Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 57

"This is Mr. Isidore," Rick said. "Let me in because I'm looking after you and t-t-two of you are women."

"We're not opening the door," a woman's voice came.

"I want to watch Buster Friendly on Pris's TV set," Rick said. "Now that he's proved Mercer doesn't exist it's very important to watch him. I drive a truck for the Van Ness Pet Hospital, which is owned by Mr. Hannibal S-s-sloat." He made himself stammer. "S-s-so would you open the d-d-door? It's my apartment." He waited, and the door opened. Within the apartment he saw darkness and indistinct shapes, two of them.

The smaller shape, the woman, said, "You have to administer tests."

"It's too late," Rick said. The taller figure tried to push the door shut and turn on some variety of electronic equipment. "No," Rick said, "I have to come in." He let Roy Baty fire once; he held his own fire until the laser beam had passed by him as he twisted out of the way. "You've lost your legal basis," Rick said, "by firing on me. You should have forced me to give you the Voigt-Kampff test. But now it doesn't matter." Once more Roy Baty sent a laser beam cutting at him, missed, dropped the tube, and ran somewhere deeper inside the apartment, to another room, perhaps, the electronic hardware abandoned.

"Why didn't Pris get you?" Mrs. Baty said.

"There is no Pris," he said. "Only Rachael Rosen, over and over again." He saw the laser tube in her dimly outlined hand; Roy Baty had slipped it to her, had meant to decoy him into the apartment, far in, so that Irmgard Baty could get him from behind, in the back. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Baty," Rick said, and shot her.

Roy Baty, in the other room, let out a cry of anguish.

"Okay, you loved her," Rick said. "And I loved Rachael. And the special loved the other Rachael." He shot Roy Baty; the big man's corpse lashed about, toppled like an overstacked collection of separate, brittle entities; it smashed into the kitchen table and carried dishes and flatware down with it. Reflex circuits in the corpse made it twitch and flutter, but it had died; Rick ignored it, not seeing it and not seeing that of Irmgard Baty by the front door. I got the last one, Rick realized. Six today; almost a record. And now it's over and I can go home, back to Iran and the goat. And we'll have enough money, for once.

He sat down on the couch and presently as he sat there in the silence of the apartment, among the nonstirring objects, the special Mr. Isidore appeared at the door.

"Better not look," Rick said.

"I saw her on the stairs. Pris." The special was crying.

"Don't take it so hard," Rick said. He got dizzily to his feet, laboring. "Where's your phone?"

The special said nothing, did nothing except stand. So Rick hunted for the phone himself, found it, and dialed Harry Bryant's office.

Chapter Twenty

"Good," Harrv Bryant said, after he had been told. "Well, go get some rest. We'll send a patrol car to pick up the three bodies."

Rick Deckard hung up. "Androids are stupid," he said savagely to the special. "Roy Baty couldn't tell me from you; it thought you were at the door. The police will clean up in here; why don't you stay in another apartment until they're finished? You don't want to be in here with what's left."

"I'm leaving this b-b-building," Isidore said. "I'm going to l-l-live deeper in town where there's m-m-more people."

"I think there's a vacant apartment in my building," Rick said.

Isidore stammered, "I don't w-w-want to live near you."

"Go outside or upstairs," Rick said. "Don't stay in here."

The special floundered, not knowing what to do; a variety of mute expressions crossed his face and then, turning, he shuffled out of the apartment, leaving Rick alone.

What a job to have to do, Rick thought. I'm a scoure, like famine or plague. Where I go the ancient curse follows.

As Mercer said, I am required to do wrong. Everything I've done has been wrong from the start. Anyhow now it's time to go home. Maybe, after I've been there awhile with Iran I'll forget.

When he got back to his own apartment building, Iran met him on the roof. She looked at him in a deranged, peculiar way; in all his years with her he had never seen her like this.

Putting his arm around her he said, "Anyhow it's over. And I've been thinking; maybe Harry Bryant can assign me to a - "

"Rick," she said, "I have to tell you something. I'm sorry. The goat is dead."

For some reason it did not surprise him; it only made him feel worse, a quantitative addition to the weight shrinking him from every side. "I think there's a guarantee in the contract," he said. "If it gets sick within ninety days the dealer - "

"It didn't get sick. Someone" - Iran cleared her throat and went on huskily - "someone came here, got the goat out of its cage, and dragged it to the edge of the roof."

"And pushed it off?" he said.

"Yes." She nodded.

"Did you see who did it?"

"I saw her very clearly," Iran said. "Barbour was still up here fooling around; he came down to get me and we called the police, but by then the animal was dead and she had left. A small young-looking girl with dark hair and large black eyes, very thin. Wearing a long fish-scale coat. She had a mail-pouch purse. And she made no effort to keep us from seeing her. As if she didn't care."

"No, she didn't care," he said. "Rachael wouldn't give a damn if you saw her; she probably wanted you to, so I'd know who had done it." He kissed her. "You've been waiting up here all this time?"