Fear Conceived: Why I am Arachnophobic

I remember it like it was yesterday . . .

I was barely a decade old and pure boy. I had already broken both arms from falling out of trees or off of walls and I’m pretty sure there were several stitches in my chin from a random “monkey bars” accident at school. I loved dirt, and my BMX, and baseball. I was a typical boy doing typical boy things and living the typical boy dream and on this particular day my father was feeding my boyness by taking the family to a place I had always wanted to go. Today we were going on a family trip to a brand new place. Somewhere new and fun, a place better than Disneyland, today my father was taking the family to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. A Place where the animals roam free, a place where I could feed Giraffe’s by hand and take a tram ride through the preserve and watch Lions as they roam about. It sounded wonderful and I couldn’t think of a better place to go. Needless to say, I was very excited about this trip. Of course, had I known then that I was about to have a life changing traumatizing experience, I would not have been so excited.

It was a warm summer morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, “Wolfgang” the family Rottweiler was barking, and my sister was crying. My sister was always crying and it drove me nuts. I remember sitting on my bed ready to go listening to my mother begging my sister to stop, but all attempts failed miserably. She just wouldn’t shut up. It was apparent that she did not want to go and she was making it known to the world. But I did what I always do when my sister was in one of her fits. I closed my door and turned on a video game. It seemed to me that this was the best way to not only drown out the ear-piercing screams of my sister, but also pass the time until my father spoke the magic words. The words I could not wait to hear and within no time at all they came.

Come ‘on guys’ time to go!” My father yelled as he exited the bathroom. Steam flowing in the wind behind him.

I wasted no time. I bolted out the front door stood impatiently next to the family Volvo station wagon and waited for my father to unlock the car. My heart raced and my eyes were wide with adrenaline. I could barely contain myself. My only worry was the drive. San Diego was an hour and a half away and I was pretty sure I couldn’t make it. I waited there, by the car, watching the front door wondering why everyone was taking so long. Eventually the rest of the family came out with my sister lagging behind and full of tears and we piled into the car.

As expected the car ride was awful, but somehow I managed. Even though the long drive was pushing the limits of my ability to sit still, I did. It wasn’t until the moment my father pulled the car off the freeway and up into the hills did I lose my composure. As my father maneuvered around the twisty road I began to jump in my seat. This did not please my father and he yelled at me demanding that I sit stilled. I apologized and complied with his request.

This is it! We’re here!” I exclaimed. My mother looked back at me and smiled and my sister shot me a dirty look. I just ignored her. (Okay, maybe I spat my tongue out at her but that really doesn’t matter right now. This is about me not her.)

My father took his sweet time finding a parking spot. It felt like another hour had passed before we were parked and out of the car. We slowly made our way across the parking lot towards the front gate. I skipped most of the way while my sister cried.

While my father stood in line waiting to by the tickets my mother pulled us off to the side for a little talk.

Do not wonder off.” She said. “You don’t want some bad person taking you and touching you in the privates!” This is my mothers’ favorite technique. Scare us into behaving and it worked . . . it caused some serious damage! But it did work.

My mother gave us a hug as my father walked up with the tickets. He handed them out to everyone and we headed towards the gate . . . only moments away from a life changing event.

The four of us walked through the turnstiles and followed my father off to the side by a large planter. He pulled out a map of the park and proceeded to figure out where to go first. He exchanged a few words with my mother then motioned to my sister and I to follow them. My sister, who was no longer crying, but still pouting, shot me a dirty look then ran next to mom. I stood next to my father.

We followed the path down a slight hill towards the innards of the park and as we rounded a small corner I noticed a bunch of people standing in a crowd staring at something.

Dad, what’s goin’ on over there?” I asked.

I don’t know. Let’s go find out.” He said patting me on the head.

My dad and I walked quickly over to the crowd to see what the commotion was about. At first I didn’t understand what I was looking at. All I could see was a group of people standing around and laughing. A few people where making “eeewwww” sounds and a few children seemed scared. This made me all the more curious at what was going on so I politely pushed my way to the front of the group and my dad followed.

As I broke through the front line of the crowd I found myself looking at a person holding one of the biggest spiders I had ever seen. It was huge and barely fit in one of her hands.

Dad! Do you see how big that spider is? What kind of spider is that?”

