Chapter 65 - Billy
After showering, Ezekiel separated from Brandon and met up with his father and brothers in the field.
Having personally decided to leave Erin and Drin out of the search party Ezekiel and his brothers and their father Mantilo made the slow journey out to the home that Billy, a small time bee keeper in the eastern village had kept with his only daughter Beth....before as the reports indicated form his father’s sources and from Billy’s own daughter Beth; Billy suddently vanished into thin air.
Ezekiel and his brothers traveled in apprehensive uncertainty that translated into silence. There had been very few missing people’s events in their time as Guardians. In the last seven years there had been about twelve Clans men who had gone missing. Of that twelve five of the Shifters had come to unfortunate fates, Six had simply been misunderstandings and One case had been the work of hunters. The moon danced up into the night, kicking the sun out of its perch, before Ezekiel, his father and his brothers finally came upon their destination. The soft wisp of grass crackling in the groups wake and the shutter of pine trees in the far reaches of the night accompanied by the call of bugs was all that could be heard.
Ezekiel found that he hoped that the situation with Billy turned out to be nothing more than a misunderstanding as well, but as they came upon the shambled wreck of broken glass and shattered bee hives that was Billy’s home....his gut sunk in utter dejection.
“What the fuck...?” Lander none so eloquently spoke out, what was one every one of the brother’s minds as they happened upon the clean destruction that had been visited upon the area.
Billy’s home was simple to look at, a cabin that possibly held three rooms looking in from the outside, while there was a wide fence that bordered the eastern field and an open area to the left of the home that was obviously where Billy cultivated his bees and the honey that he had sold to all of the villages in the Clan Lands. Tall, outlines of slightly yellow misshapen ovals and blocks stood there, and to Ezekiels the discordant....and distressed, broken sound of buzzing could just be heard.
When visiting Billy’s home in the Past Ezekiel had heard a tapestry of buzzing and movement and life coming from the honey comb fields....but tonight....in the dim darkness Ezekiel suddenly suspected that there was going to be very little life to be found in those fields.
After a few more moments of stunned silence Mantilo turned and in a hushed tone he directed them to fan out. “Go and have a look around the area....Go in pairs and keep an eye out.” With a snarl, that could have made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, Ezekiel watched his father’s pupils grow long and begin to glow with a savage yellow light.
“I have a bad feeling about all of this....I think were being watched.” He told them, before they all broke up and went their separate ways. Mantilo and Walter paired off to investigate the inside of the cabin, while Ezekiel, Nate and Lander combed the outside of the decimated land for clues as to what had become of their mysteriously missing Clans Men.
They searched the front and back but eventually all of the brothers found themselves out by the bee homes. Seven large, rectangular rows of boxes, where the sound of furious working bees buzzing could normally be heard. But this night...all Ezekiel heard was the pitiful....and dying wing beasts of the last of the bees that had somehow survived the onslaught. Out of thousands.
It was instantly clear to Ezekiel as he examined the area, that not only had the bees come under heavy attack....but that it was by something large and with lots of claws....and ferocity. The large boxes were smashed wide open, like pumpkins that had had a hammer taken to then. Gallons of fresh uncollected honey had spilled out of the intricate and beautifully built honey combs that had been delicately built in the interiors of the boxes by the worker bees.
The honey had poured out into the fields, making the grasses sticky, and littering it with the squishy white bodies of the dead larvae. There were various signs of teeth and claws in the wood in the destruction....but none of the marks were distinguishable. Honey made the earth soggy with the spongy smell of honey, but the damp gooey liquid not only made Ezekiel sad to see...but it also made any evidence or tacks muddy and smeared and un-trackable.
“Do you smell that?” Ezekiel asked his brothers some time later, after spending out, they had spent time hunting for tracks and clues in the torn grasses. Unable to see much of them in the darkness except for their heads and necks and glowing eyes, Ezekiel put a hand over his nose hiding it in disgust as he spoke to his brothers. “It reeks of sewage and sugars. It’s...unpleasant.”
“No shit...” Lander hissed, clearing his throat and spitting out into the night, showing his own dictates for the scent that prevailed around every inch of the bee hives. “It....kind of smells like something whipped it out and pissed all over the place. Feces and honey....I don’t think Ill ever forget this one.” Lander hiss sarcastically.
Ezekiel dropped his hand. “There’s no sign of Billy anywhere and this entire place is in complete shambles....it looks like something went to town on the bees too....but what do you think did all this? And where the hell is Billy?”
“Well it looks like all of the bees are dying off, maybe....he got attacked as well?” Lander suggested slowly.
“By what?” Ezekiel scoffed.
“A bear...maybe?” Lander shot back, sounding convinced.
“A bear? I guess I can see that....but....”
Ezekiel and Lander continued to converse as the minutes melted away. They bounced a few more plausible scenarios off of each other, but neither of them could come to an aggreance about just what had happened. And before they could Nate interrupted.
“Hey! Come here and look at this you two!” Nate called over to them. He was a few feet away, kneeling down beside one of the crumbled and bashed in bee hives. Silvery eyes of a wolf glanced up at Ezekiel and Lander as they made their way over to him.
