Thursday, November 14, 2019


Gaff woke me up at 5 in the morning, pounding his damn cane on the door. Can't call, system compromised. Yeah I know, but it still pissed me off.

"Aw, I missed you Gaff."

Fuck off. Some guy named Chew is dead.

"Gee, that's too bad. Who the hell was Chew?"

Chew was a closet industry genius who sold bio-tech prototypes to outfits like Tyrell. Zaibatsu, like they say in Japan. A stringer, subcontractor, work-for hire. No dental plan.

Gaff handed me a scribbled address, Bryant's handwriting.  

Another fun ride in Gaff's Spinner. Another crime scene in a lousy neighborhood. Chew’s place had a front office, a tough black guy at the front desk he’d hired for security.

The reps had smashed his skull in.

Inside the cryo-lab, Chew was a human popsicle. You could see the poor bastard behind the glass door, his hands pressed against the glass like a kid looking in at a candy store. A stark naked blue kid.

The reps had ripped off his protective suit. Got whatever it is they’d wanted out of him, then shut him in and set the temperature to absolute zero. Wiped the system memory of course. No faces on the security vids. Just snow, like an old time TV.

Pathetic. And totally unnecessary.

They could’ve left him his shirt, his pants, his damn underwear.

Without that suit he was dead. Setting the dial to absolute zero, he was dead even with the suit

The forensics team got there first. Nothing to do but wait until Chew thawed out. I could hear them in the outer room talking in Japanese.

I thought these things had release mechanisms.

They broke it, idiot.

They also broke the vid monitors, see? So their conversation would be private.

So we wouldn’t know what they want. 

So they wouldn't know. We don't want to know.

They looked at us.

"What the hell did they want?" I said it out loud to Gaff. He was, theoretically, my partner.

The forensics team looked away.

“What are you talking about?"

“The motive? What’s the point?”


Cityspeak for revenge.

Gaff figured Batty wanted to hurt the man who’d designed them as slaves with a four-year expiration date. He'd programmed them to die. They wanted to return the compliment. But how? Tyrell was untouchable, sitting pretty on the top of his pyramid. Batty knew it, tried to penetrate the system anyway, twice. Mary got fried, Leon got noticed. Roy had sense enough to give up. He knew he couldn’t touch the big people, so he started picking off the little people, the zaibatsu, the vulnerable types like Chew.

"When did you figure this out?"

Right away!

The flash came in saying Chew was dead. Gaff figured this out in a microsecond. Told the boss in the next microsecond. Bryant said hell, maybe you're right. Warned the other subcontractors. Staked out their residences in case the replicants showed up.

I agreed with the action, not the reasoning.

"There's a flaw in your damn theory. You're assuming Tyrell gives a shit about his underlings. He's a cold-hearted bastard. You met him. Killing little people he doesn't care about is pisspoor revenge."

"Then why'd they kill Chew?"

"Why'd they break into the pyramid in the first place?"

"Tyrell. They wanted to get to Tyrell."

"That's why they killed Chew."


"They're still trying to get to Tyrell."

Gaff called me some more unpleasant names. Used a metaphor describing the Tyrell pyramid involving a part of the female anatomy and alum. Breaking into that place was impossible. Everyone knows that, except for idiots like me who couldn't find their ass with both hands.

All this shouting made the forensics guys nervous. One of 'em pushed the wrong button. The door opened.

Chew pitched forward and shattered like an ice sculpture at a fancy dinner I wouldn't get invited to.

Back at HQ, Bryant debriefed us. Gaff helpfully pointed out that I hadn't touched the evidence from the hotel yet. Bryant busted my balls while he sat there looking smug.

No return flight. Without even asking me, they'd sent some flunky with a universal access card to pick up my car. So, I drove my way home, gliding through the 2nd street tunnel, enjoying all the pretty green tiles. Well, I didn’t drive. My car was fully self-drive, that still worked at least. Good thing, because the windshield wiper was broken and it was raining down like hell like always. Outside the tunnel, like driving through a carwash. But who wants to see what's out there anyway?

My faithful car knew where it was going and took me home. Neither rain nor snow, right? I got home. I went in the elevator, gave it my voice-print, and it recognized me.

"Deckard - Ninety-seven."

It took me up.

97th floor, the doors opened.

Rachel was waiting for me in the hallway.

I almost put a bullet in her brain.

She was shaking.

She was cute.

She followed me down the hall..

“I wanted to see you, so I waited."

That's great, Rachel. Now at least one replicant knew where I lived. Her Uncle must've given her my address. Or she took it. That's just great.

I smelled her perfume. Her fear.

I tried to put my card in the door. Fumbled.

"Let me help."

"What do I need help for?"

"I don't know why he told you what he did."

"Talk to him."

"He wouldn't see me."

Beep. I managed to get the card in.

The door opened.

I went in. Shut the door in her face. That was easy. Then I had second thoughts. Opened the door. Rachel was still standing there. She thought about it, then came in. My conapt was messy and shitty like always. Not expecting company. Not expecting her.

I’d have felt better if she was angry. But she looked scared and helpless. My inner Daddy wanted to put his arm around her. And that was making me nervous. She's not a she, Deck. She's an it.

