Looking for Cleaners

The year is 2025

and it has been seven years since the weirdest catastrophe in the history of the world.

The Bleed was a merging of a shadowy world with ours, an unraveling of the borders between them. On the other side; nightmares, monsters, ancient malevolence.

Thankfully, there was a solution, however flawed and impermanent. Now all that needs to be done is to keep plugging the leaks.

Today the Department of Shadow Defense has facilities all over the U.S. to combat the ever-present threat of these leaks. Will you join them?

Uncle Sam Needs You!
Applications close at June 15

Catch and Release
Georgina Haley leaned back in the seat and adjusted the strap on her rifle so it wouldn't be uncomfortably tight while sitting. She was tired and had not been in the mood for a late run. The four-person crew had already been pulling a long shift covering the leaks of Aroostook County. The week before, they had lost their fifth, Ryan, in a particuarly severe leak over in Skowhegan. Georgina was not pleased with this kind of pressure.

No sirree, not pleased at all.

Meanwhile, James Taylor kept his eyes on the road. Late runs meant a higher possibility to overlook something while driving, especially with how tired he was after the last shift, and he was not comfortable with going back to Skowhegan so soon after Ryan. A simple release job, they told the crew. Just take the box up to the leak and open it, scare the creature into the leak and then seal it.

He patted the pocket where he kept the seal. It was there. The thaumaturgists had managed to cook their formulas down to one, simple, single-use item. It wasn't permanent, more like putting a band-aid on skin cancer, but it would do for now.

When the car stopped, Molly Sakarian was jolted awake against the side of the box. She had volunteered to sit in the back with it, making sure nothing went wrong with the cargo. The creature inside would be tagged with a tracker and - hopefully - be able to provide more intel on the Shadow World. In time. If the tracker stuck.

She silently cursed herself for falling asleep on the job, rubbed her face, and took a minute to wake up properly so she wouldn't be made fun of by the others.


That woke her up. Banging on the side of the compartment she quickly brought Wyatt out and around.

Wyatt Robertson had sat in the back and slept with his mouth open. When Gina woke him with a slap to the sternum, he had to wipe the drool off his chin. The car had stopped. Out the front he could see the leak churning reality like his grandma would churn butter back at the old Minnesota farm: solid bits forming and getting squashed again, liquid reality squeezing out and slowly losing its thickness.

He had been working this job for five years now and he still got a little nauseous from looking at a good-sized leak.

Banging from the back brought him out and about quickly, throwing up the back doors to find Molly sitting with her ear against the side of the box.

"How the hell d'you know that thing in there won't just burst an arm through and kill you?" He remarked, but she shushed him.

"There's something..." She looked hectic, excited. "I think it's talking to me!"

"Talking, or talking to you?"

"To me, I think... it knows my name!"

"Or it makes you think it does," James remarked as he came around the back. "We have orders." He picked up the remote control and lowered the ramp that would allow them to wheel the box down.

"Yeah," Molly breathed. "I just... I'm really tired." She laughed and got behind the box to turn off the brakes on the wheels.


James was probably right. It was a trick. Her face set, she started pushing the box off. Below the ramp, Gina was ready to grab the handles and help her maneuver it towards the leak.

Iiiiiiiiit'sssssss mmmmmeeeeeeee, Mmmmmmmmmoooooooollyyyyyyyy

Iiiiiiit'sssssss Ryyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnn

Executive decisions
Someone was coming. There were always two puffs of air preceding anyone entering, one puff from each sliding door. Diego Montanares looked up from the symbology book.

"I hope you're proud of yourself, Diego." Amanda Prescott walked over to the table and sat down opposite him. "We lost another team."

She did not look happy. Diego slowly closed the book and fixed his eyes on her. Once those eyes were dark brown. Now they were blue; glowing faintly in the low light of the reading lamp. He put both hands on the table. Each wrist encircled by bonds of cold iron.

He hid his disappointment. Instead, he tried looking puzzled in the face of her allegations.

"What happened?"

"Don't get cute with me. You put Ryan Bennett in that box, didn't you?"

"I don't get names, Prescott, I only deal with case numbers. There was a release due and I scheduled it. It's my job."

"You're an analyst. Don't pretend you can't find out what's behind those case numbers if you want to. You sabotaged them."

"I did no such thing. And even if I did know who I put in that box, how is it my fault that your teams can't do their jobs?"

"I don't want to catch another whiff of anything like this ever again, do you understand me, cabrón?"

"No soy tu cabrón," Diego replied. "Not anymore."

"Right," she said. "You're not human anymore either. This happens again, you're in the next box. I don't care that you were the first analyst through the passage and back. I'll make it happen. Mark my words."