Messages from the Mergered
The three mergered billionaires, who share one body, prefer that I work from a different location than them for the duration of the day, except for during our prescheduled face-to-face-to-face-to-face meetings. On our calendars, these events are sometimes abbreviated as F2F2F2F’s or F4s.
Fortunately, there are numerous places throughout the Plaza for me to plug in during the day. In the morning, I soak my supple feet in the enriched mineral water that bubbles up from a shallow concrete basin on the shaded patio overlooking the looming Flatirons, whose rocky facades enforce a sudden and dramatic limit on the horizon. I stand while bathing my feet, my laptop perched on the rich cherrywood half-moon desktop in front of me, a document open on the screen.
I can see the man with brown eyes is active in the document’s chat feature, typing away, as the man with blue eyes edits the text in the document directly. I’m still not certain how the three individual men who constitute the mergered are able to express themselves simultaneously through separate digital streams. When I stand before the man with blue eyes, is the man with brown eyes watching too?
I weigh the various mechanisms the mergered could use to communicate all at once while wielding the same body: division of authority over each hand, perhaps, or the ability to type messages through patterns conveyed by subtle eye movements, or maybe, even, spiritual controls connected to the still discrete elements of their souls? I feel a vibration in my pocket. I pull out my phone and read a message from the man with green eyes. He’d like a mint to mask the taste of the mushroom tea that the man with brown eyes drank.
On the screen before me, the man with blue eyes highlights and replaces a paragraph. I watch his cursor as it hovers for a lingering moment and blinks.
Letter to X, a Faraway Friend
Working for the three mergered billionaires who now share one body is a surreal experience. The Plaza is as beautiful as everybody thinks it is. I’m still amazed that I passed the background check to get in.
It’s eerily quiet. Nobody else works here. The foundation gets by with a skeletal staff. Really, they just have me for support with communications and to handle coffee duties—I use the latter term loosely, but I’ll tell you more about that another day. I think they don’t need more staff. They seem to decree things, and I swear I can hear a voice come whistling off the hills, saying, “Their will be done.”
The other day, I could see, in the distance, a plume of smoke that grew quickly. Seeing it ride so fast on the winds that come off the mountains, you soon come to understand the expression “to spread like wildfire.” Suddenly, a buzz grew out of the concrete swimming pools and baths and basins and gardens and grounds of the Plaza, and the noise burst into a crescendo.
Two massive shells of ornate frosted glass grew out of the earth that surrounds the Plaza. They met in the sky and formed an impenetrable, milky, translucent dome. On YouTube, I found footage of shoppers swimming out of a department store through walls of smoke, enveloped so much like me, but also so horribly not.
My current assignment is a listicle for the end-time: “8 signs of the apocalypse (and how to get your squad ready for it).” I tried to treat it like a joke at first, to remain detached. I held some humor in my flush skin about the whole thing while thinking up the anchor text that would link to product pages for retail fire suits.
The second sign of the apocalypse was violence, and I couldn’t keep it up. What’s funny isn’t funny. It’s not for me to laugh about while selling fast-fashion ensembles that feature built-in bulletproof vests.
It’s a bit lonely here, and I’m not quite sure what I’m doing with myself. I keep playing a song of yours over and over, and it always seems to calm me down. It’s the one with the horn in it, and the second voice, spoken softly, looping over you: “My silver. My shimmering and gentle shiver of night. / My silver. My shimmering and gentle shiver of night. / My silver. My shimmering and gentle shiver of night. / My silver. My shimmering and gentle shiver of night. / My silver.”
Are you on the moon? Will I join you there someday? Can I learn how to walk like that from here?
Detail from an Encrypted File Created by the Plaza’s Designer
The ship is secured in a silo behind a door emblazoned with dull gray moons. Upon closer inspection, you will notice a metallic sheen to one of them. There, you’ll find the latch.
In the event of catastrophe, use the latch to enter the camouflaged silo and proceed up a service ladder to the single-person capsule.
Following liftoff, the ship will shed ordnance as it ascends. In tandem with your exit, you will successfully neutralize any terrestrial catastrophe unfolding at the Plaza, but a return journey will become impossible. Prior to executing this plan, verify the severity of the existential threat that has breached the Plaza. A cost-benefit analysis would only advocate for utilization of the ship if the intensity of this danger exceeds any perceived benefit or value that could be retained through the use of an alternative exit, assuming any other viable escape pathways remain.
