Dead Planet XXXIV

Dead Planet XXXIV

“When the symbols an organism
uses to grasp and manipulate
reality are false-to-the-facts, this
is called a semantic disturbance.
Sanity is approached by checking
symbols against their referents.
Neurosis results from the attempt
to protect false-to-the-facts
associations from criticism.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

[Rachael#69: meets Rick leaving the greenhouse.]

Rick: “You wanna tell me now?”

Rachael#69: “Tell you what?”

Rick: “What it is you're trying to find out this time?

[Rachael#69 pretends to look puzzled.]

Rick: “You know, it's a funny thing. You or one of your Rachel clones are always trying to find out things. Like what Tyrell’s trying to find out. And I'm not trying to find out anything. He wanted to talk to me, that’s all.”

Rachael#69: “You could go on forever, couldn't you? Anyway it'll give us something to talk about next time we meet.”

Rick: “Among other things.”

Rachael#69: “If you can use me again sometime, call this number.”

Rick: “Day or night?”

Rachael#69: “Uh, day's better. The snakes sleep then.”

Rick: “Hmm-hmm.”

Rachael#69: “Your story doesn’t sound quite right.”

Rick: “What story? Gotta a better one?”

Rachael#69: “Maybe I can find one.”

Rick: “Did I hurt you much, sugar?”

Rachael#69: "You and every other man I've ever met.”

Rick: “How'd you happen to pick out this Snake? The one back there in the greenhouse. The Head Snake?”

Rachael#69: “Maybe I wanted to hold his hand.”

Rick: “Oh, you can do better than that.”

Rachael#69: “You're cute.”

Rick: “I'm getting cuter every minute.”

Rachael#69: “Is the kid as cute as you are?”

Rick: “Nobody is.”

Rachael#69: “What will your next step be?”

Rick: “The usual one.”

Rachael#69: “I didn't know there was a usual one.”

Rick: “Well sure there is—it comes complete with diagrams on page 47 on how to be a detective. In 10 easy lessons. Distance learning is cheap these days, you know? And uh, plus I collect blondes and whiskey bottles too.”

Rachael#69: [again] “You're cute. I like you.”

Rick: “Yeah, what you see’s what you get, Rachel. I’ve got a Balinese dancing girl tattooed across my chest.”

Rachael#69: [again] “You're cute. I like you. I like you too much.”

Rick: “Yeah, that’s what all you Rachael clones say. How many of them are there?”

Rachael#69: “I’m #69. Tyrell liked that Nexus model. He created a lot of us—here & there.”

Rick: “Yeah, I know. But I liked the first one. She was the best. The only droid chick I ever loved.”

Rachael#69: “He’s getting ready to croak, you know. The Tyrell clone. The Lizards live 300 years—but his time is just about up. I feel sorry for him.”

Rick: “I didn’t know you droid-chicks loved anybody?”

Rachael#69: “Your Rachael loved you, Rick.”

Rick: “Yeah, but she couldn’t help it. My animal charms turned her humanoid.”

Rachael#69: “And the Predictress?”

Rick: “See? There you go. Tryin’ to weasel secrets outta me. She’s a droid like you—why don’t you ask her, sweetheart?”

Rachael#69: “I would, but nobody knows where she is. Her and the kid. They’ve been pushing me to find out. Before it’s too late?”

Rick: “Too late?”

Rachael#69: “Well, duh. You know the Lizard lord is dying. The Tyrell clone didn’t cough-up much anything. Except…”

Rick: “Except what?”

Rachael#69: “C’mon, Rick. Now you’re the one grilling me for secrets.”

[Rachael and Rick reach the elevator hatch. The doors dial open silently—to whisk him back to his Jag-jet ten miles up above. Outta subsurface Mars Underground City—to the freedom of fresh Martian sunshine & air.]

Rick: “Touché, my dear. I owe you one.”

Rachael#69: “You know what he wants, don’t you?”

Rick: [Smiling, lighting up an electronic Marlboro.]

Rachael#69: “He wants an Exit Visa. He knows Lizards have no afterlives. Only humans.”

Rick: “What does he expect? His Tyrell charade is as fuckin’ close—as he’ll ever get to being human.”

Rachael#69: “That’s what I mean. He likes it too much. It gave him a taste for being human. He wants to go all the way. He’s bored with being a Snake—even if he’s the head Lizard Lord.”

Rick: “Sweetheart, these tunnels are tapped. He’s listening to us right now. I hope you realize that.”

Rachael#69: “He told me to tell you all this.”

Rick: “Why didn’t he ask me himself?”

Rachael#69: “He’s too proud. Lizard lords don’t ever admit they’re wrong. To say he wants to be human—it’s treason to the Lizard Universe.”

Rick: “Exit visas—they’re hard to come by.”

Rachael#69: “He knows that.”

Rick: “What’s he want me to do? What’s in it for me?”

Rachael#69: “You get to live.”

Rick: “Yeah, but for how long? Once Lizards get what they want—they off you just like that.”

Rachael#69: “You’re his last hope. Tyrell’s research & the Martian Archives hit a brick wall—when it comes to that sort of thing.”

Rick: “What sort of thing?”

Rachael#69: “You know. The kinda stuff the kid’s into—and the Predictress. The Mayan connection—the pyramids, time-travel & all that stuff.”

Rick: “I gotta go now, honey. I’m startin’ to feel claustrophobic down here.”

Rachael#69: “You’re always the difficult kind, Rick.”

Rick: “That’s what everybody says, honey.”

Rachael#69: “Will I see you again, sometime?”

Rick: “We gotta stop meetin’ this way.”

Rachael#69: “Can I go home with you?”

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