# How to conceal my immortality without hiding for a hundred years?

In my story, I have this character that cannot die and cannot grow old. She got this from a curse. When ordinary people see her, she probably looks like 20 or so.

How can I make it so that nobody knows she is immortal? I know she can just hide in a cave or something for hundred years and then suddenly appear, but I don't want that. I want her to keep appearing in the story.

Maybe she could change her appearance, but her voice, personality, the way she does things, etc, she can't change all that every time.

Also, if she had some friends, would they notice that she never grows old? If so, how long would it likely take for her friends to notice that?

Update: Let me explain the world

It's a modern era, like there's a lot of building everywhere but there's no cars, no fast transportation, no internet. Something like that. Electricity still exists though. The society is pretty much just like our society now.

Magic is, well, source of magic is everywhere but not everyone can use it. Because using magic is kind of risky. You first have to set a contract with magical monster in another dimension, and then you have to defeat him in a fight. Many people die in this process.

• Please describe what you mean by magic. It could solve every problem. Looking older or changing identities or transporting food and waste or moving people, no obstacles when there's magic about. Just use it in clever ways. I don't get the problem. Mar 24, 2017 at 12:02
• Can she have children? Mar 25, 2017 at 4:07
• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Mar 26, 2017 at 4:03
• Oh what does it matter if everyone knows she's immortal? Mar 26, 2017 at 15:34
• @TonyEnnis See "Torchwood: Miracle Day"
– user20762
Mar 26, 2017 at 16:24

Looking older is not that difficult. It's especially easy if you are a woman. I know women in their 40s who look like they are in their 20s--consider that 40 year olds strive to look young.

How to look 40:

• stop wearing what 20 year-olds wear, even if you have the body for it. Wear more conservative outfits.

• wear more makeup as you "age" You can say things like "I could go out of the house with nothing on my face when I was 20, now, not so much"

• wear glasses (because your vision just isn't as good now that you're older)

• gain weight, then go on a crash diet when you're your own daughter--or sister or cousin or whatever when you come back as your younger self.

Step two, change circles. Keep a few of your older friends, but continue to make friends with 20 year olds. If age comes up, you're just one of those annoying people who looks youthful. Complain about how you still get carded for everything. Trust me when I say that you have about 20 years before anyone notices in a way that's negative, or that makes them believe you are immortal--unless this is common enough that people think of it. Seriously, people look at things as to what they are given in life, and rarely look outside that.

Step three, as others have suggested, mention your "daughter", whose identity you're going to establish for the next 20 years, with pictures you fake, achievements you talk about and the like...it's not too hard to apply for a social security number--you had a home birth, so there's no hospital records. Maybe fake a pregnancy before the "birth." Then, as the daughter, enroll in college, completely changing your look, maybe back to what you looked like in your 20s. In the meantime make sure post cards come in from "old you" from France or something. While new you is in college, "old" you can die in an accident. It will take something to arrange for all this. New you can be devastated and talk to old you's friends, with whom you share memories of your dearly departed mother, and it gives you an excuse to visit them. Those old friends will be in their 50s and 60s, but new you will also be making new friends in their 20s, and you'll be learning about the new young culture, and you can start the process all over again. Those old friends might also give you a career start with recommendation letters, as well.

You'll want to fake some hospital records of childhood illnesses and arm breaks, for sure--attend to every detail--think of a typical person and what kind of record trail they leave in their lives and make sure that you have that. Homeschooling/home tutoring is fantastic, BTW, because if anyone gets suspicious they can't ask your teachers.

There's also the possibility of starting to live as your new self in high school instead of college. It goes a longer way towards establishing your identity and makes it easier to get into college with real transcripts. 20 year olds can definitely pass as high schoolers--I'd suggest boarding school to get around the guardianship problem--at a place where they don't care much about having direct contact with the parent. For an immortal, it's only four years...

