art by Richard Gagnon
My Mask, Humanity
by D. Thomas Minton
*** Editor's Warning: Some adult situations and actions in the story that follows ***
My mistress calls me her mimic. It's as good a name as any, and I have had more names than I can clearly remember. Each has left a trace in my genetic structure, and, in a sense, I am all of those names and none. I am, however, whatever name I need to be at a given time, and today I need to be Cillian Truffant.
Unfortunately, this name is already owned by another man. Not unfortunate for me, mind you, but unfortunate for him.
From my position above the wide arcade in Titan's Huygens City, I study Truffant as he moves through the crowd below. The bob of his head when he apologizes for bumping an old woman carrying a large bag. The way he angles his body to slip though a gaggle of youths who dropped unexpectedly to the tiles around him from the second level. His smile as he passes through the steam wafting from an open air noodle shop. Truffant has a lopsided grin, boyish almost, even though his hair is tinged with gray, and he has witnessed more violence and hardship than anyone, even in these difficult times.
I move along the railing, from support to support, watching from behind the face-shroud I wear to cover my primed skin. The crowd on the upper level parts before me, because I look like a diseased man on Hajj. I bow meekly to acknowledge their pitying faces, but also to hide what I am and what I am not. As quickly as the crowd passes me, I am forgotten.
Truffant stops to look at a new shirt. As he rubs the fabric between his thumb and index finger, my fingers do the same motion. He is meticulous in his inspection; his eyebrows rise when he finds a loose thread.
My brows arch in the same way. Once. Twice. A third time, when I finally get it right.
He leaves the shirt and moves on.
For a man who survives by seeing, Truffant is oblivious. Like the others, he shops for trinkets while my mistress burns the domes of Ganymede. It is as if through the mundane, they cope with the horrific inevitable.
I come to a marked drop area and step off the edge. As I float downward in Titan's low gee, Truffant stops to buy fried dough from a pretty woman in a skintight dress. I lose sight of him as I land within the arcade's shifting crowd. Moving quickly, I locate Truffant again. He takes the fried dough, and in three bites it is gone. One finger at a time, he licks the powdered sugar from the tips, his eyes closed as he savors the sweet. His mannerisms are distinct but simple.
It will be easy to be Cillian Truffant.