Once a xenophobe showed up in the nation’s blood supply. Being a single-idea organism and thus extremely small, the xenophobe at first went undetected when transmitted from host to host, allowing it to multiply rapidly within each of its unwitting victims until its pernicious spread reached from one extremity to another and from the heart deep into the brain. The initial indication that something might be amiss in a victim took the form of a mild but persistent fever. Then, in what seemed no time at all, the fever would grow more virulent and be accompanied by a steady swelling of the head. The sufferer began to have trouble seeing straight and typically spoke in a rambling or incoherent fashion. Subdued by paramedics one day while holding up traffic and threatening drivers if they didn’t repeat faithfully some rambling tirade about “alien hordes,” the hapless victim would be rushed to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. The prognosis was seldom good. By this point, the xenophobe would have so exploited every vulnerability of its now raving host that the prospects for a full return to good health seemed remote. Prone to fits of violent rage and paranoid delusions, the sufferer often complicated matters by jerking free of all restraints and assaulting medical personnel who appeared in any way different or foreign. Shouts of “Get away from me, you ************, and go back wherever you ******* came from!” were hurled in every direction, although the words could be rendered nearly unintelligible by a thick layer of foam typically covering the patient’s mouth. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the crisis might unexpectedly pass. From being a hopeless case, convulsed by hysterical outbursts one moment and seemingly brain-dead the next, the sufferer would appear to be making a miraculous recovery. With astonishing speed, the fever broke, the paranoia faded, and the raving gibberish steadily gave way to more recognizable forms of expression. The victim returned home to open arms and resumed daily activities as if nothing had happened. Relatives, friends, and colleagues avoided any mention of the xenophobe attack, fearful of triggering a possible relapse. It was thought better to act as though the whole unpleasant episode was no more than a false scare. In addition to sparing everybody any potential unpleasantness, this politic approach also allowed the community at large to feel reassured that the xenophobe was no longer of serious concern. By all appearances, its victim seemed fully cured. So why not just assume that all was well?
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans