This is what can happen when you try to do too much at one time. I was trying to update my local installation of WordPress and my blog, thinking I was upgrading to version 4.3 and installing Twenty Ten on my computer. Instead, I was making the changes on the live site.

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Changes in progress

I’ve been going through all kind of WP and PHP documentation trying to figure out how to make this thing work the way it does in my head, but I realize I’m going about it wrong. It was probably better before I started tinkering with it. Now I’m trying to restore it to something closer to the way my webhost had set up when the site first went online…

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I was trying to get rid of phantom members who apparently don’t actually exist but show up in the database for some reason or other, and in my haste I may have deleted some actual, good-faith members. If you found your subscription/membership deleted, I’M SORRY! Please rejoin and please accept my apology for not being more careful…. *blushes*

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Hug an Invisible Woman Day (5-1-14)

A story I wrote awhile back, obviously…

So it was Hug an Invisible Woman Day, and I had no invisible woman to hug. Paulette was still in Subreality, apparently waiting for me to somehow bring here back to… what do I even call where I am now in relation to Subreality? Reality? Out Here? I guess Out Here fits, since people in Subreality tend to refer to the outside world as Out There. And how exactly would I go about bringing her here, when I hadn’t sent her to Subreality?

I sat, staring at a blank screen as usual, and I heard a throat-clearing sound behind me. The voice was very familiar.

I turned toward the source of the voice. “Hello?”

“Hi, there,” the voice replied. Paulette?

“Is that you, Paulette?”

“Well,” the voice answered, “who else would it be?”

“Hmm… maybe yet another random unseen visitor trying to take advantage of me being by myself for so long while my invisible girlfriend traipses around Subreality?”

She chuckled. “So that happened, huh? You want to talk about that right now, or are you gonna greet me the right way?”

I figured the best answer wasn’t verbal…

I walked over to where the voice seemed to be coming from, with my arms out in front of me. I didn’t want to hit her by mistake.

“You look a little… confused,” she said. “You used to be able to find me with no problem, even if I was totally masked and not making a sound.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said, a little sheepishly, as I sensed Paulette approaching me. Apparently she’d decided to meet me halfway. “You were gone a long time.

Her unseen arms made contact with my shoulders about a second before my arms wrapped around her waist. For some reason I was going for a hug when I first began approaching her, but at this point I was seeking out lips. She was too.

Our lips did meet, and a few moments later our tongues did likewise. But this wasn’t gonna be a carnal romp – I really missed her and was just glad to have her back home. Apparently she missed me too.

After a few moments she pulled away. I looked in her general direction and said, “You know, since you’re back home and all, you can uncloak now.”

“Sorry,” she said, a little sheepishly. “I got so used to not paying attention to that…” And with that, she appeared. Or her clothes did, at least: a gray tube top, tucked into white mid-thigh-length shorts, with white hosiery and white flats. I noticed right away that she looked like she’d put on a few pounds, but I wasn’t going to say anything about that, after she’d been in Subreality for… well, years.

She couldn’t have missed me checking her out. “I know,” she said with a chuckle. “I put on a few pounds. That’s what happens when you run a restaurant.”

“A restaurant ?!” I said. “How’d you manage that?”

“Well, that’s the weird thing,” she said. “It was my restaurant, but I didn’t really do it.”


“Remember the first time I went to Subreality?” she said. “And after I came back I was talking about how much I didn’t want to leave?”

I remembered. Her story made the place sound quite weird and yet, it made me want to go there and experience it for myself.

“Well,” she continued, “apparently when it was time to leave, wanting to stay so badly caused a copy to be made, and that Paulette stayed and set up The Unseen Scene.”

“So you mean there’s another Paulette there right now?”

“Uh-huh, and the Unseen Scene is completely staffed with invisible waitresses and… other helpers.”

I was in the middle of visualizing the unseen waitresses in their uniforms when the second part of her answer hit me. “Other helpers?”

“Mm-hmm,” she said, then after a pause added, “Vik was there too.”

“Oh, so you mean other helpers like Vik?”

