Christmas Fights

Fangtasia was closed on Christmas Night. Something Pam was profoundly grateful for. As a vampire, she didn’t celebrate Christmas. She wasn’t even sure she believed in a God made in the image of humans. Still, as a human she’d been raised Christian and years of hiding in an Episcopal boarding school had rekindled the sense of comfort she found in the familiar forms.

Tonight she had eschewed electricity except for the Christmas carols playing on Eric’s elaborate and excellent sound system. She’d lit a couple of candles not for light, she could see perfectly well, but for the honey scent of beeswax that wrapped around her like a robe. Pam hadn’t bothered getting dressed. Eric was off somewhere on vampire business and she was enjoying a quiet night curled up on the sofa beneath a patchwork quilt he wouldn’t recognize though some of the fabrics ought to seem familiar. A soft smile, more human than vampire, curled her lips as she stroked each one, recalling its history. It was a good thing that Eric couldn’t see her. He wouldn’t approve of the sentimentality. But what was this silly season for if not sentimentality?

Pam still couldn’t believe she was back with her Maker. Some of their nights together were more like a dream than a reality she ever expected to experience again. Even after the better part of a year she kept expecting the other shoe to drop and bring this all to an end. At least now she knew what was literally hanging over their heads like a sword of Damocles. She also knew why he had Called her back to him and insisted she move in to his house. Vampires were going to make their existence known to the world. The only questions were when and what the world, especially humans, would do about it. The possibilities made Pam shiver enough that she didn’t realize at first that Eric was Calling her.

His Call grew more insistent and was laced with something else as she became aware of it. Not pausing to analyze it, Pam shot out the back door like an arrow sprung from a bow. Her target was her Maker and she followed his Call unerringly through the night. As though he knew she was on her way, his pull lessened. At least, that’s what she hoped happened and his attention turned to a more immediate threat.

Ambush!

The word leapt into Pam’s mind followed by a surge of cold fury, both hers and his. She didn’t care who had set him up or why. All that mattered to Pam was how many she could kill for daring to try to trap him.

Reaching the clearing where his Corvette had been stopped by fallen trees and power lines, Pam launched herself at a Were trying to flank Eric. The unexpected impact knocked the wolf off all four of its feet. Pam snapped its neck as they rolled and kept right on going, taking down another wolf in the process. The second wolf had a few seconds of warning and managed  to sink his teeth into her shoulder. With her other hand Pam reached behind her, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and flipped him to where she could fight him more effectively. He tried to twist free, tearing at the flesh of her shoulder. Pam didn’t let go. Instead she met him bite for bite, burying her face and fangs in the soft fur until everything was soaked in blood. Dropping the carcass, Pam turned to look for Eric and her next target.

Eric was grappling with a large male while an almost equally large female swinging a chain circled them looking for an opening. Pam couldn’t tell for certain whether the chain was silver or not but the fact that Eric was striving to keep the  male between them argued that it was. Pam was about to attack the female when something landed on her from above driving her into the ground.

This Were was still in human form, probably because he was young and the moon wasn’t full. That might have given Pam the advantage had he not been wearing silver studded gloves. Though small, he knew what he was doing. He locked his legs around her waist, the silver buckles on his boots bit through the thin fabric of her nightgown. Pam ignored that small pain being more interested in avoiding the hands reaching for her face and eyes. Fortunately the size difference meant his aim was off. His grasp was painful but not debilitating. Twisting and turning as only a vampire could, Pam bounced around the clearing slamming both of them into every solid surface she could. The sounds of bones snapping was intensely satisfying.

At some point Pam and her assailant collided with the female, knocking her off-balance. Her chain coiled around Pam’s legs but either the silver content was not high or the volume of fabric of her nightgown or both protected her. It didn’t slow her momentum although it did bring all three of them to the ground. Pam’s next roll brought the Were on her back’s head into contact with a rock. Unfortunately, his hands still grasped her hair. Pam hissed when Eric peeled him off her, the burn in her scalp informing her that he took at least two fists full of hair with him.