• Good detail, daughter is fine but harder to do, I would also expand to cousin, younger sister. Also I would add in the aspect bribing people for new identities to .... you know hide from that evil, abusive blah blah. In the end trust in one thing, everyone knows there are no immortal people, hence hiding ones immortality is the simplest thing in the world. You have multiple lifetimes of knowledge about how people work and think about society etc. You have great wealth. This is the simplest thing in the world to do. Mar 23, 2017 at 14:51
• The US offers tests for high school equivalence which are acceptable to get into most collages. This seems much preferable to repeating high school.
– user25818
Mar 23, 2017 at 21:51
• @notstoreboughtdirt Not if you want to get into the right schools. Colleges might be forced to accept that, but that doesn't mean you'll be accepted--most likely not. For 4 years, you hang out with teens and breeze through high school because you know it all already...get straight As and do a bunch of extracurriculars BECAUSE it's so easy at a prestigious one Mar 23, 2017 at 23:07
• @notstoreboughtdirt, the big advantage of high school isn't the transcript, it's the people: you've now got hundreds of people who remember you as a (mature-looking) teenager. This goes much further in establishing your identity as totally not an immortal than a GED or a college degree.
– Mark
Mar 24, 2017 at 1:11
• @Herlyks Take a look at this, as far as the cycle is concerned: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/73714/… My answer covers, basically, how unimportant people become to an immortal... Mar 24, 2017 at 12:21

Settle in an area. (location 1)

Fake pregnancy

after "birth" relocate to location 2, but maintain original address (location 1).

Visit location 1 frequently and tell people how your daughter is growing to be and doing well at location 2. Take steps to look older. (put on some weight, dye hair with hits of gray)

return for good 18 years later as the daughter (change appearance slightly) Dye hair, do makeup differently.)

Enroll in college and graduate to fully establish daughter's identity.

Start new job.

Report news of mother's death who is living in location 2

Repeat.

• And when the time comes to reveal your true identity, begin saying your name, your clan, the highlands town you were born by some lake, and the punchline "... and I am immortal". Then make your love interest stab yourself in the gut to prove your point. I am sure i've seen that somewhere, just can't find the IMDB link...... Mar 23, 2017 at 14:11
• @Mindwin Except he couldn't get pregnant ;)
– user20762
Mar 23, 2017 at 14:32
• @Mindwin I think the quote you're looking for is: I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518 in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. And I am immortal. source: imdb.com/title/tt0091203/trivia?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu Mar 23, 2017 at 15:08
• @Stephen I think he was being sarcastic about the link... Mar 23, 2017 at 15:36
• Man, being immortal is a full time job. Mar 23, 2017 at 16:51

# Move a lot

Our world is pretty big, and there are a lot of places you could live. There are 6 million or so people in the metropolitan area I live in. If you moved around every 3 or 4 years, it would be pretty easy to never run into the same people.

If you move from city to city, there is almost no chance people would be able to track you. Without internet (and Facebook), you could just move from city to city every 5 years, keep in touch by phone with old friends for a while maybe, but then just naturally drift apart.

The biggest challenge would be managing your id. If you lived in a place like the US, you'd need to reforge a new Birth Certificate every 10 or 20 years to avoid suspicion. I would recommend emigrating and then re-immigrating every decade. Go to Germany, forge an identity as an immigrant from the US, then go to Australia, then Canada, then back to the US.

• This was totally the plot of the man from earth. Mar 23, 2017 at 14:36
• You don't even need to move between cities. There are plenty of places just in NYC where you can live without bumping into anyone from your old place, or, if you do, claiming a case of mistaken identity. There are enough people that, as long as you don't have something obviously identifying (scars, giant birthmark on your face) you won't be seen as "that one person from twenty years ago", but (assuming they remember) someone who looks like that one person.
– Nic
Mar 24, 2017 at 4:22
• Top answer. Think Highlander, Moonlight, Interview with the Vampire - that's exactly how these immortal characters all operate to hide themselves from "normal" humans. So many examples in film and fiction. Mar 24, 2017 at 10:24
• This! All the answers about daughter/cousin/etc... are very complicated. As long as you are OK with cutting ties, simply moving is enough. Especially if you "age" while living a specific location, then revert to your young appearance when settling in a new one. Anybody you meet will not recognize the youthful 20-something in faded, ripped jeans and t-shirt when they know a 50-something who usually wear conservative clothes. We see what we want to see. Mar 24, 2017 at 11:51
• There was a girl I knew in high school. I met her randomly years later while walking down a street in Rome. And if that wasn't enough, again much later I was in Blackwell's in Oxford, browsing a bookshelf and looked to my left -- lo! same lady, once again. I'd say, move a lot AND develop new interests. Mar 26, 2017 at 22:30

Unless in your story people need to register with the authorities, there's really not much of a problem.