“More or less,” she said. “So it might be an invisible waitress that takes your order, but when the tray comes floating out of the kitchen with your order on it, it’s more likely to be one of Vik’s… uh… people. Of course, your order taker could also be one of the intangible waitresses animating a uniform, too.”

I tried to let all that sink in. But… “So in the middle of all this… invisibility, how did you recognize the other Paulette?”

“She was visible. Don’t you remember? You were there!”

I remembered, and then I didn’t. I was there, and then I wasn’t. Subreality is hard to explain…

“I think some people get a kind of amnesia when they leave Subreality,” I fudged. “I can picture it like I was there, but I don’t remember being there.”

“You might have wandered into the wrong Subreal corner,” she said. “For me, the wrong corner is the center of everything that happens in Subreality City — the Cafe.” She took a deep breath, then continued. “Did you know I’m automatically visible in the Cafe, no matter what I do?”

“Really?” I said, taking note of the hint of distaste in her voice.

“Yeah, it’s weird. I can be totally cloaked, totally visible, or just my clothes visible anywhere else in Subreality, but as soon as I enter the Cafe I become totally visible, with no control over it. Creeps me out. I think that’s why the other Paulette started her own place.”

“Wait a minute — you can be visible anywhere in Subreality?!”

“Well, almost anywhere — it’s a shame you don’t remember it.” Then she gasped. “But that means — you don’t remember the kiss!”

“The kiss?” I hoped that wasn’t going to lead to trouble. Not remembering a kiss sounds like trouble.

“The kiss between… you and the other Paulette, the first time–” She paused and chuckled. “The first time ever you saw my face. Well, you know, her face. She said you actually started singing that song afterwards.”

“So you’re saying that I saw her, not fully realizing she wasn’t you…” I realized I was reaching here, but I got the feeling I wasn’t in too much trouble for that little “mix-up.”

“And then you kissed her and sang to her,” she said, finishing my statement. I couldn’t tell how she felt about it from her voice.

“So, you missed out on it?”

“No, I didn’t miss out,” she said, and I notice her voice softened a bit when she said it. “Remember, she and I are basically the same person. I mean, right now I don’t know what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know what I’m doing. But we have the same memories right up to the point where she… filled me in.”

“I can guess how she filled you in,” I said with a smile.

“You don’t have to guess, you know,” she teased.

“So, all of what you just told me means…” I started, as I approached her again. “That if we were in Subreality right now…” I wrapped my arms around her tube top, looking where I thought her eyes would be. “I would be looking into your eyes right now, and not at the wall behind you?”

Though I couldn’t see her, our faces were close enough that I could feel her breath. “You are looking into my eyes,” she said softly. And then we kissed again…

And for the purposes of Hug-an-Invisible-Woman Day, our story ends here.


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Quick update

Just a quick note: I have a local copy of the blog on my laptop and I am actively working on customizing a different theme as we speak, to remove all traces of Blogger (hard-coded pages) that still linger, five years later. Plus there should be a new story or two in the next few days…

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And.. we're back!

Thanks to my generous webhost, the site is back online. We had to cycle back to before the hacks and crashes, so anything from 2013 is lost. New content soon…

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And.. we’re back!

Thanks to my generous webhost, the site is back online. We had to cycle back to before the hacks and crashes, so anything from 2013 is lost. New content soon…

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Dress Code

There was a spirited game of Spades going on inside Diane Brown’s living room that afternoon. Actually, most afternoons there was some kind of lively activity happening in Diane’s house, though Diane would usually be at work at the time. But Diane’s house wasn’t some kind of community hangout; she didn’t have deadbeat roommates abusing the place while she brought home the bacon. At least, not the usual type of non-paying roommates…

“How many books do you have?”

“Mmm… three. I guess that means we have six?”

The two opposing players grunted.

“We bid eight. That adds up to fourteen.” A sigh. “Somebody overbid, as usual. Is it you, Red?”

The red jeans, lying “face down” if there had been someone in them with a face, sighed. “No, I just told you, I have three. See?” Red’s cards, floating a few inches away from the waistline of the empty jeans, turned towards the playing area.

