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WHAM!
by HMS Lozzy

Part One

Wham!
"Ouch!" Archie exclaimed as he felt something hot hit him on the
right side of his chest. `What was that' he though as he felt the
sting in his side. Raising his hand he felt the place where the
pain was, but then the pain went as fast as it had come. Horatio
was riding a few paces ahead, keeping his eyes wide watching for any
approaching danger. Archie just shook his head and kept on
riding, `it was probably just a stone that hit him' and he thought
no more about it. He breathed in, then gasped and lurched forward,
he could not breath. Pain filled his lung and his mouth fell open
in shock. What was wrong with him, what had happened? Something
was wrong with him, very wrong, but what? He could not cry out as he
had no breath and the rest of the group were beginning to move
further way. He felt he should stop and dismount, but he did not
want to cause a fuss as they were still riding through such a
dangerous place. Also the slightest disturbance could put them all
in danger. His mind raced, but he focused on just breathing, `just
breath and everything will be alright.' He thought, but everything
was not alright. He felt dizzy, and the pain disturbed him but he
tried to ignore it and he just concentrated on his riding and
getting back to the shore and to their ship.

Horatio, in front, had not seen Archie lurch in pain, or call out,
but he decided to slow his horse anyway, allowing Archie's to catch
up. As he moved closer he called out "Are you alright back here?"

Archie looked up but just nodded and smiled, the pain in his chest
took his breath away and he found he couldn't speak.

Horatio watched and smiled back "It safe to speak now, we are well
past the danger now." At least he believed they were. The French
garrison should be at least a mile away by now. "We will soon be
back on the Indy!" he called and smiled, thinking about being back
in deck with a strong westerly wind blowing them home.

Archie, grinned slowly back and nodded, the pain in his chest was
getting worse but he did not want Horatio to see. He did not want to
cause problems, not now the mission was nearly over. He winced a
little, trying to hide his pain, hoping Horatio would turn away and
not see.

Horatio's sharp, dark eyes did notice though, he did see him wince
and thought it was strange that his friend did not say a word. "Its
alright now, we can talk." He called back then he saw the colour of
his friends face drain. Archie tried again to smile and look normal,
but he knew he could not.

It was then that Horatio noticed that his usually bright blue eyes,
were now dull and looked, in pain? "Mr Kennedy are you alright?" He
glanced over him and saw something dark on Archie's saddle; it was
not normal for him to keep secrets, not now anyway. Not even as a
bit of humour, Horatio pulled up his horse and moved beside his.
Without thinking Horatio reached over and touched the dark stain.

"It's nothing" Archie tried to say, but instead of words, blood fell
from his mouth. Horatio's head shot up and he stared in horror, as
Archie's blood fell onto his out stretched hand. Dread filled his
heart. Archie's chin and white shirt were crimson and his face was
now deathly white with shock. He began to tremble `No, not Archie,
not my friend.' Horatio's world froze, for a moment all he could
think was that his friend was injured and dying and there was
nothing he could do about it. But there was, they had to get back
to the ship, Dr Charnock would be able to help him there.

Part Two

Horatio quickly moved his horse next to Archie's and put his arm
around his waist to keep him falling off his horse. As he did so
Archie fell against him, his strength leaving him. `What was
happening, it did not make any sense.' the pain, from what he could
feel, was all over the right side on his chest, and it was getting
worse. His head was spinning and he could not breath properly.
Somewhere in the distance he heard Horatio shout "Marines, To Me!"

Archie tried to say "I'm sorry" thinking himself a burden, but only
a whisper left his lips. He thought back to El Farrol when Horatio
should of left him there, he should do that now and get back to the
Indy, but in his heart he didn't want to be left behind, again.

Horatio's mind was racing, `how could this be happening, the danger
was past, how could this be happening,' he watched the marines in
front of them stopped and turned back. He then heard Archie trying
to speak, "It's alright Archie, it's alright," he tried to comfort
him, "I'll get you out of here, don't say your sorry!" He began
shaking, not just with fear, but also with anger. They had both
been through so much together, and survived dark days in their
pasts, but now to see his best friend bleeding beside him, `How
could this be? They were past the dangerous area now for sure but
how did this happen, HOW?'

The Captain of the Marines was the first to reach them. He took hold
of the reins of Archie's horse and looked desperately at
Horatio, "Sir, Mr Hornblower, what has happened!" he cried, feeling
very concerned at the scene he was witnessing.

Horatio struggled to keep the horses steady, they shied as the
Marine came near them, "Its Lieutenant Kennedy!" He shouted
back "He's been shot, we must get back to the Indefatigable,
Immediately!"

