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Author's note: This is my entry for Cornconic's Random Title writing contest. The category I chose was 'Diary/Journal.'


Bailey made a point of trundling the police car through Whiteoak Ridge. The town was thoroughly malnourished in a need for law enforcement, so it was best to savour any opportunity - even if this was a non-emergency assignment.

Fingering the radio, he cleared his throat,

“Dispatch, can I get a rerun on the call?”

“10-4,” replied a half-static voice. And the recording began to play. Both he and officer Moreno in the passenger seat listened in silence.


DISPATCH: Thank you for calling Whiteoak PD. This is Lindsay. How may I help?

CALLER: Hi- hey, I wanted to report a suspicious man. He was in the neighbourhood last night.

DISPATCH: Okay, can I get your name and address please?

CALLER: Sure. My name’s Hannah Balcroft, and I’m at 54 Araucaria Row.

DISPATCH: Thank you, Hannah. Do you feel like you’re in any immediate danger?

CALLER: What? No, no, I… I saw this guy last night. It was just after sunset. Quarter-to-eight-ish? Yeah, so I saw this man walk out one of my neighbour’s front door. I think he wanted to swing it closed behind him, but it didn’t latch properly and bounced off the doorframe. I guess he was in a hurry because he didn’t seem to notice. He just left.

DISPATCH: Can you remember any details about the individual?

CALLER: Not really. He was dressed in dark clothing. Really dark, probably black. I thought it was Mr. Murrough since he was about the same height. Six, six-one maybe.

DISPATCH: Thank you. Mr. Murrough, you said?

CALLER: Yeah, Oscar Murrough. Married, two little girls. Their house is number 49.

DISPATCH: Okay, Hannah. Thank you for the information. We’ll send a car out to have a look.


“Thanks, Lindsay.” Bailey grumbled, turning the volume down. “What a lazy asshole.”

Moreno turned sheepishly, questioning him with a look.

“The caller. If you see something fishy going on you damn well report it ASAP. You don’t wait ‘til the next day.”

“I know what you mean,” said Moreno, “but maybe she was-”

“I ain’t taking excuses, kid. There’s just this… not-my-problem mindset round here. Pisses me off.”

Defeated, Moreno placed his hands on his lap and looked back out the windshield. He was a good kid, in need of a morale booster. A rookie. Fresh, five months out of field training. Bailey, on the other hand, was just going through the motions. Far from being senior, but with a good five years under his belt.

“Man, whoever came up with the naming scheme for this town’s pretty uninspired, huh? It’s all just trees,” Moreno remarked.

Spotting the turn off for Araucaria Row, Bailey grunted in agreement, and rolled the car steadily down to number 49.

Before even stepping out, he caught onto the open front door swinging lazily in the crisp April breeze. Stepping out, he noted the overgrown front lawn. Not quite a jungle, but it clearly hadn’t had much attention for a couple weeks. Hardy weeds burst from the driveway in a meagre attempt to hide a blue Audi TT with sycamore keys building up at its wipers.

Moreno trailed behind, only evident by the shuffling of his boots. Boots that quickly became wet from unkempt, dew-crowned blades drooping onto the paved pathway, as did Bailey’s. Both shook their feet after climbing the stairs up to the front porch. The damp rings encircling their ankles, however, stayed unabated.

Sighing, Bailey stepped to the open door and rapped a staccato triplet, before calling out,

“He-llo? This is the police.”

No answer. He nudged the door open a few more inches and tried again, with a little more force in his knuckles.

“Anyone here? Hello?”

Nothing. As they stepped through the doorframe, even the constant spring breeze petered out, as if refusing to enter the abode.

Bailey’d been craving some activity, to ignite the torch of his purpose. And yet, in that house, he felt the air was pressing down on him, forcing tiny embolisms of unease into his blood.

“Moreno, go check out the first floor. I’ma look around down here.”

Moreno replied with a single stiff nod, and briskly made his way up the stairs. Bailey turned, stole a gaze down the hallway, and decided to start with the living room. A few old magazines were stacked on an otherwise empty coffee table. A fine layer of dust coated the furniture, uniform even in the sofa seats.

Got bored of TV? he thought, not like there’s much else to do in this town.

Every nook and cranny told the same story. A few unwashed dishes laid on the kitchen counter, and the odd scuff marks at the entrance to the laundry room weren’t lost on the officer.