In a more conventional setup, that would have been a big no-no. You don’t show anyone your hand in Spades, not even your partner. But this was not a conventional setup. You see, the four participants in this particular game of Spades were… hmm, invisible would be a bit simplistic. You could see them, and yet you couldn’t. Red, as was pointed out, was an empty pair of red jeans, with translucent white socks at their cuffs. Red’s partner, usually called Legs, was a curvaceous pair of black leggings. The opposing team? A white tube top tucked into a pair of tight black jeans, across from a pair of white pinstriped dress pants paired with a white button-down blouse. How these items of clothing came to be no-longer-inanimate was anyone’s guess, including theirs, but Diane didn’t seem to be bothered by it.

Being animated clothing but not really bound to the clothing meant, in this case, being able to see not only your partner’s cards, but those of the opposing team. But knowing what’s in their “hand,” so to speak, and knowing what cards they will play, are two different things.

Back to the game…

“You didn’t have to show your cards, Red, ” the pinstripe pants said. “We would have figured it out somewhere along the way.”

“Just wanted you to know it wasn’t me,” Red said. “OK, let’s play. Jean dealt, so it’s your go, Legs.”

Legs played, and the game went on uneventfully for the first few hands, until White nonchalantly said, “Oh, Legs, I meant to tell you. They made some changes to the dress code at Diane’s job.”

“Yeah?” Legs said flatly, concentrating on the game.

“Stretch pants are now officially a no-no.”

“What?!” Legs snapped. “What do you mean, a no-no? I don’t interfere with her getting her work done.”

“Hey, don’t tell me,” White replied. “I know none of us gets in Diane’s way. But apparently they’re concerned with putting forth a professional image, and they say stretch pants don’t fit the bill.”

“That’s a bunch of crap!” Legs shot back. “There’s nothing unprofessional about me! I don’t have anything to do with how Diane does her work. And anyway Diane could do her job buck-naked in that place if she had to!”

Jean snorted. “Yeah, right. I’d pay to see that.”

“Uh, Jean,” White said, “sorry, but you’re out too, kind of…”

“Yeah, I know about the Jeans Friday thing,” Jean said. “Diane makes sure to make her donation to whatever charity they’re collecting for, so she can be more comfortable on Fridays.”

“What about me?” Red said.

“Well,” White said, “the rule is ‘no denim except on Fridays if you’ve donated to the charity drive,’ but I don’t know. You’re kinda bright, you know. Guys will be staring at your butt and thinking about what’s inside, and not getting any work done.”

“Some of the creeps that work in that place,” Jean said, “would be staring at Diane’s butt if she wore a burlap sack, or trying to. And the customers are worse. Plus, Red, you’re probably the tightest pair Diane owns. She’s never worn you there, has she?”

“No. I just wondered if all that went for me too, that’s all. The dress code doesn’t really bother me, it just means that–”

“Look, are we talking or are we playing?!” Legs grumbled.

“Didn’t mean to spoil
the game,” White said. “I just figured I should let you know…”

“But what about you, White?” Jean asked. “You mentioned all of us. How does the change affect you?”

“Yeah, Miss Pinstripe, what about you?” Legs retorted. “Seems to me that you’re just about as tight on Diane as I am.”

“Well… I can be,” White conceded. “But Diane doesn’t stretch me out quite the way I do on my own, when she’s not wearing me.”

Uh-uh,” Legs said. “I’ve seen you and Diane leaving here for work a few mornings, You looked mighty filled out to me.”

“That’s only when we leave the house,” White said. “By the time we get to her job, I’m a little bit loose on her. A bit like this.” White’s cards placed themselves face-down on the floor, as the outfit stood up. The pants deflated themselves a bit, not appearing to cling to the unseen figure underneath. But when White began to move around, it was clear that the figure underneath was still quite shapely. But large unseen breasts still strained against the cotton-blend shirt, which couldn’t stretch quite as much as the pants did. And, of course, that didn’t escape Legs’ notice.

“But what about the shirt, Missy?”

The shirt pulled up and away from the pants, hovering towards Legs on its own.

“What about the shirt?” asked a voice that was plainly not the same as White’s. A little higher, a little breathier, and plainly angry. The empty sleeves crossed themselves under the shirt’s chest.

