The night before had become a memory. The envelope containing the
chineyn earned for retiring the replicants sat on the dresser,
unopened. Reinhardt's body was sore, and so was his heart. He tried to
push the feelings away, into the place in him where he hid unpleasant
memories and emotions. The feelings of regret and guilt would have good
company in that pit in his soul.
Reinhardt sat up in bed and everything hurt. He hadn't been to see the
doctor yet, and didn't intend to go to one in the near future. Bare
feet hit old carpeting as Reinhardt walked from his bed to the
bathroom. He thought about the bottle of Tsing Tao in the cabinet under
the sink. Instead of going for it, he turned the faucet on and splashed
some water on his face. He looked in the mirror. He hadn't gotten all
of the guilt into the pit yet, some of it had taken residence in his
blue green eyes. The vid-phone rang.
"Look Bryant, I'm not coming today." He began, expecting the gruff
voice of Captain Harry Bryant on the other end and his face to be on
Instead, it was a woman, who was probably wondering who the hell
"Are you Nick Reinhardt?" She asked.
"Guilty." He responded.
"Do you still take cases?" The woman asked.
"I havent been a private eye for years, I'm sorry." Reinhardt said,
reaching for the disconnect button.
"Wait! You have to help me. Someone is trying to kill me. I was told
you were the best...that you could help." She pleaded.
"You know Howie Lee's in China Town?" Reinhardt asked.
"Yes, I've been there before."
"Okay. I'll meet you there in twenty minutes." Reinhardt said.
"Thank you very much." She responded."I'll be there in fifteen."
"Don't get to anxious, I havent taken the case yet." Reinhardt felt a
smile coming but it didn't happen.
Reinhardt had chosen and old corduroy jacket instead of his customary
trench coat. Also, his blaster was at home, between the mattresses of
his bed. He missed the weight of it but was glad to be shed of it for a
while. He wasn't unarmed though, a small revolver from his PI days was
nestled in an ankle holster on his right leg.
Reinhardt was a couple minutes early, but it was on purpose. He wanted
to see exactly what type of vehicle the woman arrived in. He was
surprised when a brand new spinner, painted cherry red, set down and
the woman emerged from it. She was dressed well, to well dressed to be
used to meeting men who hadn't shaved in the last few days at a sushi
bar, but she had the eloquent down.
She sat down on the stool beside him. He turned slightly to look her
in the eye.
"You look familiar." He paused , "Where do I know you from?"
"I'm a singer, you might have seen one of my shows. I was booked at
Taffy Lewis' for a couple of weeks last month."
"That was it." Reinhardt recognized her. Her name was Ceria Lang. "Now
why would anyone want to kill a singer?"
"That's for you to find out. It's also for you to stop it from
happening." She protested.
"I still havent taken the case yet. I'd like a little more to go on
then some mystery person waiting in the shadows to kill you."
"Okay. It started off as threats. At first, cards would be left in my
dressing room after the shows. Telling me to leave and never come back,
or be killed. Then, four days ago someone sent me a canary animoid with
it's throat ripped out."
"Unsettling." Reinhardt said.
"Very." She glared it him for a second. "But I wont give in to the
threats. I've worked to hard to let some sick man take it away from
"How do you know it's a man and not a woman?" Reinhardt asked.
"Only a man could be cruel enough to kill just to make a point." She
"You might be right, but unless there is real evidence, I have to
remain open to all possibilities." Reinhardt said.
"So...you'll take my case?" She asked.
"Hart," Bryant was known to use single syllable renderings of his
Blade Runner's names out of a sense of friendship he felt with them,
"are you serious?"
"Yes. I was going to take some leave time anyway to let my body heal
before I came back to work, this just gives me something to keep my
mind wrapped around while I'm doing it." Reinhardt defending his cause.
"Okay. You've got two weeks leave, take it. But if there's an
emergency..." Bryant's voice trailed off.
"If there's an emergency I'll be here." Reinhardt assured his captain.
