Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 34

And it could flare up again furiously.

Androids, however, had as he knew an inn-ate desire to remain inconspicuous. In the museum, with so many people roaming around, Luba Luft would tend to do nothing. The real encounter - for her probably the final one - would take place in the car, where no one else could see. Alone, with appalling abruptness, she could shed her inhibitions. He prepared himself - and did not think about Phil Resch. As Resch had said, it would be dealt with at a proper time.

At the end of the corridor near the elevators, a little store-like affair had been set up; it sold prints and art books, and Luba halted there, tarrying. "Listen," she said to Rick. Some of the color had returned to her face; once more she looked - at least briefly - alive. "Buy me a reproduction of that picture I was looking at when you found me. The one of the girt sitting on the bed."

After a pause Rick said to the clerk, a heavy-jowled, middle-aged woman with netted gray hair, "Do you have a print of Munch's Puberty?"

"Only in this book of his collected work," the clerk said, lifting down a handsome glossy volume. "Twent-five dollars."

"I'll take it." He reached for his wallet.

Phil Resch said, "My departmental budget could never in a million years be stretched - "

"My own money," Rick said; he handed the woman the bills and Luba the book. "Now let's get started down," he said to her and Phil Resch.

"It's very nice of you," Luba said as they entered the elevator. "There's something very strange and touching about humans. An android would never have done that." She glanced icily at Phil Resch. "It wouldn't have occurred to him; as he said, never in a million years." She continued to gaze at Resch, now with manifold hostility and aversion. "I really don't like androids. Ever since I got here from Mars my life has consisted of imitating the human, doing what she would do, acting as if I had the thoughts and impulses a human would have. Imitating, as far as I'm concerned, a superior life form." To Phil Resch she said, "Isn't that how it's been with you, Resch? Trying to be - "

"I can't take this." Phil Resch dug into his coat, groped.

"No," Rick said; he grabbed at Phil Resch's hand; Resch retreated, eluding him. "The Boneli test," Rick said.

"It's admitted it's an android," Phil Resch said. "We don't have to wait."

"But to retire it," Rick said, "because it's needling you give me that." He struggled to pry the laser tube away from Phil Resch. The tube remained in Phil Resch's possession; Resch circled back within the cramped elevator, evading him, his attention on Luba Luft only. "Okay," Rick said. "Retire it; kill it now. Show it that it's right." He saw, then, that Resch meant to. "Wait - "

Phil Resch fired, and at the same instant Luba Luft, in a spasm of frantic hunted fear, twisted and spun away, dropping as she did so. The beam missed its mark but, as Resch lowered it, burrowed a narrow hole, silently, into her stomach. She began to scream; she lay crouched against the wall of the elevator, screaming. Like the picture, Rick thought to himself, and, with his own laser tube, killed her. Luba Luft's body fell forward, face down, in a heap. It did not even tremble.

With his laser tube, Rick systematically burned into blurred ash the book of pictures which he had just a few minutes ago bought Luba. He did the job thoroughly, saying nothing; Phil Resch watched without understanding, his face showing his perplexity.

"You could have kept the book yourself," Resch said, when it had been done. "That cost you - "

"Do you think androids have souls?" Rick interrupted.

Cocking his head on one side, Phil Resch gazed at him in even greater puzzlement.

"I could afford the book," Rick said. "I've made three thousand dollars so far today, and I'm not even half through."

"You're claiming Garland?" Phil Resch asked. "But I killed him, not you. You just lay there. And Luba, too. I got her."

"You can't collect," Rick said. "Not from your own department and not from ours. When we get to your car I'll administer the Boneli test or the Voigt-Kampff to you and then we'll see. Even though you're not on my list." His hands shaking, he opened his briefcase, rummaged among the crumpled onionskin carbons. "No, you're not here. So legally I can't claim you; to make anything I'll have to claim Luba Luft and Garland."

"You're sure I'm an android? Is that really what Garland said?"

"That's what Garland said."

"Maybe he was lying," Phil Resch said. "To split us apart. As we are now. We're nuts, letting them split us; you were absolutely right about Luba Luft - I shouldn't have let her get my goat like that. I must be overly sensitive. That would be natural for a bounty hunter, I suppose; you're probably the same way. But look; we would have had to retire Luba Luft anyhow, half an hour from now - only one half hour more. She wouldn't even have had time to look through that book you got her. And I still think you shouldn't have destroyed it; that's a waste. I can't. follow your reasoning; it isn't rational, that's why."

Rick said, "I'm getting out of this business."

"And go into what?"

"Anything. Insurance underwriting, like Garland was supposed to be doing. Or I'll emigrate. Yes." He nodded. "I'll go to Mars."

"But someone has to do this," Phil Resch pointed out.

"They can use androids. Much better if andys do it. I can't any more; I've had enough. She was a wonderful singer. The planet could have used her. This is insane."

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