Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 25

Chapter Nine

In the enormous whale-belly of steel and stone carved out to form the long-enduring old opera house Rick Deckard found an echoing, noisy, slightly miscontrived rehearsal taking place. As he entered he recognized the music: Mozart's The Magic Flute, the first act in its final scenes. The moor's slaves - in other words the chorus - had taken up their song a bar too soon and this had nullified the simple rhythm of the magic bells.

What a pleasure; he loved The Magic Flute. He seated himself in a dress circle scat (no one appeared to notice him) and made himself comfortable. Now Popageno in his fantastic pelt of bird feathers had joined Pamina to sing words which always brought tears to Rick's eyes, when and if he happened to think about it.

Könnte jedar brave Mann

solche Glöckchen finden,

eine Feinde wurden dann

ohne Muhe schwinden.

Well, Rick thought, in real life no such magic bells exist that make your enemy effortlessly disappear. Too bad. And Mozart, not long after writing The Magic Flute, had died in his thirties - of kidney disease. And had been buried in an unmarked paupers' grave.

Thinking this he wondered if Mozart had had any intuition that the future did not exist, that he had already used up his little time. Maybe I have, too, Rick thought as he watched the rehearsal move along. This rehearsal will end, the performance will end, the singers will die, eventually the last score of the music will be destroyed in one way or another; finally the name "Mozart" will vanish, the dust will have won. If not on this planet then another. We can evade it awhile. As the andys can evade me and exist a finite stretch longer. But I get them or some other bounty hunter gets them. In a way, he realized, I'm part of the form-destroying process of entropy. The Rosen Association creates and I unmake. Or anyhow so it must seem to them.

On the stage Papageno and Pamina engaged in a dialogue. He stopped his introspection to listen.

Papageno: "My child, what should we now say.

Pamina: " - the truth. That's what we will say."

Leaning forward and peering, Rick studied Pamina in her heavy, convoluted robes, with her wimple trailing its veil about her shoulders and face. He reexamined the poop sheet, then leaned back, satisfied. I've now seen my third Nexus-6 android, he realized. This is Luba Luft. A little ironic, tile sentiment her role calls for. However vital, active, and nice-looking, an escaped android could hardly tell the truth; about itself, anyhow.

On tile stage Luba Luft sang, and he found himself surprised at the quality of her voice; it rated with that of the best, even that of notables in his collection of historic tapes. The Rosen Associaion built her well, he had to admit. And again he perceived himself sub specie aeternitatis, the formdestroyer called forth by what he heard and saw here. Perhaps the better she functions, the better a singer she is, the more I am needed. If the androids had remained substandard, like the ancient

q-40s made by Derain Associates - there would be no problem and no need of my skill. I wonder when I should do it, he asked himself. As soon as possible, probably. At the end of the rehearsal when she goes to her dressing room.

At the end of the act the rehearsal ended temporarily. It would resume, the conductor said in English, French, and German, in an hour and a half. The conductor then departed; the musicians left their instruments and also left. Getting to his feet Rick made his way backstage to the dressing rooms; he followed the tail end of the cast, taking his time and thinking, It's better this way, getting it immediately over with. I'll spend as short a time talking to her and testing her as possible. As soon as I'm sure - but technically he could not be sure until after the test. Maybe Dave guessed wrong on her, he conjectured. I hope so. But he doubted it. Already, instinctively, his professional sense had responded. And he had yet to err . . . throughout years with the department.

Stopping a super he asked for Miss Luft's dressing room; the super, wearing makeup and the costume of an Egyptian spear carrier, pointed. Rick arrived at the indicated door, saw an ink-written note tacked to it reading MISS LUFT PRIVATE, and knocked.

"Come in."

He entered. The girl sat at her dressing table, a much-handled clothbound score open on her knees, marking here and there with a ball-point pen. She still wore her costume and makeup, except for the wimple; that she had set. down on its rack. "Yes?" she said, looking up. The stage makeup enlarged her eyes,, enormous and hazel they fixed on him and did not waver. "I am busy, as you can see." Her English contained no remnant of an accent.

Rick said, "You compare favorably to Schwarzkopf."

"Who are you?" Her tone held cold reserve - and that other cold, which he had encountered in so many androids. Always the same: great intellect, ability to accomplish much, but also this. He deplored it. And yet, without it, he could not track them down.

"I'm from the San Francisco Police Department," he said.

"Oh?" The huge and intense eyes did not flicker, did not respond. "What are you here about?" Her tone, oddly, seemed gracious.

Seating himself in a nearby chair he unzipped his briefcase. "I have been sent here to administer a standard personality-profile test to you. It won't take more than a few minutes."

"Is it necessary?" She gestured toward the big clothbound score. "I have a good deal I must do." Now she had begun to look apprehensive.

"It's necessary." He got out the Voigt-Kampff instruments, began setting them up.

"An IQ test?

"No. Empathy."

"I'll have to put on my glasses." She reached to open a drawer of her dressing table.

"If you can mark the score without your glasses you can take this test. I'll show you some pictures and ask you several questions. Meanwhile - " He got up and walked to her, and, bending, pressed the adhesive pad of sensitive grids against her deeply tinted check. "And this light," he said, adjusting the angle of the pencil beam, "and that's it."