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Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 12

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`I wasn't conscious. It's like cyberspace, but blank. Silver. It smells like rain... You can see yourself orgasm, it's like a little nova right out on the rim of space. But I was starting to remember.Like dreams, you know. And they didn't tell me. They switched the software and started renting to specialty markets.'

She seemed to speak from a distance. `And I knew, but I kept quiet about it. I needed the money. The dreams got worse and worse, and I'd tell myself that at least some of them werejust dreams, but by then I'd started to figure that the boss had a whole little clientelegoing for me. Nothing's too good for Molly, the boss says, and gives me this shit raise.' She shook her head. `That prick was charging eighttimes what he was paying me, and he thought I didn't know.'

`So what was he charging for?'

`Bad dreams. Real ones. One night... one night, I'd just come back from Chiba.' She dropped the cigarette, ground it out with her heel, and sat down, leaning against the wall. `Surgeons went way in, that trip. Tricky. They must have disturbed the cut-out chip. I came up. I was into this routine with a customer...' She dug her fingers deep in the foam. `Senator, he was. Knew his fat face right away. We were both covered with blood. We weren't alone. She was all...' She tugged at the temperfoam. `Dead. And that fat prick, he was saying, `What's wrong. What's wrong?' 'Cause we weren't finishedyet...'

She began to shake.

`So I guess I gave the Senator what he really wanted, you know?' The shaking stopped. She released the foam and ran her fingers back through her dark hair. `The house put a contract out on me. I had to hide for a while.'

Case stared at her.

`So Riviera hit a nerve last night,' she said. `I guess it wants me to hate him real bad, so I'll be psyched up to go in there after him.'

`After him?'

`He's already there. Straylight. On the invitation of Lady 3Jane, all that dedication shit. She was there in a private box, kinda...'

Case remembered the face he'd seen. `You gonna kill him?'

She smiled. Cold. `He's going to die, yeah. Soon.'

`I had a visit too,' he said, and told her about the window, stumbling over what the Zone-figure had said about Linda. She nodded.

`Maybe it wants you to hate something too.'

`Maybe I hate it.'

`Maybe you hate yourself, Case.'

`How was it?' Bruce asked, as Case climbed into the Honda.

`Try it sometime,' he said, rubbing his eyes.

`Just can't see you the kinda guy goes for the puppets,' Cath said unhappily, thumbing a fresh derm against her wrist.

`Can we go home, now?' Bruce asked.

`Sure. Drop me down Jules Verne, where the bars are.'


Rue Jules Verne was a circumferential avenue, looping the spindle's midpoint, while Desiderata ran its length, terminating at either end in the supports of the Lado-Acheson light pumps. If you turned right, off Desiderata, and followed Jules Verne far enough, you'd find yourself approaching Desiderata from the left.

Case watched Bruce's trike until it was out of sight, then turned and walked past a vast, brilliantly lit newsstand, the covers of dozens of glossy Japanese magazines presenting the faces of the month's newest simstim stars.

Directly overhead, along the nighted axis, the hologram sky glittered with fanciful constellations suggesting playing cards, the faces of dice, a top hat, a martini glass. The intersection of Desiderata and Jules Verne formed a kind of gulch, the balconied terraces of Freeside cliff dwellers rising gradually to the grassy tablelands of another casino complex. Case watched a drone microlight bank gracefully in an updraft at the green verge of an artificial mesa, lit for seconds by the soft glow of the invisible casino. The thing was a kind of pilotless biplane of gossamer polymer, its wings silkscreened to resemble a giant butterfly. Then it was gone, beyond the mesa's edge. He'd seen a wink of reflected neon off glass, either lenses or the turrets of lasers. The drones were part of the spindle's security system, controlled by some central computer.

In Straylight? He walked on, past bars named the Hi-Lo, the Paradise, le Monde, Cricketeer. Shozoku Smith's, Emergency. He chose Emergency because it was the smallest and most crowded, but it took only seconds for him to realize that it was a tourist place. No hum of biz here, only a glazed sexual tension. He thought briefly of the nameless club above Molly's rented cubicle, but the image of her mirrored eyes fixed on the little screen dissuaded him. What was Wintermute revealing there now? The ground plans of the Villa Straylight? The history of the Tessier-Ashpools?

He bought a mug of Carlsberg and found a place against the wall. Closing his eyes, he felt for the knot of rage, the pure small coal of his anger. It was there still. Where had it come from? He remembered feeling only a kind of bafflement at his maiming in Memphis, nothing at all when he'd killed to defend his dealing interests in Night City, and a slack sickness and loathing after Linda's death under the inflated dome. But no anger. Small and far away, on the mind's screen, a semblance of Deane struck a semblance of an office wall in an explosion of brains and blood. He knew then: the rage had come in the arcade, when Wintermute rescinded the simstim ghost of Linda Lee, yanking away the simple animal promise of food, warmth, a place to sleep. But he hadn't become aware of it until his exchange with the holo-construct of Lonny Zone.

It was a strange thing. He couldn't take its measure.

`Numb,' he said. He'd been numb a long time, years. All his nights down Ninsei, his nights with Linda, numb in bed and numb at the cold sweating center of every drug deal. But now he'd found this warm thing, this chip of murder. Meat,some part of him said. It's the meat talking, ignore it.


He opened his eyes. Cath stood beside him in a black shift, her hair still wild from the ride in the Honda.

`Thought you went home,' he said, and covered his confusion with a sip of Carlsberg.

`I got him to drop me off at this shop. Bought this.' She ran her palm across the fabric, curve of the pelvic girdle. He saw the blue derm on her wrist. `Like it?'

`Sure.' He automatically scanned the faces around them, then looked back at her. `What do you think you're up to, honey?'

`You like the beta you got off us, Lupus?' She was very close now, radiating heat and tension, eyes slitted over enormous pupils and a tendon in her neck tense as a bowstring. She was quivering, vibrating invisibly with the fresh buzz. `You get off?'

`Yeah. But the comedown's a bitch.'

`Then you need another one.'

`And what's that supposed to lead to?'

`I got a key. Up the hill behind the Paradise, just the creamiest crib. People down the well on business tonight, if you follow me...'

`If I follow you.'

She took his hand between hers, her palms hot and dry. `You're Yak, aren't you, Lupus? Gaijin soldierman for the Yakuza.'

`You got an eye, huh?' He withdrew his hand and fumbled for a cigarette.

`How come you got all your fingers, then? I thought you had to chop one off every time you screwed up.'

`I never screw up.' He lit his cigarette.

`I saw that girl you're with. Day I met you. Walks like Hideo. Scares me.' She smiled too widely. `I like that. She like it with girls?'

`Never said. Who's Hideo?'

`3Jane's, what she calls it, retainer. Family retainer.'

Case forced himself to stare dully at the Emergency crowd while he spoke. `Dee-Jane?'

`Lady 3Jane. She's triff. Rich. Her father owns all this.'

`This bar?'


`No shit. You keepin'~ some class company, huh?' He raised an eyebrow. Put his arm around her, his hand on her hip. `So how you meet these aristos, Cathy? You some kinda closet deb? You an'~ Bruce secret heirs to some ripe old credit? Huh?' He spread his fingers, kneading the flesh beneath the thin black cloth. She squirmed against him. Laughed.

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