Chapter 10:

Tale Three: Painless Porcupine (5)


Rage… or was it fear.Bookmark here

Probably a mix of both.Bookmark here

It overcame me.Bookmark here

It invaded all of my body, numbed all my senses.Bookmark here

Stop.Bookmark here

Stop this.Bookmark here

I don’t want to hear a single word of it. Not anymore. Not when it’s already over…!Bookmark here

“Ah, but I’m not gonna go away until I’m done explaining my part. Don’t forget that, okay? The more you try to stop me, the longer this will take, and that’s no good at all. So why don’t you play along for a bit just so we can be finished soon, eh?”Bookmark here

She said with an innocent-looking smile on her face.Bookmark here

The smile of an angel.Bookmark here

The smile of a demon.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

But if what she was saying was true.Bookmark here

I would play along. I would let her continue, just so everything could finish well. It was the best course of action available.Bookmark here

“Ohoho, good choice, friend of friends. And of course you can trust me. After all, I never lie.”Bookmark here

Tee-hee, she added.Bookmark here

As if any cute girl act from her would have any effect on me of all people.Bookmark here

“Oh, but it does have an effect. It angers you.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Regardless. I’ve gotten tired of going in circles and getting nowhere. Shall I begin with my dissecting of this Tale?”Bookmark here

“Sure. Go ahead. Be quick.”Bookmark here

“Aye-aye, captain! You’re gonna regret asking that, though.”Bookmark here

Anyway.Bookmark here

She continued.Bookmark here

“First of all, I want to make sure of something. You are claiming that this Tale is a mystery, right? One that can be solved and that you did indeed solve as told in the narration?”Bookmark here

“Yes. I cannot guarantee that a reader would be able to solve it, but it’s designed so it’s certainly possible. It’s a mystery, and a fair one at tha-“Bookmark here

“Good. Stop right there. Now I’ll destroy your claims.”Bookmark here

A small piece of paper appeared from nothingness into the palm of her hand.Bookmark here

A ticket.Bookmark here

"This... This is a receipt that was found in the Afflicted's trousers, is it not?Bookmark here

... Yes.Bookmark here

Indeed - so it was.Bookmark here

"Okay. In that case, please tell me. Why was this clue never mentioned once after its original appearance, just before the ambulance arrived?"Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

"Of course, you don't need to answer. I know why it is. And that's because..."Bookmark here

Because it disproves everything that has been told so far.Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

Were those my thoughts, or her words? It was getting increasingly hard to distinguish.Bookmark here

My mind was at its very limit.Bookmark here

"Yes, so it happens. Your mind is at its limits because you know exactly what's next. Of course. Because the text in that receipt reveals - Oliver had bought a box of painkillers."Bookmark here

Oh.Bookmark here

So that's it. But then-Bookmark here

"Why wasn't it found on the scene, hmm. Maybe because he had swallowed the box whole? Eaten all the pills, then thrown the package in the nearest bin?"Bookmark here

But, but that's -Bookmark here

Absolutely and utterly insane!Bookmark here

And then he had stabbed himself with a knife?!Bookmark here

What kind of maniac would-Bookmark here

No.Bookmark here

What kind of utter nonsense was this solution?Bookmark here

"Pffft. Nonsense, he says. As if shamelessly lying and hiding information made perfect sense. Still, that's obviously not all. What about the note in Oliver’s bedroom, which you decided to use as the big dramatic reveal?”Bookmark here

… What about it?Bookmark here

“For once, I’ve got no issue with the object itself, or with your interpretation of it. It really did prove that Oliver had been left completely alone, to survive on his own, having to overwork himself to the extreme. Which is why he fell to despair. So, I guess I oughta congratulate you. You did get the core of it – the soul. But after that, it all crumbles.”Bookmark here

She said.Bookmark here

Do you think-Bookmark here

Do you think anything like this could develop in this way?Bookmark here

Could a caring uncle and aunt exist in Oliver’s world? If they did, he surely would have had no need to go to such extremes.Bookmark here

But most of all-Bookmark here

Could such awful, terrifyingly disgraceful parents just-Bookmark here


I refused.Bookmark here

I refuse to accept her truth.Bookmark here

Go away.Bookmark here

Don’t say it.Bookmark here

Don’t break this world, this reality, this truth in which everything ends well-Bookmark here

“Like hell I ain’t gonna break it, you dork! It’s all a lie! Maybe you should stop living so much inside your own head and come out sometime! You know, so the sun can re-heat your ideas! Wahahaha!”Bookmark here

