A grinding noise shattered her solitude, and she heard the whine of a truck’s engine being shifted into a lower gear. Her spirits rose, and she poked out her head, expecting to see her driver returning to rescue her. Instead, she saw the mottled green and brown colors of a military truck and quickly ducked back into the cave.
Her shivering finally subsided, and she thought about Anne’s experience when she nearly froze to death on that mountain pass. Was that beginning to happen to her? Probably not, she surmised. She was still too miserably cold. Sigourney bent forward, wrapped her arms under her legs, and waited.
Other than a tiny gurgling sound from the nearly frozen stream below her and the occasional whispering of a light, fitful breeze, an incredibly deep silence seeped into the pores of her world. There were no sounds of animals or birds. Nothing moved. The valley was as still as a cemetery.
The white snowscape outside her cave slowly turned murky gray, telling her that dusk had arrived and that night wasn’t far behind. Her mind was dulled from the insistent cold, but she had made up her mind. Once it was dark, she was going to walk up the road to the monastery, spies or no spies. She couldn’t stay where she was much longer.
A new sound broke through her consciousness, the sound of crunching snow. Someone was slogging through the snow outside her hiding place! No sooner had she realized this than a figure filled the cave’s entrance, causing Sigourney to squeak with fright and jump to her feet, banging her head against the rocky ceiling. She froze, her heart hammering like a piston, and waited for the figure to do something.
“Miss Phillips?” a voice breathed into the growing darkness.
Sigourney started at the sound of her name. “Who are you?”
“I am your guide, Sukhang. Come with me, please. We must hurry to monastery. Many people looking for you.”
Sigourney nearly slumped to the ground, thankful that the mental battle she had been waging for the past few hours was over. Someone had come for her. Someone who knew her name and would help her. She still emerged cautiously, ready to retreat back into her hole at the first sign of trouble. I’ve become a frightened animal, she thought as she stretched her stiff back. She had to look closely in the failing light to make out Sukhang’s features. He didn’t look Chinese--his eyes were too round and his complexion too dark--so she assumed he was telling her the truth, that he was there to help her, not take her prisoner. She had little choice but to follow him. Where else could she go? If she stayed where she was, she’d be dead by morning.
Sigourney's Quest - Excerpt
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