Read The Apocalypse Codex Online

Authors: Charles Stross

The Apocalypse Codex

BOOK: The Apocalypse Codex
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
<

THE APOCALYPSE CODEX

/body>

Ace Books by Charles Stross

 

SINGULARITY SKY

IRON SUNRISE

ACCELERANDO

THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES

GLASSHOUSE

HALTING STATE

SATURN’S CHILDREN

THE JENNIFER MORGUE

WIRELESS

THE FULLER MEMORANDUM

RULE 34

THE APOCALYPSE CODEX

THE

APOCALYPSE CODEX

 

 

CHARLES STROSS

 

ACE BOOKS, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © 2012 by Charles Stross.

Jacket illustration by Mark Fredrickson.

Text design by Kristin del Rosario.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

FIRST EDITION
: July 2012

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Stross, Charles.

The apocalypse codex / Charles Stross. — 1st ed.

p. cm. — (A laundry files novel)

ISBN: 978-1-101-58113-1

1. Howard, Bob (Fictitious character)—Fiction.    2. Evangelists—Fiction.    3. Geeks (Computer enthusiasts)—Fiction.    4. Intelligence service—Great Britain—Fiction.

5. Demonology—Fiction.    I. Title.

PR6119.T79A66    2012

823’.92—dc23           2012008569

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

 

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

FOR TERESA NIELSEN HAYDEN

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

As usual, I’d like to thank my regular test readers for their sterling work in kicking the tires. In addition, I’d like to thank my agent Caitlin Blasdell and her assistant, Hannah Bowman; TNH (the best editor I never had); and Marty Halpern (who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for any copy editor in his work on the Laundry Files).

In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his
level of incompetence.

 

—Dr. Laurence J. Peter, The Peter Principle

Table of Contents

 

Prologue Office Job

1. Bloodstone Caper

2. Skills Matrix

3. Big Tent

4. External Assets

5. Bashful Incendiary

Interlude Absolution

6. Jet Lag

7. Communion

8. Omega Course

9. Speaking In Tongues

10. Things To Do In Denver When You’re Doomed

11. The Apocalypse Codex

12. With A Bible And A Gun

13. Fimbulwinter

14. Appointment In Samarra

15. Black Bag Job

16. The Resurrection And The Life

  Epilogue Aftermath
  Classified Appendix

Prologue

OFFICE JOB

 

THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER: IT’S BEEN TEN MONTHS, AND I
only wake up screaming about once a week now. The physiotherapy is working and my right arm has regained eighty percent of its strength. The surviving members of the Wandsworth Cell of the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh have been arrested and detained indefinitely at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, in accordance with the secret supplementary regulations in Appendix Six of the Terrorism Act (2003); and every day, in every way, my life is getting better and better.

(The happy pills help, too.)

Please ignore the nervous tic; it’s an unavoidable side effect of my profession. The name’s Howard, Bob Howard: I’m a hacker turned demonologist, and I work for the Laundry, the secret agency tasked with protecting Her Majesty’s Realm from the scum of the multiverse. The nightmares, scars, and post-traumatic flashbacks are the fault of the bad guys, some of whom
also
work (or rather, worked) for the Laundry—which fact is currently causing a shit-storm of epic proportions to rage through the corridors of government.

Ten months ago, while seconded to the BLOODY BARON committee, I stumbled across evidence of a leak inside the Laundry. That sort of thing is supposedly impossible (our oath of office supposedly binds us to service on peril of our soul) but, nevertheless, Angleton—whose assistant I am, and who is not entirely human—set a trap for the mole, with yours truly as the tethered goat.

Things got a little out of hand, and before the dust settled the Black Brotherhood attempted to raise and bind an ancient evil called the Eater of Souls, using a ritual that required a human body for it to possess. (Guess who they had in mind for the starring role?) Luckily for me they hadn’t quite worked out that the Eater of Souls already
is
incarnate in a body—Angleton’s—but before the Seventh Cavalry arrived I discovered the hard way that Nietzsche was right: if you stare into the Abyss for too long
it
stares into
you
, and likely finds you crunchy with ketchup and a little relish on the side. Bad dreams ensued all around, and it left me with a disquieting new talent that I’ve been doing my best to avoid thinking about too hard.

Well, they arrested Iris and her surviving minions and sent them to a camp in the Lake District where it rains sideways five days out of four, all technologies invented after 1933 are forbidden, and if you walk too far beyond the perimeter fence you find yourself walking back towards it. I imagine that’s where they live to this day, when they’re not answering questions in a room where the patterned carpet makes your eyes burn if you stare at it for too long, and your tongue writhes like a tapeworm in your mouth if you try to stay silent.

As for me, I got to go home four months ago. I finished writing up my confidential report, and the nightmares have mostly stopped: I only dream about the fence of living corpses around the step pyramid on the dead plateau a couple of times a week now, and the hole in my right arm has mostly healed. So I’m all right, at least on paper.

A month ago, I went back to work. I’m on light duty for the time being, but I’m sure that’ll change once management decides to feed me back into the meat grinder.

BEFORE I CONTINUE, I’VE GOT A CONFESSION TO MAKE.

A couple of years ago, Angleton told me to start writing my memoirs. Which should have struck me as really fishy—why on earth should a junior civil servant in an occult intelligence agency be required to
write a memoir
? (Especially as ninety percent of the stuff therein is classified up to the eyeballs and protected by wards that will make steam boil out of your ears if you try to read it without the right security clearance.) But I’m older and more cynical these days, and I understand the logic behind it.

BOOK: The Apocalypse Codex
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Yes to Everything by Shayne McClendon
Mystery Mutt by Beverly Lewis
The Life Beyond by Susanne Winnacker
Kokoda by Peter Fitzsimons
Mother Load by K.G. MacGregor