The easiest would be if she is reasonably wealthy. She would just need to move to another city every 3-8 years. Cities should be preferable over towns or villages because seeing a stranger there raises no questions. She could attend university. Noone would question that she moved there to study.

If she has to work for a living, she should seek out lower paid jobs that don't require (much) expertise, to avoid having questions asked how she can have 80 years of experience when she's only twenty years old...

She must of course learn to hide her true age. If she doesn't talk much, or acts a bit dumb, that might help covering things up, and a simple but credible cover story to tell those poeple she does have contact with should be easy.

Being female and 20-ish will help her greatly. Some biological hard-wiring in half the population's brains will ensure that there will be plenty of people willing to be friendly and possibly protective towards her. Not trying to sound sexist, but any sexual animal works like that, and humans are (among other things) just that.

So, credibility of her not being caught out is high. I guess for the purpose of a story there's really not much explanation required.

• There are some jobs where her expertise gained through the years can be easily explained by natural talent, assuming she it's reasonably intelligent enough to start with. For example, being a writer of some kind (travel advisor would be apt), using her many past personal experiences for material inspiration, and can chalk up the knowledge to a passion for research. Mar 23, 2017 at 18:19
• In places where you have to register with the authorities, there are generally persons who are in the business of faking registrations. Use your first lifetime to make friends with them and/or get a job in the registration office. Time is on your side. Mar 25, 2017 at 22:36

Is there much magic in the world or just this curse? I would say she needs to keep traveling. Keep exposure among the same people to a minimum. Never tell her age, to keep people guessing.

That way she'll remain active, just not in the same community. Be a trader or something, perhaps a traveling doctor.

Friends will notice after a decade I'd say, perhaps two. During that time you can get away with looking roughly the same if not great for your age. I suggest changing you looks in between as well to make comparising harder.

I think a decade would work for larger communities as well. Although you then run into the issue of being well known in the area. Moving to the next city won't cut it anymore. You'll need to move further then when you move more frequent.

• even two decades would probably be ok if she didn't get too close to anyone. Particularly if she is asian. Mar 23, 2017 at 10:58
• You can probably pass as 18-40+ if you change your style to something appropriate to the age you're expected to be at the moment. You'd just be a really young-looking 40-year old, but they're not unheard of. Your friends won't necessarily become suspicious. Mar 23, 2017 at 14:44

You could always do what they did in the film "The Highlander":

• Keep forging documents to show that your character had a child
• make a will and leave everything to that child
• assume the identity of the child
• repeat process
• Could you elaborate in which way this differs from the step 3 in Thursby's answer) Mar 24, 2017 at 13:42
• @Secespitus i suppose it isnt, i was on the mobile app and didnt see it, the only real difference is i explicitly stated the film Mar 26, 2017 at 10:08
• I'm pretty sure that Heinlein's Lazarus Long and other immortals did this before Highlander. Mar 26, 2017 at 14:16
• See also: the Highlander TV series, which had more time to elaborate on how various immortals concealed their identities than the movie(s) did
– A C
Mar 27, 2017 at 14:49

Observable similarities are probably the easiest problems to solve. A hair-dye / new hair cut, a few wardrobe changes, and moving to a new city will solve your problem of someone observing you. Of course, this means never forming long-term bonds. You'd have to maintain only casual acquaintances at most, as you'd need to sever ties every time you relocated. And no facebook or similar social media connections, either.

You'd also want to minimize your odds of being recognized later. So you would need to avoid events that might be photographed or televised. It would be a bit uncanny if some B-reel footage of historical event X had you in it, and someone was like, "That person looks just like you!" No getting involved in big political rallies or buying front-row concert tickets. A low profile is the way to go.

