A Little Bit Of Work

A Little Bit Of Work

A Chapter by North Dakota
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Mordecai and Taylor could both use some good karma...

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After his ice cream escapade, it was business as usual for Mordecai around the base. As he was currently indulging in his regularly scheduled sleeping in session, Taylor roughly barged into his room, not caring enough to knock.

“Yo! Nap time’s over, kimosabe! We got work to do!” Taylor enthusiastically shouted as he jarred his friend awake.

“What?” Mordecai sleepily responded.

“I’ve got a special assignment and it requires your assistance. So, ya know, get up. Like, now, we have a schedule to keep.” Taylor urged the hunter, who simply ignored him and rolled over to the other side of his bed. “Alright, you’ve got about fifteen seconds to get outta bed or I’m tossing you out.” Taylor declared his ultimatum.

“Ugh, Jesus. What time is it?” The half-asleep hunter questioned.

“Oh, it’s about...8:14.” Taylor said after giving a quick glance to the hunter’s bedside alarm clock.

“Great, come get me in four hours.” Mordecai retorted. Taylor sighed, not wanting to revert to his more rudimentary tactics. After a few minutes of abrupt silence, Mordecai supposed his friend had given up on his quest to awaken him. The young man smiled to himself as his thoughts began to drift into a blissful drowsiness. Just as he felt slumber’s embrace begin to take hold of him, a sharp blast of cold shook him awake.

“Ah, Jesus Tap dancing Christ! What the f**k!?” Mordecai jumped out his bed, which was now completely soaked in freezing water. The hunter gazed to his left to see his friend--soon to be deceased friend--smiling and waving with an empty bucket in his left hand.
“So, about that mission…” Taylor began to repeat himself as Mordecai tackled him.


“Okay, so tell me again, why don’t I need my gear?” Mordecai saltily questioned Taylor as they walked down the hallway towards the garage. After a brief scuttle, the two made a compromise to work together on this mission, but only if Taylor never did that s**t again.

“Because this assignment requires a very specific load-out, and I feel your hunting gear may compromise the mission.” Taylor, who now had a large bruise on his left cheek, replied. Mordecai took a moment to observe his current “gear.” He was clad in a pair of old brown trousers, a white T-shirt, and a pair of steel toed boots. Taylor was clad in very similar attire, only his pants were blue jeans instead. The Lieutenant lead the two into the garage, where Taylor’s preferred black van was silently waiting for its master’s return.

“So, what? Is it some sort of stealth mission? Because I could just say I’m a chauffeur or something if people get suspicious.” Mordecai attempted to poke a hole in his friend’s theory, but he simply grinned in return.
“Don’t worry, you’ll understand plenty about the mission soon enough.” Taylor said as he climbed into the driver’s seat of the van with Mordecai riding shotgun.

“Good morning, Mr. Adams.” A voice from the back of the van startled Mordecai, causing him to quickly whip his head around to see four other men clad in simple attire sitting in the back.

“Uh, Taylor, how many people do we need for this mission anyway?”

“As many as we can get, bud.” Taylor responded, then started the engine.


As the six men drove down the road in friendly silence that was broken with small talk or stories every now and again; Mordecai couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. What could Taylor need this many unarmed people for? Could it be some sort of diversion? Maybe luring a target out in plain sight? Or perhaps gathering Intel on a location before a strike? As the hunter immersed himself in thought, he completely missed the conversation that had been directed at him.
“Hey, Mordecai. Hey!” Taylor tried to snap his friend out of it. With that not working, he decided to quickly veer to the right then back to the left, shaking the hunter and forcing him to hit his head on the window.

“Ow, what the hell?!”
“Oh, come on. You’ve got divine power, suck it up. Anyway, McGrady’s talkin’ to you.” Taylor informed his friend. Mordecai looked in the back, and, without a clue who McGrady was, spoke.

“Who?”

“Oh, well, introduction time, I guess. Uh, back left, that’s Smith.” He gestured to a man with cropped brown hair and a small mustache.

“Howdy.” Smith cheerfully greeted. Mordecai nodded in return.

“Back right, that’s Curry.” A shorter man with blonde hair waved. “Front left would be Oscar.” The tallest man of the group with a shaved head grinned at his introduction. “And, finally, front right would be James McGrady.” Mordecai had a quick flashback. This young man with slightly shaggy blonde hair was one of the men he had greeted just a few days before.

“Hello again, sir.” He politely greeted him.

