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Judgement At St. Marcelline
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-330-X
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 132 Pages
Published: September 2016

From inside the flap

On the Caribbean island of St. Marcelline, the date is July 16, 1816. Gaspard Fouche murders his wife and her male friend but, after a paperwork mix-up, Fouche is not charged with a double murder but with a misdemeanor and ordered to serve a mere 30 days. Gaspard thinks he is just lucky, but the luck turns dark when his low-life cellmate recognizes him as a murderer. Realizing that the cellmate might give him away, Gaspard murders the cellmate then finds a way to unlock the door of his cell just as the islandís volcano begins to erupt.

Aboard the luxury sailboat, ďFallstreak,Ē the date is also July 16, but the year is 2016. Vacationing charter Captain Jeff Tristy and Carrie Swain, his cook and budding romance, see a plume of dark smoke on the horizon and decide to investigate. Carrie thinks itís an island, but Jeff knows there are no islands anywhere near their position. What he does not know, however, is that there used to be. In 1816, a volcano on the island erupted with such force the island split apart and sank to the bottom. Now, a spiritual force brings back Gaspard Foucheís day in court, July 16, 1816, for an extraordinary reason: justice unrequited.

Caribbean islands have been shrouded with whispered stories of witchcraft cults and supernatural lore, sometimes calling upon spirits to punish criminals who have somehow escaped the clutches of the criminal justice system. The captain and Fouche, who meet on the island, come to blows when Fouche believes Carrie is his wife reincarnated and tries to execute her with a guillotine. As the islandís only volcano erupts again, splitting the island apart, Jeff rescues Carrie, subdues Fouche and throws him back into the same cell he escaped from earlier. Unable to open the door a second time, Fouche is consumed by a slithering stream of deadly lava intent on righting an aged wrong. Still curious about an island that seems to have no beginning, Carrie watches as the island begins its final journey to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea.

Judgement At St. Marcelline (Excerpt)

Court of the Honorable Henri Leblanc

In the Caribbean village of Rochefort, French West Indies, an armed gendarme called the court to order and pointed to a QUIET sign on the wall. Magistrate Henri Leblanc, his shoulders hunched over, strode into the courtroom and sat down behind a massive wood desk. Leaning forward, his robe pushed up to his elbows, Leblanc was about to stifle a yawn when he heard the approaching rattle of leg irons. July heat was sending trickles of sweat down his cheeks, annoying evidence that the day was not going to bode well for the frequent visitor standing before him now, one Gaspard T. Fouche. Leblanc cleared his throat and raised his voice as a summer tropical rain continued to pelter the tin roof of the island's rickety government building.

"Fouche, 'tis you again? You continue to beseech the court for mercy, whilst engaging in the same disturbances again and again. It is beyond my understanding why your son permits the disgraces you impart upon your family's name-and please not to exhibit another deceitful smirk. I have seen it too many times a' fore."

The magistrate flipped to page 2 of Gaspard's file.

"It is before me that our diligent lieutenant de Bouleuf-with three other officers, 'tis reported, wrestled you to the... appears to be floor, whilst thou attempted to fling a patron through a window. Gaspard, which disgrace doth you choose: Work the sugar fields like the contract slaves or languish in the dungeon? What must it be? Haste, man, I have a full docket." Tired of waiting for an answer, Leblanc whacked his gavel and pointed to a door leading to a holding cell.

"Thirty days! Out with him! And officer, if the gentleman in there now is sober, discharge him with a severe warning on the disparaging ways of drink."

Curious onlookers in the courtroom were seated close enough to notice the smile on Gaspard's face, though they could not imagine why. But Gaspard knew why; apparently, after a careless mistake, the principal clerk neglected to give the magistrate Gaspard's most recent criminal charges. Fouche wanted to laugh and wake up the magistrate and the clerks who each day push piles of court paperwork across the magistrate's bench. Gaspard understood, of course, that to poke fun at the court's mistake would reveal the error, and in so doing would alert the magistrate, the clerks, and the gendarmes, sending him into lengthy hearings and, eventually, into an equally lengthy trial. In time, he would undoubtedly be found guilty and sentenced to death beneath the blade of the guillotine. Two gendarmes dragged Fouche from the courtroom to an adjacent cement bunker, where, laughing and joking, they removed his irons and shoved him into a dungeon cell. Stumbling and cursing, Gaspard tripped and skidded up against a cement wall as the door slammed behind him. In the opposite corner, a fat man wearing stained pants and a torn shirt stared at him.

"Ou genmanje?" the fat man asked in Patwa, a pleading look in his eyes.

"I no have food," Gaspard answered. He realized that the gendarmes had forgotten to carry out the magistrate's instruction to release the fat man, and had to acknowledge that he was now stuck with this most disgusting person. Wiping sweat from his brow, Gaspard surveyed the cell, the floor, the walls, the ceiling. Nothing had changed since his last incarceration: a mattress stuffed with straw, a bucket toilet, and a narrow slot in an iron door that served as a food pass-through. Above, rainwater continued to drip through cracks in the ceiling. Grinning again, Gaspard watched a rat scurry across the floor. For the commonplace prisoner, the sight of rats, a rancid toilet, and the presence of an unsightly cellmate would have brought on a frown plus a few mumbled words of scorn and regret. For Fouche, the same revolting sights were of little consequence now, as he would soon be free of the whole of it-the fat man, the dungeon, and the courts in only a month.

Gaspard did not want to talk to the fat man in the corner, especially in Patwa. If he had any reason whatsoever to speak to the man, he would try to speak English; Gaspard's misfortune of having to share a dungeon cell with a foul-smelling man did not have to include conversation. The fat man's sunken eyes continued to stare, a piercing, pointed stare. Gaspard looked up quickly when he heard, in the distance, a deep, ominous rumble.

"Mon pa kontan," the fat man grumbled.

"Shut up," Gaspard said, "probably just thunder. No black magic, besides why you still here? Magistrate set you free."

The man shrugged his shoulders and grunted as his annoying stare continued to infuriate Gaspard, who began pacing the cell. In his mid forties, Gaspard was still his mother's son, even after his parents succumbed to cholera. He remembered the talks he used to have with her, a devout follower of the Lespri Lanmo, the spirit of a shadowy world that drew Gaspard into its sphere of evil when he was a teenager. He longed to join the circle of followers, and gradually earned a place among those who took part in rituals celebrating the glory of death. He remembered his mother showing him how to dedicate his mind and body to destroying the only other spirit known to roam the island, Lespri Jistis, the spirit of virtue and justice that could morph itself into tangible objects. Gaspard was trying to recall a Lanmo prayer when he noticed the fat man's stare. Gaspard gritted his teeth, his gradual dislike of the man growing by the moment. A soft rain that had begun earlier slackened, along with the sound of drops on the dungeon roof. Gaspard thought he heard loud voices mixed with the continuous clanging of the church bell. Someone in the courtyard was frantically jerking on the rope. Soon, he could hear voices yelling. The fat man, squinting, pointed his finger at Gaspard.

"You Gaspard! You Gaspard Fouche!"

"Old man, you need shut your mouth."

"I know what you did," the fat man continued. "All village know what you did."

"If you don't shut up.... "

The fat man began to realize the ominous significance of what he had said; now, realizing

how dangerous Gaspard could be, the man began to grow silent, cowering against the wall. Gaspard had not moved, his head back, his eyes closed.

"I promise not to tell gendarme what you did," the fat man whispered, his voice a deep rasp. "I have belt buckle. Gendarmes forgot to take it. I can open door. You can escape. Nobody know."