by Victory Witherkeigh
GENRE: YA Horror
The parents knew it had been a mistake to have a girl. At birth, the girl’s long, elegant fingers wriggled and grasped forward, motioning to strangle the very air from her mother’s lungs. As she grew older, she grew more like her father, whose ancestors would dream of those soon to die. She walked and talked in her sleep, and her parents warded themselves, telling the girl that she was evil, unlovable, their burden to bear only until her eighteenth birthday released them.
The average person on the streets of Los Angeles would look at the girl and see a young woman with dark chocolate eyes, curly long hair, and tanned skin of her Filipina heritage. Her teachers praised her for her scholarly achievements and extracurricular activities, from academic decathlon to cheer.
The girl knew she was different, especially as she grew to accept that the other children’s parents didn’t despise them. Her parents whispered about their pact as odd and disturbing occurrences continued to happen around her. The girl thought being an evil demon should require the skies to bleed, the ground to tremble, an animal sacrifice to seal the bargain, or at least cause some general mayhem. Did other demons work so hard to find friends, do well on their homework, and protect their spoiled younger brother?
The demon was patient. It could afford to wait, to remind the girl when she was hurt that power was hers to take. She needed only embrace it. It could wait. The girl’s parents were doing much of its work already.
She smoothed the wrinkles down on her black Hermès slacks and shirt before turning the crystal hotel doorknob.
“You bring nothing good into this world,” her mother said, baring her teeth. “You just corrupt and destroy everything. You’re a catalyst, a demonic catalyst. You’re only fit to annihilate. One day you’ll understand the destructive nature of your power. You’ll see the damage you’ll bring to those around you when it’s too late. All those people who tell us you’re amazing, they’ll figure it out. You’ve fooled them for now, but they’ll learn.”
The mother slammed the door as she walked out with that last statement. The tears flowed from the girl’s face as she looked at the door. Her breathing sped up as her stomach roiled, sending her sprinting to the toilet. Her hands were shaking, clammy, as she collapsed to the floor, chills running through her body as she looked up at the ceiling. The orange and bergamot scents of the soaps mixed with the stark, white porcelain tile floor were the only anchors she could focus on to stop herself from throwing up again. Deep in her gut, at the core of her being, there was only one thought she could grasp: she’s right.
“I don’t want to be evil,” she said, whimpering to herself. “I don’t want to be alone.”
“But you aren’t alone, pretty girl,” a voice said with a throaty laugh.
About the Author:
Victory Witherkeigh is a female Filipino author originally from Los Angeles, CA, currently living in the Las Vegas area. Victory was a finalist for Wingless Dreamer’s 2020 Overcoming Fear Short Story award and a 2021 winner of the Two Sisters Writing and Publishing Short Story Contest.
She has print publications in the horror anthologies Supernatural Drabbles of Dread through Macabre Ladies Publishing, Bodies Full of Burning through Sliced Up Press, and In Filth It Shall Be Found through OutCast Press.
Her first novel, set to debut in Spring 2024 with Cinnabar Moth Publishing, has been a finalist for Killer Nashville’s 2020 Claymore Award, a 2020 Cinnamon Press Literature Award Honoree, and long-listed in the 2021 Voyage YA Book Pitch Contest.
Q&A With the Author
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Without spoiling too much, any of the traveling chapters were probably my favorite thing about writing The Girl. All the locations mentioned in The Girl are places I have visited. Traveling is one of my favorite things, especially when trying a new food or seeing new sites. It was so much fun to revisit those historic sites and cities through a different lens, especially considering visiting a place with magic at your disposal.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
I definitely like to have something brewing all the time. Before attempting to write a novel, I started my career as a short story writer in predominantly dark fantasy/horror for the past few years. I have a couple of other scary short stories coming out in a few magazines this December 2022. One will be in a magazine called A Coup of Owls. Another will release on Christmas Day as part of a theme called “In Bleak Midwinter” from Diet Milk Magazine.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
Well, for the publication day of The Girl, it may be a day where I try to stay offline and let my brain and heart have all the moments and feelings unplugged. Hopefully, I’ll be able to treat myself to a nice dinner or a splurgy dessert. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to make a research trip for my next piece.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing portions or ideas as far back as the early 2010s. And that’s just as a complete aside from my own diaries as a young girl. I always had a journal growing up, but it ebbed and waned on consistent use. As a kid, I had a lot of big feelings and daydreams that I often felt needed to be purged from my head to just function or calm myself down. But the first time I really sat down to pull the ideas into a creative story was towards the end of 2019.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I hope that people, young and young at heart, give The Girl a chance and that this book will be the first step to connecting and building a solid readership for the future. I have my website - victorywitherkeigh.com, where people can find all my social media handles. I have a Goodreads and Amazon author page as well.
Victory Witherkeigh will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway