Chapter 8:

Tale Three: Painless Porcupine (3)


I could almost feel Ellie sneering at me from behind, her voice resonating in my ears.Bookmark here

“Pfffft! Such a massive copout, man! You’d put the consistency and believability of the whole Tale in such a dangerous position just to keep playing your little detective game? Why don’t you just go ahead and admit it, friend? Admit everything, repent for your sins and everyone will gladly forgive you! Wahahahaha!”Bookmark here

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Of course, nobody was there.Bookmark here

It was just my imagination.Bookmark here

A mirage, a falsehood.Bookmark here

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How ironic.Bookmark here

Still, I had no time to waste thinking about such trivialities.Bookmark here

I immediately got to work –Bookmark here

To create a supernatural creature.Bookmark here

Through the power of fiction, I would conquer this Tale. Just watch me do it, Ellie! Watch and learn!Bookmark here

“For him who cannot feel pain… For him whose body is but that of a doll, the Painless.”Bookmark here

I murmured as the images started appearing on my mind. I needed to believe in what I was doing, what I was creating.Bookmark here

So that the lie becomes truth and the fictions turns reality.Bookmark here

“And what animal form shall I give you? Hmm, a tricky one… Oh, never mind. I got it. For him who longs for contact, but in doing so only hurts himself… For him who hurts other as he hurts himself… the Porcupine.”Bookmark here

I said, and as I did, golden petals coming out of my open hands, the lies and false beliefs came together to form a being.Bookmark here

A being of the supernatural.Bookmark here

A being of fiction.Bookmark here

Through lies, we shall reach truth.Bookmark here

Through magic, we shall reach mystery.Bookmark here

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It wasn’t long before the golden porcupine had taken full form in front of my eyes.Bookmark here

The Painless Porcupine.Bookmark here

As I extended my right hand, the porcupine floated through the air in that direction, effortlessly going through the door that led to the room Oliver was in, still unconscious.Bookmark here

I let it do its job.Bookmark here

It needed no instructions, no commands.Bookmark here

After all, it was a fictitious creation of my mind, and as such, me being able to mind control it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Nothing worth batting an eye about.Bookmark here

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It had barely been a few minutes since I had sent the Porcupine inside Oliver’s room.Bookmark here

Any moment now…Bookmark here

“Excuse me. The patient has woken up, and you may visit him now.”Bookmark here

A middle-aged doctor came out of the room and told me. She went inside again, and I followed behind her.Bookmark here

Oliver was laying in the only bed inside the room, apparently still too weak to sit.Bookmark here

He was heavily injured all over his body, and on top of that, he was heavily dehydrated. It’s a miracle he was even conscious when you got to him. If you hadn’t called the ambulance then, he would probably be a lot worse off. So you should be proud. You saved a young man’s life.Bookmark here

So said the doctor.Bookmark here

Truly, if we took that into consideration, it truly had been a lucky situation.Bookmark here

As much as I might have hated getting involved, as much as I wish I had never taken that shortcut back home… Oliver’s life was much more valuable than my – in comparison – minuscule pain.Bookmark here

… If he was here, he’d probably laugh.Bookmark here

Tell me I’m a chicken, that I shouldn’t have doubted it for a second.Bookmark here

… If she was here, she’d probably comfort me.Bookmark here

Tell me I was right to be afraid, but that I had certainly done the right thing.Bookmark here

“Hey, man. Thanks for helping me back there. Might’ve died if it wasn’t for you.”Bookmark here

“No need to thank me. Did what anyone else would have. You just need to worry about healing now.”Bookmark here

“Thanks…”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Actually… can I ask you something?”Bookmark here

“What is it, Oliver?”Bookmark here

“Have you learnt anything about… my curse? The ghost that haunts me and doesn’t let me feel pain?”Bookmark here

“Actually, yes, I have. I know exactly what creature is cursing you.”Bookmark here

“Oh?! Can you tell me, please? Cough, cough!”Bookmark here

“Y-yes, of course I will, don’t worry so much.”Bookmark here

“O-okay… So?”Bookmark here

“The creature afflicting you is… the Painless Porcupine. A being who longs for contact, but it hurts others in doing so. And the way it hurts others is-”Bookmark here

“… Making them unable to feel pain?”Bookmark here

“Yeah. Or more accurately, making them unable to feel contact. Pain, touch, the sensation of temperature… they’re all just the same thing, really. And this creature has taken them from you.”Bookmark here

“Okay, I think I understand. Yes – I really do understand. So this is why… And how can I get rid of this? How can I get my pain back?”Bookmark here

I thought.Bookmark here

I thought as hard as I could.Bookmark here

Time seemed to freeze around me.Bookmark here

And then I saw it again.Bookmark here

The Porcupine I had created, which had woken up Oliver, was right there…Bookmark here

