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
Max awoke from a mercifully dreamless state, only to find himself unable to see—at which point he realized something cool and clammy was covering his eyes.
He reached up and discovered what felt like some kind of giant leaf draped across his face. When he removed it, sure enough, it turned out to be a wilted white cabbage leaf, slightly damp from water and smelling vaguely of vinegar.
He was stretched on his back on a bright bed in a bright room, whose specific details remained blurry without his glasses. Palpating his ribs where he had been kicked, he discovered the area had been bandaged with a poultice, which left his fingers slightly sticky.
“You’re awake!” Tuesday’s unmistakably cheery voice came from the indistinct figure that had just entered the room.
“Where am I?”
“My room. Mom and I carried you up here after you fainted. You weigh more than you look.”
“How long have I been out?”
“Barely an hour. Just long enough for us to tend to your bruises. The eye already looks better.”
“White cabbage. It’s marvelous for facial bruises. You just break the ribs and submerge it in hot water with vinegar. Fortunately, your own ribs aren’t broken.”
“How do you know?”
“Muscle testing. It’s a way of asking the body what’s happening with it. You can even muscle test on behalf of somebody else. Your ribs are just bruised. We put some arnica in the poultice to help with the pain and swelling.”
Tuesday came into focus as she sat down on the bed beside him. Despite the harrowing ordeal at school, and her best friend collapsing in her living room, she looked typically upbeat. “Here. These should help,” she said, taking the cabbage leaf from his hand and sliding his glasses on his face.
Instantly, his surroundings coalesced into a chaotic menagerie of a bedroom (so different from his own Spartan quarters) that appeared to have grown up organically, rather than being planned in any deliberate way.
There was a telescope on a tripod beside the tall bay window. There was a guitar featuring a Celtic pattern on the cushioned window seat. There was a ceiling-high bookshelf haphazardly stacked with classics from Dickens to Dickenson.
There was an incense burner on a coffee table flanked by two mismatched beanbags. There was a paint-stained writing desk with the crusted remains from Tuesday’s breakfast of Irish pudding still in the bowl and an Earl Grey teabag still in the mug.
There were dozens of shoes scattered on the floor, none of which seemed to be near its mate. There were what appeared to be theatrical costumes strewn hither and thither. And there were exactly—Max counted them—twelve helium-filled balloons still nearly full stuck like colored gumballs to the ceiling.
“What do you think?” asked Tuesday.
“It’s … bright.”
“You like it?”
“Yeah. I like it.”
Anticipating more pain than he ended up experiencing, Max sat up stiffly.
“How do you feel?” wondered Tuesday.
“I’ve felt better. Overall, though, things could be worse. You play guitar?”
“When was your birthday?”
“How did you know I just had a birthday?”
“The balloons. They’ve barely even deflated.”
“Very astute and grounded of you. Perfectly Capricorn. I’m Sagittarius.”
“So when was your birthday?”
“Monday. December sixteenth. Jane Austen’s birthday.”
“Who’s Jane Austen?”
“To be so smart, you don’t know anything about literature, do you?”
Max had to laugh, even though he expected his ribs would pay for it. They did—but not to the extent he feared. “You didn’t even have the decency to tell me, your one and only friend, that it was your birthday?”
“You had a lot on your mind.”
“Uh, like the parent-principal meeting? Or have you already forgotten what had to be the worst week of your life?”
“Not the worst week. My first week was my worst week.”
“Right. Got you. Okay, the worst week you can remember.”
“I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me it was your birthday.”
“Sorry. Feel up to going downstairs? Mom’s brewing some bilberry extract in the kitchen.”
“You. It fortifies capillaries and stabilizes the oxygen in your system to help bruises heal faster.”
“I thought science wasn’t your strong suit.”
“It isn’t. This is herbology.”
Max’s shoes were nowhere to be found, so he followed Tuesday in sock feet. The upstairs had the feel of an old castle. You never knew when you might bump into a suit of armor (which Max literally did in the hallway) or a restless ghost (which, if one was about, kept to itself) emerging from one of many mysterious doors.
From the foot of the staircase, Max and Tuesday could hear Ms. Monday in the kitchen speaking with someone on the phone: “Yes, I realize it’s school policy to sign out students when picking them up early.”
Max’s ears pricking up, he whispered, “Oh my God. She must be talking to—”
“Hush,” said Tuesday, cutting him off and listening intently.
“You’re right, Mr. Priestly,” continued Ms. Monday. “The fault certainly wasn’t Max’s or Tuesday’s—and I trust they won’t get in trouble for my mistake. I simply forgot to sign them out when I arrived at school. I assure you it won’t happen again.”
The two kids waited for her to hang up, then waited a few more seconds, staring at each other hugely and exultantly from the bottom of the staircase, before trying to look casual entering the sunlit kitchen.
“I see you’re up and about, Max!” said Ms. Monday. “Your eye’s looking better. How are the ribs?”
“A little sore, but I’ll be okay. Thanks for your help, Ms. Monday.”
“Please. Call me Maizy.”
“Who was that on the phone?” Tuesday wondered as innocently as possible.
“Mr. Priestly. He called asking where the two of you had gotten off to.”
“And I explained that when I picked you both up from school this afternoon, I unfortunately forgot to sign you out. A simple mistake on my part.”
“Thanks for covering for us, Mom.”
“You’re welcome. But don’t make this a habit, young lady. The world may be shades of gray, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy having to lie.”
“Don’t worry. It was just a really bad scene.”
“And I want to hear all about it. But first, Max, sit down and drink this,” said Maizy, pouring a steaming, purplish concoction from a pot on the stove into a mug, which she set on the kitchen table. “Bilberry extract for your bruises. It’s still piping hot. Be sure to blow on it.”
