Saturday, June 30, 2012

"The Lost Wife of Thomas Tan" - From the Case Files of Sgt. Janus

A grieving widower is seated in a room in the strange house of a “spirit-breaker” and is confronted by what appears to be the ghost of his late wife…

Part 6.

This next movement in my story is difficult to contemplate, let alone to write. But I feel as it is important that others know of it, though it is extremely personal, so that they may make up their own minds as to the truth of it…or the lie.

My lovely, lost Miriam sat before me. Janus had somehow conjured her up, in every detail, and before my very eyes. I rose out of my chair to approach her, but she raised one slim hand to caution me against doing so.

”You cannot embrace me, Thomas,” she said. “That is no longer possible.”

I asked her why that was, though I knew in my heart that the gulf between us was now wide and impossible to cross. She smiled thinly and sadly, as if in answer, and urged me to speak no more on that particular matter. It was as it was. She was beyond mortal comforts.

”I am lost, Thomas!” she suddenly wailed, and I steeled myself against the emotions flooding through me – it looked, sounded so much like Miriam! As God is my witness, I swear it was truly her! Before I could do or say anything, she continued in a calmer voice.

”I am plagued here as I was in life – I do not know which way to turn, as there seems to be no true directions here. There is little to distinguish left from right, up from down…even right from wrong. It is more a nightmare than eternal rest.”

I wondered what sort of deity could do this to someone like Miriam. Was this what we were promised by the clergy, by the Good Book? My wife suffered so in life; was she to be tormented in death, too? I swore out loud, looked around the room for something to break, but then asked her what I could do for her.

“Release me,” she whispered. “Release me…"

I felt as lost then as Miriam. Untold frustrations ran through me, and an utter feeling of helplessness took hold of me with an iron grip. I opened my mouth to speak.

“Someone is coming!” said Miriam abruptly, the same look of madness in her eyes as I feared while she lived.

“Thomas, Thomas! Help me! He is coming for me!”


All contents © Jim Beard 2012

Pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at

Monday, June 25, 2012

"The Lost Wife of Thomas Tan" - From the Case Files of Sgt. Janus

Widower Thomas Tan has discovered that his late wife’s mental imbalances might have been due to the presence of hateful ghosts in her childhood, as revealed to him by “spirit-breaker” Sgt. Janus who claims to be in contact with the departed woman.

Part 5.

Before I could ask Janus to clarify his bold statement, he took me by the arm and led me through an ornate archway and down a darkened hallway. Dumbfounded, I went along with him without protest, my mind chewing on his allegations of Miriam’s early life. Finally, after a long walk, I could make out a small sliver of light coming from under a doorway up ahead. The sergeant stopped in front of that door, held out a hand for me to pause and then stood silently for a moment. He seemed to be listening for something. I myself heard nothing. Then, somehow satisfied, he turned the knob and opened the door. Light flooded into the hallway and he motioned for me to enter the room beyond.

I stepped into a room that, had my mood been more cheerful, I might have called charming. It was decorated tastefully, with a fine balance between the male and female sensibilities and with a small, crackling fire in its fireplace. There was one window, but its shades and curtains were drawn tight and, interestingly, the only furniture present and of note were two chairs, both of them comfortable-looking and facing each other in roughly the center of the room. I turned to look at Janus, unsure of what exactly I was to make of it all.

”The Room of Visitation welcomes you,” he said, and then insisted I sit down in one of the chairs, whichever one I chose. He then swiveled on his heel and made as to exit the room.

Well, I had no intention of “visiting” long with the man and told him that to be called to his home and then shuffled off into a parlor while he did God Knows What was simply not on the agenda. I demanded to be told what he knew of my wife and in no uncertain terms.

Janus’ frowned slightly, shook his head and then asked me once again to sit down. All would be explained soon, he said. The Lord only knows why, but I did as he asked. A moment later and he had left the room.

Sitting in one of the chairs, I began to feel foolish. I looked around the damnable room and realized how ridiculous it all was, how it seemed to be more of a charade of some sort and that I had fallen into the hands of a lunatic. I moved to stand up.

