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Last Call

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So you're waiting for a shuttle off-planet. There's ten minutes before you have to board and your lover hasn't arrived. What do you do?

It's like some sick version of the Voight-Kampff test; Rachael has to stifle a burst of hysterical laughter at the thought. She twists her hands in her lap and forces herself to breathe slower, hoping to calm her racing heart.

After leaving Los Angeles they'd driven up north. Deckard had heard a rumour about a shuttle service operating from across the Russo-Canadian border. They had enough money to buy new identities and tickets for the ride up. Deckard thought their odds off-world would be better, where Replicants are almost common, a fact of life. It will be that much harder to find them - to find Rachael - than it is on earth where her kind is rare as pearls.

"Besides, I always wanted to see the stars," Deckard had said when he presented her with the tickets, the corner of his mouth crooking upwards so it was hard to tell if he was being serious. "What about you?"

"Yes," she'd said simply. Slipped the tickets into her pocket and buried her face in his lapel. "Yes, I want to see the stars."

Everything had gone smoothly up until yesterday. They'd been staying in a capsule hotel near the spaceport, the tiny room large enough to fit the lumpy bed and little else. They'd made love with the blinds half-open, neon through smog striping light across his body and hers, so they seemed made of the same matter, the same insubstantial flesh.

Afterwards she'd slept. She'd half-woken when he slipped out of bed, pressing a kiss to her mouth. Just getting some cigarettes. I'll be right back. She remembered the door clicking shut.

He hadn't come back.

She waited all day, growing slowly more and more frantic. After the first day ended with no sign, no word or clue, she'd left the hotel and checked into another. She'd used another name, one they'd agreed on just for this very situation - she'd hoped she would never have cause to use it. Useless even to think about who she could ask for help, who she could turn to; they were fugitives in a strange city and there was no one.

A third day passed, then a fourth, the hours seeming like ages in her coffin-like hotel room, and still no Deckard. And then there was no more time.

So here she was. Waiting at the spaceport with ten - no, two minutes left to board. What do you do, Rachael? she asks herself. What do you do?

She thinks back to that Voight-Kampff test, the test for humanity that she'd ultimately failed. What would be more human - to stay for the man she loves, even at the cost of her freedom? Or to escape for the sake of her own life, no matter how short her time might be?

The announcement comes over the speakers: last call for boarding, all passengers please proceed to the gate...

In the moment of making up her mind, Rachael realises with a cool clarity that the question doesn't matter. It's not a test - it's her life, and whatever decision she makes she'll have to live with, no matter the consequences. Perhaps that's what it means to be human; but she suspects that it's just what it means to be alive.

Last call for boarding, says the announcement. Rachael stands up and starts walking.