Right Here, Right Now
(Los Angeles 2019 A.D.)
dedicated to Annie
because she insists on taking the credit for it
It had been a long hard month. The Blade Runner Unit had 'retired' twenty rogue Replicants in as many days, and five of the kills had been Bodie's. He had finally been sent home an hour ago by Captain Bryant, and told not to report in again until Monday. 'If you're human, you need a break,' Bryant had told his best Blade Runner. 'Go home, get those reflexes sharp again.' Bryant had been gruffly amused at Bodie's annoyance -- there were still two rogue units on the loose. 'Go on! Home!'
And Bodie had obediently returned to the towering apartment block that held two rooms on the eighty-seventh floor that were home, despite the itch to track down those two skin jobs and terminate them. With extreme prejudice. When machines went rogue -- especially strong, super-intelligent, resourceful machines like these androids -- there was only one solution. And Bodie was it.
He mulled over the divers trails that had brought him to this place, to this job, as he wearily waited for a meal to heat. He'd been in enough armies, both public and private, to now feel he'd lost track of his own history. He'd served on every continent on Earth, on the Moon, had reached far-flung Space Stations on the Ziegfield Attack Ships. The details all seemed remarkably sketchy now -- he could remember the stories, though the actual events were strangely remote. But being a Blade Runner was, somehow, the crown on his colourful career. These last two years were what his life was about.
Bodie collected his meal and cutlery, wandered over to the table. But I'm losing whatever made me the best Blade Runner. There was something that didn't quite gel any more, something within Bodie. His edge had been blurred by wayward feelings, confusion. And he got so damned weary these days -- everything had abruptly become far more difficult than it needed to be. These qualities did not a Blade Runner make. In fact, it was a well-worn joke that a Blade Runner should have no more feelings and no less energy than a Replicant.
Rarely given to such bouts of introspection, Bodie shrugged off his reflections with a vague smile. He moved to turn on his state of the art sound system, plugged in the latest blues disc. There were no neighbours to complain about the noise -- his floor, and those above and below, were all deserted -- so he programmed the volume high in an effort to chase away the uncertainties haunting him.
Bodie was deep in the surge of sad music, a bowl of reconstituted vegetables and rice, and the latest astrophysics text, when the door signalled a visitor. Surprised and impatient at the interruption, Bodie glared across at the security monitor until the man waiting outside pressed the call button again.
Bodie at last walked across to pull open the door. He swept a comprehensive glance over the intruder. Almost as tall as Bodie was, and his shoulders almost as wide, though he had a slim figure. Green eyes large in a face that shouldn't have been beautiful. But Bodie was so tired he didn't even bother wondering if the man was straight -- they usually were. Straight, or they expected more than Bodie could give. Anyhow, even when life was going his way, guys this desirable didn't land unexpectedly on his doorstep and turn out to be both gay and accommodating. 'Yes,' Bodie said after a length of uncomfortable silence.
'Doyle. Captain Bryant sent me.' Doyle returned the Blade Runner's stare, waiting for some sign that his words had registered. The other man was built on a large scale, strong, with classically handsome features and startling blue eyes framed by cropped dark hair. And he was wearing a frown that might have daunted anyone else.
At last Doyle continued, 'I have information here. About a Replicant.'
'What's its name?'
'Tully. Bryant said you were tracking him.'
'Yeah.' Bodie nodded, stood aside to let the man in. 'Which Unit are you with?'
'Well, I'm not a bloody courier,' Doyle snapped, resentful, even though it was a civil and reasonable question.
'And you reckon Bryant should have called me in and sent me down to your sterile little office... Is that what's owing to your dignity?'
