This is an important and timely question explored in the highly acclaimed spiritual novel, SNOOZE: A STORY OF AWAKENING, winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for New Age Fiction.
Written with young adult and young-at-heart readers in mind, SNOOZE further proved its literary merit by being selected as a 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Finalist in the Young Adult-Coming of Age category and receiving an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Beach Book Festival Prize competition in the General Fiction category.
You’re invited to join—either with eyes or ears—Max Diver, a.k.a. “Snooze,” along the razor’s edge of a quest to rescue his astronaut father from a fate stranger than death in the exotic, perilous Otherworld of sleep.
This inspiring tale interweaves a plethora of paranormal and metaphysical subjects, from Bigfoot and enlightenment to the Loch Ness Monster and time travel via the Bermuda Triangle.
In her review of SNOOZE published in INDIE SHAMAN Magazine, June Kent had this to say about what she described as “superlative fiction”: “Engrossing, entertaining and occasionally humorous, SNOOZE also takes a look at a wide range of subjects including levitation, telepathy, lucid dreaming, spirit animals, parallel universes and shamanic-like journeying, giving a wide range of information effortlessly absorbed as you enjoy the story as well as much food for thought.”
Naturally, your generous review would be greatly appreciated even if you simply enjoy the full text now being presented on this blog and numerous podcast platforms. Keep in mind that paperback and ebook versions are for sale. A complimentary online version is also available for your reading pleasure.
SNOOZE: A STORY OF AWAKENING
By Sol Luckman
In his mother’s honor, vowing not to commit the “fashionable stupidity” of ignoring things he didn’t understand, Max performed a brave act of nonconformity by accepting the possibility that his dreams might be exactly what they seemed: real.
This got him in the first real trouble of his elementary education and succeeded, finally, in making him a genuine pariah in the cruel, survival-of-the-fittest microcosm that was sixth grade.
Max wasn’t just an only child; he was also a lonely child. The other kids at school, from the beginning sensing he was “different,” even if they couldn’t put their finger on just how, tended to retreat into their little cliques and keep him at arm’s length.
His coping mechanism was to seek solace in books, in whose company he learned a great many things but cultivated no friendships. Inevitably, he came to be thought of as something of a bookworm, an unflattering image which his glasses—acquired by prescription when his vision started blurring—certainly didn’t help.
Nor, for that matter, did his choice of “weird” reading material—lately books about the paranormal, supernatural, and unexplained—which his classmates judged as harshly as scientists with big egos and closed minds, dubbing him “Mad Max” behind his back.
Only the fact that he was the son of a well-known astronaut, and thus indirectly famous, spared him, for a while, from utter social annihilation.
Not surprisingly, Max felt he had no one to confide in about the unconventional quality of his dreams. Certainly not Aunt Nadine, who would think he was in league with the devil and, gossip that she was, blab the story to anyone willing to listen.
Whenever he considered telling his father, he always stopped just short of doing so. Captain Diver was busier than usual flying solo missions in the Skyhawk he described cryptically, when Max inquired, as “related to naval intelligence.”
“Naval intelligence?” said Max one morning over oatmeal. “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”
“Ha, ha. Believe me, I’ve heard that one a few times.”
“So why are you flying so much, Dad? And if it’s official business, why are you in the Tempus Fugit instead of a Navy plane?”
“I’m afraid that’s classified.”
“All the good stuff is.”
To his enormous credit, Max’s father never held his wife’s death against his son. If anything, he seemed to love him more for having lost her, maybe because mother and son were so alike—and not just in physical appearance.
“Something on your mind, Max?”
“Why do you ask?”
“You tend to crack jokes when your thoughts are serious. Are you sleeping okay?”
“Do I seem like I’m not?”
“You look a little tired. There are circles under your eyes.”
“You can see them through my glasses?”
“I’ve got pretty good eyesight. Remember your father, the astronaut?”
“But you’re older now.”
“I’m not older. Just better.”
This was the way the two typically communicated, through playful banter, skimming along with their words, both careful not to break the water’s surface and enter deeper territory.
For better or worse, Max resisted the urge to share his dreams with his father, the one person in his life who might have understood them, and instead, just before Thanksgiving break, made the mistake of confiding in Ms. Bridgewater, the school counselor.
“You think your dreams are what?” she asked, sitting upright and alert in the chair across from his in her little office two doors down from the cafeteria, when he began to relate his odd experiences.
“Real?” he answered with the tone of a question, suddenly unsure of himself.
Trying to remain professional, Ms. Bridgewater patted her permed blonde hair and put on a strained, lipstick smile. “Max, honey. Dreams are not real.”
“None of them?”
“Not a one.”
“How do you know?”
“I just do. Everybody does,” she commented with the kind of nervous laugh people sometimes use in the presence of a slightly “unhinged” person.
“Zhuangzi didn’t,” said Max, plucking up his courage.
“Zhuangzi. A Chinese philosopher. He’s the guy who couldn’t figure out whether he was a man dreaming of a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming of himself.”
“Under no circumstances, Max, does an obscure philosopher’s question prove the reality of dreams.”
“People have had visions in dreams that came true, Ms. Bridgewater. Did you know that? People have seen things in dreams they couldn’t have known about otherwise.”
