Chapter 56 - Boredom
Life continued on in the mansion with the Leopards for Brandon, but he felt more like a plague victim instead of a guest as the days passed.
After his incident with the stitches and his subsequent outburst Ezekiel gave him some space. And for that he was thankful. Brandon found that the longer he spent with the Shifter...the more he felt like he was losing sight of his priorities.
And, even though he was mostly alone, the next two mornings went about the same for Brandon. Ezekiel woke him up, checked his injuries, and fed him. And then Ezekiel tried to ask him with a few questions. And for the most part Brandon ignored him until he gave up and went away.
Then Brandon was right back in bed trying his hardest to heal slowly, to parcel out the energy that he could feel growing stronger inside him. Every minute it grew, the signal getting stronger.
He didn’t know how to stop it anymore. He could almost sense the monsters out there in the world. Hunting for him, waiting for him to slip. Soon the power would be too strong for him to neglect, but for now....Brandon refused to let it rise to the surface.
He let the energy roll off him like water when he was alone and desperately chopped and locked it down wherever another person came close to him. He ate frequently and conserved his strength. He understood that his days among the Shifters in that mansion were only growing shorter. Soon he had to move on...or people were going to die.
But by the third morning he came to realize that the Lock Down on the Leopard Clan was still firmly in place and normally used to traveling large distances, Brandon was tired of pretending to be sickly and exhausted. After untold nights spent out in the wilds, running, fighting and surviving....the small room that he awoke inside of each morning began to wear down on his mind. He needed space and open air and the earth beneath his feet.
He was angry to be trapped there. He was sick of the feeling of carpet beneath his toes..... Or perhaps he was simply bored out of his mind?
No books rested in the guest room that he occupied. So he couldn’t read to pass the time.
There also were very few electrical appliances to tinker with, which didn’t surprise him since the Leopards that he lived with seemed to run their home like an old log cabin up high in the mountains instead of a majestic, beautiful mansion sitting in the middle of a giant four part and fully functioning village.
But somehow he found the candle light charming and even though Brandon was surprised by the lack of innovation that he did see, he wasn’t wholly unhappy about it either. He had quickly come to like the calm, and quiet that surrounded him and the overpowering smell of pine in the air. It settled him like.....well nothing had ever settled him before.
Still.....if I don’t get out of this room.....I’m going to start climbing the walls!
Brandon told himself. And just that fast he was resolved to getting out and taking a stroll.
He pulled back the covers, and with a stiff, limp that remained from the healing stitches, Brandon forced himself to stretch out. He soon got out of his sick bed, pulled on a pair of black sweats and a long sleeved white shirt which fit him, just all the other clothing that the leopards had given him.
I’m starting to feel bad for this guy Nate, I bet he’s running out of clothes by now....
Brandon said to himself as he looked around for something to put on his feet and came up short. So with a stifled yawn he gave up on shoes.
He slept with his gloves on at all times, so there was no need to look for them. But as he moved around in the loose back sweats he desperately wondered where he could possibly get a pair of jeans from before the day was over.
But pushing those random thoughts to the back of his mind for the moment, he walked up to the bed room door. Turned the knob and stepped out into the hall and after that he spent the next fifteen minutes traveling the interior of the mansion aimlessly. He ran his fingers across the aged, if spotless walls, counted the candles and windows, and stayed far away from any of the closed doors that he happened to encounter.
He soon discovered that the floor he had woken up on was the second in the three story mansion and that the halls were built in a large rectangular square, with two to four different doors built along the sides.
And as he traveled the full circle of that, he came to a cut in the hall that lead out into an open area, where railing and a giant spiraling staircase sat, branching up one way towards the third flood and another way down towards the bottom floor. Hard wood and thick carpet made up slid steps. And because Brandon had no escort, and he already knew what was down the steps, he decided to go up to the third flood just to peak around.
And as it turned out, the peaking was fairly short. Because as Brandon steeped up to the third floor he came across a small hall leading to nothing but two very large, beautifully engraved doors which sported the dual image of leopards. Feeling like he had come to a forbidden place Brandon soon turned and made his way back down the steps feeling the far too life like eyes engraved in the wood following him as he walked away.
But Brandon soon found himself on the bottom step, on the bottom floor and as the sound of voices floated over to him he forgot all about the eyes and went to investigate. He went to his left and followed the voices back into a room that he had been in only a few days ago.
The tiles and counter tops were as pristine as he remembered seeing them before, and all traces of blood or medicine that may have been spilled were nowhere to be found and instead of evidence of his previous activities in that room Brandon discovered three familiar faces.
In the corner of the room, sitting at two opposite side of the dining table, which was covered with a white table cloth and half eaten plates of food sat both Glen and Mantilo and opposite them sat a slightly familiar man, with a scar over his eye, piercings and a set of eyes in his head that were each a different color, making him look nearly blind in one eye as it was nearly as black as coal, while the other eye was as white as a pearl with a black pupil.
Of course Brandon recognized Glen, whose small stature, bouncy light brown curls, and vibrant voice rang out in the room before him and Brandon didn’t think he could forget Mantilo, who sat like a mountain beside his wife, with a thick braid of black hair draped over his shoulder, and sharp angled features turned to her in attention.
But it took Brandon a moment to realize that the third man was another of Ezekiels brothers and one that he had already meet nearly a week ago.
Not one for shyness Brandon soon made his way over to the Shifters and wasn’t surprised when Mantilo, who had his large back turned to the doorway, was the first of the Shifters too acknowledge him. Although his words were less then accommodating when he spoke.
“Boy....when one enters a room they are expected to announce themselves....” Mantilo rumbled in a deep voice that was perfectly at home with the hard face that he turned on Brandon. “The least you could say to the people feeding you is “Good morning.”
