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Clever Ways to Make Do

by Luc Reid

He had finally given up on trying to fashion tubes for the water, and instead had made a long aquaduct of split saplings with their centers stripped out. It lost much of the water that went down it, but when after nearly three weeks of rigging it up, he stepped into the woven branch enclosure he had made and pulled the vine, water poured down on him, and for the first time in eight years he had a shower. The cool water splashing down on him through the tropical heat that seemed to be the island's only season made his skin practically sing, it was so refreshing.

The last three months had been a nightmare from which he was slowly emerging. Before the Interruption, he had been resigned to living on the island--had even liked living on the island. Since then, though, he had been having bad dreams, and he couldn't relax in his hammock or really enjoy surfing on his bamboo surfboard. Nothing felt right. Now things were starting to fall back in place.

He gathered crabs for dinner and simmered them in coconut milk. The sun was throwing the sky into a riot of reds and purples, and he decided to eat at the little stone table he had set up on the western side of the island.

He had barely sat down when he saw something not far out from shore, black against the setting sun, a head rising out of the waves. It was followed by shoulders, and a chest and arms. He left his dinner on the table and ran.

"Please!" The shadowy thing shouted to him. The voice was almost human, but he could hear the electronic hum at the base of it, just like with the robots that had come before.

"Go away!" he shrieked.

"We can take you off this island. We can bring you a boat, a plane, please--"

"Go away!" He turned and ran into the jungle.

"But you're the only one left!" the robot wailed, and he wished it would shut up. He hated robots, the robots who were immune to the plagues, the robots who were desperate for someone to tell them what to do.

Among the trees in the thickening darkness, he ran into something hard at the height of his head. It cracked, and he slipped and fell to the ground with it. Standing and squinting into the darkness, he could just make out a section of his little aquaduct.

That would take time to fix, he thought. He should take the whole structure and make it higher, so that it was above his head wherever he went.

It would take at least a week.

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