The following is an excerpt from Queen of the Skies (Book One in the Steam & Mettle Christian steampunk series). Keep in mind that any of this may change between now and when the book is published, but it will give you a sneak peek.
This series takes place on an alternate Earth in the present day. This scene is between the main character, Merritt Baxter, and her best friend, Blaze.
Carlton Bram “Blaze” Kaylock helped Merritt step into the luxurious sidecar attached to his custom-built, steam-powered roadcycle. She settled into the seat, put on the spare helmet, and clicked her seatbelt harness into place. Blaze had built the sidecar with his best friend in mind. The suspension and cushioned seat allowed for maximum comfort. And its paint job matched the cycle’s: a deep maroon with wavy dark patterns woven throughout with a shiny finish.
Noting Vinnie peering at them through the front window, she waved at her before putting on her helmet. Vinnie walked away from the window, which Merritt expected. Blaze revved the engine and then they were off, driving through the neighborhood and then onto the highway. Less than ten minutes later, they arrived at the parking lot for Fletch’s Z-Repair, a large facility with two hangars for airship reconstruction and calibration.
Blaze parked, got off the roadcycle, and walked around to offer his hand to Merritt. She stepped out of the sidecar and stood at his side.
“Thanks for bringing me here,” she said. “Will you help me fill out the application? I’ve never done this before.”
“I don’t think you’ll need much help,” he said with a shrug. “You’ll do fine.”
She nodded and they went inside the building, emerging twenty minutes later.
“Do you think they’ll consider me?” Merritt asked nervously.
“They have to consider everyone who applies,” he answered confidently.
She pondered that a moment. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Back home then?” he asked.
Merritt sighed, looking in the direction they’d come from. “Do I have to?”
Blaze grinned. “Of course not. We can go to my apartment and order pizza.”
“That works!” she replied whimsically, looking relieved.
Blaze strapped his own helmet in place over his bushy long brown hair. Then he gave Merritt a smile as he pushed a button on the dashboard which made the engine roar to life. Soon, it settled into a low rumble, and they took off down the road.
Fifteen minutes later, they entered his second floor two-bedroom apartment. Blaze had converted the spare bedroom into an art room where he could paint or make digital art on his computer. The living room walls were off-white, but he had adorned them with framed art and photography, all maroon themed. The entertainment center was next to the entrance and close to that was a small glass case filled with action figures from the Super-Advanced Monster Racing Squadron Gamma anime. Facing the entertainment center was a soft and cozy gray couch and a rectangular obsidian-colored glass coffee table. The carpet was dark gray.
Merritt walked over to the refrigerator and looked inside. “Got any soda?”
“No, but I can order some with the pizza,” he answered, sounding apologetic.
She grabbed a bottled water and returned to the living room. She took a sip and relaxed into the couch, closing her eyes.
He thought about which pizza toppings she liked and started to order through the Loggie’s app on his mobile phone. “I placed the order,” he said a few moments later. “It’ll be here in about thirty minutes.”
He gazed at her briefly. She seemed to just be staring at the blank television screen — at nothing really. He knew she did that sometimes, though he didn’t know why. Blaze sat down next to her and softly patted her arm a few times to get her attention. “So, if you get this job, are you finally going to get your own place?” he asked with a wily smile.
She turned to look at him with confusion. “What? If I get this job, I’m getting a bike.”
He leaned forward, still looking at her expectantly. “And what about after you get the bike?”
She looked uncomfortable with the topic and his insistent attitude. Realizing that, Blaze relaxed some. “I guess what I’m saying is, you could easily afford a one-bedroom apartment on what you’d make at Fletch’s,” he continued in a friendlier tone. “So, I think you should.”
She shook her head. “You know I’m bad with money. And bills. I don’t need the stress.”
“Isn’t living with your relatives stressful? They don’t respect you.”
She shrugged. “I’m used to it.”
Now, Blaze sighed loudly.
“What?” Merritt wondered, narrowing her gaze at him.
“I don’t get you, Mare,” he fumed, using his special nickname for her. “You might be trading one set of stresses for another, but you’d be so much better off on your own. You can see that, right?” He didn’t wait for her answer. “So, what’s holding you back?”
