Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Went in with Gaff. They didn’t let us in, not right away. Security check, pain in the ass, took forever. Then some IT guy led Gaff to a secure workstation to check the employee data base in case we missed one. They put me on the secure elevator and sent me up to meet the big man. 

Tyrell wasn't there. The test model wasn't there either. Penthouse suite the size of an airplane hanger, slanted windows looking out on the gleaming Tyrell complex. Nothing but vast empty space and expensive stuff, and I'm here all alone, except for the blinking white owl on a perch. I set up the VK rig on a long table. After that, I had nothing to do for maybe five minutes. I stood there like a clown. Then his niece came out. Rachel. I studied her, figured she was studying me.

Rachel was beautiful, cold. Self-contained body language, wearing a dress that cost more than the police Spinner on the roof. Black Irish features, a hint of Germanic cheekbones from her uncle's side of the family. Exuding class and disgust for sweaty cops who did the dirty work for the family business.

She walked up to me. The kind of walk that takes hours of practice and coaching by trained professionals.

"Do you like our owl?" she said.

"It's artificial?"

"Of course."

Of course. Sure. The owls were all dead. If the damn thing was real, by law they'd have to surrender it to the wildlife dogooders who'd clone it, help reintroduce the species. Something told me it was real. They owned it and they were keeping it. To hell with the planet.

"Must be expensive."

"Very. I'm Rachel."


"It seems you feel our work is not a benefit to the public."

"Replicants are like any other machine. They're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, it's not my problem."

"May I ask you a personal question?"


"Have you ever retired a human by mistake?"


"But in your position that is a risk?"

I shook my head no. I lied. Schizophrenics with low affect. Austism, Ausberger's Syndrome. Certain kinds of drug abusers. Of course it's a risk. We didn't make it public.

Tyrell finall showed up. He looked like his owl. If his owl wore big stupid glasses.

He had a way of walking and talking. Like he owned the world. He was one of the five guys who did. Did being successful make you an asshole, or did being an asshole make you successful?

He pointed to my gear. Happy and excited, for some damn reason.

"Is this to be an empathy test? Capillary dilation of the so-called blush response? Fluctuation of the pupil? Involuntary dilation of the iris?"

"We call it Voight-Kampff for short."

Rachel remembered her manners.

"Mr. Deckard, Dr. Eldon Tyrell."

I nodded. He ignored me. Pointed to the VK rig again. 

"Demonstrate it. I want to see it work."

"Where's the subject?"

"I want to see it work on a person. I want to see a negative before I provide you with a positive."

"What's that going to prove?"

"Indulge me."

"On you?"

"Try her."

Rachel shrugged, bored. Fine, no problem.

"It's too bright in here."

Sky the color of spoiled milk, late afternoon sun still visible. Could affect dilation response.

Tyrell waved his hand. The windows polarized and the room got darker.

We sat down at opposite ends of the table, VK rig between us. SOP.

"Do you mind if I smoke?"

"It won't affect the test."

Rachel lit up a cigarette like she'd practiced that too. I prepped my gear and studied her some more.

She reminded me of somebody. One of those actresses from the days when movies were flat and usually black and white. Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall, somebody like that. A wreath of smoke surrounded her face like the clouds around our sick planet. Maybe that's why she reminded me of those dead actresses. They smoked a lot back then, just like now, but for different reasons. Today, doctors tell you to smoke. Back then it was bad for you.

"All right, I'm going to ask you a series of questions. Just relax and answer them as simply as you can."

She nodded and I started.

"It's your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet."

"I wouldn't accept it. Also, I'd report the person who gave it to me to the police."

"You've got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar."

"I'd take him to the doctor."

"You're watching television. Suddenly you realize there's a wasp crawling on your arm."

"I'd kill it."

"You're reading a magazine. You come across a full page nude photo of a girl."

"Is this testing whether I'm a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?"

No, the lesbian test comes later. I wanted to say that, but they don't pay me to be a smartass. I had a feeling she wasn't a lesbian.

"Just answer the questions, please -- You show it to your husband. He likes it so much he hangs it on your bedroom wall."

"I wouldn't let him."

"Why not?"

"I should be enough for him."

This went on for awhile. The results were confusing, at first. Then they weren't.

