Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 41

"I'll g-g-go to a library tomorrow," he said, going out into the hall. "And g-get you and me too some to read, so you'll have something to do besides just waiting."

He led Pris upstairs to his own apartment, dark and empty and stuffy and lukewarm as it was; carrying her possessions into the bedroom, he at once turned on the heater, lights, and the TV to its sole channel.

"I like this," Pris said, but in the same detached and remote tone - as before. She meandered about, hands thrust in her skirt pockets; on her face a sour expression, almost righteous in the degree of its displeasure, appeared. In contrast to her stated reaction.

"What's the matter?" he asked as he laid her possessions out on the couch.

"Nothing." She halted at the picture window, drew the drapes back, and gazed morosely out.

"If you think they're looking for you - " he began.

"It's a dream," Pris said. "Induced by drugs that Roy gave me."

"P-pardon?"

"You really think that bounty hunters exist?"

"Mr. Baty said they killed your friends."

"Roy Baty is as crazy as I am," Pris said. "Our trip was between a mental hospital on the East Coast and here. We're all schizophrenic, with defective emotional lives - flattening of affect, it's called. And we have group hallucinations."

'I didn't think it was true," he said full of relief.

'Why didn't you?" She swiveled to stare intently at him; her scrutiny was so strict that he felt himself flushing.

"B-b-because things like that don't happen. The g-government never kills anyone, for any crime. And Mercerism - "

"But you see," Pris said, "if you're not human, then it's all different."

"That's not true. Even animals - even eels and gophers and snakes and spiders - are sacred."

Pris, still regarding him fixedly, said, "So it can't be, can it? As you say, even animals are protected by law. All life. Everything organic that wriggles or squirms or burrows or flies or swarms or lays eggs or - " She broke off, because Roy Baty had appeared, abruptly throwing the door of the apartment open and entering; a trail of wire rustled after him.

"Insects," he said, showing no embarrassment at overhearing them, "are especially sacrosanct." Lifting a picture rom the wall of the living room he attached a small electronic device to the nail, stepped back, viewed it, then replaced the picture. "Now the alarm." He gathered up the trailing wire, which led to a complex assembly. Smiling his discordant smile, he showed the assembly to Pris and John Isidore. "The alarm. These wires go under the carpet; they're antennae. It picks up the presence of a - " He hesitated. "A mentational entity," he said obscurely, "which isn't one of us four."

"So it rings," Pris said, "and then what? He'll have a gun. We can't fall on him and bite him to death."

"This assembly," Roy continued, "has a Penfield unit built into it. When the alarm has been triggered it radiates a mood of panic to the - intruder. Unless he acts very fast, which he may. Enormous panic; I have the gain turned all the way up. No human being can remain in the vicinity more than a matter of seconds. That's the nature of panic: it leads to random circus-motions, purposeless flight, and muscle and neural spasms." He concluded, "Which will give us an opportunity to get him. Possibly. Depending on how good he is."

Isidore said, "Won't the alarm affect us?"

"That's right," Pris said to Roy Baty. "It'll affect Isidore."

"Well, so what," Roy said. And resumed his task of installation. "So they both go racing out of here panic-stricken. It'll still give us time to react. And they won't kill Isidore; he's not on their list. That's why he's usable as a cover."

Pris said brusquely, "You can't do any better, Roy?"

"No," he answered, "I can't."

"I'll be able to g-g-get a weapon tomorrow," Isidore spoke up.

"You're sure Isidore's presence here won't set off the alarm?" Pris said. "After all, he's - you know."

"I've compensated for his cephalic emanations," Roy explained. "Their sum won't trip anything; it'll take an additional human. Person." Scowling, he glanced at Isidore, aware of what he had said.

"You're androids," Isidore said. But he didn't care; it made no difference to him. "I see why they want to kill you," he said. "Actually you're not alive." Everything made sense to him, now. The bounty hunter, the killing of their friends, the trip to Earth, all these precautions.

"When I used the word 'human,"' Roy Baty said to Pris, "I used the wrong word."

"That's right, Mr. Baty," Isidore said. "But what does it matter to me? I mean, I'm a special; they don't treat me very well either, like for instance I can't emigrate." He found himself yabbering away like a folletto. "You can't come here; I can't - " He calmed himself.

After a pause Roy Baty said laconically, "You wouldn't enjoy Mars. You're missing nothing."

"I wondered how long it would be," Pris said to Isidore, "before you realized. We are different, aren't we?

"That's what probably tripped up Garland and Max Polokov," Roy Baty said. "They were so goddamn sure they could pass. Luba, too."

"You're intellectual," Isidore said; he felt excited again at having understood. Excitement and pride. "You think abstractly, and you don't - " He gesticulated, his words tangling up with one another. As usual. "I wish I had an IQ like you have; then I could pass the test, I wouldn't be a chickenhead. I think you're very superior; I could learn a lot from you."

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