Chapter 18 from the Ama audiobook
Once he had traversed the first dune and could no longer see his house, he arced around to the right so his direction realigned to the mountain again. This manoeuvre had added more time to his journey, but he thought it prudent to avoid other people and any situation that might bring him into contact with the caretaker. That thing had seemed to take pleasure from watching the man in his garden suffer before turning him to ash. The caretaker might also think it amusing to cripple him too.
After five or six hours—he had no way to tell for sure—he reached a ridge between two of the larger dunes. He surveyed the landscape. The sky remained as a cloudless canopy above the imperceptible motion of the desert waves—a view of nothing more than a desolate and miserable wash of grey.
Thirst and hunger became painful. His mouth felt rough and dry, and his lips had cracked and felt as though they were on fire. The mother of all headaches rampaged within his skull, and he experienced stomach cramps that came like a needle-toothed creature trying to escape his belly.
He slipped off his rucksack, opened it, and removed a bottle of water and the binoculars. Then he dropped the bag and knelt down. A desire to take a sip grew as he opened the bottle, but the burning sensation coming from his lips and the sores inside his mouth halted the temptation to try for a drink. He lowered his head and poured water over the back of his neck instead. It had a cooling effect but didn’t abate his thirst. He recapped the bottle and returned it to the bag. Looking towards the mountain, he raised the binoculars to his eyes.
Jason had bought the binoculars to help ponder the universe and enjoy the rare wildlife visiting his garden. He had also used them once or twice, with a mild sense of shame, to enjoy his exhibitionist neighbour’s body; she who had a desire for an all-over tan devoid of bikini lines. The binoculars should enable him to see with a magnification of ten, but for some unfathomable reason the lenses had the same effect as flat glass, with no improved clarity to his view at all. He checked the magnification dial on the bridge and then looked through them again. The view remained distant. He put the useless object back in his rucksack. Looking at the bag for a moment, he considered the unwanted weight and then removed the binoculars again and dropped them onto the sand.
He looked towards the mountain once more and became overcome by a sense of purpose he’d not felt before. He saw Emily standing beside him, a glorious daydream that gave him strength to stand up. “Stay with me, Angel.”
He threw the rucksack onto his back and continued on.