Read The Regional Office Is Under Attack!: A Novel Online

Authors: Manuel Gonzales

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The Regional Office Is Under Attack!: A Novel

BOOK: The Regional Office Is Under Attack!: A Novel
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RIVERHEAD BOOKS

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street

New York, New York 10014

Copyright © 2016 by Manuel Gonzales

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

eBook ISBN: 9780698139367

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gonzales, Manuel, date.

The regional office is under attack! / Manuel Gonzales.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-59463-241-9

I. Title.

PS3607.O56227R44 2016 2015024640

813'.6—dc23

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, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

CONTENTS

For Anabel and Dashiell and, as always, to
Sharon

Get out, get out of my sanctum and drown your spirits in woe.

—Pythia, the Oracle of Apollo at
Delphi

From
The Regional Office Is Under Attack:
Tracking the Rise and Fall of an American Institution

If you were wealthy, but extremely so, and you were in the market for a lavish adventurous getaway, one that might require the retainer of Sherpas—in the event that you came across a mountain you wished to scale—as well as a hot-air balloon and balloon crew in case, well, that came up, too, the desire, if you will, to hot-air-balloon over the glacial formations off the southern coast of Chile, then you could hardly do better than to contact the staff at the Morrison World Travel Concern. Located on the ground floor of an unassumingly expensive building on Park Avenue between Fifty-Sixth and Fifty-Seventh, the Morrison World Travel Concern catered to only the most lavish of vacations.

Although, in truth, if you were the kind of wealthy individual who could afford the kind of service provided by the Morrison Concern, more than likely, they would have already contacted you. They had been known to do this with an almost preternatural instinct for not just the best way to find you but for offering you a vacation package you didn’t know you had always longed for until it was offered. Then, once it was offered, you would
experience such a strong urge to take the vacation they had suggested that you would be practically unable to do anything else until you had.

The agents of the Morrison Concern once set up an illegal nighttime zip-line tour of the Manhattan skyline (for a prince of Saudi Arabia) and, a few years ago, handled the arrangements for a private, curated tour of the
Titanic,
led by the filmmaker James Cameron, the travelers exploring in retrofitted (for safety and comfort) nineteenth-century diving suits they then had the option to purchase as keepsakes (for a Canadian couple who wish to remain anonymous). There is a rumor that they once burrowed deep into the Perito Moreno Glacier and there constructed an elaborate reproduction of the interior of Sleeping Beauty’s castle for a young girl’s seventh birthday party, and another rumor that they once entertained but ultimately declined a young tech-industry billionaire who wanted to host a New Year’s Eve party on a submarine as it sank into the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench.

How they obtained the resources to outfit such expeditions, no one knew, but outfit them they did, and with uncanny skill.

If, however, you were not wealthy, or even if you were, but were not particularly interested in the Mariana Trench or New Year’s Eve parties, but were interested, rather, in the amassing forces of darkness that threaten, at nearly every turn, the fate of the planet . . . or, say, you
were concerned with the fate of your mother, who was stolen from you when you were very young, abducted and then brainwashed and made into a triple or quadruple agent, only then to be killed in a firefight thousands of miles away, and you were seeking cold retribution for this . . . or maybe you had been told a frightening prophecy about your as-yet-unborn first child and you wished to have it confirmed or refuted by an oracle . . . or your daughter, your once-sweet little girl, had begun exhibiting problems at age fourteen or fifteen, or not problems but issues, or not issues but powers, had begun to exhibit unprecedented physical strength and mental willfulness that you hoped to have fixed, or not fixed but cured, or not that either (the word you were searching for, ultimately, was
honed
) . . . if these were your needs, then once again, there was perhaps no better place to start than at the offices of the Morrison Concern.

In which case, you asked for Kathy and then mentioned that you would like to book a trip to the Lost City of Atlantis. A few years ago, you would have asked to book a trip to Akron, Ohio, under the assumption that no one walking into these offices would have actually wanted to book a trip to Akron, Ohio, until shockingly enough, one particularly wealthy and eccentric older gentleman did, which led to any number of complications and a prolonged and messy bit of cleanup, and eventually, a protocol change. Regardless, mention Atlantis and Kathy and you would have been led by a woman not
named Kathy—no one named Kathy has ever worked for the Morrison Concern—to a special VIP elevator, which would have delivered you nearly a mile belowground to Level B4, the only level accessible by this particular elevator.

At this point, you would have left the offices of the Morrison World Travel Concern and would have found yourself inside what was sometimes known as the Regional Office. Hopefully you would not have found yourself there by accident. In either case, when you arrived at Level B4 the elevator doors would have opened and you would have seen, stenciled on the wall in light-blue calligraphy:

The Regional Office: uniquely positioned to Empower and Strengthen otherwise troubled or at-risk Young Women to act as a Barrier of last resort between the survival of the Planet and the amassing Forces of Darkness that Threaten, at nearly every turn, to Destroy It.

Standing there waiting for you, most often, would have been a woman named Sarah, who (so it was rumored) had a mechanical arm, and she would have taken down your information, offered you a consultation, and then, most likely, sent you on your way with a promise to handle whatever situation needed handling, a promise that they would put their top people on the job, a promise that they would soon be in touch. On the elevator ride back up to the Morrison World Travel Concern, you would have
been spritzed with a mist that wiped your memory of the Regional Office and everything you’d just witnessed.

On rare occasions, though, depending on your needs, depending on who you were, you might have been met by the director himself, a friendly and calming man named Mr. Niles, and ultimately, after answering a short survey, Mr. Niles would have entertained your particular needs, your desire to work for the Regional Office, or any other questions or suggestions you might have had in order to fight against said amassing forces of darkness, etc.

This happened infrequently, however. The Regional Office was finely tuned, equipped with its own protocols and devices to root out forces of darkness—the evil undead, alien creatures threatening earthly annihilation, superpowered evil masterminds—as well as potential superpowered warrior women who would be trained (honed, you might say) to engage in this never-ending fight. But should you suspect that the crack den in your neighborhood was less a crack den and more a den of werewolves, or a nest of vampires, or that your child’s ninth-grade science teacher had more than the spring science fair on his agenda, had possibly developed (so you suspected) a chemical compound from which he hoped to extract world domination, or that your teenage daughter had grown into a young woman of potentially exceptional (and difficult) powers, the Regional Office was where you went. Mr. Niles was whom you should consult (consultations were free), as the services
provided by him and his well-trained staff were unparalleled, or nearly so.

If you found yourself facing a problem, in other words, that did not appear to be easily solved, the good folk at the Regional Office were the ones who could solve it.

But not today.

Almost any day but today.

Because today, the Regional Office is under attack.

BOOK: The Regional Office Is Under Attack!: A Novel
13.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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