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Nightcrawlers is the third and final segment of the fourth episode of the first season (1985–86) of the television series The Twilight Zone. It is taken from a short story of the same name by Robert R. McCammon, first published in the 1984 collection Masques.

Plot

State trooper Dennis Wells takes shelter from a downpour at a roadside diner. He is known by the owners and staff. As other customers arrive during the storm, he describes a massacre that he is investigating at a local motel. The diner patrons witness a near-collision between two cars on the road outside, and a Vietnam veteran named Price comes into the diner. While Price is having coffee, he asks for a cold beer, but Bob the cook tells him that the diner does not have a liquor license. Price laments how a cold beer would taste good and a can of beer appears in his hand. Wells strikes up a conversation with Price, lamenting that he wishes he could have gone to Vietnam. Price is compelled to describe how he fled and abandoned his unit during the war, condemning all of them to death in the jungles. He relays that he dreams one recurring nightmare in which his unit, "The Nightcrawlers", are hunting him down to exact revenge. Price explains that he and other soldiers were "sprayed with something" that relates to his mysterious condition. He claims that he and the men of his unit were endowed with the power of mind over matter, which he demonstrates by materializing a t-bone steak on the grill. The trooper, who suspects Price is a dangerous troublemaker who may be responsible for the motel massacre, pulls his gun on Price, but Price melts it with his mind. The trooper knocks Price unconscious. With Price unconscious, the diner patrons and staff begin to experience Price's nightmare: ghost-like soldiers materialize, destroy vehicles in the parking lot outside, and then force their way inside to kill Price and Wells and destroy the diner, before vanishing again. Bob is wounded but survives. As Bob is being taken away in an ambulance, he cries out a reminder to the others that Price said there were still four more soldiers with the same ability.

Production details

  • Based on a short story by Robert R. McCammon
  • Original score by Merl Saunders and the Grateful Dead, featuring Huey Lewis on harmonica
  • Exene Cervenka of punk group X appears as a waitress.

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