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
“Zana, if this is your idea of a joke, it’s not funny!” Max’s voice echoed again off the stone walls into pin-drop silence. He hadn’t felt so exposed, so alone and on the edge, since he first arrived in time-space.
To think that was just over two days ago. So much had happened so fast. Tempus fugit? To the contrary. With each minute packed with a month’s worth of experience, time seemed to crawl in the cosmic sector.
Max had no way of determining if he had been abandoned on the mountaintop or if Zana would return. She seemed loyal and true, but what did he know about Bigfoots?
Thankfully, he still had his light stick—and he used it to have a look around the ruins. A sandy patina covered most of the rocks in the walls and structures, suggesting great age.
On a whim, he tapped a cornerstone with his stick—and to his astonishment, the rock rang like a handbell. He tapped several neighboring stones. Sure enough, they rang as well—at different pitches, depending on their size.
The effect recalled a pipe organ in an old cathedral. To Max’s surprise, the stones continued to reverberate like tuning forks for several minutes after being struck.
Hearing and especially feeling their vibrations reenergized him. Deciding to explore further, he discovered a deep amphitheater, several pyramidal structures above the level of the encircling pine woods, and what looked like an astronomy tower with a spiral staircase twisting around the outside.
He carefully wound his way up the helical stairs, which featured no guardrail, until he was standing high atop the tower. In the glare from his light stick, it was difficult to make out the stars.
But with the crescent moon’s help, he managed to descry the mountainside and desert far below. Turning, he noted that the ruins—which stretched for hundreds of yards left, right, and center—were laid out in complex geometric patterns. “What is—or was—this place?” he wondered, amazed to hear his softly spoken question repeated in crystal-clear echoes all around.
Back on the ground, he followed a cobblestone avenue past a grassy field that appeared to be a ball court complete with stone bleachers, a park-like area with carved benches scattered about, and several rectangular buildings with chipped granite columns and rotting wooden roofs.
Shining his light into one of these, he nearly suffered a heart attack when several immense bats, startled by his intrusion, flew past so close he felt the wind from their wings. “Christ!” he shouted, nerves trembling, leaning on his stick to steady himself.
In the stillness that ensued, he heard the sound of running water somewhere up ahead. Continuing along the avenue, he strolled beneath a row of what struck him as supersized cherry trees.
He crunched across their brittle leaves carpeting the cobblestones as he emerged into a circular plaza enclosed by dilapidated structures facing a round fountain with water flowing audibly from a statue on a pedestal.
With a cautious glance around the plaza, which was as empty as the rest of the site, Max approached the stone basin and quenched his thirst with the cool, pristine water that stood approximately three feet deep.
Then, and only then, did he examine the statue in the middle. It was a two-sided, high-relief, realistic depiction of a young man—or rather, young men—wearing flowing robes fused into a single entity with twin faces gazing in opposite directions.
He was instantly reminded of the Roman god Janus, who was typically shown with two faces. As he had learned while studying mythology in sophomore English, Janus supervised beginnings, endings, turning points, and time—and was so important the month of January was named after him.
There was only one problem. The statue wasn’t of Janus; it was of … Max!
Both faces, even riddled with notches from the years, were clearly and undeniably identical to Max’s own—down to the curly hair atop the heads and framing the stoic visages.
In addition, both figures held an upright hand, fused to its twin just like the heads, open in greeting. Water frothed in two directions out of spiral spigots located at the center of the palms down into the pool below.
Before the extreme weirdness of this discovery could sink in, for the second time in less than ten minutes, Max nearly jumped out of his shoes when Zana grunted behind him.
Spinning around, his alarm transforming into relief, he watched as she intersected the glow from his stick carrying the bulky carcass of a horned beast resembling an elk across one shoulder.
As soon as she dropped it on the cobblestones, he noticed that its neck, thick though it was, had been savagely twisted and broken. “That’s intense,” he said. “I don’t imagine you picked this fellow up at the local butcher’s shop?”
Zana’s only response—which, by now, Max was beginning to interpret as such—was to flash her chalky teeth and laugh insanely.
“You don’t happen to know anything about this statue, do you, Zana?”
This time she didn’t acknowledge his question. Instead, in a move that was as unexpected as it was disturbing, she powerfully ripped apart the elk’s fur from the neck down and opened its chest cavity with both hands.
“Ouch!” winced Max. “I really didn’t need to see that.”
With the sound of ribs, cartilage and muscles cracking and popping, Zana dug around inside the carcass until she located and removed a huge heart. This she proudly offered, still steaming and dripping, to Max.
“No thanks. I’m considering becoming a vegetarian.”
He could have sworn a sad look crossed her otherwise unreadable face—just before she shrugged and devoured the heart with great gusto like a piece of cake.
“I think I’m going to be sick.” Feeling lightheaded, Max lowered himself onto the leaf-covered cobblestones where he could lean back against the fountain and breathe.
Meanwhile, as if in a surreal movie scene with a sickening soundtrack and horrific visual effects, Zana proceeded to forcefully excavate the elk’s remaining organs one by one: liver, kidneys, testicles, stomach, small and large intestines.
Unable to stop watching out of morbid fascination, Max journeyed far beyond merely queasy. He imagined he was the color of seaweed as she repeatedly offered him a blood-drenched organ and—whenever he shook his head no—immediately scarfed it down.
Only when she had long since abandoned the carcass and was wandering around the dark site collecting stones for chipping did Max finally admit to himself he was terribly hungry.