That whole happy end of yours, as per usual – is an absolute, shameless, atrocious lie.Bookmark here

“Okay. So that’s it. You have come into my world, my Tale, my mystery – to claim most of what I’ve told to be a lie. Now that you’re done insulting me and my truth, will you please fucking leave?”Bookmark here

“Nope. Still not done.”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

One, two, three, four, five…Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah, try to contain your pure rage. I don’t give a shit. Because now I will destroy the other foundation of your Tale.”Bookmark here

I’ve already proven it’s not Truth.Bookmark here

Now I will prove… that it’s no mystery.Bookmark here

Her unnerving grin, which had at some point left her face, came back wider than ever. And so she spoke.Bookmark here

“Let us play a little game. Now I will list the Rules of Mystery, and we’ll see just how many of those you’ve broken, okay?”Bookmark here

First: It is forbidden for the culprit to be anyone not mentioned in early parts of the story.Bookmark here

“That one doesn’t apply. Since there is no real ‘culprit’ in this case, in the traditional sense, we can omit that.”Bookmark here

Second: It is forbidden for supernatural agencies to be employed as a detective technique.Bookmark here

“Haaahahahahahaha! Already completely broke this one, what with your indiscriminate use of the Porcupine through the middle to late parts of the story! Fucking idiot, after this, your tale is no longer a mystery! But I’ll do you a favor and – continue.”Bookmark here

Third: It is forbidden for hidden passages to exist. Fourth: It is forbidden for unknown drugs or hard to understand scientific devices to be used. Bookmark here

“Hmm, those are fine so far too. Moving on.”Bookmark here

Fifth: It is forbidden for an accident or intuition to be used as a detective technique.Bookmark here

“Pfffft. Do I even need to point out this one? You’ve been basing yourself off of intuitions since the very beginning. Accidental discoveries have also become a staple of yours, so… Wahahaha!”Bookmark here

She read the rest of the rules. Quite a few of them were broken.Bookmark here

So, in the end, it seems even that-Bookmark here

Even my mystery is going to be taken away from me.Bookmark here

Tell, me Ellie.Bookmark here

You who are the incarnation of my worst nightmares.Bookmark here

Is this really the end?Bookmark here

Is all I’ve worked so hard to obtain – gone now?Bookmark here

Must I shoulder all of these irredeemable sins alone, now that my only escape has been denied?Bookmark here

“… Yes. Yes, you must. Yes, you will. … Though, I think I’ve been a bit too cruel. Maybe I should offer you one last chance. Indeed, I’ll do that. Someday, you’ll be offered a real mystery to solve, a real truth to find and proclaim – in my own Tale, that is. For now, though. It would be nice if you went back to reality, and saw the truth of Oliver’s story unfold… Hahaha! It’s been a fun one, friend of friends! See you around soon!”Bookmark here

And with that.Bookmark here

She was gone.Bookmark here

Never to been seen again – in this Tale, that is.Bookmark here

And instead, in front of me was –Bookmark here

Oliver.Bookmark here

In an empty room.Bookmark here

Only him and I were there.Bookmark here

He had tears in his eyes and a phone on his hand.Bookmark here

He hung up.Bookmark here

Picked up a pen and the notebook he had been carrying on his bag – that I had read to him aloud just a moment before.Bookmark here

He crossed out something in the page. I could barely manage to read it from my position.Bookmark here

But from what I could gather –Bookmark here

“Wednesday job. Fired.”Bookmark here

And he cried.Bookmark here

He cried in pain, in despair.Bookmark here

Forget happy ends, his life was only worsening by the minute.Bookmark here

But that’s what – her truth was.Bookmark here

That was the Tale Ellie had defiled. Bookmark here

And looking at such utter desperation, there was nothing more I could do.Bookmark here

I said goodbye to Oliver.Bookmark here

Once and – forever.Bookmark here

And after all was said and done, the conclusion reached and the truth obtained.Bookmark here

I slowly walked back home, my mind completely numb and unable to keep a consistent train of thought.Bookmark here

And before I had noticed, I had arrived.Bookmark here

This time, I had no friend to wish good night to.Bookmark here

This time, no happy end to celebrate.Bookmark here

Still, there’s someone I can say good bye to.Bookmark here

… You, the spectator. So, goodbye. Let us meet again – in the next Tale.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“Woops, forgot to mention. The final proof of this Tale’s worthlessness is in the fact that you knew the truth from the moment you read that notebook – at the very beginning of everything. Does that not prove how much of a worthless lie you and your tale are? Tee-hee.”Bookmark here


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