Midnight Run

Aug 11th, 2020 (edited)
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  1. >Slipping the gear shift into sixth you cruise along the dusty road through the desert. Signs to Appleloosa and Dodge glow in your headlights, only to quickly fade as you fly past.
  2. >You shuffle in your car seat, to get comfortable for the long drive. Keeping an eye on the road you open the glove box, and shuffle through the old tapes.
  3. >Grabbing one at random you slip in the tape and press play on your car’s radio.
  5. >Slow synths that reminds you of yesteryear crackles through your well used speakers.
  6. >You listen to the steady drone of your engine and the music from a perfect symphony to your ears.
  7. >Gliding along the next bend you catch the last of the Celestia’s light dip below the horizon, giving way to purple hues that compliments with a plethora of stars.
  8. >You sink back into your seat further as you relax and simply watch the road stretch on for miles into the coming darkness.
  9. >You squint a little as a dark silhouette of a pony in the distance moves, and waves you down with a hoof.
  10. >You press on the brakes and slow to a crawl. You see a mare holding a cardboard sign with ‘anywhere’ written on it.
  11. >As you pull closer you start to make out her features. She has a soft yellow coat with a white messy mane. She couldn’t help but stare at you with her big purple eyes. You turn down the music.
  12. “Can I help you?” You ask.
  13. >She looks in surprise as you speak.
  14. >”Uh, yes. Where are you heading?”
  15. “...Anywhere, till the road runs out, really.”
  16. >A small smile forms on her lips. “Sounds good. I'm heading ‘anywhere’ too.”
  17. “Are you looking for a ride? There isn’t civilization for miles.”
  18. >”That...would be great. Been walking for hours, my hooves need rest.”
  19. >You lean over the passenger's seat and open the door. The mare pulls the door a little wider and hops into the seat. She awkwardly shuffles in the seat before placing the seat-belt around herself.
  20. “Ready?”
  21. >”Yeah.” She replies looking somewhat relieved.
  22. >You pull away and gradually reach a good cruising speed. A heavy awkward silence descends in the car. You glance over at the mare, who is just looking out the window with a hoof resting on the door panel.
  23. “So...I’ll be passing by dodge city in a few hours, you want me to drop you there?”
  24. >”Actually can you take me where the road runs out?”
  25. >You look over at her in silence for a moment before bringing your attention back to the road. You open your mouth to reply but no answer came.
  26. >Once more the silence returns.
  27. >The darkness now consumes the desert, only the road is illuminated by your headlights while Luna’s cosmos lights up the sky in all her glory.
  28. >”You got a name?” The mare pipes up, looking into the void through the passengers window.
  29. “Chase. You?”
  30. >”Flora.”
  31. >You waited for her to say the second part of her name that never came.
  32. “Just Flora.”
  33. >”Yeah, just Flora.”
  35. >Out of the corner of your eye you see Flora look around your car trying to find anything to occupy her mind.
  36. “You seemed troubled, what were you doing out here anyway?”
  37. >”Traveling.”
  38. “What with no supplies, you don’t even have a bag.”
  39. >”I lost them.” Flora shrugs. An obvious lie.
  40. “Sure.”
  41. >”You don’t seem to have much supplies for someone who is traveling to the end of the road.”
  42. “I don’t need them, I’ll buy what I need as I go.”
  43. >”You seem troubled.” Flora echoes your previous statement.
  44. >A small smile suppresses a chuckle.
  45. >Without a word you press down on the accelerator and ease out onto the other lane to overtake a truck.
  46. >You both are pushed back into your seats as your engine roars above the music.
  47. >With your indicators blinking you slip in front of the truck as you continue to pull away.
  49. >”I assume you're not from Equestria.” Flora glances at you.
  50. “Was it the accent that gave it away?”
  51. >Flora gives a small laugh and shakes her head at your reply.
  52. “Been here for nearly a decade now. I think I was nineteen at the time when I left Earth.”
  53. >”Can’t believe it’s been over a decade since you humans came here. It’s like you’ve always been here.”
  54. “Part of the furniture now are we?”
  55. >”Almost. At the same time I can’t believe how much Equestria has changed.”
  56. “Same here.”
  57. >”So what brought you to Equestria?”
  58. “A new life I think.” You shrug, not taking your eyes off the road.
