Excerpt for Kona: A Dolphin's Quest by
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A Dolphin’s Quest


Erik Daniel Shein and Melissa Davis

Though inspired by true events, this book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

World Castle Publishing, LLC

Pensacola, Florida

Copyright © 2017 Arkwatch Holdings, LLC, and Erik Daniel Shein

Smashwords Edition

Co-Author: Melissa Davis

Hardback ISBN: 9781629896830

Paperback ISBN: 9781629896847

eBook ISBN: 9781629896854


First Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC, October 10, 2017

Smashwords Licensing Notes

All rights reserved. Kona – A Dolphin’s Quest™ is a Trademark of Arkwatch Holdings, LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means—electronic, Digital, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for the author or third party’s web sites and their content.

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Arkwatch Holdings, LLC

4766 East Eden Drive

Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Cover: Melissa Davis

Illustrator: Paul Barton, II

Editor: Maxine Bringenberg


This book is dedicated to Courtney S. Vail from the Lightkeepers Foundation.

Chapter 1

Playful Beginnings

In the early morning hours, all was quiet near the surf. A pair of seagulls dove down to where the water crested near the rocks below. The curious birds sat on the rocks and watched the world awaken. A few crabs broke free from their sandy beds, and while this would normally have set the seagulls into action, they were distracted. Their eyes gazed out into the deep waters, and the rest of the world seemed to blur before them.

“Do you think they’ll come today?” Terrin asked his partner.

“I hope so. It’s been forever since we’ve seen them.” Sherie huddled up against him and started to prune her feathers.

“Is that a fin out there?” Terrin squeezed his eyes until they were almost closed, hoping to see farther away with his efforts.

Sherie held her wings up in front of her and made the shape of a box as she tilted her head and peered through one eye. “It sure looks like it! Oh, I can hardly wait!”

“Sure looks small from here. Wait, is that another fin?” Terrin grabbed onto Sherie’s wing and pointed excitedly.

“Awe! It’s finally happened! Cloud had her baby! This is just too much to take.” Springing into action, Sherie hopped up and flew into the air. Her wings flapped anxiously as she circled around their favorite rock. “What are you waiting for, Terrin? Let’s go!”

Terrin shook his head at his mate. “You always were impatient!” He leapt from the rock and joined her in flight.

“Oh, look there, Terrin! She’s adorable!” Sherie nodded her head down to the water, where the dolphin Cloud swam with her newest arrival. “Cloud!”

Cloud’s head popped out of the water and a big smile filled her face. “Good morning, Sherie!”

“Will ya look at that?” whistled Terrin.

“Kona, come up my love,” Cloud called to her daughter.

“Yes, Mama.” Kona swam timidly to the surface and nestled up close to her mother. Her cherubic face was covered with a shy smile.

“Look up, dear heart. These are my friends, Terrin and Sherie.” Cloud nodded up to the seagulls that were making slow, delicate circles through the air above them.

Kona’s head rotated around and her body followed her as she tried to keep the birds in her line of sight. Her tiny body made several circles in the water as she tried to keep up with them. “Hello…oh…oh…wow.” Kona giggled in her adorable tiny voice. “That makes me dizzy.”

“Oh, sorry about that.” Terrin landed in the water near Cloud.

“How rude of us.” Sherie swooped down next to him. Their small bodies bobbed up and down with the waves as they got a better look at the dolphin calf next to Cloud.

“Hi! I’m Kona.” The tiny dolphin let herself slide just an inch or two away from her mother.

“Hello, Kona. Pleased to meet you.” Sherie’s voice bubbled over with excitement. “Oh, this is just the best news ever, Cloud. She’s precious.”

“Thank you, Sherie. She’s such a blessing. So much like Fynn. He’d be so proud of her.” There was sadness hidden in Cloud’s smile. When Kona splashed her playfully, the cobwebs of sorrow vanished. Cloud spouted water right back at her. Soon they were all splashing each other, their loud giggles echoing in the open ocean around them.

Kona dipped into the water and swam a few feet beneath them. When she came up, Terrin was resting on her head. She giggled as she pushed through the water with the seagull perched precariously on top.

“Cowabunga!” Terrin stood up on her head and held his wings at his sides to balance himself.

Sherie rolled her eyes at him. “Oh dear. I’ll never hear the end of this. He’s always wanted to surf, you know. He heard about the surfing hippos of Gabon, and has been dying to try it himself.”