Eric didn’t waste time on questions. Neither did Pam as he scooped her up and headed for the Corvette. She noted two, no, three bodies turning to ash beside the now human bodies of the Weres she had taken out. The little one must have been a vampire. No wonder she hadn’t been able to dislodge him. Eric still had  her in his arms when he slid behind the wheel. Pam crawled into the passenger seat while he started the car and got it turned around. Only when they were speeding back the way he had come did Pam realize there was holiday music playing on the radio. She couldn’t help laughing. A good fight was the best Christmas gift he could have given her.

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Eric’s Return

Epilogue to Dead Ever After (the final book of the Southern Vampire Mystery series of novels) by Charlaine Harris.

frida-gustavsson red and blackThe shadows were deep inside Fangtasia. Pam had closed the club decades ago but Eric still owned the building and she saw to it that it was properly maintained if not utilized. She’d even bought up the rest of the strip mall, razing some parts and quietly refurbishing other parts. She had no idea what Eric would choose to do with the club when he was free, but she wanted to be ready for anything.

She drifted through the silent club like a ghost. It was only appropriate, given that her mind was filled with the past when Fangtasia had been the hottest (and only) vampire club in Northern Louisiana. She’d called it a goth roadhouse when she arrived and she hadn’t been far wrong though Eric had turned it into much more by the time vampires came out of the coffin. He had called her to him, just before vampires made their existence known. She had been glad to come. They had weathered that and many other things together. Those had been very good times.

Foolishly, perhaps, she had thought those good times would last.

They hadn’t.

Politics had interfered. Eric had been forced into marriage. He had bartered himself for a far higher price than most realized. The human he had become attached to lived out her life in peace and the sun without him. Pam, who had become Sheriff of Area 5 as another part of the marriage bargain had kept an eye on her, her children and now her children’s children and their children. For two hundred years Pam had watched and waited and kept things running in Area 5. In all that time, which wasn’t quite half her existence, she hadn’t seen Eric except at assemblies where he was always at the side of his Queen. Now Eric’s marriage was over, his contractual obligations fulfilled. She wondered if he would return here or just go…away.

Something stopped her as she turned to leave. A silhouette filled the doorway to the offices. Pam didn’t need to see his face. She flew into his arms in less time than it took to say his name.


How commonplace books were like Tumblr and Pinterest

I fondly recall commonplace books for my human life, though they were not as popular among girls of my age as they were with those of my mother’s generation. After I was Turned, Eric often had me read aloud from his journals as a way of learning old Swedenish and other languages, then he would ask me to writing in my own diary in those languages. It was both educational and an excellent means of disguise. After all, who would believe that a single person could or would write in some many languages given how short human lives are and how frequently we had to move around in order to avoid detection?

tomstandage.com

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Shared journals were an early form of social media, and the mass-media era may have been a historical aberration. These were two of the claims made by Lee Humphreys, a communications and media researcher at Cornell University, who gave a talk this week at Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective. I agree with her on both counts, of course, though I would trace the sharing of journals back further, to the commonplace books of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Humphreys has examined in detail how people in the 19th century would share their diaries with visiting families and friends by reading aloud, in order to tell them what had been going on in their lives. She has also analysed the diary entries of Charlie Mac, a soldier in the American Civil War, which he copied out and sent home as letters to his family (and anyone else they wanted…

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Catching Up

Tallying the night’s receipts, Pam had to admit she was impressed. It turned out a goth roadhouse in Louisiana was indeed a money maker. She shook her head. Who, besides Eric, that is, would have thought it? Then again, there was a decent sized subculture passionate about horror, the supernatural and vampires. They didn’t think supes or vampires were real of course but that didn’t stop them from fantasizing about them, wanting to be around them, wanting to be them. And it certainly didn’t stop them from spending money in the bar, which was very pleasing.

Things had settled into a comfortable routine since her arrival. Eric was still playing some things close to his vest, but she knew now that “co-owner” meant glorified bookkeeper. She did the books, managed the ordering, saw to it the taxes were paid and local laws mostly obeyed. He drew in the patrons and therefore the profits just by being here. Pam grinned to herself. Even in the middle of nowhere, Eric attracted a crowd. For herself, she didn’t mind the work or the bar. At least it had gotten her out of jeans and schoolgirl garb. Her personal sense of style was starting to show. Unfortunately, it wasn’t any more suited to a bar than the teen queen attire had been. Eric hadn’t suggested any changes to her wardrobe, though she knew he thought she looked out of place at times. It was almost as though he was indulging her, letting her enjoy dressing as she chose because… well she wasn’t sure why. The answer to that question was one Pam was still trying to ferret out.