Doyle glared at him. 'Detective Constable Ray Doyle. Drugs Unit.' To distract himself from his own annoyance, Doyle looked around the bare apartment, dumped the files he'd been carrying on the table by Bodie's interrupted meal. The truth was, work had been getting to Doyle lately. Over the years, it had often seemed he was the only cop in the Department with any morality or conscience or concern for getting the job done. And he'd coped with that more or less until recently, when he'd found he'd suddenly had more than enough. The last thing he needed right now was to be sent running off after someone who, from Doyle's point of view, was little better than a hired assassin. The rest of the Department considered the Blade Runners to be heroes. Doyle sighed and collected his wandering thoughts. 'Tully's been dealing,' he informed Bodie. 'Had to make a living, I suppose.'
'Do you have an address?' Bodie had turned off the music, was trying to shake off his lethargy. Reaching for his jacket, holster and gun, despite that he could admit to himself all he wanted right now was the comfort of his own bed, the benefit of a full night's sleep, without Doyle there to disturb the peace. Because Doyle didn't seem the type to... Bodie lost his train of thought, confused yet again. Was Bryant's best Blade Runner slowing up at the ripe old age of twenty-eight?
'What!' Doyle was demanding, indignant. 'You're just heading out there now to blow him away?'
'That's why Bryant sent you.'
Doyle stared at the man, revulsion written hugely across the mutable face. 'No, I don't have an address. But I have some leads.'
'Let's go, then.'
'You're not --' Doyle cut himself short, ran a hand back through his hair, absently remembering (again) that it would riot soon if it wasn't trimmed. He flipped open one of the files before him on the table, gazed at the photo of the young man. Tully looked no more than seventeen, and he was beautiful, with long blond hair and a pert face and eyes as blue as Bodie's.
'Recreational model,' Bodie said from over Doyle's shoulder. He had the smug tone of a man fondly remembering adventurous tumbles that he was nevertheless more than equal to. 'Built to go.'
The knowledge that Bodie had been with men and didn't mind admitting it jolted through the cop. Doyle himself had been gay from the moment he'd first thought about sex. And he'd been aware from the moment he'd first seen Bodie that the Blade Runner was gorgeous -- no matter that his manner was pure cold indifference. No matter that he didn't have a moral fibre in his body. Doyle hauled his attention back to the photo of the rogue Replicant with determination. There were more important dilemmas at hand.
'He deserves --' Justice. A trial. A jail sentence. Not summary --
'Termination. Bloody rogue -- it should have kept to what it was made for. It's dangerous.'
'You can't expect me to help you kill him.'
'So naive, Detective Constable. You know what my Unit does.'
'Yeah.' Doyle collected the files up again, followed Bodie to the door. He just hadn't expected to have his face rubbed in it like this.
Bodie flew them downtown in an unmarked spinner, above the traffic snarls and the crowds, through the dark and the rain, under suspension bridges stretched between the looming buildings, over crazy pedestrian catwalks. Doyle gave him a terse summation of what he knew about Tully's movements. He was only one of a number of suspects Doyle was investigating, only one connection in a network of drug buyers and sellers. When he'd finally found a name for the lovely face, and the computer had thrown the fact that Tully was a Replicant back at him, Doyle had known what the results would be. But he didn't have to like it. And he hadn't expected to be a part of it.
'They're human beings. By every definition that counts.'
Bodie was silent.
'You know what you are, don't you?' Doyle spat at him. He didn't win a reaction.
'Yeah, I know. I don't have a problem with it.'
Doyle just stared at the man. It seemed an incredible waste all round. Humanity created Replicants in its own image, but if they refused to be owned, the child-god smashed its toys. To do so, humanity turned people like Bodie into cold, ruthless killers -- the Blade Runner may well have been a fine cop, if he hadn't instead become an assassin. There had to be better solutions, for all concerned.
The trip downtown was a waste of time -- the informer Doyle was supposed to be meeting at a bar didn't show up as planned. He spent half the evening eyeing Bodie, drinking beer, and feeding his own irritation. He rarely let people close enough to annoy him as thoroughly as Bodie had. But he didn't want to explore why a Blade Runner should have got through to him in a handful of hours when his colleagues and family and sundry acquaintances couldn't.
