Excerpt from The Restless Dead in Realms of Imagination

Teag Logan, my assistant store manager, best friend, and occasional bodyguard, sauntered over. “For all your curiosity, I notice you haven’t touched it,” he observed, raising an eyebrow. Teag knows about my psychic gift, and he’s got some gifts of his own. He’s a Weaver, able to weave magic into the warp and woof of fabric, and able to weave data streams together to find information. It makes him an unbeatable researcher and an unstoppable hacker.

It was the middle of a cloudy autumn afternoon, the day before Halloween. The main tourist season was over, and since clouds threatened rain, walk-in traffic had been sparse. I left Maggie, our part-time assistant in charge of watching the door. Teag picked up the hand wheel and we headed to the break room in the back.

“I still can’t figure out why a sewing machine piece would be in a sinkhole,” I said. Teag put the steel wheel on the table and poured me a glass of ice-cold sweet tea. The tea was just the way we like it in Charleston, strong as love and sweet as passion. We both knew the tea was there to revive me in case the impressions I read from the wheel were overpowering.

Teag shrugged. “Maybe it was the basement of an old house that got forgotten and built over top of,” he said. “Maybe they unearthed an old garbage pit.”

I shook my head. “Nobody just threw out one of those Model 15s,” I said. “Folks back then made use of something until it fell apart, and then figured out how to use the pieces.”

“Touch it and see,” Teag prompted. We both knew I was stalling. My visions could be quite intense, depending on the emotions connected to a particular antique. Most people don’t realize that the strong emotions of their lives are recorded in the objects around them. Not every emotion or every old piece, but the resonance is especially strong either in items used every day or things associated with a major life event. When the circumstances are good, the piece gives a happy, calm reading. But when the circumstances were bad—well, like the rhyme about the little girl with the little curl, it can be very, very bad.

I drew in a deep breath. One hand went to my agate necklace, which is supposed to have protective properties. So many of the readings I had done on objects with an upsetting past had ended with me flat on my butt or passed out cold that Teag and I had a routine. I had the sweet tea near to revive me. I was sitting down, so there wasn’t far to fall, and Teag was there to catch me. It was as good as it was going to get.

I laid my hand on the cold, dirty steel. Memories flooded my senses—and none of the memories were my own. Green rolling hills, and the crash of the sea on a rocky coast. The stuffy, cramped confines of a ship packed full of hard-scrabble people in Victorian-era clothing. Fear, Loneliness. Courage. Doubt. Resolve. I saw hands—my hands—working the sewing machine with skill. Whatever else happened, whatever hardships came my way, fabric, needle, and thread made me feel safe, confident.

The scene wavered and changed. I heard a rhythmic click-clack, like a train on the tracks only quieter. I saw the sleek, black and gold body of a Singer Model 15, saw the needle move up and down in a blur, felt the steady pressure of my foot against the treadle. Once again, fabric slid beneath my hands. The rhythm of the needle was comforting as my mother’s heartbeat in this strange and unforgiving place. Outside the dimly lit workroom, the world was beyond my control. Here, I was the master. And soon, I would be free…