Before responding, Ms. Bridgewater drew a deep breath. “Max, I’m going to put this as plainly as possible. This dream thing is totally in your head.”
“Just hear me out, Ms. Bridgewater. I’ve got proof. I find things in my dreams and bring them back.”
“Objects. Objects that don’t belong in Florida.”
For a moment, she appeared on the verge of debating the point—only to decide at the last instant not to add fuel to the fire by encouraging him. “That’s impossible, Max. But I have to give you credit: you have a very lively imagination!”
This she said with the obvious intent of ending the conversation and sending Max on his merry way. She turned back to her desk and straightened her cup of pens and holiday poinsettia with the tips of her painted fingernails.
When Max didn’t budge, she turned back and asked, “Is there anything else you’d like to discuss today?”
This would have been the moment for Max to cut his losses—to grin, shrug, and treat the whole subject like a bit of make-believe that just got out of hand. That would have been the wise, the prudent thing to do.
But Max had far too much of his mother’s feisty nature for that. And nothing got under his skin like being talked down to by an adult who knew less about the topic of conversation than he did.
In addition to the characteristics already mentioned, there were two other important aspects of Max’s dreams, especially many of the ones he had been having for the past several months leading up to his twelfth birthday.
First, many of his recent dreams involved temporal displacement, or time travel. Such dreams undeniably took place in the past or future, sometimes the distant past or future, other times closer to the present.
And second, a lot of these dreams were even more striking than usual because they featured actual people Max knew and apparently real events from their lives—in the past or future.
The previous night, clear as day, Max had dreamed of Ms. Bridgewater as a young girl of ten or eleven with torn blue jeans and dirty bare feet. “You grew up in the mountains, Ms. Bridgewater, didn’t you?” he said.
“Why, yes, I did, Max. Near Johnson City, Tennessee. A long time ago.”
“You lived on a tobacco farm. Back in the days when there were many small tobacco farms in the mountains. When lots of people still smoked cigarettes before it was proven that smoking causes cancer.”
“That’s right,” said a surprised Ms. Bridgewater in a thin, faraway voice. “I did.”
“But not your father,” continued Max. “Even though he farmed tobacco to make a living, he hated cigarettes because he suspected them of having caused your mother’s lung cancer.”
“How do you know all of this?”
“Your house was purplish, sort of U-shaped, surrounded by a tall boxwood hedge. Your mother died in the big bedroom overlooking the deck.”
“Max, have you been talking with my sister? Did she contact you for some reason?”
“I can imagine how you must have felt when she was gone. I’m sure you didn’t know what to do with your feelings. You lived beside the tobacco field, which was separated from the woods by a tiny creek. In the fall, you preferred hunting chinquapins to helping your father in the tobacco.”
“How do you know about chinquapins? They don’t tend to grow this far south.“
“That was where he caught you smoking right after she passed away. Red-handed. In the woods where there were chinquapins. He tanned your hide that day. He grabbed a hickory switch and whipped you until you bled through the legs of your jeans.”
“I never told anybody that story. Not even my sister. How did you know about my daddy whipping me, Max?!”
He could sense that his story had deeply upset Ms. Bridgewater, whose face was bright red from a mixture of anger, shame, and sorrow.
Being brutally punished by her father for smoking after her mother’s passing had driven a wedge in their relationship, one that had widened over the years—to the point that for nearly two decades the two hardly ever spoke before he, too, was gone.
Max was unaware of these subsequent details. But intuiting that he had accidentally poured salt on a still open wound, he felt genuinely sorry to have revealed the contents of his dream in such a sudden and unexpected fashion.
Realizing with a start that Ms. Bridgewater was in tears, her head bobbing in her hands, he stood up and approached her hunched form.
He was in the process of touching her jerking shoulder and apologizing, when she looked at him with bloodshot eyes and said, “Go back to class.”
“I’ll need a note.”
“Here it is,” she said, scrawling it out and handing it to him.
“Thanks. I’m sorry, Ms. Bridgewater.”
“Go now please.”
Max exited the office, closing the door gently behind him, and stood in the echoing hallway for a moment with his note and a heavy heart. Under no circumstances had he meant to cause Ms. Bridgewater any more pain; he just wanted her to believe him.
Before returning to geography, he reached in his pocket and fished out a handful of miniature chestnuts, known as chinquapins, he had thought to use as evidence, and dropped them in a trashcan.
Copyright © Sol Luckman. All Rights Reserved.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sol Luckman is a pioneering ink and acrylic painter whose work has been featured on mainstream book covers, the fast-paced trading game BAZAAR, and at least one tattoo on a female leg last sighted in Australia.
Sol is also an acclaimed author of fiction, nonfiction, and humor. His books include the international bestselling CONSCIOUS HEALING, which you can read free online, and its popular sequel, POTENTIATE YOUR DNA, available in English and Spanish.
Sol’s popular book of humor and satire, THE ANGEL’S DICTIONARY: A SPIRITED GLOSSARY FOR THE LITTLE DEVIL IN YOU, received the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award for Humor and was selected as a Finalist in the Humor category of both the 2018 International Book Awards and the 2018 Best Book Awards.