The afternoon sun was warm and inviting, just enough of a cool breeze to invite anyone out to relax on their porch, or to lie in the grass most of the day.
It was especially inviting for two particular slackers, Mordecai and Rigby.
They had both been laying there for who knows how long, entertaining each other with the occasional butt cloud that passed by. Not a thing in the world could ever be wrong.
Especially since the sun was setting.
Every single beautiful, golden, arc slid across the sky and melted with the outer-laying pink and orange, creating an other-wordly color. It was just at this peak tha-
“What, in the heck, are you two DOING?”
“Aw, Benson!” Mordecai rolled over to look at his boss, “Did you have to come right now?”
“Yeah, the narrator was just getting good!” Rigby watched the dejected sun slip behind two hills and vanish.
Benson, clearly not in the mood, barked back, “How long have you two been sitting here?!” His eyes were glued to the deep imprints in the grass, one shaped like a blue jay, and the other a raccoon.
“Uhh . . .” Mordecai rubbed the back of his head, noticing the gathering dark, “Oh, man. How long have we been here?”
“Ok, that’s not important.” The gumball machine calmed himself down, “Did you guys finish all of your work?”
Mordecai’s crest slowly flattened in guilt, suddenly remembering the last thing on their chore list.
Rigby cut in, “yeah, we did it all, right Mordecai?’
Two pairs of eyes locked on the nervous jay, “Uh, actually, Rigby . . . there was that one thing.”
“Ohhhh . . .” Rigby glanced around, and then suddenly fell to the ground, grunting in pain, “Oh! I’m hurt! I’m hurt!”
“Dude, get up. It’s not working.” Mordecai almost felt embarrassed at his friend’s pathetic attempt to skip his share.
“Why is everything so dark? Wait! I see a bright light!” Rigby scrounged his paws up in to the air, his eyes wide and terrified.
Benson kneeled down to Rigby’s side, “Mordecai, I want you to do that last job while I take Rigby home.”
Mordecai’s eyes widened in disbelief, “Wait, what? You actually believe him?!”
“I can’t take any chances. Now, go do it OR YOU’RE FIRED!” As usual, his temper flared up at the oddest times. He scooped up the moaning raccoon and carried him to the cart, “Get it done before midnight, ok?” He hit the acceleration and the vehicle flew along the dirt path, leaving Mordecai to briefly seethe.
“I am going to kill him like he’s never been killed before.”
The job in-particular was to trim the hedges lining the house which had over-grown to the point where it looked scruffy, like an old stray cat.
He pulled the trimmers out of the garage and headed over. Before beginning, he took the time to moan at his own misfortune again. It was so dark outside that he could barely see.
“I thought Rigby was the nocturnal one!” He hissed, violently snipping at the hedge, “This is so not fair!”
He stopped, hearing something. However, it was only temporarily as he noticed that the window to his room was open, and small raccoon snores were seeping through. He snarled and continued.
The poor hedge was beginning to look like road-kill.
“My life sucks!” He hurled the trimmers to the ground in frustration, fully intending to pick them back up, of course.
Except, he didn’t. In fact, he simply couldn’t.
Something heavy had struck the back of his head and he was completely in shock. The world spun and his sight fuzzed black until he felt sick.
And then, he was gone.
The first thing he noticed, when he woke up, was that he was in an incredible amount of pain.
His side was burning like fire. It seemed internal, like something was actually inside of him. He gave a short gasp before rolling over, only to taste the dirt that he was lying on.
This action was greeted by more attention then he thought it would.
“Why aren’t you dead?!” The voice was panicked, and . . . familiar.
He forced open his eyes and saw a figure looming over him in the middle of the park’s pitiful ‘forest’. It had blue feathers, a long beak and it looked . . . Just like himself?
Only, it wasn’t just that. It was the most battered, miserable, dejected-looking, version of himself that he could ever have imagined.
Its eyes were bloodshot, and the space around them was dark and baggy. Just below, its beak was chipped, and nearly every feather on his body was ruffled or torn. It was hunched over like an old man; even though there was no doubt that it was still young.
“What’s going on?” Mordecai mumbled, trying to get up. However, he felt way too weak. He slid back down to the ground, “Is this a dream?”
“Just stay still, it’ll be over soon, dude.” The double pulled out a gun, probably the one that had been used to make the wound on his side, but he barely seemed prepared to fire it again in the awake face of the victim. His face was beginning to twist into plain misery.