“I’m just saying–” Legs started, before the shirt cut in.

“You’re just saying that you’re so mad that you’re not even thinking. This is Diane’s shape in here,” the shirt said, as it moved its sleeves just under each side of the chest. What appeared to be unseen fingertips pressed against the front of the shirt. The shirt’s intangible breasts moved under the invisible fingertips. “Besides,” the shirt began again, “remember, the rule change isn’t about you or about Diane. They don’t want anyone wearing sweatpants, leggings, yoga pants, or anything like that. So, please, get over yourself.”

It was quiet for a few moments, before White finally spoke up.

“I think ‘get over yourself’ was a bit harsh, but we all get the point.”

“I knew it was over the top,” the shirt said, turning toward White, “but like you said, it made the point.” With that the shirt floated back toward White, tucking itself into the pants when it arrived.

“In fact,” White said, “Diane may not wear this particular shirt to work anymore, to avoid the wrong kind of attention.” The sleeves moved again toward the shirt’s breasts, which began moving again beneath unseen fingers. “She likes it, and she probably won’t get rid of it or anything, just buy a slightly larger size for work. There are other places she can wear it. Or, of course, she could just leave it home…”

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I know not much happens in Plane Crash chapter 4, it’s just that I’ve been adding bits and pieces to stories for so long instead of posting, it was time to actually post something. More to come in chapter 5, BEFORE THE MONTH IS OUT, so that I can move to the next phase of Paulette’s story…

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Plane Crash (4/?)

Mary Prankster: “I just got word that a skeptic has just ‘landed’ in our fair realm. He’s an ebook critic from some upstart website, and when he learned about Subreality he dismissed it as some elaborate hoax that his friends are playing on him. From what I hear even his trip here didn’t dissuade him.”

Bryan, frowning: “How could he not be persuaded? Or does he normally get beamed from place to place?”

Mary: “Well, apparently his friends arranged for him to arrive in a setting exactly like the one he left, so he thinks he’s still at home. Let’s watch him and see what happens…”

The day had started normally enough for Jim Green, ebook critic for Two colleagues were discussing the quality of the writing at some website and whether they should do a review of the site, and from what Jim was hearing, the stories themselves were rather far out. Set in a between-dimensions place where writers and their characters and muses can interact? Why would they bother with such trivial crap? But they were going at it for awhile, until one of them happened to say, “And, believe it or not, some people actually claim it’s supposed to be real!”

That was all Jim could take silently. Approaching his coworkers, Jim said, “Excuse me, guys, but did I hear you correctly? Somebody actually believes this Subreality thing is real?!”

“That’s what I’m told,” one answered. “Talk to Craig down the hall. He claims he’s actually been there, and he sounded mighty convincing.”

“Do you believe it?” Jim shot back.

“No,” the colleague said, “but that doesn’t mean it can’t be true. Go talk to Craig, man. He knows a lot more about it than me.”

*   *   *   *

Jim looked around, bewildered. He wandered around aimlessly until he stumbled across a place called Victoria’s Secret Station. The front of the place seemed intentionally quaint, like an old-fashioned train depot, but inside were some of the finest women he’d ever seen, wearing barely more than lingerie. He had to check this out.

As he drew closer, he could see and hear a heated discussion going on between– Tyra Banks?! and… Adriana Lima?!

“Well, OK, so it is Victoria’s Secret Station, after all,” he said, deciding to go in.

*  *  *  *

Inside Victoria’s
Secret Station:

“All I’m saying is, I think you’re making too big a deal out of this whole Paulette thing,” said a shapely  black woman who bore a striking resemblance to Tyra Banks. “I mean, I look just like Tyra Banks and you don’t see me stressing over it.”

The other woman, a willowy young woman who was the spitting image of Adriana Lima, retorted, “But your situation isn’t anything like mine. You know where you stand in relation to the other Tyra. You’re not likely to have some clones show up and threaten your identity. And besides–”

“Um, that’s kind of my point,” Tyra said. “If I understand correctly, you and I both exist because of the first Paulette. She’s Bryan Doe’s muse. He put us here after she inspired him to, well, to create us. Seems to me that Paulette’s the one who should be upset.”