Wealth and possessions would be a bigger problem. You would need to have some sort of "foreign corporation" or blind trust or something that owns all your real property. Stocks, bonds, houses, etc. on multiple continents. You'd need to build a dizzying array of holding entities so you could, eventually, return to that property later and not be a penniless vagabond. You'd also need some carefully hidden archives to track where and when you've lived. Wouldn't want to accidentally return to your posh, NYC apartment too soon. You'd need to have several law firms on retainer. They'd need to be in the dark, too. But they'd be responsible for managing the properties, hiring servants to care for them, etc. And for managing your trusts/holdings. And for adding and removing temporary identities from the trust so you'd have money when you needed it.

You would want to have stashed things on multiple continents, so if something goes bad, you can run to a safe-house and not be stranded without money or passports. You'd want passports that were fresh enough to be usable, in case events required a hasty exit.

Legal identities would be the hardest part. You'd need to come up with a way to generate legal documents every time you moved. For a new person. They'd need to be more than just fake papers, too. We're talking basics like drivers licenses / passports / social security numbers (or equivalent in other countries). Because those are the basis for owning things. And for building a credit history for that identity so you can then pass background checks and travel freely. You'd probably have these identities employed by your fake corporations to justify the income levels. So you don't have to pass the kind of background checks human resource departments conduct -- you don't need valid college credentials or past employment history that is real. But you need to make sure that you won't be stopped at national borders. Or if you are, that your papers will pass official scrutiny. So they can't just be forged documents.

Self control and planning are key to the above things being built out over time. And for maintaining all of it for the long-term. Rash decisions and poor planning would be costly mistakes. From time to time, you would have to shift ownership of subsets of your possessions from one trust to another, from one law firm to another. Have your existing lawyers sell that NYC penthouse to an unnamed buyer (with hints that it is someone famous who doesn't want to be bothered maybe?) from a fresh, new, major law firm hired by you under a different identity. That corporation that owns your some part of your business interests is bought out in a hostile takeover by some new corporation (that you also own). This way, you can close out the books and there's not some strange paper trail that goes back hundreds of years at that one law firm. Because your lawyer might get curious and learn too much. And you'd have to watch all of these things, somehow, to make sure you get out of some bad investment before it goes under. Or that your possessions don't vanish from under you.

It would be a hard, lonely, job.

Since your world has magic, why not establish that she has acquired a spell through a contract with a monster? The spell would cause those who know her to always forget how long they have known her, or perhaps it may rewrite their memories of meeting her such that her age remains consistently explicable.

Of course, you would probably need to ensure that there is a price to pay for her spell. And I suspect she may therefore be always, in some sense, isolated even amongst friends.

Live somewhere where there are few people of your ethnicity.

Women can already pass as a wide age-range depending on dress/etc. White Brits are even worse at guessing the age of an Asian lady.

This will allow you to stay as one 'person' for longer, and will also explain why no-one's met your daughter who lives back home, etc. and will allow you long absences to 'return home' to cover anything you need to get up to.

• Also it makes it easier to cover for having the diction and cultural awareness of a 100-year-old. The past is a foreign country! Mar 24, 2017 at 17:37

Relatives would be the first to notice the anomaly.

The solution to keep this curse hidden is to be often on the move and keeping a number of close relative as near as possible to 0:

1. settle in a place
2. present yourself with a credible story for not having a family. Looking 20 this may justify she is a student or living on her own.
3. live there some years, like 3 to 5 years.
4. move to another city, better in a different country (she can learn the language while in the previous city)

it would be wise to retire from civilization, like living in the woods, from time to time.

• I would issue a caution to retiring from civiliazation: she may run the risk of falling behind the times. Returning to society as a 20 y.o. (without common modern knowledge), she'd need a good explanation of why she is so out-of-the-loop. Not impossible, but must be carefully executed IMHO. (Imagine a 20yo woman in mainstream society today not knowing about "social media".) Mar 24, 2017 at 20:24
• She could say she has grown up in the countryside... but, yes, that requires attention
– L.Dutch
Mar 24, 2017 at 20:42

You know that wealthy Brits didn't seen their kids for 20 years? After they were born the parents went to India, the kids stayed with nannies and teachers and after 5 years when Mom and Dad came back the kid was sent to some prestigious school for 10 years. After that it attended Oxford. So when John Biscuit the second was in his twenties he came back home and his parents said "Ohh, I can't stand this spoiled brat!" and went to die in some African safari.

