Trial and Redemption
Janus Key Series Book 2
by Thomas Reilly
Genre: Time Travel Fantasy, Suspense
WINNER OF THE LITERARY TITAN GOLD BOOK AWARD
AMAZON BEST SELLER
SCIENCE MEETS MAGIC…
In his latest inspirational and suspenseful novel, Trial and Redemption, Reilly continues the saga of a mystical Janus key and its time-bending influence on 21st-century characters, first introduced in the award-winning Chasing Time.
Disgraced scientist Brian Ellis finds an improbable ally in Julie, a college student trying to reset her life after a family tragedy. Guided by a Janus key with magical powers to predict future events, they embark on a crusade to bring a corrupt pharmaceutical executive to justice, prevent a medical tragedy, and restore peace to their shattered lives. However, Brian guards a dark secret that may imperil both their mission and their redemption.
Filled with unexpected twists and turns, memorable characters, and heart-stopping suspense, Trial and Redemption is an emotive mix of medical and legal fiction with a touch of fantasy.
With teeth chattering from the bitter cold, Billy trudged along the frozen, urban streets marked by tall, darkened buildings that swayed in surrender to the punishing wind. The frigid chill seeped through his threadbare clothes, numbing his fingers and toes, and paralyzing his mind. Freezing, starving, jobless, homeless; could things get any worse? With his last embers of hope vanishing into the icy landscape like fallen snowflakes, the barren sky was suddenly illuminated by a bright, piercing light. Attracted to the beam like a moth to a candle, Billy approached a two-story, brick building and entered through a large revolving door into a spacious lobby bathed in luminous white light. Once inside, he sighed in welcome relief as a burst of warm, rejuvenating air permeated every pore of his frozen body. A concave-shaped reception counter bearing an encouraging sign, Welcome Veterans, beckoned to him. Suddenly, a small, stern-faced man clad in the white lab coat of a staff physician materialized, ghostlike, from behind the counter and spoke in a menacing voice. “You are not welcome here. Get out.”
“But I am a veteran.” stammered Billy.
“The man replied, “I don’t care; get out or I’ll have the guards drag you out by your feet.”
Reluctantly, Billy turned around and headed back into the arctic unknown. It’s so cold; I’ll freeze to death out here.
Shivering in a violent tremor, Billy suddenly realized his whereabouts as he felt the hard mattress rub against his aching back. It happened again, this dreaded, recurring dream! Jolting upright, the familiar glare of two red beams emanating from the opposite side of the room met his torpid gaze.
That damn key. Ever since I won it, I’ve had this nightmare. And those eyes stare back at me like glowing embers every night. They never light up during the day.
Billy recalled the recent events with the strange key. Among the first crop of American soldiers to be deployed in the escalating Vietnam conflict, the eighteen-year-old enjoyed traveling the beautiful country and chatting with the friendly locals in his role as a military adviser to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. But as the tempo of the war increased and wandering became more perilous, his disillusionment with the conflict grew, especially after witnessing several traumatic incidents, including a brutal attack in a Saigon restaurant by hostile Vietnamese forces. When his tour ended in early 1965, he was more than ready for some R & R back home in Peoria, approximately one hundred and fifty miles south of Chicago. First, however, he and a few army buddies decided to stop in New York City for an extended stay. He had never visited the Big Apple, America’s largest city, and was anxious to tour its major attractions.
One evening, during their ritualistic poker game in the cheap Brooklyn hotel room they shared for their New York adventure, one of his colleagues, depleted of cash, placed an ancient-looking key attached to a tarnished brass ring in the pot. When Billy won the round, he grabbed the key with the rest of the winnings and asked.
“Okay, Harry, what am I supposed to do with this thing?”
Harry replied, “I hate to lose that keyring; it was my good luck charm. Look at it closely. The key’s shaft is carved in the image of a two-faced, old man, one looking forward and the other backward. The eyes sparkle, almost like they are seeing right through you. I’m sure it represents Janus, the Roman god of time. Maybe it will bring you luck.”
Billy laughed in derision. “Well, I don’t know anything about Roman gods, but I could use some good luck.” With that, he tucked the small icon into his shirt pocket and proceeded to deal the next hand.