  59. >”Let me guess you went through the initiative.”
  60. You smile as that word brings back the memories. “Yeah.”
  61. >”So...where’s your mare?”
  62. The smile slides from your face. “Gone.”
  63. >”What you me-” Flora pauses as she notices your somber expression, “Oh, I’m sorry.”
  64. “It’s fine.”
  65. >A sign for a truck stop flashes on by.
  66. >”Chase, can you pull in at this stop? I need to use the little mares room.”
  67. “Sure.”
  68. >A few street lights illuminate a compound with a small building coming into view out of the darkness.
  69. >You see the building light up with neons advertising the fuel prices or latest sugary beverage.
  70. >You slow to a crawl as you approach the building and slip into a parking bay.
  71. >Flora quickly hops out of the car and trots towards the neon lit building.
  72. >She pauses halfway and looks over her shoulder, “You’ll be here when I get back right?”
  73. >You open your door and rummage behind your seat, grabbing a large coin bag you pull out two bits.
  74. Walking over to her, you hand her the bits, “Two coffee’s, I take mine with milk and sugar.”
  75. >Flora nods and enters the building.
  76. >Returning to the car, you fumble in your jacket pocket and pull out a cigarette pack.
  77. >Slipping one out you place it in your mouth and light it up.
  78. >You lean against your car door as you wait for your hitchhiker.
  79. >You don’t really think much of her, hell you don’t really know why you picked her up.
  80. >It was some time before Flora emerged from the shop with two coffee’s balancing on her back.
  81. >”I thought you were doing that ‘buy some coffee to give me time to leave’ trick.”
  82. “I thought about it, but I wanted coffee more.”
  83. >Flora trots over to you, and turns to present the coffee, yours is the one of the left.
  84. “Thanks,” You toast the disposable coffee cup before taking a swig.
  86. >Placing the coffee into the cupholders, you insert your keys into the ignition and turn.
  87. >The engine roars and rumbles into life. You catch Flora flinching in the seat out of the corner of your eye.
  88. “You alright there?” You ask, a little concerned.
  89. >”Yeah, engines are loud to us ponies…” She replies.
  90. >You glance at her ears that twitch as you rev the engine for a little experiment. With a smirk you shift the car into gear and pull off. Being in Equestria for so long, ponies always find a way to be cute.
  91. >Slipping back onto the highway you shuffle back into your chair and lean an arm onto the inner door panel, clutching the wheel between two fingers.
  92. >The headlights light up your way, as the road flows towards you. Even with a new passenger, you couldn't help slip into the zone with the steady beat of the music synths blended with the synopnhy of road and engine.
  93. >Almost instinctively you lift your coffee with your free hand and proceed to take a swig.
  94. >”Chase.” Flora speaks up, with a purple inquisitive eye looking through her mane.
  95. You pause with the plastic coffee lid millimeters from your lips. “...Yeah?” You reply, instantly taking an opturinity to drink before she continues.
  96. >”Do you drive through the night?” She asks.
  97. “Mostly yeah, less traffic that way...Kind of peaceful too. Why do you ask?”
  98. >”Can you drive until dawn tonight?”
  99. >You shoot past a sign saying ‘Dodge City 30 miles’
  100. “You’re running from something.” You state ignoring her question.
  101. >”So are you.” She looks up at you.
  102. Her reply hits you somewhat deep inside. Nevertheless you reply stoically. “Maybe I am. But I’m in no rush.”
  103. >”Me either.” Flora shrugs before resting her head on the headrest once more looking into the desert void.
  104. “Then why did you ask for me to drive through the night?” You say raising an eyebrow breaking your short lived stoicism.
  105. >”...It’s kind of peaceful.”
  106. >You slowly shake your head. It’s not that you’re going out your way, you would probably drive till the early hours then find a motel somewhere.
  107. >You glance back at the mare as she rests her head against the window.
  108. “Do you have to be so vague? You got the ‘mysterious’ hitchhiker vibe going on.”
  109. >”I could say the same to you.”
  110. “I’m not trying to be.” You reply by taking another sip of the now slightly cooled drink.
  111. >”Neither am I.”
  112. >”Then what are you running from?”
  113. “Then what are you running from?” You look at her surprise as she was as you both ask the same question simultaneously.
  114. >Without a word Flora returns back looking out the window as you return your attention to the road.
  115. >The last track ends on your tape with an audible click before filling the car with a gentle hiss from the speakers.
  116. >You lean over, and open the glovebox and fumble through the tapes. Grabbing any old one you place it on the dash. Pressing the eject button you pullout the old tape and toss it back in the open glove box.
  117. >You place in the new tape and turn up the volume a small amount. You shut the glovebox and return to your comfortable position. A quick peek at the red glow of the digital clock on your dash reads it’s already gone past midnight.
  118. >Lights of Dodge City lights up the night sky over the mountain silhouettes as a beacon to civilisation.
  119. Deciding to break the silence you speak up. “You know Dodge is pretty awesome at night with its lights, almost rivals Las Pegasus.”
  120. >It takes a few moments for your passenger to reply. “Only in photographs.”
  121. “Huh?”
  122. >”Dodge, only looks good in photographs.” She states still looking out the window, rather to be staring into the void than the cities glow over the horizon.
  123. “So you have been there then.”
  124. >”Never said I have.”
  125. You pause slightly baffled by her answer. “But you said.”
  126. >”I..Sorry.” Flora looks bashful. “I was in a trance and you sounded someone I used to know. He always found an excuse to go to Dodge for a vacation.”
  127. Deciding not to push further, you change the topic. “So where are you from?”
  128. >”Manehattan originally...You?”
  129. “Pheonix, Arizona”
  130. >”Never hear- Right...Earth. Very funny.”
  131. “So what’s it like?”
  132. >”What Manehattan? It’s okay.”
  133. You shake your head “No, talking to an alien?”
  134. >”Like talking to a pony. Why? It's like you have been here forever.”
  135. You fein a sigh, “I used to like it when ponies first saw us; they either ran or just stared.”
  136. >”So you were one of the first bunch to come here?”
  137. You nod. “Kind of I was in the third batch of mail order boyfriends.”
  138. >Flora chuckles behind her hoof. “My mother used to warn me about human men…” She continues putting on a comically stereotypical old mare voice “Flora! These hayooman’s are nothing but trouble, all they want is to lift your tail, try hard and find a good stallion if you can...”
  139. You laugh at her act, “So did you?”
  140. >”Kind off, didn’t quite work out.”
  141. “Sorry to hear that.”
  142. >Flora waves a hoof, “Think nothing of it, the hornhead when out and never came back to the hotel,”
  143. “Where were you staying?”
  144. >”Dodge”
  145. “Oh…”
  146. >The mare fumbles with her hooves for a moment before she looks up at you.”Can I ask about your mare, if that’s okay?”
  147. You couldn’t help to clutch the steering wheel a little harder. ”She passed on.”
  148. >”Oh, when you said gone before, I thought you broke up...Though it's probably naive to think that. The crystal heart never made a mistake.”
  149. “It didn’t, Her name was Quiet Nights. She was the sweetest, kindest, heartfelt person I ever knew.”
  150. >”How did she?”
  151. “It was all over the news in Dodge last year.”
  152. >”...Oh! I read about that...Poor mare…I’m sorry.”
  153. “It's alright...Why did your stallion leave?”
  154. >”Not sure, he left me in Dodge during a vacation and never came back. I searched for days for him...But to be honest, he’s done it before, but deep down, I think this time he’s not coming back.”
  155. >Flora’s words somehow unsettles you as you pass another sign counting Dodge to be twenty miles away.
  157. >The first signs of civilization appear as street lamps that illuminate the highway. As Dodge City lights up the night sky.
  158. >Neon advertisements light up the side of the road, silently selling unneeded products to anyone who cares enough to glance.
  159. “You got a job?” You speak up deciding to break the verbal silence that loomed in your car.
  160. >Flora pulls herself from staring out the window. “I did. I used to work in a florist shop.”
  161. You crack a smile, “Actually I should've guessed that one.”
  162. >”How?”
  163. You give her a quick bewildered look before snapping your attention to the road. “You know, with a name Flora.”
  164. >”Oh right, I guess your job has something to do with chasing...Hmm maybe police officer…” Flora squints at you tapping her hoof on her chin. “No, too skinny for that…”
  165. “Hey!.”
