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 had traveled to college with Tuesday in his Ford Explorer barely a month earlier, closing the door on his painful past in Florida (so he thought) while opening a new, happier one into his future. Or so he thought.
After his father’s airplane, the Tempus Fugit, mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the Atlantic southeast of the Florida Keys, life in Cape Carnival was never the same again for Max.
He moved in with his Aunt Nadine, who lived in a townhouse near Dolphin Point, out to which Max and his father used to race each other swimming. His aunt was a competent enough parental figure—if normally a distant, uninspiring one.
She gave Max his own room upstairs with a view of the Gulf, saw that he was properly fed and clothed, looked after him to make sure his education was progressing, and kept a close eye on his behavior in the aftermath of watching him lose his second parent to tragic circumstances.
There was, of course, another, arguably larger reason she tracked him like a hawk for the slightest sign of abnormality. This reason had to do with his strange childhood dreams—and certain still unexplained events surrounding them.
They never, ever talked about such things. Nadine was secretly terrified of encouraging more of the same paranormal “devilry” that had always unnerved her where Max was concerned.
In reality, however, she had no cause to worry. Losing his father had changed Max in a variety of ways. Most significantly, he stopped dreaming (or at least, remembering his dreams) cold turkey.
Gone, in an instant, were the vivid dreamscapes of his childhood. Gone as well were the interpersonal visions, the traveling through space and time, the returning with foreign objects, the out-of-body experiences.
Though on several occasions Dr. Morrow tried to convince Nadine to let him study Max, as the boy’s legal guardian she would have none of it, dismissing the entire subject of lucid dreaming as modern-day “witchcraft.” Besides, there was no longer anything to study—Max was about as psychic as a pineapple.
Meanwhile, being orphaned (Captain Diver was presumed dead) sent the boy corkscrewing (mostly unconsciously) through the first three of what Elizabeth Kübler-Ross called the “five stages of grief.”
For a long time, several months, he was simply in denial, insisting against all evidence to the contrary that his father would return. When he didn’t, Max went through anger, in which everything in life seemed absurd, unfair, cruel, bestial.
Marked by solitary, raging walks to Lighthouse Rock and back, screaming internally (and sometimes externally) at an uncaring, probably unlistening God, this stage lasted nearly into high school—gradually giving way to bargaining, a phase characterized by twisted, illogical “deals” with the universe.
In Max’s case, the deal he tried to strike with a higher power (had he been conscious enough to put it in words) would have gone something like this: I will devote my life to medicine and helping others, if only I can have my father back.
It was at this point that Max began to push himself harder and harder academically, taking as many advanced classes as possible, often staying up late into the night studying—only to get up at the crack of dawn to study a little more before school.
Now, someone experiencing the stages of grief is rarely aware of how his behavior might appear to others. Grief often produces a “zoom lens effect,” in which the focus is entirely on oneself, to the exclusion of external considerations.
Aunt Nadine felt that her prayers had been answered when she observed Max’s newfound dedication to scholastic excellence. Especially on the heels of two challenging years, she saw it as a sign of moving on with his life, an indication he was putting the past behind him through a determination to make something of himself.
Others—namely, Tuesday and Maizy—had a different interpretation. Mother and daughter watched Max obsessively tunneling inward in his grief-stricken state with no small concern.
They both knew enough about psychology (and for that matter, about Max) to realize there was nothing particularly healthy about his all-consuming “dream” of becoming a doctor—which, combined with his abandonment of his actual dreams, struck them both as a diversionary tactic.
In a mostly unconscious way, theorized Tuesday and her mother, Max was doing everything in his power to lock anything associated with his real dreams (where he had foreseen his father’s disappearance, only to be powerless to stop it) in a safe corner of his psyche.
The upshot, in their estimation, was that even as Max progressed through different phases of grief, he was simultaneously struggling against another, perhaps more insidious opponent: guilt.