"One more question. You're watching a stage play. A banquet is in progress. The guests are enjoying an appetizer of raw oysters. The entree consists of boiled dog."

She looked disgusted. Didn't answer.

Tyrell took charge.

"Would you step out for a few moments, Rachel? Thank you."

She left the room. A little rattled, but keeping it together.

Tyrell stood there grinning, cat that ate the canary, hungry for another canary.

"She's a replicant, isn't she?"

"I'm impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot them?"

"I don't get it Tyrell."

"How many questions?"

"Twenty, thirty, cross-referenced."

"It took more than a hundred for Rachael, didn't it?"

"She doesn't know?"

"She's beginning to suspect, I think."

"Suspect? How can it not know what it is?"

He gave me a patronizing look. Then gave me a sales pitch.

"Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell. 'More human than human' is our motto. Rachel is an experiment, nothing more."

"What's the point?"

Asked the idiot child. He smiled indulgently. Answered the idiot question.

"Well ... we began to recognize in them a strange obsession. After all, they are emotionally inexperienced with only a few years in which to store up the experiences which you and I take for granted. If we gift them with a past, we create a cushion or pillow for their emotions and consequently we can control them better."

A lot of puffy words. Like styrofoam packing peanuts hiding a small, ugly truth. "If we gift them with a past." Like saying, "If we gift them darkies with chains." Slippery bastard. I put it more crudely.

"Memories. You're talking about memories."

Tyrell smiled.

"Yes, I am."

"Or it's a scam," I said. "Rachel's human. You've coached her or drugged her to blunt her affect responses."

"That would be unethical."

I laughed in his face.

"She's Nexus-6, I assure you, Mr. Deckard. In fact, I'll show you."

Tyrell took me into his private vid room. Nicer than the one at the station. Real executive class. Plush seats and all that crap. Made me sign a non-disclosure agreement, do the eyeprint thing.

Then he showed me.

Showed me the tank they grew her in.

Clips showing her gestation. 18 months, like any other replicant.

Showed me Rachel's inception.

Showed me how he read the memories out of his niece’s head. Without telling her.

How he wrote the memories to Rachel’s head.

Then edited them. Changed names, places. Wove them into the narrative of Rachel's life -- the fake legend that she thought was her past. Turned his niece’s memories into Rachel’s memories. Baby spiders eating their mother. Playing doctor with her little brother. He showed me all that. Things I didn’t want to see. Technology that’s not supposed to exist.

New kind of magnetic resonance tech, quantum level. Can measure fields in the microtesla range. Or target fields. Mind reading machine, basically.

Stuff that could pull any secret out of my mind, your mind, anybody's mind. Put stuff in and make you do anything, maybe. All of this was against the law. We still had laws, right? This tech could destroy government security, corporate security, personal security. I'm a cop and he's showing it to me. Theoretically, I should slam him against the wall, read him his rights and throw him in jail. The possibility never occurred to him. That's not the way the world works.

Why was he showing me this? To prove something? Rachel's inception log was proof enough.

He was crazy.

Tyrell had to make them better. Replicants were slaves, right? If you made them too human, they wouldn’t want to be slaves any more.

But he had to make them better. More human. More human than human. His corporate slogan, for chrissakes. Damn it, Tyrell wanted to beat the test. Wanted to gloat and say, you can't tell the difference. She's human, she's not human. You don't even know!

But these things couldn’t be human. That was the law. And it was just common sense.

If your replicant slave wakes up and says, "Wait a minute. I'm a slave. Being a slave sucks," chances are he's going to rebel. That's bad for business. They can't get too human.

They were born as full-formed adults and grew up fast. Tyrell tried to control them with conditioning that kept them docile and a cage of false memories. But they'd mature, think, feel, break out. Either turn psychotic or too human to use as slaves. His fail safe against that? A four-year death clock on the cellular level. The whole system was unstable and dangerous as hell. But that was his business model.

He started boasting again. Just wait till the Nexus Sevens came out. They'd get all the bugs out.


This Owl-faced pencil neck geek was going to get us all killed.

I kept my mouth shut. One word from him could get me killed. Death squads. A guy like him, it was easy.

Tyrell asked for my address.

"I'm sorry. We're not allowed to give that out."

"That's all right."

The sonofabitch had it, of course.

He smiled. Light flashed off his big glasses.

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