Soul Catcher by Keith Kitchen

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SUMMARY: Derek Simpson and the enigmatic Lawrence find themselves facing off against a Soul Catcher, an evil being that has captured the souls of the leaders of Olympus and annoyed Lawrence greatly.

I

Derek grunted as he rolled onto the ground, quite literally falling out of the portal and flat on his face, scraping his hands and getting a mouthful of dust. He blinked a couple of times before dragging himself to his feet and looking around. The contrast from where he had been to where he was now couldn't have been greater. Only seconds ago, the sky had been the bluest of blues and he had been surrounded by elder, hickory and oak trees and now it seemed that everything was gray. The sky was gray, giving the dully-painted buildings around him a gray cast. He saw a large network of docks, their wooden framing almost gray themselves. Stretching beyond the docks was a large mass of water stretching to the horizon, again gray. The few colors that tried to add diversity to the landscape failed miserably, making everything seem that much more gray.

Brushing himself off, he walked towards the docks. The entire area seemed deserted except for himself and, in the distance, another man who was leaning against the railing of the dock. As Derek strode towards him, he became quite sure he knew who the other man was. He was the brightest thing in sight, wearing a white suit that almost glowed amongst the grayness of everything else. As he neared the other man, a mist of light rain began to fall from the gray, cloud-laden sky.

As he came up beside the other man, he noticed a group of ships sailing along the coast. Five ships whose existence weren't possible. He recognized each and every one of them. Two of the five vessels flew the Stars and Stripes of the United States and the other three flew the Union Jack of Great Britain. He didn't even notice that his mouth had dropped open.

"Close your mouth, Derek," the other man said, a smile crossing his face. "A beautiful sight, isn't it? Even here, it's rare that you see U.S. warships escorting British liners transporting troops to the line. If it weren't for the fact that the Royal Navy is spread a little thin right now, it wouldn't be happening. As it is, both American battleships have British officers to act as liaisons."

"It's impossible!" Derek breathed.

"You, of all people, should know that nothing is impossible," the other man chided.

"But it can't be! That's the U.S.S Pennsylvania and the New York! And the other three..." his voice trailed off.

"Yeah, isn't the Pennsylvania beautiful? She just went through a major refit. They removed her fourteen-inch guns and replaced them with sixteen-inch guns. The New York had her coal-fired boilers replaced with oil-burning boilers and believe me, that was a major job."

Derek was caught off guard. "No, that just isn't possible. The Pennsylvania never had sixteen-inch guns. The New York spent her entire life with coal-fired boilers."

"Come, now! Believe what you see, not what you know!"

"But, it's wrong! I know about these things. I used to study them because they interested me! Just like..."

"Just like those other three ships can't exist, or at least, not like this, right?"

"No, they can't! That's the..."

The other man interrupted him, impatiently.

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