“Yeah, uh, good to see you again. Anyway, what were you sayin’?” Mordecai tried to segway his way out of the awkwardness.

“Oh, I was just asking how you two met.” The private questioned.

“Us? We met in basic training after…” Mordecai’s voice trailed off, but Taylor quickly picked up.

“After our parents died. It’s just a fact. Most people who enlist in the Holy Sword have lost their family or something important to them to the goddamn monsters.” Taylor stated, slightly bitter.

“Yeah, anyway, we met when we were about...What was I? Twelve?”

“About that, and I was thirteen.” Taylor informed his friend.

“We met and became fast friends.” This caused Taylor to scoff.

“Psh, fast friends? We beat the s**t out of each other!” Taylor looked at his friend in disbelief that he had left out that detail.

“Well, yeah, we did get into one fight. After that though, this b*****d became my best friend.” A smile stretched across his face as he spoke.

“I still kicked his a*s though.” Taylor reminded him.

“You wanna pull over and see who wins this time?” Mordecai challenged.

“Hey, it ain’t fair, you’ve got a blessing. You wanna fair fight, lose the Jesus piece.”

“Not gonna happen, bud.” Taylor shook his head and rested his arm out the window of the van.


After about an hour of driving, the men finally arrived at the destination. The pitch black van pulled into the driveway of an enormous country house with a beautiful blossoming garden out front that stretched across the entire front of the property, which was several acres long. The wonderful flora stretched out on both sides until it returned to the undomesticated forest that surrounded the home. Mordecai admired the beauty of the front yard and all of its vibrant colors.

“Lovely place, isn’t it?” Taylor questioned his friend, who nodded in agreement. “Get used to the sight, you’ll be seein’ it for a while.” Taylor stated as he turned off the engine then exited the van.

“What do you mean?” Mordecai asked as he followed his friend. Taylor quickly rounded the van, then opened the side door, sliding it out then climbing in. With the key he kept in his pocket, he began to open the weapons locker that was welded to the back of the inside.

“So, what’s our gear, anyway?” Mordecai inquired, excited to finally see what he got to wield. The lieutenant opened the cabinet, which, to Mordecai’s surprise and irritation, was filled with gardening tools.

“......What?” Mordecai spoke in a dreadful tone.

“Take your pick!” The leader spoke, then grabbed a shovel and a pitchfork from the cabinet. He exited the van, then handed Mordecai a shovel.

“What is going--” His statement was interrupted by a voice coming out of the house.

“Oh my, Taylor! It’s good to see you boys again.” A frail old lady emerged from her extravagant white house, clutching onto the handrail as she descended the front porch’s steps.

“Ah, it is lovely to see you too, Beth!” Taylor quickly closed the distance between the two and hugged the aged woman.

“I really do appreciate this, you have no idea.” She thanked the leader, who simply grinned in return.

“I’m more than happy to, ma’am.”

“You’re such a sweet boy, and your friends back there too.” She planted an affectionate kiss on Taylor’s cheek to which he laughed.

“Thank you, Mrs. O’Keefe. It’s no problem at all.” Taylor commented, then returned to the van. The four men of the squad had already gathered their particular gardening tool, waiting for instruction.

“No.” Mordecai simply stated to the Lieutenant.

“Where I come from, if a sweet old lady needs some help with her garden, you pick up a goddamn shovel. Come on, it’ll be fun.” Taylor slapped an encouraging hand onto his less-than-happy friend’s shoulder.

“What are we doing, anyway?” Mordecai questioned.

“Well, as you can see in every direction, Beth has this beautiful garden.”

“I do…”

“Well, to keep it bright and healthy, it needs mulch.”

“Mulch?”
“Yeah, you know, compost that enriches soil and helps it grow--”

“Yeah, I know what f*****g mulch is. I’m just wondering why an elite task force is doing this.”

“Oh, Mordy, I’ll tell you in due time. In the meantime, get shoveling on that mound over there.” Taylor pointed to an enormous pile of rich brown compost piled at the edge of the woods.

“We’re gonna move all of that?”

“Well, we’ll probably have a little left over. But, mainly, yeah.” Taylor informed his friend, who stood there, dumbfounded as the other five approached the pile.

“Alright men, there are two wheelbarrows in the shed out back, go get ‘em.” McGrady and Oscar nodded, then took the assignment upon themselves.

“This is ridiculous.” Mordecai commented.

“Actually, it’s mulch.” Taylor’s joke did not amuse him. “We’re gonna be spreading this along the bushes, the flowers, the hedges, etc. You got it?”