"Deal. Good luck with the case, Hart."
Reinhardt's first stop was animoid row. Equipped with a photo taken of
the dead canary, he intended to find out where it had been bought and
by who. Ms Lang had agreed to pay him five hundred chinyen a day, plus
any expenses up to a thousand chinyen beyond that, but Reinhardt cut it
down to a flat eight hundred chinyen plus expenses.
He came to a relitavely new design shop on the Row, one that
specialized in birds. Reinhardt showed the photo to the shop's owner.
"My god, that's terrible!" The designer exclaimed.
"Yes, it is. This was sent to a woman as a message. She might end up
the same way if I dont find out who bought the canary. Word is that
you're the only avian animoid maker in the city. Do you remember
selling this particular canary to anyone?"
"Come to think of it, yes. If was two weeks ago, Mr...?" The designer
wanted to know who he spoke with.
"Yes, Mr.Reinhardt, it was two weeks ago. A tall man with brown hair
bought a canary from me. The only one I've sold yet."
"Do you have any surveilance images of him?" Reinhardt asked.
"No, the disks are overwritten every four days, but I can give you a
Reinhardt now knew he was looking for a tall man with brown hair, blue
eyes, and a long scar on his cheek. He knew a source he could get a lot
more information from, and he found him on the street.
"Hello Niro." Reinhardt greeted the boy.
"Reinhardt." Niro smiled. Reinhardt was a big tipper.
"Have you heard anything about a brown haired man with a scar?"
"Only a little." Niro said.
Reinhardt handed him a wad of chinyen.
"I dont know his name, but I've seen him. I think he lives in Perry
Place. I've seen him going into the building before." Niro said,
quickly pocketing Reinahrardt's money.
Perry place was decent, but the wallpaper in room 8704 was cracked and
peeling. Reinhardt heard noise from the adjacent rooms thanks in part
to the thin walls, thanks in part to the volume of the arguments. The
Blade Runner carefully examined the room from top to bottom. There were
cigarette butts in the trash, along with a couple of crumpled peices of
paper. He examined them and found them to be drafts of threats towards
There was a pen and a pad of paper that was down to it's last six
sheets on the dresser beside the bed. He pulled the drawers open.
Nothing worth investigating inside the empty drawers, or at least
nothing that Reinhardt found without effort. Pulling up a flap of the
drawer's liner revealed an identification card that was obviously
He inspected the closet, finding that the tall man with brown hair had
very asthetic tastes. There were three shirts hung up and two pairs of
slacks on one hanger. Reinhardt felt around in the shelf above the
closet. He pulled down a small box. Locked. Reinhardt produced his lock
pick set from a pocket and went to work. He hadn't had much recent
practice, but he managed to open the lock.
It was a collection of photographs of Ceria Lang in various places.
Some were even taken through a window at what he gathered was the
adress that matched the contact number Ms.Lang had given him. The brown
haired tall man was keeping tabs on Ms.Lang, and by the photographs, he
had proven he had access to her.
Reinhardt pocketed a photo and closed the box up, shoving it back into
the shelf. He looked around again. He'd wanted to find something that
would give him more to go on, perhaps a receipt in the trash with a
name on it, but there was no such liter to be found. The Blade Runner
left the room the way he'd found it, lights off, door locked, spare key
in cracked molding, and walked down the hallway.
"Ms.Lang, this is Reinhardt. I've got something I think you should
see." Reinhardt began. He looked at Ceria's face in the vid-phone's
screen. Something was wrong.
"Can you come over here?" Ms.Lang asked.
"Sure, why?" Reinhardt puzzled, what had he missed?
"Just be here. I need someone to talk to."
Ceria Lang's appartment was decorated with valuable paintings and some
of the posters from the shows she'd done recently. Reinhardt noticed
the open bottle on the glass top table and the three quarters empty
glass beside it. Ms.Lang was in the other room, Reinhardt gleaned from
the tissues on the floor around the table that something bad had
When Ms.Lang appeared, her mascera was blurred, dried in streaks down
her cheeks. Her eyes were heavy with sorrow, maybe grief.