Coming as it did on the heels of waves of nausea, he was taken aback by the ferocity of his hunger. Zana’s feast hadn’t only disgusted him; it had also, strangely, inspired him.
The stones she was collecting came from crumbled portions of the walls and rang loudly in two tones whenever they so much as brushed against one another. At length, having gathered a respectable pile, she sat down and commenced to chip away musically, erecting a little pyramid in the process.
Max stood up and approached her workplace. Pointing with his stick to a particularly sharp-looking rock on the side of her pyramid, he asked, “Do you mind if I borrow that one?”
She grunted affirmatively. Max thanked her and carefully picked up the stone, mindful not to disturb its neighbors. Turning and facing what remained of the elk, he whispered, “I must be crazy.”
Before his courage could wane, he dropped to his knees, setting his stick close by on the cobblestones for light, and proceeded to use the rock’s sharp edge to go after a tenderloin. Though he might not have been a boy scout, at least he had studied basic anatomy.
The sight of fresh blood had lost most of its shock value, but the tart, mineral smell of it was almost too much. Max was just about to give up and call it a supperless night—when the tenderloin (admittedly, a little jagged around the edges) suddenly popped loose in his hand.
Wasting no time, he rinsed the meat thoroughly by scooping water from the fountain over it. Afterward, placing the tenderloin on the stone lip of the basin for safekeeping, he went in search of wood.
Just inside the old buildings at the far end of the avenue, being careful to avoid bats, he found numerous chunks of decomposing beams from the caved-in roofs that seemed relatively dry.
Over the course of half a dozen trips back to the fountain, he transported as much of the wood as he could manage. Gathering dry leaves and twigs into a pile near the wood chunks, he began to build a fire for cooking the tenderloin—only to realize, in a moment of deflating lucidity, that he didn’t have anything to start a fire with. “Jesus, give me a frigging break!”
He felt ill-equipped, unprepared, incapable—but mostly, stupid. Stupid and embarrassed, though nobody except Zana was around to watch him make a fool of himself. And she had been too busy playing her rock-chipping organ to notice.
His growing embarrassment fueled his rising anger, which in turn stemmed from his frustration at being lost and famished in a ghost town in the middle of a mountainous wilderness somewhere—or sometime—in an alien universe.
Such potent emotions unexpectedly boiling over only added steam to Max’s bubbling shame and rage—literally making his palms sweat—until, slamming his left hand down in disgust on his little pile of twigs and leaves, the whole thing inexplicably burst into flames!
“Whoa!” he yelled, jumping back as the fire licked higher. “That’s insane!”
Zana paused her chipping to take stock of the situation. She didn’t seem afraid of the fire, but she did sit up straighter out of respect.
Recalling the rock he had levitated briefly the night before, and connecting this memory along with what had just happened to the statue of himself showing water flowing out of his palms, he stared dumbfounded at his hands in the flickering firelight.
But there was no time for philosophical reflection. Before his kindling could peter out, he placed more leaves and twigs on the fire, building it up to a satisfactory blaze before adding small chunks of wood.
Afterward, he used his rock to saw through a cherry branch over the thin end of which he spitted the tenderloin. This he slowly and painstakingly cooked over the fire, turning the meat every so often when it began to sizzle, until it looked and smelled ready to eat.
He was so impatient he burned his mouth on the first bite. But this hardly deterred him. The meat, cooked medium rare, was lean and mouthwatering. He devoured it as Zana, chipping away again, looked on with great interest.
After consuming the entire tenderloin, drinking some water from the fountain, and relieving himself behind the cherry trees, Max added some larger wood chunks to what gradually became a bonfire.
Yawning, he noticed his light stick was starting to lose its glow like a flashlight with fading batteries. He was tempted to toss it on the fire—but considering it might come in handy, changed his mind.
Positioning himself at a safe distance where he could still feel the fire’s warmth without being kept awake by its light, he lay on his back on the leaves with his hands behind his head staring up beyond the rising sparks through scattered clouds at the strange constellations.
The moon had set and he could see more clearly than earlier atop the astronomy tower. He sleepily thought he recognized the Big Dipper, Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades. The only thing was—they were all backwards, mirror images of their space-time configurations.
Begging the question: was he looking at the same stars from the other side of the Interface, or were the stars themselves, like the “earth” he found himself on, really quite different?
Speaking of mirror images, what was up with that statue? Did it actually have anything to do with himself—or was its resemblance merely a freak coincidence?
On the subject of freaks, how could he explain levitation and spontaneous combustion performed in full waking consciousness with his hand?
In his dream, Max wandered and wandered around Maroon University. But he couldn’t find Tuesday or Raul, and he didn’t recognize anyone, so he left the campus and drifted across town down the Eastern Seaboard to South Florida.
The landscape looked familiar, with Dolphin Point in the distance, but Cape Carnival had changed. The city seemed technologically upgraded, with spherical cars literally flying past and colossal high-rises everywhere.
Max searched for Tuesday’s house, then Aunt Nadine’s, but couldn’t find either. When he finally located his old block on Tupelo Street, his house had been replaced by a massive, cube-shaped dwelling made of opaque glass.
Desperately spinning in circles, lost in a place that used to be home, he realized he had neglected Professor Icarus’s advice by forgetting to leave a breadcrumb trail—and had returned, having outlived his contemporaries, to an unrecognizable future.
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.