After a few seconds with no response forthcoming, Tyra looked up to see Adriana looking daggers at her. “Oops, I didn’t mean to hit a nerve, boss. I’m just saying–”

Adriana sighed. “I know what you’re ‘just saying.’ It still upsets me, though. I’m gonna go over there and give all of them a piece of my mind.”

“Just don’t go overboard, Adriana. Remember, pencils have erasers and computer keyboards have backspace keys, if you know what I’m saying, and I think you do.”

As Adriana stormed out she brushed against a man who had been standing agape outside her restaurant, staring open-mouthed at all the beautiful half-dressed women inside. “Sorry,” she mumbled on her way past.

“Excuse me,” Jim said, ignoring any advice he may have gotten in his life about interrupting an angry woman. “Aren’t you–”

“Yes, I am,” she replied over her shoulder, without breaking stride. She had more important things to do at the moment than to entertain a gawker. Especially when she wasn’t exactly who she appeared to be.
Jim thought momentarily about following her to see what was about to happen, then thought better of it and went on inside the restaurant. Once inside, he stopped dead in his tracks, staring at a gorgeous black woman in a wine-colored lace corset and tight black jeans. She looked up at him and smiled.

“Hi, sir, and welcome to Victoria’s Secret Station. Would you like a table, or would you prefer a seat at the bar?”

“Uh, I guess the bar is fine,” he said. After a beat he continued, “Excuse me, but you’re not really Tyra Banks, are you?

“What makes you ask that?” she responded.

“I just have trouble imagining Tyra Banks working in a restaurant, and, well, wearing her Victoria’s Secret work clothes at that.”

The woman chuckled. “Well, these are my work clothes, but no, I’m not Tyra Banks. I’m Tyra Cash.”
This time it was Jim’s turn to chuckle. “Cash. OK, so that wasn’t Adriana Lima who just tried to knock me down?”

Tyra’s smile faded a bit. “No, that was my boss, Adriana Pinto. She owns this place.”

“OK, Pinto instead of Lima, Cash instead of Banks — excuse me for asking, but is this just a big joke or what?”

“Uh, what do you mean, sir?”

“My friends told me they wanted me to check out Subreality, and that they would arrange to send me there, and the next thing I know I’m at a cross between a theme restaurant and a lingerie store, with jokey-named women who look just like supermodels. This has to be a joke, right?”

Tyra sighed. “Well, I can understand your skepticism, but there is really no joke here. I’m not sure just what you were told about Subreality, but, well, Adriana and I — and all the other employees here — are characters based on real-life models Out There. Our names are just a way of identifying us with the Outsiders we appear to be.”

Jim’s eyes widened as he took in Tyra’s words, in part marveling at how she was able to verbally capitalize words without having to resort to air quotes. Tyra took notice of his continued bewilderment and continued. “I guess you’re not convinced. Once you take your seat at the bar, you’ll change your mind. Our bartender ran afoul of a couple of characters she should have left alone. You’ll see what I mean, or maybe not. Just follow me.”

Jim did as he was instructed, marveling at all the Victoria’s Secret doppelgangers in the restaurant. Filippa Ambrosio, Grace Casta, Pennina Barros, Coco Iman, Simona Nemcova, Vir?inia Kirkova — they were all there and more. But when he got to the bar, he thought his heart would stop. Behind the bar was a well-filled bustier moving around beautifully but without anyone visibly inside it…

* * * * *

Back to Adriana…

Adriana made her way over to the Unseen Scene, mentally concocting all kinds of torturous schemes against both Paulettes and against Bryan, the writer responsible for creating all of them. She didn’t feel much of an affinity for Bryan, even though he was her writer, since she was no more than a corollary to Paulette when she did appear in a story — yet she knew she couldn’t really do much of anything to him without endangering her own existence. She’d probably wind up in one of those places for abandoned characters, a fate worse than death as far as she was concerned.

Resigned to just giving Bryan and her perceived rivals a piece of her mind, she charged into the Unseen Scene, coming very close to upsetting a hovering dessert tray. The tray had apparently anticipated her movement, though, deftly moving upward at the last moment without losing any of its cargo, then continuing in its original direction. Adriana watched the tray float away and glared at it, mumbling as she did so.