“This’ll take all day.” Mordecai pessimistically stated.

“What? You’ve never done any manual labor?”

“I grew up in the city, buddy. Mulch spreading isn’t exactly in my repertoire.”

“Well, you’re gonna learn real quick then, aren’t ya?” Taylor playfully nudged his friend who absolutely did not want to be there.  The duo brought back the wheelbarrows. “Alright, men, let’s earn us some good karma!” Taylor pumped his fist in the air, receiving a similar fist pump and cheer from every other man besides Mordecai.

“What do I need good karma for? I’m a great guy.” Mordecai boasted, to which Taylor impishly smirked.

“Atlantic city, 2009, bro.” Taylor reminded him, causing the color in Mordecai’s face to drain.

“That was not my fault.”

“How about Virginia Beach, 2013?”

“How can you blame me for that one?”

“You punched that kid in the face!”
“He had it coming!”
“He was twelve!” Taylor retorted to the hunter who was apparently much less than a saint. “Alright then, how about last year at--”

“Shh! We don’t talk about that one. Ever.” Mordecai cut him off.

“Well, I suppose you have a motivation now,  don’t ya?” Taylor mocked his friend. Mordecai rolled his eyes, then proceeded to stab his shovel into the mulch pile.

“This is gonna be a looong day…” He muttered to himself.


About two hours into the job, Beth came out of her house with a tray of drinks for the working men.

“Ah, thank you, ma’am.” McGrady thanked the woman who was surprisingly taller than him.

“You’re welcome, sweetie. Would he like something to drink?” She gestured to Mordecai, who was furiously digging away at the mulch pile and filling the wheelbarrow.

“Yeah, he’s just...blowing off steam.” Taylor said, then grabbed both his and Mordecai’s drink.

“Yo, break time.” The lieutenant reminded the hunter who was hard at work.

“I’m fine.”

“Either you take the drink or I'm drinkin' it.” Taylor dictated another ultimatum.

“Fine, God, you’re bossy today.” Mordecai stabbed his shovel into the mulch pile then took the drink, uttering a small “thanks.”

“Beautiful place, itn’t it?” Taylor spoke as he gazed across the vibrant field of color. Mordecai focused more on what places still needed mulch.

“I’m just glad to be about done here.” A moment of silence between the two, then a laugh from Taylor.

“Ha, what?” He questioned, giving his friend an amused look.

“Yeah, we’ve only got that little bit over there,”--He pointed to the left side of the garden--”and then we’ll be done.” Taylor smirked.

“Follow me.” The hunter did as he was told, tailing the leader to behind the house. “Does that look about done to you?” He motioned towards not only the flower beds and trees surrounding the back porch, but in the middle of the back yard was an enormous hedge maze that, even from where they were standing, Mordecai could see two large cherry blossom trees sprouting out above the center of the hedges. The hunter allowed a small amount of the cold water to dribble out of his mouth in shock.

“Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack. Now, come on, break’s over.” Mordecai clutched his fist, then punched a nearby tree, shaking it and causing a dead branch to fall from the top and strike him. In his juvenile tantrum, Mordecai prepared to strike the tree again out of anger, but Taylor spoke up.

“I wouldn’t do that, she likes that tree, and knocking it down would make her sad. Do you really wanna make an old lady sad? That’d make you look like a real dick.” Mordecai sighed, then composed himself enough to buckle down and get to work.


Five hours had passed since they had arrived. With the utmost proficiency, the team was able to knock out the work fairly quickly considering the size of it all. But, for some odd reason, Taylor insisted that he and Mordecai go into the inside of the hedge maze alone, infuriating the hunter. After they had reached the final stretch that reached into the middle, Mordecai had considered bashing his friend in the back of the head with his shovel at least four times.

“Ah, we’re finally here.” Taylor said, wiping a few beads of sweat from his brow.

“Finally.” Mordecai curtly replied. The lieutenant walked into the square center of the maze, leaving his friend’s line of sight.

“Get in here, Mordecai.” The hunter frustratedly sighed, then followed his friend into the center.

“Could you please tell me what could be so important that we had to do this all ourselves--” He cut himself off when he saw what the commotion was about. In the center of the hedges, between two blooming cherry blossom trees, sat a small stone with an even smaller plate on the ground in front of it. “What is this…?” Mordecai solemnly questioned.

