Title- CHASING TIME
Author – THOMAS REILLY
Genre- Magical Realism, Fiction, Suspense
Publisher- World Castle Publishing, LLC
Devastated by his wife’s terminal illness, retired history professor Tony Lucas seeks to recapture a lost magical key from his youth that had the power to predict the future and use it to unravel additional mysteries that could save her. Racing against time as the disease extracts its unforgiving toll, Tony embarks on an amazing quest filled with a series of unpredictable twists and turns, cryptic clues, and memorable characters. Combining elements of fantasy with gripping realism and heartfelt emotion, Reilly has woven a palpable suspense story with an innovative plot.
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 literally 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 literally 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. All the 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.”
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Thomas Reilly is a retired biotechnology scientist and executive who holds a doctoral degree in microbiology. He is the author of numerous essays and articles on science and technology. CHASING TIME, his first novel, captures many elements of the drug research and development processes. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife Linda.
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Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B09DXRDVBM
Goodreads author page www.goodreads.com/author/show/21777572.Thomas_Reilly
Author website www.thomasreillyauthor.com