In the village they have cried wolf for so long they are beginning to see them.
At night they hear them and when they gather the courage to look into the forest they passing flashes of gray and white, passing flashes that are reported, rumors spread from house to house, the wolves are surrounding us.
But the wolves don’t exist.
They never have.
First was the lonely boy who came in from the forest and told everyone that he a saw a wolf, and he was adorned with attention, with questions, with interest in what he had experienced. And so he fabricated a tale of the ferocious wolf that chased him through the woods, his narrow escape, the smell of its breath nipping at his heels. He spoke to them of how lucky he was to be alive.
And it was the watchman who spotted a flash of white moving through the trees at night, just as the boy had described.
And it was the mothers who tucked their children in at night and warned them not to go beyond the city walls because the wolves might eat them.
And it was the governor who gathered the people and said the wolves were growing in number day by day, that an army must be assembled, that the walls must be fortified, that no one would be allowed out of their homes at night for their own protection.
And it was the men who nodded and said yes, thank you, tell us what to do.
And it was the children who grew up to be adults who told their own children about the wolves in the forest, the monstrous beasts, the innumerable dangers that would devour them if it weren’t for all that was done to protect them from harm.
And from this village, there was a man among men, a man who walked into the forest unarmed, unafraid, the man who knew he could speak a weapon into his hand at any moment. He saw no wolves. He wandered the forests for years and slept beneath the stars. He explored the darkest caves and deepest valleys. It was this man who one day returned to the village and said there are no wolves, my brothers and sisters, only wolves in your imagination. All these years you have deceived yourselves.
But instead of being glad, they hated him.
Instead of asking questions, they wished to kill him.
He’s a conspirator, they declared. He’s a denier. He’s working for our enemies. He’s living outside of reality. He wants us to be killed.
And this man among men was hauled to the center of the city and devoured by all the men who had become the very thing they feared most, the thing that never existed until they became it.