Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - PART FOUR

`Oh, you know,' she said, lids half lowered in what must have been intended as a look of modesty, `she likes to party. Bruce and I, we make the party circuit... It gets real boring for her, in there. Her old man lets her out sometimes, as long as she brings Hideo to take care of her.'

`Where's it get boring?'

`Straylight, they call it. She told me, oh, it's pretty, all the pools and lilies. It's a castle, a real castle, all stone and sunsets.' She snuggled in against him. `Hey, Lupus, man, you need a derm. So we can be together.'

She wore a tiny leather purse on a slender neck-thong. Her nails were bright pink against her boosted tan, bitten to the quick. She opened the purse and withdrew a paperbacked bubble with a blue derm inside. Something white tumbled to the floor; Case stooped and picked it up. An origami crane.

`Hideo gave it to me,' she said. `He tried to show me how, but I can't ever get it right. The necks come out backwards.' She tucked the folded paper back into her purse. Case watched as she tore the bubble away, peeled the derm from its backing, and smoothed it across his inner wrist.

`3Jane, she's got a pointy face, nose like a bird?' He watched his hands fumble an outline. `Dark hair? Young?'

`I guess. But she's triff,you know? Like, all that money.'

The drug hit him like an express train, a white-hot column of light mounting his spine from the region of his prostate, illuminating the sutures of his skull with x-rays of short-circuited sexual energy. His teeth sang in their individual sockets like tuning forks, each one pitch-perfect and clear as ethanol. His bones, beneath the hazy envelope of flesh, were chromed and polished, the joints lubricated with a film of silicone. Sandstorms raged across the scoured floor of his skull, generating waves of high thin static that broke behind his eyes, spheres of purest crystal, expanding...

`Come on,' she said, taking his hand. `You got it now. We got it. Up the hill, we'll have it all night.'

The anger was expanding, relentless, exponential, riding out behind the betaphenethylamine rush like a carrier wave, a seismic fluid, rich and corrosive. His erection was a bar of lead. The faces around them in Emergency were painted doll things, the pink and white of mouth parts moving, moving, words emerging like discrete balloons of sound. He looked at Cath and saw each pore in the tanned skin, eyes flat as dumb glass, a tint of dead metal, a faint bloating, the most minute asymmetries of breast and collarbone, the -something flared white behind his eyes.

He dropped her hand and stumbled for the door, shoving someone out of the way.

`Fuck you!' she screamed behind him, `you ripoff shit!'

He couldn't feel his legs. He used them like stilts, swaying crazily across the flagstone pavement of Jules Verne, a distant rumbling in his ears, his own blood, razored sheets of light bisecting his skull at a dozen angles.

And then he was frozen, erect, fists tight against his thighs, head back, his lips curled, shaking. While he watched the loser's zodiac of Freeside, the nightclub constellations of the hologram sky, shift, sliding fluid down the axis of darkness, to swarm like live things at the dead center of reality. Until they had arranged themselves, individually and in their hundreds, to form a vast simple portrait, stippled the ultimate monochrome, stars against night sky. Face of Miss Linda Lee.

When he was able to look away, to lower his eyes, he found every other face in the street upraised, the strolling tourists becalmed with wonder. And when the lights in the sky went out, a ragged cheer went up from Jules Verne, to echo off the terraces and ranked balconies of lunar concrete.

Somewhere a clock began to chime, some ancient bell out of Europe.


He walked till morning.

The high wore away, the chromed skeleton corroding hourly, flesh growing solid, the drug-flesh replaced with the meat of his life. He couldn't think. He liked that very much, to be conscious and unable to think. He seemed to become each thing he saw: a park bench, a cloud of white moths around an antique streetlight, a robot gardener striped diagonally with black and yellow.

A recorded dawn crept along the Lado-Acheson system, pink and lurid. He forced himself to eat an omelette in a Desiderata cafe, to drink water, to smoke the last of his cigarettes. The rooftop meadow of the Intercontinental was stirring as he crossed it, an early breakfast crowd intent on coffee and croissants beneath the striped umbrellas.

He still had his anger. That was like being rolled in some alley and waking to discover your wallet still in your pocket, untouched. He warmed himself with it, unable to give it a name or an object.

He rode the elevator down to his level, fumbling in his pocket for the Freeside credit chip that served as his key. Sleep was becoming real, was something he might do. To lie down on the sand-colored temperfoam and find the blankness again.

They were waiting there, the three of them, their perfect white sportsclothes and stenciled tans setting off the handwoven organic chic of the furniture. The girl sat on a wicker sofa, an automatic pistol beside her on the leaf-patterned print of the cushion.

`Turing,' she said. `You are under arrest.'




`Your name is Henry Dorsett Case.' She recited the year and place of his birth, his BAMA Single Identification Number, and a string of names he gradually recognized as aliases from his past.

`You been here awhile?' He saw the contents of his bag spread out across the bed, unwashed clothing sorted by type. The shuriken lay by itself, between jeans and underwear, on the sand-tinted temperfoam.

`Where is Kolodny?' The two men sat side by side on the couch, their arms crossed over tanned chests, identical gold chains slung around their necks. Case peered at them and saw that their youth was counterfeit, marked by a certain telltale corrugation at the knuckles, something the surgeons were unable to erase.

`Who's Kolodny?'

`That was the name in the register. Where is she?'

`I dunno,' he said, crossing to the bar and pouring himself a glass of mineral water. `She took off.'

`Where did you go tonight, Case?' The girl picked up the pistol and rested it on her thigh, without actually pointing it at him.

`Jules Verne, couple of bars, got high. How about you?' His knees felt brittle. The mineral water was warm and flat.

`I don't think you grasp your situation,' said the man on the left, taking a pack of Gitanes from the breast pocket of his white mesh blouse. `You are busted, Mr.~ Case. The charges have to do with conspiracy to augment an artificial intelligence.' He took a gold Dunhill from the same pocket and cradled it in his palm. `The man you call Armitage is already in custody.'


The man's eyes widened. `Yes. How do you know that that is his name?' A millimeter of flame clicked from the lighter.

`I forget,' Case said.

`You'll remember,' the girl said.

Their names, or worknames, were Michle, Roland, and Pierre. Pierre, Case decided, would play the Bad Cop, Roland would take Case's side, provide small kindnesses -he found an unopened pack of Yeheyuans when Case refused a Gitane -and generally play counterpoint to Pierre's cold hostility. Michle would be the Recording Angel, making occasional adjustments in the direction of the interrogation. One or all of them, he was certain, would be kinked for audio, very likely for simstim, and anything he said or did now was admissible evidence. Evidence, he asked himself, through the grinding come-down, of what?

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