mr. Hayes? Daniel? It's been a month. C'mon. Time's a wasting. time waits for no man, time out of time. take time off. (okay, sorry. I did not stick to dry January) Miss you.

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:18 Jan 20, 2024

Hi Trudy!! Sorry I've been M.I.A. I have been working on my second novel, which I hope to publish later this year. I'm currently working on chapter 12 and have about 60,000 words so far. It does keep me busy, and I hope to write more short stories on here soon because this community is fantastic and it's a great place to practice your writing skills. Hope you've been doing good!

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Trudy Jas
19:40 Jan 20, 2024

60K words! Gulp. I have a hard time doing 2,000. I bore myself when I get more long winded. I agree that this is a great place - very positive and supportive. I won't keep you from your work.

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:09 Feb 28, 2024

Oh, you're not keeping me from my work...lol. I'm over 80,000 words now and only have 3 chapters left. I can't wait to release this book because I think everyone will enjoy it. I will work on some more stories for here as well because this is where I started and those short stories are so much fun to create. And quicker. Hope you are doing well!!

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Trudy Jas
11:36 Feb 28, 2024

Wow, almost finished that is great. If I ever publish anything it would be a series of short stories. Anyway, I'm doing great. Got shortlisted last Friday. So, I'm all full of myself, and convinced i'm the next great whoever. :-)

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:48 Feb 28, 2024

That's awesome! Congrats on being shortlisted. That's no small feet, so I hope you can celebrate. You deserve it :) I'll read that story as soon as I get the chance.

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Terry Jaster
14:17 Jan 15, 2024

I wish that this Santa would make a stop at my brother in laws house.

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:13 Jan 20, 2024

Ha, ha, ha!!! I love that!!

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Stevie Burges
07:02 Dec 28, 2023

Daniel, there aren't many horror stories that make me gasp, but after the death of Ben, I wasn't ready for the parent's demise. A well-written story. Somewhere in the future, I do hope Sarah receives her comeuppance.

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Daniel R. Hayes
07:11 Dec 28, 2023

Thank you, Stevie! I'm so glad you liked this story. One of the things I love about it, is that it could go on into other stories where I could explore what happens with Sarah and possibly see her get that comeuppance...lol. Thanks again, hope you have a great New Year!!

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Stevie Burges
07:38 Dec 28, 2023

Have a great New Year. Look forward to your next submission.

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J. I. MumfoRD
22:38 Dec 23, 2023

A story that keeps giving, very well done. I’m a little dubious about the Christmas light physics, but it didn’t detract from the fun.

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Daniel R. Hayes
05:57 Dec 27, 2023

Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this one :)

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Darya Silman
12:39 Dec 23, 2023

Humorous and grim to the extreme!

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:03 Dec 23, 2023

Thank you, Darya. I'm so glad you liked this!

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Jack Kimball
16:34 Dec 22, 2023

Christmas Queen indeed. Reminded me of my niece, though she hasn’t gone rogue quite yet. What a delightfully sick sense of humor you have there Daniel. A great read, and finally brought me into the Christmas spirit I’ve been wanting to embrace, though a little off from the typical. Need to read more of your stuff!

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:14 Dec 22, 2023

Thanks so much for your wonderful comments, Jack! I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas :)

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Ray Murphy
23:57 Dec 21, 2023

Made me laugh over and over. I've always wondered what is going to happen to my kids because of tick tock and instagram. HO HO HO OH NO!

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:48 Dec 22, 2023

I'm glad you liked my story, Ray. I always try to put a little humor in my stories, so I'm happy that it made you laugh. Merry Christmas!

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Trudy Jas
02:16 Dec 21, 2023

p.s. rthanks for liking my stories. I'm just beginnig.

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:22 Dec 21, 2023

You're welcome, I plan on leaving some comments on those stories when I get the chance ;)

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Trudy Jas
02:14 Dec 21, 2023

Just a quick addendum. I'm in full agreement with Sarah, that we should be the love of our own live - after all if we don't, who will? Aren't we told to put that o2 mask on our own face first? Go Sarah (without the knife, please)!

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:22 Dec 21, 2023

I agree. Believe it or not, I wrote this story before the prompts came out and finished Thursday. I had no title and when Friday rolled around I had no idea how to make this story work with the prompts, so I added a few lines and the title just came to me. It just worked...lol. Writing can be like a mixed up puzzle. When everything fits, it's like magic :)

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Trudy Jas
05:06 Jan 06, 2024

I'm assuming you've been busy with family and other nuisances. Missed my weekly dose of blood and gore. Com'on. you can do it in the dark can't you? :-)

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:22 Jan 20, 2024

Writing in the dark is indeed very fun...lol. I do hope to get back to these short stories soon. I can instantly come up with a story idea for every prompt I read, but I'm working on my second novel right now, and most of my focus is on that. This is where I got my start...lol. You can always follow me on social media.... I think I'm on everything and give updates on my progress ;)

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Trudy Jas
19:36 Jan 20, 2024

Okay, you're forgiven :-) I'm a dunce, a dinosaur as far as soc. media goes. tried it but can't find my way around. thanks for reading my story.

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Rebecca Lewis
17:33 Dec 20, 2023

This story incorporates elements of dark humor, violence, and a twisted take on the Christmas spirit. The narrative is filled with unexpected turns, creating a shocking and unconventional holiday tale. Here are some aspects to consider: 1. Tone and Style: - The tone is dark and satirical, blending violence with humor. It maintains a consistent style throughout, enhancing the story's unique atmosphere. 2. Character Development: - Sarah undergoes a drastic transformation, evolving from a disinterested teenager into a vengeful and unpre...

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Daniel R. Hayes
23:37 Dec 20, 2023

Hi Rebecca, Thank you so much for this in-depth review! I'm so glad you liked this story. I had so many more scenes I wanted to add, but the word limit was really holding me back. This story came to me out of the blue and I knew I had to write it even though I'm knee deep working on my second novel. I can't wait to read more of your work and I will comment as i go :)

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Trudy Jas
17:17 Dec 20, 2023

Oh, good. For a second there, I thought you were gonna get sappy. :-) But you captured the total lack of insight kids have re. actions, consequences and empathy and added the need for recognition (especially from strangers). Long live social media.

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Daniel R. Hayes
23:29 Dec 20, 2023

Thank you, Trudy. This idea was too good not to write and I had a lot more scenes I wanted to add, but that word limit...lol. Thank you for reading this and your comments. I really appreciate them. Merry Christmas!

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17:01 Dec 20, 2023

aww. poor Rudolph. :( Funny- enjoyed the irony of the father telling Sarah to 'be good.' You created a character who is essentially terrible. Yet, Still, In a way I feel sorry for Sarah. Masterful! -CC

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Daniel R. Hayes
23:22 Dec 20, 2023

Thank you Clara! I'm really glad you liked the story. This was a story that just came to me and I knew I had to write it even though I'm in the middle of my second novel...lol Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas! :)

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Mary Bendickson
01:04 Dec 20, 2023

You may have just ruined Christmas. But thanks for liking my 'Pitfall' And my 'Words'

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:18 Dec 20, 2023

Ha, ha, thank you and you're welcome :)

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