This Present Darkness
This Present Darkness takes place in the small college town of Ashton. Bernice Kreuger, a reporter for the Clarion, Ashton's town newspaper, is falsely arrested on prostitution charges after taking a photograph at the annual Ashton Summer Festival. When she is released the next day, she discovers that the film in her camera was destroyed.
Marshall Hogan, owner/editor-in-chief of the Clarion decides to go to the town police station/courthouse and confront Alf Brummel, the police chief, about the incident. Brummel denies any wrongdoing on behalf of the police department and insists it was all a mistake. Brummel then advises Marshall to drop the matter. Marshall does not fall for Brummel's story and, ignoring Brummel's advice, begins an investigation.
As the investigation continues, Marshall and Bernice begin to realize that they're onto something much bigger than they thought. They slowly uncover a plot to take over the town via buying the college, that is being carried out by The Universal Consciousness Society, a powerful New Age group. When the Society decides Marshall has found out too much they take the Clarion, and his house. They also falsely accuse him of murder, adultery and molesting his daughter, who attends the college and who unwittingly has been pulled into the Society. When he and Bernice are caught in a desperate attempt to keep the society from winning out, he is arrested and thrown in jail, and she escapes, running off to find help.
Meanwhile, Hank Busche, the unwanted pastor of the little Ashton Community Church discovers that there are many demons in the town and wonders why they have all congregated here. When he gets to be a nuisance to the demons they have the Society falsely arrest him for rape.
Hank and Marshall meet in jail. They compare stories and finally put both halves of the puzzle together.
During the time that this is happening, the story takes on a spiritual dimension – revealing a perspective based on the idea of unseen forces at work. The angels who wage warfare for the souls of mankind look and act similarly to humans—they have names, they are in charge of specific regions of earth, and they are propelled by heavenly forces that often manifest as wings. They wear armor and wield weapons forged in heaven - most notably, swords. Demons, as well, are depicted as being ink-like shadows in the darkness, flowing from shadow to shadow, until the time comes when they truly reveal themselves as monstrous beasts with bat-wings and armor. Their spiritual combat spans from one-on-one battles to vast armies charging into each other in the "unseen realms" above us.
Meanwhile, Bernice finds help and makes contact with the County Prosecutor, the State Attorney General, and the Feds. When Alf Brummel finds out about this he releases Hank and Marshall. After Hank and Marshall are released they "team up" against the Universal Consciousness Society and the demons working to take over Ashton—in which they are (possibly unwittingly) aided by a "local" demon whose position has been usurped by a somewhat more powerful one summoned by the Society, and strikes vengefully at the usurper.