So being unnoticed as immortal would require 2 to 3 mansions and a little bit of cash for expenses. You could do the Beyoncé cushion baby trick:

Send the not existing child to schools or take it with you for some travel and then 20 years later come back as the heir. From time to time your not existing mother would need to die in some travel related catastrophe and sometimes you would need to keep the correspondence with her while she is looking for gold in remote Himalayan mountains.

Looking young is not a problem unless you add avoiding people, sun, food because then they will call you a vampire.

Remember that frequent travels and close relations with shamans and ancient magical substances (you encounter during your journeys) keep you looking young far in your 40's.

I don't know in what times you want your book to take place but further into our times and future it would be easier to forge the generations. You and your mother could be seen at the same time "hey, we have a photo together", while the mother is on a business trip to New York her mother is attending a formal dinner in Kuala Lumpur and the instagram photos show us the youngest taking sunbaths in Greece.

• What exactly do you mean with the "relations to shamans and ancient magical substances"? Also, if you are not sure in which time the scenario is supposed to take place it might be good to request clarification from the author in a comment. Mar 23, 2017 at 10:14

People don't look too different between 20 and 35-ish assuming they aren't in the sun a lot or doing something really stressful, so for the first 15 years or so she probably doesn't have to do much, other them maybe pretend to have skin treatments or healthy eating to make the whole thing more plausible. After that people will start to notice, and if someone still looks 20 at 45 that's pretty suspicious especially to close friends. At that point she might have to move and start a new life somewhere else if she wants to preserve the secret.

In general, she'd have to live off the grid as much as possible, so no bank accounts, no jobs that require background checks etc. I'm assuming without cars there are no driver licenses, but if they have an ID that has to be renewed every few years, that'll also start being a problem eventually.

The trick will be use the "free" 15 years to earn enough money to be able to afford the move, the bribes to officials for fake documents and so on, all while being unable to present a lot of past experience/education to a potential employer without some shenanigans.

For finances, put everything in corporations in trusts. Then you can change the owner of the trust. She could probably make it to 50 years old without drawing too much attention.

So, she should plan ahead. Raise a daughter, keep her in the loop and at some point switch places with her or her granddaughter. Have a big family and become the secret patriarch of that family.

You can't do it without help and family can be the best help. Go around saving children. You never know when that might come in handy in the future.

Not sure the extent of what your magic system can do, but since I assume it's fairly strong based on:

You first have to set a contract with magical monster in another dimension, and then you have to defeat him in a fight.

The following would probably work unless your character doesn't want people to think they use magic. This also depends on the time range of your work ("I'll worry more about it in 80 years, [which is later than when @Herlyks is covering], when I should be dying of old age" as an easy out unless you think of something along the way).

Claim to use magic to "appear" younger. Maybe she can claim she beat a pretty weak magical monster that doesn't give much magic ability, so that's all she can do.

If going for a longer time range than a lifespan (hiding in a cave for 100 years option in question seems to imply this), perhaps people will lose track of her real age and just be "She's older than she looks". Unless people who know her real age before her curse and keep record of it or something public records are being kept (i.e. a picture of a person in an encyclopedia showing they were at an event 200 years ago) happen. As for heroics, having her assume a "Dread Pirate Roberts" (but in actuality actually be a long living single Dread Pirate Roberts) is an idea.

Sorry if this post seems like a mesh of ideas, as I kept editing throughout

Check out Oscar Wilde - "The picture of Dorian Gray". In this very famous book, the protagonist doesn't age as a picture of him ages on his behalf. He is not explicitly mentioned to be immortal in the story (and that's not the point of the story), but nobody really takes exception to his not aging.

• If I recall Dorian Gray correctly, only a few decades pass in the book. So that isn't really the best comparison. Mar 24, 2017 at 2:12
• True, it only follows Dorian's life from "young man" to "old man". However, it is comparable in that it uses only one instance of magic/spell (the picture curse) and beyond that everything happens according to "regular physics". He doesn't get caught or suspected of super-naturalism except identified by one woman who identifies hum as "not aging". The rest of the world doesn't seem to care. Mar 24, 2017 at 20:37

Anonymity You do not have to move around a lot if you look average and do not befriend people who are curious about you. Instead, associate only with self-absorbed people and never volunteer information about yourself.