Brandon stared at the large man, partially wanting to lick his tongue out at him like a child, but mostly wanting to know why the Shifter insisted on calling him “Boy.”
But not wanting to cause another incident Brandon nodded his head looked at the rest of the Shifters gathered and mumbled a quick “Good morning.”
Both Glen and the man with the scar smiled and offered him good mornings in response, though Mantilo simply grunted and remained silent. Not sure of what else to do, or say Brandon prepared to flee back to his boring empty room, but he was stopped as the man with the scar stood up from his seat, and called to him.
“Hello...” The man said, and before Brandon could prevent it, the Shifter had taken his hand and give it a firm shake. “I know we’ve met before...but it was pretty short so you might not remember me. I’m Nate.” He said introducing himself.
“Nate?” Brandon rehashed. “That’s right...these are your clothes and your one of Ezekiel’s older brothers right?”
The Shifter smiled and nodded in acknowledgement.
“Yup, I’m Ezekiels brother, and I’m also a Guardian in the village. Mom had me give you a few of my hand-mi-down, but I can see that their not really the tightest fit....” Nate chuckled as he glanced down at the rolled up pant legs and shoe less feet that Brandon was sporting. Brandon rolled his eyes and shrugged, but Nate shook his head. “Sorry about that those sweats are so old.... I’ll get you some jeans from the village sometime soon okay? It should be pretty easy since we are almost the same size.”
“Um...Thanks.” Brandon began, then to show that really would appreciate it, he smirked slightly at Nate. A mouth full of sharp teeth greeted Brandon as the Shifter gave him a big smile in return. And the first thing to pop into Brandon’s mind was that the smile looked....Wolf-y. But seeing as Brandon knew that he was in a Leopard Clan he quickly dismissed the thought.
“No problem.” Nate replied, released his hand, and quickly rejoined his mother and father at the table. Once more leaving Brandon at a loos for what to do or say. But Glen quickly filled the silence.
“So Brandon how are you feeling today sweet heart? ” She asked him with all the warmth and genuineness that she had shown him before. Her large green eyes looked him over in slight concern. “Is something wrong?”
Again confused Brandon frowned slightly, crossed his arms, and shook his head. “No, I feel fine....why?” he asked her.
Glen gave him a brilliant smile and sighed. “That’s wonderful.” She said and Brandon actually wanted to curse when he felt a little warm inside. And luckily not noticing Brandon’s displeasure Ezekiel’s mother continued. ” I guess I was just surprised to see you out of that room...” She said. “You seemed to be pretty content to spend all your time in there. So I figured something was wrong if you came all the way down here.”
Brandon shrugged. “Oh....no. I’m fine Glen...” He stopped, then Brandon forced himself to explain more, since his short answer sounded cold and sharp, even to his own ears. He unfolded his arms and sighed “I was actually feeling a little restless being up there all day and I decided to go for a walk. Maybe stretch my legs a little bit.”
Mantilo who was just swallowing a spoon full of food, looked up at him and sat back in his seat. “You’re stretching your legs without your escort?” He asked in a cool manner. Then he motioned with his hand. “I thought Ezekiel explained the rules to you already.”
“He did.” Brandon quickly asserted not wanting to get Ezekiel in trouble. Then not even knowing why he should care about that, Brandon shot Mantilo a cool look of his own. “And I only went around the house Mantilo, I wasn’t trying to leave or anything.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Mantilo hissed slightly. “You aren’t supposed to be walking about without Ezekiel as a chaperone or someone else to keep an eye on you...” Mantilo stated at him heavily.
“I know.” Brandon bit off, then sighed. He really didn’t want to be watched like a child, but he also didn’t want to return to his bed just yet. “Fine. Just tell me where to find him and I’ll go there.” He asked Ezekiels father.
But instead of answering Mantilo wiped his mouth with a cloth and asked him a question of his own. “Have you ever had a job boy?”
Confused and thrown off by the change of subject Brandon paused, then shrugged. “Um sure. I’ve had like one or two different jobs before.” He replied.
And Brandon had hated both of them. One had consisted of cleaning a gas’s station and the other had consisted of fruit on a farm. Neither job had been pleasant for him, and both jobs had had to be dropped once Brandon’s past inevitably found a way to catch up with him.
“Well that’s good, because if your so restless and Ezekiel has to chaperone you, you can pass some time and energy while you’re here and if you’re going to be walking around anyway....you can do a little work around the Clan” Mantilo asserted, more of a telling then an asking and Brandon knew that if he wanted out of that house he was going to have to agree. So he did.
“Why not.” He shrugged. And received a smile of encouragement from Nate.
“Good answer.” Mantilo grunted. He grabbed the plate before him and soundlessly rose to his feet and walked towards the sink. “Go Find Ezekiel, and don’t lose him.” He commanded as he moved.
“He and his other brothers are out in the shed to the far left of the porch once you walk off the last step. Find him and remain with him if you know what’s good for you and as he works you can help him.”
Mantilo finished and didn’t say more as he began to wash his plate, so the next thing Brandon knew a pair of small hands had grabbed his left hand and Glen gave it a soft squeeze.
“Be careful of your wounds while you’re out there Brandon...and don’t tire yourself out.” Glen commanded softly then she released his hand and began steering him out of the room.
“Oh! And get Ezekiel to lend you some of Nates spare patrol boots for the day.” She said and with a little pat on his back, she left him standing in the hall, as she disappeared back into the kitchen.
And with nothing else to do or say....Brandon went to the front door, opened it and steeped out of the mansion that he hadn’t been outside of in nearly two and a half weeks.