Distant Memories
by Lori

 

1797--
"Horatio, don't go. Please." Desperation crept into Archie Kennedy's voice as he bent over his bleeding comrade on the grassy riverbank.
Horatio Hornblower's wide brown eyes were locked with Archie's blue ones. He felt pressure in his body, along with immense pain. He moved his head to look down at his body, only to find his friend's hand covering a wound where a bullet had pierced his chest.
For the first time in all his years as a sailor, he was terrified. Terrified at what he might find when the world turned black around him and that warm light that he could just see now engulfed him. Horatio laid his head back down on the grass with a wince. He was aware of a warm stickiness beneath him. He was confused. Everything happened so fast. The last thing he remembered was Major Edrington shouting his name. Where was Edrington? Hornblower didn't know, he only knew that Kennedy was now gone. Replaced by a horrifying darkness. Horatio drew in a sharp breath and took a strong grip onto Archie's hand. His eyes darted back and forth at nothing, then paused, staring. "Archie, I"
"Shh, Horatio. Don't talk." Archie removed his hand from the wound, bringing it up with his other hand to enclose Horatio's in both of his.
"No, Archie II have toto say this." Horatio was careful now about what he said; he knew these were his last breaths. "I wanted to say thank you, Archie."
"Thank you? For what?"
"Forfor being there for me." He smiled slightly.
Archie chuckled softly, looking down at his hands for a moment.
Hornblower's grip on Archie's hand tightened. Archie looked down at Horatio, finding his breathing quick, his eyes wider than ever. His breath came in short gasps now.
Kennedy stared at Hornblower as his eyes took on a blank stare. His last exhale passed quietly through his lips; the beating of his heart suddenly stopping; the muscles of his face relaxing into a peaceful expression.
"Horatio, no. No, NO!"
A pair of gloved hands were placed on Kennedy's shoulders, pulling him away from the body of the young lieutenant.
Kennedy was pulled to his feet. He broke away from Edrington's grasp, wanting to stand there for a moment.
A light rain began to fall, washing away the blood that covered Kennedy's hands. He stared at them, watching the blood roll from his fingertips and palms, to drip to the grass below. He collapsed to his knees after a moment, unaware of the tears streaming down his face, mixing with the rainwater. He began to sob, his hands still held out before him.
Edrington approached him and without hesitation pulled Kennedy up into a brotherly embrace.

 

2000 ­
"Yo, Kris!" Elizabeth Hutchinson called up the stairs. "Hurry up! We're going to miss our flight!"
Kris Alexander came bounding down the stairs, her suitcases obviously hastily packed. "Where's Sam? Did she come down yet?" she asked.
"She's already in the car. We've been waiting for you for half an hour! What takes you so long to get ready?"
Kris shrugged and pushed passed Liz out the front door.
Liz sighed and followed her friend out the door, locking and checking it before she got in the car.
Kris, Liz, and Sam McDermott were three American college students who had just been set free for spring break. They were traveling to England to stay at a cottage they rented for some r and r. They had been working like dogs for weeks now, studying for a test coming up. Two of the three of them were excited about going to England; it was a place that none of them had been before.
Sam, on the other hand, didn't seem so excited. "It's only England. What's the big deal?" she had said when they first planned on traveling.

The next morning, their plane landed in London. The three girls walked off the plane and headed right to the baggage claim.
Sam and Liz stood side by side, waiting patiently for their luggage.
"Where'd Kris, go?" Liz asked Sam after a moment.
"She said she was going to use the bathroom."
"But she's been gone for ten minutes! What could she possibly be doing"
"Hey, guys!" Kris' voice cut off Liz's words.
Sam and Liz looked up to find Kris among the baggage on the angled conveyer belt, waving.
Liz sighed heavily, her head falling to her hands. She should have known that something like this was going to happen. Every trip the three took together, Kris ended up doing something that embarrassed the other two. She hoped they wouldn't be long going through customs. Liz just wanted to be inside the cottage, keeping Kris away from the public eye as much as possible.

