Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 26

"Do you think I'm an android? Is that it?" Her voice had faded almost to extinction. "I'm not an android. I haven't even been on Mars; I've never even seen an android!" Her elongated lashes shuddered involuntarily; he saw her trying to appear calm. "Do you have information that there's an android in the cast? I'd be glad to help you, and if I were an android would I be glad to help you?"

"An android," he said, "doesn't care what happens to any other android. That's one of the indications we look for."

"Then," Miss Luft said, "you must be an android."

That stopped him; he stared at her.

"Because," she continued, "Your job is to kill them, isn't it? You're what they call - " She tried to remember.

"A bounty hunter," Rick said. "But I'm not an android."

"This test you want to give me." Her voice, now, had begun to return. "Have you taken it?"

"Yes." He nodded. "A long, long time ago; when I first started with the department."

"Maybe that's a false memory. Don't androids sometimes go around with false memories?"

Rick said, "My superiors know about the test. It's mandatory.

"Maybe there was once a human who looked like you, and somewhere along the line you killed him and took his place. And your superiors don't know." She smiled. As if inviting him to agree.

"Let's get on with the test," he said, getting out the sheets of questions.

"I'll take the test," Luba Luft said, "if you'll take it first."

Again he stared at her, stopped in his tracks.

"Wouldn't that be more fair?" she asked. "Then I could be sure of you. I don't know; you seem so peculiar and hard and strange." She shivered, then smiled again. Hopefully.

"You wouldn't be able to administer the Voigt-Kampff test. It takes considerable experience. Now please listen carefully. These questions will deal with social situations which you might find yourself in; what I want from you is a statement of response, what you'd do. And I want the response as quickly as you can give it. One of the factors I'll record is the time lag, if any." He selected his initial question. "You're sitting watching TV and suddenly you discover a wasp crawling on your wrist." He checked with his watch, counting the seconds. And checked, too, with the twin dials.

"What's a wasp?" Luba Luft asked.

"A stinging bug that flies."

"Oh, how strange." Her immense eyes widened with child-like acceptance, as if he had revealed the cardinal mystery of creation. "Do they still exist? I've never seen one."

"They died out because of the dust. Don't you really know what a wasp is? You must have been alive when there were wasps; that's only been - "

"Tell me the German word."

He tried to think of the German word for wasp but couldn't. "Your English is perfect," he said angrily.

"My accent," she corrected, "is perfect. It has to be, for roles, for Purcell and Walton and Vaughn Williams. But my vocabulary isn't very large." She glanced at him shyly.

"Wespe," he said, remembering the German word.

"Ach yes; eine Wespe." She laughed. "And what was the question? I forget already."

"Let's try another." Impossible now to get a meaningful response. "You are watching an old movie on TV, a movie from before the war. It shows a banquet in progress; the entree" - he skipped over the first part of the question - "consists of boiled dog, stuffed with rice."

"Nobody would kill and cat a dog," Luba Luft said. "They're worth a fortune. But I guess it would be an imitation dog: ersatz. Right? But those are made of wires and motors; they can't be eaten."

"Before the war," he grated.

"I wasn't alive before the war."

"But you've seen old movies on TV."

"Was the movie made in the Philippines?"

"Why?"

"Because," Luba Luft said, "they used to cat boiled dog stuffed with rice in the Philippines. I remember reading that."

"But your response," he said. "I want your social, emotional, moral reaction."

"To the movie?" She pondered. "I'd turn it off and watch Buster Friendly."

"Why would you turn it off?"

"Well," she said hotly, "who the hell wants to watch an old movie set in the Philippines? What ever happened in the Philippines except the Bataan Death March, and would you want to watch that?" She glared at him indignantly. On his dials the needles swung in all directions.

After a pause he said carefully, "You rent a mountain cabin."

"Ja." She nodded. "Go on; I'm waiting."

"In an area still verdant."

"Pardon?" She cupped her ear. "I don't ever hear that term."

"Still trees and bushes growing. The cabin is rustic knotty pine with a huge fireplace. On the walls someone has hung old snaps, Currier and Ives prints, and above the fireplace a deer's head has been mounted, a full stag with developed horns. The people with you admire the decor of the cabin and - "

"I don't understand 'Currier' or 'Ives' or 'decor,"' Luba Luft said; she seemed to be struggling, however, to make out the terms. "Wait." She held up her hand earnestly. "With rice, like in the dog. Currier is what makes the rice currier rice. It's Curry in German."

He could not fathom, for the life of him, if Luba Luft's semantic fog had purpose. After consultation with himself he decided to try another question; what else could he do? "You're dating a man," he said, "and he asks you to visit his apartment. While you're there - "

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