The driver soon stopped at a nondescript hotel. “Here we are,” he said, getting out and reaching for Jay’s backpack.
Jay batted away his hand. “This isn’t Everest Base Camp.”
“No, no, much better, you will like it, my good friend. Much better.”
Head still throbbing, feet still hurting, and throat a cup of desert sand, Jay felt how tempting it was. He was here. He was so tired. It was so hot.
But there were no signs of a pub. He recalled what he’d been told: when in Agamuskara, the only place for a traveler to stay was at the Everest Base Camp. Some said it was the best pub and hostel in town. Some said it was the best in India. Everything else was for tourists and tossers—which was he?
Jay pulled up all the will he had left, along with some money in his pocket. He set the bills on the seat, grabbed his pack, and got out.
The driver cried out, but Jay ignored him. Then, from behind, an impact made him stagger. Jay couldn’t ignore that he was almost falling.
One hand on the pavement to keep from smacking the road, Jay looked up. His backpack grew smaller as it bounced down the street, seeming to struggle in the arms of a teenage boy but already far away.
Jay’s feet protested with pain and fatigue, but his backpack was everything. He began to run.
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