  166. >”A tracker? Maybe an office manager! You got to chase up those deadlines…”
  167. You laugh, “No...I work as a mechanic. I fix cars, trucks and well pretty much anything with an engine.”
  168. >”That’s just stupid. Honestly can’t human parents just name their kids on what they’re going to be.”
  169. “Because they don’t know. Us humans are bad at predicting the future let alone how their children will turn out.”
  170. >”See, it doesn’t make sense. No human can give me a straight answer about your destinies.”
  171. “It’s because we don’t have them. Only fates.”
  172. >”What? No wonder you’re all so loco…” Flora replies circling a hoof next to her ear. “You all just run around aimlessly.”
  173. “Sounds about right.” You chuckle. “What about you ponies who mail ordered boyfriends from the otherside of the universe.”
  174. >Your passenger dismisses your retort with a flick of a hoof. “Never bothered with humans. I mean who would date a hairless monkey?” She shakes her head “I don’t see the appeal.”
  175. >You smirk as you overtake another truck, before slipping back into lane.
  176. >”Like...what’s with all the clothes. And don’t get me started about standing on two legs business. I mean what's that all about?…”
  177. You raise an eyebrow at her question “Minotuars stand on two legs...”
  178. >Flora throws her hooves in front of her. “But they have tails to keep them balanced. Humans don’t!”
  179. “Well we do. They are really small.”
  180. >”You’re messing with me.” Flora looks at you with mouth agape.
  181. “Honest truth. But I read somewhere we use our ears for balance. I’m not an expert so I don’t know how”
  182. >”You humans are weird creatures.”
  183. “We are technically aliens you know. Of course we’re going to be odd to you.”
  184. >”I guess…” She shrugs.
  185. You pull off the highway and onto a slip road, towards the city.
  186. >”We’re going to Dodge?”
  187. “I’m hungry, I bet there will be a twenty four hour cafe or something open.”
  188. >Flora looks at you almost pleading not to before her belly rumbles causing her cheeks visibly blush.
  189. “A free ride, a free coffee and now free food? You’re doing great tonight.”
  190. >”What? No, no it’s fine. I’m not trying to-”
  191. “You’re lucky that I’m feeling generous tonight.” You cut off Flora as she stumbles over her thoughts. “Plus the road runs out hundreds of miles from here, depending if we go north or south.”
  192. >”...You will take me that far?”
  193. “Well you asked.” You shrug. “Besides I got nothing left to do.”
  194. >Flora looks at you, a little curious but decides not to reply only to return to stare out of the passenger window.
  195. >You slow down as you reach the city streets in hope to find any twenty-four-hour cafe or takeaway.
  196. >As you reach near the centre of the city, you pull to a halt at the redlight, you both watch in silent amusement as you watch a few drunks shuffle across the road singing and stumbling.
  197. >A green light calls back your attention and you pull away down the grey city streets.
  198. >Flora points a hoof, “There, that place must be open, it's called the night cafe.”
  199. “Looks good to me,” You reply as you indicate to slip into its small car park out front.
  200. >You both get out of the car and stretch your legs, you grumble as your knee locks and gives an audible pop. Flora can’t help but frown as she looks around the city street.
  201. >Pushing the door, a small speaker behind the counter gives a small buzz as you both walk into the small cafe.
  202. >”Take a table, and I’ll be over. Just finishing opening up shop.” A voice calls from the kitchen.
  203. >Quiet music plays from old speakers from behind the counter. You couldn’t make out the song but it gives you nothing but nostalgic vibes of Earth.
  204. >Flora follows you to a table and sits across from you.
  205. >Taking a menu you glance though the ‘early night’ specials.
  206. “What are you having?” You ask, not looking up from the menu.
  207. >”Not sure, the pancakes look nice…”
  208. “This time of night?” You smirk over the menu as an option catches your eye.
  209. >”Why? What are you having?”
  210. “Bacon sandwich.”
  211. >Flora blanches at your reply. “Gross. I can’t believe ponies would even cook that stuff...Let alone eat it.”
  212. >”Not ponies, more like a Thestral…” A gravely chirpy voice interrupts. “Now may I take your order?”
  213. >You glance up from your menu to spot a pair of cat-like eyes staring back at you, you’ve seen thestrals before but never this close.
  214. “Uh, bacon sandwich?”
