Things happened at a rapid pace after that. Having recognized the men as former colleagues of mine, I attempted to parlay with them. That was a mistake. My edge in dealing with such matters had grown dull after ten years of hiding from my old master.
Still, the sight of me stepping out of the ante-room was enough to put an end to their shooting at the ghostly figure coming down the stairs. It disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Sgt. Janus then came down the stairs in its place, frowning at the men.
I asked them what they wanted. To my surprise, they wanted me and not Miriam.
“You have been away for far too long, Thomas,” said the one. “He requires your presence once more at his side. Ten years is long enough for you to have been reacquainted with the notion of freedom – but, as you well know, freedom is an illusion. We are here to bring you back to where you belong, to he who owns you, body and soul.”
Sgt. Janus said nothing, but I could feel both strength and a calming air emanate from him, helping me to face the intruders in his home. I stammered out Miriam’s name, asking what part she played in it all. The lead man laughed, a cruel sound to my ears.
“Your wife? Why, Thomas, no part at all. She has played her part long ago. He is quite done with her.”
“You mean her death?” I spat at him, the pain from her murder still a dull ache in my heart, even after all these years.
“No,” he replied, “her life.”
“I think I begin to see it,” said Sgt. Janus, stepping up beside me, placing a hand on my shoulder. “Your master is responsible for the spirits that drove her to the edge of madness.”
The man nodded, looking at us as if we were children who had stumbled upon a fact that everyone else already knew.
“A portal,” continued Janus. “A gate. A spirit-gate. She told me as much, but I did not understand at the time. Your master used her natural talents as a spirit-gate when she was a child to converse with the dead. And for the rest of her life she paid the toll for his…his bloody crime.
“How dare he!"
Suddenly Janus’ voice was as loud as a hundred voices, all shouting at once. It rocked me backwards, almost off my feet. My former colleagues did not fare as well; they were sent sprawling, bowled end over end. The walls shook, the ceiling swayed, plaster fell, a window somewhere broke and shattered. The reverberations from the shout lasted for minutes – my ears ached for hours afterwards.
Janus came rushing upon them like a banshee where they lay. Looming over the three men, it seemed as if he was sucking all the light out of the air and into himself. I could not see his face for he was facing them and away from me, but it must have been horrible indeed for their own faces were twisted into masks of fear and loathing.
“I have a message for your doctor,” Janus bellowed, deep and sonorous. “Oh yes, I know who he is, as I have been watching the devil from the corners of my eyes for many years. From this moment on I shall have all of my eyes upon him and all that he does.
“Tell him this is finished. Tell him that Thomas Tan and his wife are under my care."
The men’s faces blanched. They scrambled to their feet and backed away from Janus, visibly shaking. Finally, they were through the door and gone from our sight. Janus issued one last message, this time as a whisper:
“And tell your doctor that he shall pay one day for his heinous crime…”
I sat there for what seemed an eternity. The sun set and still I sat. Much later, Sgt. Janus appeared at my side once more and crouched down to look me in the eye.
“Come, Thomas,” he said kindly. “Miriam awaits you. You must free her.”
TO BE CONTINUED in Part 9.
All contents © Jim Beard 2012
Pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at AMAZON.COM.