It happened as suddenly as these things always do, but maybe with more finality. A prophecy fulfilled before its time, and a tick of the clock that fractured far more than just one life. It is said that all things have an end, even the eternal. And if that end is not in this universe, surely it can be found in another.
Such an escape from fate was made years ago by a young man named Eddie Assante, a survivor of abuse and childhood abduction who was forged and actively forged himself into Hunter Rose, a legend, a weapon, a liar. And such an escape was aided by those around him, too, that prevented the turn of the tide as it should have gone. Spared from a gore-filled death and given a chance to rise anew, the Khan did just that. And many helped him along the way.
It seemed impossibly perfect- New York City, HIS New York City, held in his grasp like a pristine jewel. The Eastern Seaboard followed it, falling down to bow to him like so many dominoes toppled by the flick of his singular finger, or perhaps a motion of his fabled Fork. And as his influence expanded, so did his knowledge- of self, of world, of universe. He learned of many things- the supernatural and the magic, the mundane and the worldly, of street wisdom and higher learning, of what it means to be something more than human in a world that does not yet offer the right definition for such imperceptible talents.
He learned to trust, he learned to love, he learned to let himself act his age. He found use for peace as well as violence, even if it was always short-lived. He made allies, he made enemies, and he developed a distinct distaste for those so-called “heroes,” a group of people he said simply could not exist in such a grey world. For while he donned the black and white and painted the night with the red, the only color that truly existed to his eyes was the muted tones of all of these things mixed together, an overwhelming swath of static that covered his worldview like a blanket of fresh snow.
But as the tick of this clock sounded in his office, somehow he knew that his escape had not been preordained as he always preached it to have been. In those last few moments, alone in his study, pen in hand and unfinished manuscript before him, his tired eyes arose to linger at the wooden door before him, wide and startled. He paused to breathe, and his hand moved to leave three words on the bottom of his half-written page, larger and written in gorgeous cursive. His handwriting had always been immaculate.
The clock ticked again. His chest tightened.
By the chiming of the hour, Hunter Rose lay slumped in his office chair, cold and dead. By the chime of the next half hour, his body was gone, as if it had never been there at all. Left behind was only the page, the pen, and those final words.
Reality is a fragile thing. It fractures and splits, leaving infinite possibilities available for those who can seek them out and surf the waves found in that void between universes. But to those who were faced with a fracture they were not aware of, and a fracture so unstable and not meant to occur at all, time is a limited, precious thing.
This was the story of Hunter Rose.
And, surely, this is how he’d like to be remembered- not as a warrior, and not as a poet. Not as a leader and not as a prophet. Instead, as a bright young man with a lust for life in his eyes seen only several times in a generation, who overcame impossibilities to become something…more.
And isn’t that what we all want?
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953