Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 31

"Do you know what they'll be?" Resch asked, with visible surprise; he did not look pleased.

"I know almost to a hair," Inspector Garland said.

"Okay." Resch nodded. "I'll go upstairs and get the Boneli gear." He strode to the door of the office, opened it, and disappeared out into the hall. "I'll be back in three or four minutes," he said to Rick. The door shut after him.

Reaching into the right-hand top drawer of his desk, Inspector Garland fumbled about, then brought forth a laser tube; he swiveled it until it pointed at Rick.

"That's not going to make any difference," Rick said. "Resch will have a postmortem run on me, the same as your lab ran on Polokov. And he'll still insist on a - what did you call it - Boneli Reflex-Arc Test on you and on himself."

The laser tube remained in its position, and then Inspector Garland said, "It was a bad day all day. Especially when I saw Officer Crams bringing you in; I had an intuition - that's why I intervened." By degrees he lowered the laser beam; he sat gripping it and then he shrugged and returned it to the desk drawer, locking the drawer and restoring the key to his pocket.

"What will tests on the three of us show?" Rick asked.

Garland said, "That damn fool Resch."

"He actually doesn't know?"

"He doesn't know; he doesn't suspect; he doesn't have the slightest idea. Otherwise he couldn't live out a life as a bounty hunter, a human occupation - hardly an android occupation." Garland gestured toward Rick's briefcase. "Those other carbons, the other suspects you're supposed to test and retire. I know them all." He paused, then said, "We all came here together on the same ship from Mars. Not Resch; he stayed behind another week, receiving the synthetic memory system." He was silent, then.

Or rather it was silent.

Rick said, "What'll he do when he finds out?"

"I don't have the foggiest idea," Garland said remotely. "It ought, from an abstract, intellectual viewpoint, to be interesting. He may kill me, kill himself; maybe you, too. He may kill everyone he can, human and android alike. I understand that such things happen, when there's been a synthetic memory system laid down. When one thinks it's human."

"So when you do that, you're taking a chance."

Garland said, "It's a chance anyway, breaking free and coming here to Earth, where we're not even considered animals. Where every worm and wood louse is considered more desirable than all of us put together." Irritably, Garland picked at his lower lip. "Your position would be better r if Phil Resch could pass the Boneli test, if it was just me. The results, that way, would be predictable; to Resch I'd just be another andy to retire as soon as possible. So you're not in a good position either, Deckard. Almost as bad, in fact, as I am. You know where I guessed wrong? I didn't know about Polokov. He must have come here earlier; obviously he came here earlier. In another group entirely - no contact with ours. He was already entrenched in the W.P.O. when I arrived. I took a chance on the lab report, which I shouldn't have. Crams, of course, took the same chance."

"Polokov was almost my finish, too," Rick said.

"Yes, there was something about him. I don't think he could have been the same brain unit type as we; he must have been souped up or tinkered with - an altered structure, unfamiliar even to us. A good one, too. Almost good enough."

"When I phoned my apartment," Rick said, "why didn't I get my wife?"

"All our vidphone lines here are trapped. They recirculate the call to other offices within the building. This is a homeostatic enterprise we're operating here, Deckard. We're a closed loop, cut off from the rest of San Francisco. We know about them but they don't know about us. Sometimes an isolated person such as yourself wanders in here or, as in your case, is brought here - for our protection." He gestured convulsively toward the office door. "Here comes eager-beaver Phil Resch back with his handy dandy portable little test. Isn't he clever? He's going to destroy his own life and mine and possibly yours."

"You androids," Rick said, "don't exactly cover for each other in times of stress."

Garland snapped, "I think you're right; it would seem we lack a specific talent you humans possess. I believe it's called empathy."

The office door opened; Phil Resch stood outlined, carrying a device which trailed wires. "Here we are," he said, closing the door after him; he seated himself, plugging the device into the electrical outlet.

Bringing out his right hand, Garland pointed at Resch. At once Resch - and also Rick Deckard - rolled from their chairs and onto the floor; at the same time, Resch . aimed a laser tube and, as he fell, fired at Garland.

The laser beam, aimed with skill, based on years of training, bifurcated Inspector Garland's head. He slumped forward and, from his hand, his miniaturized laser beam rolled across the surface of his desk. The corpse teetered on its chair and then, like a sack of eggs, it slid to one side and crashed to the floor.

"It forgot," Resch said, rising to his feet, "that this is my job. I can almost foretell what an android is going to, do. I suppose you can, too." He put his laser beam away, bent, and, with curiosity, examined the body of his quondam superior. "What did it say to you while I was gone?"

"That he - it - was an android. And you - " Rick broke off, the conduits of his brain humming, calculating, and selecting; he altered what he had started to say. " - would detect it," he finished. "In a few more minutes."

"Anything else?"