“It’s his grave. Her son’s grave. Sergeant Stanley O'Keeffe. He died a couple weeks ago in the Carlin city mission. She had this garden planted in his memory.” The lieutenant spoke with a heavy heart. Taylor kneeled down to the grave on one knee.


Small cherry blossom petals scattered about the area, idly lying on the ground and floating in the air, giving the whole scene a bitter-sweet appearance.

“He died because of me, Mordecai. My poor judgement cost him his life, and his mother a son. These aren’t just soldiers, they’re people. They have emotions and dreams and ambitions...but a lot of people don’t see that, do they?” Taylor asked, directing his gaze away from the tombstone. Mordecai downheartedly kneeled beside his friend.

“I know, I understand that you care about these men, Taylor. And they know it too. You’d never let anything happen to them if you could control it, but sadly, you can’t. We’re not facing an enemy you can prepare against, no matter how hard you try. These are monsters, they’re unpredictable and they’re deadly.” Mordecai laid a sympathetic hand on his friend’s shoulder. There was a small pause between them, before Taylor choked down a sob, then spoke.

“I should be dead, Mordecai. The f*****g monster had snuck up on me and he tackled it. By the time I turned around, it had already tore his throat out. After we’d dealt with the vampire, I tried to save him, but...h-he bled out too quickly. And even though he didn’t want to die...he passed away with a smile on his face. He died for me. His life for mine. I should be the one in the ground, not him!” Taylor balled his fist and grit his teeth, his rage flowing forth, then turning to sorrow again.

“I won’t let it happen again. I don’t want to bring another boy home in a box when he could have been saved. You know, next month was his birthday. He would have been 36 years old…” Taylor stared at the grave. Atop the mound of dirt sat a small picture frame with a photo of the Sergeant grinning as his wife gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“I believe in you, Taylor.” The lieutenant turned to meet his friend’s words. “I’ll be by you every step of the way, and if you fall...I’ll catch you, along with every soldier under your command.” Mordecai's kind words were enough to barely bring a small, sorrowful smile to Taylor’s face.


The lieutenant once again turned towards the grave, then bowed his head and closed his eyes, Mordecai did the same.

“Lord, this brave soul has given his life for another. This man died in service to your world, his dedication to keep its divinity intact and to cast the unholy shadows away from the breaking dawn was commemorable. Sergeant First Class Stanley O'Keeffe is no longer with us, but may his soul rest easy as he is now under your command, Lord. When the night is silent, and all is worrisome, we will know that his bravery was not wasted as his spirit will stay with us even in the afterlife. May we all eventually return to your domain, Lord, but for now, let us do what we can to purify these beings that dare mock your gift of life. Amen.” Taylor finished his prayer with a definitive nod.

“Amen.” Mordecai responded. The two stood, they remained speechless for a moment, allowing all of the Sergeant’s actions and good deeds to recollect in their minds. After the moment of silence, Taylor and Mordecai both brushed the mulch and dust from their clothes. The lieutenant turned to his friend with teary eyes and a warm smile.

“Thank you, Mordecai...It means a lot to me that you were here for this.” Taylor embraced his friend in a strong hug, then gave a glance towards the grave. “And thank you for your service, Sergeant, may you forever rest in peace.” After wiping away a final tear, Taylor returned to his usual cocky demeanor, placing his hands in his pockets and began walking back towards where they had left their equipment.

“Come on, we’ve still got work to do.” Though the lieutenant was trying to brush off his emotional outburst, Mordecai could hear the traces of being choked up still in his voice.

“That we do...That we do…” Mordecai whispered, then followed his friend to the wheelbarrow.


After the six packed up their gear and had been given their thanks, they piled into the van. Along the power line, a murder of crows sat, staring with intrigue at the crew. Among these crows sat a single raven with a single red eye.

“Oh, Mordecai, you truly will be the one, won’t you…?” A thin, aged man with a similar glowing red eye sat in an antique wooden chair, far away from where his spy observed. A smirk crossed his lips as he spoke. “The moment will come...all in due time…” He trailed off, letting his voice echo and reverberate through the walls of his isolated home.



© 2016 North Dakota



Author's Note

North Dakota
I hope you enjoy! As always, thank you for reading, and feel free to comment!
*Small edits

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Added on April 4, 2016
Last Updated on July 2, 2016


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North Dakota
North Dakota

VA



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I'm an amateur author who enjoys writing more than anything. I hope to improve my writing style and etiquette through the criticism of others. So, any review or criticism would be greatly appreciated,.. more..

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