Chapter 10:

Tale Three: Painless Porcupine (5)


Rage… or was it fear.

Probably a mix of both.

It overcame me.

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


Stop this.

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

“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?”

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

The smile of an angel.

The smile of a demon.

But if what she was saying was true.

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

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

Tee-hee, she added.

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

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


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

“Sure. Go ahead. Be quick.”

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


She continued.

“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?”

“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-“

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

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

A ticket.

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

... Yes.

Indeed - so it was.

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


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

Because it disproves everything that has been told so far.


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

My mind was at its very limit.

"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."


So that's it. But then-

"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?"

But, but that's -

Absolutely and utterly insane!

And then he had stabbed himself with a knife?!

What kind of maniac would-


What kind of utter nonsense was this solution?

"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?”

… What about it?

“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.”

She said.

Do you think-

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

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.

But most of all-

Could such awful, terrifyingly disgraceful parents just-


I refused.

I refuse to accept her truth.

Go away.

Don’t say it.

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

“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!”

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

“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?”

“Nope. Still not done.”

One, two, three, four, five…

“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.”

I’ve already proven it’s not Truth.

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

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

“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?”

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

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

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

“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.”

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.

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

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

“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!”

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

So, in the end, it seems even that-

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

Tell, me Ellie.

You who are the incarnation of my worst nightmares.

Is this really the end?

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

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

“… 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!”

And with that.

She was gone.

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

And instead, in front of me was –


In an empty room.

Only him and I were there.

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

He hung up.

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.

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

But from what I could gather –

“Wednesday job. Fired.”

And he cried.

He cried in pain, in despair.

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

But that’s what – her truth was.

That was the Tale Ellie had defiled.

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

I said goodbye to Oliver.

Once and – forever.

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

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

And before I had noticed, I had arrived.

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

This time, no happy end to celebrate.

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

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

“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.”