Announcing the Release of Dead Man's Hand (Jack of Spades #4)
The latest book in the Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Universe is now available at
Have you been following the tale of ghostly river boat gambler Barton Montoire and Professor Sabine Brusilov?
In this episode, Barton Montoire, the ghost of a nineteenth century riverboat gambler, is devastated and angry. His lover, physics professor Sabine, has exorcised him. Again. This time, there's no denying the professor's actions were intentional. Worse, Bart can't seem to convince their friends to aid him in his quest get Sabine to listen to his side of things.
With his lover Bart safe from shadowy threats of eternal damnation in the "other realm," ghost hunter Sabine Brusilov is free to pursue his own risky investigation into the mysterious circlet and its connection to the shadow figure that's been tormenting the unlikely couple. With the help of his friends, he determines to take control of the situation and bring Bart home.
The smell of old books…of centuries-old paper, aromatic ink, and ancient leather hung heavy in the air of the archive. The door closed behind him, locking him in with the most arcane media library inexistence. Shelves lined the climate controlled room. Archive quality acid free boxes lined the bottom row, sealed tubes protected maps, charts, and scrolls more ancient than freedom were stored in large bins. The rest…books…fat, thin, tall, small…were crammed into every shelf in a sort of general organization. Sabine pulled on a pair of latex gloves from a box on a table near the door.
“Where to start today?” Sabine had been working his way through the shelf labeled Daemonolgy for the past week. Before that he’d read through the section on Spiritulus. He strolled the shelves, looking for inspiration. “Thaumaturgy? Alchemy? Mirandus?”
Mirandus? Translating the Latin quickly, he came up with something. “Wonderful? Marvelous?” On impulse, he selected two volumes from the shelf, one a pedestrian-looking thing with a cloth cover less than an inch thick, and the other a heavy tome with an odd, leather cover that smelled of must and something… “Good a place to start as any.”
Placing the two books on the small table, he drew out a chair and seated himself. The slender volume proved to be a book on fairies. Useless. He pushed it aside and opened the thicker book with the thin leathery covering. Surprisingly, it was handwritten. The first page was inscribed in a fairly childish hand with the words, Cassius, his booke.
The following pages were written in Latin, with small drawings and numerous lists. “A book of lists?” Pulling a notebook and pencil from his pocket, Sabine selected a list at random and began the laborious process of translating. He referred occasionally to his iPhone for words that he didn’t recall.
“Unbelievable.” He stared at the results. “It looks like…”
He pushed the paper away and picked up his phone. “Laurent?”
“Sabine! It’s good to hear from you.”
“Uh…are you wearing your pants?”
The husky chuckle down the line might once have stirred his senses. But it seemed Laurent was learning the fine art of directing his sexual energies at specific targets. Either that or the distance added some protection. “I am fully clothed, but willing to rectify that situation, if it suits you.”
“No…er… What do you think of this?” He drew in a calming breath. When had his heart begun to hammer like that? “A pinch of dried birch bark, powdered fine. The milk of the spiky yellow flower, root of garlic, crushed. In a stone bowl, grind to a paste with acid of grape. Apply to affliction and cover.”
“You have a wart problem?”
“It’s a spell?” Had he really stumbled upon a spell book?
“More like an herbal cure, but… Where are you?”
Blinking, Sabine flipped a few pages deeper into the book. The lists grew longer, the accompanied script more voluminous. “Moonshadows, why?”
“I just popped into your place… Can’t say as I like what you’ve done with the place. I take it poker is elsewhere this week?”
“No. I’m hoping that poker will be right there. So this is an herbal remedy? How would I tell a spell book if I saw one?” Like Laurent would know. Was it really a spell that he needed?
“As opposed to someone’s great-grandma’s recipe book? Well, they might have an odor of sulfur. Haha. Just kidding. But generally a spell book is personal to the witch or mage it belongs to. Depends on what they practiced…how they learned… Why? What have you found? If it’s at Moonshadows, it’s probably just junk. Now, if you’ve a hankering to see a real spell book… Come on down to my place on the bayou and I can show you a page or two rumored to be written in Marie Laveau’s own hand.”
“Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen? Is this the punchline to another joke?”
“No. Really. You’ve heard the story of Handsome Jack?”
“That’s just a song and a lot more recent than the 1800s.”
“Well, some songs have their basis in urban legend, and some legends have their basis in fact.”
“Are you saying—”
“I’m not saying that an incubus seduced a voodoo queen in exchange for a fortune in Confederate gold… Because we don’t kiss and tell, but…I do have a few pages of a genuine spell book if you want to take a look at one for comparison. If you can’t come out to the bayou, I’ll bring them to poker.”
The line went dead, and Sabine sat lost in thought for a minute. His friend had a more colorful past than he’d expected. The spell book would definitely be interesting to see.
He returned his attention to the book in front of him, strangely unwilling to give up on it just yet. Turning to a clean page in his notebook, he re-opened the Latin dictionary on his phone and went back to work. Flipping forward more, he stopped again on a page with a strange illustration of a leaf and a platter. Shivering, he touched the drawing of the platter with one fingertip. It was familiar. Using the photo search option on his phone, he was able to identify the leaf as belonging to the yew tree. Interesting. The tree of the dead. This might be worth the time. He turned from the illustration to the text. The language had changed, as had the handwriting. The letters were more mature, but the words unrecognizable. He typed the first word into Google translator then hit detect language.
Sighing, he continued paging through the book, pausing as he noted a section once more in Latin. The facing page listed several items, but it was the illustration that caught his attention. An oblong platter, a tripod, a circlet, and again the yew leaves. The pieces were so familiar. A chill crept over him, skin crawling as his heart hammered in excitement.
The title at the top of the facing page reinforced his hopes. Summonitori spirituum. Summoner of spirits. This might be what he was looking for. If he could recall the spirits of the dead from the afterlife…he could bring Bart home. “When the time is right.” For now, he needed to learn what this creature of darkness wanted, and…it was beginning to look like what it wanted was passage into the human world. Summoner. He made a note to scan the book for other uses of the word.
Picking up his pencil, Sabine began translating again.
Pick up your copy today and get haunted… seduced… captivated by the romance that is Altered States.