“I’d better run.”

“Let’s check.”

He took Montag quickly into the bedroom and lifted a picture frame aside, revealing a television screen the size of a postal card. “I always wanted something very small, something I could talk to, something I could blot out with the palm of my hand, if necessary, nothing that could shout me down, nothing monstrous big. So, you see.”

He snapped it on. “Montag,” the TV set said, and lit up. “M-O-N-T-A-G.” The name was spelled out by the voice. “Guy Montag. Still running. Police helicopters are up. A new Mechanical Hound has been brought from another district.. .”

Montag and Faber looked at each other.

“. . . Mechanical Hound never fails. Never since its first use in tracking quarry has this incredible invention made a mistake. Tonight, this network is proud to have the opportunity to follow the Hound by camera helicopter as it starts on its way to the target…”

Faber poured two glasses of whisky. “We’ll need these.”

They drank.

“. . . nose so sensitive the Mechanical Hound can remember and identify ten thousand odour-indexes on ten thousand men without re-setting! ”

Faber trembled the least bit and looked about at his house, at the walls, the door, the doorknob, and the chair where Montag now sat. Montag saw the look. They both looked quickly about the house and Montag felt his nostrils dilate and he knew that he was trying to track himself and his nose was suddenly good enough to sense the path he had made in the air of the room and the sweat of his hand hung from the doorknob, invisible, but as numerous as the jewels of a small chandelier, he was everywhere, in and on and about everything, he was a luminous cloud, a ghost that made breathing once more impossible. He saw Faber stop up his own breath for fear of drawing that ghost into his own body, perhaps, being contaminated with the phantom exhalations and odours of a running man.

“The Mechanical Hound is now landing by helicopter at the site of the Burning!”

And there on the small screen was the burnt house, and the crowd, and something with a sheet over it and out of the sky, fluttering, came the helicopter like a grotesque flower.

So they must have their game out, thought Montag. The circus must go on, even with war beginning within the hour….

He watched the scene, fascinated, not wanting to move. It seemed so remote and no part of him; it was a play apart and separate, wondrous to watch, not without its strange pleasure. That’s all for me, you thought, that’s all taking place just for me, by God.

If he wished, he could linger here, in comfort, and follow the entire hunt on through its swift. phases, down alleys across streets, over empty running avenues, crossing lots and playgrounds, with pauses here or there for the necessary commercials, up other alleys to the burning house of Mr. and Mrs. Black, and so on finally to this house with Faber and himself seated, drinking, while the Electric Hound snuffed down the last trail, silent as a drift of death itself, skidded to a halt outside that window there. Then, if he wished, Montag might rise, walk to the window, keep one eye on the TV screen, open the window, lean out, look back, and see himself dramatized, described, made

over, standing there, limned in the bright small television screen from outside, a drama to be watched objectively, knowing that in other parlours he was large as life, in full colour, dimensionally perfect! And if he kept his eye peeled quickly he would see himself, an instant before oblivion, being punctured for the benefit of how many civilian parlour-sitters who had been wakened from sleep a few minutes ago by the frantic sirening of their living-room walls to come watch the big game, the hunt, the one-man carnival.

Would he have time for a speech? As the Hound seized him, in view of ten or twenty or thirty million people, mightn’t he sum up his entire life in the last week in one single phrase or a word that would stay with them long after the. Hound had turned, clenching him in its metal-plier jaws, and trotted off in darkness, while the camera remained stationary, watching the creature dwindle in the distance–a splendid fade-out! What could he say in a single word, a few words, that would sear all their faces and wake them up?

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray