I can see his silhouette some way in the distance. He has been there for a while but he doesn’t seem to move, either toward or away from me.

I intend to shout his name but it comes out in a raspy whisper against the furious wind and is carried sadly off with it.

Everything is bright. Sun glaring off mountain snow; the air so thin that each breath is like trying to gulp down a litre of water when all you have is a thimbleful.

I lost the rest of the team yesterday and now have no notion of how to proceed through this malignant terrain. I can feel splotchy, biting burns on both of my cheeks: ice scorching like flame through my skin; coldness burrowing through every muscle; into the very marrow of every bone. Vaguely, I think I can hear my lungs squeaking with the effort of each inhale, like a sad plea for help from somewhere far in the distance.


This time it’s even huskier.

The spectre remains. If only I could reach it.

I consider then with the bitter pang of regret the obstinate, ugly arrogance of what I felt when I stepped off the plane at Kathmandu all those weeks ago, like some godfuckingdamn hero; all-powerful; strong; special. Even in my turmoil, I scoff at the thought now, standing here, wide-eyed in the snow, like a young Arctic hare who has lost his family in the endlessness of the vast white.

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