Letter from X, a Faraway Friend
By now I trust you know my people have breached the frosted-glass dome that shielded the Plaza where you lived and worked with the three mergered billionaires who had shared one body.
I wasn’t at the site during its collapse, but I’m told the letter of yours I shared with my people inspired them to ensure the mergered could no longer dodge the ever-present plumes of smoke that pervade life beyond the Plaza.
At the Plaza’s private golf course, our people dug a chamber beneath the green of the first hole. We fortified the walls of this new cavern with concrete and laid smooth grass across its ceiling, save for a small opening where the golf hole had been.
This was the dark prison where we kept the mergered, day and night, as we fed smoke and confusion down to them through the hole. As time passed, their howling became indistinguishable from the wild coyotes we had allowed to range over the Plaza grounds.
The billionaires who had become one body then saw their voices meld with the shrill cries of near and distant starving dogs. The winds carried their muted wailing away, and their smoke-tinged whining whirled across the land, mingling with the air that feeds the ever-present flames with which we daily must contend.
As our people ransacked the central mansion, scouting ways to reappropriate the structure for the barracks of our newest garrison, it was discovered that you were gone. We found no body. It appeared as if all your personal belongings were left undisturbed, no sign of a hasty exit. Still, I am sending you a message to make myself believe that it will reach you.
It pains me to say this, but you must know by now there is no safe quarter for you anywhere this side of the moon. As the Plaza fell, so did the Broadmoor last week, and just yesterday, the Chateaux. It’s wildfire—from the Biltmore to Boca Chica, the Getty, and everywhere in between. First we took the Billionaires’ Rows of the old empire, but there is no marmot den yet, no anthill we will pass by until all the pilfered resources of the old world have been reengineered.
I wish you could have joined us. There was a time when I thought you would. You were so sure this moment wouldn’t come.
P.S. You were the silver. You were the shimmering and gentle shiver of night. Did you forget, even, the sound of your own voice during your brief stay among the mergered?
our silence belonged in the cavity beneath your eyelid
and held fast to the suction of your silence as pupils swallowed
the intricate summation of these personalities before you. the soldered
superorganism consisting of your kith and kin slung its silent exchanges
between the wavering folds of silence that enveloped
the home where these individual bodies grew silent in the dark
unfolding tortuous silence of their rooms. thick aromas swaddled
the silent tongues as a sick and rageful translucence emanated
from the grooves in your silent face. etchings of silence were traced
and framed and silently they hung in the foyer astride
the other silent etchings that depicted the same original silence.
it was days and silent days of silence as the moment and the moments
precipitated by the original moment echoed in the cavernous silence
of our shy and delicate skulls. separately, our mottled brains
folded around the silence of our blood as the lively framework silently
recorded its indecorous and slow unspooling. quietly,
a day came. it was soft at first. bright. light. a figure of rasps.
a specimen of tentative and throaty declarations. it became the blood
of our singular and freckled bodies. this gentle day that then began stood
tall within the armored casings of our hearts. sometimes it was silent, too,
but by the time of our quiet, reaching day, we had grown so accustomed
to the fullness of the silence that its hues were distinct,
and the mere reality of its existence became a kind of silent sieve through which
the quiet day gained its diffident, crumbling, and generous shape
These sunken moments
nestle in my jaw,
seek cold air
in the slanted moonlight.
What is the question?
The low winding line
of powdery white dashes
snakes tentatively across
the loping, oily road.
My two feet pad
in sequence, tangle
with errant crabgrass
while the black sky
spreads out its smothering blanket
where the silken hem of buzz
seals a 17-year skittering:
The cicada hum swells
into a trillion asphalt pockets,
pours like silt and clay
through the pores of the hungry earth.
In my little and lonely body,
true, I always felt this way,
floating along the hot, hot goo
of our raked and blood-smeared stage.
Matthew DeMarco (he/they) lives in Denver. His work has appeared on Poets.org and in Ghost City Review, Landfill, Sporklet, Glass, and elsewhere. Poems that he wrote with Faizan Syed have appeared in Jet Fuel Review, Dogbird, and They Said, an anthology of collaborative writing from Black Lawrence Press. He tweets sporadically from @M_DeMarco_Words.
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