“Look at this....There’s something mixed into the honey and smeared all over the honey combs....right here.” Nate told them with a smirk and a quizzical tilt of his head he then pointed to a mound of little insect bodies gathered about the smashed bee hive. “I think whatever it is....it killed off all the bees when it got into the honey....”
“What is that shit....its....black?” Lander asked, scrunching up his nose as he analyzed the dripping fluids mixed into the dripping honey with a hiss of distaste and suspicion.
“Yes...and it’s everywhere....Its probably all over the other bee hives as well...” Nate stopped and bit his lip. “Why...does this stuff look familiar to my guys?” he suddenly asked, as he stood up on his feet with a soft grunt.
Ezekiel let him move back as he crouched down in the grass, and looked at the honeycombs, ignoring the crunch of bee bodies beneath his boots as he took a long hard look at the fluid....and then he felt the answer blossom like a light in the back of his head. “Nate....” He said and swallowed. “That crap was smeared all over the horses and moose at the farm and in the fields that we found butchered....That was also the night that we got attacked....!” Ezekiel hissed. “Whatever it is....it’s probably here....WE should tell Dad about this right now!”
Ezekiel stood and began taking a step back and by chance, by luck....Ezekiel looked up towards the darkness. And in that split moment.... he sensed rather then saw....something pause and grow still....trying to avoid detection. Something that had been moving towards him and his brothers that entire time.
“Shit!” Ezekiel hissed, taking a step towards the movement....but it was already too late.
A tall shadow split off into the night. A dark outline bleeding into the darkness like it had never been there in the first place. A head, the suggestion of a face...a flash of teeth. This was all Ezekiel got in the split seconds that followed....But Ezekiel knew he had seen it.
Knew that this was possibly the assailant that had attacked the house....the assailant that could tell them what had become of their fellow Shifter Billy and his bees. With a shout, Ezekiel called out his fathers and brothers and pointed at the receding outline, which disappeared into the pine forest before all of their eyes.
Ezekiel snarled, feeling the red hot anger of his inner beast. It was frustrated as he was. The Leopard inside of him protesting at the intrusion into its home and along with his brothers, Ezekiel tore off into the night and after the fleeing shadow....Thinking that perhaps this shadow was the same thing that had tried to take him out a few weeks ago.
It had been hours since Ezekiel and the other Guardians had went out on Patrol. After a second shower and a glass of water. Brandon was in bed. And Brandon was dreaming...of what he always dreamed about.
A mountain so beautiful it looked like a masterpiece carved and painted and captured in glass. Two men. One that looked like him, but spoke in riddles and held swords. The other man named Kail. A man he didn’t know or understand. But a man he had dreamed about all of his life.
The screaming. The agony. The unbearable sadness. IT hurt.
When would it ever stop hurting him?
Brandon wondered to himself, as darkness and torture swallowed him for yet another night.
Until.....suddenly....there was whole new pain. Not dreams of pain.....Memories of his secret horrors. His life.
Brandon screamed. He screamed his lungs out. He wanted to throw up his lungs. Rip out his heart. Blow out the brain that remembered this. That kept this darkness simmering just below the surface. To his detriment he felt every sordid memory as if it were happening in that moment, in that darkness. Felt the blood....the....
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“BRANDDON!! Sweetheart open the door!” shouted an anxious feminine voice form the hall. The door rattled again as someone banged on it. “Brandon please....talk to me! Its Glen.....are you okay!?” Ezekiel’s mother shouted, sounding so worried and desperate for a response that he feared she would break it down.
Brandon looked around in confusion. He was in a slump on the floor, no covers, no pillows. His entire body soggy with sweat and the smell of ammonia. He came up like a drowning man, fighting to surface from his own mind. /to escape it and lock it down like the rabid dog it was. His heart was in disarray. His soul was on fire. The flame......it was loose....almost. It was at the edge of its chain. Crackling all along his body, it was so close to freedom.
“Brandon!! Say SOMETHING!” Glen begged once more, her soft voice cutting him away from his thoughts.
“Glen.....” Brandon finally gathered the strength to respond and instantly felt tears burn his cheeks as he forced his throat to work. Slat and acid. It felt like he had bathed his wind pipe in salt and acid. Talking was....anguish.
“Brandon!?” Glen sighed loudly across the door, the shadow of her feet and body bouncing about in the hall, bleed into the room along with light from a candle Brandon realized she had lit. “Oh God....you frightened me....you were screaming like something was....killing you!”
Barely knowing where the strength came from Brandon tried to placate her with a lie. “I’m.....I’m fine Glen...” He whispered loud enough that he knew she would hear him.
With a soft bang, that Brandon only dimly registered as Glen’s small body humping into the door, was quickly followed by a soft shout. “Let me in Brandon.”
“No...” Brandon somehow managed to croak out, past the tears and the agony and the rage. He cringed as fresh tears stung his eyes,
“Brandon...” Glen began and she said more. He knew that she was speaking, but Brandon couldn’t understand it. He couldn’t focus long enough on her soft voice. All he felt was the ribbons of his skin, the flame.....the past.
