Enjoy two short stories and a novella from the Laundry Files. Originally published on Tor. More by Charles Stross See more.
A Laundry Files Novel. Britain is under New Management. The disbanding of the Laundry - the British espionage agency that deals with supernatural threats, has culminated in the unthinkable - an elder god in residence in 10 Downing Street. But in true 'the enemy of my enemy' fashion, Mhari Murphy finds herself working with His Excellency Nylarlathotep on foreign policy - there are worse things, it seems, than an elder god in power, and they lie in deepest, darkest America. Who knew an egomaniacal, malevolent deity would have a soft spot for international relations?
Flowing text, Original pages. Web, Tablet, Phone, eReader. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders. Book 2 in The Laundry Files. The "Laundry" is Britain's super-secret agency devoted to protecting the realm from the supernatural horrors that menace it.
Now Bob Howard, Laundry agent, must travel to the quiet English countryside to deal with an outbreak of one of the worst horrors imaginable. Shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker Prize. The Rapture of the Nerds. A Century of Science Fiction.
Some of the Best from Tor. Lightspeed Magazine, November Speaking of the Fantastic III. How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long.
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Item s unavailable for purchase. Please review your cart. You can remove the unavailable item s now or we'll automatically remove it at Checkout. Something so bad that they unintentionally edited themselves out of existence? I glance at the TV. Tonight, hundreds of millions of innocent children are calling Santa.
I turn and stare at the aluminium duct-work that runs from floor to ceiling. I reach a hand towards it, then pull my fingers back in a hurry. Cold air is spilling off the pipe in chilly waves, and as I glance at the floor I see a thin mist. I left a nearly empty cup of tea on the desk when I went on my nocturnal ramble: The drops of ice crackle as they hit the floor, and my ward is suddenly a burning-hot weight at the base of my throat.
Cold enough that the air is condensing on it. Cold enough that it sucks the heat out of a cup of tepid tea in milliseconds. But what does it mean? What it means is. Lurker in Fireplaces, Bringer of Gifts. These things gain energy from belief. The summoning comes with an implicit ritual of banishment. Seventeen minutes to midnight.
I bypass Mahogany Row and the sleeping ghosts of management to come, and head for the canteen. I turn the lights on, hunting around until I see it: I grab it and dig the boxes out, nearly laddering it in my haste. The fridge is still humming. I get it open and find what I was hoping for—a tray of leftovers, still covered in cling-film.
I run for the staircase, clutching stocking, pin box, and the tray of stale mince pies. I pause briefly to review my plan.
Get to the incinerator room without being stopped optionally: Draw the best containment grid I can manage around the whole mess, and hope to hell that it holds. What could possibly go wrong? I plant my tray on the floor, pull out my key ring, and unlock the door to the basement. From the cellar of a secret Nazi redoubt to a crypt in the largest necropolis in Europe, via the scuppers of an ocean-going spy ship: I walk down a dim, low-ceilinged passage lined with pipes and cable bearers, past doors and utility cupboards and a disturbingly coffinlike ready room where the night staff wait impassively for intruders.
No stir of undead limbs rises to stop me—my warrant card sees to that. Glancing up, I see a frost-rimed duct, so I follow it until it vanishes into the wall beside a door with a wired-glass window which is glowing cheerily with light from within. The thing that calls itself Dr.
Kringle takes a step backwards into the incinerator room, beckoning. I stifle a snort of irritation. I lick my lips. The incinerator is a big electric furnace, with a hopper feeding into it beside a hanging rack of sacks that normally hold the confidential document shreddings. I park the pie tray on top of the furnace which is already cold enough that I risk frostbite if I touch it with bare skin and hang the empty stocking from one of the hooks on the rack.
Ghastly hunger beyond human comprehension is the besetting vice of extradimensional horrors—if they prioritized better they might actually be more successful. In my experience you can pretty much bet that if J. Hence the tempting tray of comestibles. I glance at my watch: Then I eyeball the furnace control panel. Kringle is standing beside it. Once upon a time the Laundry had a Forecasting Ops department.
But when you play chess with the future, you risk checkmate—not to mention being assimilated by that which you study. The first thing Forecasting Ops ever forecast was the probability of its own catastrophic capture by— something. So it was disbanded. I remember sitting through a bizarre and interminable lecture at the Christmas party. But who else remembers sitting through it? I take a step forward, away from the furnace hopper.
My watch is slow! I step close to the control panel and, bending down, hastily scrawl a circle on the floor around my feet. I came to warn you, but did you listen? The trouble with prophecies of your own demise is that, like risk assessments, if you pay too much attention to them they can become self-fulfilling. So I ignore the turbulent time-ghost and stare as the fat, greenish tip of one pseudopod emerges and, twitching, quests blindly towards the frozen pies on top of the furnace.
I stare for what feels like hours, but in reality is only a couple of seconds. Then, in a flashing moment, the tentacle lashes out and simultaneously engulfs all the pies, sucker-like mouths sprouting from its integument to snap closed around them. The Filler of Stockings is clearly no exception to the hunger rule.
Having fed, its questing tentacle slows, perhaps hampered by the bulges along its length: Waves of coldness roll from it. The temperature in the room is dropping by double-digit degrees per second. I twist the handle of the main circuit breaker to the LIVE position, and stab at the green ON button with rapidly numbing fingers. There comes a deep hum and a rattle of ventilators, and the incinerator powers up.
There follows a sizzling flash and a howling whoop of pain and fury as the Filler of Stockings, thwarted, tries to disentangle its appendage from the gas jets.