Liz and Kris entered the cottage first, suitcases in hand, finding it dark and cold. The shades on the windows were down and there were unlit logs in the fireplace.
Before she entered, Sam looked about at the foggy surroundings. A grey river flowed not far from where she was standing. It crashed against the shore quietly, as if whispering something.
A soft breeze gently blew against Sam's face, cooling her skin, making her shiver slightly.
She looked down at the lush, green grass beneath her feet. She shifted, making it crunch from the frozen dew.
Something in the corner of her eye caught her attention. She looked up suddenly, startled to see a person standing at the river's edge, looking out over the water. As she stared at this figure, she thought of how oddly it was dressed. But, somehow, she knew the clothing they were wearing. It was then that she realized the strange feeling of the place she was standing. Had she been here before? Had she seen this river before? Sam knew she'd never been to England, but somehow everything was familiar to her.
"Horatio?" she said under her breath, seeming to recognize the person.
The figure at the riverbank turned its head to face Sam. It smiled and promptly disappeared before her eyes.
Sam stood motionless for a moment, her eyes wide in shock. Who was Horatio? She never heard the name before, nor had she seen the person before. She ran back to the cottage, hurrying inside and slamming and locking the door behind her. She leaned back against the door, her eyes still wide, her breathing quick.

 

The pitch darkness surrounded the little cottage as the afternoon disappeared into the evening. Rain had been forecast for that evening and it was already starting to drizzle.
The three women were spread out in the living room. Kris sat at a corner table desperately trying to find music on the radio. Liz lay on the couch, her nose stuck in a copy of Stephen King's The Shining. Sam sat by the window, staring out into the darkness.
Sam McDermott was not one to get scared easily. But, there was something about this place that gave her an uneasy feeling. But the fact that she saw a person disappear into thin air was what got to her the most. How did she know who that person was? These things were not making any sense to her! She shook her head and moved to the crackling fire in the fireplace, pulling her hair into a ponytail as she did so. She sat down cross-legged on the hearth, staring into the flames.
Kris gave up with the radio and decided to sit by the fire as well. She pulled her legs up, wrapping her arms around her knees and leaned against the end of the couch.
There was a knock at the door.
Liz stuck her bookmark in the page and got up to answer the door. "Can I help yo," she started to say. She blanched, staring out the door.
"Liz? What's the matter? Who's there?" Kris got up and went to stand beside her friend. Her eyes went wide.
"Guys?" Sam stood to face them.
Liz slammed the door shut and she and Kris turned around slowly.
"Well? Who was it?" Sam asked after a moment.
"There uh" Liz laughed sheepishly and continued. "There uh wasn't anybody there."
Sam stared at her two friends.
Kris and Liz skidded across the room to huddle on the hearth. Their eyes were wide and they couldn't stop looking around them. They were absolutely terrified!
Sam sat down and stared at the front door, lost in thought. "It was Horatio," she said softly after a moment.
The two huddled forms turned their heads to look at Sam, their brows furrowed in confusion.
"He wants me to go with him. He's lonely," Sam went on. She was doing it again! She wasn't making any sense! How did she know these things?
"What are you talking about, Sam? Who's Horatio?" Kris asked, crawling towards Sam.
"Horatio is a friend. I've known him since he first came aboard the"
Liz's book slid off the couch, landing on the floor with a thud.
Sam shook her head, blinking a few times as she came back to her reality. She turned to Kris and Liz to find them staring at her. "Is there something wrong, guys?"
"Are you all right?" Liz asked.
"I'm fine!" Sam said, smiling slightly.
"Do you mind telling us who Horatio is?" asked Kris.
"Who?"
"Horatio. You said he was the one who knocked on the door just now."
Sam shrugged. "I have no idea who Horatio is. I've never heard the name before in my life."

Sam had lapses like this for the next three days. One of those times, she scared Liz and Kris so much, that they decided to call up a psychic to make an appointment. They were afraid, not of Sam, but of what was happening to her and of the things she was saying.

It was the morning before her appointment and Sam decided to take a walk along the river. For some odd reason, though, a sonnet by Shakespeare entered her mind. This struck her as strange because she hadn't read Shakespeare in years. She didn't even like his work! But this particular sonnet that entered her mind she began to recite, word for word, like she had read it hundreds of times before.
Is it thy will thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows like to thee do mock my sight?
Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee
So far from home into my deeds to pry,
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenour of thy jealousy?
O, no! thy love, though much, is not so great :
It is my love that keeps mine eye awake;
Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,
To play the watchman ever for thy sake :
For thee watch I whilst thou dost wake elsewhere,
From me far off, with others all too near.

She shook her head, trying to make the blasted piece of literature go away. Instead, it was replaced by an image of a bridge in a distant place. There were men here, oddly dressed though. Horses and muskets and were those cannons? Surely they couldn't be real, could they?
"Fire! Reload!" someone shouted.
Hold on a moment, who said that? Sam didn't recognize the voice, but she could feel her lips moving. She felt her fingers at her ears as the cannon before her roared.
"Sir, we can't see anything, Sir!" someone said beside her.
"Do as I tell you!"