The Marine took a moment to say "Aye-sir" and salute. The sight of
the two men leaning on each other, one fit and healthy with a face
full of anger, and the other pale, quiet and lost looking. He then
turned and shouted "Marines to me!"

* * *

At the shoreline, on the French beach, waiting in a pair of jolly
boats, Styles was playing a game of dice against Oldroyd, and
Matthews sat by the tiller of the other boat watching the inland
horizon. Watching, waiting and listening for any noise, any sign
which heralded the return of the men who'd gone ashore the previous
day.

Occasional he looked back towards the Indy the mist beginning to
surround her as she also waited, waiting for her men to
return, `like a concerned mother waiting for her children to
return'. Matthews thought to himself.

They had been waiting there for over four hours, and the dice had
provided some entertainment, as well as a way of increasing Style's
pay for that day. But the sun would be setting soon and it would
soon be dark, and rowing back on a dark, misty sea was not a
prospect he wanted to face.

"And another pair, Oldroyd that's another sixpence you owe me when
we get back to the bloody Indy," Styles shouted gleefully,

"Oh!" retorted Oldroyed, putting his hand to his face then waving it
in the air, "That was just luck, you've fiddled with those dice
you `ave. I bet you whittled them so that they land like that" He
was feeling very annoyed, not only had he lost today's pay but the
next days as well. He was fuming with anger.

Styles stopped smiling and looked seriously at him and pointing his
finger at Oldroyeds face, "Are you saying that I am a cheat"

Oldroyd didn't like fighting Styles as he always came off worse, but
today he was feeling brave. He breathed in, squared his shoulders
and stared back into Style's dark eyes. "I don't know, maybe I am?"
he sneered

"Oh yeah!" Styles sneered back and stood up, towering over him,

Oldroyd swallowed, then stood up, his fists clenched "Yeah! I am" he
pushed his face close to Style's. Style sneered back, staring hard
into Oldroyd's sky blue eyes. They both stood still, each trying to
out stare the other. Then without warning Styles pushed Oldroyd
backwards. Oldroyd fell over the edge of the boat and into the
water with a loud splash.

"Styles!," Matthews called from the other boat, he had been
watching the pair, wondering what would happen next. "The `ole
French Garrison would of heard that!"

Styles laughed with his hands placed on his hips, as he watched a
wet Oldroyd struggle in the water, then climb back into the
boat. "Sorry, Matty," he apologised and stopped laughing, but he
still found it funny to hear Oldroyd complaining as he climbed back
in the boat.

"What cho, do that for" he spluttered, shaking the water out of his
hair. He was soaked to the skin.

Matthews turned his attention back to the horizon.

"Because" Styles laughed again, "that what happens when you call me
cheat." He sat back down and watched Oldroyd ringing out the
seawater from his shirt. Styles would never hurt the lad, but he
did leave himself wide open to ridicule. Styles then picked up his
dice and pocked them. Then he layback and watched the sky,
listening to the sounds of the sea, the breeze on the water and
Oldroyds complaints.

Oldroyd felt very annoyed now, and cold, he decided to have one last
retort back at Styles. He stood up and shouted back, "At least I
play fair!".

Styles seeing an opportunity quickly shifted his body and used his
own weight to tip the boat sharply to Port and Oldroyd, losing
balance, fell overboard again and got another soaking.

Styles sat up as he watch him fall, laughing hard and continued too,
as a doubly wet Oldroyd clung onto the side of the Jolly boat.

Matthews moved to the side of his boat. "You two stop this now, if
the lieutenants return now and sees you both messing about, and
hears you were gambolling!" He pointed a finger at Styles, who had
stopped laughing and looked crestfallen, "They will have the both
of you on the gratings and flogged." Styles then relented and went
to help Oldroyd back into the boat.

"Sorry mate" he called as he stretched his hand out and grabbed the
back of Oldroyds shirt, "But it was just too tempting to miss."

Oldroyd just scowled as he climbed back in for a second time.

Style helped him sit back down in the boat "No hard feelings, mate"
he called smiling at him.

Oldroyd looked back, snorted, then responded "Nah, none taken,"

Matthews had to smile, as he listened to them, he then moved back to
the tiller and watched the sky, the sun had begun to go
lower. `Where are they?' he thought.

Styles returned to lying back in the boat, "Oh and by the way" he
called back without getting up "you still ow, me that money."

Oldroyd felt very annoyed now, he was wet, cold, soaked to the skin
and he would still have to pay Styles for putting him in this
position. `What a day!'

As Styles settled back down, they all began to hear the sound of
heavy footsteps coming from the distance.

