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On Her Majesty’s Occult Service

The death rattle of a mortally wounded telephone is a horrible thing to hear at four o’clock on a Tuesday morning. It’s even worse when you’re sleeping the sleep that follows a pitcher of iced margueritas in the basement of the Dog’s Bollocks, with a chaser of nachos and a tequila slammer or three for dessert. I come to, sitting upright, bare-ass naked in the middle of the wooden floor, clutching the receiver with one hand and my head with the other — purely to prevent it from exploding, you understand — and moaning quietly. Who is it? I croak into the microphone.

Bob, get your ass down to the office right away. This line isn’t secure. I recognize that voice: I have nightmares about it. That’s because I work for its owner.

Whoa, I was asleep, boss. Can’t it — I gulp and look at the alarm clock — wait until morning?

No. I’m calling a code blue.

Jesus. The band of demons stomping around my skull strike up an encore with drums. Okay, boss. Ready to leave in ten minutes. Can I bill a taxi fare?

No, it can’t wait. I’ll have a car pick you up. He cuts the call, and that is when I start to get frightened because even Angleton, who occupies a lair deep in the bowels of the Laundry’s Arcana Analysis Section — but does something far scarier than that anodyne title might suggest — is liable to think twice before authorising a car to pull in an employee at zero-dark o’clock.

I manage to pull on a sweater and jeans, tie my shoelaces, and get my ass downstairs just before the blue and red strobes light up the window above the front door. On the way out I grab my emergency bag — an overnighter full of stuff that Andy suggested I should keep ready, just in case — and slam and lock the door and turn around in time to find the cop waiting for me. Are you Bob Howard?

Yeah, that’s me. I show him my card.

If you’ll come with me, sir.

Lucky me: I get to wake up on my way in to work four hours early, in the front passenger seat of a police car with strobes flashing and the driver doing his best to scare me into catatonia. Lucky London: the streets are nearly empty at this time of night, so we zip around the feral taxis and somnolent cleaning trucks without pause. A journey that would normally take an hour and a half takes fifteen minutes. (Of course, it comes at a price: Accounting exists in a state of perpetual warfare with the rest of the civil service over internal billing, and the Metropolitan Police charge for their services as a taxi firm at a level that would make you think they provided limousines with wet bars. But Angleton has declared a code blue, so . . .)

The dingy-looking warehouse in a side street, adjoining a closed former primary school, doesn’t look too promising — but the door opens before I can raise a hand to knock on it. The grinning sallow face of Fred from Accounting looms out of the darkness in front of me and I recoil before I realise that it’s all right — Fred’s been dead for more than a year, which is why he’s on the night shift. This isn’t going to degenerate into plaintive requests for me to fix his spreadsheet. Fred, I’m here to see Angleton, I say very clearly, then I whisper a special password to stop him from eating me. Fred retreats back to his security cubbyhole or coffin or whatever it is you call it, and I cross the threshold of the Laundry. It’s dark — to save light bulbs, and damn the health and safety regs — but some kind soul has left a mouldering cardboard box of hand torches on the front desk. I pull the door shut behind me, pick up a torch, and head for Angleton’s office.

As I get to the top of the stairs I see that the lights are on in the corridor we call Mahogany Row. If the boss is running a crisis team then that’s where I’ll find him. So I divert into executive territory until I see a door with a red light glowing above it. There’s a note taped to the door handle: BOB HOWARD ACCESS PERMITTED. So I access permitted and walk right in.

As soon as the door opens Angleton looks up from the map spread across the boardroom table. The room smells of stale coffee, cheap cigarettes, and fear. You’re late, he says sharply.

Complete Text Here: Concrete Jungle
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Intrigued? This is the world of the British Occult Secret Service code name The Laundry. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to become a field agent in Her Majesty’s Occult Secret Service. you have been chosen because you have managed to figure out far too many delicate secrets of the Universe.. Like Magic is real and is controlled through Mathematics and that computers (of all forms) can be used to create portals to other dimensions and unleash assorted and varied nasties into our plane of existence.

You will be indoctrinated into the Service and be given a variety of duties, some more mundane, some more challenging as is befitting a British Public Servant. You may be asked to prevent the summoning of trans-dimensional beings by cultists into our world. you may be asked to leverage technologies to perform psychic surveillance on terrorists, cultists, other spies, witches and occasionally members of parliament. You WILL have to fill out the proper paper-work and work within your budget! We hope you choose to join The Laundry and know that in doping so you join an elite and exclusive organization tasked with keeping England Safe from Supernatural forces and doing it on Budget! Oh and the alternative to joining is to be sent to an isolated village on the coast of Wales where you will have no access to technology, your former life, media, unapproved books or fish and chips… or death.. that is always an option.

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On Her Majesty's Occult Service RobertMasson