When his other available senses were empty, so was his sight. He relied on everything else to create a beautiful image, but when the unseeable world around him was blank, so was the canvas in his mind.
"I wonder if Eli will visit again today." His hand fell to the stone floor, and a cobblestone floor suddenly surrounded him in his head.
Dull steps pattered quietly onto stone, creating a mental ripple in the man's map.
Lifeless eyes fell down to his crouch, staring without falter nor shine. Her pace's rhythm froze when his head turned in corresponding direction, anticipation flooding a midst them. She stood perfectly still, analyzing his posture.
"It would be smarter to press your ears to steel, wouldn't it?"
"Oh Eli, I adore your riddles." His smile seemed to stretch warmly from ear-to-ear, but the light it could ever emit has long since blown out. Colorful foliage grew at breath-taking speed, and tiny flowers began to poke through the cracks among the cobblestone floors. The weather today was cold, like it always was. Perhaps the sun was setting, or the sun refused to shine in this garden at all yet flowers still bloomed and strived for life. "I'm so glad we could meet in a garden today. There must be a breeze, because the air's catching your hair in quite the lovely fashion."
She paid no bid to the sudden grace gathering strands about her face, nor to the flora blooming in what just had been a dead scene. No corner of her lips lifted in familiarity, no life flickered behind her lens.
The word slipped slyly, almost inaudible; a sigh. Nevertheless, her hand reached for the tube nestled on a loop about her garter, pulling out a sheath of rounded stationary.
Aikon listened to the sharp point of graphite whisper against the sighing breeze in his ears. The garden thriving in his mental world sprang in a silent song of sorrow. In reality they were still at the institution. The breeze? A faulty air ventilation system that lead to Aikon's "cold weather". The scent of fresh blooms? The cheap perfume of nurses. And even though in Aikon's mind, there was no barrier separating him from Eli, there was a solid wall of bars keeping him from reality. His head veered a little to his right. "Are you drawing again?" He asked happily. "You should draw that rose over there. It's small and white, but I can still see a few spots of color on it." He pointed at a corner that held nothing but a small puddle of brown water that leaked through a crack in the ceiling.
A slight ghost of emotion haunted Eli's face for a split second, before she glanced downwards. She spoke before the click of her gritted teeth could reach his distorted hearing.
"I only depict reality, brother."
Pity? Regret? She couldn't decipher what troubled aura crept along her spine and clouded her eyes every time she found Aikon. Beyond repair, yet even if she did try to bring him back, it'd be a corpse aiding a corpse. They were both dead in this world. The only difference, she realized with stiff hands, is that reality took her. He, her eyes met his wrapped temple, he took himself.
Aikon let out a small laugh. "Silly girl." He chuckled lightly. " Look around you, the beauty in this garden is as real as it can get. I should make one of those flower crowns for you, but..." He point to his bounded legs, wrapped the same material as the straight jacket he had worn the day before. "My legs are in a cast. I always seem to be breaking things, last time I saw you my arms were broken." He laughed again, this time it was warm and endearing but still hollow. "Don't be as clumsy as your brother, Eli."
"I would never do something so foolish."
Elision let the stationary slowly slide back within its tube, making sure no sound slithered from it. She could not look at him now, could not without blaming herself for what he had become. Before, if she hadn't left, maybe they'd still have the same glint in their eyes. Now, if he could see the bright gleam of her clothes, or the stories behind her art, would it bring him back?
Eli stared down at her left hand, forcing it to clumsily clamp in on itself. In response, the mechanism enclosed each finger one by one in perfect alignment.
Suddenly, she couldn't stay still. She stepped around Aikon, clenching her teeth before gesturing to the old metal gurney strewn in the corner of the room. It's rust had no comparison to the dark stains smeared on it, or the scratches that matched the markings of bloodied nails.
"What is this? What do you see?"
She pushed it, causing a loud metallic clash to thunder through the room.
"Eli!" He scolded harshly. "Be careful with that flower cart, you don't whose garden this is. What if they get angry with us?" His lips pressed into a thin line, and his eyebrows furrowed. But the tension in his expression released when he gave another defeated laugh. "After I just told you to not be clumsy."
Eli inhaled, opening her lips and preparing to burst, before hysteria widened her eyes and caused her throat to bark out a harsh laughter. 'Be real', the words that nearly left her.
Eli gathered herself, pulling her hand to her temple and pinching the bridge of her nose.
"Brother, you are the only one who can make me truly feel."
The shadow over her head lifted as she looked at him, dew rising from her morning eyes.
This is what reality does.
She brought herself to Aikon, lost in her puddle of emotions. With her lips to his ear, she whispered sadly, "I miss you."
He stayed still for what seemed like was forever until he finally brought both his arms to embrace the girl, running stained fingers through her pale hair. He smiled again, a smile that was different from the ones prior. This one seemed honest and knowing, deep down the truth of the situation was evident but refused by his conscious mind. "I miss you so much, Eli." Then all reality fell from his smile once again. "But I have to finish my training here." A relapse.
"What is he doing?" One of the aids questioned urgently. "He's...I think he's hurting that girl!" A rush of aids and nurses filled the room, invading Aikon's personal garden. A pair of latex-gloved hands pried his arms and yanked Eli away. "I'm sorry, Miss." An insincere apology.
"Wait, visiting hours aren't over yet!" Aikon stammered as they forced his arms into a straight-jacket. "Stop!"
He was back.
She felt it. The real Aikon. Her brother.
"No!" She stammered, slightly blinded by the impact of the aids push.
"No, you can't take him!"
She struggled forward, trying to keep sight of him, but before she realized it she was pushing against a solid door with no window, no knobs.
Eli blinked, staring at it blankly.
Drops of hurt touched the stoned ground.
"Again," she whispered.
Reality has won again.
The aids took there jobs holding him down as the nurses adjusted the belts on the jacket until it painfully constricted his torso, nearly crushing his lungs. The sky in his garden began to melt into a horrid crimson, and the garden bloomed died, everything in his beautiful worlds was suffocated by the smoke of reality and it all crumbled.
"You people!" He cursed. "It's you people that turn this world ugly!"
A nurse tore off the worn bandages around his eyes, revealing brown and black scars of distorted skin and no eyes. Two more aids held his head still as another punctured the skin where his left eye should be, a needles injected a dark liquid straight into his skull. The small room filled with his screams.
This blind torture continued for a few more minutes until the thrashing had ceased, and the aids and nurses all filed out of the room, leaving Aikon on the creaky gurney all bound. New bandages have been wound around his temples to cover his "eyes", his voice silenced with a mouth-gag, his hearing blocked with metal headgear, his whole body was tied in a straight-jacket like suit.
They were blocking all his sense. He lay in a hopeless, numb, slump.
"This is for his own good." A young aid spoke to Eli. "When he can't make up his own world, he reverts back to reality."