"Did you get another threat?" Reinhardt asked.
Ceria flipped the television on, wordlessly. The program was a rerun
from the last century, but half the screen was obscured by a news
"...Garland was a self proclaimed patron of the arts. Any thing of
beauty, he bought and cherished. Recently, he donated a half million
chinyen to the Museum of Antique Artwork. It is a loss that will be
felt by many in our community. The untimely murder of Shawn Garland
raises questions...how could someone get by his two million chinyen
security system. Why would they touch nothing on the premise except
Garland? Some say that much of Garland's money and infulence stem from
underworld connections, but the crime scene didn't reveal ties to any
known figures. According to the maid's call to the police, a man came
through the window in the top floor of Garlands thirty story mansion
and murdered the philanthropist as Garland was listening to a musical
Ms.Lang turned the set back off. Fresh tears stained her face with
more of her makeup. She dropped into the chair at the table infront of
"You were close?" Reinhardt asked.
"Terribly." Ceria Lang said, looking up into Reinhardt's eyes. "I was
in an accident two years ago. My fiancee and I were out for a drive
when another car crashed into ours. Our car fell. Luckily, we were over
a lake in the North Region. When I came to, I was on the shore with my
fiancee. We were both hurt. Both badly hurt. Garland....Shawn was on a
nature hike and found us. He payed all our medical bills."
"I've read about him before. He was a good man. One of few left."
Reinhardt added. Ceria nodded.
"My fiancee didn't think so. He hated that Shawn provided for us. My
fiancee left me in the middle of sector six and I havent seen him
since. I went back to Shawn. He payed for my first singing lessons
after he heard me singing along to an old tv theme. He said my voice
was so perfect that I should get into music. He paid for my fist
recording and bought this place for me. All he asked for in return was
a private concert for his staff on Christmas Eve of every year."
Reinhardt wouldn't show her the photograph to put her even further out
of sorts, but he did insist on staying.
"Four walls are poor company."
Reinhardt was awake early. Ceria's couch was confortable, but cramped
for his six foot two frame. He sat up, looking around. For an instant
he'd expected to wake up staring at his own walls, his mind needing a
couple of milleseconds to wrap around the current surroundings.
He stood up. The wrinkles were pressed into his clothes, such is the
price to pay for sleeping in them. He crouched infront of Ms.Lang's
refrigorator and pulled the door open. There was a container of guava
"Looking for something?" Ms.Lang asked. She had allready dressed for
the day, fresh makeup on her face and her hair pulled back.
"Yeah, a glass." Reinhardt said, pulling the juice container out.
Ceria brushed past Reinhardt, a roadblock in an unfamiliar place,
reaching up and pulling open a cabinet. She pulled out two medium sized
glasses and handed them to Reinhardt. They sat oposite each other at
the table. Reinhardt poured some juice into each glass and Ceria chose
"There's something I have to tell you." Reinahrdt said as Ceria sipped
on her juice.
"What is it?" She looked up.
"I found this in an appartment at Perry Place." Reinhardt said,
pulling the photograph out of his shirt pocket and putting it on the
table. He slid it acrost to her.
"This was taken here? He can get this close to me?" She asked, setting
her juice glass back down on the table.
"I think you should re-locate. I called the police station after you
went to sleep and checked with Robbery Homicide. The suspect in the
Garland case matches the descriptions of your stalker."
"God...you think he did that to Shawn to get to me? Who would sink so
"I think you know. You've known all along exactly who was stalking and
threatening you." Reinhardt said.
"You're so good. I see why so came so highly recomended." Ceria said.
"How long ago did you see your ex-fiancee?" Reinhardt asked.
"Eighteen months. Just before the threats started."
Reinhardt nodded. It was starting to fall together. "What's his name?"