“You want a drink? No?”

I wanted a drink. I poured one.

“You think I'm a replicant, don't you?”

I know you’re a replicant. But I didn’t say that.

Rachel knew she was a replicant. She didn’t want to know it. She wanted to think she was human. If I believed it, then maybe she’d believe it. So she had to convince me. That might work for awhile. Sure.

You can bullshit me. You can bullshit yourself.

But you can’t bullshit the VK test.

This thing was having an identity crisis. Ridiculous, huh?

And I sympathized with her.

Empathy. For a glorified wind-up doll.

She pulled out one of her fake photos from her happy childhood. Tyrell's niece, thanks for the memories.

“Look, it's me with my mother,"

Yeah. There she was. Little Rachel, sitting next to mom on a porch. They’d mapped her face ran the clock back and put her in the picture.

"A photo."

"Wow, yeah. Convincing."

"I'm six years old. See?"

"Photoshop. They’ve had it since the 80s."

She was crying. It was breaking my heart. Tell me I’m human. Just tell me. I knew she wanted to say that. You're human. I wanted to say that. But I’m a bastard.

I broke her heart instead.

“Do you remember when you were six?” I said.

Big eyes. Looking up at me.

“You and your brother snuck into an empty building through a basement window - you were gonna play doctor. He showed you his, but when it got to be your turn, you chickened and ran. Remember that? Did you ever tell anybody that? Your mother? Tyrell? Anybody?"

Tears, maybe her first. I tried to think of those baby dolls that cried. But she looked like a real woman, which would make me a real bastard. That pissed me off. So I stuck the knife in deeper.

“You remember the spider that lived in a 'bush outside your window'? 'Orange body, green legs'? Watched her build a web all summer? Then one day, there's a big egg in it. The egg hatched..."

She completed the sentence for me.

“…and a hundred baby spiders came out. And they ate her."

Looking at me. What big eyes you have. Wanted an explanation. Not the truth. An explanation where she wasn't a fake human being. That's what she wanted to hear. But it's not what I said.

"Implants. Those aren't your memories. They're somebody else's. They're Tyrell's niece's." 

Now she knew. Knew she was a replicant. Knew Tyrell had shown me the contents inside her skull. I’d won.

I’d destroyed her. I’d damned her. Hooray for me. Goddamn me.

All that water flowing out of her eyes.

I tried to take it back.

“OK, bad joke. I made a bad joke. You're not a replicant. Go home, OK? No really, I'm sorry. Go home.”

She stayed.

I wanted her to stay.

I got up to make her a drink.

Then she left. She left me alone.

I made myself another drink.

I picked up that photo. Rachel and mommy. It came alive for a second. One of the early 3-D captures. The porch shadows flickered. The little girl giggled. Then it went dead again.

Tyrell really did a job on Rachael. Right down to a snapshot of a mother she never had, a daughter she never was. Replicants weren't supposed to have feelings. Neither were blade runners. What the hell was happening to me?

I did a job on her too. I destroyed her. Went right to the heart. The cognitive-associative structure that held her together. Her memories. A lie, maybe. But real for her. The foundation of her personality. I just blew it apart.


She was gone. Nothing left to do but work.

I started going through Leon’s pictures.

Leon's pictures had to be as phony as Rachael's. I didn't know why a replicant would collect photos. Maybe they were like Rachael. They needed memories.

Sure. Tyrell had made them that way. The need was built-in.

Rachel wasn’t the only experiment.

Some of the photos were fakes. Some were real, photos they’d taken of themselves. The answer was here somewhere, but I didn’t see it yet. But the machine would.

I fed one of the snapshots into my museum-piece ESPER. First generation quantum computing. In terms of industrial design, it had the elegance and simplicity of a brick shithouse. Black box. Big, ugly and clunky looking, but it still worked great. I turned it on. The 3-D monitor came to life.

It can take a flat photograph and infer the three-dimensional space from shadows and reflections. You can go inside the space and look around corners, way beyond the original depth of field. Obviously, the more you went out from what's actually in the picture, the more guesswork there was. But it's pretty good. Sony developed it to fill in the missing pieces of old movies. The police found other uses.

How’d it work?

Interpolative pattern recognition technology based on fuzzy logic heuristics. That’s the phrase I'd memorized, nerd talk for guess work. I don’t know how it worked, OK? Maybe there was a giant replicant brain inside.

The ESPER screen turned into a window into Leon's hotel room. The flat photo turned into a 3-D space. A cartesian grid overlapped it. X-Y-Z axis.

I told the machine where to go.

"Enhance 224176. Enhance, Stop. Move in, Stop.."

I navigated through the space. Verbal commands. Tedious. The newer models infer what you want to look at from your eye tracks.

I kept that up for awhile. Then I found something.

Clothes in a closet, a showgirl's glittery dress. Moved across the room, peeked around a corner, saw a sleeping woman, whiskey glass. Snake tattoo on her left cheek. Didn't match the incept vid records ... but the lettering in the glass was flopped. Through the looking glass and what the replicants found there. Photo of a mirror, tattoo on right cheek. It had to be Zhora. Blurry, but recognizable.

"Give me a hard copy right there."

The ESPER spat out a photo.

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