Chapter 1:


the very long and wide ghost swirl

longer than most roads, this particular road crept across block by block and many more until disappearing into the hill your eyes cannot see past. road himself isn't long, though. just on the shorter side, he's found the top of his head failing to have chalk marked above his brothers and sisters, a doorframe an unwitting competition between siblings. his brothers and sisters all also have stupid names like road, but they aren't in the story so you don't have to worry about them. now, there is someone to look out for: porch, and she's just past that view blocking hill. road isn't aware of her, of course, instead expecting to be greeted by his brother, who cares, and maybe his sister, don't worry about it. imagine the surprise when road stops walking on the road and looks up to find porch on his porch. well you don't have to imagine it, because that's exactly what happens: road's on the road, porch's on the porch.

"your pace is really slow, really. i mean really, you snail your way down the road every single day, road?"

road's eyes squinted. as if the hill and attempting to look over it hadn't proved enough of a challenge, he was now being faced with a voice he could not identify, the setting sun's rays bouncing right off the porch and straight through road. beyond serving as an annoyance, this was never a big issue considering he knew how his big brother and big sister sounded... but who was this? no seriously, who the hell is this? the familiarity struck road odd, and he worked through it in his brain while returning fire.

"do you stand out on other people's porches every single day, too?"

"so you do remember my name!" she celebrated. road frowned. why was there a stranger in front of his house and why was she spinning riddles under the safety of the sun? "can you get off my...? actually, i don't know why i'm standing here. i'm coming to you." road took one step. just one. "are you sure you want to do that?" the voice asked. "yeah," road said, hesitant again. "i'm sure i want to walk towards my house." in place of a proper response came a giggle, so he continued: "are you a robber? is my family safe? are you going to shoot me or something?" in place of a proper response came a sustained 'hmm', but she relented: "why would i shoot someone who's already dead?" road pulled out his phone threateningly. "it won't be that much trouble to call the police. they've been here before, you know." the voice started getting closer. "okay, okay! wow! you're not as fun as you used to be, you know."

to who we know as porch but to who road knew as a mystery troublemaker and/or robber stepped forward. the sun on her back, porch was lit, and she bent her neck just a little to look at her old grown friend. "you didn't grow as much as i thought you would, road." road scrunched his brow and scanned the girl in front of him, the girl with the hair and arms and legs familiar but unidentifiable.

"how do you know my name?"
"i've already said it once."
"sure, but how do you know it in the first place?"
"well, you said it already."
"huh? i didn't."
"well, you said it a long time ago and i still remember it."
"i'm going to call the cops..."
"who lived in that house behind you?"

after one last good look over the strange girl, road turned his head over the road and past a house just about identical to his own. there were windows... certainly a door... if you were there and asked to choose which house between the two that road lived in, it'd certainly be a coin flip. oh, and the house featured a porch, too, but that one didn't feature any of the lights his own porch did given no one had turned them on and no one was going to, either. he turned back.

"no one lives in that house, anymore."
"yeah, i asked who lived there. previously, right?"
"before. a precursor. the prologue. a--"
"i know what previously means."
"do you?"
"i know what previously means!"

the strange girl became the strange girl capable of lifting a shorter boy as road felt his feet lift off the ground. then came the violent shaking. "porch! porch! porch! porch! porch!" she repeated, road flailing about somewhat helplessly. somewhat, because he quickly regained composure and shot a foot out towards her chest: an instant release. the two collapsed to the ground, road on the road and porch on the sidewalk, the former rubbing his cheek and the latter coughing. road stuck a hand down his pocket, then freed it and reached out towards his phone face down. an attempt was made to press it to life. do you think it turned on? "are you going to pay to fix this? huh?" road asked, jamming his shattered screen into the face of a girl in the middle of a coughing fit. she stuck her hand out in response, the universal signal of give-me-a-minute, and let out a couple more coughs. cleared throat. ahem. "why would i fix a phone for someone who's already dead?" road slammed what was left of his phone onto the ground before them, teeth grit: "i'm not laughing, damn it." the girl looked at him blankly, coughing again a little. "well, i'm not either." she rubbed her arm, continuing, "sorry. i can get you some money if you'll need it." he sighed, conceding, "so, you're not a robber." she smiled.

"of course not... i'm porch!"

porch? porch...? she's who...? wait. and you can probably guess he'd do this, but road looked porch over again another time, turning back towards the old home across from his identical replica save for the lights only offered on one side of the street. and then he faced her. but he was undecided, so he looked again at the other house one more time and back again. he scratched the back of his hair.

"you show up again after ten years just to break my phone?"

Liber Mercury