Matthews jumped up and stared inland. Oldroyd and Styles also got
up, they each searched the horizon for the source of the sound. A
breeze blew across them and the sound disappeared, then wind blew
towards them and the noise of heavy footfalls and jangling weapons
came towards them, "it was them alright, but how faraway were they."
Matthews muttered to himself

"Look the're, over there!" cried Oldroyd waving his arm, so that
they would see them, "Halloo,!" he called.

"Oldroyd shut up!" Matthews shouted,

Styles clipped him round the back of his head, "Shut it, we `spose
to be hiding here"

Oldroyd went quiet and glared back at Style, he then continued to
watch the horizon again as a mass of red uniforms ran towards them.

Matthews tried to remember the size of the group that had left them
and tried to compare it with the size of the group that returned.
As they came closer he thought it seemed about the same number, and
felt a twinge of relief. The group were not marching in formation
and they were running as fast as their legs could carry them.

In the centre of the mass he could see the two lieutenants riding
horses?, `How on earth did they end up on horses' he wondered to
himself. He then looked again, then stared hard as his breath
caught in his throat.

Style noticed this "What is it?" he asked as he felt a shadow of
worry pass over them. "What is it, what do you see?"

Speaking quietly and slowly not taking his eyes off men he
explained "Its Mr Hornblower and Mr Kennedy, they seem to be" he
stopped, stared hard again trying to explain what he could see in
the dimming light and mist, "they seem to be leaning against each
other, like they are holding on to each other."

Oldroyed slowly stood up, he had a better eye sight then Matthews
and Style put together, "It's worse then that," he whispered, "Mr
Kennedy's grey horse has a shade of red on its side," he breathed
slowly and looked down at them "They must be both injured, badly."

They all looked at each other then took a deep breath and watched in
silence as the group moved closer.

* * *

Part Two

Horatio quickly moved his horse next to Archie's and put his arm
around his waist to keep him falling off his horse. As he did so
Archie fell against him, his strength leaving him. `What was
happening, it did not make any sense.' the pain, from what he could
feel, was all over the right side on his chest, and it was getting
worse. His head was spinning and he could not breath properly.
Somewhere in the distance he heard Horatio shout "Marines, To Me!"

Archie tried to say "I'm sorry" thinking himself a burden, but only
a whisper left his lips. He thought back to El Farrol when Horatio
should of left him there, he should do that now and get back to the
Indy, but in his heart he didn't want to be left behind, again.

Horatio's mind was racing, `how could this be happening, the danger
was past, how could this be happening,' he watched the marines in
front of them stopped and turned back. He then heard Archie trying
to speak, "It's alright Archie, it's alright," he tried to comfort
him, "I'll get you out of here, don't say your sorry!" He began
shaking, not just with fear, but also with anger. They had both
been through so much together, and survived dark days in their
pasts, but now to see his best friend bleeding beside him, `How
could this be? They were past the dangerous area now for sure but
how did this happen, HOW?'

The Captain of the Marines was the first to reach them. He took hold
of the reins of Archie's horse and looked desperately at
Horatio, "Sir, Mr Hornblower, what has happened!" he cried, feeling
very concerned at the scene he was witnessing.

Horatio struggled to keep the horses steady, they shied as the
Marine came near them, "Its Lieutenant Kennedy!" He shouted
back "He's been shot, we must get back to the Indefatigable,
Immediately!"

The Marine took a moment to say "Aye-sir" and salute. The sight of
the two men leaning on each other, one fit and healthy with a face
full of anger, and the other pale, quiet and lost looking. He then
turned and shouted "Marines to me!"

* * *

At the shoreline, on the French beach, waiting in a pair of jolly
boats, Styles was playing a game of dice against Oldroyd, and
Matthews sat by the tiller of the other boat watching the inland
horizon. Watching, waiting and listening for any noise, any sign
which heralded the return of the men who'd gone ashore the previous
day.

Occasional he looked back towards the Indy the mist beginning to
surround her as she also waited, waiting for her men to
return, `like a concerned mother waiting for her children to
return'. Matthews thought to himself.

They had been waiting there for over four hours, and the dice had
provided some entertainment, as well as a way of increasing Style's
pay for that day. But the sun would be setting soon and it would
soon be dark, and rowing back on a dark, misty sea was not a
prospect he wanted to face.

"And another pair, Oldroyd that's another sixpence you owe me when
we get back to the bloody Indy," Styles shouted gleefully,

"Oh!" retorted Oldroyed, putting his hand to his face then waving it
in the air, "That was just luck, you've fiddled with those dice
you `ave. I bet you whittled them so that they land like that" He
was feeling very annoyed, not only had he lost today's pay but the
next days as well. He was fuming with anger.