“Thanks, Ms. Mon—I mean, Maizy. For everything.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Max sat down and blew across the surface of the mug. The smell, almost sweet, could have been worse. The taste wasn’t bad either, sort of like spicy herbal tea.
“I added a few drops of stevia,” said Maizy.
“A natural sweetener from a tropical plant. It’s three hundred times sweeter than sugar and doesn’t cause diabetes.”
“Or tooth decay,” added Tuesday, flashing her big white teeth.
“I can see that,” said Max, who continued sipping the extract while taking in his surroundings. The kitchen—which was practically glowing, being on the same side of the house as Tuesday’s room, and also featuring high ceilings—displayed a similarly organized chaos.
Pots and pans hung from a rack suspended above an island beside the stove (three of whose gas burners were in use brewing pots of who knew what), which occupied the space between two sprawling countertops nearly covered with enigmatic clay crocks and drying herbs laid out on towels.
The thought occurred to Max he was sitting in something rather like an alchemist’s laboratory, or even a witch’s kitchen—when a large, soft and furry presence pressed up against his calf. Looking down between his legs, he discovered Merlin’s green eyes staring up at him like two stars shining from a field of black.
“He wants to spend time with you,” said Tuesday.
Max picked up the massive tomcat and, setting him in a comfortable position on his lap, proceeded to scratch him behind the ears, eliciting a deep, satisfied purring and causing the animal to close his eyes and, apparently, drift asleep.
Meanwhile, mother and daughter joining Max at the table, Tuesday began recounting the story of the fight with Doug. When she got to the part where Max went “out of body,” she paused and looked at him as if asking permission to share this part of the tale.
“It’s all right,” said Max. “Go ahead.”
Tuesday finished the story, describing from her point of view the luminous figure that stepped out of her friend and proceeded to offer a twenty-second clinic in the art of self-defense.
Maizy had remained silent during the entire narrative, staring at Max with virtually unblinking eyes that seemed too old, energetically, to belong to a relatively young (and admittedly, attractive) woman with blazing red hair and tattoos decorating much of her fair skin.
Initially, he felt uncomfortable under the weight of such intense scrutiny. But realizing there was no ill intent in it, only compassion mixed with curiosity, he began to return the gaze, examining Maizy even as she examined him.
This was how he managed to see that all her tattoos were actually one huge tattoo—of some kind of gigantic, perhaps prehistoric bird.
From talons that terminated around Maizy’s wrists, the bird’s wings stretched up her arms to her shoulders, where the bird’s body was inked, culminating in an ornate head, eyes and beak encircling her neck in a manner that seemed to stare with her at whatever she was seeing.
“Your tattoo,” said Max almost as a question.
“What about it?” asked Maizy.
“Is it, by any chance, a thunderbird?”
“Now, that’s very interesting.”
“I told you Max was gifted, Mom,” put in Tuesday.
“What’s interesting?” asked Max.
“You’re the first person ever to guess what my tattoo is without having to be told. I don’t suppose you were born with the caul?”
It was Max’s turn to find a question very interesting. “How did you know that?” he asked.
“How did you know about my thunderbird?”
“I didn’t know. It was just a lucky guess. My mother believed thunderbirds were real. The memory just popped into my head.”
“So you believe thoughts like that just ‘pop’ into your head?”
“It’s an expression.”
“But just for the sake of argument,” continued Maizy, “where do you suppose intuitive thoughts ‘pop’ into your head from?”
“Well, science says all thoughts occur in your brain. Maybe thoughts pop into one part of the brain from another part.”
“What about it?”
“Mom has pretty strong opinions on science,” said Tuesday.
“I suppose I do,” said Maizy. “Let’s just say science only sees what it wants to see.”
“Meaning?” asked Max.
“That there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in science’s philosophy.”
“Shakespeare,” whispered Tuesday.
“You’re talking about the notion,” said Max, processing the thought aloud, “that there’s an intelligence, some kind of consciousness, outside of us that we tap into with our brains like a radio picking up radio signals?”
“That’s exactly what I mean.”
“It’s a fascinating theory. Personally, I’ve always suspected it to be true. It just makes sense. And it sure explains a lot of strange phenomena.”
“You’re quick, Max. I’ll give you that. But you’ve yet to scratch the surface of your potential. You think you were born with the caul by accident?”
“I have no idea why I was born like that. I take it you do?”
“Not really. But I certainly don’t believe in accidents.”
“Mom tends to speak in riddles,” observed Tuesday.
“You still haven’t told me how you knew about my caul,” said Max.
“You have a double aura. It’s quite rare. That’s why it’s so large.”
“And a double aura indicates I was born with the caul?”
“You really can see my aura?”
“Plain as day.”
“What does it look like?”
“Think twin rainbow eggs.”
“Tell me something else about … about who I am that I might not know,” said Max.
“Okay. Give me your hand.”
“I promise I won’t bite.”
Max gently set down Merlin, who wasn’t happy to be let go in the middle of his repose, as he yawned and butted Max’s leg with his forehead.
Maizy held Max’s palm with long fingers and black fingernails about a foot in front of her face and nodded as she found what she was seeking. “Just as I suspected. You have two life lines.”
“What does that mean?”
“You live a double life.”
“You mean, like, a spy?”
“You know what I mean.”
“Because of my dreams?”
“You live in two worlds, Max. All of us do, to varying degrees. But for one reason or another, you’ve blended the worlds so totally they’ve both become real and you’ve literally become two people.”
Max was wondering if Tuesday had let slip to her mother his recent dream featuring an older version of himself flying in formation beside him—when his friend, who had no small intuitive ability herself, said, “I didn’t tell her anything, Max, if that’s what you’re wondering. You asked me not to.”
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.