  215. >”Coming right up. You?” The Thestral glances at Flora anticipating her order.
  216. >”Pancakes...Thank you.” Flora smiles at the waiter.
  217. >”Good choice, would you two like a coffee?”
  218. >You both nod.
  219. >Flora’s polite smile for the thestral drops a little too quick as she leaves.
  220. “What's wrong?” You ask, noticing the sudden change in her expression.
  221. >”She probably thinks we’re a couple...”
  222. “Probably.” You reply idly flicking through the menu seeing what else you could have had. “I don’t see the issue.”
  223. >”What do you mean.You don’t see an issue with it?”
  224. >You are just about to reply before two cups are placed on the table with a leathery wing.
  225. >”The food will be done in the moment, enjoy you two…” The thestral nods and returns to the kitchen.”
  226. >Flora hisses as she burns her hoof on the side of the cup. “Ouch…”
  227. “It’s hot.”
  228. >”I know that!...See! Look at her looking at us. She thinks we’re a couple…”
  229. “We’re only passing through...Why are you so worried about it?”
  230. >”I’m not.”
  231. “...Right…” You rest your check on your palm as you take a small sip of your coffee with the other. “...So after this you want to continue or find a motel?” You ask while the cafe thestral lays a bacon sandwich in front of you followed by Flora’s pancakes.
  232. >”I guess it is getting late...And a bed does sound nice…”
  233. You look up from your meal, “Sounds like you’ve been sleeping rough…”
  234. >”...Kind of, been sleeping...Well, where ever for the last few days…”
  235. “I’m not going to ask.” You state.
  236. >”...Thank you.”
  237. You wave off her thanks with a flick of the wrist.. “Think nothing of it.”
  238. >You both eat in silence as you both clear your plates. Pulling out your coin bag you throw a few bits plus tip on the table.”
  239. “Come on,” You nod towards the door “lets go,”
  240. >You wave to the thestal as she takes the plates back to the kitchen.
  241. >”Take care, you two, and enjoy your night!” The thestral waves you both off.
  242. >”See!”
  243. “Does it matter?” You shrug as you walk towards the car and unlock it.
  244. >”Yes!” Flora fumbles to open the passenger door. “Can we please get out of here?”
  245. “Get out of-”
  246. >”Don’t say it.”
  247. “Here...” You smirk.
  248. >You push the keys into the ignition and strap yourself in. You give the engine a rev before pulling off onto the road. You notice Flora staring out the window half expecting to see someone.
  249. “You okay?”
  250. >”I’m fine, I just don’t like Dodge city, can we please get out of here?”
  251. “Alright,” You pull round the corner and start following the signs for the highway.
  252. >You pick up speed as you slip onto the quiet highway junction.
  253. “North or south?”
  254. >”Uh, North?”
  255. You smile as you slip in the northbound lane and slide the gear shift into sixth. “Haven't been up North that much.”
  257. >After many miles you slip another tape into the player and nudge the volume up.
  258. >
  259. >The gentle beats with the oscillating soothing base relaxes you into your seat. Once again the music and the road slip into harmony.
  260. >You notice Flora nodding along to the music out of the corner of your eye, returning your attention to the empty highway you press down on the accelerator. You feel yourself sink back into your seat as you pick up speed.
  261. “Keep an eye out for signs for motels or whatever.” You speak up over the music, “I think there should be one along this stretch.”
  262. >Flora yawns “Will do, what time is it?”
  263. “Around four thirty. Sun should be rising soon…”
  264. >Flora gives a tired looking smirk, “So,you kept your promise and drove till dawn…”
  265. “Easily done. But I’m terrible when it comes to mornings.” You chuckle at your own, somewhat of a joke.
  266. >Your passenger winds down the window and pokes her head outside, her white main flows in the cold wind.
  267. “Always wondered if that’s just a four legged creature thing…” You mumble to yourself. “Flora, what are you doing?”
  268. >”Trying to keep awake, you want me to look for signs for a motel or not?”
  269. “...Hey, I was just wondering. Just be careful not to give yourself a stiff neck. I ain’t paying for you to have a massage too.”
  270. >”...Look! Motel! Finally!” Flora fires a hoof out the window to a dimly lit sign. Sure enough it says Motel, Lonely Nights Motel to be exact.