She put her hand on his shoulder and her eyes held a sweet look that matched her smile. “Blaze, you’re kind. I see how much you care. You’re my best friend. But you’re right. You don’t get it.”
“Help me understand, please,” he insisted.
She smiled, looking surprisingly content. “It’s simple at home,” she continued. “Vinnie’s a bully and a jerk, but I’m used to her. And Marjorie and Henry are barely home. But they pay for things and make sure I have food and a place to stay and sleep.”
“But —” Blaze started to protest.
“They never hit me," she interrupted. "And they’ve never said they’d kick me out.”
Blaze understood her viewpoint, but one thing still troubled him about it. “They don’t love you.”
She smiled in response. “They don’t have to.
Sometimes, I think it’s good to stop and reflect on simple truths. My most recent reflections have concerned how alive and active God is today. I think it’s too easy to only see God as “the God of the Bible.” The Bible speaks the most about God and God even speaks many times in the Bible. But I find that view too confining for this ever-present, omnipotent, and all-powerful God that I love and serve. God inspired men to write the Bible, but His existence, scope, and power are not limited to the pages of any book, no matter what that book is.
God gave us the Bible to introduce us to Him and a fraction of the many things He has done throughout history. The Bible shows us who He is and what He expects. It is His Living Word. In it, He demonstrated His Holiness, Mercy, and Grace towards us. And the Bible documents the way God paved the way for Christian salvation. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, on a rescue mission to Earth to provide a way for us to be freed from the penalty of sin and restore our connection to God through His Holy Spirit.
As powerful as that is, it’s just the beginning, in my opinion. When we confess our sins, acknowledge Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and enter into a personal relationship with Him, we can experience the Lord’s presence in our daily lives.
We can pray to God and Jesus relays our prayers to God. Sometimes we will receive answers to those prayers right away and sometimes, it may take years. We may even learn down the road that a “no” was the best answer we could have possibly received. God is always looking out for us, and everything He does works towards our good, whether we understand it or not.
And our relationship with Him is not limited to prayer. God sends His angels to intervene on our behalf, either protecting us from harm or lessening harm that could have been far worse. God softens people’s hearts to become more compassionate and He inspires people to help others, whether they know those people or not. And God, through Jesus Christ, has promised to be with us through life’s storms.
God has mercy on who He will have mercy, including Christians and non-Christians. God is the original Judge and Arbiter of Truth because He is the only One worthy of that position. He is holy and there is no one like Him.
Romans 9: 14-18 (King James Version = KJV) reads:
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
And in Matthew 5: 43-45 (KJV), Jesus said:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Everyone has the opportunity to know and experience the love and peace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. And that personal relationship can be deep and extremely fulfilling. Despite all of us humans being mortal and imperfect, we can find a true friend in Jnesus Christ and meaningful purpose in our mortal lives. We will still face hardships, challenges, pains, and losses, but we can face it with the presence of a Savior who can see us through it all. And then, at the end of our lives, whenever that happens to be, if we persevere and strive to keep His commandments, we can join Him in Heaven and experience joy and peace throughout eternity, gratefully praising God with the other saints.
Personally, I find great comfort in realizing all the blessings I have already received here on Earth: my wife, my children, my extended family, and my family-in-Christ, not to mention all the good things that He has allowed me to experience, including inspiring my creativity for Him as an author and musician.
I also have discernment of truth through the Holy Spirit and I have confidence in Him. With the Lord's help, I am not swayed by the aspects of this world which work against His Word, the Holy Bible. I have the assurance that, in making every effort to serve my Lord and Savior and follow His commandments, I will see Jesus in peace in Heaven one day. And I look forward to that. It gives me hope and inspires me to make the most of my time on Earth.
In conclusion, Revelation 21: 1-8 (KJV) gives hope and a warning about the future:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
"Light of Life" was one of the first Christian music songs I wrote back in 1999. It's a testimony, a prayer-like song. I played the electric guitar, electric bass guitar and sang on this one. I made a quick music remix and put together a lyric video to go with it. I hope you enjoy it!
This is the second video in a new series called Due East Re-View. Due East was an award-winning Christian slice-of-life webcomic co-written by me and my wife, Angel Steadham with art by me. It ran from 2007 until 2009 on The Duck Webcomics and is now available in its entirety for free on Comic Fury.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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