Hellworld by Tom Leveen


byTom Leveen

Paperback | March 20, 2018

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In an effort to put her family back together, a teen struggles to discover what happened to her mother who disappeared during a ghost hunt in this haunting novel from the author of Party, Sick, and Shackled.

Five years ago, Abby Booth’s mom, cohost of a ghost-hunting reality show, went missing while filming in a “haunted” cave in Arizona.

Since then, Abby’s life has all but fallen to pieces, most notably because of her dad’s deep depression and how they’ve drifted further and further apart.

But now, at sixteen, Abby has decided that things will change. She plans to go to the same cave where her mom and the crew went missing and to find out, once and for all, what happened there.

With the help of the cohost’s son Charlie, and two of his friends, Abby sets off on a quest for answers…but when the group ends up finding, what they stumble across in that dark, primordial cave in Arizona, is nothing they could have ever imaged.

Abby was investigating a possible haunting…she never expected that there could be something worse.
Title:HellworldFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:320 pages, 8.25 X 5.5 X 0.9 inShipping dimensions:320 pages, 8.25 X 5.5 X 0.9 inPublished:March 20, 2018Publisher:Simon PulseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481466348

ISBN - 13:9781481466349

Appropriate for ages: 14

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Read from the Book

Hellworld 1 NOW There exists a darkness so deep, so profoundly absent any light or hope, it causes dizziness and nausea. In this cave, with no source of light and the bodies of the dead surrounding us, there are already plenty of reasons to experience both. I think we are in Hell. What have I done? Charlie’s voice drifts to me through the black. “Abby?” His breath comes out ragged, as if from between strips of flesh. I shut my eyes against the image. Open them. At least when I blink, I can feel my eyelids moving. That’s something. But there is no difference between open and closed. “Yeah?”I whisper. The sound goes only as far as my lips. It feels like being in the deep end of a pool, blindfolded, all sensation muffled. “Selby?”Charlie says, but hesitantly. Why did he ask for me first, when Selby’s supposed to be his girlfriend? Because I had a better chance of being alive. No response from Selby. I listen hard, straining as best I can, trying to ignore the sound of my own heart attempting to fight its way out of my chest. Rocks and pebbles grind into my palms and knees. Finally, to my left, a miniscule whimper needlepricks my ears. “Selby, say something,”I whisper. Another whimper—louder, but only by degrees. “Charlie, she’s here. She’s alive.” “Okay,”Charlie says. “Okay. I’m going to try to make my way over to you.” “My stomach . . . ,”Selby moans. I try to resist a memory of the knife plunging into her. “Don’t move,”I say. “Just don’t move—we’ll come to you.” Panic whirlpools in my torso, twisting every organ inside me to the south. I discover that teeth really do chatter if you’re scared enough. Mine clack rapidly as ice water replaces the blood in my veins. Selby’s bleeding, we’re all effectively blinded, and we’re trapped in here. Trapped, with what remains of them . . . No, I tell myself. No, Abigail. You can’t lose it. Work the problem. You lose it now, in here, and you die. Death in here would not be a good way to go. Less painful than crucifixion or being drawn and quartered, sure, but the darkness . . . Every moment we swim in it, I feel myself getting closer to terror and insanity. Buried alive. We’d likely die from dehydration. That would be the official cause. Not that anyone would ever find us. Dying of thirst will take two or three days. Two or three days to die. But the darkness. The hope that somehow, miraculously, we can inch our way in the pitch-black to find the cave entrance, the way we came in, and be free . . . but that hope is the worst part. Outside, we’d still die from lack of water, but we’d die with the sun or stars overhead, and fresh air in our lungs. But the darkness . . . “Stay where you are,”Charlie says from some nebulous place in the black. “Keep talking. I’ll make my way to you.” “The pit,”I stutter through my quaking teeth. “You’ll fall in.” “I’ll go slow.” We can’t have been in this chamber of the cave for very long, yet an eternity has passed since we found them. Them . . . still in here with us . . . Stop, stop, stop, I tell myself. They’re destroyed, they’re dead, they can’t hurt you. But they were dead before we got here, and that didn’t stop them. They’re still in here with us, still close enough to reach out, grab an ankle, a wrist, a throat . . . No! Stay calm, Abby. Stay calm. Work the problem. Work the— “The camera,”I say. I hear Charlie stop his slow