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Elevator line for The Janus Paradox: A time-rift in the 21st century must be healed from a thousand years in the past – by two people who no longer know each other…
Analogy: Romeo & Juliet meets ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, set in the time-traveling situations of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series
Expanded Analogy: Imagine the timeless lovers of Romeo & Juliet, fated to be together, yet made to suffer the consequences of the altered timeline from the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ - and all set within the time-traveling situations similar to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series
The Janus Paradox is a paranormal time-travel story that primarily moves between two time-lines: The first set in modern-day Vancouver, BC during the 2010 Olympics and the other in Medieval Ireland around the year 1100.
The main character is Alyse Palomar, a US athlete in Canada training for the Olympics, who shares a profound psychic connection with her best friend, Glen Roderick a Detective-Sergeant in the RCMP with whom she’s enjoyed a long-distance friendship for many years.
When she travels to Canada for specialized training a few months prior to the Olympics, she has an opportunity to reconnect - and share the same time-zone - with Glen Roderick. However, shortly after Alyse arrives, she becomes the victim of a series of anonymous stalking and harassment incidents. On New Year's Eve Alyse is kidnapped by a biomedical research company (MURC) whose scientists are intent on coercing her into manipulating her psychic abilities in order to gain information about the future. The experimental process the scientists use inadvertently triggers an innate talent in Alyse allowing her to bridge her consciousness in a telepathic connection with both her past and future lives. With a little help from her future selves, the medical procedure backfires. However, their interference sends her psyche reeling far back into a past life that she led as Ælfwyn Galinsdottr in 12th century Ireland, where she unwittingly changes her soul-path. Twenty minutes later her consciousness returns to the present where she's comatose and suffering through a series of visions and memories interconnected with her past life as Ælfwyn. Gradually emerging from the coma Alyse finds she’s living in a divergent timeline alienated from almost everyone she knows. Most terrifying of all, she discovers the soul-bond she shared with her best friend, Glen Roderick, has been nearly severed.
Ultimately Alyse is faced with an almost impossible choice: Heal the time-rift that’s been accidentally created nearly a thousand years in the past or face the fact – and live with the consequences – that her life is irreparably changed and the bond she shared with Glen and everyone closest to her will soon bleed-out - separating them all forever...
Chapter One: Connections
Darach Tor, Ireland ~ One hour after sunset - Beltane Night, 3 May 1102 AD...
Lying beneath the comforting shelter of an ancient and forgotten oak and with the warm scent of the forest surrounding them once more, Hrogn and Ælfwyn felt protected – at least for the moment. No matter how beguiling it had seemed, their chance venture into the Otherworld just moments before continued to trouble them. And yet, since they could not begin to fathom how they had come to see what they had seen – or heard or felt – for the moment they settled themselves upon the warmth and comfort of Hrogn’s thick crimson-wool cloak spread out on the turf beneath them.
What little moonlight dappled the earth there, wavered and danced with the firelight of the single torch wedged between the fallen circle-stones. And with their backs braced against the time-weathered granite sunk deep into the turf at the tree’s roots, Hrogn and Ælfwyn watched as the wind breathed softly through the interlace of leaves – even as they themselves still tried to catch their breaths.
As they further honed the skills neither had realized they possessed before they entered that wood, Hrogn and Ælfwyn were astonished to find they could converse with their thoughts alone. They continued to exchange their impressions of all the astonishing things they had experienced in their brief but baffling foray into the Annarr-heimr – the Otherworld.
Ælfwyn leaned back as Hrogn wrapped his arms around her shoulders again and folded her into their shared warmth. Then, perhaps in the hopes that doing something completely ordinary might quiet the hammering of her heart; Ælfwyn pulled her long, red-gold hair forward and began to braid it. Yet still, Hrogn could plainly feel Ælfwyn's mounting distress as they continued to converse and puzzle over all that had happened.
Hoping to distract her, Hrogn pointed back up into the arched and twisting canopy of that aged oak, known as Arsa-Darach, and then leaned close to whisper in Ælfwyn’s ear, his beard just brushing her cheek, “She looks to be the world-tree, Yggdrasil, herself, does she not? What wonders has she witnessed do you think? How old and venerable must she be?”
As Ælfwyn looked up, her gaze followed Hrogn’s as it traced the tree’s limbs all the way to the shadow of the last leaf where it seemingly touched the stars and she replied within their shared thoughts, “Doubtless she has witnessed the passage of centuries as easily as men mark the turning of the seasons, my lord.” Ælfwyn sighed as she finally spoke aloud, "Oh... but I believe there are bards who would do battle for the privilege of describing such a sight!"
Hrogn watched Ælfwyn intently as he formed more of his thoughts for her, “And how would the Bards-dottr of Hrörekshold portray her then?”
