For the most part, I’ve written sweet and light tales, stories about women and men who overcome personal obstacles, have lessons to learn, and eventually fall in love. I, like many readers, enjoy reading a good romance or watching a romantic comedy. There’s something special about that “happy ever ending.” (Well, maybe the ever-after part at least. I imagine my couples still face obstacles after their stories have been told. That’s life.)
Another part of life that we often don’t like to read about is that dark side. After all, the Bible does caution those who call themselves believers to think on certain things—things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report. Those words from the Word speak to us, in context, about how to find peace. The world is full of enough ideas that if we ponder some of them long enough, we lose our peace.
But we need redemptive tales of good versus evil. Some tales, however, would want to make us think that the devil is the opposite of God. Um, no. God has no opposite. The “yin” and “yang” of light and dark doesn’t work here—if we believe that, then we’re giving the devil—a created being—equal footing and power with God.
One of my favorite yet little-known stories of good versus evil is Something Wicked This Way Comes, by author Ray Bradbury, who’s better known for his science fiction. (Disney made it into a movie back in ’83.) It’s a story of nostalgia and coming of age, told from the viewpoint of Will Halloway, about strange happenings in tiny Green Town. Will’s best friend, Jim Nightshade, lives next door. One autumn night when the boys are thirteen, a train roars into town. The Autumn People have arrived. Mr. Dark, of Dark’s Pandemonium Circus and head of the Autumn people, somehow knows the townspeople’s deepest desires. People begin receiving the things that they crave, more than anything else in the world.
I’m sure the characters in Will Halloway’s town considered themselves to be find, upstanding Christian folk. They didn’t hurt anyone. They weren’t “evil.” I bet they didn’t even trick-or-treat. However, there was still darkness inside them, darkness that called to Mr. Dark and the Autumn People to come.
Near the final showdown, while Will and Jim hide in the town’s library, an evil wind blows open the library doors, and Charles Halloway braces himself for what’s to come.
Halloway:”By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes.”
Dark: “Then rang the bells both loud and deep, God is not dead nor doth He sleep.”
Halloway: “The wrong will fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth good will to men.”
Dark: “It’s a thousand years to Christmas, Mr. Halloway.”
Halloway:“You’re wrong, it’s here in this library tonight and can’t be spoiled.”
Dark: “Did Will and Jim bring it on the soles of their shoes? Then we shall have to scrape them.”
And on the two of them battle, light versus darkness. Mr. Halloway is old, weak, full of regret over his shortcomings as a father. Mr. Dark tries to tempt Halloway, and find the boys—Will who knows too much about Mr. Dark’s circus, and Jim has been tempted to join Mr. Dark. I wouldn’t call this a “Christian” movie, but it’s clearly the battle of good versus evil, of lies versus the truth.
What are the lies we believe? If we have _______, then we’ll be happier? Do we miss the blessings in front of us, living in regrets? Do we listen to the lie that ______ is unforgivable?
What is the antidote to the lies that Mr. Dark whispers to Will’s father?—“You’re a failure as a father and a man…Your son hates you…”
Okay, I won’t spoil the ending for you. Go ahead, rent the movie, or read the book, if you can find it in your library. The movie’s special effects are from the early ’80s, but something about this story has always followed me. Yes, it shows the deceiving power of darkness, but it also shows something more powerful that literally blasts the darkness to bits and washes away its filth. All this from an author not known as a “Christian” writer. Would it sell today? I’m not sure. But its themes are timeless. It’s a story I like to return to every autumn.