Mysteries of the Fog
by Lori



It was mid-January, the air frigid and life on the Indefatigable was
continuing on as usual. Or, as usual as it could get.
Midshipman Hunter arrived at his midnight watch. "Wind steady from the
North, heavy fog." Horatio Hornblower reported. He was relieved from his
11:00 watch and retired to his hammock below decks.
The only people out on this freezing night were the helmsman and the
occasional officer or two. Hunter had a strange feeling about this watch.
This night in particular. It had an atmosphere that wasn't like any of the
others. Hunter clasped his hands tightly behind him and kept a close eye out
for his own safety and for the safety of the rest of the ship. He was, after
all, a "kings man".
Suddenly, there was a clatter on the quarterdeck below. Alarmed, Hunter
stepped forward and took a firm grasp of the wooden rail. He hesitantly
peeked over the edge. He chuckled to himself when he saw 3 chickens. They had
gotten loose and found their way up on deck. With another chuckle, Hunter
turned and stopped dead in his tracks. The helmsman was dead! "What on
earth ?" Hunter said under his breath. Then, he felt his throat grow tighter
and tighter. Hunter began to panic when he couldn't breath. He choked and
gagged for air, but whoever it was, wasn't planning to let go. With one last
choke, Hunter collapsed to the deck.

Only moments later, Captain Sir Edward Pellew rolled out of bed and hit
the floor with a thud. "Damn!" he said quietly, rubbing the back of his head.
Pellew stood and fumbled in the darkness for his uniform. Sir Edward gazed
out his large windows to the sea. Stretching his neck, he looked up at the
sky only to find that there was no moon! "No moon? I thought Hornblower said
there was a full moon tonight?" He shook his head and placed his strangely
shaped hat atop his crown. Pellew exited his cabin with a slight slam of his
door behind him. With a look of confusion, he turned toward his door. He
hadn't slammed his door! With another shake of his head, he pressed on up to
the deck. Above, Pellew spotted Master Bowles. "Mr. Bowles! What on earth is
going on?" he asked. Bowles hesitated before answering his captain.
"Two of our men were just murdered."
Pellew's brown eyes got wide. "Murdered? How?"
"I think you should come see for yourself, sir."
The two men climbed the stairs up to the bridge. There, crouching
between the bodies of Hunter and the helmsman was the ship's doctor, Dr.
Russell. Seeing the Captain arrive, Russell stood, leaving four seamen to
carry the bodies off. "I can't explain it, sir. These murders ." Russell
trailed off.
"How did these men die, Dr. Russell. That's what I want to know." Pellew
said to him firmly. Russell looked to the wooden deck as if the answer would
be written there for him.
"These men were strangled, Captain Pellew. But, I can assure you that it
wasn't by any of your officers or crew. None of them are strong enough to
strangle someone so. I happen to know that as a fact, sir." Russell
explained, his blue eyes full of worry and concern. Pellew searched the
doctor's face for a moment.
Young Hornblower looked up from the deck below. "Captain Pellew, sir!" he
called, running across the deck and up the stairs.
"Yes, Mr. Hornblower? What is it?" Said Pellew, looking at Hornblower at
a close range.
"Lieutenant Bracegirdle has asked you to come to the bow, sir."
"The bow? What ever for?"
"I imagine it's something somewhat serious. At once he said." Hornblower
explained. Pellew sighed and followed his young lieutenant.
"What in God's name happened here?!" Pellew shouted. The entire bow was
smashed, wood everywhere. Hearing the Captain's powerful voice, Bracegirdle
looked over. "Captain Pellew, sir!" he called, running up to Pellew. 'We've
run off course, sir and crashed into these cliffs." Bracegirdle explained
simply. "That's a bit obvious, isn't it Mr. Bracegirdle?" The two men were
silent for a moment. "Look, my ship is in pieces and two of my men have just
been murdered. I want to know why any of this has happened." Pellew said this
with great emphasis. Bracegirdle nodded and scurried off. Hornblower watched
him leave. "Mr. Hornblower, you look in major need of rest. Why don't you get
back to sleep." "Aye, aye, sir." Replied Hornblower, who nodded and scurried
down the stairs to the decks below.
Archie Kennedy was lying awake in his hammock when Hornblower returned.
"So, what's going on Horatio?" he asked curiously. "Well, the ship is
damaged." Horatio paused, wincing at the scene of the totaled bow. "And, Mr.
Hunter and the helmsman have died unexpectedly." There was silence for a few
moments. "Unexpectedly? What do you mean by that?" Archie asked, fear
creeping into his soft voice. "They were murdered. But, Dr. Russell believes
it was by no one aboard." Hornblower said this while climbing into his
hammock and pulling his sheet up. Archie felt some relief when Horatio said
it was by no one aboard. His blue eyes darted around the large room. The
shadows seemed all too menacing to him at this moment. He eventually lay back
down and closed his eyes.

