Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Phil Dick

Re: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Phil Dick

Postby admin » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:01 pm

TWENTY

Good," Harry 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 scourge, 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?"

"Only for half an hour. That's when it happened; half an hour ago." Iran, gently, kissed him back. "It's so awful. So needless."

He turned toward his parked car, opened the door, and got in behind the wheel. "Not needless," he said. "She had what seemed to her a reason." An android reason, he thought.

"Where are you going? Won't you come downstairs and -- be with me? There was the most shocking news on TV; Buster Friendly claims that Mercer is a fake. What do you think about that, Rick? Do you think it could be true?"

"Everything is true," he said. "Everything anybody has ever thought." He snapped on the car motor.

"Will you be all right?"

"I'll be all right," he said, and thought, And I'm going to die. Both those are true, too. He closed the car door, flicked a signal with his hand to Iran, and then swept up into the night sky.

Once, he thought, I would have seen the stars. Years ago. But now it's only the dust; no one has seen a star in years, at least not from Earth. Maybe I'll go where I can see stars, he said to himself as the car gained velocity and altitude; it headed away from San Francisco, toward the uninhabited desolation to the north. To the place where no living thing would go. Not unless it felt that the end had come.
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Re: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Phil Dick

Postby admin » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:04 pm

TWENTY ONE

In the early morning light the land below him extended seemingly forever, gray and refuse-littered. Pebbles the size of houses had rolled to a stop next to one another and he thought, It's like a shipping room when all the merchandise has left. Only fragments of crates remain, the containers which signify nothing in themselves. Once, he thought, crops grew here and animals grazed. What a remarkable thought, that anything could have cropped grass here.

What a strange place he thought for all of that to die.

He brought the hovercar down, coasted above the surface for a time. What would Dave Holden say about me now? he asked himself. In one sense I'm now the greatest bounty hunter who ever lived; no one ever retired six Nexus-6 types in one twenty-four-hour span and no one probably ever will again. I ought to call him, he said to himself.

A cluttered hillside swooped up at him; he lifted the hovercar as the world came close. Fatigue, he thought; I shouldn't be driving still. He clicked off the ignition, glided for an interval, and then set the bovercar down. It tumbled and bounced across the hillside, scattering rocks; headed upward, it came at last to a grinding, skittering stop.

Picking up the receiver of the car's phone he dialed the operator at San Francisco. "Give me Mount Zion Hospital," he told her.

Presently he had another operator on the vidscreen. "Mount Zion Hospital."

"You have a patient named Dave Holden," he said. "Would it be possible to talk to him? Is he well enough?"

"Just a moment and I'll check on that, sir." The screen temporarily blanked out. Time passed. Rick took a pinch of Dr. Johnson Snuff and shivered; without the car's heater the temperature had begun to plunge. "Dr. Costa says that Mr. Holden is not receiving calls," the operator told him, reappearing.

"This is police business," he said; he held his flat pack of ID up to the screen.

"Just a moment." Again the operator vanished. Again Rick inhaled a pinch of Dr. Johnson Snuff; the menthol in it tasted foul, so early in the morning. He rolled down the car window and tossed the little yellow tin out into the rubble. "No, sir," the operator said, once more on his screen. "Dr. Costa does not feel Mr. Holden's condition will permit him to take any calls, no matter how urgent, for at least --"

"Okay," Rick said. He hung up.

The air, too, had a foul quality; he rolled up the window again. Dave is really out, he reflected. I wonder why they didn't get me. Because I moved too fast, he decided. All in one day; they couldn't have expected it. Harry Bryant was right.

The car had become too cold, now, so he opened the door and stepped out. A noxious, unexpected wind filtered through his clothes and he began to walk, rubbing his hands together.

It would have been rewarding to talk to Dave, he decided. Dave would have approved what I did. But also he would have understood the other part, which I don't think even Mercer comprehends. For Mercer everything is easy, he thought, because Mercer accepts everything. Nothing is alien to him. But what I've done, he thought; that's become alien to me. In fact everything about me has become unnatural; I've become an unnatural self.

He walked on, up the hillside, and with each step the weight on him grew. Too tired, he thought, to climb. Stopping, he wiped stinging sweat from his eyes, salt tears produced by his skin, his whole aching body. Then, angry at himself, he spat -- spat with wrath and contempt, for himself, with utter hate, onto the barren ground. Thereupon he resumed his trudge up the slope, the lonely and unfamiliar terrain, remote from everything; nothing lived here except himself.

