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Saturday, January 16, 2016

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Blog Tour: The Cave - Excerpt + Giveaway

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Title: The Cave (The Wind Cave #1)
Author: Michela Montgomery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Post Hill Press

When a nuclear war devastates the U.S., a four-day excursion quickly turns into a fight for survival in The Cave. Six Stanford students journey into one of the deepest and longest caves in North America. A day into their journey, a nuclear war begins from within the U.S. Unable to return to the surface, and unsure what they will find when they do, the Cave will test the strength and survival of each person differently - transforming six individuals into a team, and ultimately...a family.

     The trail was narrow and windy, which I didn’t remember seeing on the map. The incline was steep and seemed to go straight down. I had to hold onto the stalagmites that jutted toward me to keep from slipping. Above me, water droplets landed on my head and shoulders, making plinking sounds onto the already-wet rocks.
     Ten minutes into the trail, I hadn’t found the cleft and I began to worry. I could see the map in my mind and knew it had to be close. Perhaps, like a few other trails, the map was off just slightly, or it could be a boulder choke from the vibrations of the blast. When I stepped down from the top of a jagged boulder, the trail ended. Panic hit an alarm inside my head.
There was nothing. No trail ahead of me, and no cleft in the distance. A pile of loose rocks and then a straight shot downward, with no trail in sight. Around me were arches for multiple passageways. This wasn’t it. I’d taken the wrong route. I looked behind me. I was going to have to reverse direction and go back exactly the way I came. I grabbed the deepest handhold I could on the slick boulder and pulled myself up. Replacing my foot where my hand had just been, I reached up and over to round the top of the boulder when my hands slipped.
My arms went out to nothingness and I was falling. I screamed as I went down, clawing like an animal at everything that rushed past me. A hundred feet or more down the shaft, I slid against the wall as it narrowed, rocks slicing into my forehead and cheek. Ahead of me I saw a narrow ledge coming fast and braced both legs for the impact.
The landing was harder than I’d imagined, and my knees nearly buckled with the force. It took me a full ten seconds to begin breathing again and realize that I wasn’t still falling. My heart beat hard in my chest. I wasn’t dead. I was on a ledge. Blackness surrounded me. My headlamp must have been knocked off when I fell. I swallowed hard and tried to catch my breath.
There was a glowstick in my pack, if I could reach it. Contorting my hand behind me, I reached carefully for the zipper to my side pocket. My feet, precariously placed on the narrow ledge, slipped backward and I held my breath. Once stable again, I found the zipper and tugged at it as deftly as I could. At this angle, the zipper wasn’t budging. “Percy!” I screamed, hoping I wasn’t too far down for them to hear me. “Ano!” I waited for the return of a sound, a call or anything that might confirm that I’d been heard. Nothing.
     My feet began to slide. Whatever was on this ledge was slimy and not giving me any traction. I lifted my right foot onto the ball and swiveled side-to-side to dig in. No traction. My left foot slid again, as if I was on ice. Handholds. I needed handholds. Feeling blindly against the face, I reached out with both hands. Rough limestone ledge greeted my fingers with divots, but no handholds.
     I couldn’t see my own hand inches in front of my face. I continued feeling around me until my hands were nearly over my head. “Ah! Ah-ha!” I screamed in triumph. “Found some.” Maybe two inches deep, the handholds would work to help keep me on the ledge until Percy could find me.
     “Percy! Ano! Down here! Look down here!”
I tried tipping my head back in an effort to look up and see the opening of the shaft I’d fallen into, but the mist that fell was too heavy. I had no headlamp to show me where I was, and I wondered what was in this shaft besides me. Jazz had said there was something else in this cave. Something with eyes. Something that had hissed at him. I wanted to curl into a ball. I exhaled and remembered the speech Percy had given me about panic.
“Panic is your enemy,” I repeated in the dark, if nothing more than to hear the sound of my own voice. “Panic is your enemy. It causes you to make decisions based on fear and not fact.”
     My voice trembling, I whispered, “Percy, where are you?”
Ten minutes later of solid screaming left me hoarse and more afraid than I had been before I started calling for help. They would come. Of course they would. How long had it been since I’d left Rebel River? Twenty minutes? Thirty? Surely after twenty minutes Percy would realize that I hadn’t come back and would come looking for me. Horrid thoughts played on a reel inside my head of reasons that would prevent them from finding me.
Panic is your enemy. Don’t panic. Think.
A sharp black point on the sheer face of the cavern pierced my shoulder. I felt the first drop of dark blood squeeze out and drip down my arm. I bit back the cry that threatened to escape and concentrated on clinging to the handholds above my head. After another half hour, my arms became numb from the strain and cold.
I tried to force my voice into something strong enough for someone to hear. As I tipped my face upward, the weight of my wet pack pulled me back toward the blackness. My heart skipped several beats. I adjusted my fingers on the handholds and gripped as tightly as I could.
“Ano! Percy! Someone!”
     Mist turned to droplets of water. I wiped my hand across my forehead and succeeded only in covering my hand with the blood from where I’d hit my head on the way down. I could smell the blood trickling down the sides of my face. Heavy droplets dripped down my legs, soaking my calves and shoes, resting on slick moss that covered the foot-wide ledge. I looked around, suffocated by opaque blackness. Reality sank in, and I allowed fear to take over. I pressed my cheek to the rough cavern wall, tears squeezing from between my eyelids. I allowed my body to lean against the cold face of the cavern. I slipped one hand from the handhold above me.
Cradling my numb arm against my body, I shook my hand to allow blood to flow back through it. I dropped my arm to my side, hoping that gravity would work to pull the blood back through my hand and fingers. Pain seared through my fingers when I tried to make a fist.
My other arm throbbed, heavy from the burden of clinging to the ledge. I leaned in closer to the rough face of the wall, filled with resignation. My left arm had given out. Releasing my grip on the handhold, my arm slid down the wall to rest against my hip. Without my hands to anchor me, my feet shifted closer to the edge. Shooting pain from my shoulder to my wrist forced the first sob from my chest.
“Ano!” I screamed, even though my head was no longer tipped up, and the only sound that returned was the echo of my own desperation. “Help me,” I whispered, “please don’t let me die this way.”


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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.