Genre: YA horror
Word Count: 89,000
Sixteen-year-old Felicity Phoebus is trapped between two worlds, the one she loves but can’t keep, and the one she hates but can’t escape. Her best friend Ashley, theatre, and art fill the world she loves. In the other, her dad abuses her and monsters haunt her.
Each haunting leaves her body scarred, her mind bleeding, and her hopes shredded. As long as Ashley keeps her sane and never knows the monsters exist, Felicity will keep killing them with her paintings. Then the monster Spine-eyes murders her mother and infests her dad, making him immune to her art.
Now with Spine-eyes out to annihilate her—mind, body, and identity—Felicity must face the lies her father beat into her. If she fails, Spine-eyes will destroy everyone she loves until they’re monsters too, only with human faces. And he’ll force her to live on, forever trapped with the monsters and her dad.
To protect Ashley and the world she loves, Felicity will have to kill her dad, but in spite of everything he’s done to her, she still loves him.
My high school’s theatre yawns from its summer sleep as the stage curtain rises on empty seats. Spotlights peek underneath the crimson folds and bathe me in rich, golden light. I love this moment more each time, when all the crushing noise around me fades and a new, undiscovered world opens feet away. I wish another world really did exist beyond the lights, a step and I’m safe forever. My longing cuts so deep even breathing hurts.
That’s when the monster starts haunting me.
His presence hits me hard and quick as a punch in the stomach. One second, the air smells clean, and the next, smoke from a fire I know doesn’t exist pollutes the whole backstage. Acid I can’t see burns every inch of my body. I glance at my hands, my skin somehow still on my arms.
Reality lies yet again. This shouldn’t surprise me anymore.
I walk behind my best friend, Ashley Santos, turning her by her shoulders as she cuts through the legions of techies and auditioners. I’ll keep us moving for now. If it attacks, I’ll see him coming, I’ll keep her safe. Less than thirty seconds in, and this monster is a hundred times more aggressive than the last one.
“Don’t flip on me now, Felicity, the wannabes will leave soon,” Ashley says to me. She wiggles her fingers behind her back. I weave mine in hers, and almost relax, but the monster’s presence rips away my muscles, tears out my organs, and scrapes my bones clean.
The hauntings always begin this way.