Leaning back in the chair, Pam twirled a strand of hair around her fingers, trying to decide what to do with the rest of her night. The bar was closed but the sun would not rise for hours. She had time to kill. She just didn’t know what to do with it.

PamR_TB role play

Securing the bar’s rear door, Pam walked to her Volvo, tossing her purse inside. Most of the humans were in bed and the quiet of the night was reassuring, comforting even. This was her favorite time of night. The only creatures stirring were monsters and their prey. Pam didn’t really think of herself as a monster but hunting was probably a good idea. She wasn’t starving but she could use a drink and that bottled swill they called blood just didn’t do it for her. She preferred fresh. Now, where to find it….

The Volvo headed for the Air Force base. She wouldn’t prey on anyone on duty, that was a sure way to attract attention. The military types kept odd schedules however and she was more likely to find someone just getting off duty or out for an early or late run here than anywhere else in the area. Besides the challenge of sneaking onto base appealed to her. It wasn’t quite the same as a real hunt but it was enough of a challenge to make things interesting.  As she drove her thoughts drifted back to learning to hunt and the real hunts she and Eric had enjoyed together.


Gardens of the American Rose Center

night view ARC

Gardens of the American Rose Center at night

Unless you’re a rose lover, you probably don’t know that the nation’s largest park dedicated to roses is located in Shreveport, LA. The 118-acres that comprise the Gardens of the American Rose Center are home to 20,000 rosebushes in 65 individual gardens and the national headquarters of the American Rose Society (ARS).

Generally speaking, the gardens are closed after 5:00 p.m. and the rose season in northern Louisiana runs from mid-April through the end of October.

The Gardens of the American Rose Center are located just off I-20, Exit 5 near Greenwood, LA.

Heritage roses in Shreveport

Heritage Roses

ARC Chapel

Gardens of the American Rose Center Chapel


Down to Business

Pam perched on the corner of Eric’s desk, legs primly crossed and watched the waitress. Christy, she reminded herself. It wouldn’t do to forget a name, especially one that might turn out to be an enemy. Pam had no illusions that the girl would cheerfully have strangled her at that moment if she thought she could get away with it. Clearly, Christy considered Eric hers and Pam’s arrival on the scene was not welcomed. She gave the waitress a chill smile. Let her think what she wanted. Pam didn’t have any answers, anyway.

Her gaze ranged around the ordinary seeming office though she doubted the human noticed her  inattention. All the furniture was wood, save the shelving which had probably come with the place. Everything had the simple clean lines and functionality Eric favored. Her eyes fell on odd mementos Eric had collected through the years. She spotted whale’s teeth and shark teeth, an engraved iron knife she was certain was razor-sharp, as was the bronze harpoon tip, posters of Scandinavia, an ornately carved stone called Thor’s hammer  and, tied to one of the metal shelves a blue-gray scrap of fabric she recognized as hers. Pam turned back to Eric, startled and flattered by the sentimentality.

His eyes flicked to her, then back to the waitress, a silent rebuke that he was conducting business here. Pam dropped her head and returned her attention to the human who was babbling about a spate of muggings and fights that had been taking place in the parking lot recently. Were it not for the small detail of the disappearing cats, Pam would have said the Sheriff had at least one discipline problem. She rather hoped he did. Enforcer was a role she understood. One she was prepared for. But the way Eric had introduced her — “co-owner” — Pam had no idea what that meant nor whether she could do it.

With an inward frown, Pam realized her thoughts had wandered, again. If the girl could just get to the point, or, better yet, the end, of her tale, it would be nice. A slight noise behind her, drew her eyes back to Eric. His expression was decidedly bored, but his eyes were laughing. That was the clue Pam need to realize the human was repeating herself. She was drawing the story out, unwilling to leave them alone in the office together. She was…jealous. And angling to get Eric to agree to walk her to her car every night. Pam almost laughed.

“I am certain arrangements can be made for one of the bouncers or bartenders to walk to your car after your shift,” Pam told the girl sweetly. “We will also see to getting security cameras installed, since it sounds as if most of the incidents happened well after closing. You will be safe.”