"Hello Mr.Allgood. I'm with the Los Angeles Census commitee. Would you
mind taking part in a survey?" Reinhardt adopted a nasal tone. One of
Rick Deckard's tricks had been to impersonate someone in a feild that
would grant them access to a suspect. Reinhardt was fond of the census
"Sure. Make it quick." Allgood acquiesed.
Reinhardt set up the Voight-Kampff. From what he'd gleaned of
Allgood's track record and manner, it fit with an unsolved rep case
from three years back. Why not see if you can get payed twice for the
same guy, Reinhardt thought to himself as he began the questions.
"How do you feel?" Reinhardt asked.
"Fine. What type of test is this?"
"It's a personality test. We, the census commitee, want to take a
cross section of the population. You know it's comming election time
"Okay. This wont take long, will it?"
"Not really. Pay attention. Reaction time is a factor in this."
Reinhardt began. "You look in the mirror one morning. You take a long
look. What do you see?"
"What do you see about yourself?"
"Sorrow. Regret. Little things that should have happened differently."
Reinhardt nodded. Good answer, not so good reading. "If someone were
to take something from you, how would you feel?"
"Possessions are meaningless to me. Things that I need I get. I have
nothing for someone to take."
"What if someone was taken from you?" Reinhardt probed.
"That would make me upset. Very upset. Whoever did that to me would
find out just how upset I can get." Gregg almost growled.
"Are you taking any drugs?"
"An old friend greets you after six years. They tell you that you can
have anything you want, all you have to do is ask."
"I dont see how any of this stuff figures into how I would vote in the
"Just respond to the situations. Just answer the questions." Reinhardt
"I dont take charity."
"Understandable. It's easy to come to depend on someone else for
things you cannot find in yourself." Reinhardt dug in a little. "Now,
why dont you tell me about the happiest day of you life."
"I really cant think of one."
"Then the worst day."
"They day I found out that..."
Reinhardt's right eyebrow raised, that was interseting.
"Found out what, Mr.Allgood?" Reinhardt pushed.
Gregg sat there, a weird expression on his face.
"Forget about it, Mr.Allgood. We'll move one. There is only one more
"Good. I'm getting tired of this test, and it's proctor." Gregg bit.
"How did it feet to cut that animoid canary's throat? Was it better or
worse then when you killed Shawn Garland?" Reinhardt watched the
needles as they quivered only slightly in response to the facade of
anger and surprise that Gregg donned. He was indeed a Replicant.
Gregg shoved the table at Reinhardt, knocking the Blade Runner's chair
over. Reinhardt rolled, came up and reached for his blaster. Damn, the
blaster was at home, and Reinhardt wasted precious seconds patting his
waistline for a weapon that wasn't there. Gregg had gotten to the
dresser and pulled a large knife out of the bottom drawer.
Reinhardt rolled under the table as Gregg dove at him. The Blade
Runner had some distance, but not enough to allow him to get to his
backup before Gregg would conenct with the knife. Reinhardt rolled
again, keeping the table between him and Gregg. He kicked at one of the
legs, sending the old table crashing to the ground, Voight-Kampff and
With a slight barrier between the two of them, Reinahrdt went for the
gun nestled in his ankle holster. He jerked his head back as the knife
hissed through the air. Reinhardt got to his feet as Gregg the
replicant slashed at him again. Reinhardt stumbled as Gregg connected
with a kick.
The Blade Runner landed against the wall beside the bed. He yanked the
lamp up, pulling it's cord from the wall and swung it with all of his
arms behind it. When it connected with Gregg's skull, a four inch gash
was left. The replicant was unaffected by the damage and seized
Reinhardt's throat with his free hand. He pushed the Blade Runner
against the wall. He brought the knife down, slowly. He wanted to see
fear in Reinhardt's eyes. Reinhardt wouldn't give him the satisfaction.
He grabbed the wrist that held the knife with both hands and tried to
fight the Replicant's strength.
Reinhardt's sore muscles ached with the strain. He brought a knee up,
hammering it home into Gregg's ribs, but the Replicant only smiled and
shoved the off balanced Reinhardt through the thin wall. That was his
mistake. The distance that had created between them gave Reinahrdt
enough time to reach the revolver in the ankle holster.
