Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 27

"O nein," Luba broke in. "I wouldn't be there. That's easy to answer."

"That's not the question!"

"Did you get the wrong question? But I understand that; why is a question I understand the wrong one? Aren't I supposed to understand?" Nervously fluttering she rubbed her cheek and detached the adhesive disk. It dropped to the floor, skidded, and rolled under her dressing table. "Ach Gott," she muttered, bending to retrieve it. A ripping sound, that of cloth tearing. Her elaborate costume.

"I'll get it," he said, and lifted her aside; he knelt down, groped under the dressing table until his fingers located the disk.

When he stood up he found himself looking into a laser tube.

"Your questions," Luba Luft said in a crisp, formal voice, "began to do with sex. I thought they would finally. You're not from the police department; you're a sexual deviant."

"You can look at my identification." He reached toward his coat pocket. His hand, he saw, had again begun to shake, as it had with Polokov.

"If you reach in there," Luba Luft said, "I'll kill you."

"You will anyhow." He wondered how it would have worked out if he had waited until Rachael Rosen could join him. Well, no use dwelling on that.

"Let me see some more of your questions." She held out her hand and, reluctantly, he passed her the sheets. "'In a magazine you come across a full-page color picture of a nude girl.' Well, that's one. 'You became pregnant by a man who has promised to marry you. The man goes off with another woman, your best friend; you get an abortion.' The pattern of your questioning is obvious. I'm going to call the police." Still holding the laser tube in his direction she crossed the room, picked tip the vidphone, dialed the operator. "Connect me with the San Francisco Police Department," she said. "I need a policeman."

"What you're doing," Rick said, with relief, "is the best idea possible." Yet it seemed strange to him that Luba had decided to do this; why didn't she simply kill him? Once the patrolman arrived her chance would disappear and it all would go his way.

She must think she's human, he decided. Obviously she doesn't know.

A few minutes later, during which Luba carefully kept the laser tube on him, a large harness bull arrived, in his archaic blue uniform with gun and star. "All right," he said at once to Luba. "Put that thing away." She set down the laser tube and he picked it up to examine it, to see if it carried a charge. "Now what's been going on here?" he asked her. Before she could answer he turned to Rick. "Who are you?" he demanded.

Luba Luft said, "He came into my dressing room; I've never seen him before in my life. He pretended to be taking a poll or something and he wanted to ask me questions; I thought it was all right and I said okay, and then he began asking me obscene questions."

"Let's see your identification," the harness bull said to Rick, his hand extended.

As he got out his ID Rick said, "I'm a bounty hunter with the department."

"I know all the bounty hunters," the harness bull said to Rick as he examined Rick's wallet. "With the S. F. Police Department? "

"My supervisor is Inspector Harry Bryant," Rick said. "I've taken over Dave Holden's list, now that Dave's in the hospital."

"As I say, I know all the bounty hunters," the harness bull said, "and I've never heard of you." He handed Rick's ID back to him.

"Call Inspector Bryant," Rick said.

"There isn't any Inspector Bryant," the harness bull said.

It came to Rick what was going on. "You're an android," he said to the harness bull. "Like Miss Luft." Going to the vidphone he picked up the receiver himself. "I'm going to call the department." He wondered how far be would get before the two androids stopped him.

"The number," the harness bull said, "is - "

"I know the number." Rick dialed, presently had the police switchboard operator. "Let me talk to Inspector Bryant," he said.

"Who is calling, please?"

"This is Rick Deckard." He stood waiting; meanwhile, off to one side, the harness bull was getting a statement from Luba Luft; neither paid any attention to him.

A pause and then Harry Bryant's face appeared on the vidscreen. "What's doing?" he asked Rick. "Some trouble," Rick said. "One of those on Dave's list managed to call in and get a so-called patrolman out here. I can't seem to prove to him who I am; he says he knows all the about hunters in the department and he's never heard of me." He added, "He hasn't heard of you either."

Bryant said, "Let me talk to him."

"Inspector Bryant wants to talk to you." Rick held out the vidphone receiver. The harness bull ceased questioning Miss Luft and came over to take it.

"Officer Crams," the harness bull said briskly. A pause. "Hello?" He listened, said hello several times more, waited, then turned to Rick. "There's nobody on the line. And nobody on the screen." He pointed to the vidphone screen and Rick saw nothing on it.

Taking the receiver from the harness bull Rick said, "Mr. Bryant?" He listened, waited; nothing. "I'll dial again." He hung up, waited, then redialed the familiar number. The phone rang, but no one answered it; the phone rang on and on.

"Let me try," Officer Crams said, taking the receiver away from Rick. "You must have misdialed "He dialed. "The number is 842 - "

"I know the number," Rick said.

"Officer Crams calling in," the harness bull said into the Phone receiver. "Is there an Inspector Bryant connected with the department?" A short pause. "Well, what about a bounty hunter named Rick Deckard?" Again a pause. "You're sure? Could he have recently - oh, I see; okay, thanks. No, I have it under control." Officer Crams rang off, turned toward Rick.

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