slide across the gravel floor. “Huh?” “Do you have it? Is it working?” Selby whispers, “I wanna go home.” I ignore her. I hate to do it, but have to. “The viewfinder. If the camera’s working, open the viewfinder. It’ll be light. Not much, but something.” Charlie makes a sound in the darkness, like a sigh of realization. I hear more scuffling. “Go slow,”I say. “Right.” Time goes blank again. Now that I’ve oriented my ears toward Selby, I can hear her breathing. Shallow, rapid, and very much like my own. But I haven’t been stabbed in the gut. “Hang in there, Sells,”I say. Then I realize I’ve used Alex’s nickname for her, and hold my breath. Will it push Selby over the edge? Is there an edge for us anymore, after what we’ve seen? What we’ve done? “Got it,”Charlie says with a relieved, exultant note in his voice. In the underwater muffle of the darkness, I feel more than hear the electronic whine of the camera booting up. Please, I beg, unaware that perhaps I might actually be praying and not caring if it’s ironic or not. Please just let it work. Just that tiny blue square of light, please, please, without light I will go crazy, I will go insane if I’m not already, because insanity pales in comparison to this all being real. Gray-blue light appears, no more than ten feet from me; tiny and pathetic in the black, yet offering hope like the sun. “Thank you,”I say softly, but not to Charlie. The taut skin of his face glows in the light. He was so handsome two days ago. Confident and relaxed. Now fear draws tight lines down his features, distorting his good looks. Charlie slowly slides toward me, pointing the viewfinder at the cave floor to make sure he doesn’t slip into the pit in the center of the cavern. I don’t know how long it takes; maybe a minute, maybe a year. Maybe eternity. When he reaches me, he sets the camera down carefully before surrounding me with his arms. I can feel by the strength and weakness in his embrace that he is as grateful for the contact as I am. Warm, living, human flesh. We bury our heads into each other’s shoulders, trembling. “Okay,”Charlie breathes. “I have to get Selby.” “I’m coming with you.” Staying close, we tell Selby to start talking so we can get to her. “Selby, come on,”I urge. “Please, you have to talk so we—” “Hydrogen,”Selby says at last. “Helium. Lithium. Beryllium.” Charlie and I look at each other, and seem to realize at the same time what she’s reciting: the periodic table of elements, by order of atomic weight. Selby and I are both sixteen, yet she sounds infinitely younger right then. Or maybe I just feel immeasurably older. We slide toward the sound of her voice. “Boron. Carbon. Nitrogen.” “We’re coming, Sells.” “Oxygen. Fluorine. Neon.” “Almost there,”Charlie says. “We’re almost there; keep talking.” “Sodium. Magnesium. Aluminum.” “I hear you. We’re getting closer.” “Silicon. Phosphorus. Sulfur . . .” Finally, we see her. Selby sits against one of the cavern walls, curled into an upright ball, squeezing her knees to her chest and shivering, both hands pressed against her side. A far cry from the militant teen scientist I met two days ago. Selby reaches out as we near, and the three of us huddle close together. Maybe crying, I don’t know. I hope not. We need to retain the water. “Wanna go home,”Selby says into our cluster. “I wanna go home.” “We are,”I say, sounding much more confident than I would have thought possible. “Let’s get to the bags, see what we’ve still got left, and we’ll work our way out of here. Okay?” I think Selby nods, but can’t tell in the grim, cold light from the viewfinder. “How’s your stomach?”I ask. “Uh, stabbed, thanks.” I take her tone as a good sign. “Okay. Do you have your lighter?” I can still smell cigarette smoke on her clothes from before we entered the cave. How long ago? How long now? Selby pulls a small pink cigarette lighter from her hip pocket. She winces as she does it, keeping her other hand pressed against her side where the blade went in. “How much battery in the camera?”I ask Charlie. Now that we’re together and have at least a few square inches of light, the urge to run hard and fast from the cavern is overwhelming. “There’s one bar. So not much.” “We better hurry, then. But careful.” Selby’s lighter and the dim glow from the camera don’t offer much light, and neither will last too long anyway. I don’t honestly think we’ll have sufficient illumination for enough time to navigate our way back out of this godforsaken labyrinth. Yet we can’t rush, either. Rushing might get us killed. We’ve already lost one person on this trip. One, and so many more. Which brings up a question. “What about . . . them?” Charlie and Selby both give me shocked looks. Charlie says, “We can’t . . . We’re not bringing them out. No.” “Okay. Just wanted to make sure we agreed on that. Let’s go.” We scoot back the way we had come, toward our equipment bag