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Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 21

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`Okay. Sure. It's seamless.'

She started to cry again, a dry sobbing. `Well, damn you anyway, Case,' she managed, finally, `I was doin'~ just fine here by myself.'

He got up, taking his jacket, and ducked through the doorway, scraping his wrist on rough concrete. There was no moon, no wind, sea sound all around him in the darkness. His jeans were tight and clammy. `Okay,' he said to the night, `I buy it. I guess I buy it. But tomorrow some cigarettes better wash up.' His own laughter startled him. `A case of beer wouldn't hurt, while you're at it.' He turned and re-entered the bunker.

She was stirring the embers with a length of silvered wood. `Who was that, Case, up in your coffin in Cheap Hotel? Flash samurai with those silver shades, black leather. Scared me, and after, I figured maybe she was your new girl, 'cept she looked like more money than you had...' She glanced back at him. `I'm real sorry I stole your RAM.'

`Never mind,' he said. `Doesn't mean anything. So you just took it over to this guy and had him access it for you?'

`Tony,' she said. `I'd been seein'~ him, kinda. He had a habit an'~ we... anyway, yeah, I remember him running it by on this monitor, and it was this real amazing graphics stuff, and I remember wonderin'~ how you --'

`There wasn't any graphics in there,' he interrupted.

`Sure was. I just couldn't figure how you'd have all those pictures of when I was little,Case. How my daddy looked, before he left. Gimme this duck one time, painted wood, and you had a picture of that...'

`Tony see it?'

`I don't remember. Next thing, I was on the beach, real early, sunrise, those birds all yellin'~ so lonely. Scared 'cause I didn't have a shot on me, nothin'~, an'~ I knew I'd be gettin'~ sick... An'~ I walked an'~ walked, 'til it was dark, an'~ found this place, an'~ next day the food washed in, all tangled in the green sea stuff like leaves of hard jelly.' She slid her stick into the embers and left it there. `Never did get sick,' she said, as embers crawled. `Missed cigarettes more. How 'bout you, Case? You still wired?' Firelight dancing under her cheekbones, remembered flash of Wizard's Castle and Tank War Europa.

`No,' he said, and then it no longer mattered, what he knew, tasting the salt of her mouth where tears had dried. There was a strength that ran in her, something he'd known in Night City and held there, been held by it, held for a while away from time and death, from the relentless Street that hunted them all. It was a place he'd known before; not everyone could take him there, and somehow he always managed to forget it. Something he'd found and lost so many times. It belonged, he knew -he remembered -as she pulled him down, to the meat, the flesh the cowboys mocked. It was a vast thing, beyond knowing, a sea of information coded in spiral and pheromone, infinite intricacy that only the body, in its strong blind way, could ever read.

The zipper hung, caught, as he opened the French fatigues, the coils of toothed nylon clotted with salt. He broke it, some tiny metal part shooting off against the wall as salt-rotten cloth gave, and then he was in her, effecting the transmission of the old message. Here, even here, in a place he knew for what it was, a coded model of some stranger's memory, the drive held.

She shuddered against him as the stick caught fire, a leaping flare that threw their locked shadows across the bunker wall.

Later, as they lay together, his hand between her thighs, he remembered her on the beach, the white foam pulling at her ankles, and he remembered what she had said.

`He told you I was coming,' he said.

But she only rolled against him, buttocks against his thighs, and put her hand over his, and muttered something out of dream.


The music woke him, and at first it might have been the beat of his own heart. He sat up beside her, pulling his jacket over his shoulders in the predawn chill, gray light from the doorway and the fire long dead.

His vision crawled with ghost hieroglyphs, translucent lines of symbols arranging themselves against the neutral backdrop of the bunker wall. He looked at the backs of his hands, saw faint neon molecules crawling beneath the skin, ordered by the unknowable code. He raised his right hand and moved it experimentally. It left a faint, fading trail of strobed afterimages.

The hair stood up along his arms and at the back of his neck. He crouched there with his teeth bared and felt for the music. The pulse faded, returned, faded...

`What's wrong?' She sat up, clawing hair from her eyes. `Baby...'

`I feel... like a drug... You get that here?'

She shook her head, reached for him, her hands on his upper arms.

`Linda, who told you? Who told you I'd come? Who?'

`On the beach,' she said, something forcing her to look away. `A boy. I see him on the beach. Maybe thirteen. He lives here.'

`And what did he say?'

`He said you'd come. He said you wouldn't hate me. He said we'd be okay here, and he told me where the rain pool was. He looks Mexican.'

`Brazilian,' Case said, as a new wave of symbols washed down the wall. `I think he's from Rio.' He got to his feet and began to struggle into his jeans.

`Case,' she said, her voice shaking, `Case, where you goin'~?'

`I think I'll find that boy,' he said, as the music came surging back, still only a beat, steady and familiar, although he couldn't place it in memory.

`Don't, Case.'

`I thought I saw something, when I got here. A city down the beach. But yesterday it wasn't there. You ever seen that?' He yanked his zipper up and tore at the impossible knot in his shoelaces, finally tossing the shoes into the corner.

She nodded, eyes lowered. `Yeah. I see it sometimes.'

`You ever go there, Linda?' He put his jacket on.

`No,' she said, `but I tried. After I first came, an'~ I was bored. Anyway, I figured it's a city, maybe I could find some shit.' She grimaced. `I wasn't even sick, I just wanted it. So I took food in a can, mixed it real wet, because I didn't have another can for water. An'~ I walked all day, an'~ I could see it, sometimes, city, an'~ it didn't seem too far. But it never got any closer. An'~ then it wasgettin'~ closer, an'~ I saw what it was. Sometimes that day it had looked kinda like it was wrecked, or maybe nobody there, an'~ other times I thought I'd see light flashin'~ off a machine, cars or somethin'~...' Her voice trailed off.

`What is it?'

`This thing,' she gestured around at the fireplace, the dark walls, the dawn outlining the doorway, `where we live. It gets smaller,Case, smaller, closer you get to it.'

Pausing one last time, by the doorway. `You ask your boy about that?'

`Yeah. He said I wouldn't understand, an'~ I was wastin'~ my time. Said it was, was like... an event.An'~ it was our horizon. Event horizon,he called it.'

The words meant nothing to him. He left the bunker and struck out blindly, heading -he knew, somehow -away from the sea. Now the hieroglyphs sped across the sand, fled from his feet, drew back from him as he walked. `Hey,' he said, `it's breaking down. Bet you know, too. What is it? Kuang? Chinese icebreaker eating a hole in your heart? Maybe the Dixie Flatline's no pushover, huh?'

He heard her call his name. Looked back and she was following him, not trying to catch up, the broken zip of the French fatigues flapping against the brown of her belly, pubic hair framed in torn fabric. She looked like one of the girls on the Finn's old magazines in Metro Holografix come to life, only she was tired and sad and human, the ripped costume pathetic as she stumbled over clumps of salt-silver sea grass.

And then, somehow, they stood in the surf, the three of them, and the boy's gums were wide and bright pink against his thin brown face. He wore ragged, colorless shorts, limbs too thin against the sliding blue-gray of the tide.

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