The heat. It had become hot, now; evidently time had passed. And he felt hunger. He had not eaten for god knew how long. The hunger and heat combined, a poisonous taste resembling defeat; yes, he thought, that's what it is: I've been defeated in some obscure way. By having killed the androids? By Rachael's murder of my goat? He did not know, but as he plodded along a vague and almost hallucinatory pall hazed over his mind; he found himself at one point, with no notion of how it could be, a step from an almost certainly fatal cliffside fall -- falling humiliatingly and helplessly, he thought; on and on, with no one even to witness it. Here there existed no one to record his or anyone else's degradation, and any courage or pride which might manifest itself here at the end would go unmarked: the dead stones, the dust-stricken weeds dry and dying, perceived nothing, recollected nothing, about him or themselves.

At that moment the first rock -- and it was not rubber or soft foam plastic -- struck him in the inguinal region. And the pain, the first knowledge of absolute isolation and suffering, touched him throughout in its undisguised actual form.

He halted. And then, goaded on -- the goad invisible but real, not to be challenged -- he resumed his climb. Rolling upward, he thought, like the stones; I am doing what stones do, without volition. Without it meaning anything.

"Mercer," he said, panting; he stopped, stood still. In front of him he distinguished a shadowy figure, motionless. "Wilbur Mercer! Is that you? My god, he realized; it's my shadow. I have to get out of here, down off this hill!

He scrambled back down. Once, he fell; clouds of dust obscured everything, and he ran from the dust -- he hurried faster, sliding and tumbling on the loose pebbles. Ahead he saw his parked car. I'm back down, he said to himself. I'm off the hill. He plucked open the car door, squeezed inside. Who threw the stone at me? he asked himself. No one. But why does it bother me? I've undergone it before, during fusion. While using my empathy box, like everyone else. This isn't new. But it was. Because, he thought, I did it alone.

Trembling, he got a fresh new tin of snuff from the glove compartment of the car; pulling off the protective band of tape he took a massive pinch, rested, sitting half in the car and half out, his feet on the arid, dusty soil. This was the last place to go to, he realized. I shouldn't have flown here. And now he found himself too tired to fly back out.

If I could just talk to Dave, he thought, I'd be all right; I could get away from here, go home and go to bed. I still have my electric sheep and I still have my job. There'll be more andys to retire; my career isn't over; I haven't retired the last andy in existence. Maybe that's what it is, he thought. I'm afraid there aren't any more.

He looked at his watch. Nine-thirty.

Picking up the vidphone receiver he dialed the Hall of Justice on Lombard. "Let me speak to Inspector Bryant," he said to the police switchboard operator Miss Wild.

"Inspector Bryant is not in his office, Mr. Deckard; he's out in his car, but I don't get any answer. He must have temporarily left his car."

"Did he say where he intended to go?"

"Something about the androids you retired last night."

"Let me talk to my secretary," he said.

A moment later the orange, triangular face of Ann Marsten appeared on the screen. "Oh, Mr. Deckard -- Inspector Bryant has been trying to get hold of you. I think he's turning your name over to Chief Cutter for a citation. Because you retired those six --"

"I know what I did," he said.

"That's never happened before. Oh, and Mr. Deckard; your wife phoned. She wants to know if you're all right. Are you all right?"

He said nothing.

"Anyhow," Miss Marsten said, "maybe you should call her and tell her. She left word she'll be home, waiting to hear from you."

"Did you hear about my goat?" he said.

"No, I didn't even know you had a goat."

Rick said, "They took my goat."

"Who did, Mr. Deckard? Animal thieves? We just got a report on a huge new gang of them, probably teenagers, operating in --"

"Life thieves," he said.

"I don't understand you, Mr. Deckard." Miss Marsten peered at him intently. "Mr. Deckard, you look awful. So tired. And god, your cheek is bleeding."

Putting his hand up he felt the blood. From a rock, probably. More than one, evidently, had struck him.

"You look," Miss Marsten said, "like Wilbur Mercer."

"I am," he said. "I'm Wilbur Mercer; I've permanently fused with him. And I can't unfuse. I'm sitting here waiting to unfuse. Somewhere near the Oregon border."

"Shall we send someone out? A department car to pick you up?"

"No," he said. "I'm no longer with the department."