Bodie meanwhile read quickly and thoroughly through the police files.
'Don't talk much, do you?' Doyle finally observed. His wandering mind had remembered something that had piqued his curiosity and sense of outrage a short while ago.
'Didn't think you had anything to say to me.'
'I heard a rumour.'
'Did you.' Bodie turned to the next page of the report he was skimming through. There were more rumours, legends and lies about the Blade Runner Unit than about the rest of the Police Department together.
'That they created a few Replicants to be Blade Runners.'
The blue gaze snapped up. 'What the hell --'
'It makes some perverted kind of sense, doesn't it?'
'You're skating on bloody thin ice, Doyle,' the man ground out. He couldn't remember anyone else he'd ever met who would have been able to match the cop's gall --'Calling me a fucking skin job!'
'Just wondered,' Doyle said equably. 'No need to take it to heart.'
Bodie stood. Maybe if the cop hadn't been so irritatingly attractive, the Blade Runner would have taken the files and left to chase the skin job on his own. As it was --'Let's go find that snitch of yours.'
'Long as you don't terminate her on sight,' Doyle tossed at him. He grinned at Bodie's murderous glare. 'Only kidding.'
'There's the skin job now,' Bodie whispered. They had been prowling the crowded streets and alleys, searching -- now they were wandering in relative quiet, the rain drizzling, the myriad colours of neon lights and signs reflecting on the wet asphalt.
Doyle's gaze followed Bodie's to fix on the blond hair, the lithe figure. A deal was going down, two blocks away.
More from habit than by will power, Doyle walked beside Bodie as the Blade Runner casually sauntered closer to his prey. 'You're going to cost me a lot of work,' Doyle observed lightly. 'The network he's part of -- they'll scarper. I'll never see any of them again.'
'And I should give a damn?'
'I've almost enough to bust the lot of them. Been working single-handedly on this one, too.' He'd decided it was time to try and prove something to his colleagues, something about what hard-working cops were capable of. 'Do us a favour and leave him be, just forty-eight hours. Be the highlight of my career.'
Bodie cast him a long look. 'Mind your heart -- it's bleeding all over the pavement.'
'Joined the police to put murderers behind bars, didn't I? And here I am helping one.'
A blimp passed overhead, advertising blaring, spotlights sweeping randomly. 'Just take it slow,' Bodie breathed under the camouflage of noise. They were on the same block as the Replicant now. To the casual observer they were just two guys hanging around looking for something to happen. But to Tully --
The Replicant caught sight of them, assessed the pair in less than a moment. And ran.
Bodie took off immediately, gun in hand, Doyle a step behind him.
Tully's boyish physique hid a speed and agility Doyle had rarely witnessed before. To his chagrin he began lagging behind in the mad chase, Bodie surprising him as much as the Replicant -- he'd judged the Blade Runner as strong, but would never have put money on the man keeping up with Tully, even gaining on him -- Bodie was surely built too solid.
It was the Replicant's knowledge of the area that saved him from the Blade Runner this time. He disappeared into one of the towering buildings -- the cops following him couldn't be sure of which one, having lost sight of him two twists and turns before.
'We're going to search,' Bodie said once Doyle had caught up.
The other man stared at him, amazed and horrified. 'You're crazy! You want to get ambushed in some squalid corridor, go right ahead.' He paused for a few angry breaths. 'You want a knife between your ribs in the dark, help yourself. But don't count me in your plans.'
'Need you to watch my back.'
Doyle didn't register the warning note in the request. 'No chance.'
Bodie turned an expression of cold fury on the man. 'That's an order, Detective Constable. I have the authority.'