As dawn was just beginning to brake the next morning, fog was beginning
to set in on the Indefatigable again. Filtering in through the nooks and
crannies of the deck, heading down the companionway to the decks below. The
foul dampness slid under the midshipman's mess door and pervaded into it. The
men were all in a dreamless sleep. Some snoring, some quiet. Some tossing and
turning, some still.
A dark figure appeared in the doorway. His clothes torn, ragged, and
filthy. He wore a scarf tied around his head, a black leather sash across his
chest, a large gold loop earring gleaming in the dim light. He searched the
large room, inspecting the many unsuspecting victims. Archie awoke suddenly,
blinking his blue eyes as they adjusted to the dim light. Sitting up and
stretching, he took a deep breath. Immediately afterwards, his face screwed
up in disgust. The room smelled of must, decay, and death; strong enough that
he had to cover his nose and mouth with his hand. He pulled the sheet off
himself and threw it aside. Archie hopped onto the wooden floor with his bare
feet, pulled on his pants and shoes and scrambled toward the mess door. With
a sudden gust of foul wind, the mess door slammed shut, sealing Archie in
with the demonic apparition.

As the bell tolled the end of one watch and the beginning of another,
Lieutenant Eccleston relieved Lieutenant Bracegirdle, even though the ship
was sitting against a cliff. Pellew still wanted the ship and its crew to be
safe even in the given situation.
"Wind to the South." Bracegirdle reported and retired to his quarters
below deck.
Eccleston sighed. His watch was going to be a long one.

