Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 42

After an interval Roy Baty said, "I'll finish wiring up the alarm." He resumed work.

"He doesn't understand yet," Pris said in a sharp, brittle, stentorian voice, "how we got off Mars. What we did there."

"What we couldn't help doing," Roy Baty grunted.

At the open door to the hall Irmgard Baty had been standing; they noticed her as she spoke up. "I don't think we have to worry about Mr. Isidore," she said earnestly; she walked swiftly toward him, looked up into his face. "They don't treat him very well either, as he said. And what we did on Mars he isn't interested in; he knows us and he likes us and an emotional acceptance like that - it's everything to him. It's hard for us to grasp that, but it's true." To Isidore she said, standing very close to him once again and peering up at him, "You could get a lot of money by turning us in; do you realize that?" Twisting, she said to her husband, "See, he realizes that but still he wouldn't say anything."

"You're a great man, Isidore," Pris said. "You're a credit to your race."

"If he was an android," Roy said heartily, "he'd turn us in about ten tomorrow morning. He'd take off for his job and that would be it. I'm overwhelmed with admiration." His tone could not be deciphered; at least Isidore could not crack it. "And we imagined this would be a friendless world, a planet of hostile faces, all turned against us." He barked out a laugh.

I'm not at all worried," Irmgard said.

'You ought to be seared to the soles of your feet," Roy said.

"Let's vote," Pris said. "As we did on the ship, when we had a disagreement."

"Well," Irmgard said, "I won't say anything more. But if we turn this down I don't think we'll find any other human being who'll take us in and help us. Mr. Isidore is - " She searched for the word.

"Special," Pris said.

Chapter Fifteen

Solemnly, and with ceremony, the vote was taken.

"We stay here," Irmgard said, with firmness. "In this apartment, in this building."

Roy Baty said, "I vote we kill Mr. Isidore and hide somewhere else." He and his wife - and John Isidore - now turned tautly toward Pris.

In a low voice Pris said, "I vote we make our stand here." She added, more loudly, "I think J.R.'s value to us outweighs his danger, that of his knowing. Obviously we can't live among humans without being discovered; that's what killed Polokov and Garland and Luba and Anders. That's what killed all of them."

"Maybe they did just what we're doing," Roy Baty said. "Confided in, trusted, one given human being who they believed was different. As you said, special."

"We don't know that," Irmgard said. "That's only a conjecture. I think they, they - " She gestured. "Walked around. Sang from a stage like Luba. We trust - I'll tell you what we trust that fouls us up, Roy; it's our goddamn superior intelligence!" She glared at her husband, her small, high breasts rising and falling rapidly. "We're so smart - Roy, you're doing it right now; goddamn you, you're doing it now!"

Pris said, "I think Irm's right."

"So we hang our lives on a substandard, blighted - " Roy began, then gave up. "I'm tired," he said simply. "It's been a long trip, Isidore. But not very long here. Unfortunately."

"I hope," Isidore said happily, "I can help make your stay here on Earth pleasant." He felt sure he could. It seemed to him a cinch, the culmination of his whole life - and of the new authority which he had manifested on the vidphone today at work.

As soon as he officially quit work that evening, Rick Deckard flew across town to animal row: the several blocks of big-time animal dealers with their huge glass windows and lurid signs. The new and horribly unique depression which had floored him earlier in the day had not left. This, his activity here with animals and animal dealers, seemed the only weak spot in the shroud of depression, a flaw by which he might be able to grab it and exorcise it. In the past, anyhow, the sight of animals, the scent of money deals with expensive stakes, had done much for him. Maybe it would accomplish as much now.

"Yes, sit," a nattily dressed new animal salesman said to him chattily as he stood gaping with a sort of glazed, meek need at the displays. "See anything you like?"

Rick said, "I see a lot I like. It's the cost that bothers me."

"You tell us the deal you want to make," the salesman said. "What you want to take home with you and how you want to pay for it. We'll take the package to our sales manager and get his big okay."

"I've got three thou cash." The department, at the end of the day, had paid him his bounty. "How much," he asked, "is that family of rabbits over there?"

"Sir, if you have a down payment of three thou, I can make you owner of something a lot better than a pair of rabbits. What about a goat?"

"I haven't thought much about goats," Rick said.

"May I ask if this represents a new price bracket for you?"

"Well, I don't usually carry around three thou," Rick conceded.

"I thought as much, sit, when you mentioned rabbits. The thing about rabbits, sit, is that everybody has one. I'd like to see you step up to the goat-class where I feel you belong. Frankly you look more like a goat man to me."

"What are the advantages to goats?"

The animal salesman said, "The distinct advantage of a goat is that it can be taught to butt anyone who tries to steal it."

"Not if they shoot it with a hypno-dart and descend by rope ladder from a hovering hovercar," Rick said.

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