But it wasn't that that got through to Doyle -- he'd ignored authority before when it had suited him. It was the sight of Bodie walking on to the next tower, crouching with his back to the wall to quickly check that his gun was fully charged and loaded. He seemed a vulnerable and insignificant figure alone in the desolate crowd of buildings. Doyle's admiration for the man's skills and determination reluctantly grew to equal and balance his revulsion for the Blade Runner's task. The man at least demonstrated more dedication than Doyle's colleagues in the Drugs Unit together, let alone more intelligence. He wouldn't help Bodie murder Tully -- but neither would he stand by and watch a man who had asked him for help walk into possible ambush.
Giving voice to a string of curses, he jogged over to the Blade Runner. And was surprised to find he'd won a smile from the man. 'You're still crazy,' Doyle said.
Bodie's smile grew. 'Who's crazier -- the madman, or the man who follows him?'
Doyle chuckled wryly, appreciating the humour despite himself, his conflicting feelings about Bodie evident on his face. 'Don't worry -- I'm fully aware of the answer to that one.'
And Bodie surprised them both with quiet laughter. After a moment he looked away, serious again, trying to collect his scattered thoughts. Then he coolly shrugged, and led the way inside.
As they exited the third building along, Doyle heaved a theatrical sigh and leant back against the stonework. 'The tension is killing me.' Luckily the few people they had come across in the mostly derelict towers had been more surprised than the two cops. But they were pushing their luck -- someone was going to come hunt them sooner or later for having the temerity to be here. 'Face it -- Tully's long gone. Or he has a safe bolthole. Or he's laughing at us from the next building and we'll never pin him down.'
Bodie nodded, reluctant to let go.
Eyeing his companion, Doyle could see he was bone-weary. 'Come on, we'll be home before dawn if we're lucky.'
'Not going back.'
'What?' Doyle's sympathy turned to exasperation. 'You're not staying down here?' He continued in the face of Bodie's silence, 'Tully won't be showing his face again.'
'Got to pick up his trail.'
Doyle shook his head. 'I would have called it tenacity if I was feeling complimentary.'
'I've got a job to do.'
'Look at you -- you're all in. Bryant told me you hadn't had a day off in a month. He thought it was funny, that you'd be at it again as soon as I came over.'
Bodie just looked sullen.
'We've wasted enough time anyway.' Doyle looked around them. 'Let's go back upstairs, find somewhere out of the way. You can have a kip.'
At last Bodie allowed, 'Just for an hour.'
Doyle gazed at the Blade Runner, free to speculate now Bodie was oblivious to his attention. He had begun to suspect Bodie proved that rumour true.
All the Replicants were beautiful, or full of a stereotyped character. Distinctive. Why make them ugly, or even plain, after all? Humanity had the vanity to want its children to be superb. Their strength, agility, intelligence were way beyond the norm, whatever their function. And they were built and programmed for a purpose. Fulfilling that purpose was all that they cared about -- except for the rogues that the Blade Runner Unit hunted -- and they had no distracting emotions or conflicting loyalties to get in the way. Doyle envied them their sense of purpose -- they knew why they existed.
And here was Bodie, as beautiful a man as Doyle had ever seen. As strong and supple and fast as a panther. More than smart, judging from the books littering the otherwise bare apartment, from how quickly he'd picked up all Doyle's data on Tully, from his at times pointed conversation. And so damned determined to do his job and do it well. 'Optimum sufficiency' was the term for Replicants who functioned at the level Bodie did. It all added up to an answer that sickened Doyle.
Creating Replicants to kill their own kind. And not even allowing them the self-knowledge, the awareness of who and what they were, that the other Replicants had.
It made a difference to Doyle -- if Bodie had been born and not made, Doyle would despise him as a cold-blooded murderer. But if, as the cop was beginning to believe, the Blade Runner was a Replicant, then Doyle could pity him, could admire his good qualities for what they were in essence. Despite what Bodie was programmed to use those qualities for.
And something else made a difference -- the trust Bodie had placed in Doyle's own abilities and motivations for this short hour. It might have been a necessary evil, but Bodie had accepted it when few others had. Doyle favoured the unknowing man with a wary smile.
