The Concrete jungle Self Help Learning Notes | EduRev

Self Help Learning : The Concrete jungle Self Help Learning Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 
 
 
Copyright © 2004 by Charles Stross. 
Reprinted with permission from The Atrocity Archives 
Golden Gryphon Press, 2004, ISBN 1-930846-25-8 
 
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 
License.  To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/   
or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA. 
 
 
 
 
 
The Concrete Jungle 
by Charles Stross 
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/index.html 
 
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 
Page 2


 
 
 
Copyright © 2004 by Charles Stross. 
Reprinted with permission from The Atrocity Archives 
Golden Gryphon Press, 2004, ISBN 1-930846-25-8 
 
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 
License.  To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/   
or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA. 
 
 
 
 
 
The Concrete Jungle 
by Charles Stross 
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/index.html 
 
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 
 
 
 
2 
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 
Page 3


 
 
 
Copyright © 2004 by Charles Stross. 
Reprinted with permission from The Atrocity Archives 
Golden Gryphon Press, 2004, ISBN 1-930846-25-8 
 
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 
License.  To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/   
or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA. 
 
 
 
 
 
The Concrete Jungle 
by Charles Stross 
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/index.html 
 
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 
 
 
 
2 
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 
 
 
 
3 
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. 
“Late,” I echo, dumping my emergency bag under the fire extinguisher and leaning on the 
door.  “ ’Lo, Andy, Boris.  Boss, I don’t think the cop was taking his time.  Any faster and he’d 
be billing you for brown stain removal from the upholstery.”  I yawn.  “What’s the picture?” 
Page 4


 
 
 
Copyright © 2004 by Charles Stross. 
Reprinted with permission from The Atrocity Archives 
Golden Gryphon Press, 2004, ISBN 1-930846-25-8 
 
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 
License.  To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/   
or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA. 
 
 
 
 
 
The Concrete Jungle 
by Charles Stross 
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/index.html 
 
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 
 
 
 
2 
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 
 
 
 
3 
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. 
“Late,” I echo, dumping my emergency bag under the fire extinguisher and leaning on the 
door.  “ ’Lo, Andy, Boris.  Boss, I don’t think the cop was taking his time.  Any faster and he’d 
be billing you for brown stain removal from the upholstery.”  I yawn.  “What’s the picture?” 
 
 
 
4 
“Milton Keynes,” says Andy. 
“Are sending you there to investigate,” explains Boris. 
“With extreme prejudice,” Angleton one-ups them. 
“Milton Keynes?” 
It must be something in my expression; Andy turns away hastily and pours me a cup of 
Laundry coffee while Boris pretends it’s none of his business.  Angleton just looks as if he’s 
bitten something unpleasant, which is par for the course. 
“We have a problem,” Angleton explains, gesturing at the map.  “There are too many 
concrete cows.” 
“Concrete cows.”  I pull out a chair and flop down into it heavily, then rub my eyes.  
“This isn’t a dream is it, by any chance?  No?  Shit.” 
Boris glowers at me: “Not a joke.”  He rolls his eyes toward Angleton.  “Boss?” 
“It’s no joke, Bob,” says Angleton.  His normally skeletal features are even more drawn 
than usual, and there are dark hollows under his eyes.  He looks as if he’s been up all night.  
Angleton glances at Andy: “Has he been keeping his weapons certification up-to-date?” 
“I practice three times a week,” I butt in, before Andy can get started on the intimate 
details of my personal file.  “Why?” 
“Go down to the armoury right now, with Andy.  Andy, self-defense kit for one, sign it 
out for him.  Bob, don’t shoot unless it’s you or them.”  Angleton shoves a stack of papers and a 
pen across the table at me.  “Sign the top and pass it back – you now have GAME ANDES 
REDSHIFT clearance.  The files below are part of GAR – you’re to keep them on your person at 
all times until you get back here, then check them in via Morag’s office; you’ll answer to the 
auditors if they go missing or get copied.” 
“Huh?” 
Page 5


 
 
 
Copyright © 2004 by Charles Stross. 
Reprinted with permission from The Atrocity Archives 
Golden Gryphon Press, 2004, ISBN 1-930846-25-8 
 
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 
License.  To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/   
or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA. 
 
 
 
 
 
The Concrete Jungle 
by Charles Stross 
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/index.html 
 
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 
 
 
 
2 
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 
 
 
 
3 
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. 
“Late,” I echo, dumping my emergency bag under the fire extinguisher and leaning on the 
door.  “ ’Lo, Andy, Boris.  Boss, I don’t think the cop was taking his time.  Any faster and he’d 
be billing you for brown stain removal from the upholstery.”  I yawn.  “What’s the picture?” 
 
 
 
4 
“Milton Keynes,” says Andy. 
“Are sending you there to investigate,” explains Boris. 
“With extreme prejudice,” Angleton one-ups them. 
“Milton Keynes?” 
It must be something in my expression; Andy turns away hastily and pours me a cup of 
Laundry coffee while Boris pretends it’s none of his business.  Angleton just looks as if he’s 
bitten something unpleasant, which is par for the course. 
“We have a problem,” Angleton explains, gesturing at the map.  “There are too many 
concrete cows.” 
“Concrete cows.”  I pull out a chair and flop down into it heavily, then rub my eyes.  
“This isn’t a dream is it, by any chance?  No?  Shit.” 
Boris glowers at me: “Not a joke.”  He rolls his eyes toward Angleton.  “Boss?” 
“It’s no joke, Bob,” says Angleton.  His normally skeletal features are even more drawn 
than usual, and there are dark hollows under his eyes.  He looks as if he’s been up all night.  
Angleton glances at Andy: “Has he been keeping his weapons certification up-to-date?” 
“I practice three times a week,” I butt in, before Andy can get started on the intimate 
details of my personal file.  “Why?” 
“Go down to the armoury right now, with Andy.  Andy, self-defense kit for one, sign it 
out for him.  Bob, don’t shoot unless it’s you or them.”  Angleton shoves a stack of papers and a 
pen across the table at me.  “Sign the top and pass it back – you now have GAME ANDES 
REDSHIFT clearance.  The files below are part of GAR – you’re to keep them on your person at 
all times until you get back here, then check them in via Morag’s office; you’ll answer to the 
auditors if they go missing or get copied.” 
“Huh?” 
 
 
 
5 
I obviously still look confused because Angleton cracks an expression so frightening that 
it must be a smile and adds, “Shut your mouth, you’re drooling on your collar.  Now, go with 
Andy, check out your hot kit, let Andy set you up with a chopper, and read those papers.  When 
you get to Milton Keynes, do what comes naturally.  If you don’t find anything, come back and 
tell me and we’ll take things from there.” 
“But what am I looking for?” I gulp down half my coffee in one go; it tastes of ashes, 
stale cigarette ends, and tinned instant left over from the Retreat from Moscow.  “Dammit, what 
do you expect me to find?” 
“I don’t expect anything,” says Angleton.  “Just go.” 
“Come on,” says Andy, opening the door, “you can leave the papers here for now.” 
I follow him into the corridor, along to the darkened stairwell at the end, and down four 
flights of stairs into the basement.  “Just what the fuck is this?” I demand, as Andy produces a 
key and unlocks the steel-barred gate in front of the security tunnel. 
“It’s GAME ANDES REDSHIFT, kid,” he says over his shoulder.  I follow him into the 
security zone and the gate clanks shut behind me.  Another key, another steel door – this time the 
outer vestibule of the armoury.  “Listen, don’t go too hard on Angleton, he knows what he’s 
doing.  If you go in with preconceptions about what you’ll find and it turns out to be GAME 
ANDES REDSHIFT, you’ll probably get yourself killed.  But I reckon there’s only about a 10 
percent chance it’s the real thing – more likely it’s a drunken student prank.” 
He uses another key, and a secret word that my ears refuse to hear, to open the inner 
armoury door.  I follow Andy inside.  One wall is racked with guns, another is walled with 
ammunition lockers, and the opposite wall is racked with more esoteric items.  It’s this that he 
turns to. 
“A prank,” I echo, and yawn, against my better judgement.  “Jesus, it’s half past four in 
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