I heard a door open. I looked up at the only door in the room, but it remained as it was after Janus had left; closed and silent. I was not only sure there was no other door into the room, I was certain of it.

Then someone stepped around from behind me, behind my chair, and, with displacement of air and a rustle of cloth, sat down in the chair opposite me.

It was Miriam.


All contents © Jim Beard 2012

Pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"The Lost Wife of Thomas Tan" - From the Case Files of Sgt. Janus

Thomas Tan, a self-admitted “bad man,” has been summoned once again to come to Janus House by its owner and attend to the purported ghost of his late wife Miriam, a situation which causes a spike of anger in the secretive widower.

Part 4.

It took me until this very morning, almost an entire day, to find a driver who would take me out to Janus House, there on the outskirts of Mount Airy. In that time my anger cooled a bit and I was able to compose myself for the journey – and for facing Janus. I had words for him to hear, but I believed I could say them with a relatively rational tongue in my head. After I arrived at the house and began to slog through the mounting snow up the long path to its front door, my anger returned, though, and it was only the unexpected sight of the sergeant himself on his front porch that kept me from taking a poke at him.

I opened my mouth to remonstrate Janus for his bothering me about supposed messages from Miriam when he held up one hand, smiled and then reached out to take my own hand. Something about his demeanor brought me up short and I meekly shook his offered hand. He then ushered me inside Janus House as if I were an old friend.

The insides were dark. I didn’t know what to expect, having heard many wild tales of the mansion’s particulars, but I could make out little in the gloom. Janus explained that the house was being “cleaned” and seemed to think that a good enough reason for the darkness. I turned to him in the shadowy foyer and demanded to know why he persisted in approaching me about Miriam.

”She is lost, as I have endeavored to tell you,” he said simply. “She is quite lost and even my own abilities are not enough to shed light on the path back to her designated resting place.”

Before I could speak again, he continued. “You see,” he whispered, nodding, “her mind has not healed beyond the grave, as is…customary. It was shredded when she was very young, and the damage was so extensive it was a wonder she was able to function into adulthood. Perhaps some credit for that was due to your very great love and depth of feeling for her.”

I was stunned. I came to Janus House with thoughts of malice in my head and here the sergeant had defused me completely with only a few words. Knocked back on my heels, I stammered out a reply.

“Shredded?” I asked, confused. “By what?”

”Spirits,” said Janus, his cool eyes searching mine. “Selfish, vengeful spirits…”


All contents © Jim Beard 2012

Pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"The Lost Wife of Thomas Tan" - From the Case Files of Sgt. Janus

Former-criminal Thomas Tan reflects on his late wife’s disturbed life and death, and his refusal to acknowledge spirit-breaker Sgt. Janus’ plea to listen to the woman’s message from beyond the grave…

Part 3.

I will explain.

As I have said, I loved my wife and am responsible for her death and her face still haunts my thoughts, but after ten long years without her I have found something resembling peace over her absence. She led a harsh life, her sanity waxing and waning and her days filled with anxiety and fear, but Miriam is in a better place now; I believe that. I have to believe that. And that is why I told the so-called “spirit-breaker” that, in no uncertain terms, I would not come at his beck and call and fall back into that all-too-familiar spiral that could only lead to pain and misery.

Miriam - if it was indeed my wife - would understand. That too I believed.

Janus looked at me with a queer expression, as if catching a glimmer of insanity in my own eyes, but then, without further word, he turned on his heel and walked away. I watched him retreat for several minutes then gathered my things and returned to my simple home, hidden away from the eyes of the world and my former master.

That was May. I half-expected to hear from Janus again – was he not known to be dogged and persistent in his “crusade” to help those vexed by spirits? How I figured into this profession of his I do not now, but alas, he did not come ‘round again…until just yesterday the crisp November air brought a letter from him. In it, he told me that Miriam had once again made contact with him and that her “misplaced steps are leading her further and further into chaos” and I was to come at once to Janus House. After reading the letter once, twice, three times I crumpled it into a ball and flung it into the fire and watched it burn.