“It’s not your assurances I’m asking for,” Christy responded tartly.

Pam raised an eyebrow, a gesture she knew she had copied from Eric.

“My assurances are as good as Eric’s, I assure you,” Pam said, slipping from the desk and moving casually to his side but remaining between him and the door.  “It will be taken care of. Now go back to work, before the rest of the staff start dividing your tips for being gone so long.”

Eric waited until the girl had gone.  He was sure he had not imagined that she actually stomped her feet in a juvenile gesture on her way out. It was something he had once heard described as “a pissy fit.”

Chuckling as the door closed he turned to Pam, the expression on his face obviously amused.  “I was wondering how much longer you were going to allow her to pollute my office with her human babble.  She’s easily glamored and her blood is sweet but to hear her speak for more than five minutes is absolute torture. “

Rising from his desk he moved to the shelving and lightly touched the blue cloth, knowing she had noticed. Looking back to her, he smiled sincerely. “You were surprised I kept this. Really Pam, was I so unfeeling to you that you thought me non sentimental?”  It was a vulnerable statement but he trusted her not to hold the tender moment against him.  He was admitting to missing her.

Eric knew there would be questions to answer and thought it easier that Pam asked them instead of having to lay out his plans.  Was he even certain that he had one other than retrieving her assistance in whatever was to come?   “Will you need to feed before we begin our meeting?  I can have Christy return or a number of others who are more than willing to fool around with the boss.” 

He grinned,  both knowing that humans believed what they wanted to as long as it was pleasant.  He was certain that there was talk among the staff of his sexual conquests of each and every one of them..none of them ever knowing that along with their sex, he also took their blood.

“I was not, am not, sure it was my place to silence your human’s noise,” Pam admitted. “As you point out it is your office, and you are the boss.”

She weighed her thirst for information against her thirst for blood, discovering the former was far greater than the later. The idea of tasting Christy was decidedly unappealing anyway. She could hunt later if she needed to.

“Her Majesty’s hospitality was delicious though her choice of conversational topics was not entirely to my liking,” Pam told him with a tight smile. “I would rather hear your news, if you will tell it. And I should tell you the story I used when I left Minnesota in case you get hate mail from an ex you never knew.”

Pam stepped over to the shelving, taking a closer look at the items. Her fingers tracing the pattern on Thor’s hammer, still familiar to her.

“You were never unfeeling, Eric. Harsh, perhaps, when harsh was required but unfeeling? No. Now sentimental….” Pam fought not to giggle. “That is a fabric of a different color. Besides, I thought I had scoured every trace of me from those rooms. Obviously, I was wrong. Where did I leave it?”

Eric watched her as she moved around the room, the way her eyes washed over his mementos.  He was well aware when she left she had tried to take everything with her..as if it would hurt less for her if things were completely severed.  Had she not realized before now that she had been his favorite?

Perhaps such emotions should be best locked away, isn’t that what he taught her to do?  She had done well for herself.  He was glad to some degree that she had not seen him as unfeeling, he had let fondness show more to her than previous children.  

Looking down on her, he half grinned. “It’s the pieces I ripped from you the night I took you.  For a small frightened human girl, you put up quite the fight…now tell me about this former lover  I would not seem to remember before we go further.”

Surprise stilled whatever Pam thought to say for a moment. She vaguely recalled the dress as her fingers stroked the fabric. Never had she imagined he had kept something from that night. It had certainly changed everything for her. She had never thought it, she, was more than a temporary distraction in the long years of his existence. She smiled up at him, letting him see what it meant to her but leaving the sentiment unspoken as she got down to business.

“The story I concocted is simple enough. You and Rachel,” Pam forced her voice not to catch on the name, “were young lovers. You married and had a child – in that order – but things didn’t work out, there was a nasty divorce and custody battle which ended up with the child, me, living with my ‘mother’ and having limited contact with you until this trip, when I sought you out and we decided to get to know one another.”

There was more to it, of course, Pam couldn’t quite bring herself to tell Eric she had painted him in an abusive and drunken light. He would know at least some of the memories had come from her own experience with him and she didn’t want him to think that those were all she recalled. They weren’t. They had just been the ones she needed to give her story the ring of truth. She really didn’t want Rachel pursuing her to Louisiana.