"Obviously you did too much yesterday, Mr. Deckard," she said chidingly. "What you need now is bed rest. Mr. Deckard, you're our best bounty hunter, the best we've ever had. I'll tell Inspector Bryant when he comes in; you go on home and go to bed. Call your wife right away, Mr. Deckard, because she's terribly, terribly worried. I could tell. You're both in dreadful shape."

"It's because of my goat," he said. "Not the androids; Rachael was wrong -- I didn't have any trouble retiring them. And the special was wrong, too, about my not being able to fuse with Mercer again. The only one who was right is Mercer."

"You better get back here to the Bay Area, Mr. Deckard. Where there're people. There isn't anything living up there near Oregon; isn't that right? Aren't you alone?"

"It's strange," Rick said. "I had the absolute, utter, completely real illusion that I had become Mercer and people were lobbing rocks at me. But not the way you experience it when you hold the handles of an empathy box. When you use an empathy box you feel you're with Mercer. The difference is I wasn't with anyone; I was alone."

"They're saying now that Mercer is a fake."

"Mercer isn't a fake," he said. "Unless reality is a fake." This hill, he thought. This dust and these many stones, each one different from all the others. "I'm afraid," he said, "that I can't stop being Mercer. Once you start it's too late to back off." Will I have to climb the hill again? he wondered. Forever, as Mercer does trapped by eternity. "Good-by," he said, and started to ring off.

"You'll call your wife? You promise?"

"Yes." He nodded. "Thanks, Ann." He hung up. Bed rest, he thought. The last time I hit bed was with Rachael. A violation of a statute. Copulation with an android; absolutely against the law, here and on the colony worlds as well. She must be back in Seattle now. With the other Rosens, real and humanoid. I wish I could do to you what you did to me, he wished. But it can't be done to an android because they don't care. If I had killed you last night my goat would be alive now. There's where I made the wrong decision. Yes, he thought; it can all be traced back to that and to my going to bed with you. Anyhow you were correct about one thing; it did change me. But not in the way you predicted.

A much worse way, he decided.

And yet I don't really care. Not any longer. Not, he thought, after what happened to me up there, toward the top of the hill. I wonder what would have come next, if I had gone on climbing and reached the top. Because that's where Mercer appears to die. That's where Mercer's triumph manifests itself, there at the end of the great sidereal cycle.

But if I'm Mercer, he thought, I can never die, not in ten thousand years. Mercer is immortal.

Once more he picked up the phone receiver, to call his wife.

And froze.
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Re: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Phil Dick

Postby admin » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:06 pm

TWENTY-TWO

He set the receiver back down and did not take his eyes from the spot that had moved outside the car. The bulge in the ground, among the stones. An animal, he said to himself. And his heart lugged under the excessive load, the shock of recognition. I know what it is, he realized; I've never seen one before but I know it from the old nature films they show on Government TV.

They're extinct! he said to himself; swiftly he dragged out his much-creased Sidney's, turned the pages with twitching fingers.

TOAD (Bufonidae), all varieties. E.


Extinct for years now. The critter most precious to Wilbur Mercer, along with the donkey. But toads most of all.

I need a box. He squirmed around, saw nothing in the back seat of the hovercar; he leaped out, hurried to the trunk compartment, unlocked and opened it. There rested a cardboard container, inside it a spare fuel pump for his car. He dumped the fuel pump out, found some furry hempish twine, and walked slowly toward the toad. Not taking his eyes from it.

The toad, he saw, blended in totally with the texture and shade of the ever-present dust. It had, perhaps, evolved, meeting the new climate as it had met all climates before. Had it not moved he would never have spotted it; yet he had been sitting no more than two yards from it. What happens when you find -- if you find -- an animal believed extinct? he asked himself, trying to remember. It happened so seldom. Something about a star of honor from the U.N. and a stipend. A reward running into millions of dollars. And of all possibilities -- to find the critter most sacred to Mercer. Jesus, he thought; it can't be. Maybe it's due to brain damage on my part: exposure to radioactivity. I'm a special, he thought. Something has happened to me. Like the chickenhead Isidore and his spider; what happened to him is happening to me. Did Mercer arrange it? But I'm Mercer. I arranged it; I found the toad. Found it because I see through Mercer's eyes.

He squatted on his haunches, close beside the toad. It had shoved aside the grit to make a partial hole for itself, displaced the dust with its rump. So that only the top of its flat skull and its eyes projected above ground. Meanwhile, its metabolism slowed almost to a halt, it had drifted off into a trance. The eyes held no spark, no awareness of him, and in horror he thought, it's dead, of thirst maybe. But it had moved.