I was livid, consumed by rage. I was also filled with…dread. For what? I do not know. I had never been afraid of anything before, having lived at the side of a master criminal, but perhaps having subsequently lived with my head down, peering around corners and cloaked in shadows for a decade had taken its toll with me. But I was also angry, and anger fuels me. Oh, yes, a good heated bout of rage can do wonders for my gumption.

I threw on my coat and headed out, with Janus House as my destination and murder on my mind.


All contents © Jim Beard 2012

Pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"The Lost Wife of Thomas Tan" - From the Case Files of Sgt. Janus

As Thomas Tan begins to feel his own mortality, he ponders the recent events that lead him to the edge of his life, specifically a meeting with spirit-breaker Sgt Janus who relayed a message to him from his late wife…

Part 2.

I have done many things in my life of which I am not proud; it would be pointless to go into them here and now. Perhaps they will all be revealed when I am gone, but suffice to say that I had long answered to a certain master of men and have done his dark bidding, which quite often entailed the destruction of not a few individuals. In return, I had been rewarded with creature comforts and had seen the world. But I had never truly been a happy man – until I met Miriam. Miriam changed everything.

She was not well in her own mind; I see that plainly now, but for the first year of our marriage it was not clear and I suffered many a day and night in confusion over it. You see, Miriam was not always herself and she could become easily lost, both in space and in spirit. But I loved her, oh Lord how I loved her, and we made a semblance of a life together despite her illness and my being a very, very bad man. I kept her hidden away from the prying eyes of the world and, so I thought, from my master.

One day, after a particularly onerous night of Miriam’s wanderings, I spoke a word to my master, after receiving his orders, the likes of which he was greatly unfamiliar:


And then I left his presence and wandered myself for a time and then returned to my home and found there my beautiful, lost wife dead. This is what may transpire when a very bad man tells his very bad master “no.”

That was ten years hence. Since that deeply evil day I have endeavored to be a good man. Oh, I know that the stain on my soul can never be fully removed, but I have tried to staunch its spread and lighten its dark ichor with deeds I, perhaps foolishly, deem good. The Lord knows I’ve tried, if he hasn’t abandoned me all together – and I comfort myself in thinking that Miriam, wherever she may now wander, also knows I’ve tried.

So then I found myself looking into the queerly crystal eyes of a man I did not know and heard him tell me that my wife was searching for me from Beyond, and that she was lost. It played well with me superficially, the words like a topical balm all pleasing and cool to the touch, but I looked at Mount Airy’s famous Sgt. Janus and, with the cries and moans of the victims of the flood all around me, asked him what it was that I should do about it. And Sgt. Janus asked me in return to come directly with him to his home and talk to Miriam, to help her find her way.

Standing in the filthy waters which pooled around my ankles and my muscles screaming from my exertions, I spoke a word to the sergeant the likes of which he may or may not have been greatly unfamiliar:



All contents © Jim Beard 2012

Pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"The Lost Wife of Thomas Tan" - From the Case Files of Sgt. Janus

Part 1.

I write this looking out at the falling snow from underneath the Raynham Road Bridge, the nub of a pencil in my barely-sensate fingers, scribbling on bits of crumpled paper found in my pockets. There is a curious pain in my arm and in my chest. My head is swimming. We thought this was finished. The sergeant thought this was finished. Apparently, that is not the case.

Perhaps this will be the last thing I ever write. But I will endeavor to begin it and to finish it and hope that it will find a home in someone’s hands who will care for its record of the events of the past few days.

I first met Roman Janus last May, during the flooding. Of course I knew of him; we all know of him in town, and I suspect in the city, too. Little thought I gave him before that day when I found myself shoulder-to-shoulder with the man, lifting heavy bags of sand to bolster a wall that threatened to give way from the weight of the water behind it. Throughout that long, arduous day we worked together well, albeit silently, for the most part. We made quite a team, actually. Then, when we were relieved by others, Janus and I introduced ourselves to each other and he told me the strangest thing. I will never forget it as long as I shall…well, for whatever time I may have left.

He said, “Miriam has asked me to find you. She cannot find her way.”

Why strange? You see, my wife, my dear, sweet, lovely Miriam has been dead for ten long years.

