Chapter 6:

Tale Three: Painless Porcupine (1)


ME: Main Character, Detective.

OLIVER: Loner, Afflicted.

Work assignments are a pain.

A pain, I tell you.

You have to arrange a meeting with multiple other people, juggling with each one’s daily schedule to make time, and in the end even when you do manage to meet, no work gets done.

Everyone leaves with little more than what they came in with, having lost a lot of their valuable time, and they’re left to do their part of the work by themselves in their homes. Eventually, they’ll quickly mash it all together and hope it sticks, and if it doesn’t, come up with some excuse to try to save their own butts.

Why was I so mad and cynical about all of this, even more than usual?

Because, of course, I had just come out of a meeting for one of those group assignments.

School was such a pain sometimes.

But deep inside, I liked it.

I liked learning about so many diverse subjects and topics. I liked getting to meet so many people. To befriend them, to share precious moments with them.

So went my train of thought as I wandered through the streets, daylight starting to slowly fade.

Seeing as, at this rate, night would swallow me before I had gotten back home, I decided to take a shortcut through some narrower and – to be completely honest – shady-looking streets.

And as I went through one of those-

In a normal, if dimly lit alley, I was met with-

“Hey! What are you doing?! Stop!”

I ran towards the man on that corner.

He had a knife on his right hand. The knife was stained with fresh blood.

He had a wound in his left hand.

A fresh wound.

He didn’t listen to me. In fact, he didn’t even react to my words, as if he couldn’t even hear them at all.

He pointed the knife at his left hand again, ready to strike himself once more.

Instinctively, I jumped.

I jumped, and stopped him before he could harm himself again.

His right arm was now trapped in my grip, the sturdiest one I could possibly manage with my strength.

“Please…! Stop! FOR FUCK’S SAKE, STOP!!!”

Just as I was running completely out of breath, he finally stopped resisting.

I heard a metallic noise coming from the floor, and saw the knife right there, staining the pavement deep rep.

That man – no, he looked around my age – lost all his strength in a flash, and fell limp into my arms.

My mind was blank. I didn’t have a clue as to how I should act, what should I do.

I tried to confirm if he was still conscious. He was. I kept shouting, but nobody came.

There wasn’t a soul in the street.


Suddenly, I realized the obvious, and took out my phone. I quickly dialed a three-digit number, as fast as my fingers would let me.

“Emergency Services, what’s the problem?”

“I found a teenager hurting himself with a knife! He’s barely conscious right now, please send an ambulance!”

After giving all the details the person over the phone asked me for, all that was left was to wait for help to come.

I was still in a state of panic for a while, but as it subsided, so did my rush of energy, and I ended up having to sit down right next to the injured boy.

I felt dizzy.

“Hey, are you still conscious?”

I asked, not really hoping for any kind of answer to come my way.



“Thanks… for stopping me, man…”

“I-it was nothing. I did what had to.”

I had acted without thinking, completely out of reflex.

I didn’t deserve praise.

Suddenly, he started getting up. I jumped in shock again.

“Hey! You should stay put and lie down! What the…? Doesn’t it hurt?! How in hell can you do that?!”

He had been getting up.

And he had done it – putting all his weight in his injured hand.

Massive amounts of blood were coming out of it. I felt a sudden urge to vomit, an urge I could barely repress for a few seconds before letting go of whatever remained of my snack from about half an hour before.

“… It doesn’t hurt.”

He said after I had finished puking.

He said with a completely straight face, devoid of emotion.

“What? How can it not hurt? Don’t go joking around, idiot!”

“… But it’s not a joke. I really do feel no pain.”

A sad smile rose to his face.

He extended his left arm and – started smashing his hand against the floor. Upside down. His wounds against the pavement.

I closed my eyes and screamed in horror.

And then, silence again.

What… was going on?

“What do you mean… no pain?”

I asked. I needed to know. I didn’t want to see myself involved in one of those cases again.

Oh God, if you exist, please spare me of this. I’ve had enough. I’ve… I…

“I can’t feel pain. I can’t feel touch. I can’t feel heat, nor cold. I… I have lost all of that. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t recover it.”

“Do you know why this has happened to you? You can explain it to the doctors and-“

“It’s no use. This isn’t anything that a normal illness can cause. This is all because of… Because of those… ghosts and monsters.”


No, no, no.

I refuse to acknowledge this.

I refuse to get involved.

I’ve learnt my lesson, have I not? Why must I be put into these situations again and again? What does the artificer of this want to prove to me, huh?!


He called to me.

I knew what came after.

I knew it all too well.

“Please… help me get rid of this curse… I need your help…”

My fate was sealed.

No longer could I flee from this case. The moment I’m asked for help, that’s it… I couldn’t do anything to resist.

What was I even thinking?

The only thing keeping me tied to this case, as well as to all other, was my conscience…



I had decided.

I would push through it.

I would accept this case just as I had the ones before it, and I would bring this man the peace he deserved.

I looked at his face once more and-


He had finally fainted.

The ambulance would no doubt still take a while to arrive, so I decided to begin my part of this story.

As any detective would say.

Nothing could stand in my way to the truth.

I turned on my phone’s screen at max brightness (it didn’t even have a proper flashlight), chose a white image to fill the screen in a cheap trick to manage the biggest amount of light out of it, and started pointing it at my surroundings.

The man who didn’t feel pain... he truly was about my age.

No, in fact-

I recognized the guy.

He- was in my school. He attended a different class in the same grade I did.

If I remembered correctly his name was… Oliver.

I didn’t know much of him, to be honest.

I could only vaguely remember some passing comments about him, spoken by Nick once. But that wasn’t detailed nor reliable enough to use as a source of information.

So I had no choice but to break all morality and privacy, and inspect his body for clues.

Though by that I obviously just meant his pockets and what I could see at plain sight. I had no intention nor wish to strip this boy of any of his clothes.

It didn’t take long for me to finish inspecting all of his pockets.

He was indeed the Oliver from my school, as indicated by the ID he carried on him.

Other than that, he had a phone, a set of keys for what I assumed to be his apartment building and-

A backpack.

A small backpack, like those they sell at sportwear stores, that had been left in the floor barely two meters away from his current position.

Inside it were quite a curious assortment of items, seemingly random at first glance.

Some school supplies which included a pencil, a ruler and a notebook were all there, together with a lighter and an agenda.

I scanned all of those objects in full. None of them contained anything that seemed relevant at this point in time – though, by themselves, they did seem quite suspicious.

Or maybe they weren’t by themselves, and it was just the context that I had that made them seem so.

After all, knowing what I knew now, that lighter – there was no way I couldn’t have disturbing thoughts about what its purpose would have been.


I tried my hardest –

To not let it affect me. To prevent it from obscuring my judgement.

And so I continued to inspect the area a bit, and after finding nothing more, I scanned his pockets again.


In his back pocket, I found something that immediately caught my attention.

Since I had already inspected said pocket just a minute ago and failed to find anything.

It felt to the touch like a small ticket would – a folded extra-thin paper coming out of Oliver’s trousers as I struggled to carefully extract it.

I slowly unfolded it, and-

“Hey, boy! You there! Where’s the injured?”

The ambulance had arrived.