"Hey, Liz, what do you think Sam is doing out there?"
"She said she was going for a walk. Why?"
"Well, what she's doing now doesn't look like a merry stroll."
Liz walked to the window and stood beside Kris. The two women watched through the window as Sam shouted orders to invisible people, and held her ears as if to block out a terrible noise.
"Well, I guess we should go and stop her. We have to leave for her appointment."
Liz and Kris locked up the cottage and crossed the grass. They stood watching Sam for a few more moments, looking on as their friend straightened up and began looking across the river.
In her image, Sam stood at the end of a bridge, holding a long piece of metal with cord wrapped around it. "I can't do it yet," she thought. "he could still be out there."
Liz and Kris approached Sam and took her by the arms, shaking her from her trance.
Sam started as the image of the bridge and the men around her disappeared into the quiet river and stared at her two friends standing beside her.
"We have to leave for your appointment," stated Kris.
"Already? Where did the time go?" Sam smiled and walked towards their rented vehicle.
Kris and Liz exchanged weary glances and followed Sam.


"Hello, ladies," said Dr. Chapman, her voice warm and friendly.
"Hello, doctor," said Liz, coming in the small room slowly.
Chapman shut the door quietly, then came to stand in front of the three young women. "Which of you is Sam?" She asked, folding her hands.
Sam raised her hand slightly, forcing a smile onto her face.
Dr. Chapman smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Will you have a seat, please?" She motioned to the couch across the room.
Sam nodded and went to sit down.
Chapman approached Liz. "So, what was it you said your friend is experiencing?" She asked in a whisper.
"Well, doctor," began Liz, she wasn't sure of how to explain this. "Sam has been acting really strange since we came here to England. She talks to things that aren't there; she speaks of people that she's never heard of before. She acts totally different from herself one minute, then she's normal the next! We can't explain what's been happening to her."
"I see." Chapman paused as she thought a moment. "Have you considered the thought of a past life?"
This caught Kris and Liz off guard. "No. No, we haven't," answered Kris.
"I know of a way that we can speak to Miss McDermott's past life. Whoever she was then will come forward and we can speak to her as I am talking to you now."
"Go ahead then, doctor. Whatever you think will help, we're all for it."
Dr. Chapman moved a chair across the room, setting it down in front of where Sam was sitting on the brown leather couch.
Kris and Liz stood behind Chapman.
"Now, Sam, I want you to do something for me. I want you to make a fist and hold it in the air with your elbow on the armrest, like this." The doctor gave an example of the action.
Sam did as she was told.
"Good. Now, just sit back and relax. Close your eyes and take a deep breath."
Sam did so, her body relaxing.
Liz and Kris stood by, watching as Dr. Chapman as she put Sam into a hypnotic trance. After a few minutes, she is ready to begin the session. "I want you to go into your past. Beyond your life as Sam McDermott." Chapman paused as she watched her words take effect on the woman before her. "What do you see?"
Sam's eyes opened after a moment, and she stared at the carpet before her. "I see hammocks. Men are crowded around me. I am walking hunched over."
"Why are you walking hunched over?" Chapman asked.
"There is a low ceiling here. There are coils of rope at my feet. It is hot down here, stuffy. I go up steps; I am outside now. It is foggy out here. I can feel the coolness against my skin. Men are running about me; orders are being screamed at them.
I can hear something in the distance. Cannon fire. Shouting. I look out at the horizon; I see a shape disappearing into the fog. I can see the white sails on her masts and the French flag at her stern. They are the enemy." Sam bursts into tears suddenly. "I am afraid."
"What are you afraid of?" Dr. Chapman asks.
"Death. I am afraid of death." Her tears stop as suddenly as they came. "Men are falling around me. Someone calls my name; they need my help. I follow them to a cannon at the railing."
"Are you on a ship?" the doctor asks.
"Yes, a frigate. She is such a beautiful ship." Sam smiles painfully. "I am bending over the cannon now. I am looking through the port for the enemy. The French ship appears again, along side us now. I yell 'fire.' I step aside as the cannon rolls back with the recoil. I position myself to do the action again but the other ship fires at us. I fall back as wood splinters and lands in small pieces around me."
Sam is breathing heavily now. She is silent for a few moments, but she keeps her eyes fixed on the floor.
Liz and Kris are on the verge of tears as they stand and watch their friend.
Sam continues tiredly. "I am rising. I am rising now. High above above my body. Above the deck. My face is bloody. One of my men is also dead. He is Kris. My captain is kneeling over me." She bursts into tears once again. "He's upset." The tears stop. "He is Liz. His name is Captain Sir Edward Pellew. And my name my name is Lieutenant Archie Kennedy."

THE END