I just finished an adventure novel from one of my favorite best-selling authors. It had a cavern cave-in scene that kind of reminded me of one I wrote in Shrouded in Secrets. There’s nothing more terrifying than being trapped underground, unless as in Cash’s case, being drug out of the crumbling cavern by a terrified mule. Here’s a scene from Shrouded in Secrets.
Cash yanked the closest timber and caught the bundle as it fell. The ceiling groaned and rocks dislodged in a hail storm as he ran toward the first pit. He cleared the hole with room to spare, landed on his feet and kept running, hunched over. The sound of gunfire grew louder as he neared the sharp turn in the tunnel.
As soon as he rounded the corner, he was forced to lie down and shimmy forward. He pulled himself along the ground with one arm while holding his prize tight to his side with the other. He scooted past the second pit and slowed as he reached the exit. He set the bundle down, planning to retrieve it once he neutralized the threat. At the moment, he needed his hand on his gun more than the rotted leather wrap.
He was in a vulnerable position. If he just stuck his head out, it could very well get shot off, but he had to do something. Inching closer to the mouth of the cavern, the gunfire stopped, leaving an eerie quiet. He strained to hear sounds to clue him in on the situation, but silence ruled.
Suddenly the slack went out of the forgotten rope tied around his waist, tightening, forcing all the air out of his lungs, propelling him into motion. The momentum yanked him out into the daylight in a blur, dislodging his gun somewhere in the process. The speed in which he was being drug up the steep hill, across the rocks, brush, and cacti on his belly grew with each painful moment. Cash struggled to retrieve the knife from its sheath at his side, but found accomplishing the task impossible as his body bounced over the rough terrain with the rope cutting into his skin.
He abandoned all attempts to reach his blade and covered his head with his arms as he sped toward a sturdy shrub. Branches snapped and flew through the air as he scraped over the bush. Blood ran down his hands and forearms, but at least he successfully protected his skull. Fumbling, Cash finally managed to free his knife. He sawed frantically at the taut rope, realizing the mule pulling him was running full out for the lip of another steep gorge.
The ultra-strong high-tech filament line gave way, and his body skidded to an abrupt halt. He glanced up in time to see the mule disappear over the ledge, dust and rocks flying up behind frantic hooves as the terrified animal fled the danger.