“Well, there’s no harm in him trying. It’s good for Kona to socialize with others anyway. They sure do look cute together,” Cloud chuckled.

“Sure. Until he—”

At that moment, Terrin fell off Kona’s head and took a head dive into the ocean. When he popped back up, he looked much like a drowned river rat. He held his wing up and stuck out his wingtip as if to say he was a-okay.

“Would you look at that goofy grin? He’ll be a handful the rest of the week. I’ll not hear the end of this.” Sherie shook her head in disdain.

“Sorry, Sherie.” Cloud dove under the water to retrieve Terrin. When she came back up, she pushed him a little closer to Sherie.

“What an absolute joy you are, Kona.” Sherie looked at Terrin and poked him in the side. “She reminds me of our youngest flock.”

“Um-hmm. Yes, they were sure a playful lot. They’ve got children of their own now.” The wave pushed him closer to Sherie and he put his wing around her. “Enjoy her while you can, Cloud. They grow up way too fast.”

“Don’t I know it. Well, it’s been wonderful seeing you, but today is a very important day.” Cloud gestured to Kona.

“I’m learning to hunt fish today.” Kona’s voice was filled with excitement.

“I see. Well, don’t let us stop you. We need to be off anyway. There’s a good chance the tourists will be back in the bay today.” Terrin’s eyes grew big as he imagined all the food that would be available to them.

“You know what it’s like. There’ll be a mad rush for the leftovers. We better get moving, Terrin. Thank you for letting us meet your beautiful calf, Cloud.” Sherie moved closer to Cloud and put her wing on the top of her head.

Cloud let a small puff of air out of her spout and it ruffled Sherie’s feathers slightly. “I’m glad you were here. Goodbye, my dear friends.”

The seagulls shook out their wings and climbed into the air, letting the wind carry them across the sea. The birds circled around one last time to get a final glimpse of the new calf before they flew back to their rock.

“A shame Fynn wasn’t here for this. Do you think he made it free?” Sherie asked Terrin.

“I can only hope, Sherie. He was an awfully fast swimmer, but you know what happens when the boats come.” He looked down at his feet.

“I do. One minute they’re here and the next gone, along with many of our animal friends. If only dolphins could fly. Then they’d never have to worry about the boats again.” Sherie sighed sadly.

“What a thing to see, a dolphin spreading wings. Imagine that. Just imagine.” Terrin smiled at his mate.

“If only….” Sherie snuggled against him and closed her eyes. A light breeze ruffled her feathers as she imagined the world to be a better place. When she opened them, Sherie saw a few dolphins leap into the air before slicing back into the shimmering water below.

Chapter 2

Strange Little Fish

Brilliant colors swarmed all around Kona and she took in each one. From the beautiful orange fish that swirled around her to the coral that waved at her from the bottom of the sandy floors, her world was filled with so many wondrous things.

A few yellow fish swam by and Kona thought they looked a lot like the sun that shone down onto the world below. Not all creatures of the ocean had the chance to see its brilliance, not like the land dwellers at least. Kona could see its bright rays filter though the water in a warm white glow, and wondered who might be basking in its light several hundred feet above them.

Occasionally, she would pop up to the surface with her mother and make friends with some of the land animals nearby. Terrin and Sherie were her favorites by far. Birds were funny creatures. Kona often wondered what it would be like to be covered in soft feathers. Watching them squabble over small scraps of food reminded her of the crabs that often dueled on the bottom of the ocean in a feisty frenzy. Never get between two crabs when they were fighting. Kona had learned that the hard way. Her nose hurt just thinking about it.

As quickly as the yellow fish had come, they disappeared just as fast. Kona looked around her to find small black and white fish bobbing by her. They looked like tiny zebras as they moved through the water. Kona imagined the horse-like creatures that Terrin had told her about. They must be spectacular beasts, racing through the wind as they pounded along on their hooves. The world was filled with so many fascinating animals that Kona could only dream of.

“Excuse us. Out of the way please,” one of the fish said as they tried to swim past her.

Kona watched them leave in their small school and wondered what it must be like to have a large group to swim with each day. Cloud and Kona belonged to a small dolphin pod that ranged from eight to ten dolphins depending on the day. A few of them were free spirits that came and went as they pleased.

