Stephen Strange, loose blue shirt and pants, floats in the stars. They surround him and run through him, are in front and behind.
He is facing a white void, with an enormous clock in its centre.
“How odd,” he whispers.
In this, his last journey. His last second.
A clock seems so limited to him, so devoid of imagination. So human.
Yet it ticks, as if each tick is a pulse, of love, of hurt, an orgasm, a tear. As if it is a bleeding thing.
The clock becomes a heart.
The heart becomes a tree, the tree an open, skeletal jaw. The jaw reveals the Ancient One.
“There’s not much to say, my dear mentor, is there?” Strange speaks first.
“No,” replies the Ancient One.
“Do I become like you, now?”
“I moved on… You die… But with the way you manipulated the dimensions, you have already outlived me.”
“I see. Then my life was my life. Parts of it shall live forever in time.”
“As with everyone. But without facing Eternity, I am sorry.”
“Don’t be. We met ten seconds ago, during battle.”
Blood pools from Strange’s chest and mouth.
“Eternity? You fought it?” the Ancient One asks. “I would have known.”
“We… talked,” the doctor says.
Strange slumps onto one knee, fingers from one hand holding him up, head lowered. The hand is in blood.
“Such waste…” Strange says. “There was no enemy.”
“You were defeated by yourself, through your friends. You know this. You were too powerful. Humanity shall always kill magic. It was time to die.”
Strange’s arms are all that is holding him up now.
“What did you and Eternity speak of?” the Ancient One asks.
Strange collapses onto his back, lying in his blood, forearms dangling in the air.
“Ego…” he smiles under his long hair. “And… spiders…”
The heart stops beating. The clock stops ticking. The Ancient One dissipates.
The jaw closes into a smile.