It was later that night when jolted awake from a disturbing dream that had seemed so real— roaming frozen, urban streets in a state of poverty left him trembling in despair—when he noticed one set of eyes on the old icon shining brightly at him, like two ruby red embers. Within a few minutes, the lights subsided, and the icon remained dark until the next night when the pattern repeated itself. Tonight was the fifth night in a row with that same dream and with those same piercing lights greeting him as he woke.
This recurring dream is really bothering me. What does it mean? Could it be a signal from this strange key about my future?
The following morning on his way to a local coffee shop, he decided that he had had enough of the ancient keyring. Glancing around to make sure he wasn’t noticed by any passing pedestrian, he grabbed the icon and flung it into the middle of the empty street, hoping his action would cast away his nightmare.
Well, thought Tony, I blew it. In baseball lingo, he had struck out with George Janusowski. But even worse than that, he had sealed Ann’s fate. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been so truthful with George; the prophecy stories with the key probably scared him off. But what choice did he have? He tried to formulate an alternative plan to approach George. However, his abrupt departure had conveyed an unequivocal message; he had heard enough from Tony. Short of assaulting George and stealing some Pol-1905, there was no way he was going to obtain a sample of the compound. In his desperation, Tony even mulled over this outlandish possibility for a second before dismissing it as sheer lunacy. The only thing to do now was to rush back home to Ann.
As he navigated his way from the hotel onto the gritty and grey streets of Manhattan toward Penn Station, the pent-up stress, frustration, and anxiety of the past few months, a direct result of his single-minded pursuit to uncover a miracle cure for Ann, seemed to erupt all at once in an intense explosion of emotional outbursts. Ensnared in his present, dire situation while investigating strange clues from his past that foretold a future still six years away, he felt as if he was chasing time itself. But like navigating a winding river with its many twists and turns, his search had led from one unknown stop to another with no clear destination in sight. Rarely, during his relentless quest, had he paused to vent his own feelings and frustrations. Now they were cascading out of him like a thundering waterfall. He took no notice of his fellow pedestrians, rushing here and there to various locations in the city as he succumbed to his own emotional turmoil. First, he felt extreme rage, railing at fate for dealing him this hand, at George Janusowski for denying him a sample of Pol-1905, and even at himself for failing Ann. Rage surrendered to self-pity. What more could I have done? he asked himself. I’ve pursued every lead I could. Finally, his emotions morphed into abject depression as he contemplated life without Ann. Would it even be worth living?
In a zombie-like trance, Tony eventually reached Penn Station, purchased his ticket for the four o’clock train to Wilmington, and joined the long list of passengers forming a snaking queue outside the departure gate. He descended a narrow and dingy staircase to the darkened train platform, entered one of the rail cars marked Coach, and took a window seat. He hardly noticed as the conductor announced the scheduled stops en route to Wilmington: Newark, Newark Airport, Metro Park, Trenton, and Philadelphia, and he barely sensed the movement of the train as it nudged forward out of the station.
Soon the entire train was plunged into the shadows as it entered the century-old rail tunnel that spanned the Hudson River, linking Manhattan to New Jersey. A few minutes later, the train rolled to a complete stop somewhere under the depths of the river. Tony recalled hearing that this ancient tunnel served over four-hundred and fifty trains per day; they were probably delayed yielding the right of way to another passenger train. How fitting, he thought. Stalled in the near-total blackness of a decrepit rail tunnel on the bottom of a river. The situation perfectly echoed his miserable mood; only darkness lay ahead.
Just then, he noticed a small flicker of shimmering red light emanating from his jacket pocket. He wouldn’t have even detected it except for the eerie black background that permeated the passenger car. His first thought was that the light signaled an incoming message on his phone, but he quickly realized that cell service was non- existent in the subterranean train tunnel. Reaching his hand into his pocket, he pulled out the ancient key and audibly gasped in astonishment as he noticed piercing red lights blazing from one set of Janus’s eyes. It was sending him a message!