Ælfwyn smiled to hear him call her that once more as she knelt up and looked again into the great green canopy while each of her carefully chosen words ignited Hrogn’s imagination, “Lying here, just beneath its knotwork of branches; it is as though we are watching jewels of moonlight being set into an ornamented clasp – as though the tree itself had been fashioned as a wondrous brooch to pin to the earth the great-cloak of the wind and stars…”
Hrogn smiled as well; pleased with the image she had conjured for him as he gently pulled Ælfwyn back into his arms, cradling her head in his lap as he watched the moonlight dance across their own intertwining limbs. Ælfwyn pressed closer to him, gently taking his face in her hands and a current ran Hrogn’s spine as he felt her fingers weaving through his hair. Hrogn leaned close and kissed her, losing himself in the moment until a wave of dizziness came over him and he began to feel just as he had a few moments before when they had unwittingly stumbled into the Annarr-heimr!
Troubled, Hrogn drew back and watched in astonishment as Ælfwyn’s eyes seemed to turn an intense violet-blue, locking his focus until finally they appeared to him as the hottest-blue coals in a smithy’s fire. Then in an instant her pupils went impossibly wide, and at that moment, for all his strength, Hrogn could not pull away. He felt himself falling upwards into a swirling shower of fire and stars, in the midst of a maelstrom of night!
Hrogn barely got out a whisper, “Ælfwyn...!”
At length, with a forced effort, Hrogn opened his eyes and immediately saw his breath. He and Ælfwyn should have been alone together in the warmth of a spring evening. Instead, he felt a biting chill against his face and there were people – crowds of people – all around them. And although the sky was dark, there was also an eerie light everywhere and in a valley far below the snowy mountainside beneath his feet; Hrogn could see many square fortresses brightly lit from both within and without.
His thoughts raged, “Not again! What is happening…?” He spoke aloud, “Ælfwyn, where…” Hrogn turned completely around looking for her, thinking, “How is it she is not here?”
He called out for her, “Ælfwyn!”
At the sound of his voice that yet was not his voice, a man stepped out of the blur of people and walked directly towards him. With that, Hrogn instinctively dropped his hand to where his sword hilt should have been, but there was nothing. He quickly glanced down and at first saw only strange colors and textures of clothing that were certainly none of his, and although there was nothing where his sword should be, there was something resting on the opposite hip; it was entirely out of place and certainly not his sword. It felt heavy for its size and its shape was entirely unfamiliar.
Quickly attempting to adapt to the changing circumstances, Hrogn looked up just in time.
The man inclined his head to Hrogn and then proceeded to speak words too strange for Hrogn’s ears, even as something of the man’s meaning still came through, “Sergeant? Sergeant Roderick?” Then more urgently that man addressed him, “Detective Sergeant! Sir, are you all right? Did you lose something?”
Although Hrogn did not entirely understand the language, he recognized that this man was speaking to him with some amount of deference and respect - the same way his own men might speak to him. Waging a fierce internal battle with his own instincts to immediately demand what was happening, Hrogn determined that in that eerie Otherworld circumstance he ought to speak as little as possible until he knew whether his words would be understood at all. As the man in front of him was clearly waiting for some kind of response, Hrogn simply shook his head, hoping it would be enough to discourage further discourse.
However, plainly confused, the man went on, “Oh. All right, uh…” he pointed over Hrogn’s shoulder to some oddly shaped open pavilions that were only just coming into focus for Hrogn, “I’ll set up over there, next to the Media tent, then?”
Hoping the man was taking his leave, to walk in the direction he had just pointed, Hrogn nodded, but promptly realized something more might be expected, and so he added an unintelligible grunt, “Umhn...” which Hrogn fervently wanted to come across as a wholehearted tone of agreement.
The man nodded and grunted as well, but still walked away in obvious confusion, as Hrogn swiftly stepped further back into the crowd.
As he looked at the people and things around him, Hrogn’s eyes were still unable to completely focus. There was a blurring image clinging to everyone. Even more frustrating, he felt certain that in order for he and Ælfwyn to make their way home again, he must fathom that which seemed unfathomable – and without delay. This was their second foray into the Otherworld within the space of an hour. The first had been unsettling in the extreme, though alluring at the same time. He and Ælfwyn had crossed into a storm of color, sound and scent to discover they were dancing at the edge of something forbidden to them. But whatever magic had been present in that first bewildering sojourn; it could not hold them there long enough to understand it. The place in which he now stood, seemed very different to Hrogn and the thought that he and Ælfwyn were now separated there was beyond troubling, as he was sure he could not go long without his true nature being discovered.
Staring out into the crowd as it began to resolve into sharper focus, Hrogn’s own thoughts were entirely focused, “Ælfwyn! Where are you…?”
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