“I do not think she will seek me out much, if at all,” Pam added. “She is not pleased with my choice but won’t argue it. Her hope is that you have grown up and out of your bad habits.”

Eric moved back to his vantage behind his desk, to the human eye the action would have seemed just a blur, to the vampire however, it seemed graceful..natrual.  Proping his feet on his desk, he smirked.

“I at least hope she’s beautiful.  I could never marry less than what I expect of myself.   I must have been a bad father to let my child be lost in a battle.”

Mulling this over, he put his feet to the floor and rested his elbows on his desk, a frown marring his flawless features.

“Grown up? What sort of bad habits.”  He didn’t find it odd to be offended by a make-believe story.  Eric was proud…would always be proud.  Shouldn’t even the lies make him look like the noble warrior?

“Rachel is very lovely,” Pam assured him with a smile returning to her perch on his desk. “At 19 she was…a dark-haired, doe-eyed beauty eager to experience the world. Not your usual type but you would have liked her quick wit.”

Pam smiled, recalling the Rachel she had met nearly 2 decades before. She had been a quiet beauty, until Pam had gotten to know her. She wasn’t sure why she had taken the time. All she had intended was a brief fling and a drink or two but somehow, the two women forged a friendship that had lasted longer than most.

“I told you, you were young, or supposed to be. You  made the mistakes young things make. Living to excess and extremes, mostly. There is nothing wrong with that. You did have a temper….”

Eric leaned back in his chair once more as he listened to her story.  His smile let her know that he was pleased that Rachel was a reported beauty.   Closing his eyes, he rocked slowly in his chair imagining his pretend life.  So far he liked this game.

He imagined a wife with dark hair, and their child, imagined what it would be like to be young with her.   He considered the excesses Pam spoke of and paused in his rocking, opening his eyes and looking to her.

“What are you trying to hide behind your human words?  Was I a bastard to you and to your mother?  Did I beat you?”

He sounded as if he might become angry at his own imagined persona.

“You were young,” Pam said gazing at her hands. “And it was all I could think of. You wished me here. I didn’t want entanglements. Chances are Rachel will never contact you.”

Pressing his fingertips together he thought on that.  “But now you’ve come so we can patch up things..perhaps I have a chance to redeem myself…should your mother come calling.”

Getting up from his desk he walked to the blackened out window and stood in front of it as if looking.  “I’ve not been close to humans for quite some time.”

Pam watched her Maker curiously, trying to gauge his mood. She did not bother asking why he would wish to redeem himself to a human. His pride and personal honor would not allow him to do less. She only hoped he would not go seeking Rachel out. He would not like the memories she had created.

“You exist among them, Eric. They are food and sex,” she shrugged. “Sometimes they are shelter and on odd occasions, amusement. They also have a tendency to cause headaches and problems. You employ them. How close do you wish to get?”

Slipping off the desk, she went to him.

“Why did you call me here?”

He watched her with little more than a tolerant expression.  He was getting the picture and he couldn’t say that he blamed her for making him out to be the bad guy.  Wasn’t he officially a really bad guy?  Didn’t he enjoy being the thing of legends?  The answer was a whole-hearted yes.  He did enjoy being the shadow behind just before death..thrived on feeling the racing heart slowing to his feeding.  He even got off on the looks from women when they submitted themselves to his complete will…even though he was sure they always came away with more than they bargained for (if they came away at all.)

Turning at her approach, he looked down and furrowed his brows at her question.  It took a moment to form the answer and before he spoke, a small grin played at the corner of his lips.

“Because I could.”

It was the only answer she would receive, hadn’t he already given too many clues that he had missed her?  No sense in going soft now.

Pam knew that look, knew she wouldn’t get a more definitive personal answer to her question. She couldn’t quite resist pushing him though. Especially since she also knew Eric never did anything for just one reason.

“You could have called me to you at any time. Why now? And why am I, what? part owner of a goth roadhouse in northern Louisiana?” Pam studied him, a smile more playful teasing than seduction curving her lip. “There is something else on your mind. You may as well tell me, unless you want me to ferret it out on my own…?”