She just said it. Some kind of tarantula!”

I can’t believe how big it is!”

It wasn’t until years later did I find out the actual breed of tarantula I was looking at, but now I know. It was a Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula and it was huge!

Here is a picture of it.

I stood there and watched this giant spider sit quietly in this person’s hand as she continued to talk about it. I was mesmerized by the thing. It was cool!

Then the person stopped talking and asked if anyone would like to hold it. I got excited. I wanted to hold it. So I looked up at my dad and asked if it was okay if I held it. He said yes.

So I anxiously threw my hand in the air and yelled “I do!”

What a brave boy you are!” She said as she motioned for me to step closer to her. “Now put out your hands and put them together and I’ll gently place her on your hands.”

Okay” I responded and the nice woman placed this humongous spider on my hands. It was so big it barely fit on both of my hands. I remember it being surprisingly light for its size. It was hairy and prickly and its eyes were as black as a starless night. But there was something different about its eyes. They displayed an emotion I had never seen before. There was nothing there. No sense of thought like looking into the eyes of human, or personality like looking into the eyes of a dog or cat. Just blackness – hallow and empty, only a sense of survival shined through and it scared me and I became nervous. It was at this moment that I was about learn several things about spiders. Things I never asked to know, things I wish I could forget.

This creature, this spawn of Satan and everything that is unholy in this world, must have sensed my fear, because it was at this moment it decided to stand up on its hind legs. I had no idea that spiders could stand up on their back legs, but I learned that this day and it’s scary as shit.

Look! Here is a picture of one in the act of standing up! No thank you, please stay on all eight legs!

It was at this point I zeroed in on its head and saw its fangs (or whatever they’re called). I could see them writhing back and forth, up and down, in and out and I watched in terror as its hick juicy saliva dripped from its mouth onto my hands and it began to hiss. That’s right, fucking hiss. Like a cat or a snake. I had no idea spiders could hiss, but I learned that this day and it’s scary as shit!

The sound of this creatures hissing immediately over loaded my fear threshold and my trembling turned into a violent shaking. Unfortunately for me this spider did not care too much for my shaking and it was at this moment that I not only experienced one of the most frightening events of things my life, but it was the single event that caused me to be forever afraid of spiders. Because the moment that my little 10-year-old hands shook I scared the spider and it decided to attack! That’s right, the moment my hands shook, this huge, hairy, spawn of Satan leaped from my hands and flew in the air directly at my face!

I can still see it! All eight legs turning in the wind as it came flying at my face with juicy saliva ridden fangs. My heart stopped and I froze. All I could do was watch as it flew through the air at me . . . and piss my pants! (which I did and I’m not ashamed to say it).

In a last-ditch effort of survival, I turned my head to the left and it landed on my right shoulder continuing to hiss in my ear. I cried out in fear and was about to brush it from me when the worker snatched it quickly off my shoulder.

All I could do was stand their – crying – with wet pants trying to figure out just what happened to me.

It didn’t take long for me figure out that spiders are assholes. I hate them and their hind leg standing, saliva dripping, fanged mouth, hissing evilness.

I will never forget it for as long as I live.

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The Study – Full Version

The Study

In the end, Edward’s life left him quickly and painlessly. With a loud bang and bright flash, a bullet is hurled from the gun’s muzzle and into his right temple shattering his jaw. The hot slug travels violently through his head exiting out the left side and showering the mantle beside him with blood, brains and skull. The bullet lodges in the wall just above the fireplace as his body falls limp and crashes to the floor. Blood pours from his head and pools beneath him staining the Persian rug he purchased over twenty years ago. Within a fraction of a moment Professor Edward Lawrence transitions from a member of the living, to a member of the dead . . . and it took no effort at all. Just a simple squeeze of the trigger and it was over. An unexpected ending, to an unexpected friendship.

He — the mysterious stranger that has visited Edward every Saturday for the past few weeks, stands over him somber and sullen. Staring down at Edward’s body he’s filled with remorse and wonders what he could have done differently to prevent this unfortunate outcome. It’s not what he wanted. He liked Edward and was ready to offer him something special, something unique, something wondrous, but he miscalculated his moves. He Thought Edward was ready for the truth . . . obviously, he was wrong.