Setting the cardboard box down, he carefully began brushing the loose soil away from the toad. It did not seem to object, but of course it was not aware of his existence.

When he lifted the toad out he felt its peculiar coolness; in his hands its body seemed dry and wrinkled -- almost flabby -- and as cold as if it had taken up residence in a grotto miles under the earth away from the sun. Now the toad squirmed; with its weak hind feet it tried to pry itself from his grip, wanting, instinctively, to go flopping off. A big one, he thought; full-grown and wise. Capable, in its own fashion, of surviving even that which we're not really managing to survive. I wonder where it finds the water for its eggs.

So this is what Mercer sees, he thought as he painstakingly tied the cardboard box shut -- tied it again and again. Life which we can no longer distinguish; life carefully buried up to its forehead in the carcass of a dead world. In every cinder of the universe Mercer probably perceives inconspicuous life. Now I know, he thought. And once having seen through Mercer's eyes I probably will never stop.

And no android, he thought, will cut the legs from this. As they did from the chickenhead's spider.

He placed the carefully tied box on the car seat and got in behind the wheel. It's like being a kid again, he thought. Now all the weight had left him, the monumental and oppressive fatigue. Wait until Iran hears about this; he snatched the vidphone receiver, started to dial. Then paused. I'll keep it as a surprise, he concluded. It'll only take thirty or forty minutes to fly back there.

Eagerly he switched the motor on, and, shortly, had zipped up into the sky, in the direction of San Francisco, seven hundred miles to the south.

***

At the Penfield mood organ, Iran Deckard sat with her right index finger touching the numbered dial. But she did not dial; she felt too listless and ill to want anything: a burden which closed off the future and any possibilities which it might once have contained. If Rick were here, she thought, he'd get me to dial 3 and that way I'd find myself wanting to dial something important, ebullient joy or if not that then possibly an 888, the desire to watch TV no matter what's on it. I wonder what is on it, she thought. And then she wondered again where Rick had gone. He may be coming back and on the other hand he may not be, she said to herself, and felt her bones within her shrink with age.

A knock sounded at the apartment door.

Putting down the Penfield manual she jumped up, thinking I don't need to dial, now; I already have it -- if it is Rick. She ran to the door, opened the door wide.

"Hi," he said. There he stood, a cut on his cheek, his clothes wrinkled and gray, even his hair saturated with dust. His hands, his face -- dust clung to every part of him except his eyes. Round with awe his eyes shone, like those of a little boy; he looks, she thought, as if he has been playing and now it's time to give up and come home. To rest and wash and tell about the miracles of the day.

"It's nice to see you," she said.

"I have something." He held a cardboard box with both hands; when he entered the apartment he did not set it down. As if, she thought, it contained something too fragile and too valuable to let go of; he wanted to keep it perpetually in his hands.

She said, "I'll fix you a cup of coffee." At the stove she pressed the coffee button and in a moment had put the imposing mug by his place at the kitchen table. Still holding the box he seated himself, and on his face the round-eyed wonder remained. In all the years she had known him she had not encountered this expression before. Something had happened since she had seen him last; since, last night, he had gone off in his car. Now he had come back and this box had arrived with him: he held, in the box, everything that had happened to him.

"I'm going to sleep," he announced. "All day. I phoned in and got Harry Bryant; he said take the day off and rest. Which is exactly what I'm going to do." Carefully he set the box down on the table and picked up his coffee mug; dutifully, because she wanted him to, he drank his coffee.

Seating herself across from him she said, "What do you have in the box, Rick?"

"A toad."

"Can I see it?" She watched as he untied the box and removed the lid. "Oh," she said, seeing the toad; for some reason it frightened her. "Will it bite?" she asked.

"Pick it up. It won't bite; toads don't have teeth." Rick lifted the toad out and extended it toward her. Stemming her aversion she accepted it. "I thought toads were extinct," she said as she turned it over, Curious about its legs; they seemed almost useless. "Can toads jump like frogs? I mean, will it jump out of my hands suddenly?"

"The legs of toads are weak," Rick said. "That's the main difference between a toad and a frog, that and water. A frog remains near water but a toad can live in the desert. I found this in the desert, up near the Oregon border. Where everything had died." He reached to take it back from her. But she had discovered something; still holding it upside down she poked at its abdomen and then, with her nail, located the tiny control panel. She flipped the panel open.