And I am responsible for her death.


All contents (c) Jim Beard 2012

Read of Sgt. Janus' adventures in SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER, available on

Saturday, June 9, 2012

More News from the MOUNT AIRY EAGLE

Prominent Lawyer Passes

Jasper Farthing, a prominent Mount Airy lawyer, has died at the age of seventy-three. On the evening of August 4, Mr. Farthing suffered a heart attack in his home at No. 22 Bentley Blvd. and was pronounced dead some minutes later. He is survived by his wife Gentian, his four children Abigail, Louella, Primrose and Jinkster, and eighteen assorted grandchildren.

Mr. Farthing began his career as a solicitor after returning from abroad at the age of twenty-two and quickly rose to prominence among regional peers. He was brought into the firm of Farley, Winkle, Munger & Munger as a junior partner at the age of thirty-one and made a full partner only three years later. The firm of Farley, Farthing, Munger & Munger went on to establish themselves as the preeminent source for legal representation in the district, due in large part, according to his partners, by Mr. Farthing’s attention to detail and a steadfast drive to succeed.

The late solicitor will be interred at Whispering Oaks Cemetery after a brief showing at Gateman Mortuary. Both services will be open only to the immediate family and invited friends and associates.

An unusual codicil to Mr. Farthing’s last will and testament states that should he “return to the mortal plane in any shape or form after legal and binding death, be it shade, revenant, ghoul or ghast,” the solicitor resolutely bans “the presence of one Sgt. Roman Janus from the Farthing properties and holdings, ad infinitum.” The addendum goes on to state that should Mr. Farthing’s supposed spirit appear at any other place than his own properties or holdings, he asks the Mount Airy government and police department for their “kind indulgence to restrain the aforementioned person, or any representative of that person, from acting in any manner or fashion whatsoever detrimental to the shade, revenant, ghoul or ghast.”

Mrs. Farthing was approached by this reporter to clarify such an odd codicil, but was told by a family servant that the woman was in deep mourning and that her husband’s wishes would be carried out to the letter of the law.

Sgt. Roman Janus could not be reached for comment.

All content (c) Jim Beard 2012

Get a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER here at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Inspirations: House on the High Ground

The mysterious Janus House that appears in SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER is a direct relative of anotehr fantastical abode, that of Evenmere, the High House, as witnessed in author James Stoddard's magical 1998 novel THE HIGH HOUSE.

That book was a revelation for me, when I first read it, as it coalesced many themes and devices that appealed to me all in one novel. Evenmere is a Victorian/Edwardian-era mansion that seems to encompass the workings of the universe and is rumored to have been built by God Himself. Young Carter Anderson returns to the High House after having been exiled from it as a boy, seeking his lost father and discovering a legacy that the House may hold for him.

for those who look for fantasy novels off the beaten path, I can't recommend this book more highly.


The sequel, THE FALSE HOUSE, on Amazon

Stoddard has also re-imagined the classic novel THE NIGHT LAND, by an author we both admire, William Hope Hodgson. Hodgson is also the creator of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, a character that inspired Sgt. Janus, so its very cool to me how this has all come full-circle.


I sincerely hope that you may seek out these books and delve into an author who's deserving of your time...and really needs to write more books.

All content (c) Jim Beard 2012

Explore Janus House in SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER here on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


...because why else would they take Ray Bradbury from us?

My dear Uncle Ray was a huge inspiration for me and he will be sorely missed. Of a breed they just don't make anymore.

SGT. JANUS salutes him and wishes him well on his newest and perhaps greatest journey to the stars.

Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More News from the MOUNT AIRY EAGLE

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir,

After much careful thought I feel very strongly that I must add my voice to the growing number that is currently calling for the wrecking ball to visit the property at No. 4 Raynham Road. While the ill-pedigreed structure was occupied it was an eyesore and a blight on the landscape, but now as it is allegedly abandoned by its owner, it should be quickly razed so as not to become a haven for hooligans and opiate-users. As a community, we should act and act swiftly on this matter.