Kona was the youngest in her pod. Cloud had joined this pod after she had lost her mate, Fynn. The pod had welcomed her openly into their group, and had happily anticipated the birth of her calf. When Kona was born, they had accepted her with ease. Tanti, a dolphin near Cloud’s age, had taken them both under her wing. Tanti was like an aunt to her, and Kona loved her dearly. Today, her mother and Tanti were giving her a little space as she explored the ocean floor.

Kona reveled in the small freedom they had granted her. Everywhere she looked the ocean was alive. It was like a dance as the fish seemed to twirl their way through the day. Kona could feel the rhythm of the sea pulse through her as happiness bubbled over. This was the life. The wide open space before her was filled with endless possibilities.

A small red sea horse named Charlie was anchored to a blade of sea grass a few feet below her, his tail wrapped tightly around it. When Kona swam by he ducked slightly, as if her movements had cracked his calm. “Whoa…watch it, will ya?”

Kona stopped in midstream and turned to face him with an apologetic smile. “Oh…sorry.”

“You should be. Do you know how long I’ve been here?” Charlie’s nose scrunched up in emphasis.

“No….” Kona inched closer to the small sea horse. She could not help wondering why he would have brought that point up. Perhaps, he had been there for eternity. Was that even possible?

“Days…no wait…weeks. Actually, I don’t quite remember when I first latched on here, but that’s not the point. I’m out to break the ocean record.” Charlie’s chest puffed out proudly.

“For?” Kona was starting to get curious. He was clearly more interesting than she had first thought.

“Staying put, that’s what. Gee, I thought you dolphins were supposed to be smart.” Charlie shook his head.

“Well, if you’re so smart, why don’t you remember how long you’ve been there?” Kona challenged him. She could not help thinking how silly it must be to try to break a record for staying put. The clams would have him beat easily. They hardly ever moved. She knew this firsthand, having spoken to one every week for the last year. Not that Kona was one to talk. Kona would be lucky if she could stay put longer than a few minutes. She was a dolphin on the move, and nothing could hold her back. Her body just seemed to be built that way.

“Pfft. No need to get huffy.” Charlie unlatched himself and let his body float away as his irritation got the better of him.

“Hey, wait. Where are you going? What about your record?” Kona swam closer to him.

“Record, shm-ecord. I got places to be, kid. See you around.” Charlie waved her off.

“But you were trying to win…,” she tried to tell him. Kona did not understand the sea horse one bit.

“Fat chance of that. LeRoy started before I did, and he’s clearly more suited to it.” The sea horse nodded to a coral nearby.

Kona used her sonar to zero in on the coral, but all she could see was the coral. There was no sea horse anywhere near it. “But that’s a coral—”

“Right. He’s that good. That guy’s been there for literally forever.” Charlie shook his head in disgust. “Maybe I should just join the derby.”

“Derby?” Kona blinked her eyes slowly. What in the world was the sea horse going on about now?

“Yeah. The name kind of fits you know…Charlie Horse.”

“Uhm…okay, but you’re not really a horse, you know. You hardly swim.” Kona tried to copy the way the sea horse moved through the water. “You’re more of a floater.”

“I do too swim!” Charlie nodded to his fin that was flapping like tiny wings in the water. “I’ll have you know I have four of these bad boys that keep me upright in the water and help propel me through the ocean. Pffft…ye of little faith.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know.” Kona was still learning about the world around her. Clearly, there was more to discover

“I’m off to the races. Now, if you please, I’d like to bid you adieu.” Charlie’s nose stuck straight up in the water as if to say he no longer wanted her company.

“Okay. Suit yourself.” She watched him move slowly away. “Well, that was weird.”

Kona rushed through the water and passed him without a second thought. She zipped around a large rock and dove under the arch of coral formation where her mother was swimming nearby with Tanti. The pair of them were circling slowly in the water.

Cloud was never far away. While she gave Kona a little independence, her mother was protective of her. Kona did not mind. They were family and that was a bond stronger than any other. Kona swam next to her mother and rubbed her head up against her belly. “I love you, Mama.”

“I love you too, Kona.” Cloud turned to run her bottle nose against Kona. “Did you learn anything?”

“Sea horses are strange creatures,” Kona answered.

“Yes, yes they are. Never met one that made me think otherwise,” agreed Cloud.

“So now what?” Kona was eager to join the others.