Bodie woke abruptly, opened his eyes to see the cop sitting by him on the floor. He feigned sleep for a few moments longer, still weary beyond what he'd ever known before. This last month had got to him like nothing else ever had. It was crazy -- he'd put more work in than this before he joined the Blade Runner Unit, worked more hours for less results for longer times at a stretch. But something was happening within him. Things were starting to matter -- things other than the job.
And maybe this determined refusal to let Tully go once he'd caught sight of him was an over-reaction due to all this internal turmoil. Trying to pretend that his life was proceeding on the same even keel. That he was still the perfectly functioning Blade Runner.
But Detective Constable Ray Doyle was, unwittingly, making it impossible for Bodie to maintain those delusions. All his questions, his disgust at Bodie's job, his idiosyncratic opinions about skin jobs -- to the Blade Runner's surprise, all the man's words found faint echoes within him. And Bodie hadn't questioned anything for as long as he could remember. He frowned, trying to think back over his soldiering days, his childhood -- but there were no questions there, and he hadn't had any answers either. It all now seemed like a biography he'd once read.
And, on top of his words, there was Doyle's overwhelming, disturbingly desirable physical presence. The man was ugly in the way that human beings are. Not like the crafted, too clever features of the Replicants -- Bodie far preferred the natural accident of beauty he could see in Doyle. But, being used to simply finding a little mindless, energetic sexual relief on a regular basis, Bodie was unsure how to even define what his body wanted from Doyle. All he knew was that it was more, a lot more, than he'd had or even dreamed of until now. And he reluctantly acknowledged it wasn't just a physical response, either.
Doyle looked at his watch, turned to Bodie only to find him already awake. 'Time to get going,' Doyle said.
'Wild goose chase,' Bodie admitted.
'No -- let's try to pick up his trail, seeing as we're here. There's a couple of people I can talk to, if we can find them.'
'Don't humour me, Doyle.'
The man seemed to find that funny. 'I've got a job to do, too. You can watch my back this time.'
Reeling under the influence of Doyle's smile, Bodie stumbled to his feet. He almost lost his balance for a moment, but Doyle was smoothly rising, holding Bodie's upper arm to steady him. They were close for that moment, staring at each other. Bodie could have leant in to take the man's mouth with his own. He sensed Doyle would have allowed it, but Bodie was wary of what he wanted from the cop, and vastly unsure of what Doyle would want from him in turn. Instead of taking that leap in the dark, Bodie schooled his features into their usual cold, efficient mask, and pulled away from Doyle's grip. 'Let's get going.'
They spent the majority of the daylit hours wandering downtown, searching. The rain had stopped at last, but the few patches of sky visible above were still dull. They spoke to anyone that would listen, followed the few fruitless leads they were given, but Tully might as well have left the planet.
And, whenever they were alone, Doyle had questions. Bodie patiently found him as good an answer for each as he could.
'What did you do before you became a Blade Runner? -- Travel light, don't you?' There were no mementoes at Bodie's apartment -- just books and the new collection of music discs and the bare essentials for existence. -- 'Do you have anything that you've owned for more than two years? -- Why did you become a Blade Runner? -- But why do you believe the job needs doing?'
Or were they Bodie's own questions? Was he mentally putting himself through some sort of Voight-Kampff test? And how many born-humans would pass that bloody test anyway?
Finally Bodie gave up on the pretence of searching for the rogue Replicant, headed back home with Doyle in tow. He was exhausted, numb, sick inside at all the confusion.
'How come you're so cold, indifferent, uninterested? -- Have you ever felt anything for anyone? -- Do you remember your mother?'
Bodie knew, hopelessly, wearily, what Doyle believed. 'You think I don't feel?' he said when his apartment door was behind them, shutting out the world. His hands reached, grasped Doyle's shoulders, hauled him close for a long, searching kiss. Finally broke away when they were both breathless, aroused, needing. This was perhaps the only thing Bodie was at all sure of any more. 'You trying to tell me I don't feel this?'
