Three o'clock that morning found Lukas sitting in the lounge, unable to sleep. He gazed sightlessly at the open book in his lap, seeing, but not registering, the images on the glossy pages. He had given up lying in the small bed in the guest room, staring at the ceiling; tired, yet unable to make that final transition into sleep. He had come downstairs, hoping that an hour or so with a book might help. The book he had selected, a weighty tome dealing with the many archaeological digs in Egypt, hadn't helped so far; he had been gazing at the same page for over half an hour now.
It wasn't as if his mind was unusually active tonight. There had been times, in the past, when sleep had been hard to come by, due to the thoughts that jostled for his attention. As if his ability to sense the hidden world beyond the veil wasn't enough to prevent sleep.
Or, he reminded himself, hadn't been enough. That sense was now gone; ripped from him by whatever unkind fate that had placed an obstacle in front of his train.
When Lukas had told Helen he missed his talent, he was being less than truthful. It was more than simple loss; he mourned for the death of his ability; grieved its passing. Even though he had, at times, hated the things his talent had shown him, he would never have willingly given it up. Maybe, he thought, it was some perverse streak in his personality; some facet of his psyche that made him feel special, that he was helping people come to terms with the passing of loved ones.
Now he was isolated; cut off from from the one thing that had made his life worthwhile. The prospect of long years stretched away from him; empty and devoid of purpose.
He had considered ending it all; during the long recuperation period in hospital, when he had been strapped up, and unable to move. The nights had been the hardest; the pain from his shattered leg seeping past the painkillers and destroying any hope of sleep. When the small hours of dawn slouched in and made themselves know, then it wasn't hard to wonder whether it was worth carrying on.
The thought of suicide was not a problem for Lukas; he knew that there was an existence beyond the demise of his physical self. Whether he went now, or forty years down the line was just a matter of choice. The way he was feeling now, the prospect held more than a certain appeal.
The only thing that dissuaded him finally, was the thought that it would be unfair to his sister. Helen deserved better of him; he was all she had left in the world, since their mother had died.
Lukas had decided to carry on; at least until Helen found somebody and settled down. Then he would, he decided, re-evaluate the pieces of his life.
Finally, his leg had mended, to the extent that he was able to discharge himself from the hospital. He was glad to be able, finally, to get away. He was sick of the strange looks he received from the staff; those who had recognized him, and had told others. He was sick of the furtive visits, from those wanting to know if he could contact dead parents, sons, daughters, lovers. The looks of disappointment and, occasionally, disgust, when he had to turn them down.
Lukas sighed, and tried once more to concentrate upon the contents of the book. After ten fruitless minutes however, he gave up. He closed the book, and placed it on the floor. Settling back into the soft chair, Lukas closed his eyes and allowed his mind to drift, letting it roam where it wanted to go. As always, since the accident, he skittered around the edges of the void that now existed where part of his ability used to be. Before, when he still had his ability, that void would have been filled.
Sounds, images so strong that they were visible to his mind's eye, would have manifested themselves to him here. This was the part of him that allowed him to consciously call loved ones to him, in response to requests from those left behind. They would answer his spoken or unspoken questions, and pass on their wishes and love to those they still missed. Or hated, if that was the occasional case.
Now, he was both deaf and blind. He was unable to sense anything, even the edges of the blank area. He just knew that it had once existed, and now it was gone. A part of him had died already; it was only a matter of time before the rest of him caught up.
Finally, Lukas thought he might be able to sleep; at least a little. His eyes were tired; sore-the vision grainy.
"Today's another day; god help me.' He thought, as he rose, and headed towards the stairs.