“We hunt,” Tanti answered her. Her aunt nodded for Kona to follow her.

Kona squealed in excitement. “Yes!”

Kona followed her pod, ready to put her newfound skills to test. Hunting was almost like a game to her, one that ended in a delicious feast that kept her belly full. She closed her eyes and imagined the meal that would soon be hers. Yes, this was definitely a good life. That was undeniable.

Chapter 3


Life was everything Kona could wish for. Her days were spent exploring the wonderful world of the ocean floor. Now she was a proficient hunter, and deemed ready to survive in the deep blue sea by herself if she ever had to. While Kona did love adventure, she never strayed far from Cloud, and thankfully, Kona did not have to leave her mother’s side. Her mother did not seem to mind one bit. With an amazing pod of dolphins surrounding her, Kona was never alone.

“Hey, Tanti, did you see that eel?”

“Which one?” Tanti’s eyes narrowed slightly as she surveyed the area around her.

“The blue one.” Kona nodded to the left of them.

“It’s electric,” Tanti warned her as Kona swam too close.

“Boogie! Oogie! Where are you?” Another voice called out.

“What in the world?” Kona circled around with Tanti right behind her.

Kona slowed down when she got closer to the eel. His body seemed to charge up with nervous energy the closer she got to him. His nose seemed to quiver in fear.

“You all right there?” Kona asked him.

“Yes, I suppose. I seem to be stuck, and my brother and sister are nowhere around to help me.” His glowing eyes were filled with fear.

“Hi, I’m Kona, and this is my aunt, Tanti.” Kona waved a fin in Tanti’s direction.

“I’m Disco, and I’m stuck. I don’t suppose you could help me out of here, could you?” Disco was still squirming in the confines of the green coral branches.

Kona closed her eyes and tried to think of what she could use to free him. Her mind replayed everything she had seen moments before. There had been a few shells in the sand, a rusty item she did not recognize, and some kind of long wooden rod of some kind. Often things that did not belong in the sea made their way to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Kona had been told that these things came from man. Man lived in the world above them. They were strange creatures that could swim in the water with them, but could not survive below the surface for long periods of time. They did not have scales like some of the other land dwelling creatures, nor did they have feathers. This she had learned from Sherie and Terrin. The two seagulls were quite familiar with man, as they had seen them with their own eyes.

Terrin had explained that man was not like other animals. He walked on two legs and often used other things to ride around on. They seemed to have a symbiotic relationship with motorized vehicles, the way that some animals did with larger creatures. Kona often wondered if man could survive without them.

Tanti interrupted her thoughts. “Kona, let’s try this stick.”

“Is that what it’s called?” Kona raced over to the rod and picked it up in her mouth. “I awt it,” she tried say through her closed mouth.

“Just move it in between the branches there…I think Disco can slide out then. Be careful not to touch him.”

“Right. I’ll try not to shock you.” Disco gave her a half smile.

“Okay. Here goes nothing.” Kona slid the stick into the gap in the coral. She wrenched the branches of the coral open just enough for Disco to squirm away from it.

“Thank you, Kona! I guess next time I should make sure I haven’t eaten before I try to play hide and seek in the corals.” Disco seemed remorseful, but tiny giggles erupted from the eel. “Now, I need to find Oogie and Boogie. They’re probably worried.”

“You’re welcome, Disco. I’m glad we were able to help you.” Kona was relieved that she could get the little eel out of the coral. If he had been stuck for too much longer, it would have been harder to get him free.

Disco’s body waved in the water, as if he were doing a head to toe check to make sure all his parts still moved correctly. “Maybe I’ll see you around sometime, Kona.”

“Sure. We could all play hide and seek, although finding a hiding place is harder when you’re a dolphin.” Kona gestured to her large body with her fin. Kona was still small compared to the other dolphins, but still larger than a lot of other fish.

“Time to go find my siblings. See you around!” Disco waved his tail at her and darted off through the water.

“What a strange little eel!” Tanti exclaimed.

“Nah. I think he’s fun. I’d love to play a game or two with him and the others. Sometimes I wish I had someone my age to play with,” Kona sighed.

“I know, Kona.” Tanti swam closer to Kona and tried to offer comfort.

“It’s okay, Tanti. I have you, my mother, and all the rest of the pod. Not everyone is that lucky.” Kona smiled at her aunt.

