The small beam of white light shone steadily into the left eye of Rachael Rosen, and against her cheek the wire-mesh disk adhered. She seemed calm.
Seated where he could catch the readings on the two gauges of the Voigt-Kampff testing apparatus, Rick Deckard said, "I'm going to outline a number of social situations. You are to express your reaction to each as quickly as possible. You will be timed, of course."
"And of course," Rachael said distantly, "my verbal responses won't count. It's solely the eye-muscle and capillary reaction that you'll use as indices. But I'll answer; I want to go through this and --" She broke off. "Go ahead, Mr. Deckard."
Rick, selecting question three, said, "You are given a calf-skin wallet on your birthday." Both gauges immediately registered past the green and onto the red; the needles swung violently and then subsided.
"I wouldn't accept it," Rachael said. "Also I'd report the person who gave it to me to the police."
After making a jot of notation Rick continued, turning to the eighth question of the Voigt-Kampff profile scale. "You have a little boy and he shows you his butterfly collection, including his killing jar."
"I'd take him to the doctor." Rachael's voice was low but firm. Again the twin gauges registered, but this time not so far. He made a note of that, too.
"You're sitting watching TV," he continued, "and suddenly you discover a wasp crawling on your wrist."
Rachael said, "I'd kill it." The gauges, this time, registered almost nothing: only a feeble and momentary tremor. He noted that and hunted cautiously for the next question.
"In a magazine you come across a full-page color picture of a nude girl." He paused.
"Is this testing whether I'm an android," Rachael asked tartly, "or whether I'm homosexual?" The gauges did not register.
He continued, "Your husband likes the picture." Still the gauges failed to indicate a reaction. "The girl," he added, "is lying face down on a large and beautiful bearskin rug." The gauges remained inert, and he said to himself, An android response. Failing to detect the major element, the dead animal pelt. Her -- its -- mind is concentrating on other factors. "Your husband hangs the picture up on the wall of his study," he finished, and this time the needles moved.
"I certainly wouldn't let him," Rachael said.
"Okay," he said, nodding. "Now consider this. You're reading a novel written in the old days before the war. The characters are visiting Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. They become hungry and enter a seafood restaurant. One of them orders lobster, and the chef drops the lobster into the tub of boiling water while the characters watch."
"Oh god," Rachael said. "That's awful! Did they really do that? It's depraved! You mean a live lobster?" The gauges, however, did not respond. Formally, a correct response. But simulated.
"You rent a mountain cabin," he said, "in an area still verdant. It's rustic knotty pine with a huge fireplace."
"Yes," Rachael said, nodding impatiently.
"On the walls someone has hung old maps, Currier and Ives prints, and above the fireplace a deer's head has been mounted, a full stag with developed horns. The people with you admire the decor of the cabin and you all decide --"
"Not with the deer head," Rachael said. The gauges, however, showed an amplitude within the green only.
"You become pregnant," Rick continued, "by a man who has promised to marry you. The man goes off with another woman, your best friend; you get an abortion and --"
"I would never get an abortion," Rachael said. "Anyhow you can't. It's a life sentence and the police are always watching." This time both needles swung violently into the red.
"How do you know that?" Rick asked her, curiously. "About the difficulty of obtaining an abortion?"
"Everybody knows that," Rachael answered.
"It sounded like you spoke from personal experience." He watched the needles intently; they still swept out a wide path across the dials.
"One more. You're dating a man and he asks you to visit his apartment. While you're there he offers you a drink. As you stand holding your glass you see into the bedroom; it's attractively decorated with bullfight posters, and you wander in to look closer. He follows after you, closing the door. Putting his arm around you, he says --"
Rachael interrupted, "What's a bullfight poster?"
"Drawings, usually in color and very large, showing a matador with his cape, a bull trying to gore him." He was puzzled. "How old are you?" he asked; that might be a factor.
"I'm eighteen," Rachael said. "Okay; so this man closes the door and puts his arm around me. What does be say?"
Rick said, "Do you know how bullfights ended?"
"I suppose somebody got hurt."
"The bull, at the end, was always killed." He waited, watching the two needles. They palpitated restlessly, nothing more. No real reading at all.
" A final question," he said. "Two-part. You are watching an old movie on TV, a movie from before the war. It shows a banquet in progress; the guests are enjoying raw oysters."
