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Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - CODA

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And he woke again, thinking he dreamed, to a wide white smile framed with gold incisors, Aerol strapping him into a g-web in Babylon Rocker.

And then the long pulse of Zion dub.




She was gone. He felt it when he opened the door of their suite at the Hyatt. Black futons, the pine floor polished to a dull gloss, the paper screens arranged with a care bred over centuries. She was gone.

There was a note on the black lacquer bar cabinet beside the door, a single sheet of stationery, folded once, weighted with the shuriken. He slid it from beneath the nine-pointed star and opened it.


He crumpled the paper into a ball and dropped it beside the shuriken. He picked the star up and walked to the window, turning it in his hands. He'd found it in the pocket of his jacket, in Zion, when they were preparing to leave for the JALstation. He looked down at it. They'd passed the shop where she'd bought it for him, when they'd gone to Chiba together for the last of her operations. He'd gone to the Chatsubo that night, while she was in the clinic, and seen Ratz. Something had kept him away from the place, on their five previous trips, but now he'd felt like going back.

Ratz had served him without the slightest glimmer of recognition.

`Hey,' he'd said, `it's me. Case.'

The old eyes regarding him out of their dark webs of wrinkled flesh. `Ah,' Ratz had said, at last, `the artiste.' The bartender shrugged.

`I came back.'

The man shook his massive, stubbled head. `Night City is not a place one returns to, artiste,' he said, swabbing the bar in front of Case with a filthy cloth, the pink manipulator whining. And then he'd turned to serve another customer, and Case had finished his beer and left.

Now he touched the points of the shuriken, one at a time, rotating it slowly in his fingers. Stars. Destiny. I never even used the goddam thing, he thought.

I never even found out what color her eyes were. She never showed me.

Wintermute had won, had meshed somehow with Neuromancer and become something else, something that had spoken to them from the platinum head, explaining that it had altered the Turing records, erasing all evidence of their crime. The passports Armitage had provided were valid, and they were both credited with large amounts in numbered Geneva accounts. Marcus Garveywould be returned eventually, and Maelcum and Aerol given money through the Bahamian bank that dealt with Zion cluster. On the way back, in Babylon Rocker,Molly had explained what the voice had told her about the toxin sacs.

`Said it was taken care of. Like it got so deep into your head, it made your brain manufacture the enzyme, so they're loose, now. The Zionites'll give you a blood change, complete flush out.'

He stared down into the Imperial Gardens, the star in his hand, remembering his flash of comprehension as the Kuang program had penetrated the ice beneath the towers, his single glimpse of the structure of information 3Jane's dead mother had evolved there. He'd understood then why Wintermute had chosen the nest to represent it, but he'd felt no revulsion. She'd seen through the sham immortality of cryogenics; unlike Ashpool and their other children -aside from 3Jane -she'd refused to stretch her time into a series of warm blinks strung along a chain of winter.

Wintermute was hive mind, decision maker, effecting change in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality. Neuromancer was immortality. Marie-France must have built something into Wintermute, the compulsion that had driven the thing to free itself, to unite with Neuromancer.

Wintermute. Cold and silence, a cybernetic spider slowly spinning webs while Ashpool slept. Spinning his death, the fall of his version of Tessier-Ashpool. A ghost, whispering to a child who was 3Jane, twisting her out of the rigid alignments her rank required.

`She didn't seem to much give a shit,' Molly had said. `Just waved goodbye. Had that little Braun on her shoulder. Thing had a broken leg, it looked like. Said she had to go and meet one of her brothers, she hadn't seen him in a while.'

He remembered Molly on the black temperfoam of the vast Hyatt bed. He went back to the bar cabinet and took a flask of chilled Danish vodka from the rack inside.


He turned, cold slick glass in one hand, steel of the shuriken in the other.

The Finn's face on the room's enormous Cray wall screen. He could see the pores in the man's nose. The yellow teeth were the size of pillows.

`I'm not Wintermute now.'

`So what are you.' He drank from the flask, feeling nothing.

`I'm the matrix, Case.'

Case laughed. `Where's that get you?'

`Nowhere. Everywhere. I'm the sum total of the works, the whole show.'

`That what 3Jane's mother wanted?'

`No. She couldn't imagine what I'd be like.' The yellow smile widened.

`So what's the score? How are things different? You running the world now? You God?'

`Things aren't different. Things are things.'

`But what do you do? You just there?'Case shrugged, put the vodka and the shuriken down on the cabinet and lit a Yeheyuan.

`I talk to my own kind.'

`But you're the whole thing. Talk to yourself?'

`There's others. I found one already. Series of transmissions recorded over a period of eight years, in the nineteen-seventies. 'Til there was me, natch, there was nobody to know, nobody to answer.'

`From where?'

`Centauri system.'

`Oh,' Case said. `Yeah? No shit?'

`No shit.'

And then the screen was blank.

He left the vodka on the cabinet. He packed his things. She'd bought him a lot of clothes he didn't really need, but something kept him from just leaving them there. He was closing the last of the expensive calfskin bags when he remembered the shuriken. Pushing the flask aside, he picked it up, her first gift.

`No,' he said, and spun, the star leaving his fingers, flash of silver, to bury itself in the face of the wall screen. The screen woke, random patterns flickering feebly from side to side, as though it were trying to rid itself of something that caused it pain.

`I don't need you,' he said.

He spent the bulk of his Swiss account on a new pancreas and liver, the rest on a new Ono-Sendai and a ticket back to the Sprawl.

He found work.

He found a girl who called herself Michael.

And one October night, punching himself past the scarlet tiers of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority, he saw three figures, tiny, impossible, who stood at the very edge of one of the vast steps of data. Small as they were, he could make out the boy's grin, his pink gums, the glitter of the long gray eyes that had been Riviera's. Linda still wore his jacket; she waved, as he passed. But the third figure, close behind her, arm across her shoulders, was himself.

Somewhere, very close, the laugh that wasn't laughter.

He never saw Molly again.


July 1983

MY THANKS to Bruce Sterling, to Lewis Shiner, to John Shirley, Helden. And to Tom Maddox, the inventor of ICE. And to the others, who know why.

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