But it was impossible to speak to Max about such subjects. Though he remained friends with Tuesday, and even occasionally visited her house, where Maizy treated him like family, he was no longer the wide-eyed boy who first showed up there in search of answers to the enigma of himself.
To the contrary, he wanted nothing to do with pop psychology, not to mention the paranormal, the supernatural, animal wisdom, Tarot cards, or dreams. These mysteries having utterly failed him, he had cast his lot with science—and was now only interested in that which could be measured, proven, and rationally understood.
Yet he was still his mother’s son. Even though his focus became myopically materialistic, deep down he never committed the “fashionable stupidity” of viewing spiritual matters as fraudulent per se.
He knew perfectly well (even if he wasn’t inclined to admit it) that the material body had a spiritual aspect. He knew that “spirit,” however explained, was real, because of his own undeniable experiences—which, though he might suppress them, he couldn’t altogether erase from memory.
He simply refused to talk about such things anymore. Tuesday and Maizy may have wished otherwise, but they respected Max enough to give him a wide berth and hold their tongues.
Tuesday had the only real success in helping him break out of his self-imposed shell when she convinced him to take up tennis in ninth grade. “You may not have particularly quick feet,” she said, “but your hand-eye coordination is excellent. And you enjoy watching tennis on TV. Why not come up for some fresh air and give it a try?”
“Me? Play tennis? What about my glasses?”
“Ever heard of contact lenses?”
So he got contacts, started practicing tennis, and actually made the JV team that spring. He finally won his first match on his fifth try. By the end of junior year, playing varsity, he had improved enough to be voted second-team all-conference.
Meanwhile, continuing to set his standards high academically, Max learned in the fall of senior year that he was accepted to Maroon University—thrilling Tuesday, Maizy and Aunt Nadine alike, though for different reasons.
Tuesday was understandably excited to be near her old friend, while Maizy was happy for both her daughter and Max, who she figured would mutually benefit from having each other around.
Aunt Nadine, for her part, was proud that Max would continue the Holden family tradition of attending Ivy League colleges. Her father, Max’s Grandad Holden, was a Dartmouth man; her sister, Max’s mother, graduated from Princeton before getting her Ph.D. at Yale; and she herself attended Cornell.
For Max’s eighteenth birthday, Aunt Nadine gave him two very small presents, each in a box about the size of a cell phone, which both packed very large punches.
The first box contained a Ford key … that went with the brand-new, silver Ford Explorer parked in the driveway. “You … got me a new car?” said Max, who had been driving Aunt Nadine’s back-up, a rusty Volkswagen Rabbit, ever since he got his license at sixteen.
“Technically, it’s an SUV. And technically, you bought it yourself.”
“I bought it … myself?”
“Open the other box.”
Inside the second box was another key, smaller than the first and nondescript. “What’s this for?” asked Max.
“Your safety deposit box. I’ve placed a number of objects you inherited from your father inside, along with the paperwork having to do with your trust fund. I recommend leaving everything exactly as it is and allowing its value to appreciate.”
“I have a trust fund?”
“You do now. As your guardian, I’ve arranged for your college tuition and living expenses to be covered. You’ll come into your full inheritance as of your twenty-second birthday or upon graduation from college—whichever happens first.”
“Full inheritance? How much did Dad leave me?”
“A lot. Oh, and I also made sure you had a decent four-wheel-drive for the Northeast. Make sure you learn to operate it in the snow.”
“Thanks, Aunt Nadine.”
“Don’t mention it. Happy Birthday, Max.”
Tennis season came and went (Max got a lucky draw and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state championships); graduation followed suit (he and Tuesday delivered the salutatory and valedictory addresses, respectively); and summer arrived and was nearly over before Max screwed himself up enough to check out his safety deposit box at First Bank of Cape Carnival.
Inside the little private room, opening the box, he found a number of gold and silver coins; several platinum bullion bars; his father’s monogrammed money clip and Rolex watch; and his mother’s diamond engagement ring and white gold wedding band.