  271. Learning over you spot the building off of the slip road ahead. “Alright, lets go.”
  272. >Shifting gear you slip off the highway and along a yellow lit road. The engine grumbles as you slow to pull into the motels carpark.
  273. “Looks empty.” You state as you notice the serious lack of cars.
  274. >Pulling up in the most sought after parking space that's located by the entrance you turn the engine off and clip off your seatbelt.
  275. >You walk up to the closed doors and pear through, all the lights are off. You notice a sign tacked to the door that confirms your suspicions; Closed until further notice.
  276. >The closing of the car door brings your attention to Flora who trots up beside you.
  277. >”Aww...It’s closed.” Your hitchhiker says, sounding a little disheartened.
  278. “Looks like it.” You shrug, feeling pretty much indifferent about the situation.
  279. >”So, what now?”
  280. “I need to sleep, else we'll end up in a dit- off the road somewhere.”
  281. >”So where?”
  282. “In the car,” You point at your vehicle. “Come on hop in, crash here tonight.”
  283. >Flora groans as she hops back in the car.
  284. “It’s not as bad as you think.” You smile at your passenger, tucking your hand down the side of her seat you pull a lever causing the backrest to fall back.
  285. >”Eeep!” Flora flails her front legs as she falls on to her back.
  286. “There. Comfy?” You ask while you pull the lever on your seat.
  287. >Flora rolls her head towards you and frowns, she wiggles a bit to get into a more comfortable position. “Maybe it beats sleeping outside.”
  288. >Leaving your door open you shuffle around in search of your smokes. Upon finding one you slip on its packet. Lighting the cigarette you learn right back and put your feet on the side of the dash. “So you want to stop anywhere tomorrow while heading north?”
  289. >Flora shrugs. “Well see what's there as we travel.”
  290. “I like your thinking...Till the road runs out.”
  291. >”Till the road runs out.” Flora repeats with a solemn smile that matches your own.
  292. >You continue smoking in silence, Flora tosses and turns as she tries to get comfy.
  293. “Try leaning up the seat a bit more.” You offer Flora some advice.
  294. >Noting your suggestion, she finally finds a comfortable position.
  295. >”I take it you slept in like this before.”
  296. “Sometimes.”
  297. >”...How long have you been on the road?”
  298. “A few weeks.” You gave a short reply.
  299. >”Can I ask why?”
  300. “...No home to go back to.” You take a drag of the cigarette and roll it between your thumb and finger, inspecting the ember from all sides.
  301. >Looking back up you find Flora’s eyes scan over you, somewhat dissatisfied with your answer.
  302. >Eventually after a few long seconds she sighs. “Yeah, I know that feeling, but don’t you have a house?”
  303. “Sold it. Along with everything I owned...Well except for my car.” You tap the inside door panel with your hand.
  304. >”...Staying there hurt didn’t it? Just coming back to an empty house.”
  305. “Yeah…” You finish off your smoke and flick it out the window and watch the orange embers splinter and bound only the black tarmac. “Even with all my stuff, the house felt empty without her.” You mutter under your breath.
  306. >”What was that?”
  307. “Nothing, I’m getting tired, I think you are too so get some sleep.”
  308. >You slouch back and stare up at the stars that were fading in the early dawn orange light. Feeling your eyes grow heavy, you start to let your mind drift.
  309. >”Chase?” Flora asks a little sleepily
  310. “Hmm?”
  311. >”You are not going to ditch me while I’m sleeping right?”
  312. “Only if you snore.”
  313. >Flora chuckles, “Then I don’t have to worry.”
  315. >You awaken with uncomfortable stiff sensation of an aching back accompanied with the discomfort from the dry desert heat in the car. Cursing yourself for not opening the driver door window a little, you swing the door open to let out the heat that gathered from the morning sun.
  316. >Turing the keys in the ignition you spot the time on the dashboard reading late morning.
  317. >The loud snoring of Flora reminds you of last night. You wonder if anyone hasn't told her that she sounds like a steam train as she snores.
  318. >Smirking to yourself at the display of the mare splayed haphazardly across the seat you pull the seatbelt across to the barrel. Your passenger bats her fore-hooves a little as you clip the seatbelt in with a little click.
  319. >Not revving the engine too loudly you pull out of the motels carpark and back onto the busy highway.
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