* * *

Archie stumbled up on deck. He familiarized himself with his
surroundings, which was strange because Archie knew the decks of the
Indefatigable like the back of his hand. His breathing was quick and uneven.
His blue eyes were rimmed in pink and were darting about nervously. Archie
was desperately trying to get away from this unwanted visitor that only he
knew about. He stiffened in fear as he heard footsteps behind him. He turned
bravely to what he thought was an unexpected death. His face went white and
he screamed in terror.
Eccleston gasped. He wasn't expecting to hear such a horrible sound. He
looked over the railing and saw poor Archie writhing viciously on the deck
below.
"Oh good God!" Eccleston said, and ran immediately to the younger man's
side. "Someone help!" Eccleston shouted as loud as he could.
Hornblower was already on his way up to the deck before he heard
Eccleston's bellowing voice. He heard this cry for help and ran as fast as he
could up top. Clayton saw him and followed suit.
When Horatio arrived, he paused a moment. "Oh no, Archie." He said
quietly and went to his friend's side. "Archie, it's all right. Calm down."
Horatio's voice was soothing and calm; he said this as Clayton arrived at the
scene. Archie's writhing stopped and his breathing returned to normal. But,
the usual sleep that followed his fits didn't come. His eyes were wide, and
he gave a sideways glance to the three men beside him. With his arm, Archie
threw the three men off of him furiously. He shot to his feet while
Eccleston, Hornblower and Clayton stared at him, stunned. Archie looked at
the three sailors and grinned at them evilly.
"Ahhh, for two years I've been waiting for this moment. Revenge is
something I've wanted for a very long time." He explained.
"Mr. Kennedy, what on earth are talking about?" Eccleston asked.
Archie began to pace the deck, as if preparing himself for a
speech. "You know, I never did like your kind. The heroic sailor type. Always
got in my way. Even on the day of my death."
'Death?' the three men thought.
"Yes, I know what the three of you must be thinking. How can Archie be
dead, when he's standing right here in front of us?" There was silence for a
few moments. "Well, the man formally known as Archie Kennedy is dead to the
reality that we all know. And might be for a long time."
Hornblower stood in protest. "Are we to understand that you aren't
midshipman Archie Kennedy?" he asked.
"Ah, I see the young boy catches on quickly," the now unknown man said.
"What on earth is going on up here?!" Captain Pellew's voice boomed.
Eccleston, Clayton and Hornblower turned to meet their captain.
"Sir, we have a bit of a problem with Mr. Kennedy." Hornblower explained.
"Problem? What kind of problem?" Pellew asked, a confused look on his face.
"Well, look at him, sir!" Clayton said, his voice rising in impatience.
Eccleston, Clayton and Hornblower turned back around. Their faces were
expressionless. "Where did he go?" Eccleston asked. "He couldn't have just
vanished." Kennedy was gone, nowhere in sight.
"Ah, the fog seems to be thinning. We should make sail for Portsmouth.
We'll limp into harbor as gracefully as possible. Carry on men." Pellew
walked up to the bridge, and began chatting nautical terms and such with
Master Bowles.
Clayton, Hornblower and Eccleston still stood on the quarter deck, their
faces blank. After a few moments of doing this, the three men returned to
their quarters below decks to gather their thoughts.
That night, the Indefatigable limped into Portsmouth harbor for repairs.
***
Hornblower sat around the corner table of the Lamb Inn for the longest
time, staring blankly at the table in front of him. His face looked deep in
thought; his fingers running over his chin and lips.
Then, a light bulb flicked on in Hornblower's mind. He shifted slightly
in his chair and looked to Clayton who was sitting opposite him. "I left
Hunter to his watch with heavy fog last night." He said. "Yeah, so?" Clayton
said. "Hunter and the helmsman were killed in the fog." "Right." "We were
talking with Kennedy up on deck in fog, weren't we?" "Yeah, is this going
somewhere, Horatio?" Asked Clayton, confused at what Hornblower was trying to
make a connection with. "The fog was beginning to thin when Captain Pellew
came up on deck." "Right." "That's when Kennedy disappeared." "Right. What
are you trying to get at? I'm not understanding your babbling here, Horatio."
"I apologize. I'm just trying to make a connection to these events that have
been happening on board this past night. I believe I have made one." "Well?"
"All of these strange things have been happening in the fog. It must have
something to do with these events! The fog must have some kind of control or
power." "Oh! I get what you're saying now!" Clayton commented, beginning to
think along Horatio's lines now. Horatio stood saying, "We must warn Captain
Pellew. We may be in serious danger." Clayton nodded and followed him.

Captain Pellew sat at the table in his room above the inn and was also in
deep thought of the present situation he and his ship were in. There was a
knock at his door. "Come!" He said. The door opened and Hornblower and
Clayton entered.
"Sir, we have reason to believe that this ship may be in danger."
Hornblower reported to his captain.
"You think this ship is in danger? If you haven't already noticed Mr.
Hornblower, we are smack in the middle of it!"
Hornblower and Clayton were speechless for a moment.
"Yes, I, too, have made the connection. I do believe that this fog is
taking over this ship. And, if we don't act now we might not live to see
Christmas." Pellew said. Horatio gulped.


Archie sat in the cold, dark dampness of an onshore cave. With every
breath he took it steamed the air in front of him. He leaned back against the
rocky wall of the cave behind him; he brought his knees up close, trying to
keep himself warm. He sat, his eyes closed, shivering. He had already tried
to escape, but it only proved a painful failure. It wasn't long before Archie
fell asleep.

There was a sound. A sound that echoed through the long passages of the
cave. Archie awoke with a start and searched all around him. *Just a mouse.*
he thought and put his head back down to sleep. Almost immediately after,
Archie's eyes snapped back open. The foul smelling mist was back. All poor
Archie saw in the pitch-blackness was a pair a glowing red eyes.

Weeks had passed and the Indy was back to work, thank God.