Perhaps she had played the teenager too long, if teasing was the tactic she chose first. Then again, it was almost impossible to seduce anything out of Eric, though it was always pleasant to try. It didn’t really matter. He would tell her eventually. The only question was when.

He laughed dryly. “It’s hardly a Goth Roadhouse Pam.”  Inside he howled, that was precicely what it was.  She never failed to lable a spade a spade and in such colorful descriptive detail.

He watched her mouth as it turned into that mischevious grin he had remembered.   She wasn’t going to leave this alone, at least until she received some sort of answer.  He debated on weather or not to see how far she would take it.  If the teasing didn’t work, she would turn to seduction.  He was sure her skills had improved and he was sorely tempted to let her try them out on him.  Perhaps a little seduction wouldn’t hurt.

“I like it when you ferret Pam…your nose twitches and I find it…oh-so-cute.”

It was obvious he was mocking her and obvious that he was enjoying it.

Pam wrinkled her nose.

“Ferret is not my favorite fur these nights. Mink is. Unless we’re talking hunting then wolf will do just fine, especially if that’s what is stalking your, our,” the word still felt strange in her mouth, “parking lot.”

She debated taking a step closer, closing the distance between them and playing the seduction card. She liked this playful mood of his though. So instead Pam reached for the length of blue fabric, twirling her hand, loosely wrapping it around her wrist and arm, the slowly pulling herself free.

“You just want to hear me beg,” she said, hiding the laughter in her eyes by simply not looking at him.

He watched her every move closely, still the small smirky grin on his lips.

“Yes..we do have a K-9 problem from time to time..but their money is green and they like to drink so I tolerate.  As for wanting to hear you beg Pamela..I can’t convey to you how hard it makes me.”

His blue eyes smouldered with sudden lust, the fabric and her look taking him back to one sultry night in particular when she showed him just exactly how right he was in bringing her over.

Pam couldn’t stop the smoky laugh that bubbled from her. Gripping the blue fabric still wrapped around her wrist, she dragged her eyes up his body. She wasn’t surprised by the direction the conversation had taken. Sex was always easier than sentimentality, although his reluctance to discuss business puzzled her. It wasn’t like Eric to get distracted, even when she desperately wanted him to be.

She hated to beg. Over the years, first with Eric and more recently with Minnesota, she had learned the advantages of doing it well. Maybe it was because she looked so frail.

“Please, Eric…” she she breathed, at last meeting his eyes.

Who’s That Girl  exploded from her cell phone in the same instant.

Pam grabbed instinctively for her phone with her left hand. The hand not so conveniently bound in blue fabric. Cursing in Swedish, she reached behind herself with her right hand to snag her phone.

“Hi…Mom. What’s up?”

Pam fell easily into the speech patterns of the typical American teen. Fortunately, those patterns allowed to her to sound a little annoyed and impatient. She was both. And stung. This was the first time she had used “mom” in seriousness. Before, it had always been an inside joke.

“Yes, everything is fine…why wouldn’t it be?”

Rachel was calling to check up on her? That was…unexpected. Perhaps she had overplayed her hand.

“No, really, there’s nothing to worry about. We’re getting along great. He owns a club and I’m working there until classes start.”

Pam would gladly have made this conversation private but there was no way now. Eric would be curious, and her performance would have to convince both he and Rachel that she was well and where she wanted to be. She turned as far as the fabric would let her, knowing it was just an illusion of privacy. Even a human could overhear the conversation this close.

“No, I haven’t found an apartment. I don’t think I want to move into a dorm, either. Yes, I’m staying with…Eric for the time being,” Pam would be damned if she called him “Dad”.

“He’s fine. Busy, but he seems to like having me around, so far at least,” she glanced his way for confirmation.


Another Rachel?

It amazes me sometimes what humans know. Certainly, none could recall this tale. Time or, more likely Eric, would have killed any directly involved. Perhaps they managed to share the tale with others…family or fellow Inquisitors who shared the tale still further until it was carried forward to today. I am certain Eric never told anyone, not even me.

Then again, this might not even be part of Eric’s past. It isn’t as though history is not littered with blond men named Eric. In fact the combination is so common that just having a different hair color earned some their moniker. Some are probably vampires as well. Still, it is a curious thing. I will have to ask him about it some night….

TB Comic Eric

Eric and Rachel from the True Blood #3