Terminal (Brian Keene novel)

Terminal (Brian Keene novel)

AfDM|page=Terminal (Brian Keene novel)|date=October 2008|substed=yes Infobox Book |
name = Terminal
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Brian Keene
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Horror novel
publisher = Bantam-Spectra
release_date = 2005
media_type =
pages = 306
isbn = 0-553-58738-2
preceded_by = City of The Dead
followed_by = The Conqueror Worms

"Terminal" is a supernatural horror novel written by author Brian Keene and was first published in 2005. Terminal was optioned for film in 2006 and adapted as a play written by Brian Keene and Roy C. Booth in 2008.

Plot Description

Tommy O'Brien is a young father and husband who finds out he is dying of a terminal illness. Then he looses his job at the local foundry. With mounting debts, no savings, and unable to afford health insurance, Tommy can't even afford to pay for his own funeral. Desperate and with nothing to lose, Tommy decides to rob a bank to leave something for his wife and son after he dies.

Helped by his friends John and Sherm, the robbery quickly spirals violently out of control. John is shot and Sherm kills one of the customers. Then the police arrive trapping them inside the bank. Amidst the chaos Tommy comes into contact with the four year old Benjy, one of the now hostages. Benjy claims he can cure Tommy of his illness and save his life. As Tommy struggle to stop John from bleeding to death, and prevent the increasingly psychotic Sherm from killing any more hostages, Tommy must also battle with his own failiure to believe that Benjy really is the miracle that can save him.

Plot Summary

Tommy goes to see his doctor who tells him he has terminal cancer and gives him between one and three months to live. When Tommy goes home to his wife Michelle and son TJ that night, he can't tell them the truth. The next day a Tommy is laid off from work. He goes out to a bar with his best friends, John and Sherm who were also just laid off. Over a few beers Tommy confesses that he has cancer. He tells them he’s going to going to rob a bank to provide for Michelle and T.J after he's gone. John and Sherm offer to help.

Depsite Tommy's protests, Sherm convinces Tommy he will need guns for the robbery and to use his last paycheck to buy them. Sherm takes Tommy and John to his drug dealer, to buy the guns, where John accidentally offends Kelvin, one of the dealers. Kelvin threatens to kill John if he ever sees him again. At home and still unable to tell Michelle about his cancer, Tommy again lies when Michelle asks him if he got laid off. Tommy goes to a pharmacy to try to buy the drugs his doctor prescribed but finds without health insurance he can't afford them. Then he goes to a library to look up alternative cures for cancer on the internet, but again, they are all too expensive. He then goes to a funeral home to enquire how much his own funeral will cost, which again is expensive. Finally, Tommy goes to church to talk to God. Angry and demanding answers,  he begs God for a miracle to save his life.

During the next few days, Tommy pretend to go to work, but instead spends his day planning the robbery with John and Sherm. On the day of the robbery they drive to the bank. John waits outside in the car as the getaway driver. Tommy and Sherm go into the bank and the robbery goes according to plan until one of the customers, a plain clothes cop draws a gun and Sherm shoots and kills him. As Sherm tries to get the bank manager Keith to open the vault and Tommy empties the cash tills, Roy, an elderly customer, has a heart attack. Outside John is shot in the stomach by Kelvin, who was doing a drug deal near where John was parked. John staggers into the bank, followed by Kelvin who is high on drugs. Sherm shoots and kills Kelvin. In the chaos no one notices Benjy, a small child who was in the bank with his mother Sheila, place his hands on Roys chest and heal him. The police arrive at the front of the bank and Tommy shoots out one of the front windows as a warning to keep them back.

Tommy and Sherm move the hostages, and the now unconscious John in to the bank vault. Benjy tells Tommy he is sick and that he can make him better, and that Sherm has bees in head. Tommy and Sherm tie up all the hostages. Roy appears to have completely recovered from his heart attack. Sherm takes Keith to his office so Sherm can talk to the police negotiators on the telephone. Tommy stays in the vault with the hostages. Roy says that Benjy cured him of his heart attack. Tommy ask Sheila about Benjy, and embarrassed she says that Benjy was born from an immaculate conception. Martha, an elderly woman, says it's blasphemy. Roy describes Benjy as a miracle. Martha starts saying that a sacrifice must be made for their sins.