"Fog off the starboard bow!" Lieutenant Bracegirdle shouted from the
fighting top above.
Pellew, Hornblower and Clayton heard this from the captain's cabin,
dropped everything and ran up top. When they arrived, the fog was setting in
rapidly on the Indefatigable.
"Let us pray that it's not too late for Mr. Kennedy." Captain Pellew said to
the two midshipmen next to him.
The three men stared forward, watching the swirling fog roll in against the
gray sky.
A sudden gush of bitter cold water poured up onto the deck, forcing men to
their knees to shield themselves from the stinging force. The Indy listed
severely; her masts inches from the water. The men aboard slid across the
deck, either slamming into each other, rigging, or whatever else was lying
about.
Afterwards, Hornblower got to his feet. He was dripping wet and his hands and
face were a light shade of pink from the stinging sea- water. He ran to the
rail, and what did he see? Archie! There was Archie floating helplessly in
the water, signaling the Indy. "Ahoy there!" Horatio smiled saying, "It's
Archie." He dashed up to the bridge and yelled at the Indy's new helmsman.
"Hard to starboard! Quickly now, quickly!" The helm was spun round and round.
Poor Mr. Bracegirdle was still hanging on for dear life in the fighting top
above.
Archie climbed on board, careful not to slip on the wet deck with his soaked
shoes.

Horatio came back to reality. He was standing alone on the quarterdeck,
everyone lying unconscious on the deck. In front of him was the creature of
the fog. Hornblower gulped and took a deep breath. The creature was studying
him. In a way that looked so familiar to Hornblower.
There was a sudden flash of blinding light. Horatio shielded his eyes with
his arm until it was over. When he looked back to the creature in front of
him, it took him off guard and his face went pale.
"Well, Mr. Hornblower!" There was Hornblower's worst nightmare. The one and
only Jack Simpson. Simpson approached Hornblower. "I should have known it was
you. Only you would do something like this." Said Horatio. Jack laughed
evilly.
Meanwhile, while Simpson and Hornblower were having their little reunion,
Archie came back to reality and looked at the two men across from him. He
gulped and slipped away behind the covered boat. He thought for a moment.
*Now what?* Archie thought for a few moments more, hearing the conversation
behind him beginning to get violent. He searched around him frantically,
searching for a way to get rid of Simpson and save Hornblower. Then, it
dawned on him. *This is the first time he's been in this form. He wasn't
mortal in the other state. This one, it looks as if he is.* Archie smiled and
got to his knees. Clayton was next to him and he moaned. "Shh.." Said Archie.
Clayton shook his head, as if to shake the pain away, and got to his knees
next to Archie as well. "Well, what a lovely little scene." Commented Clayton
sarcastically, meaning the horrifying picture of Hornblower and Simpson.
Something brushed against Archie's leg and he looked down. Hanging from
Clayton's waist was his sword. Archie paused for a moment. *This MUST be
fate.* he thought.
Without a question asked, Archie unsheathed Clayton's sword. "Archie? What
are you doing?" asked Clayton.
"Shh Just watch." Archie got to his feet and snuck, as low to the deck as
possible, around the rowboat and to behind one of the many cannons.
Over Simpson's shoulder, Hornblower saw his friend hiding. Their eyes meeting
briefly, Hornblower nodded once, understanding the action Archie was going to
take.
Simpson seeing the motion of Hornblower's eyes, he turned his head to look
behind him. Spotting Archie, he sprang after him. Immediately, Archie broke
into a run and dashed down the stairs to the decks below. He hid into a dark
corner and waited.
Simpson moved cautiously around the first deck, inspecting every space
possible.
Archie sprang from his corner, dashed across the room and his in another
shadowy corner.
Becoming impatient, Simpson spun in half circles as he walked. He was about
to give up his search when Archie's voice piped up from the darkness. "You
don't know what you are or who you are! You're just another coward!" Then, he
dashed off to the next deck below.
Simpson followed him, full of rage. He stopped in the center of the room and
yelled, "Come out and fight!"
"With pleasure." Replied Archie confidently. Without a moment's thought,
Archie raised the sword in his hand and thrust it through Simpson's back and
through the other side; all before Jack had the chance to turn. Simpson
cried out and sank to his knees.
Clayton and Hornblower, still on the deck above, heard this and glanced at
each other. The two men weren't sure whether it was Archie or Simpson. They
dashed down the stairs, down two decks and stopped in horror.
In a red flash of light, Jack Simpson was sucked down into the seventh level
of hell. Who knew what was to become of him? Who would care what would
happen? Hopefully, no one.

It was all over. Archie, for the first time in his short life as a sailor,
had saved his ship and all men aboard.
What would Captain Pellew have to say about this? Well, that's where I'm
going to let your imaginations decide.

The End