“Anything?” Bailey called up the stairs. A few hurried footsteps sounded above, and Moreno replied,

“Nobody’s here. I mean, the rooms look lived-in. Doesn’t look like they went on vacation.”

Not without their car, Bailey mused, recalling the occupied driveway. Giving Moreno time to descend the stairs, he strode over to the kitchen pantry, pulling the door from its magnetic latch and tugging on the pull cord. Moreno entered as a filament bulb burned to life, revealing nothing but pasta and canned foods.

“Alright,” he said, hands on his hips, “let’s go back out and get directive from dispatch.”

He turned to leave, then stopped. Just then, he heard something. Stifled, almost imperceptible. A gasp? And had the pantry light flickered at the same time? It was only in the corner of his eye, but he was sure something changed. A look back showed nothing out of the ordinary. Still…

The officers shared a cautionary look.

“Go radio dispatch,” said Bailey, “I’ll have another once-over.”


“Oh- wait, tell ‘em possible missing persons, alright?”

Moreno hesitated, fixing his eyes expectantly. Bailey sighed,

“10-57, Moreno.”

Without tarrying, Moreno rushed outside, leaving him to investigate. He encircled the kitchen and left through its rear doorway into the hall. He paced its length, scrutinising every surface and crevice. It was then he noticed a small door cut out of the wall beneath the stairs. Thin oak cladding, latched with a small slide bolt. His concern sprouted into a years-dormant worry, spurring him on to unlatch the door and open it.

A bare staircase of uncut sideboards and straight planks led down to a landing, where the staircase made a right angle, obscuring the rest of its flight. This was just a passing observation, however, because Bailey was far more attentive to the smell that wafted up from below. Strong chemicals, floor cleaner, perhaps disinfectant, underlined by something markedly… organic.

Covering all bases, he unstrapped his radio and squeezed the talk button.

“Dispatch, am I coming in clear?”

A crackling “10-4” leaked from the speaker.

“Might have a 10-54 here… basement stinks like a terminal ward. Gonna head down and take a look.”

“Uh, 10-9?” Moreno’s voice burst from the radio.

Fastening the receiver to his belt, Bailey stepped back with the front doorway in view.

“Come back inside!”

Soles clattering on the floorboards, Moreno jogged over to Bailey, again shooting him a clear need for guidance.

“You smell that? Could be a body down there.”

At the mention of a corpse, Moreno’s face turned a little paler. Not sheet-white, but enough to betray unspoken alarm.


The stair boards creaked, unplaned and untreated. They looked damp with darker spots mottling their surface. At the bottom, the men found themselves in a basement, light filtering in from one lone window on the far wall and near the ceiling. The smell was decidedly worse down there. Its ethereal, sour tendrils worming their way up both men’s nostrils.

There was a hazelnut desk placed in the center of the room, on top of a faded rug. Several sheaves of paper sat on the desk, one appearing to have been knocked off with unbound sheets strewn across the floor. A collection of tall gas cylinders clustered in one corner, scratched and unreadable. Flanking the window stood a glass-doored cabinet, shelves stacked with wide-seamed plastic bags and tubes.

“Someone getting dialysis down here, you think?” Moreno remarked, ambling over to the desk to get a look at the papers.

“Mm. Or they’re prone to wearing out catheters.”

Aside from that, all manner of shiny instruments laid out of place around the room. A quiet ruffling came from behind Bailey, and then,


He spun around to see Moreno with an elastic-bound journal, sitting open in his hand. It was patently obvious he’d already taken a peek, and from the look in his eyes, Bailey wasn’t sure he wanted to himself.

“Damn it, Emilio,” Bailey groaned, reaching into his back pocket, “get your greasy fingerprints off that.”

Moreno set the book down, looking down at his feet while Bailey withdrew a pack of nitrile gloves. He pulled a pair from the opening, snapped them around his hands, and picked up the journal.

A Promising Future in Life Support

Those were the words scrawled at the top. Undeniably disconcerted, he swallowed, and read on.

Date: 04/15/09

Two weeks ago.