Tony quickly recovered from the shock of seeing the key light up for him after a fifty-four-year hiatus. His first impulse was to glance around the railcar to observe any unusual movement or activity among his fellow passengers that might signify some sort of signal or message. By now, the train had resumed its journey, and the lighting in the car was markedly improved as it exited the tunnel into the swamplands of northern New Jersey. Passengers were reclining in their seats, many dozing after a long day of either working or shopping in Manhattan; nothing unusual there. He then grabbed the J.P. Morgan tote bag stashed under his seat and started to comb through its contents. As he was leafing through the conference program booklet, he recalled the message he had read as a boy; it was in the form of a New York Times, front-page headline. Remembering that today’s Times was included in his packet of papers, he hastily pulled the newspaper from the bag, unfolded it, and studied the front page. As far as he could tell, no story about the future was referenced in any of the top headlines that included; “North Korea Tests New Weapon,” “White House and Justice Department Discuss Congressional Report,” and “Democrats Try to Wrest Back Voters.”
Just as he was starting to doubt the idea that the paper contained a message, he noted a small insert near the bottom of the page that read, “Yankees Win Home Opener, 8–3.” Wait a minute; George Janusowski had told him that the Yankees home opener was tonight. Normally, Tony would have followed the Yankees’ schedule religiously and known the specifics of their home opener. However, in his singular quest to help Ann, all extraneous interests, even baseball, had been suspended. Tony quickly turned to Section D of the paper to the sports news. There he read the headline, “Expectations High as Yanks Host Red Sox in Tonight’s Home Opener.” The ensuing article described the outlook for the Yankees’ season and previewed the starting lineup for the night game, scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m. Nowhere did it indicate the game had already been played. According to Tony’s watch, the current time was 4:25 p.m. How could the front-page blurb report the score of a game that hadn’t occurred yet? This had to be a message from the Janus key!
Tony felt a rush of exhilaration as he pondered his next move. Reaching for his wallet, he pulled out the business card that George Janusowski had handed him only a few hours ago and located his phone number. Entering this number on his iPhone, he texted George the following message. “You want proof? Here it is: Yankees 8 Red Sox 3.”
Thomas Reilly is a retired biotechnology scientist who holds a doctoral degree in microbiology. He is the author of numerous essays and articles on science and technology. TRIAL AND REDEMPTION is a story of medical suspense coupled with a hint of magical realism. His first book in the Janus Key series, the award-winning CHASING TIME, was reissued in 2023. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife Linda.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
In Trial and Redemption, my favorite parts are the two chapters that describe the nadir of the two protagonists: Brian Ellis’s firing and the funeral of Julie Remson’s father. I believe that both scenes depict the anguish of both characters’ emotions in such a way that the reader will identify and sympathize with each. And of course, both scenes are pivotal for the eventual redemption that each character achieves.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Some characters are loosely based on people I have known throughout my life, but many characters are conceived entirely from my imagination.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
In developing and writing Trial and Redemption, I always felt I was in control of the characters and their actions. I think this was because I took a long time to plan each chapter as a natural follow-up to preceding chapters to assure a consistent flow of events rather than surrender to the idea of conceiving some outlandish action or event for the sake of sensationalism.
The main reason I believe my book is a must read is because the story is highly entertaining and unique. Aside from those important points, Trial and Redemption is a compelling tale of suspense and intrigue that also explores many themes most of us can relate to: friendship, personal growth, the pursuit of justice and redemption. As such, I believe readers will relate to the characters’ struggles and empathize with their situations.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I admire Stephen King and his works for two major reasons. First is his active imagination in creating such imaginative stories. And second is his incredible ability to describe characters and settings in vivid and expansive detail. These are two aspects I would love to pick his brain for advice in my writing.
What are some of your favorite books/authors?
Some of my favorite books and authors include:
- R.R. Tolkien- The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Alexandre Dumas- The Count of Monte Cristo
Ron Chernow- Hamilton
Stephen King- 11/22/63
Kristin Hannah- The Four Winds
Harlan Coben- I Will Find You
Doris Kearns Goodwin- Team of Rivals
Ernest Hemingway- A Farewell to Arms
How long have you been writing?
As a scientist, for forty-five years. As a book author, for four years.