Chapter 9:

Tale Three: Painless Porcupine (4)


...Bookmark here

I was taken to Oliver’s room, and politely asked to not take too long in my search.Bookmark here

Of course we don't want to pressure you, but... We were about to go to the hospital to visit Oliver, and visiting hours will be over soon.Bookmark here

So I was told.Bookmark here

And of course, I wouldn't dare abuse the trust these people had put in me.Bookmark here

So immediately after making sure I wasn't being watched, I began scanning every nook and cranny of this bedroom.Bookmark here

At first glance, this was no more than a typical teen boy's room.Bookmark here

In fact, so it appeared for the larger part of the time I spent on it.Bookmark here

The main point that stood out to me, though in a purely ordinary way, was the sizeable videogame and book collection this young man had. Bookmark here

It really did feel like the guy had a passion for the stuff. Such a clean and varied collection, it was worth feeling envious about.Bookmark here

But once I managed to drift my eyes away from that -Bookmark here

In the desk, a small laptop. Bookmark here

Next to it, a note.Bookmark here

I read the note.Bookmark here

I read it aloud- of course not.Bookmark here

Because the moment I laid my eyes on the text that page contained, I knew I should never have come close to it.Bookmark here

Truly, it made me feel anxious - horrified, even.Bookmark here

Not because of the contents themselves, though. Bookmark here

I could have guessed most of those. Bookmark here

It was because...Bookmark here

This simply couldn't be.Bookmark here

It left no room for a proper ending...Bookmark here

What was I supposed to do after this?Bookmark here

... Oh.Bookmark here

I guess to the spectator, the contents of that letter are still unknown.Bookmark here

I shall read them aloud.Bookmark here

Oliver, this is just to tell you that your mother and I have had to go away because of work again. We'll be out for a month, so please do your best at him like always. If anything happens, your uncle's got a key. But please don't call him unless it's strictly necessary. Sorry for the trouble, and thank you. You father.'Bookmark here

Wahaha! This was laughable.Bookmark here

So this was the end?Bookmark here

Did I really have no way at all to arrive at a half-decent conclusion?Bookmark here

Was there not a single option for a satisfying end to exist?Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

No.Bookmark here

There must be something.Bookmark here

If I gave up here, that really would be it. Bookmark here

But as long as I keep trying, keep fighting for the one good ending, the best possible truth-Bookmark here

I would eventually arrive there.Bookmark here

Just you wait, Fate.Bookmark here

I can solve all your tests and finally become free.Bookmark here

That bitch would regret not having told me her answer while she was still ahead.Bookmark here

Now she'll have no choice but to accept mine, and my answer will become truth - an absolute, undisputable truth.Bookmark here

And Oliver will be finally be in peace, his pain restored and his life back to normal.Bookmark here

Just like everyone before him.Bookmark here

I would resolve this flawlessly - and prove myself once more.Bookmark here

After all, there was no way I was wrong.Bookmark here

Supernatural entities couldn't exist.Bookmark here

Which meant…Bookmark here

Only natural beings and happenings were allowed in this world.Bookmark here

Therefore, I would see to it that no end came where the solution and the conclusion weren’t completely natural.Bookmark here

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I am now noticing I have spent a great deal of time in this Tale rambling about obtaining the results I wish for. I hope the spectator isn’t annoyed by this. If they are though, my sincerest apologies.Bookmark here

It’s undeniable that this one has been the most difficult tale from the very start.Bookmark here

From the moment I met Oliver in that alley, stabbing himself with a knife as if it were no big deal – from that very moment, not even my previous best efforts would have been able to solve this incident.Bookmark here

And so this is also the tale where I-Bookmark here

Where I do my very best to uncover the truth, so that everything may be solved and everyone may be in harmony.Bookmark here

That is my only objective.Bookmark here

And I have almost reached it.Bookmark here

I picked up a book from Oliver’s desk, one which had a piece of paper between its pages – signaling where its reader had last left off.Bookmark here

The black cat on the back cover seemed to stare right at me.Bookmark here

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Don’t look at me like that.Bookmark here

I’m going to save your owner. And by doing that, you too will be saved, for a book’s purpose is to be read. A story’s purpose is to be told.Bookmark here

That’s why incomplete tales are worth nothing – they haven’t fulfilled their purpose. Their author didn’t meet their one obligation.Bookmark here

That won’t happen this time.Bookmark here

Because just as I picked the book, I went out of the room to meet with Oliver’s father – no, now I knew he was his uncle.Bookmark here

And we went straight to their car.Bookmark here

He and her wife, Oliver’s aunt, carried me back to the hospital.Bookmark here

From the car to the reception, from the reception to the waiting room.Bookmark here

Not a moment did my thoughts go astray.Bookmark here

I knew what I needed to do, and how exactly I’d do it.Bookmark here

“Oliver – I know exactly what is it that has happened.”Bookmark here

“Huh? T-that was fast…”Bookmark here

His voice was still weak, but a genuine smile slowly formed in his face.Bookmark here

His eyes were glowing.Bookmark here

Unlike the others –Bookmark here

Unlike all the others, he was ready to hear. Eager, even.Bookmark here

What would have been unnerving in another situation quickly became a boost to my confidence.Bookmark here