He put a bullet into the four corners of Gregg's chest, and one
through the center. Gregg staggered forwards, his legs growing even
more unsteady under him with each step. He collapsed beside Reinhardt.
The Blade Runner got to his feet, one round left in the cyllander, and
aimed the revolver at Gregg's head.
"Why were you stalking Ceria Lang?" He asked.
"I was...trying...." Gregg coughed artificial blood up and onto his
shirt front, " to protect her."
"From who? What?" Reinahrdt asked.
"You...the hunter...." Reinhardt didn't need the last bullet. Gregg
died on his own at the completion of his last sentence.
"Shit, Hart, how did you find this mother? He's been missing for three
years." Bryant demanded.
"I guess I'm lucky, captain."
"I guess so. Well, since you were so lucky with this one, you want to
try for the other half of the retirement bonus?"
"What do you mean?"
"This one came down with a partner. A female skin job."
Reinhardt felt a knife twisting in his stomach as he rang to buzzer
for Ceria's door. He had changed into his "blade runner outfit".
Complete ensamble, inluding the fourty four caliber blaster tucked into
his belt at the small of his back. He pressed the buzzer again. The
Ceria welcomed Reinahrdt into her appartment.
"Do you want another glass of juice?" She asked.
"No, I wont be staying long." Reinhardt said.
"Ohh." Ceria stopped. Reinhardt thought he heard a cat's meow. "I'll
be right back."
When Ceria came back into the room, she had a big, long haired, black
cat in her arms. The cat turned it's big green eyes on Reinhardt, who
could hear it purring as Ceria carressed it's head.
"His name is Schwartz." She said.
"German for black. It fits him. Is he real?" Reinahrdt asked.
"Oh yes. My second record payed for him. And he was worth it." Ceria
put the cat down infront of a saucer of milk that Reinhardt hadn't
noticed before. "Is it over?" Ceria asked.
Reinhardt paused. He watched as Ceria petted Schwartz while he lapped
up the milk. The cat's purring seeming to grow louder, almost as loud
as the smile on Ceria's face was bright. He looked deeply into her
"Yes, it's over." He said.
Four weeks later, Reinhardt stopped by to check on Ceria. He'd checked
the incept date on her file. She had a couple of weeks left at best, or
at worst, she was allready gone. Reinhardt pushed the buzzer on the
door. The door swung open.
"Hi, Reinhardt." She greeted him.
"May I come in?"
They say acrost from each other at the table. Schwartz was rubbing
against Reinhardt's legs, and purring. The cat was almost always
purring. That was something the animoid ones never quite managed to get
right. Reinhardt picked the cat up and stroked his head.
"You're good with him." Ceria said.
"When I was young, my family had three cats. This was back when they
were more common then they are now. I always liked cats." Reinhardt
"I dont remember my childhood. I dont remember anything before the
accident. The doctors can't explain it. It's the weirdest thing. All
the things I know how to do that I take for granted, I cant remember
learning them. I dont remember my parents, but they had to be kind
people. I'm sure of that." Ms.Lang smiled.
They talked for about an hour. Reinhardt kept finding himself staring
into her eyes. He was feeling so sorry for her. She actually thought
she was human. She was the closest he'd seen. Maybe whatever caused her
to forget her real past was a blessing, because it let her live a
fantastic life, if all to short.
Reinhardt was stopping by daily, for three weeks. He developed a
strong friendship with Ceria Lang by the time the inevitable happened.
One day when he stopped by, there was no answer to the door buzzer. He
flashed his badge and the manager let him in.
Ceria Lang was nothing more then a memory. Reinhardt decided not to
claim the bounty on her. He'd let her be put to rest as what she should
have been, a human. Schwartz trotted towards Reinhardt and balanced on
his hind feet, digging his front claws into the Blade Runner's pants.
Reinhardt picked the cat up and took him home.