Edward’s death changes everything. He now has to reconsider his plans. Start over and find someone new; somebody that can take his place, somebody just as strong, somebody just as smart. The search will not be easy and he may never find anyone like Edward again. It took him hundreds of years to find him, and he wonders how many more it will take to find a suitable replacement. But he is dedicated to his cause and will not give up. The mysterious stranger’s remorse fades and quickly turns to rage. His blood boils as the rage flows through him feverishly . . . Burning and intense. He leans his head back and let’s out a deep guttural growl that rattles the entire house.

Floor boards squeak above him followed by heavy footsteps across the hall and down the stairs. Edward’s wife is coming. He’s intrigued and wants to see her face when she finds her husband lying dead on the floor in a pool of his own blood. The air turns sweet with the smell of death and terror and he relaxes. She will be his payment for losing Edward. As she makes it to the door of the study, The mysterious stranger steps back into the shadows hidden from view and waits patiently for her to enter.

#

Patty Lawrence, Edward’s wife, stands at the door to her husband’s study drenched in sweat. Her heart pounds violently in her chest and her whole body trembles. Flashes of horrific images fill her mind as she tries to muscle up enough strength to open the door. She knows what she heard — a gun shot and she fears the worst. Her husband hasn’t slept in days and for the past month he’s been mumbling to her about a strange visitor he’s been speaking with. Somebody he could only described as a dark shadow. She initially passed this off as another wild romp through his overactive imagination, but as the days of his ramblings turned to weeks she began to worry.

“Your lack of sleep is causing you to hallucinate honey.” She told him. “I’m worried about you.”

But he would only laugh her comments off, telling her she was worried about nothing and that he was fine. But tonight, when she found her beloved husband vomiting in the downstairs bathroom from nauseous exhaustion, she had enough.

“Edward!” She barked. “You’re going to take one of those sleeping pills your doctor gave you and go straight to bed.” She told him that over six hours ago. Obviously he did not listen.

Her hands shake uncontrollably as she reaches for the door knob of her husbands study. It’s locked. “Shit!” She yells out. “Eddie honey, please open the door!” She pauses a moment then knocks. “Baby come on!” Again no reply. She steps back away from the door nervously looking up and down the hallway trying to think of a way to get inside the room. Then it hits her. “The eyeglass repair kit!” She exclaims.

Patty runs into the kitchen and opens the drawer next to the stove. The junk drawer. The place for all the little things that exist between trash and usefulness. The place for old coupons and unused cheap lighters, the place where things go and are forgotten. Lost forever until the next time the drawer is open, then soon forgotten again when the drawer is closed.

She shuffles through the countless expired coupons, looking for the little yellow screwdriver set she knows is there. Her fingers are weak and she struggles against them.

“Please.” She exclaims to herself just as her knuckles bump something hard.

“Yes!” She yells pulling the small yellow plastic case from the drawer and runs out of the kitchen.

The hallway is dark making it difficult to find the right size screwdriver for the job, but persistence pays off as she finds a tiny flat-head and yanks it out of the case.

As carefully as she can she slips the screwdriver into the small hole in the door knob and moves it around looking for the latch of the lock. She finds it — presses firmly against the inner workings of the door knob and turns the screwdriver. The lock releases and she exhales deeply. She’s in. Patty drops her makeshift lock picking tool on the floor and throws open the door. A rush of warm air hits her in the face and she steps back. The study is warmer than the rest of the house and it shouldn’t be. There is no fire burning and the heater hasn’t been turned on for weeks. Worried about the more pressing issue of her husband’s well-being, she quickly dismisses the conflict of the room’s temperature and steps inside.

“Honey?” She calls out — there’s no reply. The room is dark, lit only by the small lamp that sits on her husbands desk. Patty reaches along the wall for the light switch and flicks it on but nothing happens. She throws it off and on several times but still nothing happens.

“FUCK!” She yells stepping into the room. “Edward, honey are you okay?” Nothing. “Edward?” Again, only silence. Patty’s eyes begin to well with tears. “Baby, please answer me.”

Patty slowly makes her way towards center of the room. The air grows hotter with each step she takes and by the time she reaches her husband’s cherry wood desk, the heat is almost too intense to handle. She stops at the edge of the desk and looks down. There’s a note pad with her husband’s scribbled handwriting on it.

