I was already famous in some alternative worlds. I was famous in some worlds but I was famous in the wrong way. They all wanted to kill me. Everyone on those worlds wanted to kill me, they were determined to kill me. Blind with fear, terrified beyond measure, I ran helter-skelter down the crowded shopping street, a hubbub of angry voices following me as I ran headfirst into people and knocked them out of the way. I was filled with panic – suppose I became famous in this world? Suppose I became famous in the wrong way in this world too?
I decided to hide. I was very good at hiding. I am very good at hiding – I am an expert. I don’t know anyone who is as good at hiding as me. I’m as slippery as they come; I’m as slippery as a bag full of eels. I decided to seize my opportunity and hide myself away before anyone could find me. I would go to ground. The secret of successful hiding is mimicry – you have to mimic something that isn’t you. It doesn’t matter what you decide to mimic just so long as it isn’t you, if you mimic yourself by accident then you’re finished. You’re done for. It will be your last mistake.
I could write a book about hiding, I realized. The book could be called something like ‘The Ten Habits of Highly Secretive People’. Or perhaps, ‘Ten Steps Towards Never Being Noticed’. The book title has to have ‘ten’ in it somewhere, an author friend had told me that. He told me this many years ago and I still remember it. This was very important – he said – for making the book attractive to the buying public – it’s something that people can easily latch onto. They need something like that. Only there wasn’t any time for me to write a book – any sort of book. I had to hide for real, and quickly too, never mind write a book about it.
The thing about mimicry, if it is to stand any chance of being successful, is that it has to be both thorough and consistent. It has to be consistent all the way – it has to be consistent to the nth degree. You have to go the whole hog, in other words. What this means in practice is that you yourself cannot be aware of the mimicry. You have to fool yourself. You have to fool yourself before you can fool anyone else. So when you blend in to your environment you have to blend in so well that you yourself don’t know that you’re blending in and that’s the art of it. That’s the whole art in a nutshell. You don’t know that you are mimicking something that isn’t you – you don’t know this at all. If somehow you found out – which you probably wouldn’t because that’s not the way it works – you’d get the shock of your life.You’d be gobsmacked…
You don’t really need me to tell you this though – everyone knows this trick, not just me. We all know it, we all know it. We all know it well; it’s second nature to us, you could say. The Art of Mimicry is what makes us who we are. Or aren’t, as the case may be. The only difference is that you don’t know that you know it and I do, that’s all. You don’t want to know it either, which is another reason why I won’t ever write that book I was just talking about. No one would ever buy it…
I slow down my down pace to match that of everyone else in the pedestrianized shopping street. I am blending into my surroundings, I am practicing the tricks of my trade. As I walk I suddenly spot a search-and-destroy cyborg from an alternative reality coming right at me. She walks right by me without looking at me – I could have reached out and touched her shoulder if I had so wished. She continued straight past me, not looking back, her recognition program completely failing to detect me. I didn’t reach out and touch her on the shoulder though. I didn’t do that at all – I just kept on walking, and before very long I had lost myself in the crowd.