"Ugh," Rachael said; the needles swung swiftly.
"The entree," he continued, "consists of boiled dog, stuffed with rice."
The needles moved less this time, less than they had for the raw oysters.
"Are raw oysters more acceptable to you than a dish of boiled dog? Evidently not." He put his pencil down, shut off the beam of light, removed the adhesive patch from her cheek. "You're an android," he said. "That's the conclusion of the testing," he informed her -- or rather it -- and Eldon Rosen, who regarded him with writhing worry; the elderly man's face contorted, shifted plastically with angry concern.
"I'm right, aren't I?" Rick said. There was no answer, from either of the Rosens. "Look," he said reasonably. "We have no conflict of interest; it's important to me that the Voigt-Kampff test functions, almost as important as it is to you."
The elder Rosen said, "She's not an android."
"I don't believe it," Rick said.
"Why would he lie?" Rachael said to Rick fiercely. "If anything, we'd lie the other way."
"I want a bone marrow analysis made of you," Rick said to her. "It can eventually be organically determined whether you're android or not; it's slow and painful, admittedly, but --"
"Legally," Rachael said, "I can't be forced to undergo a bone marrow test. That's been established in the courts; self-incrimination. And anyhow on a live person -- not the corpse of a retired android -- it takes a long time. You can give that damn Voigt-Kampff profile test because of the specials; they have to be tested for constantly, and while the government was doing that you police agencies slipped the Voigt-Kampff through. But what you said is true; that's the end of the testing." She rose to her feet, paced away from him, and stood with her hands on her hips, her back to him.
"The issue is not the legality of the bone marrow analysis," Eldon Rosen said huskily. "The issue is that your empathy delineation test failed in response to my niece. I can explain why she scored as an android might. Rachael grew up aboard Salander 3. She was born on it; she spent fourteen of her eighteen years living off its tape library and what the nine other crew members, all adults, knew about Earth. Then, as you know, the ship turned back a sixth of the way to Proxima. Otherwise Rachael would never have seen Earth -- anyhow not until her later life."
"You would have retired me," Rachael said over her shoulder. "In a police dragnet I would have been killed. I've known that since I got here four years ago; this isn't the first time the Voigt-Kampff test has been given to me. In fact I rarely leave this building; the risk is enormous, because of those roadblocks you police set up, those flying wedge spot checks to pick up unclassified specials."
"And androids," Eldon Rosen added. "Although naturally the public isn't told that; they're not supposed to know that androids are on Earth, in our midst."
"I don't think they are," Rick said. "I think the various police agencies here and in the Soviet Union have gotten them all. The population is small enough now; everyone, sooner or later, runs into a random checkpoint." That, anyhow, was the idea.
"What were your instructions," Eldon Rosen asked, "if you wound up designating a human as android?"
"That's a departmental matter." He began restoring his testing gear to his briefcase; the two Rosens watched silently. "Obviously," he added, "I was told to cancel further testing, as I'm now doing. If it failed once there's no point in going on." He snapped the briefcase shut.
"We could have defrauded you," Rachael said. "Nothing forced us to admit you mistested me. And the same for the other nine subjects we've selected." She gestured vigorously. "All we had to do was simply go along with your test results, either way."
Rick said, "I would have insisted on a list in advance. A sealed-envelope breakdown. And compared my own test results for congruity. There would have had to be congruity." And I can see now, he realized, that I wouldn't have gotten it. Bryant was right. Thank god I didn't go out bounty hunting on the basis of this test.
"Yes, I suppose you would have done that," Eldon Rosen said. He glanced at Rachael, who nodded. "We discussed that possibility," Eldon said, then, with reluctance.
"This problem," Rick said, "stems entirely from your method of operation, Mr. Rosen. Nobody forced your organization to evolve the production of humanoid robots to a point where --"
"We produced what the colonists wanted," Eldon Rosen said. "We followed the time-honored principle underlying every commercial venture. If our firm hadn't made these progressively more human types, other firms in the field would have. We knew the risk we were taking when we developed the Nexus-6 brain unit. But your Voigt-Kampff test was a failure before we released that type of android. If you had failed to classify a Nexus-6 android as an android, if you had checked it out as human -- but that's not what happened." His voice had become hard and bitingly penetrating. "Your police department -- others as well -- may have retired, very probably have retired, authentic humans with underdeveloped empathic ability, such as my innocent niece here. Your position, Mr. Deckard, is extremely bad morally. Ours isn't."