'No,' Doyle whispered, uncertain.
'Maybe it's you that doesn't feel it.'
'No.'-- confident this time. And Doyle stepped close again, took the man into his arms.
Bodie let Doyle take the initiative now, accepting the urgent hands and mouth, standing firm against the insistent pressure of Doyle's body. Amazed at how much he wanted this, how much more he wanted. Sensations kicked through him, jarring the growing pain in his chest. He responded blindly to Doyle's kisses, forced his hands to run lightly up and down the cop's back, numbly aware of Doyle's hard erection through the material of their jeans.
The bed was a few shaky paces away -- Doyle led him there, impatiently got them both undressed. Then Bodie was pushed down to the mattress, Doyle following, tangling up close.
For a while, Doyle seemed content to thrust his cock against Bodie's, mouth devouring his face and shoulders and chest all the while. But at last, with an incoherent curse, he pulled away, rolled Bodie up onto his side. And Doyle stretched along Bodie's spine, fumbling in his urgency to gain access to the man's body.
There was a long, still moment once Doyle had possession of him. 'Dear god, Bodie,' he muttered, wondering both at himself and at Bodie's passive acceptance. But then Bodie shifted infinitesimally, and Doyle's doubts were seared away in the heat of pleasure. 'Dear god...' He reached for Bodie's cock, his hand matching his body's urgent thrusts, chasing Bodie to completion before surrendering to his own.
Stillness again. Bodie lay curled up in Doyle's heavy, sated embrace, trying to cage in the chestful of pain, refusing to betray it to Doyle in any way. Whatever Bodie was feeling for, or because of, Doyle -- the birth of it hurt.
But eventually Doyle moved, was alarmed to discover how incredibly tense the man in his arms was. He leant up on an elbow, held Bodie carefully, wouldn't let him pull away, gentled him with soothing hands and lips -- maybe answering his own need as well as responding to Bodie's. Eventually the Blade Runner started to return the cop's caresses, initiating a slower game of loving. Gradually, he began to uncurl, to stretch against the pain, to let it ease. And, at last, he quit trying to deny the vulnerability.
Afterwards, he fell asleep. But the confusion continued to haunt his dreams.
'No fiction here,' Doyle observed, wandering around the apartment, fully dressed, peering into all Bodie had to show for his life.
Bodie lay in his bed, still naked, having woken to find only cold sheets where Doyle had been.
'Why is that? Not that you don't have a fascinating collection of non-fiction.'
You've made your point, Doyle. And rammed it home. Bodie didn't read fiction -- he didn't understand it. Though he was now beginning to wonder if it wouldn't have been wise research.
Bodie looked around him. Everything in his apartment was created, synthetic. And nothing was more than two years old. Except for Ray Doyle.
He knew what Doyle believed. And he knew in that moment that Doyle was right. Maybe he'd known it all along, deep down in the heart they'd given him -- it was his programmed mind that had battled on, not interested in the truth.
I'm a new and artificial construct, just like all my possessions. The goods reflect the man.
His fledgling emotions had been trying to win his attention the last few weeks, surprising him with music, with confusion and doubt. And then there had been the assault on his body, mind and soul that was Ray Doyle. There was no way to avoid the truth any longer.
'Come on, Bodie. I'll buy you breakfast, then we can start after Tully again.'
Heading for the bathroom, Bodie ignored Doyle's assessing gaze. He remained silent while he showered and dressed, outwardly indifferent to the witness. Silent while they walked catwalks and pavements to a nearby cafe, while Doyle badgered him with plans for the day. Silent while he waited for the full ramifications of his new knowledge to make themselves known.
But Doyle wanted an answer.
'We're letting Tully go,' Bodie said once they were settled at a table and had ordered a meal. Bodie found he had more of an appetite than he'd had in weeks.