“Speaking of which, we should probably return to them.” Tanti started to swim away.

At that moment, something unusual started to happen. A loud sound echoed around them. Kona shut her eyes and shook her head. “What is that?”

Clank! Clink! Clink! Clink! The loud sounds were like an earthquake of sound that rippled through the ocean.

“I don’t know, Kona, but it can’t be good. We need to make a swim for it.” Tanti started to dash forward, but another ear shattering clanking washed through the waters. Tanti turned to the left and then the right, as if she could not determine which direction to swim.

Kona squeezed her eyes shut and tried to use her sonar to guide her back to her pod. Every time she thought she found them, the disturbing vibrations sent her off course. She opened her eyes and realized she was suddenly alone. “Where is everyone?”

Not a fish was in sight. Not even Tanti. Kona searched the area around her. Swimming in a large circle, she was filled with confusion. She had always thought she knew every inch of these waters, but the blaring noise had sent everything she knew on overdrive. “Hello?”

Clank! Clink! Clank! Clink!

Kona tried to swim away from the direction of the sound. Every time she went one way, she was bombarded with the awful noise. Finally, she found a safe haven away from the clinking, clanking that disrupted the peaceful waters that she called home. Kona looked around the small inlet of water and realized she was much closer to land than she cared to be. She tried to swim away from shore, but found herself running into some kind of ropelike obstruction.

“What is this horrible thing?” Kona’s nose was caught in between the ropes and she struggled to pull it out. When she finally pulled free, she tried to take stock of her situation. There was a small starfish on the bottom of the sand.


The starfish opened one eye and shushed her. “Quiet there. We don’t want them to see us.”

“Who?” Kona swam closer to him and tried to still the fear in her heart. She had no idea what was happening to her, nor where her family was.


One word and Kona felt an icy fear enter her heart. Terrin had warned her about man before, but Kona had always thought she was safe in the water where man could not survive. “What do I do?” Kona felt tears filling her eyes.

“Hide!” He warned her.

“Where?” Kona looked around her anxiously. There was no place to camouflage in this small bay. If only there were a large rock or a cave to hide inside.

Kona tried to find courage inside her, but she was finding that incredibly difficult to achieve. She worried that her mother might be in danger too. What if they got Tanti? The thoughts echoed around her head like silent vultures devouring the last of her calm. The fear of moments before was now replaced with a desperation. She butted up against the net and tried to force her way out, which only ended up in her tangling herself into it further.

Panic filled her and her eyes started to glaze over in terror. “Mama? Tanti!”

In a matter of moments, the world before her faded away as the light was filled with dark. She felt herself being lifted out of the water, but Kona could barely keep her eyes open. The feel of cold air on her skin made her feel lost and alone.

Blurry images of strange two-legged creatures seemed to cloud her vision. Man. Kona tried to focus, but the shock running through her body made it impossible to think. Panic rose inside her. She had never been out of water this long before. Kona felt something placed on her skin. It was something cool and damp.

Her breathing became shallow as Kona found soft cries leaving her body. “Mama…Tanti…. Where are you…?”

Kona felt herself slipping away slowly from the world she had always known. The men lifted her and placed her inside some large metal confinement. Two of them sat beside her and continued to rub her down with wet clothes. Kona found no relief in their touch. Instead, she felt a distinct revulsion. Before she knew it, everything went black.

Chapter 4

A Scary New World

Kona spent the next few days in and out of consciousness. Every time she opened her eyes, she found herself surrounded by the strange creature that Terrin had called man. Fear surrounded her in an uncomfortable cocoon while she was trapped inside some large vehicle that they were traveling inside. She heard the distant roar of loud engines and the human voices murmuring above her.

“What’s its status, Tyler?” Lucas, the man on her left side, asked the one sitting next to her. Kona saw his blurry image.

“She’s not in great shape. Her heartbeat is erratic, but I’ve given her a slight sedative to help keep her calm.”

Calm? Kona did not feel calm in the slightest. She had tried to speak to them, but the humans had not been able to understand the tiny peals of sound. Kona had finally given up and lay on the hard metal floor where she was restrained.

“We’re not far from Phoenix. We just have to get her there. Whatever they do with her from that point is not our business,” Lucas responded.

“I know. Your job is to care about the money. Mine is to take care of the animals.” Tyler put a gentle hand against Kona, but even though the gesture was kind, it made Kona feel like squirming out of her skin.