Mordecai stiffened, “Woah! Woah! Woah! Hold on! What’s this even about?!”
The gun began to shake and his double choked, “You wouldn’t understand! So I’m getting rid of you before you do.” The trigger cocked.
“But I deserve an explanation at least, right?! I mean, you’re trying to kill me!” He continued to try and escape his bindings, wriggling his body desperately.
A sob escaped the back of his double’s throat and he clutched his head. His whole body was now shaking, “It’s just so messed up, man! It’s just so . . .” He groaned.
Mordecai paused, “Who are you?”
“I’m . . .” The mistreated bird looked lost for a second, and he let the gun down to his side for the moment, “I’m you, I guess.” He briefly wiped his eyes with his free hand.
“Oh.” Mordecai cocked his head to a side; he should have expected this, “What happened to me?”
A growl exited the back of his double’s throat, “I’m not telling you anything. You would never want to know, anyway.” He didn’t look the secretive type, but he looked serious about keeping this private. His eyes were tired, but icy.
“Wait a minute!” Mordecai dropped his jaw in wonderment, “Are you too coward to kill yourself, so you traveled back in time to kill me instead?”
“. . . Maybe.” He raised the weapon again, and aimed carefully, “Trust me; you’d be really glad that I did this.” His hand started quivering again and suddenly he reared back his arm and hurled it at the nearest tree, “ARGH! WHY CAN’T I DO THIS?! THIS SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD!!” It clanked dully, making a big sound in the quiet woods.
“Well, since I’m definitely not a murderer, why would you be?” Even though he sounded mad, Mordecai was feeling relief and gratification beyond belief filling him up. He relaxed all of his tense muscles, even though he was not quite sure if the danger was completely over, “Listen, dude. I understand that you’re upset about something. But is it really worth killing ‘yourself’ over?”
“I . . . don’t . . . know.” He suddenly hung his head like the shame of the world was bearing down on him. He looked so weary, like he was so done with everything that he had been through. Like life had served up its best crap to him, “I . . . don’t . . . know.” His eyes slid shut and a few tears dripped down onto his face.
“Hey,” Mordecai made his words come out soft, his insides beginning to churn with the guilt of not pitying this creature, “We can talk, dude. Even if I don’t understand.”
His double slowly looked down at him with a tired gaze, as if he had just realized now how exhausted he was, “I just can’t. Even if I go back, nothing’s going to change. “He bent down beside Mordecai and began to untie him, “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. It seems like everything I do digs me into a deeper pit. Like this.” He yanked out a final knot and then straightened up again.
Mordecai pushed the loose ropes off and tried to get up. However, he had forgotten about his injury, and yelped, “Aw, shhhh . . .” He held his side and fell back to the ground again, wincing.
“I don’t know what to do.” His double watched him flounder, slumping further, “I shouldn’t have ever come here, but I don’t want to go back . . . I really don’t.”
“I know what to do,” Mordecai gasped, still keeping a death grip on his wound.
His head shot up to meet his gaze, “What?”
“Go back to your own time.”
“. . . Dude, are you deaf? I just said that I didn’t want to go back.” He scowled lightly.
“No, I’m serious. Listen, I haven’t reached your point in life yet. I can still change things.” He grabbed a tree branch and pulled himself up into a half-standing position, “I mean, you came back and warned me, right? I could change everything.”
The two held each other’s gaze for a minute, each trying to see into the other’s world. Trying to catch a glimpse of what it was like and if they could ever trust one other.
The double gave a long, defeated sigh, “Alright.” He lifted his hands up into a defenseless position, “You win. I’ll do what you say.” It looked more like he wasn’t ready to argue with anyone, “Just don’t die from that bullet hole.”
“Eh, you know us.” Mordecai smiled, “Just trust me. Even if I don’t know what went wrong, I’ll do my best.”
“Dude, you don’t have to say anymore, I’m gone.” He pulled out the time machine, the same one that Rigby had bought so many months ago, and began to dial it, “See you later.”
“It’s already over, man.” Mordecai watched the figure dissipate into the air and vanish. Then he stood there a second later, gaining his breath and shortly reliving what had just happened.
Then, slowly, he hobbled towards home.
Wondering what things waited for him in the future, and if it was already too late.