Styles stopped smiling and looked seriously at him and pointing his
finger at Oldroyeds face, "Are you saying that I am a cheat"

Oldroyd didn't like fighting Styles as he always came off worse, but
today he was feeling brave. He breathed in, squared his shoulders
and stared back into Style's dark eyes. "I don't know, maybe I am?"
he sneered

"Oh yeah!" Styles sneered back and stood up, towering over him,

Oldroyd swallowed, then stood up, his fists clenched "Yeah! I am" he
pushed his face close to Style's. Style sneered back, staring hard
into Oldroyd's sky blue eyes. They both stood still, each trying to
out stare the other. Then without warning Styles pushed Oldroyd
backwards. Oldroyd fell over the edge of the boat and into the
water with a loud splash.

"Styles!," Matthews called from the other boat, he had been
watching the pair, wondering what would happen next. "The `ole
French Garrison would of heard that!"

Styles laughed with his hands placed on his hips, as he watched a
wet Oldroyd struggle in the water, then climb back into the
boat. "Sorry, Matty," he apologised and stopped laughing, but he
still found it funny to hear Oldroyd complaining as he climbed back
in the boat.

"What cho, do that for" he spluttered, shaking the water out of his
hair. He was soaked to the skin.

Matthews turned his attention back to the horizon.

"Because" Styles laughed again, "that what happens when you call me
cheat." He sat back down and watched Oldroyd ringing out the
seawater from his shirt. Styles would never hurt the lad, but he
did leave himself wide open to ridicule. Styles then picked up his
dice and pocked them. Then he layback and watched the sky,
listening to the sounds of the sea, the breeze on the water and
Oldroyds complaints.

Oldroyd felt very annoyed now, and cold, he decided to have one last
retort back at Styles. He stood up and shouted back, "At least I
play fair!".

Styles seeing an opportunity quickly shifted his body and used his
own weight to tip the boat sharply to Port and Oldroyd, losing
balance, fell overboard again and got another soaking.

Styles sat up as he watch him fall, laughing hard and continued too,
as a doubly wet Oldroyd clung onto the side of the Jolly boat.

Matthews moved to the side of his boat. "You two stop this now, if
the lieutenants return now and sees you both messing about, and
hears you were gambolling!" He pointed a finger at Styles, who had
stopped laughing and looked crestfallen, "They will have the both
of you on the gratings and flogged." Styles then relented and went
to help Oldroyd back into the boat.

"Sorry mate" he called as he stretched his hand out and grabbed the
back of Oldroyds shirt, "But it was just too tempting to miss."

Oldroyd just scowled as he climbed back in for a second time.

Style helped him sit back down in the boat "No hard feelings, mate"
he called smiling at him.

Oldroyd looked back, snorted, then responded "Nah, none taken,"

Matthews had to smile, as he listened to them, he then moved back to
the tiller and watched the sky, the sun had begun to go
lower. `Where are they?' he thought.

Styles returned to lying back in the boat, "Oh and by the way" he
called back without getting up "you still ow, me that money."

Oldroyd felt very annoyed now, he was wet, cold, soaked to the skin
and he would still have to pay Styles for putting him in this
position. `What a day!'

As Styles settled back down, they all began to hear the sound of
heavy footsteps coming from the distance.

Matthews jumped up and stared inland. Oldroyd and Styles also got
up, they each searched the horizon for the source of the sound. A
breeze blew across them and the sound disappeared, then wind blew
towards them and the noise of heavy footfalls and jangling weapons
came towards them, "it was them alright, but how faraway were they."
Matthews muttered to himself

"Look the're, over there!" cried Oldroyd waving his arm, so that
they would see them, "Halloo,!" he called.

"Oldroyd shut up!" Matthews shouted,

Styles clipped him round the back of his head, "Shut it, we `spose
to be hiding here"

Oldroyd went quiet and glared back at Style, he then continued to
watch the horizon again as a mass of red uniforms ran towards them.

Matthews tried to remember the size of the group that had left them
and tried to compare it with the size of the group that returned.
As they came closer he thought it seemed about the same number, and
felt a twinge of relief. The group were not marching in formation
and they were running as fast as their legs could carry them.

In the centre of the mass he could see the two lieutenants riding
horses?, `How on earth did they end up on horses' he wondered to
himself. He then looked again, then stared hard as his breath
caught in his throat.

Style noticed this "What is it?" he asked as he felt a shadow of
worry pass over them. "What is it, what do you see?"

Speaking quietly and slowly not taking his eyes off men he
explained "Its Mr Hornblower and Mr Kennedy, they seem to be" he
stopped, stared hard again trying to explain what he could see in
the dimming light and mist, "they seem to be leaning against each
other, like they are holding on to each other."

Oldroyed slowly stood up, he had a better eye sight then Matthews
and Style put together, "It's worse then that," he whispered, "Mr
Kennedy's grey horse has a shade of red on its side," he breathed
slowly and looked down at them "They must be both injured, badly."