My family has lived for multiple generations on land that sits adjacent to that of the so-called “Janus House,” and we have more recently suffered for that unfortunate proximity. Roman Janus was a man of questionable background and even more mysterious and dubious profession and his habit of bringing all manner of “clients” to his residence brought to my mind many questions of impropriety and even possible illegalities. Why, once we even witnessed gypsies camping out on his front lawn! Add to that the unexplained noises at all hours of the day and night and the rumors of a woman living in the house with Janus – unchaperoned! – and you have a picture of a situation that could not stand. And, now, I say that the house itself should not stand if its master no longer cares enough for it to occupy it and maintain it. Though, of course, I say he did not maintain it even when he sat in residence there.

Is it not the responsibility of the people of the good town of Mount Airy, a respectable and proper community, to take this matter in hand? I sit on several committees and plan to bring the question up as many times as is necessary so that people will come to realize that we have an opportunity to correct a great injustice to our fair town – and to its citizens. “Janus House” must be demolished. And if it harbors anything of value within its walls, and this I highly doubt, then that property must be rightfully seized by the town and sold as recompense for Mount Airy’s long-standing troubles with Roman Janus. And if that man objects, then he should be brought to task for the obvious disregard in which he holds our community.

Too long has Janus presented his mummery and charlatanism as practices for which we should be thankful to him – let him keep his “ghosts” and “spirits” to himself, and allow decent people to continue their lives unbesmirched by his brand of “service.” And if he has truly abandoned his property, then let it be torn down and bring beauty and tranquility back to the landscape.


Franklin Parton III

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012

Buy the book here at

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sgt. Janus, List-Maker

SGT. JANUS remains on the New Pulp bestseller list - compiled by Barry Reese from rankings - but dropped a few spots:

New Pulp Bestseller List

And I'm thrilled that people like it; they really like it! :)

Huge thanks to Barry for putting these lists together, week after week. Its something he doesn't have to do, but he does and does with style.

He's got spirit.

All content (c) Jim Beard 2012 - Buy the book and see for yourself: SGT. JANUS on

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Inspirations: Finding & Breaking

SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER owes a very great debt to one single collection of ghost tales: THE CASEBOOK OF CARNACKI THE GHOST-FINDER. I was lead to the book by Alan Moore, in his LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, and spent nine spooky evenings shut up in a quiet reading area all alone, devouring each story.

Hodgson's device here was to have his stories narrated by a young man - basically Hodgson himself - who would, along with a clutch of friends, visit the esteemed Carnacki at the gentlemen's home and be regaled by the latest adventure of the Ghost Finder. So, in effect, they are "stories within stories," a device I tried to emulate to some degree in SGT. JANUS.

Unlike my stories, Carnacki's bulwarks against the darkness sometimes turned out to be very human, very living examples of skulduggery, not actual supernatural phenomenon - but you really didn't know until the end of each story. But, never fear, Carnacki dispatched stupid criminals as easily as pesky poltergeists.

I highly recommend you pick up and dip into THE CASEBOOK OF CARNACKI THE GHOST-FINDER and uncover one of the main wellsprings of inspiration for SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER. Carnacki found 'em, but Janus breaks 'em.

All content (c) Jim Beard 2012

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

New Planet Up Ahead

We are now also on IndyPlanet, and for what the record stores used to call a "nice price"!

SGT. JANUS on IndyPlanet

All content (c) Jim Beard 2012

More News from the MOUNT AIRY EAGLE


Tuesday, January 3rd

A promise was made two days ago here that Yours Truly would spill forth with more salacious details of the New Year's Eve soiree at the Craig Ballroom, above and beyond those of the more mundane variety previously related. Here is that promise delivered, Dear Readers:

Yours Truly, attending deliciously incognito in a borrowed chapeau and garters, witnessed one of Mount Airy’s most popular and, shall we say, bohemian couples, not in a lover’s clench, but in the throes of a decidedly wicked tiff. Such a row! A smattering of its clattering could be heard clear out into the dining room and into the sitting parlors; one wonders what could have brought about such a brouhaha. Mr. K.L. has recently come into quite a neat and tidy sum and Mrs. N.P. does have quite an unruly appetite for dresses and shoes and…oh, Dear Readers, please remember that Yours Truly never said the couple were married. To each other, that is.