“Why are you so upset, girl?” asked a vaguely familiar feminine voice. Adriana turned towards the source of the voice, only to see a floating Negro Modelo bottle with no one apparently holding it.
“Excuse me?” Adriana huffed. “I don’t normally discuss my personal business with strangers, especially when I can’t see them. Who are you, anyway?”

“I suppose that’s open to interpretation, really,” the voice said. The bottle turned itself upward, draining about half of its contents in one shot, before the voice continued. “Ahh, that was good. I’m one of Havika’s and Mary Prankster’s… associates, so I guess to some people I don’t exist. Don’t really have a name, never really needed one. Just seems a shame to see that pretty face all screwed up.”

“Um, if you’re like Vik and Mary, then how… can you drink beer? I mean, you don’t have a body, do you?”

“No, I don’t,” the voice agreed with a chuckle, “but I know how to make beer disappear. As for how I do it, well, that would be very difficult to explain. Let’s just say I do it, and I enjoy it. Same with just about everything else I do. You, on the other hand, look like you’re about to end somebody’s fun, and fun is what this place is all about. You sure you want to do… whatever it is you came here to do?”

Adriana, not accustomed to having conversations with self-proclaimed thin air, or watching said thin air drain a beer bottle, found herself at a loss for words briefly, before recovering. “I… didn’t really come here to end anyone’s fun, I just had to clear the air a bit. Don’t mind me. And,” she continued as she began walking away, “enjoy your beer.”

“Will do,” replied the voice, as the bottle upended itself again. “Will do,” it repeated, even as the beer was disappearing from the bottle.

Adriana shook her head. Subreality is my home, she thought, and even I can’t get used to the way some things happen around here.

A few steps away a pink waitress uniform approached her. “Hello, Adriana. Here to see the boss?”
“Um, yes,” she replied. “How did you know?”

“Well, usually when you come here you’re showing a posse around the area. We figured if you ever came alone you’d be here to see the boss.”

By this time the Paulettes had made their way to the kitchen, where Paulette2 was giving Paulette a quickie tour before rejoining the others.

“So, any problems running this place?” Paulette asked, between bites of a biscuit she’d grabbed as it was about to place itself into a nearby basket.

“None inside, really,” Paulette2 replied, “but occasionally there’s trouble outside.” She sighed before continuing, “I have to say, though, my life flashed in front of my eyes when the Silver Surfer came through. I thought this whole pace would implode. Turns out that Subreality is one of the few places his powers don’t work as usual; he was just lost!”

They both laughed at this, as a pink waitress uniform entered the kitchen.

“Boss,” the uniform said to Paulette2, “Adriana Pinto’s here to see you.”

Paulette2 sighed. “Another tour group?” she asked.

“No,” was the reply. “This time she’s alone.”

Paulette2’s eyes went wide. “I knew this was coming,” she said.

“What was coming?” Paulette asked, tensing. “What happened?”

“A showdown, kind of,” Paulette2 said. “You remember that we… yeah, I guess that’s the best way to put it, that we — you and I — inspired Bryan to write
Adriana and to create Victoria’s Secret Station, but only after you and I split and I set up this place. She’s upset because she thinks that she — and only she — should be Adriana number two, instead of being number…” She stopped, counting on her fingers for effect. “Number four.”

“Are you serious?” Paulette said, eyes wide. “I’ve seen six James Bonds since I’ve been here. You name any character, from any story, and there’s likely to be a bunch of ’em running around in here. What makes her so special?”

“I was hoping this day would never come so I wouldn’t have to think about it too much.” Another sigh. “But it’s here, so I guess I have to go out there and deal with it.”

We,” corrected Paulette. “We have to deal with it.”

Paulette2 started to object, but before she could say anything Paulette spoke up. “Remember when you brought me up to speed on meeting Bryan face to face for the first time?” They both smiled at the memory. “Well, you filled me in on a bit more than that. I know everything you’ve learned about this place right up to that point. So Ms. Pinto is our problem, not yours. Let’s get out there before anything happens.”


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