They all looked at each other then took a deep breath and watched in
silence as the group moved closer.

* * *

Part Four

Out on the Indefatigable Lieutenant Bracegirdle was watching the
shoreline, putting his glass to his eye every so often. Watching the
jolly boats as they began to struggle their way back through the
heaving sea. "The boats on its way back Sir!" He called to Captain
Pellew, Who was standing on the quarterdeck.

"Very Good, Mr Bracegirdle" He replied moving across the deck to
stand beside him, his hands behind his back, "Mr Bowls have the men
ready to set sail, as soon as they return."

"Aye – Sir," He moved from behind him and gave the order "MAKE READY
TO SET SAIL!" He bellowed, making sure that every man on deck was
set to work.

A slight westerly breeze just touched the sails, rippling them.
Pellew knew and hoped, that they should make a swift getaway from
the French shoreline and back home to England. He hated his men
being ashore and he had been quietly praying for their safe return.
He had spent most of the day pacing the deck, waiting and thinking
of his men on that shoreline.

Waiting to him was the worse part of this war, waiting and not
knowing what was happening. But now the expedition was on its way
back and his crew would be whole again. `At last we can set sail out
of this God-forsaken place.' He thought to himself. "Can you see
how many are returning, Mr Bracegirdle"

Bracegirdle put his glass back to his eye but the boats we rising
and falling in the swell so much it was difficult to see them. "I
cannot sir, the rough surf is making the boats difficult to see," he
put his glass to his eye again, "But they looks very full."

"Good, we shall know more once they are back, safely aboard. Mr
Bowls!"

"Aye Sir" He shouted, waking up to the Captain.

"Mr Bowls as soon as the men are aboard set a course, nor'-
nor'west. I want to be out of here before the sun sets."

"Aye, Aye Sir" he shouted then turned quickly back to make his way
to the wheel, shouting orders at the men as he went.

"Mr Bracegirdle" Pellew turned back towards him "I am returning to
my cabin to make the log. Have the Lieutenants sent to my cabin so
I can have the full report of what took place. "

"Aye, Aye – Sir" he saluted and turned back to watch shoreline and
the men struggling to row back to the ship.

Pellew turned on his heel and walked back to his cabin. `Please let
them all return,' he told himself, `and whole.' He added.

"He sounds worried," Enquired Mr Bowls who had walked back to Mr
Bracgirdle. He would not need to perform his duties till the men
had returned.

"Well he would be," Bracegirdle responded, sighing quietly, "He
hates to have his crew separated. If I were him I would feel the
same."

"Huh, so you would rather face the French on water then on the
land." Bowls chuckled, his girth shaking.

Bracegirdle had to laugh, only a little though, "You know I mean
nothing of the sort," he then said seriously, "What I meant was,
that having a group of men sent off the ship, to face the enemy when
they are outnumber by who knows how many, and not knowing what is
happening to them is an awful responsibility to bare.."

"You wished to have gone with them, then sir?" Mr Bowls asked
speaking seriously now.

"I do," he sighed again, "but it was the Captains decision as to who
should go and who should stay. Not mine."

"SIR!" a rating from higher in the rigging shouted above
them, "THE'RE IN BOUND!"

Bracegirdle raised his glass again, the little boat was much closer
now. He shouted for a few seamen to clamber over the rail, ropes in
their hands, ready to shore up the boats.

Bracegirdle watched the boats falling and rising as they got closer,
Mr Bowls also watched, They counted the heads they could see. It
looked like everyone was returning but Bracegirdle noticed something
didn't look right. He put his glass back to his eye and adjusted
the focus. He paused for a moment, then lowered his glass and then
looked through it again.

"What is it Mr Bracegirdle?"

"Um.." He looked again harder

"What man, what is it?"

"MEN!" Bracegirdle suddenly bellowed "Someone get Dr Charnock and
tell him his service will be needed up on deck, immediately!" At
his words several seamen behind him froze, then turned and ran
quickly belowdeck to find the doctor. "I hope they are not
returning to late that we lose another man." He breathed.

Bowls was lost for words he quickly took out his own glass and
looked at the returning boats, "Dear God!" He exclaimed as he saw
what Mr Bracegirdle had seen. The boat were rising and falling in
the surf and the marines were rowing hard to get back to the ship.
Near the tiller he could see the dark blue back of a lieutenant's
jacket, he was bent over in the boat and not moving. "They must
have been through an awful trial" he whispered to himself, `what
must of happened to them out there' He lowered his glass and
asked "Shall I inform the Captain Sir?"

Mr Bracegirdle lowered his glass, his bit his lower lip,
thinking, "No" he finally answered "Not yet, lets get our men back
on board first."

