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About the Author
Ben Sciacca is executive director of Restoration Academy, a K–12 Christian school in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author (writing as Judah Ben) of Kai’Ro: The Journey of an Urban Pilgrim.
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Meals from Mars
A Parable of Prejudice and Providence
By Ben Sciacca
NavPressCopyright © 2017 Ben Sciacca
All rights reserved.
1:12 p.m., Tuesday before Thanksgiving
"STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!"
Clouds of steam billowed from under the crumpled hood of the Lexus. Glass from the driver-side rear window lay strewn along the road, sparkling like diamonds on the glistening blacktop. Two police SUVs encircled the wreckage, their lights ricocheting around the snow-laden trees that hugged the edges of the road.
Jim slowly lifted his aching head and squinted through the window at the scene outside the car. Through the iced front windshield he could see the shadowy silhouettes of three officers with drawn pistols. They shielded themselves behind their open car doors. A thick hot strand of blood meandered slowly down Jim's face from a ragged cut above his left eye. His head throbbed.
One of the police officers was bellowing something, but Jim couldn't make out the words. He slowly rolled his eyes over to the driver seat to see if Malik was okay.
Malik was alert, wide-eyed, as the red and blue lights refracted onto his face like a kaleidoscope. His hair was littered with broken glass. Clouds of breath emerged from his open mouth in the frozen air. An abrasion on the side of his face was spotted with blood. Probably the airbag. He glanced for a moment at Jim out of the corner of his eye before leaning forward and fumbling around the brake pedal.
"Come on, Malik," Jim said with a hoarse whisper. "It's all over now, son."
Malik ignored Jim. His eyes flashed as his hand found what he was looking for. As he pulled the black handgun from the floorboards, he groaned.
Jim looked at the gun, now resting in the young man's lap, and then at Malik. "Think, son," Jim said, placing his hand on the young man's shoulder. "This is not a good idea. It's over.
Malik frowned as he stared out the window.
"Get out of the vehicle with your hands in the air. Now!" the officer hollered again.
"You're right, Jim," Malik said in a near whisper. "It is all over — for me at least."
Jim swallowed and shot a nervous look at the police cars. Malik continued to stare out the front window with a grim face.
"Just give me the gun, Malik," Jim said. He placed his open hand in front of Malik's chest. "Those men outside will kill you if you step out with that."
Malik exhaled a deep sigh but said nothing.
"Give me the gun, Malik, and we both walk out of here alive today."
Malik took a long look at the gun in his hand. He shook his head. "Man, too much has happened. Too much. I'm dead no matter what." A slight smile emerged at the corner of his lips as a lone tear fell from his eye. He stuffed the gun into the front waistband of his pants. The handle was barely visible. He pressed the button to unlock his door.
Jim grasped frantically for Malik's shirt, but the young man opened the door and stepped out of the car into the frigid air before he could catch him.
Excerpted from Meals from Mars by Ben Sciacca. Copyright © 2017 Ben Sciacca. Excerpted by permission of NavPress.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1 The End, 1,
2 The Samaritan, 5,
3 The Errand, 9,
4 The Delivery, 15,
5 The Detective, 29,
6 The Drama, 35,
7 The Cold, 49,
8 The Investigation, 55,
9 The Cabin, 63,
10 The Visit, 69,
11 The Introductions, 77,
12 The Fear, 85,
13 The Education, 107,
14 The Confusion, 119,
15 The Dawn, 127,
16 The Discovery, 133,
17 The Lecture, 141,
18 The Meal, 155,
19 The Intruder, 167,
20 The Decision, 173,
21 The Call, 179,
22 The Surrender, 185,
23 The Beginning, 193,
For Discussion, 207,
Additional Resources, 211,
About the Author, 215,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Malik is a young man on a mission: a mission to stop by a neighborhood convenience store, pick up some butter and milk for his grandma, and stay as safe as possible. Jim, a lawyer, is a man on a mission: a mission to drop off some groceries for a family in need, buy a couple gallons of gas, and get out of this neighborhood as quickly as possible. But a dangerous incident at the gas station puts a major hitch in both Malik's and Jim's plans in Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence by author Ben Sciacca. I read the subtitle and some blurbs for this book beforehand, seeing their conspicuous statements about the book's purpose. Even as my decision and desire to read the book were immediate, I'll admit I was a little nervous. Nervous that this "parable" might be heavy-handed, using its characters as obvious pawns to preach a message, and to preach it hard, more so than, you know, telling a compelling story with believable characters. Once I started reading the book, it did away with my nervousness. Yes, the ideas in it are blatant, barefaced, but not at the expense of story (which includes some beautiful imagery and a dash of humor, by the way.) And it raises questions without trying to tell the reader exactly what to think. Sure, Malik's style of speech didn't seem the most consistent to me in some places. I also thought the story's pattern might become redundant, if one character kept raising valid points while the other one mainly sat there, stumped. Yet, the story ultimately balances itself out. And it doesn't sugarcoat or tie up its message in a nice, neat bow on its way to bringing hope. I think many Christian readers, especially in the U.S., would do well to read this book. __________________ Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.