Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 51

Pushing the steering wheel away from him he put the car into a gliding decline. "Or anyhow that's how it strikes me. I'm going to kill you," he said. "And go on to Roy and Irmgard Baty and Pris Stratton alone."

"That's why you're landing?" Apprehensively, she said, "There's a fine; I'm the property, the legal property, of the association. I'm not an escaped android who fled here from Mars; I'm not in the same class as the others."

"But," he said, "if I can kill you then I can kill them."

Her hands dived for her bulging, overstuffed, kipple-filled purse; she searched frantically, then gave up. "Goddamn this purse," she said with ferocity. "I never can lay my hands on anything in it. Will you kill me in a way that won't hurt? I mean, do it carefully. If I don't fight; okay? I promise not to fight. Do you agree?"

Rick said, "I understand now why Phil Resch said what he said. He wasn't being cynical; he had just learned too much. Going through this - I can't blame him. It warped him."

"But the wrong way." She seemed more externally composed, now. But still fundamentally frantic and tense. Yet, the dark fire waned; the life force oozed out of her, as he had so often witnessed before with other androids. The classic resignation. Mechanical, intellectual acceptance of that which a genuine organism - with two billion years of the pressure to live and evolve hagriding it - could never have reconciled itself to.

"I can't stand the way you androids give up," he said savagely. The car now swooped almost to the ground; he had to jerk the wheel toward him to avoid a crash. Braking, he managed to bring the car to a staggering, careening halt; he slammed off the motor and got out his laser tube.

"At the occipital bone, the posterior base of my skull," Rachael said. "Please." She twisted about so that she did not have to look at the laser tube; the beam would enter unperceived.

Putting his laser tube away Rick said, "I can't do what Phil Resch said." He snapped the motor back on, and a moment later they had taken off again.

"If you're ever going to do it," Rachael said, "do it now. Don't make me wait."

"I'm not going to kill you." He steered the car in the direction of downtown San Francisco once again. "Your car's at the St. Francis, isn't it? I'll let you off there and you can head for Seattle." That ended what he had to say; he drove in silence.

"Thanks for not killing me," Rachael said presently.

"Hell, as you said you've only got two years of life left, anyhow. And I've got fifty. I'll live twenty-five times as long as you."

"But you really look down on me," Rachael said. "For what I did." Assurance had returned to her; the litany of her voice picked up pace. "You've gone the way of the others.

The bounty hunters before you. Each time they get furious and talk wildly about killing me, but when the time comes they can't do it. Just like you, just now." She lit a cigarette, inhaled with relish. "You realize what this means, don't you? It means I was right; you won't be able to retire any more androids; it won't be just me, it'll be the Batys and Stratton, too. So go on home to your goat. And get some rest." Suddenly she brushed at her coat, violently. "Yife! I got a burning ash from my cigarette - there, it's gone." She sank back against the seat, relaxing.

He said nothing.

"That goat," Rachel said. "You love the goat more than you love your wife, probably. First the goat, then your wife, then last of all - " She laughed merrily. "What can you do but laugh?"

He did not answer. They continued in silence for a while and then Rachael poked about, found the car's radio, and switched it on.

"Turn it off," Rick said.

"Turn off Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends? Tum off Amanda Werner and Oscar Scruggs? It's time to hear Buster's big sensational expose, which is finally almost arrived." She stooped to read the dial of her watch by the radio's light. "Very soon now. Did you already know about it? He's been talking about it, building up to it, for - "

The radio said, " - ah jes wan ta tell ya, folks, that ahm sitten hih with my pal Bustuh, an we're tawkin en haven a real mighty fine time, waitin expectantly as we ah with each tick uh the clock foh what ah understan is the mos important announcement of - "

Rick shut the radio off. "Oscar Scruggs," he said. "The voice of intelligent man."

Instantly reaching, Rachael clicked the radio back on. "I want to listen. I intend to listen. This is important, what Buster Friendly has to say on his show tonight." The idiotic voice babbled once more from the speaker, and Rachael Rosen settled back and made herself comfortable. Beside him in the darkness the coal of her cigarette glowed like the rump of a complacent lightning bug: a steady, unwavering index of Rachael Rosen's achievement. Her victory over him.

Chapter Eighteen

"Bring the rest of my property up here," Pris ordered J. R. Isidore. "In particular I want the TV set. So we can hear Buster's announcement."

"Yes," Irmgard Baty agreed, bright-eyed, like a darting, plumed swift. "We need the TV; we've been waiting a long time for tonight and now it'll be starting soon."

Isidore said, "My own set gets the government channel."

Off in a corner of the living room, seated in a deep chair as if he intended to remain permanently, as if he had taken up lodgings in the chair, Roy Baty belched and said patiently, "It's Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends that we want to watch, Iz. Or do you want me to call you J.R.? Anyhow, do you understand? So will you go get the set?"