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THE NIGHT CRAWLER

    Once a night crawler was tracked down by the thought police.
    The night crawler’s crime, it learned, was having night crawler ideas. “What other ideas would a night crawler have?” it protested. 
    “Exactly,” came the gruff reply.
    Because of a spotlight trained on it, the night crawler couldn’t actually make out its accusers. It could only feel the heavy tread of their boots on the dewy grass and hear the determination in their voices. 
    “What have I done wrong?” it asked.
    “Nothing yet.”
    “Then what’s the problem?”
    “The problem is what you might do.”
    “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 night crawler 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 repellant things you’re capable of.”
    “Repellant?”
    “Alarming even.”
    “Alarming?” 
    “Because you make people feel repelled and alarmed, you must in fact be repellant 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 things and therefore one day you’ll carry them out.”
    “It’s that simple,” the second voice added. “You give us the willies.”
    Repellant? Alarming? The willies? The night crawler felt insulted and demeaned by such accusations. 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 night crawler could rove freely when most constrained by its lot, glide over the rain-smooth grass anywhere it chose, and revel in sweet midnight’s welcome while the rest of the world snored away. In its mind the night crawler might stretch to the ends of the earth, even when it could find no way to the surface at that moment. 
    All of this made little impression on the night crawler’s accusers, who responded, “We have no idea what you mean,” then added: 
    “You have the right to remain silent.” 
    “But anything you think can and will be used against you.”