But Fynn is hiding an incredible secret. He knows more about the surrounding waters – and the dolphins – than anyone could ever guess. When Bonnie accidentally discovers what he can do, she agrees to keep his special abilities a secret.
So when dolphins and fish around the island start dying it’s up to Fynn and Bonnie to find out why, and stop it if they can.
Or one of Fynn’s family could be the next to die…
Fynn surfaced, the sun warm on his head, the sea cool around the rest of his body. For a moment he hung motionless, breathing deeply. Two dolphins rose beside him, the phht! of their own breathing spraying him with a mist of water, their sleek grey heads gleaming wetly in the early morning sun. Then they dived and three others rose around him, keeping him always in the middle.
Around them stretched the vast blue-green Pacific Ocean, its endless waves meeting a clear sky in the distance. Above the surface it was quiet, apart from the splashing of the dolphins and the constant wash of the tide. But below… Fynn dived, the dolphins following him. Here the sea sang. Close by were the whistles and creaks of the dolphins’ sonar. Farther away he could hear the pounding of the tide as it pushed against the base of nearby Crescent Island. Farther away again he could hear the rhythmic boom of the humpback whales as they forged their way south. Males, females and small calves keeping close to their mothers were on their way to their summer feeding grounds in the icy waters of Antarctica.
Bonnie had taught him the words for places, Pacific Ocean and Australia and Crescent Island, listening patiently as he stumbled over the unfamiliar words. Fynn poked his head above the waves again, turning until he could see Crescent Island in the distance. It was fun playing with the dolphins, fun to chase the fish through the seagrass and throw seaweed to each other. He wished he could stay, but he had to be back before anyone noticed he was missing, and the sun was already two lengths of itself above the horizon.
He swam steadily toward the island, the dolphins shadowing him, and it wasn’t long before he was dodging through the dog-legged channel through the sandbar and into the bay beyond. The dolphins followed him, using their echolocational sonar to avoid the heaped sand of the natural breakwater.
The beach curved white and inviting, palms and tropical rainforest trees crowding together in a riot of greenery along its edge. A little way out from the beach, at the end of a short wooden pier, the rangers’ small cabin cruiser and speedboat rocked gently on the swell. Silently he dived, checking that they were anchored firmly, then surfaced to check their mooring-ropes before finning slowly toward the far end of the beach, where a low rocky headland speared a short way into the sea.
Then abruptly he halted, hanging motionless in the water. The dolphins came to rest around him, occasional flicks of their fins and tail-flukes keeping them steady.
A small figure had appeared from between the trees near the pier and was loping along the beach toward the headland. It was Bonnie. Fynn could see her long brown hair lifting behind her in the breeze as she ran. She slowed to a walk when she was near his empty blanket, then turned to scan the beach, shading her eyes with her hand.
She couldn’t help but notice the dolphins.
Even from his position near the back of the pod Fynn saw her face light up. He knew Bonnie loved dolphins; he shouldn’t have let the pod follow him into the bay. He sank lower in the water, watching uneasily as she reached the water’s edge. For a few seconds he was sure that the dolphins, unused to human contact, would simply back away and leave. But they didn’t. He drifted to the rear of the group as Bonnie waded knee-deep into the cool water, reaching out hopefully toward them but letting them make the first contact. He was trapped now; she’d see him if he changed here and anyway, there was no way he could get onto the beach without being seen. Unless…
Silently he submerged and headed as fast as he could toward the end of the pier. Beneath the water level, hooked around an out-jutting piece of wood, was a pair of boardshorts. He tugged them free and rose to the surface on the opposite side of the pier. Focusing his concentration inward, he shuddered at the sharp pain which snapped through his body clear to his bones. Then, careful not to splash, he took the shorts from between his teeth and pulled them on.
The dolphins were still gliding just out of Bonnie’s reach when he again looked across at them. He grinned slightly. Always curious, but always cautious. It was the law of the sea. He ducked beneath the water and swam toward them, though far, far slower than he’d shot toward the pier.
Bonnie didn’t notice him until he rose to his feet behind the dolphins, water streaming from him. He gave her a happy grin as she straightened up. ‘Go for swim, dolphins find me, play with me, follow me back.’ The dolphins surged aside as he walked between them and reformed their group behind him, heads bobbing in the surf, dark eyes watching.
‘Lucky.’ Bonnie’s voice was full of envy. ‘Wish Dad would let me sleep on the beach.’ She looked up at him, worry on her face. ‘Are you sure it’s safe to go swimming past the sandbar? Rex says there’s a pretty strong current out there. What if you get caught and pushed onto the reef or out to sea? No one would know…’
‘Know all round island, rocks, reef, water. Safe, me, no danger, promise.’ He patted her shoulder affectionately before turning to face the sea. ‘Look, dolphins go now. Boring in bay, no place to swim fast, deep dive, ride waves.’ He gestured to the north-west, up along the mistily-seen bulk of the mainland. ‘Go that way, reckon. Open water, good food, places to play.’ His voice was wistful. ‘Want to go with them…’ he whispered.
Bonnie glanced up at him. ‘Me too,’ she said quietly. ‘They’re so beautiful.’ They watched the silver-grey bodies head toward the sandbar, a few leaping up as if to give them one last look. ‘I wonder if they’re the ones who saved you.’
‘Do you… remember much about it?’
He shot a wary look at her, but she was still staring out to sea. No one had talked to him about his past for a while now, which was good. It was scary not being able to tell them anything. But the dolphins were there after the accident. He could remember the dolphins all right.
‘A bit,’ he admitted cautiously. ‘Water all round. Dolphins carry me, lot-lot hurting…’ It was more than that but his few words weren’t enough to explain how the dolphins had taken turns to tow him through the water, his arms flung across two of their backs; how the rest of the pod had clustered close around him, creaking their distress; how the salt water had stung his eyes and nose and burned in the jagged cuts on his side.
‘Must have been scary,’ Bonnie whispered.
He hesitated. ‘No. Scary is not knowing what happen now.’
‘I guess…’ Bonnie scuffed a bare foot in the wet sand. ‘Well, maybe the police will find your family today.’ Her voice was hopeful.
‘Maybe,’ he said again, trying to sound as hopeful as she did. He turned to splash through the shallows to the packed, ribbed sand beyond. ‘Go get brekky now? Hungry!’
‘You’re always hungry.’ Bonnie thumped him gently on the arm. ‘Race you to the path!’ And she took off, sand spraying from beneath her flying feet.
‘Hey, no fair!’ Fynn yelled and took off after her, legs windmilling beneath him and arms flailing.