I have heard stories about a very successful resistance fighter during World War II who was never arrested, never noticed, because he looked decidedly average. He was always just some random bystander. ("Kjakan" in Norway).

You would need to move around every once in a while so people in your immediate surroundings don't start to notice you, but looking average you might not need to move far. (I believe "Kjakan" kept moving.)

Your main problem would be if there is a government with a rigorous personal identification system. You'd then have to steal identities at regular intervals as others have pointed out. You'd minimize the need for this by avoiding every activity that requires identification. So, you would be self-employed, but employ yourself through an (infinitely lived!) corporation rather than a personal firm. If you're in luck, that same corporation could turn your identity over for you and fake your documents for you, depending on how the identification system is set up. Come to think of it, you should have several people hired at your company, all of whom are you, but there's a newly hired young you (previously unemployed) and the old you. Then you eventually hand the company over to the young you when time comes and hire a new young you.

An average woman can hide about 8 years if their genetics are good for that and they try, taking the right care. That would be a good excuse. The oldest woman the youngest looking right now (I read a new about that a week ago), is 56 and they say she looks about 18 (I'd say 23), so there are certain cases where you can hide your age for way longer.

There's also another way to solve it, make good friends leaving for a long time and meeting them again, when their memory of you is less.

Also... Do you know of ninjas? One of ancient ninjas (the real ones), specialties was disguising, specially kunoichis. They had already developed make up along ways to look young old, regardless their age. With enough investigation and resources, she'd just be left to fake death about every 60 years, since in that alternate version of a world, the average age would be about the same, if we take that chemistry is just slightly less advanced than in real world (because of lack of networks and fast travelings, investigations would be way slower, but if it was more efficent in that world, they might have the chemistry and hygiene that keeps us alive and younger looking for a longer time than when the fastest travel ways were horses, bikes and ships, just that they'd have different names every few KM.

In some of the stories I make for my games, there appeared inmortal, unaging and all sorts of this kind, but I never thought about someone wanting to hide it for long.

In one of my lastest stories, there's one who doesn't want to tell to anyone, but it's not something that can be hidden for so long to the other main character, since the other main character lives in the same house and refuses to leave.

Once someone is immortal and in a modern-like society, they can probably become pretty wealthy through investing. Thus our protagonist doesn't have to stay in one place. She could get a job that required travel.

Consider, however, that in a magic society, there could well be "make me look younger" magic. It would be a hit with men and women alike. Like makeup, wigs, and cosmetic surgery is in our society, it would probably be rude to attempt to negate this. In that light, the very unusual "make me look older" magic would go undetected by polite society. She could fit right in without too many issues.

She could still count on a solitary life. On the first few dates, "MMLY" magic would be ok. But at some point, the relationship gets serious and both parties would drop the charade. She could not go that far. She'll probably have to be satisfied with short-term romantic flings and meaningful platonic relationships.

Issues arise when she's 116 and still paying taxes. Anti-fraud investigators will see that she's way too active for someone that age. They will assume identify theft. So once every 80 years or so, she must "die". "Did you hear about poor Mary? Her sailboat capsized..." Over the years, she must squirrel away part of her fortune so she can use it later without leaving a trail. Or she can live modestly and not care much about investments. A few million in gold can get a person past some lean times. She'll have plenty of time to figure out how to game the "birth certificate" problem.

Oh what does it matter if everyone knows she's immortal?

No movies comes to mind?

So she is almost like witch from

Stardust

However every 10 years or so, she will has to move. If she lives in seclusion/periphery, it would be much easier. (Well i think if u move back to the place in 40 years, no one would notice)

Twilight saga

And she will learn certain skills that helps her survive/hide.

The Man from Earth, Doctor Who - Ashildr, Captain Jack

Or she will convince others that she is a god - because of skills and understanding of technology.

Star gate - goa'uld

And if she "cannot die" -> she will be master of magic (and everything) in your world and she may became legend, even if she is total dodo.

And also: "Omg you look exactly like Cleopatra" - do you think ppl will actually think that you are sane, if you try to convince them that you really are?