Words to the Wise



Fandom: X-Files
Notes: Words granted by Skinner Box for the Literary Wheel
Summary: A few words to the graduating assassins of the future


Invisibility is a state of mind.


It's never a matter of if you are seen; it's always a matter of if you are noticed.


The best in the business can walk through a crowd at a police convention and never be caught. Being unseen is both an art and a science. It's one I've had plenty of time to practice.


Most of the more lucrative thieves have the skills. They never run from a scene, never attract attention, always throwing the focus to anywhere but themselves. Do the unexpected, keep people thinking about anything but you. Scream "Stop Thief!", or "Fire!" and point in another direction. Make everything look much more interesting than yourself.


Good assassins have a similar skillset. It's all just a matter of what you want to steal. A life can be quite a lot simpler than any valuable item. A lot of people don't invest as much protection in their selves as they do valuables. Safes, Strong boxes, Freezers… They never think of their own lives. After all, it only happens to other people. Sometimes the most complex thing is the easiest to steal.


Your first step is to look normal. Fit in. Dressing like a businessman in the middle of the slums is going to get you noticed. Usually for reasons you don't have time for anyway. Dress the part. Act the part. If you dress as a yuppie, do the full presentation. Yatter away on your mobile phone, disregard everyone else around you. Do your stocks and finances at full voice in the middle of a restaurant. It's amazing how people simply tune you out. Ignore you subconsciously. Never notice your existence.


Humans don't want to know things. The less they know, the more secure they feel. Ignorance is truly bliss. If you make it worth their while not to have to learn something, they'll gratefully accept your gift in both hands and happily continue their pointless lives.


Never attract attention. Always redirect it. Speak always as if you know more than whomever you are speaking to. They'll happily accept your authority, as it absolves them of any responsibility. Learn how to project command presence, all good military officers have it, people will remember the words, but never the speaker. And better yet, they'll never question the orders.


Keep yourself in good shape. Don't smoke, or have any habits that are recognisable. You don't want your health down in any way; you depend too much on your ability to get out of situations to risk that. Run lots. Wear sunscreen. Eat healthy. Why waste good killing time and effort on your own body?


Know when to attract attention and what to do with it. Being an assassin is no good if nobody knows of your existence. Sometimes more can be done with simply the threat of your focus than the focus itself. It's all an act. A play to be performed.


They really don't know how closely they're watched. When I want to make contact, I usually dress in my 'Rat Clothes' as I've affectionately dubbed them. You know the usual black jeans shirt and leather jacket. Christ. Like I'd wear them all the time everywhere, those things get hot sometimes. It's not like you can't dress comfortably all the time; in fact, it's one of the few perks. You can look like a hobo, but there's something to be said for tailor fitted rags. After all, it's only the outer layer that needs to be dirty.


Even the Hoover building is easy to wander about in. Just look like an intern, a janitor, hell, even a coffee delivery boy. They wonder how their offices get bugged all the time, most of the time it's done by the 'invisible folk', the cleaners. I'd say the majority of cleaning companies for the major government facilities are on the payroll to some shady organisation or another. Usually more than one at any given time, after all, it's hard to make a living on a government pay packet.


It's all about blending in. Be what they expect to see, and they'll never see past the first glance. Remember that scene in The Matrix, where the kid is showing Neo the Red Lady? Could you describe any single one of the many business people that was streaming around the pair? Could you pick one out of a line up? Where do you hide a red fish? In a school of red fish.


Makeup and disguises are often surprising tools to use. Once again it's all about blending in. A slight shift to the nose, change the angle of the eyebrows, a slight additional slant to the corner of the eyes, all subtle changes, all highly effective. That's even before you get through to the coloured contacts and cheek pads. Add horn rimmed glasses, and act geeky, and people go out of their way to avoid noticing you. Look harmless. Look aggressive. Look anything but what you actually are. They'll remember the attitude, but they'll never be able to pick you out.


And then we come to the wonderful world of prosthetics. Granted, it has a somewhat limited scope, but hey it works. I've been alive for how long with one arm? Some body parts you just cannot change. Your wrists, for example will never change size beyond puberty. Prosthetics aren't just for replacing missing body parts, they can conceal, or alter normal ones. It's the little details that make the success or failure of the job. See to the details, and everything else will see to itself.


I have to admit, I dislike having to interact with some of my contacts. Sure, the usual ones are amusing enough for me to break pattern and indulge in their preconceived fantasies of the 'dark assassin hiding in the shadows' but it sometimes really is an effort to break habits and simply look stupid, clumsy and very, very evident.


The really good assassins don't hide in the dark. They hide in the light.


But trust me on the sunscreen.

From Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison:

That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality. I am not complaining, nor am I protesting either. It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen, although it is most often rather wearing on the nerves.

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