"In other words," Rick said with acuity, "I'm not going to be given a chance to check out a single Nexus- 6. You people dropped this schizoid girl on me beforehand." And my test, he realized, is wiped out. I shouldn't have gone for it, he said to himself. However, it's too late now.
"We have you, Mr. Deckard," Rachael Rosen agreed in a quiet, reasonable voice; she turned toward him, then, and smiled.
He could not make out, even now, how the Rosen Association had managed to snare him, and so easily. Experts, he realized. A mammoth corporation like this -- it embodies too much experience. It possesses in fact a sort of group mind. And Eldon and Rachael Rosen consisted of spokesmen for that corporate entity. His mistake, evidently, had been in viewing them as individuals. It was a mistake he would not make again.
"Your superior Mr. Bryant," Eldon Rosen said, "will have difficulty understanding how you happened to let us void your testing apparatus before the test began." He pointed toward the ceiling, and Rick saw the camera lens. His massive error in dealing with the Rosens had been recorded. "I think the right thing for us all to do," Eldon said; "is sit down and --" He gestured affably. "We can work something out, Mr. Deckard. There's no need for anxiety. The Nexus-6 variety of android is a fact; we here at the Rosen Association recognize it and I think now you do, too."
Rachael, leaning toward Rick, said, "How would you like to own an owl?"
"I doubt if I'll ever own an owl." But he knew what she meant; be understood the business the Rosen Association wanted to transact. Tension of a kind he had never felt before manifested itself inside him; it exploded, leisurely, in every part of his body. He felt the tension, the consciousness of what was happening, take over completely.
"But an owl," Eldon Rosen said, "is the thing you want." He glanced at his niece inquiringly. "I don't think he has any idea --"
"Of course he does," Rachael contradicted. "He knows exactly where this is heading. Don't you, Mr. Deckard?" Again she leaned toward him, and this time closer; he could smell a mild perfume about her, almost a warmth. "You're practically there, Mr. Deckard. You practically have your owl." To Eldon Rosen she said, "He's a bounty hunter; remember? So be lives off the bounty he makes, not his salary. Isn't that so, Mr. Deckard?"
"How many androids escaped this time?" Rachael inquired.
Presently he said, "Eight. Originally. Two have already been retired, by someone else; not me."
"You get how much for each android?" Rachael asked.
Shrugging, he said, "It varies."
Rachael said, "If you have no test you can administer, then there is no way you can identify an android. And if there's no way you can identify an android there's no way you can collect your bounty. So if the Voigt-Kampff scale has to be abandoned --"
"A new scale," Rick said, "will replace it. This has happened before." Three times, to be exact. But the new scale, the more modern analytical device, had been there already; no lag had existed. This time was different.
"Eventually, of course, the Voigt-Kampff scale will become obsolete," Rachael agreed. "But not now. We're satisfied ourselves that it will delineate the Nexus 6 types and we'd like you to proceed on that basis in your own particular, peculiar work." Rocking back and forth, her arms tightly folded, she regarded him with intensity. Trying to fathom his reaction.
"Tell him he can have his owl," Eldon Rosen grated.
"You can have the owl," Rachael said, still eyeing him. "The one up on the roof. Scrappy. But we will want to mate it if we can get our hands on a male. And any offspring will be ours; that has to be absolutely understood."
Rick said, "I'll divide the brood."
"No," Rachael said instantly; behind her Eldon Rosen shook his head, backing her up. "That way you'd have claim to the sole bloodline of owls for the rest of eternity. And there's another condition. You can't will your owl to anybody; at your death it reverts back to the association."
"That sounds," Rick said, "like an invitation for you to come in and kill me. To get your owl back immediately. I won't agree to that; it's too dangerous."
"You're a bounty hunter," Rachael said. "You can handle a laser gun -- in fact you're carrying one right now. If you can't protect yourself, how are you going to retire the six remaining Nexus-6 andys? They're a good deal smarter than the Grozzi Corporation's old W-4."
"But I hunt them," he said. "This way, with a reversion clause on the owl, someone would be hunting me." And he did not like the idea of being stalked; he had seen the effect on androids. It brought about certain notable changes, even in them.