"Aye-sir" He turned and went to get the men prepared to bring on the
returning party.

"Pray God they are not too late" Bracegirdle whispered to himself.

* * *

The cold wind and the swell of the sea, was making the journey back
to the Indefatigable very difficult. The Marines strained their
arms rowing back as hard as they could, each man knowing that the
faster they rowed, the faster they could help. Styles and Oldroyd
each held an ore each felt the same and pulled away with all their
might. It was a very difficult journey but they were there, they
had finally made it back.

"We're back, Archie, were back at Indy," Horatio breathed, hoping
Archie could hear him, even though he was unconscious. He had been
holding his neckerchief on Archie wound, which had been very
difficult because as the boat swayed in the water, his hand kept
slipping away. He was still shivering all over, his body felt numb
and the spray from the sea sent a chill through to his bones. He
watched out of the corner of his eye as the side of the Indy came up
beside them.

Matthews who was struggling to hold the tiller shouted up the side
of the ship, "Ahoy there!".

Mr Bracegirdle leaned over the rail saluted in response.

"Steady your ores" Matthew called as they finally drew alongside.
Two men on the side of the Indy stood ready to take hold of the
boats.

Bracegirdle, staring into the boats was shocked at what he saw in
the one right below him. Mr Hornblower was leaning over Mr Kennedy,
who was lying in the centre of the boat, on what look like two ores
and some marine jackets. "Mr Hornblower!" He shouted down, "Dear
God!" he then exclaimed at what he saw, as Horatio stared back up at
him, his dark eyes staring at him, his fine facial features looked
like carved stone and his eyes were red rimmed with dark shadows
beneath them. But Mr Kennedy, below him, looked worse. He was
covered in blood, his face was deathly white and he looked
unconscious. Mr Hornblower's hand was holding a heavily blooded
neckerchief to his front right side, but to Bracegirdle it looked
like it was doing no good.

Horatio shouted up, "Mr Bracegirdle I need your help Mr Kennedy's
been shot, he needs the surgeon! He must be put on first!"

"Aye, aye " Mr Bracegirdle saluted and shouted down the deck. "You
men get a hammock and tackle!, we have to get Lieutenant Kennedy on
board now!"

Several men ran to get what was needed. He then turned looked back
down at the small boat, feeling very concerned and shouted
down. "Don't worry Mr Hornblower, he will be safe now" `I pray' he
added under his breath.

"Please hurry!" Horatio called back. He then went back to tending
Archie.

Matthews watched him from his position by the tiller, tears were
streaming done the Lieutenants face, he looked done in, but he
continued to keep his hand in Mr Kennedy's chest, he was fighting
now to keep his best friend alive, even if it would take all his
strength to do so.

* * *

Part Five

Doctor Charnock came out onto the deck from his quarters and ran
over to Mr Bracgirdle. A couple of men followed behind him carrying
a hammock and some rope. "Mr Bracegirdle, "He called in his deep
scotch accent "you requested my assistance."

"Yes", He gestured the Doctor towards him and then pointed to the
jolly boats beside the ship and explained everything to him.

When he had finished, Doctor Charnock ordered the men to lower the
hammock over the side and have Mr Kennedy placed in it, then
brought, carefully, up to the main deck. The men did so guided by
the Doctor and Lieutenant Bracegirdle.

Horatio with the assistants of the three marines, gently placed
Archie in the hammock. Only taking his hand off his wound when the
men began to heave him up the side of the ship.

Horatio watched him and felt Matthews come up beside him and put his
hand on his shoulder "He is in safe hands now Sir. You can do no
more then what you did." trying his best to comfort Mr Hornblower,
but he knew that if Mr Kennedy died, Part of Mr Hornblower would die
with him.

Horatio nodded in response, accepting his comfort but not really
hearing it. The rest of the world seemed dead to him. One thought
kept pulsing through his mind, please be alright, please be
alright. Then gingerly he moved out of the boat and proceeded to
climb up the side of the ship and up to the main deck. The rest of
the men and marines quickly following behind.

* * *

Once on the deck Horatio saw Doctor Charnock kneeling down beside
Archie along with some other men looking over him. He heard then
doctor say "Take him below" the men stood around Archie then took
hold of the hammock, lifted him from the deck and carried him down
the steps and into the ship. The Doctor raised himself from the
deck also, and gave Horatio a worried looked. Fear suddenly gripped
Horatio heart, `was it to late was Archie gone'. The doctor walked
slowly towards him, Horatio's world seemed to be falling away from
him, any second now the Doctor would tell him that it was too late
and that Archie had died. That nothing could be done. His vision
seemed to go dark at the edges but he tried to focus on the Doctor
coming towards him and what he was about to tell him.

