Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 28

"I had him on the line," Rick said. "I talked to him; he said he'd talk to you. It must be phone trouble; the connection must have been broken somewhere along the way. Didn't you see - Bryant's face showed on the screen and then it didn't." He felt bewildered.

Officer Crams said, "I have Miss Luft's statement, Deckard. So let's go down to the Hall of Justice so I can book you."

"Okay," Rick said. To Luba Luft he said, "I'll be back in a short while. I'm still not finished testing you."

"He's a deviant," Luba Luft said to Officer Crams. "He gives me the creeps." She shivered.

"What opera are you practicing to give?" Officer Crams asked her.

"The Magic Flute," Rick said.

"I didn't ask you; I asked her." The harness buff gave him a glance of dislike.

"I'm anxious to get to the Hall of Justice," Rick said. "This matter should be straightened out." He started toward the door of the dressing room, his briefcase gripped.

"I'll search you first." Officer Crams deftly frisked him, and came up with Rick's service pistol and laser tube. He appropriated both, after a moment of sniffing the muzzle of the pistol. "This has been fired recently," he said.

"I retired an andy just now," Rick said. "The remains are still in my car, up on the roof."

"Okay," Officer Crams said. "We'll go up and have a look."

As the two of them started from the dressing room, Miss Luft followed as far as the door. "He won't come back again, will he, Officer? I'm really afraid of him; he's so strange."

"If he's got the body of someone he killed upstairs in his car," Crams said, "he won't be coming back." He nudged Rick forward and, together, the two of them ascended by elevator to the roof of the opera house.

Opening the door of Rick's car, Officer Crams silently inspected the body of Polokov.

"An android," Rick said. "I was sent after him. He almost got me by pretending to be - "

"They'll take your statement at the Hall of Justice," Officer Crams interrupted. He nudged Rick over to his parked, plainly marked police car; there, by police radio, he put in a call for someone to come pick up Polokov. "Okay, Deckard," he said, then, ringing off. "Let's get started."

With the two of them aboard, the patrol car zummed up from the roof and headed south.

Something, Rick noticed, was not as it should be. Officer Crams had steered the car in the wrong direction.

"The Hall of justice," Rick said, "is north, on Lombard."

"That's the old Hall of Justice," Officer Crams said. "The new one is on Mission. That old building, it's disintegrating; it's a ruin. Nobody's used that for years. Has it been that long since you last got booked?"

"Take me there," Rick said. "To Lombard Street." He understood it all, now; saw what the androids, working together, had achieved. He would not live beyond this ride; for him it was the end, as it had almost been for Dave - and probably eventually would be.

"That girl's quite a looker," Officer Crams said. "Of course, with that costume you can't tell about her figure. But I'd say it's damn okay."

Rick said, "Admit to me that you're an android."

"Why? I'm not an android. What do you do, roam around killing people and telling yourself they're androids? I can see why Miss Luft was scared. It's a good thing for her that she called us."

"Then take me to the Hall of Justice, on Lombard."

"Like I said - "

"It'll take about three minutes," Rick said. "I want to see it. Every morning I check in for work, there; I want to see that it's been abandoned for years, as you say."

"Maybe you're an android," Officer Crams said. "With a false memory, like they give them. Had you thought of that?" He grinned frigidly as he continued to drive south.

Conscious of his defeat and failure, Rick settled back. And, helplessly, waited for what came next. Whatever the androids had planned, now that they had physical possession of him.

But I did get one of them, he told himself; I got Polokov. And Dave got two.

Hovering over Mission, Officer Crams's police car prepared to descend for its landing.

Chapter Ten

The Mission Street Hall of Justice building, onto the roof of which the hovercar descended, jutted up in a series of baroque, ornamented spires; complicated and modem, the handsome structure struck Rick Deckard as attractive - except for one aspect. He had never seen it before.

The police hovercar landed. And, a few minutes later, he found himself being booked.

"304," Officer Crams said to the sergeant at the high desk. "And 612.4 and let's see. Representing himself to be a peace officer."

"406.7 the desk sergeant said, filling out the forms; he wrote leisurely, in a slightly bored manner. Routine business, his posture and expression declared. Nothing of importance.

"Over here," Officer Crams said to Rick, leading him to a small white table at which a technician operated familiar equipment. "For your cephalic pattern," Crams said. "Identpurposes."

Rick said brusquely, "I know." In the old days, when he had been a harness bull himself, he had brought many suspects to a table like this. Like this, but not this particular table.

His cephatic pattern taken, he found himself being led off to an equally familiar room; reflexively he began assembling his valuables for transfer. It makes no sense, he said to himself. Who are these people? If this place has always existed, why didn't we know about it? And why don't they know about us? Two parallel police agencies, he said to himself; ours and this one. But never coming in contact - as far as I know until now. Or maybe they have, he thought. Maybe this isn't the first time. Hard to believe, he thought, that this wouldn't have happened long ago. If this really is a police apparatus, here; if it's what it asserts itself to be,