Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 48

Seating herself on the bed Rachael smoothed absently at the spread; her expression had now become one of moodiness. He set his glass down on the bedside table and arranged himself beside her. Under his gross weight the bed gave, and Rachael shifted her position.

"What is it?" he said. Reaching, he took hold of her hand; it felt cold, bony, slightly moist. "What upset you?"

"That last goddamn Nexus-6 type," Rachael said, enunciating with effort, "is the same type as I am." She stared down at the bedspread, found a thread, and began rolling it into a pellet. "Didn't you notice the description? It's of me, too. She may wear her hair differently and dress differently - she may even have bought a wig. But when you see her you'll know what I mean." She laughed sardonically. "It's a good thing the association admitted I'm an andy; otherwise you'd probably have gone mad when you caught sight of Pris Stratton. Or thought she was me."

"Why does that bother you so much?"

"Hell, I'll be along when you retire her."

"Maybe not. Maybe I won't find her.'

Rachael said, "I know Nexus-6 psychology. That's why I'm here; that's why I can help you. They're all holed up together, the three of them. Clustered around the deranged one calling himself Roy Baty. He'll be masterminding their crucial, all-out, final defense." Her lips twisted. "Jesus," she said.

"Cheer up," he said; he cupped her sharp, small chin in the palm of his hand, lifted her head so that she had to face him. I wonder what it's like to kiss an android, he said to himself. Leaning forward an inch he kissed her dry lips. No reaction followed; Rachael remained impassive. As if unaffected. And yet he sensed otherwise. Or perhaps it was wishful thinking.

"I wish," Rachael said, "that I had known that before I came. I never would have flown down here. I think you're asking too much. You know what I have? Toward this Pris android? "

"Empathy," he said.

"Something like that. Identification; there goes I. My god; maybe that's what'll happen. In the confusion you'll retire me, not her. And she can go back to Seattle and live my life. I never felt this way before. We are machines, stamped out like bottle caps. It's an illusion that I - I - personary - really exist; I'm just representative of a type." She shuddered.

He could not help being amused; Rachael had become so mawkishly morose. "Ants don't feel like that," he said, "and they're physically identical."

"Ants. They don't feel period."

"Identical human twins. They don't - "

"But they identify with each other; I understand they have an empathic, special bond." Rising, she got to the bourbon bottle, a little unsteadily; she refilled her glass and again drank swiftly. For a time she slouched about the room, brows knitted darkly, and then, as if sliding his way by chance, she settled back onto the bed; she swung her legs up and stretched out, leaning against the fat pillows. And sighed. "Forget the three andys." Her voice filled with weariness. "I'm so worn out, from the trip I guess. And from all I learned today. I just want to sleep." She shut her eyes. "If I die," she murmured, "maybe I'll be born again when the Rosen Association stamps out its next unit of my subtype." She opened her eyes and glared at him ferociously. "Do you know," she said, "why I really came here? Why Eldon and the other Rosens - the human ones - wanted me to go along with you?"

"To observe," he said. "To detail exactly what the Nexus does that gives it away on the Voigt-Kampff test."

"On the test or otherwise. Everything that gives it a different quality. And then I report back and the association makes modifications of its zygote-bath DNS factors. And we then have the Nexus-7. And when that gets caught we modify it again and eventually the association has a type that can't be distinguished."

"Do you know of the Boneli Reflex-Arc Test?" he asked.

"We're working on the spinal ganglia, too. Someday the Boneli test will fade into yesterday's hoary shroud of spiritual oblivion." She smiled innocuously - at variance with her words. At this point he could not discern her degree of seriousness. A topic of world-shaking importance, yet dealt with facetiously; an android trait, possibly, he thought. No emotional awareness, no feeling-sense of the actual meaning of what she said. Only the hollow, formal, intellectual definitions of the separate terms.

And, more, Rachael had begun to tease him. Imperceptibly she had passed from lamenting her condition to taunting him about his.

"Damn you," he said.

Rachael laughed. "I'm drunk. I can't go with you. If  leave here - " She gestured in dismissal. "I'll stay behind and steep and you can tell me later what happened."

"Except," he said, "there won't be a later because Roy Baty will nail me."

"But I can't help you anyhow now because I'm drunk. Anyhow, you know the truth, the brick-hard, irregular, slithery surface of truth. I'm just an observer and I won't intervene to save you; I don't care if Roy Baty nails you or not. I care whether I get nailed." She opened her eyes round and wide. "Christ, I'm empathic about myself. And, see, if I go to that suburban broken-down conapt building - " She reached out, toyed with a button of his shirt; in slow, facile twists she began unbuttoning it. "I don't dare go because androids have no loyalty to one another and I know that that goddamn Pris Stratton will destroy me and occupy my place. See? Take off your coat."

"Why?"

"So we can go to bed," Rachael said.

"I bought a black Nubian goat," he said. "I have to retire the three more andys. I have to finish up my job and go home to my wife." He got up, walked around the bed to the bottle of bourbon. Standing there he carefully poured himself a second drink; his hands, he observed, shook only very slightly. Probably from fatigue. Both of us, he realized, are tired. Too tired to hunt down three andys, with the worst of the eight calling the shots.

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