Mr Bracegirdle continued to watch over the men coming back onto the
ship, counting how many Marines were returning. He then looked
behind him and saw the Doctor move toward Mr Hornblower. Mr
Bracegirdle decided he would do the head count later, Mr Hornblower
needed his support right now, that was more important. The young
man needed the support of the men around him whatever the doctor was
going to tell him. He made his way towards them and stood just
behind the Doctor.

Horatio watched them, concentrating on them, waiting for Doctor
Charnock to speak, but not hearing a word.

The Doctor slowly opened his mouth and spoke very carefully, "
Horatio, Archie is very ill and that the wound is very deep. But I
will try to do as much as I can for him." He then sighed and put his
hand on Horatio's shoulder "But I think you should be prepared for
the worst."

Bracegirdle looked at the Doctor then at Horatio. He was just
staring blankly into space, still shivering, his dark eyes seeing
nothing.

"But" the doctor continued "he was better on the ship then on the
shore." The doctor then turned and made his way below the deck to
his surgery.

Bracegirdle watch the doctor, giving him a hopeful look, then he
turn his attention back to Horatio. He was shivering, hard and
still staring. He eyes staring at the deck.

Bracegirdle turned and stared at the same place and saw that he was
looking at the place where Archie had lain. A small stain of blood
was still there. "Mr Hornblower" he spoke carefully so as not to
surprise him, "Come Mr Hornblower lets get below and get out of this
wind." He put his hand around his back.

Suddenly Horatio his senses came back to him. He suddenly realised
his heart was hammering in his chest, his back was aching, his arms
ached, his legs ached, and his whole body seemed to be in pain "Oh
God what had just happened!" he cried out as the darkness at the
edges of his vision swept over him and his legs fell from beneath
him.

Lieutenant Bracegirdle caught him just in time and prevented him
from collapsing onto the deck. Shocked and surprised to see such a
strong young man, go down so quickly. What little colour had
remained in Horatio's face had drained from away and his body had
gone limp.

* * *

Archie and Horatio both jumped up from their cots, each breathing
hard, their hearts pounding, panic coursing through them. Then they
both turned their heads and stared at each other, each just as
shocked to see that the other had suddenly just woken up at the same
time. `What, what had just happened?' they both wondered, not saying
a word.

It took them a few seconds to remember where they were. They were
both sat up in their cots, they were on the Indefatigable, the
movement of the ship told them they were on the move and the dawn
light was just shining through their window. Still neither said a
word, their minds raced, `What had just happened?'

Archie decided to speak first, his mind racing remembering what he
had just dreamed, `if it was a dream', his voice rasped as he shook
with fear, "Horatio?" `Surely he couldn't of' "Did you just have a
nightmare?"

Horatio, his mind racing also, a fine, cool layer of sweat covering
his skin, thought back. He stared into space as he remembered, he
had a nightmare but it seemed more, more like, real life. He looked
back at Archie, then suddenly the memory of it came straight back to
him, `the blood, the pain, Archie being taken below, his wound, HIS
WOUND!'. Suddenly Horatio jumped up and out of his cot, throwing
his bedding to the floor, he ran over to Archie.

Archie fell back, banging his back on the wall, surprised by Horatio
moving so quickly towards him, his hand outstretched.

Horatio, on reaching Archie, pushed aside the collar of Archie's
nightshirt and searched for the wound. But there was none. The
wound he had been tending in the nightmare was gone. He felt
confused and even more worried, he breathed hard, the dark ruffles
of his hair shaking as searched for it, but it was not there. He
finally relaxed and moved back.

Archie, still frightened by his friend's actions, knew what he'd
been looking for, he shook with fear remembering, "You were looking
for a wound weren't you?" his spoke slowly his voice shaking.

Horatio fell back and went back onto his own cot, relief covering
him like a warm blanket. He nodded.

"That dream you.." Archie said, "you dreamed it too, didn't you." he
swallow, his blue eyes staring at Horatio. Horatio just looked back
and nodded. Archie then put his hand to the right side of his
chest. But there was no wound or any pain, but it had seemed so
real, as if it was, had been really happening.

Horatio watched him, `I dreamt you were dying.' he thought to
himself "I thought you were gone," he whispered. He looked at the
floor the memory washing over him.

Archie, looked back looking worried, then he smiled, he blue eyes
shining with life, "Well I'm still here," he reached over and
touched Horatio's arm. "I'm still here, it was just a dream, I'm
not going anywhere." Archie was used to nightmare and was relieved
himself it had just been a dream and that he was not the only one
who had it. But it was very strange that they had both had the same
dream, at the same time.

