Title: No One To Hear
Word Count 391
Disclaimer: I can only wish Archie were mine
No One To Hear
Note: Severe seizures are often followed by a period of extreme fatigue and confusion. This is known as the post-ictal state. It can last for hours. (Being hit briskly on the head, and cast adrift in an open boat is not good for your mental processes either.)
He had moments of clarity. Moments when he knew who he was, and almost got a grip on the slippery surface of what had gone so terribly wrong. The first day, he still spoke. A creature close above him might have heard him speak. He spoke to himself, in a hoarse and broken voice. He spoke to Horatio.
He wept that first day, although he produced no tears.
A better man, a better midshipman would be able to determine his direction, and follow the stars home. There was a sail. But he was heavy with fatigue that first day. And his vision was blurred. It took the last of his strength to burrow his body under the sail, and curl around the last of his heat before the wind took it.
The second day, he did not speak. He curled tightly to stay warm. He was scarcely visible. He was not a large man. His body ached. He shivered. He was thirsty. He had forgotten how he came to be in the boat. But it did not matter. How could thirsty and cold go together with such cruelty? He was careful to keep his mouth shut, lest his breath should dry it further. He tried, on the second day, to save his strength, and endure. Rescue was not impossible. He thought about Captain Pellew, and Mr Bracegirdle.
On the second night it rained. He drank and drank, and the water soothed his aching head, and swollen tongue. He swallowed carefully at first, and then more quickly, and then with a thirst that was its own kind of despair. The rain had stopped, by the time he began to vomit. He sobbed as he spewed the precious water up again. His head must be cracked in half, to hurt so. “Horatio please--” he said, at one point, as if someone might hear. But no one heard, and after some time, a fever rose. Curled, small and wet and shaking, Archie let everything go.
His dreams were merciful. He moved from recent love, to earlier love, all the way back, as he shivered, and his fever roared. He washed up to a dream of a voice and a hand, and a woman's pliant breast. Archie Kennedy dreamed of his mother.