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A period of recovery follows.

Simon says, this story too is a robot, and this robot will contain my world after my death—a world that I did not like very much at times, but whose better parts I hold in my heart, intact and gleaming. So draw a battered robot standing in the center of a great desert, beside a ruined highway, holding a blue cap. The ants are already at work on the boy, the late boy, the not boy. A fugitive gold plays over the landscape at the end of the day, and the perfume of the dusty bushes rises, like a sunset for the nose. The prints the headhunters have left in the salt turn blue. The robot advances one foot, then the other.

Simon says, draw, draw now, draw with cautious emotion a vision that is not as unusual as one would like: human remains, blended with parts of a machine. Partly buried in the salt, they look like the vocabulary of a new language, one in which, one imagines, better things could be said.

Identifying, discriminating and dividing them is not difficult for a robot. Rooting in the salted ruins, the robot finds an eye, its pupil rolling to review its new circumstances. Puts it in its skirt. Finds an arm, covered in salt; a buried nose. Recognizes a battered ear in the white dust. A hand. A heart. Gathers these things into its skirt. It is like picking over a page of the New York Times, looking for vocabulary, the vocabulary of the new life that is coming.

Patient, the robot sorts the parts. Fits member to member. Bonds ear to its own ear. Eye to its eye. Files an edge for a better fit. On the median of the highway it picks up a part of the boy’s brain that the headhunters did not find. It contains some of Simon’s software, still intact. Simon says, draw a head with three eyes, three ears, two noses. Two brains. The new nose is drawing in the perfume of oil and seawater. The new brain is saying, “Simon says, go.”

Simon says, draw a robot making for the edge of the page. Finding there, on the coast (which may be represented by the frame of the picture, if it has a frame), moving on the water, bumping repetitively against the bank, a thing that is not in its vocabulary, that was removed from its vocabulary with all that it suggests (a way out), but look, Simon says, people can think new things, including people who are robots, and the S800 recognizes it as a sort of sea-water truck without tires, what the Simon in his head identifies as a ship, a thing that the robot has seen in pictures, without knowing what it was called. He pulls on a line that raises a sort of tarp on a sort of staff. The ship begins to move.

Imagine him setting out, one way, then the other, tacking, Simon calls it, on a blue and moving road, in blue and moving hills. When a storm hits, he holds on.

When the seawater comes in, he bails. He keeps the coast on his left. He is haunted by Simon and is Simon. From time to time he belches. He is looking for a new world.

Jackson

21

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