Horatio looked up at Archie's touch and smiled back, `Yes, his best
friend was still here and he was a healthy and as live as he could
be.' "But how odd that we both had the same nightmare, at the same
time." He was fully relaxed now and it felt great to know it had all
just been a dream.

Archie shook his head amazed also "I know, it seemed so real though,
like, like it was real life." He remembered the pain he had felt and
he put his hand on his chest again, remembering what had happened
and what he had said, "I remember asking you to leave me behind."

Horatio remembered this also and the horror he had felt at what
Archie had asked him to do, then he smiled again, he tilted his head
and sighed "But I didn't, I couldn't."

Archie thought back, "No, you didn't," he looked serious "and,
Horatio, even though it was a dream, I thank you for not leaving me
behind."

Horatio felt very strange, `what might of happened if I did leave
you behind, would you still be here' he thought to himself.

Archie fell relived that Horatio stubbiness even worked in their
sleep but it felt strange think about something that was a dream but
had seemed so real. `At least he didn't leave me behind.' He
breathed, relieved.

For a few moments both men didn't say a word or looked at each
other. They both just remembered what they had been dreaming. Then
after a few minutes they both turned to each other and smiled.
Nothing needed to be said as they both felt they had reached a
mutual understanding. "We have looked out for each other" Horatio
spoke, looking more calmly at Archie, "and we will continue too,
well into the future. I will never leave you behind."

Archie smiled back, he felt very relieved to hear he best friend say
that. "and I won't leave you either."

Again the room fell silent. Then Archie stretched and got up, "Well
I cannot sleep anymore, I am going to get dressed and get some
breakfast."

Horatio thought he should get up also, he didn't want another
nightmare again.

* * *

Later on the main deck Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd were scrubbing
the deck and coilling out the ropes. Each had had a very freighting
dream during the night and shockingly enough each had had the same
dream. `But that was not possible, was it?'.

"Dare we ask Mr Hornblower," Oldroyd whispered to Matthews, he had
seen him pacing the quarterdeck with Mr Kennedy beside him.

"I don't know, do you think we should?, it might sound like madness
or that we've had to much of the rum ration." Matthews whispered
back, as he tied a rope to a pin.

"Nah!" Styles interrupted, a mop in his hand, "They couldn't have
had it too, could they?"

Oldroyd swallowed, feeling very worried "They could of, it was all
Hallows Eve last night and strange things always happens that
night." He suppressed a shudder.

"I don't know" Matthews said he did not believe in superstition, but
after what happened last night he was not so sure.

Styles stopped his mopping and stared at the two Lieutenants. They
seemed to be all right, Mr Kennedy was smiling and sharing a joke
with Mr Hornblower, who also looked strong, fit and healthy, and
happy. Compared with what they had all dreamed last night, they
were expecting to wake to a ship in mourning.

Matthews and Oldroyd also stopped their work and also watched the
two lieutenants.

Archie looked down the deck at them, noticing they were not working
any more. He gestured to Horatio and they moved down the ladder to
the main deck and walked over to the small group. "Matthews, Style,
Oldroyd,"

They each saluted "Sir" but continued to stare.

Archie felt that they were staring at him, Horatio noticed this
too "Is everything alright here?" he asked.

It took a second for the men to respond, "Aye sir" they said, but
they continued to stare at him.

Archie now felt very uncomfortable and he swallowed. This time
Horatio spoke, "Come on men, out with it. Something is bothering
you, so what is it?" He hated to be kept in the dark, if there was a
problem on the ship they should know about it.

"Well sir" Styles began-

"Its just -" Matthews interjected, thinking that Styles didn't feel
right about what he was going to say and it might sound more
believable coming from him, "-well sir we all had an odd dream last
night." He glanced at Archie as he spoke, his face went white, "and
well it was the same dream."

Horatio felt all his blood drain from his face also, he glanced at
Archie who stared back, shivering a little.

Oldroyd pointing his finger, shouted back, his eyes wide with
horror "You dreamed it too!"

Again everybody fell silent with shock, each now knew what the other
had dreamed the night before. `But how, why, was their a reason'
they all wondered.

"I wonder if everyone on the ship dreamed it too." Oldroyd looked
around him. The others followed suited. What they saw gave them
the answer. The men surrounding then were whispering and staring at
the group. Even Pellew and Bracegirdle were staring down at them,
each man looking concerned in their own way.

Archie noticing this and felt even worse, this time he spoke just
barely above a whisper "I think the whole crew dreamed it",

"I think so too" answered Horatio quietly, "but why, was there a
reason?" he didn't like things that didn't make sense or didn't have
a logical answer, but there was no logical answer to be had.

Only Oldroyd gave an answer that seemed to make any sense. "It was
all Hallows Eve last night and strange things always happens that
night."

The End

Happy Halloween!