“Money. That’s all that thing is. Money in the bank,” Lucas sneered.

“Relax, little one. Just rest. It will all be over soon.” Tyler patted her on the top of her head and started to cover her with fresh wet cloths.

Kona wanted to feel comforted by his words, but she had no reason to trust him. They had taken her out of the safety of the ocean’s waters. Right now, Kona should have been swimming with her pod or hunting for food. Even if these men had offered her food, Kona would not have been able to stomach it.

“Why are you talking to it? It’s not like that thing can hear you.” Lucas shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“That’s actually not true. Dolphins are intelligent and intuitive,” Tyler interjected.

“If it’s so smart, why did it get caught?” Lucas shot back.

“Because we know their weakness. That’s all.” Tyler was conflicted. He seemed to care about animals, but his greed still got the better of him in the long run, or he would have never signed up for the dolphin runs.

“What do you suppose they have planned for this one? Dolphin shows? Hair raising encounters?” Lucas seemed to be wondering aloud.

“Probably more of the same.” Tyler looked away from the other man and kept his eyes trained on Kona.

“I wonder how much they’ll make off this one.” Lucas whistled just thinking about it. “Imagine how many people will come out into the middle of the desert just to see the new dolphin in the exhibit. People go mad for that sorta thing.”

Kona heard the words desert and wondered what that could be. Was it like the ocean? Would her pod be there too? Kona thought about her mother and tears clouded her eyes again. She hoped that Cloud and Tanti were safe. One day, if she were lucky, Kona would find her way back to them.

“Yes. I suppose they do. It’s not the best place for marine life, seeing as how it’s not ever been part of their natural habitat.” Tyler put another wet cloth on Kona and patted it against her gently.

Lucas snorted. “You can’t listen to your conscience if you want to get paid. Best to leave that on shore.”

At this point, Kona felt the effects of the drugs kicking in again. All her thoughts spun in her head as she tried to make heads or tails of her surroundings. Fear pulsed through her as the man beside her tightened the restraints holding her down. Her eyelids drifted shut and darkness filled her world once more.

The next time Kona opened her eyes, she was surprised to find herself being lowered into a small body of water. She felt the panic inside her start to ease momentarily as the cool water ran over her body. As her restraints disappeared, she tested out her tale by slapping it against the water before completely submerging herself.

Kona looked all around her, hoping to find the comforts of home. She swam to the bottom of the pool of water looking for the sand and plants she was familiar with. Instead, her belly skimmed against a hard grainy surface, and she recoiled from its touch.

“What is this place?”

Kona swam around in circles, trying to find a way out of this unusual ocean. She darted toward one end of it and slammed into a hard rock-like formation. “Ouch! What in the world?”

Oceans were not small. They were limitless and free. This place, it confined her in a way she never had been. She thrashed in the water, her fear turning to anger as she realized her life would never be the same. Would she ever get out of this place?

“Hello in there….” A voice floated through the glass wall in front of her.

“Hello?” Kona rotated her body in the water, attempting to find where the sound had come from.

“Over here. Come up to the glass.” The voice echoed through the walls.

“Glass?” Kona was confused. What was glass?

“Oh, that’s right. No one knows that in the beginning. Wherever you don’t see white, that’s the glass.”

“Okay.” Kona approached the glass and waited to see if the voice actually belonged to someone. Before long, she saw a large black and white shape appear across the divide. “Are you an orca?”

“Why, yes, I am. And my name is Lily.” The whale seemed to smile with a mouth filled with rows of white teeth.

“I’m Kona. What is this place?” Kona swam back and forth before the glass wall. Her nerves were getting the best of her.

“Go up to the surface, Kona. It’s easier to talk that way.” Lily nodded to the water above her with her head. The orca surfaced and waited for Kona to do the same.

Kona swam to the surface. “Where are we? What is this place?” Kona’s voice was shaking.

“This is the Oasis Aquarium,” Lily explained, as if those words should be enough to answer her questions.

“What is an aquarium?” Kona was thoroughly confused. Terrin had never told her about aquariums. Man, their big vehicles, and some of the strange food they ate were the basis of her knowledge about these creatures. Kona felt completely unprepared for her encounters with man.

“Oh dear. You weren’t born in one?” Lily shook her head knowingly. “Poor thing. This must be horrible for you.”

“Were you born in an aquarium?” Kona asked her.

“Yes, I sure was.”

Kona could not imagine having never seen the open seas before. Whatever this place was, it certainly could not compare. “So, what happens next?”

“Oh, you’ll be in isolation for a bit, before they put you in the tank next door with the others.”

“Others?” Kona felt an icy chill run up her spine. What other creatures lived here at the aquarium?

“The other dolphins, silly,” Lily giggled.

“Well, excuse me if I don’t find this funny.” Kona sniffed in irritation.

“Oh, please don’t be like that. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. Just relax, Kona. You’ll get used to life here soon enough,” Lily tried to console her.

Kona turned away from Lily and swam to the opposite side of the pool. She did not want to get used to anything but her home. She felt the sadness creeping up on her again. If only her mother were here. Maybe Kona would feel less alone and afraid if she could snuggle up against Cloud or Tanti.

She closed her eyes and tried to imagine herself swimming next to her pod in the deep blue sea surrounded by the rainbow of colors that had lit up her world. If she closed her eyes hard enough, it was almost like she was with them. Moving through the water in fast circles, she got so carried away that her snout slammed into the wall of the pool. Kona jerked back and her eyes flew open.

She shook her head in the water and a loud screeching cry came from somewhere deep inside her. Kona did not stop crying until much later that day. The marine employees were keeping a close eye on her from above, but Kona ignored them. She did not want anything to do with man. Not one little bit. Whenever they got close to her she turned away from them. It was man’s fault that she was here. Kona would never forgive them.

Chapter 5

The Oasis Aquarium

Kona had lost track of time since she had come to the aquarium. Was it days? A week? To her the time seemed to move on in a monotonous blur, nothing much changing in her tiny cubical.

Today, the late afternoon heat beat down on the desert surrounding the Oasis Aquarium. The air was arid and dry, something she found hard to get accustomed to. The only consolation she had was the orca who spoke to her through the walls separating them.

“Lily?” Kona called out to her.

After a slight pause, Kona heard the splash of water across from her. “Yes, Kona?”

“Just making sure you were still there.” Kona felt nervous rising to the surface. This always happened before the massive panic attack started. This made Kona feel caged and slightly frenzied as she swam in indecisive circles around her tank.

“How’s the food today?” Lily asked her.

“Terrible.” Kona shuddered. She hated the fish they tossed into the tank. They were stale and old, not at all like the fresh fish she was used to catching for herself. These were a little rotten, way past their expiration date.

“Tasted all right to me. You sure we got the same thing?” Lily asked her.

“Cold mackerel?”

“Yeah. That sounds about right. A little chunky at times.”

Kona closed her eyes and shook off the disgusting images of the food she had eaten earlier.

“I love the mackerel. I wonder how far we are from feeding time.” Lily ducked down under the water and swam across the tank before returning. “Sorry. Needed the water. The sun’s awfully hot today.”

“It is. Down in the ocean, many fish never see the sun. They are unable to travel above water for much time at all. Not like us, where we depend on the air we breathe. But at least in the ocean I can swim farther down into its depths to get away from the heat. Here…well, there’s no way to hide from it.” Kona sank into the water to let the water cover her irritated skin.

“You’ll get used to it soon, Kona.” Lily took water into her mouth and spit it across the pool at Kona.

“Stop that!” giggled Kona.

“Or what?” Lily taunted her.

“I’ll send that crazy lizard after you,” Kona threatened her.

“Drake? Fat chance. He’s curled up on the rafters today. I saw him run across the glass earlier. Something about some crazy loon or something.” Lily nodded to the pavilion next to them.

Kona sighed sadly. “I’d love to talk to a loon. I miss my friends back home. Do we ever get seagulls here?”

“Seagulls? In the middle of the desert? We’re missing something key there….” Lily paused.

“What’s that?”

“A sea for one. Besides, the only birds I see around here are vultures. Nasty lot, those creatures. Ooof…I’m being paged. Back later, dearie.” Lily sunk beneath the surface and swam across the pool to where her trainer was waiting for her near the edge of her tank.

Kona felt a momentary sadness that had rooted deep in her consciousness lately. No one seemed to know how she felt. They had all been born in captivity, it seemed. None of them knew what it was like to live in the world outside of an aquarium, and Kona had no idea how to live inside one. This was not what she called living.

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