***

"Oh." His face fell by degrees. "Yeah. So I see; you're right." Crestfallen, he gazed mutely at the false animal; he took it back from her, fiddled with the legs as if baffled -- he did not seem quite to understand. He then carefully replaced it in its box. "I wonder how it got out there in the desolate part of California like that. Somebody must have put it there. No way to tell what for."

"Maybe I shouldn't have told you -- about it being eIectrical." She put her hand out, touched his arm; she felt guilty, seeing the effect it had on him, the change.

"No," Rick said. "I'm glad to know. Or rather --" He became silent. "I'd prefer to know."

"Do you want to use the mood organ? To feel better? You always have gotten a lot out of it, more than I ever have."

"I'll be okay." He shook his head, as if trying to clear it, still bewildered. "The spider Mercer gave the chickenhead, Isidore; it probably was artificial, too. But it doesn't matter. The electric things have their lives, too. Paltry as those lives are."

Iran said, "You look as if you've walked a hundred miles."

"It's been a long day." He nodded.

"Go get into bed and sleep."

He stared at her, then, as if perplexed. "It is over, isn't it?" Trustingly he seemed to be waiting for her to tell him, as if she would know. As if hearing himself say it meant nothing; he had a dubious attitude toward his own words; they didn't become real, not until she agreed.

"It's over," she said.

"God, what a marathon assignment," Rick said. "Once I began on it there wasn't any way for me to stop; it kept carrying me along, until finally I got to the Batys, and then suddenly I didn't have anything to do. And that --" He hesitated, evidently amazed at what he had begun to say. "That part was worse," he said. "After I finished. I couldn't stop because there would be nothing left after I stopped. You were right this morning when you said I'm nothing but a crude cop with crude cop hands."

"I don't feel that anymore," she said. "I'm just damn glad to have you come back home where you ought to be." She kissed him and that seemed to please him; his face lit up, almost as much as before -- before she had shown him that the toad was electric.

"Do you think I did wrong?" he asked. "What I did today?"

"No."

"Mercer said it was wrong but I should do it anyhow. Really weird. Sometimes it's better to do something wrong than right."

"It's the curse on us," Iran said. "That Mercer talks about."

"The dust?" he asked.

"The killers that found Mercer in his sixteenth year, when they told him he couldn't reverse time and bring things back to life again. So now all he can do is move along with life, going where it goes, to death. And the killers throw the rocks; it's they who're doing it. Still pursuing him. And all of us, actually. Did one of them cut your cheek, where it's been bleeding?"

"Yes," he said wanly.

"Will you go to bed now? If I set the mood organ to a 670 setting?"

"What does that bring about?" he asked.

"Long deserved peace," Iran said.

He got to his feet, stood painfully, his face drowsy and confused, as if a legion of battles had ebbed and advanced there, over many years. And then, by degrees, he progressed along the route to the bedroom. "Okay," he said. "Long deserved peace." He stretched out on the bed, dust sifting from his clothes and hair onto the white sheets.

No need to turn on the mood organ, Iran realized as she pressed the button which made the windows of the bedroom opaque. The gray light of day disappeared.

On the bed Rick, after a moment, slept.

She stayed there for a time, keeping him in sight to be sure he wouldn't wake up, wouldn't spring to a sitting position in fear as he sometimes did at night. And then, presently, she returned to the kitchen, reseated herself at the kitchen table.

Next to her the electric toad flopped and rustled in its box; she wondered what it "ate," and what repairs on it would run. Artificial flies, she decided.

Opening the phone book she looked in the yellow pages under animal accessories, electric; she dialed and when the saleswoman answered, said, "I'd like to order one pound of artificial flies that really fly around and buzz, please."

"Is it for an electric turtle, ma'am?"

"A toad," she said.

"Then I suggest our mixed assortment of artificial crawling and flying bugs of all types including --"

"The flies will do," Iran said. "Will you deliver? I don't want to leave my apartment; my husband's asleep and I want to be sure he's all right."

The clerk said, "For a toad I'd suggest also a perpetually renewing puddle, unless it's a horned toad, in which case there's a kit containing sand, multicolored pebbles, and bits of organic debris. And if you're going to be putting it through its feed cycle regularly I suggest you let our service department make a periodic tongue adjustment. In a toad that's vital."

"Fine," Iran said. "I want it to work perfectly. My husband is devoted to it." She gave her address and hung up.

And, feeling better, fixed herself at last a cup of black, hot coffee.
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