As promised, Part 2 of my Backstory entry for "Darkest Before Dawn" will center on the Christian themes that entered into this story.
The simplest one to address is that of the darkness itself. As I've mentioned previously, the ten plagues of Egypt have given me some fertile ground for inspiration in the past. "In the Shadow of the Sphinx" dealt directly with the plague of boils from Exodus 9:8-17, while "The Watchman" draws its inspiration from the
plague of gnats in Exodus 8:16-19. Well, the ninth plague was darkness, coming into play in Exodus 10:21-29. I didn't allude to it in the text as directly as I did with the other two instances, but I cannot and will not attempt to deny that it had an influence on this tale.
Another huge Christian theme is that we cannot avoid the consequences of our sins, even if we try to cover up what we've done. Numbers 32:23 says that you can "be sure that your sin will find you out." Galatians 6:7 admonishes us, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." The consequences of our sins will catch up to us, just as they do for the guilty party in "Darkest Before Dawn," so we need to be careful about how we live.
Finally, as to the character of Obadiah Riddle, the traveling peddler/prophet: We tend to assume that a prophet is one who sees the future, and sometimes in Scripture the office of a prophet does include that function. However, the biblical model of a prophet is one who proclaims God's truth, whether or not it directly applies to forecasting the future. For Riddle, I particularly thought about Elijah. He was a man who crusaded against sin, proclaiming God's truth, and at one point, he called for there to be no rain until he said otherwise so as to make a point to the corrupt King Ahab (1 Kings 17:1, James 5:17). That seemed to fit hand-in-glove for "Darkest Before Dawn," as I felt I needed a character who could not only serve as a catalyst for the strange event but who could also serve as God's messenger to deliver the divine perspective on the proceedings.
Since "Darkest Before Dawn" is the last story in Zero Hour, there's no need for another "Backstory" post after this one, but that doesn't mean this is the final post for the blog. Far from it! Stay tuned, and remember, Philippians 4:13.--SMS