The following excerpt from my Young Adult horror novel in progress, The Many Beautiful Deaths of Miss Floretta Deliverance Hughes, is accompanied by the artwork of illustrator Elizabeth Snider.
Recently deceased Mia Walsh makes her way to The Church of All Hallowed Souls in an attempt to confront her father (the vicar) over his accusations against her (sort of) ex-boyfriend. She is accompanied by long-time ghostly resident and would-be post-mortem mentor, the Victorian poltergeist Floretta Deliverance Hughes. Whilst hiding from her mother behind a gravestone, Mia comes face to face with a nightmare named Cecily.
Later, Mia would not remember if she had screamed or not. Perhaps she had been too terrified even to rely on what had rapidly become her post-mortem, knee-jerk reaction to most things. The face of the girl in the churchyard with the sing-song voice definitely made her want to scream. Once the girl might have been pretty with her long golden curls, creamy skin, ripe, peachy mouth. But something terrible must have happened to that lovely girl. Some tragedy had drained her former beauty. And her eyes.
Where are her eyes?
They looked as if they had been gouged out with a pair of forceful thumbs or plucked out with hot pincers or— Mia didn’t’ care to consider any more horrific alternatives. No evidence of past trauma there now—no marks or scars or weeping blood at all. But no eyes.
Wait. Mia looked more closely. There were eyes down there somewhere. Very deeply set and very small. Like tiny jet beads on a black dress. Maybe the horrible thing that happened to this nightmare girl had been too much for her eyes to cope with and they shrank, retreated as far back into her skull as they could. All around the pin-prick, bead-black eyes were rough charcoal smudges of flesh, indigo, purple and black, which swept between the curves of her blonde eyebrows and the apple blush of her cheeks. Twin bruises swirling toward two, twinkling dark stars in a vortex of horror.