Feeling the moist squish of the floor from urine that he had soiled himself with, he rocked. Begging. Pleading. He covered his face....every inch of his mind felt tender, things no one should be forced to see flashed across his eyes, through his thoughts.
Glen was still talking to him.....threatening to break down the door. Brandon could only whisper his protests into his shaking hands. “Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone, Leave me alone....or I’ll kill you too....”
The door rattled again and finally Brandon screamed even though it felt like razors in his head, and clutched at his throat. “Leave me alone, Glen. Go away!” he shouted in cold fury. He didn’t want to be seen, discovered in this state. Soiled and broken.
But there was also the evil of what he was....the hunger. He was too weak but to keep the flame leashed in that one small room. If Glen came in....Brandon knew the unthinkable could happen.
“All right....” Glen said. She sounded so sad to him. “Everything’s okay sweet heart.... Brandon, I promise....your safe here....oaky?” she asked him.
Brandon held back a sob of denial. “Leave.” He told her and she did...but not before she spoke softly through the door one last time.
“I’ll put out fresh clothes in the hall for you....” She said softly.
Embarrassed by the knowledge that Glen knew he had lost control, Brandon couldn’t mummer a response, but he didn’t need to. Because with a soft feminine sigh the shadow beneath his door suddenly disappeared.
Some unknown time later Brandon had crawled into the shower and he sat in the spray. It was boiling hot, but the needed the pain to chases away the pains of past.
“Why.....why did that happen....I never think of those.....things....” Brandon said speaking into his knee caps as the water scalded his scalp and back. He knew the horrors in his mind. The darkness. He never let it out. Never let it touch him. He couldn’t and continue to function....but tonight it did. Was it all the questions that Ezekiel had asked him?
Questions with answers that Brandon didn’t want to visit. Drug up, by the earnest questions of the Guardian?
Who are you Brandon?
Ezekiel had asked him repeatedly.
Where do you come from...?
He had inquired in that very room.
Tell me who hurt you?
Ezekiel had implored him...with a touch.
The truth....the stress...of their every encounter. It was getting to Brandon. He had spent very little time...with any living creatures. Brandon wanted nothing else, but for his isolation to return....for the silent suffering. He couldn’t suffer more of this pain. More of the pain that Ezekiel and his family stirred up. With their kindness, and their questions...and their touch. He couldn’t stand more of the darkness to leak out.
Maybe I should kill myself....Just cut all the suffering away
Brandon thought....and death had always been an option. A chance to escape....but Brandon had always found himself to be too stubborn for that course of action.
Suicide. No reason not to do it....but also he would be dammed if he did. He wouldn’t die. But couldn’t live.
Still, in that moment, in that room....anything felt possible. Everything was desolate.
And in that desolation was the stillness. The stillness of a decision. A choice to make. It would be...easy. A blade at the pulse, a sharp stab into the heart. And Brandon wanted to make it, but in the stillness...there was suddenly a warmth.
Not the hot water, or the caress of the wind. True warmth.
It didn’t descend or engulf him like a blanket....it was narrow. Pinpoint of warmth....like hands. Brandon felt one warmth on his cheek, and the other wrapped around his throat.
Brandon felt the pressure, gentle, but possessive. It lifted him and tilted his head back. The water struck him in the face as the invisible hands moved him, so that had to close his eyes... but he didn’t feel the hot sting of water. What Brandon felt was the weight of a mouth against his own. The warmth of a kiss.
Not soft. Or calm. The kiss, the lips, and the warmth it was like a rebuke and an infusion all at once. The warmth bleed across the invisible touch, sweet and invasive and insistent. The kiss took his breath...his thoughts....until the sharp knife of pleasure formed, until the invisible hand at his throat had him by the chin turning him one way then the next, one kiss after another. Deeping as each touch became far too real....no longer just air and pressure, but the hot, heavy hunger of a day dream with tastes, and smell, and pain.
Suddenly the warmth disappeared like a flash.
And with it....went everything except the sharp burn of boiling water. Brandon jumped up, gasped and sobbed into his hand, feeling insane...but also alive. From his heart, to his lips and to his skin.
Hot and cold.
Warm and Shivering.
Broken and Standing.
And he cursed the feeling that had overcame him. The delusions of a lonely mind.....And he knew that only the dream of a kiss could be that undeniable and unrealistic.
“What...the hell was that....about? ”
Brandon whispered to himself, swallowing slowly and looking at himself in a steamed over window next to the shower.
“Since when did I start having these ridiculous dreams?”
He asked himself. Forgetting that he had been fully awake in the shower. And feeling too weak to be embarrassed he thought of his visons in the shower, simply feeling confused.
And yet....somehow he found the strength to grab a towel, to turn off the water and to got to the hall and grab the clothes that Glen had left for him hours ago.
He still felt the helplessness, felt deaths sweet release calling....but his heart beat....was just too loud and heavy in his chest to ignore. Strong....stubborn and even though he knew that he didn’t deserve it....a life that had been saved. A life he had to keep living because of all the harm he had done.