Trial no.: T1
Sex: F
Age: 11y
Procedure: Gastrointestinal excision; botanical IV cannulation
Abstract: Quinoa is widely known as one of the most nutritious plant foods, high in carbs and protein, brimming with beneficial phytonutrients, and covering a significant portion of the mineral RDA. It is only natural to find application for such an outstanding agricultural product. In times of need and extraordinary circumstance, it proves as a reliably singular source of sustenance.
Under a more extreme proposition, Quinoa plants themselves might be used before harvest. Tastes like shit, anyway. If their transport systems were to be linked with the bloodstream, the physical requirement of eating may turn out unnecessary. By eliminating the need for a digestive system, a major leap in life support is quickly being realised in the field. By me. Me.
Method: Subject vitals are monitored while anesthetic is administered. An incision is made running from above the sternum to below the waist. The GI tract is then uncoupled by detachment at two points: above the sphincter, and below the larynx opening. Following removal, the stubs-I like that word. stubs- are ligatured using Prolene suture, sealing off both ends, and the torso incision is sutured - also using Prolene - and then disinfected.
Bifurcated cannulas are to be inserted into plant stems. Ensure care in making sure each side feeds into the xylem and phloem, respectively. Cannulas on opposite ends of tubing are then intravenously inserted into the subject. Penetrated.get some greens
A backup IV drip should be kept at hand to ensure any resultant deference-shit deficiencies, can be remedied.
Results: To be observed.

Bailey lifted his gaze, taking a deep inhale, an action he promptly regretted as his nose scrunched up from the odor.

“Requesting another car to the scene, dispatch.”

The radio hissed, coming out with a broken,

“10-1. Go –-- basement.”

He let out an irritated huff.

“Moreno, go up out the basement and request another car to the house. And see if you can’t get some background on the residents.”

“On it,” he said, all too happy to get away from the stinking miasma.

Bailey returned his attention to the scrawled notes he held, and leafed over a page.

Date: 04/16/09, 09:42AM
Observations / Trial T1: Subject in steady condition. She often complains of an unbearable hunger, despite her lack of stomach and intestines. I forgot. tried feeding her. Nearly choked her. fuckn stupid

Feeling a knot forming in his stomach, Bailey flicked forward. On seeing the anatomical drawings and close-up polaroids of surgery, he grimaced, squinting his eyes in an attempt to blur the things he didn’t want to see.

Mercifully, or perhaps not, the images gave way to a new entry.

Date: 04/19/09
Trial no.: T2
Sex: F
Age: 39y
Procedure: Cardiectomy; permanent replacement via cardiopulmonary bypass

Feeling an ever-growing sense of urgency, he skipped the abstract entirely. Whoever wrote was either delusional or a psychopath. Now, only the details mattered, the method - even so, much of it was Greek to him, while at the same time reading as chaotic. Perhaps because it was chaotic.

…incision is made from the collarbones to the sternum… to the solar plexus… tubes are then threaded through corresponding chest incisions… blood vessels ligatured… vena cava are cannulated… heart-lung machine is turned on… atrial cuffs are trimmed… vena cava ligatures cut… second machine turned on…

Pausing, Bailey scanned the room once more. Unless they were hidden elsewhere, there were no such medical machines anywhere in the room. Cold chills continued to wrap his body, now complemented by a hint of confusion.

…three machines would be optimal for this procedure; only got 2 two. That L have to do… loose tube is attached to the input slot… blood loss is expected at this stage, I will kindly request subject to try not to bleed… pulmonary artery and aorta are wrapped… then both may be chopped below the ligatures and the subject’s heart extracted. Om nam shiva.

“A heart transplant…?” Bailey wondered out loud. No, not a transplant. There’s been no mention of a donor.

…main Y-incision is sutured… disinfected…. superglue is applied… rubber seals are slid down tubes and pressed into the skin… after glue dries, the operation’s good and done…

He directed his face to the ceiling, shouting for Moreno to get a move on, then pushed through the final part of the text before him.

…once subject becomes lucid, the motor turning the hand-crank is removed (then burned, fuck it), and they are to be instructed of the machines’ working, and how to power them if they are getting low.
Results: There was moderate blood loss during surgery, even though I asked bitch nicely to NOT do that, and the subject is now mildly anemic. Iron will be increased in nutrition, and antibiotics are at hand in case she becomes immunocompromised. Iron will be added to nutrition. Some peas, too.

