There is a blue door that appears in the city that not everyone can see.

Overview

There is a blue door that appears in the city that not everyone can see. The Syndicate offices are on the other side, headquarters for everyone trying to keep magic hidden by any means necessary.

They also handle all the paperwork involved in processing dangerous old gods, deal with victims of the vampire flu and are always on the lookout for new employees to replace those lost due to other workplace hazards.

Office tells the stories of those who work for the mysterious Syndicate. It is a day job unlike any other, though some would  probably prefer something a little more mundane.

Excerpt

Harmless


As Nick continued to show the new girl around the maze of cells, Travis hung back and tried to figure out why they were letting her in here. Women weren’t supposed to work Holding. They worked in Maintenance or did whatever the office workers did. If they wanted excitement, they went off to do Freelancing. They just didn’t work here.

And yet, here she was. Jessica, the petite Chinese girl barely out of school being shown around the place. He couldn’t figure out what Nick was thinking. He knew why they couldn’t have women around here.

“Travis!” Nick barked.

Travis came over, giving Jessica another appraising once over before looking back to Nick. She was so small. She wouldn’t last anyway. “What is it?” he asked.

“Show her around downstairs, would you?” he asked. “Get her to feed Debbie.”

So he did remember. At least there was that much. “Why don’t you? We got it up here.”

“I need to get going.”

“Going?”

“Cults are out tonight,” Nick said. He laughed and clapped Travis on the shoulder as he walked away. “It’s gonna be fun.”

Travis watched him go, shaking his head. “I never know what the hell he’s talking about.”

“The cults are going to try and summon one of the old gods that they worship,” Jessica told him. “Nick’s one of the group that brings in the local gods in to keep the old ones from breaking through. It’s pretty entertaining to watch if you ever get the chance.”

“Pass,” Travis said, looking back down at her. “Couple rules about downstairs. No touching anything, no reaching into the circles and try not to start any conversations with people who we’re trying to keep down there. If you’re going to work here, you’re also going to have to take off the necklace.” Travis let his eyes fall on a small pendant around her neck with a single stone set into a wirework design.

Jessica grabbed it and turned away, tucking it down the front of her shirt and glaring at him. “I’ll figure something out for next time,” she told him, her tone cold. “I think we were heading downstairs.”

Well, she was just delightful.

“This way,” Travis said, leading her down the hall to a closet. “So why did you want to work here, anyway? There’s easier departments.”

Jessica shrugged, relaxing a little as they entered the closet. “Mom and I agreed we shouldn’t work together, so Maintenance was out,” she said. “And I definitely didn’t want to get stuck doing paperwork. Mom doesn’t want me doing Freelance. That left Holding.”

Travis shut the door behind them. “Who’s your mother?” he asked, feeling the room turn around them.

“Sally Chan.”

Travis said nothing as he opened the door. So the girl had a bit of a legacy behind her. Sally was the head of Maintenance and on the short list of people who could probably deal with whatever crap showed up out of the woodworks. He’d worked with her before and knew she could find a way to kick his ass if she had enough reason to. It was almost a shame her daughter wasn’t going to be able to make it in Holding.

He opened the door when the room stopped, revealing the first of six rooms arranged in a row. This first was a large, empty concrete room that currently had windows to outside to make it a little brighter and less threatening. Besides a door on each wall, there was nothing else in here.

“This is downstairs,” he said. “It’s split into three sections: the tank, the infirmary and the dungeon. This is one of three overflow rooms we keep between each of them. If we ever have too many people in any of the other sections, these rooms convert into whatever we need them to be. They’re also handy if someone tries to make a break for it, since you can rearrange them so they loop. We’ll give you a better idea of how to do that after you get the hang of upstairs.”

Jessica’s eyes flicked upwards as he spoke. He could tell she was trying to listen, but there was something else there trying to get her attention.

Debbie was quick today.

Travis pretended not to notice and kept walking to the next door. “The doors work pretty much like they do upstairs. I’m assuming you don’t need me to explain.”

“No, I got it,” Jessica said. “So if someone escapes, you just get them to loop through two of the three overflow rooms until they tire themselves out?”

“Or you take out the doors and trap them inside,” Travis said. “It doesn’t happen often, but it’s a good precaution.”

“Do you hear that?”

“No.”

Travis opened the door into the next section. Another concrete room, this time lit by the ceiling which let the overcast from outside stream in. The floors were lined on both sides with large metal hoops on the ground.

“This is the tank,” he told her counting the occupied circles in the room. There were only three occupants, two of whom were looking much more human than when they showed up. The third was new. “It’s usually a lot more fun around the full moon. Anything dangerous that you need to keep from getting out, you throw into one of the circles. They’ll hold just about anything until whatever’s in them passes through their system or settles down into something we can actually deal with.”

Jessica’s eyes wandered around the room until they settled on the far wall. Dave was at the small workshop desk, moving between the sink and opening the several cabinets to reveal the already completed potions inside. There were a couple instruments on it, not nearly enough for a full alchemy lab but good enough to whip together something quickly.

“And that’s Dave,” he said, catching Jessica’s eye again. “You ever work a potion before?”

“Once or twice,” Jessica said, not looking away from the shelf. “You don’t seriously use that to make anything, do you?”

Travis shook his head. “It’s stocked with the standard stuff we use. Inducing and countering. That sort of stuff. Usually pretty well organized. I don’t know what’s taking Dave so long.”

“Shut up,” Dave called back across the room. “I don’t even know what this Casey guy is so I don’t know what I’m supposed to… oh. Hi.”

Dave looked awkwardly at Jessica, already walking over to the counter and looking through the vials she could reach, bringing several of them out onto the counter. “Hi,” she said, smiling at him before turning back to the desk.

Travis came over to watch her work and saw exactly what she was doing. She combined a tranquilizer with a potion used to transfer spells and another used to freeze someone from the inside. She placed a piece of quartz in the bottom of the vial and handed it to Dave. “Mom uses this most of the time,” she said. “Works on all the weird stuff.”

“Except that he’s melting from too much Ruby,” Dave said. “You want something like this to work, you’re going to have to get it right on the stones and you see where they even are in there? Look real close.”

Travis could already see the problem. The thing in the circle was once was a person, but now he was having issues keeping himself solid. There were shards of bone and pieces of organs and structure that kept him in a lump, but most of him continued to shift into form after form. Tendrils with a nail on the end, a mouth with a femur for a tongue, whatever he could manage to get together, though it did not remain together long before it fell back into the rest. Amidst the thrashing mass of a person pushing at the edges of the circle were three blood red gems, each casting a faint glow.

“I got it,” Travis said, taking the potion and going to the former Casey.

Casey pressed himself against the edge of the circle and, as soon as Travis’ hand was through the barrier with the vial, attacked it. He was strong and pulled Travis down, Travis stumbling, but keeping his body on the outside of the circle.

Travis kept his eyes on the gems floating together in a cluster, jaw clenched as he tried to ignore the pain in his arm. Casey’s grip was like acid burning away at his skin and the scraps of bone kept finding just the right way to slice into him to make his attention waver.

Finally, he poured the vial into the mess of a man, the liquid hitting the gems and pooling around them like jello. He pulled his arm out, now mangled and partially melted.

“That is disgusting,” Jessica said.