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Running Scared

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Watching the Detectives

They beat him up until the teardrops start,
but he can't be wounded 'cause he's got no heart.

Deckard watched himself.

Shopping for groceries. A mundane task that even replicants had to do sometime. The familiar face, similar movements, buying the same brand of whiskey. Just like him. And yet, after the last few years, a completely different him. Deckard was taking his basket of goods to the checkout, the bright neon lights of the small grocery catching few highlights in the blank expression on his face. His reflection looked on silently from across the busy street.

The call from Schlecht had come late last night. He had been dreading it, but knew it was imminent. Payback time. A life saved - a life in debt. Deckard hadn't known at the time why Schlecht had saved him, perhaps an instinct that things were beginning to go wrong? But, what price a life for a promise of a little help in return in the future?

The replicant that bore his face and carried a copy of his mind was leaving the store now, casual glances left and right belying the Runner's instincts, always looking for danger. The watching Deckard shrank behind a veil of passers-by. Only a few years since that day he'd told Bryant he was leaving Rep-Detect and he'd found it wasn't that easy. He couldn't go Off-World without passing the police check and they weren't about to give him that. He didn't know any other job. Going private to carry on the killing had not been an option. Then Bryant dropped the surprise. "We will let you retire if you help us out with this Skinjob detection 'expert system' that's being developed." He never had found out if Bryant had known what the experiment really was.

Deckard followed himself down the street, the only difference between them being the fedora that now shaded his face from overhead lights. He'd been an exact copy back then. Expert System? Sure, no problem - he'd be glad to give the wisdom of his experience for a chance to escape. They didn't tell him about the replicant clone. Or that only one of them would be allowed to live. The drug he'd been given was supposed to facilitate the memory retrieval process and a week slipped past without him noticing. He was never supposed to know what they'd done. If the experiment did not prove successful after a few days, it would be terminated and the recovering human Deckard would be released back to his life none the wiser. But if the experiment were a success, then there would be no life for him.

He saw the others. The Deckard-that-wasn't had gotten a little slow, for all his caution. He had been living a sheltered life. Two years out of action took the edge off. The Deckard-that-was had not been slacking. Two years living on the edge, training, doing research, learning new skills, becoming more. And waiting for the call. The experiment had been a success. The other Deckard had settled into his miserable existence with barely a flicker. Retired but not forgotten. Always a loner, but never alone. The human Deckard had rapidly become redundant, even a risk. Schlecht had taken the responsibility himself for disposing of him. No arguments from those engrossed in their new experiment. Deckard recalled the removed Tyrell, focused on his creation's progress. The few other faces in the room that he had not known at the time, but now knew only to well. And Gaff.

The others were moving in. Had the replicant noticed? That thing that stole my existence? Schlecht had taken him away that day and explained it all. "Don't even try to kill it or your life will be finished." But wasn't his life over anyway? "You have a chance to escape, now - I'm giving you that chance." Why? "All I ask in return is that one day, you help me." Easy promise. Dangerous promise. He'd slipped away that day to his shadow life, but he hadn't left. It was one thing to turn your back on killing replicants that were almost human, but he couldn't ignore replicants that were replacing humans.

It was finally happening now. No more waiting. No more games. Time's up.

Options

Option 1 - Gaff and Deckard with a hat

Option 2 - Gaff and Deckard without a hat

Pages in white continue the story. Pages in yellow are yet to be written. Note that the unwritten options are just suggestions for how the story might continue - you can add something completely different if you like.

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Date: 2002-10-28 16:20