NOT TRUE!

It reads cryptically. The handwriting is shaky and messier than usual.

“What’s not true honey?” She says looking around the room for any sign of her husband but there isn’t any.

Then, as she turns back towards the door thinking that maybe her husband isn’t in the room, she catches a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. A shadow. Something nondescript laying on the floor behind the desk. Patty slowly leans over and looks down. It’s a hand — her husband’s hand and it’s not moving. She gasps and quickly swings herself around the desk immediately dropping to her knees in tears at the horrific scene. Her husband, the love of her life, lies dead on the floor in a pool of his own blood. In one hand he holds a pen and in the other . . . a gun.

“No, no, no, no, no . . . Why?” She weeps tasting the salt of her tears as they touch her lips. “Why baby? Why?” Patty gently picks her husband’s head off the floor and presses it against her chest. His blood smears against her skin as she cradles him. She kisses him on the cheek and whispers through her tears. “What’s not true Eddie? What’s not true?”

#

Patty reaches up and pulls the note pad down from the desk not letting go of her husband. With blood shot eyes and a runny nose she reads her husband’s note again.

Not True!

“I don’t understand baby.” She says whispering into her husband’s ear.

The hot air of the study is thick, heavy, and oppressive. It squeezes tight around her chest making it difficult to breathe. She tires and fights desperately to keep her eyes open but it’s a losing battle. Patty rests her head against her husband’s bloodied hair and closes her eyes.

A loud thump echoes throughout the room jolting her back into consciousness. With her ears perked, she sits motionless listening to the darkness. Another thump echoes, this time louder than before and rattles the cup of pens that sit on the desk. She looks towards the far corner of the room near the door, opposite from where she sits with her dead husband. She leaps to her feet and stares into the blackness — nothing there — at least nothing she can see. Another thump slams the floor this time rattling the entire room and Patty’s feet leave the floor. The hair on her arms stand up as goose pimples rush over her skin. She’s not alone. She looks across the room towards the door and prepares herself to make a run for it. Slowly, she inches around the desk switching her gaze between the door and the dark corner and her throat tightens. She pauses a moment and listens, thinking maybe she was just dreaming . . . and as the deafening silence of the dark study reaches her ears she relaxes.

She exhales deeply and slumps over the desk holding her chest in relief; and just as her heart begins to settle, something shuffles across the floor towards her. She screams out in terror and runs towards the door, but it slams shut just before she reaches it. Terrified, her knees buckle beneath her and she falls to the floor.

She’s trapped.

“Who’s there?” Patty utters as she kicks and crawls her way backwards towards the far edge of the room. Her bloody hands slip on the hardwood floor as she makes her way off the Persian rug and she crashes down on her elbows. She lies there, frozen in fear and unable to speak as she stares into the darkness. The unknown intruder continues towards her, but stops at the edge of the light just out of view and lets out a deep guttural snort.

“PLEASE GOD NO, PLEASE DON’T HURT ME!” She yells.

“I’m not going to hurt you.” Says the dark figure in a deep and commanding voice.

“Then what do you want?”

I want you.”

She is overcome with a fear. A kind of fear that she has never felt before and begins to cry uncontrollably.

Oh god no! Please?” She begs. “Why? Why did you kill my husband?”

I didn’t kill your husband . . . he did that to himself.” The mysterious stranger steps closer revealing a large dark silhouette.

Knowing that her husband was a kind and gentle man who valued life, she doesn’t believe what she has just been told. “That’s not true. He would never do such a thing.”

“But yet he did. Did you not see the gun in his hand?”

“I don’t believe you, why would he do that?”

“Because he didn’t believe.”

Patty thinks about the note her husband left scribbled on the note pad. “Not true!” She mumbles to herself.

Was that note about you?” She yells out.

The intruder laughs. “Yes.”

“But I still don’t understand. Why wouldn’t he believe in you?” Patty inches her way as far back as she can go stopping as she reaches the large wooden bookshelves that line the study.

“Of course you don’t understand. None of you can. You’re not capable of it.”

The intruders words confuse her and she wants nothing more than to leave this nightmare, but the intruder stands between her and the door blocking her way out. “Please!” She begs. “I’ll do anything if you just let me go.”

The intruder sniffs the air and exhales in ecstasy. “You reek of fear and that pleases me.”

“Oh god please! Make this stop.” Patty pleads as she looks away from the darkness of the study towards her dead husband body and weeps.

“God won’t help you! He never does!” The intruder roars and lunges forward towards Patty into the light revealing his fiery eyes and moonlit skin and as he sinks his sharp teeth into her neck she looks up at the ebony horns that curl above his temples and thinks to herself.

“This is not real! . . . This is not true!”


“I Heard It Too” – Flash Fiction

I Heard It Too 

Chris lies on the couch watching the clock with a heavy heart dreading the arrival of eight-thirty. He contemplates not doing his fatherly duty and letting his son stay up late, but reluctantly decides against it. Seth has school tomorrow and must go to bed, but he doesn’t know if he has the strength. He’s not sure if he can answer the question Seth asks every night, not after a difficult day like today.

“Let’s go buddy. Time to brush your teeth.”

“Okay daddy.” Seth responds with a warm smile and a gentle hug.

Chris’ eyes fill with tears. “Race ya’ upstairs!”

“You can’t beat me daddy!”

“Wanna bet!” Chris stands up off the couch. “On the count of three. Ready. One . . . Two . . . Three!” Chris hangs back a moment giving his son a head start, then fakes his way quickly up the stairs following Seth into the bathroom.

“I beat you daddy! You’re slow!”

“I’m not slow. You’re just fast.”

“Super fast?”

“You’re super-duper fast. Now brush your teeth, you need to go to bed.”

“Do I have school tomorrow?”

“Yes. Now brush your teeth.” Chris turns on the sink and starts to put the toothpaste on his son’s toothbrush.

“Daddy!”

“What buddy?”

“I’m six, I can do it.”

“Oh, excuse me Mr. Grownup, here you go.” Chris hands his son the tube of toothpaste and his toothbrush.

“I’ll be right back buddy. I’m going to put my pajamas on.” Chris walks slowly down the hall trying desperately to fight back the tears, but it’s a losing battle and by the time he makes it to his room they are flowing freely down his cheeks. He quietly undresses listening to the soft hum of his son’s electric toothbrush coming from down the hall and frowns. He knows now that he doesn’t have the strength to answer the question and begins to weep.

“Daddy are you okay?”

Chris looks up to find his son standing in the doorway of his bedroom. He lost track of time. “I’m okay son. Come on, let’s get you in bed.”

Chris leads his son into his bedroom, turns on the light and pulls back the covers of his bed. “In you go.”

“Okay daddy.” Seth slowly lies down on his bed and looks up at his father. He knows the question is coming and his heart sinks.

“Daddy?”

“Yes son?”

“Where’s mommy?”

“I told you son mommy’s not here anymore.”

“Cause she died and went to heaven?”

Chris can feel the onslaught of tears well up behind his eyes but he reaches down deep to find the strength to keep them back. “Yes buddy. Mommy went to heaven.”

“Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“I miss mommy.”

“I know you do son. So do I. Now get some sleep, you have school in the morning.” Chris kisses Seth softly on his forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you too daddy.”

Chris tucks his son tightly in bed and heads for the door. “You want me to leave your door open?”

“Yes please.”

“Okay. If you need me I’ll be in my room.”

“Okay daddy.”

Chris turns off the light and heads back down the hallway to his room. His normal ritual since the passing of his wife involves staying up late watching movies and drinking the pain away, but today was too hard and he needs to cry. So he turns off the light and lays in bed alone.

He cries for hours, hugging his wife’s pillow and staring at the clock.  Eventually exhaustion sets in and as he reaches the edge of consciousness – he is woken by a distant and familiar voice.

“Chris! Seth! I love you!” It is the voice of his late wife. Chris rolls onto his back and stares up at the ceiling waiting patiently to hear her voice call out again, but it does not. A few moments later he hears his son enter the room.

“Can I sleep with you tonight daddy?”

“I guess, why?”

“I can’t sleep.” Seth says crawling into his bed.

“Why can’t you sleep buddy?”

“I heard mommy’s voice.”

Chris squeezes his son tight. “Oh Seth . . . I heard it too.” 