'Just letting him run? Why?' Doyle was staring at him again, sharp and determined.
'You bloody well know why.'
Bodie sighed, beginning for the first time in his life to look into his future. He was a Replicant -- a creation, not a born-human. And he was a rogue. Just like all those poor bloody skin jobs he'd 'retired' over the past two years, the ones who'd developed their own emotions, who'd thought they were human, who'd decided they weren't property any longer. The ones who'd found questions that they wanted answers to.
Well, damn it all to hell, Bodie thought he was human, even though Doyle had made him realise he was in fact a two year old, flesh-and-bone machine, programmed to kill his own kind.
But Doyle had stayed the night, knowing. Doyle had given him what Bodie had needed and hadn't been able to describe even to himself. Doyle didn't hate him for what he was. Not like so many others would.
Bodie let out a strangled laugh. 'Bryant's going to die -- getting 'retirement' orders for me. He'll die of the shame of it.'
'He wouldn't know?'
'Hell, no. I'm his best. He liked me.' At Doyle's frown, Bodie elaborated, 'He loathes skin jobs. Especially ones with a mind of their own. He wouldn't have the first idea he had a Replicant working for him. Fears them, I suppose,' Bodie added, wondering. Was his own prejudice programmed? Did knowing that negate his brain's instruction to hate? How much of him -- No, it's all a program. My soldiering days are someone else's memory, or poorly written fiction. So are my parents.
I start right here, right now, from scratch.
Doyle was watching him closely. 'You're taking this very well,' he said, cautious. More worried than relieved. He had expected anger, outrage, disgust. Instead, Bodie was full of a gently amused and quiet dignity. The man seemed to have at last found himself some peace.
'It's the truth that matters,' Bodie replied. The confusion, the sense of wrongness, were beginning to ebb away -- that was what he most cared about. Maybe there would be worse times to cope with, but for now he was simply satisfied. His life was his own, to do with as he would. Smiling, he shrugged at his companion. 'You going to hang around? Might need someone to pick up the pieces later, when it all comes crashing down.'
'Sure.' Though Doyle was still wary. 'Don't have anything to stay here for.'
Doyle shook his head. 'There are other things we can do.' And Bodie, with his new self-awareness that Doyle had somehow miraculously been a part of, meant more to Doyle than the Department where he'd never belonged, a job that he'd never had the support to do properly. Bodie might well be the first and the last person he felt this much a part of.
And, Doyle admitted, his curiosity was ablaze. What would Bodie do now -- what would he become? Would all those qualities that Doyle had admired him for remain his?
Bodie was continuing, 'First thing is to get out of Bryant's jurisdiction. Out into the wilderness. Up to the Moon. Whatever. Then we can look at new careers. Or not, as we like -- I've got money put aside.' Money he'd rarely had anything to spend on before now.
'That's the trap they fall into. They want to know who made them, they have questions and they never do like the answers. Add to that, their creators don't like being questioned, don't like facing the fact they've failed.'
'That's enough for you,' Doyle said flatly, still needing to be convinced. 'Just knowing that, is enough?'
Bodie returned the man's stare. 'What do they say? -- life's too short, Doyle. I might only have another two years. Termination dates. It would all be on file -- that's another mistake they make, wanting to know.'
'Jesus,' Doyle breathed, face pale. He reached across the table, clutched Bodie's hands tight in his. 'But you might not have a termination date. They might have decided to let you grow old.'
'If I survived the job, that is. There aren't many Blade Runners die of natural causes.' Bodie laughed. 'Maybe you're right. But they don't let the sophisticated ones have long -- four years usually. Too likely to turn rogue.'
'Then we get out of here. Make the most of it.'
'Yeah.' Bodie gazed across at the man. He had his own simple self to build on. And he had this man's companionship. He had two years. It was a good place to start.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Other Times and Places 3, OTP Press, 1992