I brushed aside a jungle, taking small, slow steps through the undergrowth.
‘Are we close, Professor?’ my research assistant asked nervously, eyes darting about the canopy.
‘I think so, Giles,’ I nodded, checking our bearing again on the compass.
‘Thank God,’ he let out a deep sigh.
‘I’m sorry?’ I frowned, turning around to look at him.
‘We’ve been walking for ages,’ he complained. ‘My feet are killing me!’
‘You’re in a rather dramatic mood today,’ I said.
‘You would be too if your feet were literally about to fall off.’
‘They’re not literally—’ I cut myself off with a sigh. ‘Take off your boots.’
‘My boots?’ Giles asked, confused.
‘The big heavy things at the end of your legs,’ I gestured. ‘Socks too.’
‘Son, we’ve been walking for hours in the most humid place on earth, do not make me explain to you what socks are as well.’
He did as he was told, dutifully slipping them off and perching on a log. I reached into my pack and pulled out a bundle of fabric, tossing them to him.
‘What’s this, sir?’
‘Circulation socks to help with foot pain,’ I told him. ‘My podiatrist recommended them to me.’
‘Fascinating,’ Giles remarked, turning them over in his hands.
‘The sun will eventually set,’ I reminded him dryly, and he quickly slipped the tight socks over his feet. His face morphed into a look of relief.
‘Better?’ I asked.
‘Much,’ he sighed. ‘Shall we?’
‘I’m ready when you are,’ I gestured, and we set off again.
‘You know, once we find this lost city,’ Giles mused a few minutes later, ‘you could claim to be the best foot specialist Cheltenham has ever had.’
‘Seems presumptuous,’ I snorted. ‘The ancient people of Cheltenham in its prime most assuredly had their own foot specialists.’
‘Ah, but did they have compression socks?’ Giles laughed.
‘Actually,’ I thought back to my research on the famous lost civilisation. ‘Actually, I think they did.’
‘Oh,’ Giles said, visibly crestfallen. ‘Never mind then.’