And then was spotted, or perhaps glimpsed, Mount Airy’s favorite eccentric and recluse, S.R.J., a man who is only spoken of in hushed whispers and, quite often, nervous titters. Brrr… Yours Truly can still feel the chills even now on her lily-white arms while this missive is being written. Anyway, a stunningly remarkable thing occurred at the soiree concerning the handsome uniformed gentleman: he was seen dancing. And not just dancing, but with an exceedingly lovely girl, the two of them all alone on a semi-private balcony where one could still hear the music – but, fortunately, not the stirrings of war from K.L. and N.P.

Our normally-taciturn S.R.J. seemed quite entranced by the girl, she who was fitted out in a gloriously glowing gown of what appeared to be white silk. In addition, the girl’s nigh-translucent skin and mesmerizing platinum blonde locks suited her gown to a “t” and her matching gloves and shoes were also immaculately appropriate to her ensemble. Yours Truly would go so far as to say she was nothing short of a vision, and S.R.J. would seem to have agreed at that moment. But, here is a troublesome coda to this story: Yours Truly cannot tell you Dear Readers what name this vision answers to, for that little fact remains a mystery. Inquiries were made, questions asked, but, after many blank faces and even blanker memories, not a stitch was uncovered, regrettably. In truth, the girl seems to have disappeared after the Witching Hour, leaving our poor S.R.J. out in the cold, forlorn and…dare we say it…lovelorn?

Oh, it troubles Yours Truly greatly that the girl could not be identified for your edification, Dear Readers. Why, it was almost as if she wasn’t there at all. You don’t suppose…?

Before we become even sillier, let us end this installment and promise to meet again here for more news from high society.


All content (c)Jim Beard 2012

Buy the book here at

Friday, June 1, 2012

Johns Joins in the Fun

Today we check in with SGT. JANUS interior artist Eric Johns, a fellow Ohioan and a guy that’s zooming to the top of his field.

Jim Beard: Eric, what's your secret origin as an artist?

Eric Johns: One day my father told me that he didn't care what I did for a career; doctor, lawyer, baseball player, janitor, or thief. (“Thief”? I thought to myself?) He said, just be the best at whatever you choose to be. Be the best. So, I made a definitive choice. Artist! I was going to become an artist! The problem was that my skill level was poor. It's my father that instilled the will to constantly get better. It's a superhero origin, not a villain origin story, you know, for clarity's sake. ;)

Jim: What medium(s) do you prefer to work in and why?

Eric: Pencils are what I'm most practiced in and has the most wow factor. Although I've recently taken to inking my pencils and can't ever seeing going back to just being a penciler.

Jim: What medium did you use for the Janus art and why did you choose it?

Eric: One 2B pencil and an eraser. Truth be told, I'm not certain how this style happened. I simply knew that this is a novel and not comic book art, so the publisher must expect ... something else? So I put pencil to paper and the toned art just happened.

Jim: What were your initial thoughts about the project when you got the gig? How do you feel you did on it, overall?

Eric: My initial thoughts were far different from before I read the script to afterwards. Of course, getting a professional job is always good and there is a happiness in that, but it was an unknown path, I'd never illustrated a prose novel before! After I read the script ... well, I fell in love with the voices in Sgt. Janus, and he maintained his mystery even after I finished the last story. So I went from a little trepidation to attacking these illustrations with the fearlessness of Janus himself. It's my best published work to date.

Jim: Agreed! Do you have a favorite from among the eight illustrations?

Eric: The piece from "Lydia's Lover." There are a lot of nice nuances in that piece. It easily could have been raunchy and harsh, but at first glance it's just a pretty girl, then people look a little further, the sexuality is really understated. I will let the reader find their own images within the image.

Jim: If asked to do the art for a sequel volume, would you do it?

Eric: It's a match made in the spirit-world - of course!

And of course, please check out Eric's work in the book by picking up your own copy of it here: SGT. JANUS on Amazon

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012