DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP
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.