As it’s my birthday week, I’m trepidatiously treating you to an allegorical short story I’ve written. Please be kind because it’s not my forte even though I dabble with storytelling now and then. Happy reading! 😉❤️

It was a gloomy overcast morning and there was an air of great consternation in Pingdom because people were inexplicably vanishing off the face of the earth. Even Tracebook held no record of them, and no mention was discovered on Bitter, Pingstagram and Pingterest.

Perhaps Click-Clock held a clue to their whereabouts? Its timely videos usually drew a large, captive audience, especially among the youth. Yet despite frantic searching on Local Feedia, there was a glaring absence, an unexplained lack of evidence and no digital footprint. It was as if they didn’t exist.

Could there possibly be a rival Pingdom vying for their presence and attention? The idea was appalling, unthinkable and swiftly dismissed by all. How could any other Pingdom succeed in meeting the populace’s needs? Why, every individual was targeted pre-birth, with soothing subliminal messages piped to the womb-nestling infants.

And the indoctrination… erm… invitation… continued unabated to death. Who could resist the lure of the like, the click, the infinite scroll and the unending information roll? Who could fail to miss the millions of messages which assail…ahem…greet you warmly each day?

From the cradle to the grave, Pingdom has you covered, my friend. It’s totally irresistible. Come on in! You’re welcomed with open arms. You know you want to savour all it has to offer with its delights, mysteries, and charms. Yes…but there are unaccounted for individuals who seem to have fallen out of the loop, what about them? How do you explain it?

As the Prince, Seers, Sages and Prophets of Pingdom assembled together in the Inspiration Chamber and shook their heads, a small voice squeaked, ‘Excuse me!’ and a child raised a trembling hand. What was he doing there, and what could he know about this perplexing problem that vexed the Elders of Pingdom?

‘Your Royal Highness and Honourable Lords.’, he said, ‘I’ve heard rumours that another kind of Pingdom exists. A communal gasp echoed around the chamber at his words. ‘Yes, though it’s very different, so different that we would hardly recognise it as such. So unlike Pingdom yet with the power to draw people to it, or so I’ve heard.’

‘Tell me more!’ boomed a powerful Prophet as he glared down his nose at the young interloper. ‘Who or what would dare set itself up in competition with us?’ The boy stammered a reply. ‘It’s n…not new, not new at all. I.. in fact, it’s as ancient as time itself—or so I’ve been told.’

At that, Prince Popular Ping rose from his seat and admonished the quivering child. ‘Been told?! How could anything be told that we (sweeping his majestic hand across the room) have no knowledge of. Are we not the Keepers of Knowledge and Masters of the Secret Arts?’

‘Indeed you are, Prince Popular Ping.’ gulped the boy, ‘But I’ve heard… just whispered rumours, of course, that the place I’ve described is actually called a kingdom—with a real king and all…’ he trailed off, head bowed.

‘I am the Ruler of Reason, am I not?’ snorted Prince Ping in fury. ‘Ye..yes, it’s one of your Eminence’s titles, I agree.’ stuttered the brave but frightened child, who was still determined to continue while he could. ‘But it’s suggested that this kingdom pre-exists the Age of Reason and pre-exists Pingdom itself. Apparently it has never been vanquished even though many have tried to stamp it out.’

He sat down, shaken and exhausted, only to stagger to his feet out of fear-filled respect and duty toward these Venerable Agents of Awe, who now gawped speechlessly at one another in stunned silence. They simply couldn’t fathom how such a thing could exist and they didn’t know it. However, some of the most ancient Elders grimaced as a faint, horrified remembrance stirred somewhere at the back of their minds. To be continued…