Another taster...

 "...For a moment, he could see nothing but his torchlight as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. Then he spotted a square of light, low on the far wall - another grill. The light filtering through was pale and watery, but he was sure it was natural. It had to lead to the outer enclosure.


He jumped back against the wall as a spray of water rained down on him.


The dolphins! He could see them now, dark shapes gliding through the water. A soft creaking sound echoed across the pool, just like he’d heard that afternoon. He knelt at the edge of the pool.

“Hello,” he whispered. “It’s going to be okay. I’m here to get you out.”

Silence answered him.

“I’m your friend. You’re getting out of here tonight, back to the sea.”

This time there was a tentative chittering, a much more normal dolphin noise, it seemed to Owen. He stood back up and made his way round to the grill. There was no easy option. He had to open the gate this time. He looked at his watch again. Captain Sigursson should be in place now and in only a couple more minutes the outer gates of the enclosure would be open and the dolphins’ passage to freedom clear.

He shone the torch at the opening mechanism and gave the first bolt a tug. It didn’t budge. He pulled harder. Something seemed to be blocking it. Trying not to panic, he peered closer.

“Oh no!” He stared in horror at the little lock securing the whole lever system. It had all just been too easy so far. He looked desperately round in case there was another exit, but in vain. The dolphins were chattering again and had swum up close to the grill. They thought he was getting them out, trusted him to make good his word. He tugged again at the bolts. There must be something he could do. He sat back against the wall trying to think... Of course!

“You’re getting out of here!” He jumped up, nearly slipping in his hurry and pulled his little penknife out of his pocket. Carefully he slid the thinnest blade into the keyhole of the lock and closing his eyes began to feel his way along the blade into the lock itself. Not iron, he noted. There was something else, two metals he guessed, two bonded together, one warm, the other sharp and cold. It was harder than the Eddleshi door. He had to work with both metals, pulling the bonds apart then opening up one after the other, unwinding long threads of metal. Snap! The lock cracked open. He hadn’t expected that, but it did the trick. The bolts slid smoothly back and he raised the gate easily.

The dolphins seemed to know what to do. He had barely got the gate secured before the first one was out, then the second. He waited. And waited.

“Come on.” He called softly. “You too.” Silence. He shone the torch over the pool. There was no dark shadow. He was too late. The third dolphin was gone. His dolphin. He knew without any doubt that it was the dolphin who had spoken to him who was missing, knew too that he should be happy to have rescued the other two at least.

He wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. It was no good standing here crying. This was Megaco’s doing. In that instant, he wished the Baron and Sir Dennis were in front of him now. He felt no more fear. In its place was a hot, burning rage. He threw the torch across the pool as hard as he could and heard it clang against the wall.

Stupid! He realized too late. It was the Captain’s torch, marked with the logo of his sea sanctuary. He edged round the pool in the dark, fumbling on hands and knees until he found it, lying teetering on the side of the pool.

Turning it back on, he was half way to his feet when he heard a noise. A small chittering noise. He stopped. It was coming from just beyond the wall. Quickly he knelt back down and leant over the edge of the pool. Another gate! Under the water, leading out of the pen, was a grill. With trembling hands, he pulled on the bolts. There was no lock this time and he had it open in an instant.

“I’ve come... I’m here.” The dolphin surfaced beside him, one dark eye only inches from his own. Everything suddenly felt good and a grin spread across Owen’s face. “Hello again. I heard you the other day.” As he spoke, his mind once again filled with images of wide horizons and rainbows of light. He could almost taste the salty spray, feel the wind across his back...

The dolphin eye held him a moment longer, then he dived with a great thud into the water and into the outer enclosure..."

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