When it noticed my glance, it came close to me again, still glowing gold.Bookmark here

Oh Porcupine, you who transcend all logic and reality, please tell me…Bookmark here

What is it that afflicts this man in truth?Bookmark here

How can I give him back his lost pain?Bookmark here

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And then I saw.Bookmark here

Those flashes of light invaded all my field of view, and within them lay the truth to this case…Bookmark here

Oh! So that was it!Bookmark here

Fool. You’re feeling so much pain it has made you numb…Bookmark here

Such suffering, it’s unbearable…Bookmark here

I can’t keep watching this! It must stop!Bookmark here

Oliver, I promise you…Bookmark here

I promise I’ll bring you peace!Bookmark here

Even if it was just my selfish desire, my inability to see others suffer, I would-Bookmark here

“You egotistical self-centered piece of shit.”Bookmark here

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Those words resonated in my mind, bringing me back to earth.Bookmark here

Or rather, back to my original train of thought.Bookmark here

… All that was left now was to bring this tale, so sudden in its beginning and its solution, to a peaceful end where everyone could live happily ever after.Bookmark here

Or as happily as humanly possible, anyway.Bookmark here

Though that was the one part I’d have to figure out as I went.Bookmark here

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“Oliver- I promise I’ll get you your pain back. You don’t need to worry about the method or other little details – at least for now, that is. Focus on your health. Though I may need to ask you a few questions along the way, so yeah, I ask that you answer those for me.”Bookmark here

“Of course, of course. I’ll do anything you need, friend. I appreciate your help, I really do…”Bookmark here

I hadn’t noticed before – I had been too absorbed in my thoughts as to notice, but he still looked and sounded extremely tired. It would probably be for the best if I left him alone for a while.Bookmark here

I doubted he would go back to sleep, but still, some peace and quiet couldn’t hurt.Bookmark here

And so I went out of the room again.Bookmark here

But this time around, I wouldn’t just stay in the waiting room immersed inside my own mind.Bookmark here

Without a doubt in my mind or a stutter in my step, I headed straight out of the hospital.Bookmark here

And I ran.Bookmark here

I invoked the Porcupine once more, so that it would guide me to my destination.Bookmark here

It floated ahead me, its gBookmark here

olden glow signaling the path I ought to take.Bookmark here

And a good twenty minutes of moderate running later, I suddenly stopped.Bookmark here

I had arrived.Bookmark here

At Oliver’s house.Bookmark here

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I still had much to do inside this place, and of course, back at the hospital.Bookmark here

However, with the events already at this stage, the existence of the Porcupine wasn’t needed anymore.Bookmark here

With the same ease I had told it to go wake up Oliver mere minutes ago, I ordered it to disappear forever.Bookmark here

Now, no trace of it would remain in this world. After all, it had never really existed.Bookmark here

As for logic would inevitably disprove supernatural beings, and with that being forever true, even the detective is free to invent as much fiction as he likes in order to defeat his enemy – the mystery.Bookmark here

And to solve that mystery – the detective will no doubt do whatever is needed without any semblant of hesitation.Bookmark here

Lest he succumbs into the depths of oblivion as the unworthy one, he who dare call himself a detective only to fail miserably at his only task.Bookmark here

I rang the doorbell.Bookmark here

Ding-dong.Bookmark here

… Nobody answered.Bookmark here

Ding-dong.Bookmark here

Still no answer.Bookmark here

Ding-dong.Bookmark here

“What is it at this hour? If it’s not important, please go away! We don’t have time for this shit right now!”Bookmark here

I heard a middle-aged man shout inside the house, his message clearly directed at none other than me.Bookmark here

But when he opened the door, his expression turned into shock.Bookmark here

“Hm? Who are you? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”Bookmark here

“I’m Oliver’s classmate.”Bookmark here

“… Oh. Sorry for shouting at you like that. He’s not home. He’s uh… got into an accident. They just called us from the hospital. So if you don’t mind coming some other day-”Bookmark here

“I know. I was the one who called the ambulance for him.”Bookmark here

“Oh! Really?! Thank you so much, boy! You’ve saved his life, you’ve-”Bookmark here

"I did nothing, really. Anyone would have done the same."Bookmark here

"That's not true. No, even if it was, really... Thank you from the bottom of my heart."Bookmark here

"Please don't worry about it. Though there is a favor I'd like to ask you."Bookmark here

"Shoot."Bookmark here

"Oliver asked me to pick something up for him in his room. Could I come in and look for it?"Bookmark here

"Uhh, yeah of course. No problem at all. Please come in."Bookmark here

And so I was finally here.Bookmark here

The Afflicted's house.Bookmark here

My true investigation could now begin.Bookmark here

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