Hello fellow booksters!!
If you have been following along on our signal boost for amazing author Gail Z. Martin, then you know that today’s post features another excerpt 🙂
This time we are shifting from epic to urban fantasy by taking a visit into Trifles and Folly, a short story collection set in the Deadly Curiosities world and featured in the mutli genre/multi book release Modern Magic.
Now, please enjoy this selection from the short story Buttons.
Images flashed through my mind on many of the buttons. The echo of a child’s laughter sounded in the distance when I touched a plastic, heart-shaped button. A round ivory disk yielded a woman’s voice, humming to herself and an image of rolling out dough in a kitchen. My pencil flicked among the buttons, and in my mind I saw the blackboard in a long-ago school room from a shirt button, memories of a heavy winter storm from a coat’s fastener, and the distant strains of an orchestra from a dainty pearl ball. It went on like that a few minuets, glimpsing fragments of long-ago lives, until my pencil hovered above one particular button.
An image came to me so clear and strong that it transported me beyond the back room of my shop.
Tall grass, dry from the summer heat, slapped at my legs. The air smelled of sweet honeysuckle, mixed with the acrid stench of gunpowder. Not far away, I could hear the thunder of cannons. My heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty. I gripped my rifle more tightly, comforted by the smooth wood of the grip, and the cool metal of the barrel. Hoof beats pounded closer, not just a few men on horseback, but a cavalry unit on the move. Men would die today. The fear that I might be among them seemed to freeze my blood.
“Cassidy! Come on Cassidy! Snap out of it!” Gradually, Teag’s urgent voice intruded and the vision receded. I shook my head, and came to myself. Teag stood over me, worried but not
surprised. He’d seen me ‘trance out’ enough times to know what to do.
“I’m okay,” I said, still reorienting. Teag’s glare meant he knew damn well that I wasn’t all
“Do you know which button sent you day trippin’?” He made an effort to sound flippant, but
I could hear genuine concern beneath his words.
“That’s the one,” I murmured. “I’m certain most of the resonance is coming from this
Teag frowned as he bent over the tray, then picked up the button and held it between thumb
and forefinger. “It’s old. Looks military. Might even be Civil War.”
“I’m almost certain it’s Civil War,” I replied, remembering the images I had seen. “The
question is, why are the impressions from this button so much stronger?”
Teag sat on the edge of my desk. “Did you pick up on anything when we were at the house?
Get any visions?”
I shook my head. “I never went inside, remember? I was working the Oliver estate, and I left
the Allendale house in your hands. Other than a peek in the front door, I never got close.”
“The crew was uncomfortable working there, particularly after dark,” Teag replied. “The
lower floors weren’t a problem, but they really didn’t like the attic.” He paused. “A couple of
times, when the men were loading the truck, they said they felt like someone was watching them
from an upstairs window, even though no one was in the house. And Jorge, one of my best
workers, called off sick the last day. He never gets sick, but the day before, he swore he’d been
chased by a shadow. I don’t think he wanted to go back in there.”
“I don’t think this button is a full ‘spooky’,” I said, daring to let the pencil hover a bit nearer
to the worn metal button. ‘Spookies’ were malevolent items or objects with a dark magical
history. I knew better than to touch ‘spookies’. I turned them right over to Sorren, and he locked
them up, neutralized their magic, or sent them off for further study. Sorren had been at this for a
lot longer; I was happy to leave those details to him. “Maybe just a strong ‘sparkler’. He doesn’t
feel angry just…terribly sad.”
“Wandering around for more than one hundred and fifty years without being able to rest
would make anyone sad, and a mite cranky, too.” Teag looked around the back room and
through the door to the loading dock. “Get readings from anything else we brought back?”
I got up and began to wander among the boxes, letting my hand trail along their sides. I felt
the residue of daily life, hopes, fears, hunger, and exhaustion, but one box made me stop and
examine my impressions. “What’s in here?”
Teag bent to look at the label, since only he could read his scribbled writing. “Antique baby
items. Very good condition.”
“That’s because they were never used,” I said quietly. “There was a christening gown,
embroidered linen with eyelet lace?”
Teag nodded, his eyes widening. “Yes. Very pretty.”
“Set it aside for Sorren. The child died right after the baptism. I’d hate to think someone
might purchase that and carry the resonance forward to a new baby.”
Teag moved the box away from the others. “Consider it done. How about anything to go with
I had moved among all the new boxes, and none drew me in or offered up impressions that
matched those of the button. It’s hard to explain, but when I pick up on ‘residue’ from an object,
it’s as if that impression has its own special frequency. Nothing else was on the button’s
I shook my head. “Nothing.” I paused, thinking. “Of course, I don’t know what I would have
picked up from what the museum took. Maybe that button came from a uniform that was in the
boxes for the exhibit.”
“I am not taking you in the museum again. No how, no way,” Teag said, holding up his
hands. “Do you remember what happened when we accidentally ended up in the Plagues and
I shuddered. Yellow fever, small pox, malaria, diphtheria, and cholera all wrote their own
bloody lines of the city’s history. The impressions from that display were so overwhelming that I
passed out and didn’t regain consciousness for a full day. Even then, it had taken some of
Sorren’s arcane know-how to bring me out of it. I was happy to donate money to the museum,
but there was no way in hell I’d step foot inside again.
Trifles and Folly © 2016 Gail Z. Martin All rights reserved, may not be reproduced without
Trifles and Folly is the name of the antique store that Cassidy and Teag work in (and where Cassidy comes into contact with most of the artifacts that give her visions).
I think it was so brilliant to name the short story collection after the store. It’s like each story is a trinket that you can pick up, look at, put down and then move on to the next piece.
If you are a fan of magic, mystery, friendship and modern day heroes, you will love these stories!