Bailey was lost. Why did he keep reading? This was detective work. Nevertheless, a driving force in the back of his mind drew his eyes to the next word. The next sentence. The next page.

Date: 04/19/9999, 16:13KM fucking its 1600 dont use PM.
Observations / Trial T2: She appears to be in slight pain while breathing, hopefully she keeps breathing. Machines are modified, they only boil- warm the blood, no oxygen. I want to help- no, professional I am. I am. I am. Can’t give painkillers, could she pass out and being unable to charge her machines with the plank clanking THE CRANK. STOP
Date: 04/19/09, 11:35PM
Observations / T2: In lee of testing these ideals, I’d glossed over sleep. I don’t know how. I don’t… I thought I did- didn’t. I will be fitting the subject with a wired shock collar; using a simple diode circuit connected to, the. The lung-heart- the lart, the
When machine power getting gets low, the thermistor allows suffering power ITS FUCKING SUFFICIENT!!! for the diode to open, activating the collar.

There was no denying it now. The person that wrote this… the man in the dark clothing, he’d lost it. Bailey was sure. That certainty crumbled just slightly when the next page came around - well, the page after all the visuals he’d rather spare from being made memory.

The wording, the structure, it was a far cry from the previous logs. It read like a step-by-step guide. This he could understand. Going over it once, twice, three times, he managed to dumb it down.

The procedure was for the removal of the lungs, diaphragm, and trachea, and once again the permanent attachment to a heart-lung machine. But one detail, so lurid in its implication, eclipsed the rest.

In contrast to trial T2, the machine does regulate O2 and CO2 levels. It has been adjusted to supply lower levels of O2 and to remove less CO2. As a result, a sensation of breathlessness ensues. Very interesting. There are no lungs . No more.

He’d known from the start, and it was this that forced him to accept it. Endless hunger, constant suffocation, being forced to wind up your own heart… this couldn’t be guided by any good medical intuition. None sane, anyway.

No polaroids followed the entry. No observations or results. Bailey guessed he just cancelled it. Instead, there was another entry right after.

Date: 04/23/09
Sex: F
Age: 5y

That was it. His limit. Head swimming, he could only vaguely make out Moreno’s voice, but it was distraction enough to save him from his own impulse. Reflexively, he flung the journal from his hand. It bounced on the desk, flipped, then fell off with open pages kissing concrete.

“Backup… Emilio! Where the fuck’s backup!?”

“They’re here in two, man, just-”

Bailey’s relief was short-lived, because something else interrupted Moreno. Light leaking from the basement door faltered. And a sound. The same sound. Only, now, he knew where it came from.

Undoubtedly, indisputably.

It came from below him.

He whined softly as altruism upturned the desk, bullying him to his knees, and gripping a corner of the coarse horsehair rug. So rough he felt it scrape and chafe his skin as he pulled it back.

And it was covering an old steel hatch. Stained and tinged with rust. The turning handle was fiddly. He dropped it more than once, each time frustratedly cursing its design. Eventually, he found purchase, twisted the latch, and pulled. The hatch snapped away from its frame with a sticky crack - the lip it’d been resting on was coated in foul smelling fluid.

And even that smelled just rosy when the true stench hit. Sharp, acrid, rotten.

A ladder descended to an older looking room. A sub-basement. Teeth grit and nose scrunched, he did what he never could’ve imagined. He turned around, placed his feet on the ladder, and began the descent. One by one, every next rung brought a fresh wave dread, tingling across his skin and congealing into fey omens that ran through his guts.

The sub-basement had to be twenty feet wide, he guessed. Despite no apparent source, it was brightly lit. Dark, tenacious smudges on the brick walls told Bailey it might’ve once been a coal cellar. Not now. The air was hot, stifling and rancid, quickly forming runnels of sweat down Bailey’s face and neck. A poorly affixed shower rail ran along the ceiling, sectioning the room into halves with the shower curtains that hung from it. Sickly yellow around the edges.

Mind screaming at every step, he approached the rightmost curtain and drew it back. Bright panel lights burned his retinas. Heavy air already sat thick in his chest, but the wave of humidity behind that curtain was like a rainforest. And rightly so, because enclosed were dozens upon dozens of potted plants. Their leaves yellow and mouldering, tubes running from their stems to something obscured. He caught a glimpse of a metal frame. Of wheels at its base.

