A world much like our own. A city like the one in which you live. A corporation whose doors you pass every day. Maybe you notice the subtle sans-serif fonted words adorning the entrance, maybe you pass by obliviously engaged in finishing your latte and catching up on a podcast.
But behind that glass frontage and tasteful minimalist decor lies a terrible secret; for within those walls, unbeknownst even to those that labour tired-eyed over PCs from 9 to 5, plans are drawn to herald the return of foul N'grathotep from its eternal dreamless slumber using the powers of...
Spreadsheets? Why would a cult devoted to (or the human avatars of) some kind of eldritch horror from beyond the veil of time and space require a moderately sized office-based company to complete their dark summoning ritual? The solution would need to be something unable to be accomplished by a single person in isolation. I'd like the answer to focus on that aspect: why would they need a company, so I'd like to avoid solutions like "They need a company to use as a front" (sure, a front, but for what exactly?). Could it be for the access to personal information? Could it be something to do with the stock market? What about involving an app of some kind to complete part of the ritual?
The closest I have managed is some kind of entropy-manipulation as represented by enormous quantities of computer data: but I can't very well explain what sort of physical act this would comprise, nor what kind of company one would use as to enable it.
(PS: I've been pointed towards "How would Facebook Sysadmins prevent the summoning of Cthulhu?" as inspiration. I like the idea, but for plot purposes this company doesn't have the scope or reach of Facebook, so they wouldn't be able to reach a billion+ users. I'm trying for something smaller scale, if possible.)
EDIT: Wow thanks everyone. Pretty overwhelmed by the amazing responses! A few great points that have been brought up that I wanted to add:
- Charles Stross's Laundry Files have been mentioned a number of times as a good source of research. I'll definitely look into those more, as I really like the way he transplants weird eldritch horror into an office environment
- Related to the above, the idea of using computers or data centres to perform calculations or produce patterns to aid some sort of summons is really appealing, and definitely fits the question nicely.
- The other common thread is more of a squishy-biological one; the idea that a bio-research company could use their apparently legitimate activities to cover for blood harvesting, or human sacrifices. This I like too, although I'd have to write-around the fact that most of the company employee's don't know what the company is up to. While it'd be hard to justify hiding these sorts of transgressions from the employee population, it's certainly not impossible and there's still scope here.
Thanks again. I'll mark a question as "Answered" in a few days once the activity has died down.