I got it.Bookmark here

I will now explain everything, and put and end to this pitiful Tale.Bookmark here

I reached out for the backpack Oliver had been carrying when I found him. Of course, I hadn’t left it behind – why would I, when it contained such a key piece of evidence to all the case?Bookmark here

“But that is…”Bookmark here

He said, dumbfounded. Of course he was.Bookmark here

It had been in front of his eyes all this time.Bookmark here

I opened it and started reading aloud, for the whole world to hear.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The whole notebook was but a compilation of all the tasks Oliver had for each day.Bookmark here

Except for the fact that…Bookmark here

No human being could do this much work.Bookmark here

This was inhuman.Bookmark here

Busy with part-time jobs from four to ten PM.Bookmark here

Even had one on Tuesday mornings.Bookmark here

On top of studying and doing homework for school.Bookmark here

His sleep schedule, precisely calculated down to the minute so he wouldn’t outright die from exhaustion.Bookmark here

His finances, also extremely analyzed and-Bookmark here

Wait a minute.Bookmark here

Expenses.Bookmark here

Rent. Water. Electricity.Bookmark here

This was…Bookmark here

Disturbing.Bookmark here

Horrendous. Bookmark here

Monstruous.Bookmark here

I wanted to tear this notebook down to pieces, and with it all that it contained – but that was impossible.Bookmark here

Not yet.Bookmark here

Not yet, I told myself.Bookmark here

And I kept going.Bookmark here

After that notebook had been read aloud, Oliver’s family left speechless, and the man himself completely dumbfounded-Bookmark here

I kept going.Bookmark here

“That’s… the biggest part of it all. It encapsulates most of the information needed to understand the rest. But just in case, I’ll say it all. If that’s okay, that is…”Bookmark here

I looked Oliver in the eye, but he did not reply. Not even with any head movement.Bookmark here

He simply sat there… quiet and unmoving.Bookmark here

I couldn’t have cared less.Bookmark here

It was time to finish this whole thing off forever.Bookmark here

I explained everything.Bookmark here

How Oliver was planning to burn that notebook to ashes with the lighter he was carrying.Bookmark here

How he wanted nothing to do with that pitiful life anymore.Bookmark here

How his overwork, and his complete lack of meaningful human contact as a result, had caused him to stop feeling anything.Bookmark here

To become numb.Bookmark here

His feelings had been…atrophied. Bookmark here

Out of pure desperation, he’d started harming himself over and over – and then scared himself.Bookmark here

He had chosen to blame everything on a fictional being, a supernatural occurrence which could never exist…Bookmark here

Just so that he could keep the peace inside the chaos intact.Bookmark here

But now, his charade had to end.Bookmark here

His mental walls had to fall, in order for him to accept the truth-Bookmark here

A phone rang.Bookmark here

Just as I had finished my explanation, Oliver’s phone rang.Bookmark here

Seeing as I was not saying anything, he picked it up.Bookmark here

“… Yes? Dad? Oh? You’re coming back tomorrow?! T-thank you! Yes, thank you so much…! I love you, dad…!”Bookmark here

His eyes were completely brimming with tears.Bookmark here

With this, all issues would finally be solved.Bookmark here

They would be put to rest, forever.Bookmark here

Oliver would never again harm himself, he would never again have to work all day to survive, he could recover the human contact he longed for.Bookmark here

This was the perfect end.Bookmark here

The only natural end to this tale.Bookmark here

One in which – all ended well.Bookmark here

At long last, I had reached the end of this painfully exhausting Tale, and my mission here was over.Bookmark here

After being thanked by my schoolmate, still sobbing from relief, and by his uncle and aunt, I left the room.Bookmark here

It was almost 9:00 PM. A bit later than usual, for sure.Bookmark here

But it had all been worth it.Bookmark here

As much as I had to struggle through this time around – it all ended well.Bookmark here

And once more, it was proven.Bookmark here

Supernatural beings do not exist.Bookmark here


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?Bookmark here

Why has it not ended yet?Bookmark here

What’s happening?Bookmark here

“Pffffft. Pitiful. Even I had greater expectations for you, idiot.”Bookmark here

And there she was.Bookmark here

Again.Bookmark here

No.Bookmark here

Why?Bookmark here

Why must she appear now?Bookmark here

Where did I go wrong?Bookmark here

This Tale is over!Bookmark here

End it already!Bookmark here

There’s no room for her in this Tale-!Bookmark here

“SHUT THE FUCK UP, OKAY? Good. Sheesh. Who in their right minds would ever have thought of pulling off a prank as bad as this? Fucking hell. Now I have to come here, after being banished from this Tale, to teach you a lesson and cover up your mess. Seriously, I wanna kill you. You should just die. For real.”Bookmark here

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Wrong.Bookmark here

I would never let you have it your way, demon.Bookmark here

This end is the only true end!Bookmark here

The only natural end to this tale, without any supernatural beings taking the truth away from my hands!Bookmark here

“Seriously? You call this ‘natural’? You call this ‘truth’? Well then. It seems you keep lowering the bar by the second.”Bookmark here

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“Whateveeeeer. I don’t care anymore. I too want this to be over as soon as possible, mmkay? So we’ll just go over my main issues real quick. Just so I can prove to you – how utterly puke-worthy you are.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.