Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 32

"This building is android-infested."

Resch said introspectively, "That's going to make it hard for you and me to get out of here. Nominally I have the authority to leave any time I want, of course. And to take a prisoner with me." He listened; no sound came from beyond the office. "I guess they didn't hear anything. There's evidently no bug installed here, monitoring everything as there should be." Gingerly, he nudged the body of the android with the toe of his shoe. "It certainly is remarkable, the psionic ability you develop in this business; I knew before I opened the office door that he would take a shot at me. Frankly I'm surprised he didn't kill you while I was upstairs,"

"He almost did," Rick said. "He had a big utility-model laser beam on me part of the time. He was considering it. But it was you he was worried about, not me."

"The android flees," Resch said humorlessly, "where the bounty bunter pursues. You realize, don't you, that you're going to have to double back to the opera house and get Luba Luft before anyone here has a chance to warn her as to how this came out. Warn it, I should say. Do you think of them as 'it'? "

"I did at one time," Rick said. "When my conscience occasionally bothered me about the work I had to do; I protected myself by thinking of them that way but now I no longer find it necessary. All right, I'll head directly back to the opera house. Assuming you can get me out of here."

"Suppose we sit Garland up at his desk," Resch said; he dragged the corpse of the android back up into its chair, arranging its arms and legs so that its posture appeared reasonably natural - if no one looked closely. If no one came into the office. Pressing a key on the desk intercom, Phil Resch said, "Inspector Garland has asked that no calls be put through to him for the next half hour. He's involved in work that can't be interrupted."

"Yes, Mr. Resch."

Releasing the intercom key, Phil Resch said to Rick, "I'm going to handcuff you to me during the time we're still here in the building. Once we're airborne I'll naturally let you go." He produced a pair of cuffs, slapped one onto Rick's wrist and the other around his own. "Come on; let's get it over with." He squared his shoulders, took a deep breath, and pushed open the office door.

Uniformed police stood or sat on every side, conducting their routine business of the day; none of them glanced up or paid any attention as Phil Resch led Rick across the lobby to the elevator.

"What I'm afraid of," Resch said as they waited for the elevator, "is that the Garland one had a dead man's throttle warning component built into it. But - " He shrugged. "I would have expected it to go off by now; otherwise it's not much good."

The elevator arrived; several police-like nondescript men and women disemelevatored, cracked off across the lobby on their several errands. They paid no attention to Rick or Phil Resch.

"Do you think your department will take me on?" Resch asked, as the elevator doors shut, closing the two of them inside; he punched the roof button and the elevator silently rose. "After all, as of now I'm out of a job. To say the least."

Guardedly, Rick said, "I - don't see why not. Except that we already have two bounty hunters." I've got to tell him, he said to himself. It's unethical and cruel not to. Mr. Resch, you're an android, he thought to himself. You got me out of this place and here's your reward; you're everything we jointly abominate. The essence of what we're committed to destroy.

"I can't get over it," Phil Resch said. "It doesn't seem possible. For three years I've been working under the direction of androids. Why didn't I suspect - I mean, enough to do something?"

"Maybe it isn't that long. Maybe they only recently infiltrated this building."

"They've been here all the time. Garland has been my superior from the start, throughout my three years."

"According to it," Rick said, "the bunch of them came to Earth together. And that wasn't as long ago as three years; it's only been a matter of months."

"Then at one time an authentic Garland existed," Phil Resch said. "And somewhere along the way got replaced." His sharklike lean face twisted and he struggled to understand. "Or - I've been impregnated with a false memory system. Maybe I only remember Garland over the whole time. But - " His face, suffused now with growing torment, continued to twist and work spasmodically. "Only androids show up with false memory systems; it's been found ineffective in humans."

The elevator ceased rising; its doors slid back, and there, spread out ahead of them, deserted except for empty parked vehicles, lay the police station's roof field.

"Here's my car," Phil Resch said, unlocking the door of a nearby hovercar and waving Rick rapidly inside; he himself got in behind the wheel and started up the motor. In a moment they had lifted into the sky and, turning north, headed back in the direction of the War Memorial Opera House. Preoccupied, Phil Resch drove by reflex; his progressively more gloomy train of thought continued to dominate his attention. "Listen, Deckard," he said suddenly. "After we retire Luba Luft - I want you to - " His voice, husky and tormented, broke off. "You know. Give me the Boneli test or that empathy scale you have. To see about me."

"We can worry about that later," Rick said evasively "You don't want me to take it, do you?" Phil Resch glanced at him with acute comprehension. "I guess you know what the results will be; Garland must have told you something. Facts which I don't know."

Rick said, "It's going to be hard even for the two of us to take out Luba Luft; she's more than I could handle, anyhow. Let's keep our attention focused on that."