Once a nightcrawler was tracked down by the thought police. The nightcrawler’s crime, it learned, was having “nightcrawler thoughts.” “What other thoughts would a nightcrawler have?” it protested. “Exactly,” came the gruff reply. Because of a bright spotlight trained on it, the nightcrawler couldn’t actually make out its accusers. It could only feel the heavy tread of their boots on the dewy grass and hear the disgust in their voices. “What have I done wrong?” it asked. “Nothing yet.” “Then what’s the problem?” “The problem is what you might do, given your suspect thinking.” “Yes, the problem is what a worm like you might do,” another voice echoed the first. “We must protect society against that.” “I’m nothing but a worm! What threat can I be to anybody?” “Great oaks from little acorns grow.” “What’s that got to do with me?” “Everything. Night crawler thoughts can lead to nightcrawler acts and in no time, all of us are in danger from the likes of you. Anybody takes one look at you and they know what repellent things you’re capable of.” “Repellent?” “Alarming even.” “Alarming?” “Because you repel people and alarm them, you must in fact be repellent and alarming, and because you’re repellant and alarming, you must have repellant and alarming thoughts, and if you have repellant and alarming thoughts, you must be planning repellant and alarming deeds and therefore one day you’ll carry them out.” “It’s that simple,” the second voice added. “You give us the creeps.” Repellant? Alarming? The creeps? The nightcrawler felt insulted and demeaned by such accusations. So what if it didn’t think like its captors. If anything, its thoughts had always seemed to be, first, nobody’s business and second, the sole chance it had of ever escaping the cramped depths of the earth, where all it knew was the stultifying monotony of inching its way through life’s impediments. But thanks to its imagination, the nightcrawler tried to explain, it could roam freely when most constrained by its lot, glide over the rain-smooth grass anywhere it wished, and revel in midnight’s sweet welcome while the rest of the world snored. The imagination of a night-crawler might stretch to the ends of the earth, even when it could find no way to the surface physically. Was that freedom a crime now? All of this defense made little impression upon the nightcrawler’s accusers, who responded in unison, “We haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about. But we’re pretty sure it’s repellent and alarming.” “You have the right to remain silent,” announced one of the officers, puzzled by how and where to handcuff the nightcrawler. “Anything you think can and will be used against you in a court of law,” added the other.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans