In the land of Postfactua lived a Shepherd Boy. He tended sheep near the village. But he found life in the pasture to be dull. The pasture was quiet, save for the occasional bleating of his sheep. No one paid much attention to the Boy.
One day, as he sat watching the sheep, the Boy thought of a plan to amuse himself. He thought of the fun he could have if he cried "Wolf!" to alarm the villagers. Although wolves had been extinct in Postfactua for decades as a result of changes in climate, the Boy assumed that most villagers had no real knowledge of wolves or the climate or the past.
"Wolf! Wolf!!" he bellowed. The villagers, terrified, stopped what they were doing and rushed to the pasture to help the Boy. But when they got there, they found no wolf. Many were angry that they had been tricked by the Boy. But some of the villagers admired the Boy's conviction and thought that perhaps his cry was prescient. They returned to the village fearful, but thankful that the Boy had put them on alert.
And the Boy laughed to himself, gratified with his own trickery.
The next day, the Boy whooped and wailed again: "WOLF!" All of the villager stopped what they were doing and rushed again to the pasture. This time, the villagers who had admired the Boy ran fastest and arrived first. With pitchforks. When the angry villagers came upon the wolfless pasture, they were ready to scold the Boy for lying. But the other villagers thrust the pitchforks into their faces and forced them back to the village.
"We must build a wall to protect ourselves from the wolf!" they agreed. They went back to the village, and took the town's money and resources to pay for the wall.
And the Boy laughed again. What fun he was having!
The next day, the Boy tired of yelling. This time, he simply wrote ' W O L F ' on little slips of paper. He waited until a great wind blew. He threw the papers into the wind and they were carried far and wide.
The admiring villagers showed up immediately. They were followed closely by others who had read his little warning slips of paper from villages far away.
The angry villagers stayed home. They were exhausted from running back and forth and wary of the pitchforks.
By now, the Boy was so delighted by the attention that he had completely forgotten about his sheep. Most of the sheep wandered off, never to be seen again. A few remained. But the Boy grew tired of dealing with the stragglers. So he slaughtered them and feasted on their flesh.
To be safe from the (imaginary) wolf, the villagers decided to tear down most of the village to make room for a moat. They razed their own homes and dug a hole. At night, they were cold and hungry. But they felt safer.
The Boy was not laughing anymore because he was busy with new construction. The pasture was now prime real estate. The most devoted of villagers built him a great castle right where the sheep had once frolicked.
The Boy also grew weary of yelling and of writing short messages, so he gave some of his followers the responsibility of crying "Wolf!" for him whenever they were down in the village. It was not quite as amusing for the Boy as it once had been, but he decided to focus on new pleasures. It was fun for him to destroy some of the villagers personally, one by one.
"Overrated!" he declared after eating some of the Baker's bread. And the Baker eventually closed his doors because of lack of business.
"Crooked!" and "Corrupt!" was how he described the Candlestick Maker. And, despite the fact that the Candlestick Maker was an honest man and his family had been making candles for fourteen generations, the Candlestick Maker was forced out of the village.
"Very dumb!" he called the Teacher. The villagers closed the schools.
And so, the Boy Who Cried Wolf lived happily ever after alone in his castle. A few villagers lived on the outskirts of the castle to tend to the Boy. Everyone else was homeless and hungry.
Moral of the story: Telling lies, often and loud enough, makes you important.