Already knowing what lay hidden behind the foliage, Bailey moved on. To the next.

Nearly tearing the curtain off its hook, he tore it back to see two upright machines, blinking flashes of red and green. A woman sat cross-legged on the bare concrete floor. Sallow and naked. Her matted hair swung to and fro as she carried out some repeating motion. Some of it stuck out, individual hairs standing on end as if gripped by spectral fingers. Bailey didn’t know what she was doing. He craned his neck and saw, between her legs, a hand-crank, and consequently the wires running between it and the two machines.

His eyes bulged to the point he thought they might burst. He fumbled for the radio, then realised it’d be useless down here.


A jolt ran through him when he turned back to see the woman looking at him dead-on. Shadow the hue of tarnished bronze encircled her eyes. Her lips were moving, and he could barely pick up on her voice after honing his ears.

“Storm’s passing. The storm will pass. The thunder’ll be carried away by wind. Yes. Just turn the wheel. Swirl the clouds.”

He wanted to sweep this poor woman up and carry her to safety. But the four tubes worming in and out of her swollen, discoloured breasts would tolerate no such thing. Regardless, it was his duty as an officer to see if what lay behind the other curtains still had breath in their lungs.

He drew back the next. A shirtless man, permanently hooked up to another of those machines, sat on a rickety wooden chair. It looked as if its legs might snap clean in two at the slightest shift, but it held.

The man stared up at Bailey, lips parting and popping, his swollen tongue clicking, but no voice emerged. Not even a whisper. He squirmed in his seat, like he was in pain from something. The stitches lining his chest and belly strained under the pressure of swollen tissue, which weeped clear yellow trickles and stained his jeans.

And in spite of it all, he was alive. Just like the others.

Well, not all the others. There was one left to check. He had an inkling of what atrocity would be behind the fourth curtain. Unspeakable visions that marred forethought. They all went silent when he threw it open.

What looked to be a small cylindrical oil tank, like the one in his backyard, was fixed in place, with pipes and wires running into the foot of it. Lumpy ridges ran top to bottom. It looked like the plastic had been cut and then melted back together somehow, and the top was trimmed off. Murky liquid sloshed a few inches under the rim.

His eyes slid to the middle of the tank. And glaring right back at him was a small, skinless face, glistening in a perpetual rictus of irrevocable agony. A head which sat on a neck, which sat on shoulders, connecting to arms pushed through inflatable armbands, hands, fingers, and…

A switch flipped in Bailey’s head. He’d looked. He’d done what he needed to. Free of those restraints, he pivoted and stumbled halfway to the ladder, before buckling to his knees and painting the floor with steaming bile.

A screech rang out from behind him, sounding both hoarse and youthful. The force of it was so powerful in connotation it raised him onto his feet, and sent him hurtling for the ladder. He already knew that sound would rattle in his skull, even in a year, five, ten. That was more than enough. To stay any longer would be to let the visions engrave themselves into his psyche. A tan hand reached out for him, from above, out from a streaming square of daylight, and heaved him up with the grip of angels.

Bailey sat in the driver’s seat, allowing his vision to defocus into a flashing haze of sapphire and scarlet, eyes no less murky than the windows of number 49. Moreno was shaken, less so than Bailey. Because he hadn’t seen it. Hadn’t witnessed the horror firsthand. Bailey’s trance was one of cold and numbness, through which nothing could penetrate.

That’s how it felt, at least, until Moreno let loose an abrupt torrent of words.

"The lady who called said she saw the man leave, right?"

Bailey grunted, "yeah, and?"

"Well, way she said it, I don't think he meant to leave the door open, sir. I don't think he wanted us to find them so soon."

The momentary stimulation gave a brief respite. He nodded, contemplating, and shuddered at the idea of the door being closed properly. The neighbour might never have called, and they would’ve suffered down there until death took them under its great black wing.

A carriage coupled with Bailey's train of thought, then. It was just an idea.

"Those papers, they were dated over a week ago. Nearly two, for the first entry. Either the motherfucker's sneaky, and only now's been seen by a neighbour - or, well, he's only a recent houseguest. Recent as yesterday, even."

A quiet interlude follows. Half a minute, but it hewed valleys between their voices.

"A-and all that stuff down there... the equipment, some of it was- um, bulky, no? If he has been coming for a couple weeks, how'd he get it all down there without drawing attention?"

"You got a point there, Emilio. A real good point."

Warning - this file is supplementary, and is subject to deletion and/or migration in the near future.

FILE NAME: 634AF_Murrough
DATE: May 14th, 2009
PURPOSE: Regarding the case of the Murrough family.


Whom were later identified as the full Murrough family were retrieved from 49, Araucaria Row, Whiteoak Ridge on the 28th of April, 2009. Emergency medical transport vehicles were already present at the time of arrival. The local police department was dismissed under bureaucratic command. After requesting information from the EMTs on scene, it was learned that Brianna Murrough - the youngest daughter - would be a difficulty to remove.

Following inspection of the sub-basement, agents requested a heated immersion transport capsule to be brought in a large medical truck. The vehicle arrived ten minutes later, whereupon the other three members of the family were loaded into the trailer and secured. Biohazard suits were handed out to five EMTs who were then instructed to carry Brianna Murrough up from the sub-basement. The immersion capsule was brought to the bottom of the porch stairs, where Brianna was then immersed.

All four individuals were sedated, secured, and hooked up to IV drips before departure.

While specimens were in transit, two agents stayed behind to search for and confiscate any relevant items from the residence. Documents were retrieved, but were found to be unreliable. Agents discovered packs of muscle relaxant, but no anesthetics as the logs detail. In theory, however, they would be functionally identical for the purpose of this study.

An information request was made later concerning Mr. Oscar Murrough. Murrough’s occupation prior to detention was as a cardiothoracic surgeon at the nearby Landry Medical Center.

Interrogation revealed he had undergone an incident on April 10th, 2009, forty minutes into a liver transplant surgery. The ventilation tubing supplying anesthetic to the patient experienced a leak, allowing gaseous sedatives into the air. Murrough and one other surgeon collapsed as a result.

The other surgeon made a rapid recovery; however, it seems Murrough had an extreme adverse reaction to the chemical exposure. He had complained to staff about feeling ill and requested medical leave. After being monitored for three hours, he was permitted to leave.

Murrough would call the hospital five days later, describing no improvement in his affliction - on the contrary, he’d told them it was worsening. The recipient asked if he would be needing assistance. Murrough replied he did not, and asked for an extended leave.

This request was met with an unfounded hostility. In the end he was coerced into booking vacation days in order to extend his leave.

The Murroughs were stabilised in ███████ medical facility in the afternoon of April 28th, 2009. Allowing time for observation, doctors came to the conclusion that Oscar Murrough was experiencing some sort of exceedingly rare chemical-induced functional psychosis.

As Mr. Murrough’s lower respiratory tract had been excised by an as-of-yet unidentified criminal contractor, a vocal interview was not possible, so the exact reasoning behind his actions remains unknown.

In any case, Mr. Murrough did not become lucid until a gradual improvement in mental faculties that occurred six days after retrieval. He appeared distressed, attempting to shout, something that has become an impossibility.

In conclusion, the four Murrough family specimens are a rare commodity and may prove invaluable as a source for medical and psychological research. All specimens are in stable condition and are all currently recovering from minor to moderate sepsis.

ENDNOTE: Dr. Barrett

So, I felt like tacking this on after I was requested to fill Oscar in on the details. Totally one-way conversation, of course. But the eyes can speak volumes.

Anyway, I came to see Oscar in the brightroom and pulled up a chair before our chat. The details of what I told him are… unnecessary for this document, to say the least.

After I’d finished - well, more like a third of the way through - Oscar started to scream. Have you ever seen a man putting his entire soul into a silent scream? I’d hope not. It’s terrifying. His lips started to open and close. Like a fish. The most sound he can make now is the popping of his lips and the dry clicking of his tongue. No less unpleasant, that’s for certain.

When he began thrashing around, he had to be sedated to prevent the tubes being damaged. I received a nice kick to the jaw. Thankfully it’s not broken, but it drew blood.

Since his sedation and subsequent awakening, Oscar has remained docile. Now, his lips are always fastened into a hard line. His eyes are dark pools of misery, and his cheeks are wet all day and night.

Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor and observe the Murroughs. We’ve already made some incredible discoveries - and there are likely many more to come.

Written by Rephlexi0n
Content is available under CC BY-SA