The Study – A Sneak Peek

A week ago I finished the first draft of my first novel and I promised myself a week off to relax and do nothing.  But I couldn’t do it.  I found that I needed to write.  So I fired up my computer (what kind doesn’t matter) and scoured my ‘ideas’ document for a short story.  After an hour of reorganizing the document into 1) Novel ideas and 2) Short Story ideas, I found I had equal parts of both.  7 novels and 7 short stories.  So I read my bullet points on each short story and chose one.  The one that won’t get out of my head.

For some reason I am compelled to share the first scene of my new short story, so I’m posting it here in all it’s first draft glory.  Typos and all.

NOTE: It is violent and graphic and if you don’t like that sort of thing, please do not read it.  Or, actually please do.  As a horror author I pride myself on the ability to keep you up at night.

 

The Study – by Benjamin Cain

In the end, Edward’s life left him quickly and painlessly. With a loud bang and bright flash, a bullet is hurled from the gun’s muzzle and into his right temple shattering his jaw. The hot slug travels violently through his head exiting out the left side and showering the mantle beside him with blood, brains and skull. The bullet lodges in the wall just above the fireplace as his body falls limp and crashes to the floor. Blood pours from his head and pools beneath him staining the Persian rug he purchased over twenty years ago. Within a fraction of a moment Professor Edward Lawrence transitions from a member of the living, to a member of the dead . . . and it took no effort at all. Just a simple squeeze of the trigger and it was over. An unexpected ending, to an unexpected friendship.

He . . . the mysterious stranger that has visited Edward every week for the past several months, stands over him somber and sullen. Staring down at Edward’s body he’s filled with remorse and wonders what he could have done differently to prevent this unfortunate outcome. It’s not what he wanted. He liked Edward and was ready to offer him something special, something unique, something wondrous, but he miscalculated his moves. He Thought Edward was ready for the truth . . . obviously, he was wrong.

Edward’s death changes everything. He now has to rethink his plans. Start over and find someone new; somebody that can take his place, somebody just as strong, somebody just as smart. The search will not be easy and he may never find anyone like Edward again. It took him hundreds of years to find him, and he wonders how many more it will take to find a suitable replacement. But he is dedicated to his cause and will not give up. The mysterious stranger’s remorse doesn’t last long and quickly turns to rage boiling his blood. The rage flows through him feverishly . . . Burning and intense. He leans his head back and let’s out a deep guttural growl rattling the entire house.

Floor boards squeak above him followed by heavy footsteps across the hall and down the stairs. Edward’s wife is coming. He’s intrigued and wants to see her face when she finds her husband lying dead on the floor in a pool of his own blood. The air turns sweet with the smell of death and terror and he relaxes; and as Edward’s wife makes it to the door of the study, he steps back into the shadows hidden from view and waits patiently for her to enter.


A Frustrating Yet Comical Conversation

The following is a conversation I just had with my wife.  I constantly have these types of miss-communications with her and although they are extremely frustrating when they are happening, they instantly turn comical once completed.

Me: I forgot to ask you to pick up a snack while you were at the store today

Her: What’s that?

Me: Roasted red pepper humus and pita chips.

Her: Roasted red pepper pita chips?  What’s that?

Me: No. Roasted red pepper humus AND Pita Chips.

Her: What’s that?

Me: Have you ever had humus?

Her: yes, but I don’t know what that is.

Me: It’s humus with roasted red peppers in it.

Her: I understand that, but I don’t know where that is?

Me: The store.


Conflict

As I near the completion of my first novel I find myself battling a familiar foe.  I call him “ME”.  He is cunning and intelligent and will stop at nothing to keep me from doing what I love most.  Writing!  He sits behind me every night judging every word I write, every sentence, every paragraph and has no problem telling me I suck.  I hate him.

However, no matter how much hatred I have towards this foe, I am stronger.  I am more cunning.  I am more intelligent than he.  “I can write.”  I tell him.  “I can tell a story and no matter what you say I will find a way to defeat you.”  But the battle is not an easy one.  For years I have allowed him to keep me down.  Stopping me from pursuing a life I long to have, but no more.  I have had enough.  I will conquer my enemy.  I will capture him; throw him in the brig and leave him to rot and die.  I will face you no matter how terrifying you are.  I will stand tall with my chin high and my eyes forward.

I am now a force to be reckoned with . . . look out “ME” here I come!

 

Benjamin Cain –


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