Sixteen-year-old Bodie McCann wormed through a squishy black puddle. An earthy, putrid smell nearly gagged him. Slime tugged at his muddy clothes with a sucking sound. He inched out of the muck onto cold, gritty rock, thankful for the pads on his knees and elbows. His headlamp illuminated yet another turn in the cave deep in the Ozarks National Forest of Arkansas.
A faint plop, plop echoed from ahead. Bodie sighed. He adjusted the small pack on his shoulders then crawled forward, his body grating against rocky walls. Around the curve, drops dripped from the low ceiling. Muttering to himself, he crept forward. Water pluncked onto his plastic helmet, trickled around his neck, and soaked the front of his shirt. He shivered as he hustled through another murky puddle.
His shoulder pounded into rock, and searing pain shot down his arm. Cursing under his breath, he rolled onto his side. The headlamp lit a low shelf of stone jutting from the cave wall. He fought back tears as he rubbed his shoulder. After a moment, the pain subsided, and he crawled forward.
The first chapter of Cracks is available as a PDF file.