Rachael said, "All right; we'll yield on that. You can will the owl to your heirs. But we insist on getting the complete brood. If you can't agree to that, go on back to San Francisco and admit to your superiors in the department that the Voigt-Kampff scale, at least as administered by you, can't distinguish an andy from a human being. And then look for another job."
"Give me some time," Rick said.
"Okay," Rachael said. "Well leave you in here, where it's comfortable." She examined her wristwatch.
"Half an hour," Eldon Rosen said. He and Rachael filed toward the door of the room, silently. They had said what they intended to say, he realized; the rest lay in his lap.
As Rachael started to close the door after herself and her uncle, Rick said starkly, "You managed to set me up perfectly. You have it on tape that I missed on you; you know that my job depends on the use of the Voigt-Kampff scale; and you own that goddamn owl."
"Your owl, dear," Rachael said. "Remember? We'll tie your home address around its leg and have it fly down to San Francisco; it'll meet you there when you get off work."
It, he thought. She keeps calling the owl it. Not her. "Just a second," he said.
Pausing at the door, Rachael said, "You've decided?"
"I want," he said, opening his briefcase, "to ask you one more question from the Voigt-Kampff scale. Sit down again."
Rachael glanced at her uncle; he nodded and she grudgingly returned, seating herself as before. "What's this for?" she demanded, her eyebrows lifted in distaste -- and wariness. Her perceived her skeletal tension, noted it professionally.
Presently he had the pencil of light trained on her right eye and the adhesive patch again in contact with her cheek. Rachael stared into the light rigidly, the expression of extreme distaste still manifest.
"My briefcase," Rick said as he rummaged for the Voigt-Kampff forms. "Nice, isn't it? Department issue."
"Well, well," Rachael said remotely.
"Babyhide," Rick said. He stroked the black leather surface of the briefcase. "One hundred percent genuine human babyhide." He saw the two dial indicators gyrate frantically. But only after a pause. The reaction had come, but too late. He knew the reaction period down to a fraction of a second, the correct reaction period; there should have been none. "Thanks, Miss Rosen," be said, and gathered together the equipment again; he had concluded his retesting. "That's all."
"You're leaving?" Rachael asked.
"Yes," he said. "I'm satisfied."
Cautiously, Rachael said, "What about the other nine subjects?"
"The scale has been adequate in your case," he answered. "I can extrapolate from that; it's clearly still effective."
To Eldon Rosen, who slumped morosely by the door of the room, he said, "Does she know?" Sometimes they didn't; false memories had been tried various times, generally in the mistaken idea that through them reactions to testing would be altered.
Eldon Rosen said, "No. We programmed her completely. But I think toward the end she suspected." To the girl he said, "You guessed when he asked for one more try."
Pale, Rachael nodded fixedly.
"Don't be afraid of him," Eldon Rosen told her. "You're not an escaped android on Earth illegally; you're the property of the Rosen Association, used as a sales device for prospective emigrants." He walked to the girl, put his hand comfortingly on her shoulder; at the touch the girl flinched.
"He's right," Rick said. "I'm not going to retire you, Miss Rosen. Good day." He started toward the door, then halted briefly. To the two of them he said, "Is the owl genuine?"
Rachael glanced swiftly at the elder Rosen.
"He's leaving anyhow," Eldon Rosen said. "It doesn't matter; the owl is artificial. There are no owls."
"Hmm," Rick muttered, and stepped numbly out into the corridor. The two of them watched him go.
Neither said anything. Nothing remained to say. So that's how the largest manufacturer of androids operates, Rick said to himself. Devious, and in a manner he had never encountered before. A weird and convoluted new personality type; no wonder law enforcement agencies were having trouble with the Nexus-6.
The Nexus-6. He had now come up against it. Rachael, he realized; she must be a Nexus-6. I'm seeing one of them for the first time. And they damn near did it; they came awfully damn close to undermining the Voigt-Kampff scale, the only method we have for detecting them. The Rosen Association does a good job -- makes a good try, anyhow -- at protecting its products.
And I have to face six more of them, be reflected. Before I'm finished.
He would earn the bounty money. Every cent.
Assuming he made it through alive.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?
a stern warning of things to come|empathy|genius|industrial revolution - the robots won|philip k dick|pkd|qlippoth|replicants|