Tommy finds Lucas, the water delivery man hiding in a closet. Sherm finds out that Lucas has a truck parked behind the bank that they could use as a getaway vehicle. Sherm leaves the vault to negotiate with the police, telling them he might start killing hostages. Tommy uses Lucas’s cellphone to call Michelle, confessing to her they are the bank robbers who are live on the news. Roy tells Tommy that John is about to die. Tommy tries to give John CPR.  Roy tries to convince Tommy to let Benjy heal John, but Tommy doesn’t believe Benjy is the miracle Roy and Sheila claim him to be and he’s worried Sherm will come back and kill Benjy if he finds him with his hands are untied. Finally Tommy unties Benjy’s hands leaving him to heal John. Tommy leaves the vault to talk to try and distract Sherm. Tommy doesn’t notice he left his gun behind with the hostages.
Tommy discovers Keith dead in his office, suffocated by Sherm in a fit of rage. Then he Tommy discovers Sherm has also drowned Lucas in the toilet. Worse, Michelle phoned the police and who in turn phone the bank and talk to Sherm. Tommy finds out that Sherm is actually a former bank robber. After Benjy has healed John and while Tommy is out of the vault, the hostages get Benjy to untie Dugan's hands. Tommy goes back to the vault to find that Benjy has healed John, who sitting up talking again. Tommy wants surrender so he can save the rest of the hostages from Sherm but he is worried what Sherm will do when he finds out that John has been miraculously healed.  Tommy realises his gun is missing. John starts talking about an out of body near-death experience, and Benjy tells him that he was about to go to Hell.

Sherm comes back into the vault and Dugan pulls out Tommy's gun and points it at Sherm. Sherm threatens to kill Sharon, one of the bank tellers who's also Dugan's girlfriend, until Dugan gives up. As the police begin to creep into the lobby of the bank, Sherm becomes confused and then angry when he realises that John is now miraculously better. Martha stands up and begins reciting the bible to Sherm who shoots and kills her. As police tear gas grenades explode inside the vault, Dugan charges at Sherm, who shoots and injures him, but Dugan manages wrestle Sherm to the ground. The tear gas aggravates Tommy’s cancer and he collapses on the floor dying. John is shot by the police when he tries to chase after the hostages who are escaping out of the vault. Unaffected by the tear gas Benjy crawls over to Tommy and lays his hands on him and curing him of his cancer and saving his life, while Sherm again shots and this time kills Dugan. Tommy tries to protect Benjy as Sherm threatens to shoot Tommy who picks up his gun and points it at Sherm. From outside the vault the police give a last warning to Tommy and Sherm to throw down their weapons. Tommy and Sherm fire at each other. Simultaneously the police fire into the vault, killing Sherm and hitting Tommy, the bullet passes through Tommy and killing Benjy.

Afterwards in hospital, the doctors save Tommy from the bullet wound, but find no trace of his former cancer. Tommy is sentenced to life in prison and John is sentenced to fifteen years. Roy later dies of a heart attack, and John, dies mysteriously in prison, from a gunshot wound to the stomach. Tommy finds out his cancer has returned again and realises that the miracle he prayed to God for was in fact Benjy, who's death he was ultimately responsible for.


The story deals with American healthcare issues particularly among the poor, near-death experience, as well as the existence of Heaven and Hell and whether a persons actions and choices in life determine what happens to them after death. Keen also implies that Benjy may be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Relationship to Keene's other works

*Several of Keene's novels take place in the same 'universe' with some characters appearing in different stories.
*The supernatural events in the bank vault in "Terminal" are briefly alluded to in Keene's later Ghost Walk, when Detective Ramirez (the police negotiator in"Terminal") mentions supernatural events he's witnessed, "I saw it once during that bank robbery in Hanover."
*Detective Ramirez also appears in "Dark Hollow".
*Sherm's brother Troy is a reality television contestant in "Castaways" and mentions that his brother moved to Pennsylvania and was shot in a bank robbery.


* ISBN 0-533-58738-2 (mass market paperback, 2005)

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