“There,” whispered Faber.
Out of a helicopter glided something that was not machine, not animal, not dead, not alive, glowing with a pale green luminosity. It stood near the smoking ruins of Montag’s house and the men brought his discarded flame-thrower to it and put it down under the muzzle of the Hound. There was a whirring, clicking, humming.
Montag shook his head and got up and drank the rest of his drink. “It’s time. I’m sorry about this:”
“About what? Me? My house? I deserve everything. Run, for God’s sake. Perhaps I can delay them here–”
“Wait. There’s no use your being discovered. When I leave, burn the spread of this bed, that I touched. Burn the chair in the living room, in your wall incinerator. Wipe down the furniture with alcohol, wipe the door-knobs. Burn the throwrug in the parlour. Turn the air-conditioning on full in all the rooms and spray with moth-spray if you have it. Then, turn on your lawn sprinklers as high as they’ll go and hose off the sidewalks. With any luck at all, we can kill the trail in here, anyway..’
Faber shook his hand. “I’ll tend to it. Good luck. If we’re both in good health, next week, the week after, get in touch. General Delivery, St. Louis. I’m sorry there’s no way I can go with you this time, by ear-phone. That was good for both of us. But my equipment was limited. You see, I never thought I would use it. What a silly old man.
No thought there. Stupid, stupid. So I haven’t another green bullet, the right kind, to put in your head. Go now!”
“One last thing. Quick. A suitcase, get it, fill it with your dirtiest clothes, an old suit, the dirtier the better, a shirt, some old sneakers and socks . . . .”
Faber was gone and back in a minute. They sealed the cardboard valise with clear tape. “To keep the ancient odour of Mr. Faber in, of course,” said Faber sweating at the job.
Montag doused the exterior of the valise with whisky. “I don’t want that Hound picking up two odours at once. May I take this whisky. I’ll need it later. Christ I hope this works!”
They shook hands again and, going out of the door, they glanced at the TV. The Hound was on its way, followed by hovering helicopter cameras, silently, silently, sniffing the great night wind. It was running down the first alley.
“Good-bye ! ”
And Montag was out the back door lightly, running with the half-empty valise. Behind him he heard the lawn-sprinkling system jump up, filling the dark air with rain that fell gently and then with a steady pour all about, washing on the sidewalks, and draining
into the alley. He carried a few drops of this rain with him on his face. He thought he heard the old man call good-bye, but he-wasn’t certain.
He ran very fast away from the house, down toward the river.
He could feel the Hound, like autumn, come cold and dry and swift, like a wind that didn’t stir grass, that didn’t jar windows or disturb leaf-shadows on the white sidewalks as it passed. The Hound did not touch the world. It carried its silence with it, so you could feel the silence building up a pressure behind you all across town.
Montag felt the pressure rising, and ran.
He stopped for breath, on his way to the river, to peer through dimly lit windows of wakened houses, and saw the silhouettes of people inside watching their parlour walls and there on the walls the Mechanical Hound, a breath of neon vapour, spidered along, here and gone, here and gone! Now at Elm Terrace, Lincoln, Oak, Park, and up the alley toward Faber’s house.
Go past, thought Montag, don’t stop, go on, don’t turn in!
On the parlour wall, Faber’s house, with its sprinkler system pulsing in the night air.
The Hound paused, quivering.
No! Montag held to the window sill. This way! Here!
The procaine needle flicked out and in, out and in. A single clear drop of the stuff of dreams fell from the needle as it vanished in the Hound’s muzzle.