"Did anyone tell you what the Laundry actually does?"
"Plays lots of deathmatches?" he asks hopefully.
"That's one way of putting it," I begin, then pause. How to continue? "Magic is applied mathematics. The many-angled ones live at the bottom of the Mandelbrot set. Demonology is right after debugging in the dictionary. You heard of Alan Turing? The father of programming?"
"Didn't he work for John Carmack?"
Oh, it's another world out there.
"Not exactly, he built the first computers for the government, back in the Second World War. Not just codebreaking computers; he designed containment processors for Q Division, the Counter-Possession Unit of SOE that dealt with demon-ridden Abwehr agents. Anyway, after the war, they disbanded SOE--broke up all the government computers, the Colossus machines--except for the CPU, which became the Laundry. The Laundry kept going, defending the realm from the scum of the multiverse. There are mathematical transforms that can link entities in different universes--try to solve the wrong theorem and they'll eat your brain, or worse. Anyhow, these days more people do more things with computers than anyone ever dreamed of. Computer games are networked and scriptable, they've got compilers and debuggers built in, you can build cities and film goddamn movies inside them. And every so often someone stumbles across something they're not meant to be playing with and, well, you know the rest."
His eyes are wide in the shadows. "You mean, this is government work? Like in DeusEx
I nod. "That's it exactly, kid." Actually it's more like Doom 3
but I'm not ready to tell him that; he might start pestering me for a grenade launcher.