Placing these objects in his backpack, he examined the paperwork at the bottom of the box. He discovered several stock certificates and bonds; his letter of trust indicating he had a projected $8 million coming to him, depending on his portfolio’s performance; and most surprising of all, an unpublished essay written by his mother entitled “Cryptids Explained: A Novel Interdimensional Theory.”
“I can’t deal with this right now,” he said to himself, stuffing his mother’s essay in his pack along with the other papers, returning the empty safety deposit box, and leaving the bank.
That evening, his last in Florida for the foreseeable future, since he didn’t plan to return anytime soon, Max finished packing for college by stashing the objects from his safety deposit box in his mother’s old Seward trunk along with her personal effects.
To these, discarding the tattered Lego box, he added the Easter Island figurine, Mexican arrowhead, Tibetan prayer flag and Venetian mask he had once retrieved from the world of his dreams.
The trunk, outfitted with a new combination lock, he packed in the Explorer along with his personal effects; his tennis racket; his iPod dock, MacBook, and printer; his clothes (including some of Aunt Nadine’s sweaters, which might finally come in handy); Stedman’s Medical Dictionary; his father’s night vision goggles (which still worked); and the thunderbird kite (still in the box unopened) Maizy had given him.
The next morning, he shared a sunrise goodbye with Aunt Nadine, who hugged him—which she almost never did—and even appeared to shed a few tears as he backed out of the driveway. “I’m proud of you, Max, after all you’ve been through!” she called after him with watery eyes. “God bless you! Spend your money wisely—and call if you need me!”
“Don’t worry, I will. Thanks, Aunt Nadine. I mean it.”
Before picking up Tuesday, who was carpooling with him to Endurance, he took a detour down Tupelo Street for the first time in over six years.
There it was: his old house. The property had been sold after Captain Diver disappeared and seemed to be inhabited—but amazingly, based on outward appearances, very little about it had changed.
Feeling the stirrings of sadness and determined not to give into them on this, the first day of the rest of his life, Max wondered if he would ever see the old place again as he sped on down the street.
Tuesday was already on the porch with her belongings when Max pulled up beside the curb. “You’re late,” she said. “I thought you skipped town without me.”
She gave Max a probing look, then smiled and winked. He noticed she was wearing his old bracelet—and that she wasn’t wearing glasses. “Where are your glasses?” he asked, helping load up her suitcases and bags.
“You like me without them?”
“You look … more mature. It’s nice to see your eyes.”
“I stopped wearing glasses almost six months ago, Max.”
“Six months ago? You’re joking, right?”
“Do I look like I’m joking?”
“No. My eyesight just improved.”
“Where have I been?”
“That’s exactly what I was wondering.”
Maizy appeared on the sidewalk, wearing an ink-stained apron and carrying a mid-sized cooler. “Here’s some healthy food for the road,” she said. “It should be enough to keep you two from having to stoop to fast food for a couple days.”
“Thanks, Maizy,” said Max, accepting the cooler and squeezing it into an accessible spot on the back seat.
“I see you’re taking that old kite I gave you,” she observed.
“Yeah, I thought maybe I’d finally get around to flying it one of these days.”
“You look after my girl, Max, you hear?”
“I’ll do that.”
“And you look after our boy, Tuesday, okay?”
Maizy hugged first Max, then Tuesday. Everybody seemed more than a little hyper from excitement—and mother and daughter were also a little teary. “I can’t believe this day is actually here,” said Maizy.
“Me neither,” said Tuesday. “I’ve never driven all the way up the East Coast.”
“That’s my Tuesday: always lightening the mood.”
“Are you ready for a road trip, Max?”
“I was born ready.”
“Then let’s burn rubber.”
“Don’t burn too much rubber!” Maizy called after them as they climbed in the Explorer and set off for Rhode Island.
Copyright © Sol Luckman. All Rights Reserved.
Introducing Sol Luckman’s new visionary novel, CALI THE DESTROYER. Learn about the single most censored story in the history of the human race—and why it matters today.
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.