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Kimu And The Kelp Forest
"Kimu, I need you to take this to your father." Kimu's mother wrapped a square of squid and
some rice balls in a piece of seaweed. "He forgot his lunch, and I'm due at work in ten minutes."
Kimu swallowed. "Isn't there anything out there he could eat?"
"You'll be fine, Kimu." His mother strapped on her air tank. "Take your hydroboard, stay on
the path, and steer clear of the bats and the giants. Your father's working the east side of the
forest today. I'll see you this evening. Oh, and try to finish unpacking your room."
She gave Kimu a quick hug, slipped on her flippers and walked into the pressure-locked portal that led to the ocean outside. Kimu watched through the window of his oxydome home as she waved to him, then kicked closer and closer to the surface. He'd have given anything to have gone with her. It had been a whole week since he'd stood on dry land, back before school let out
and they'd moved below.
Kimu could just picture his friends up above enjoying the summer; hanging out at each other's houses, hoverboarding, having fun on the beach . . . what was left of it.
"You're so lucky," his best friend Landis had said. "I mean, how great is that? To be one of the first families to live in the ocean! I wish my dad was a biologist."
Of course Landis would want to live underwater, he was the best swimmer in Council Cove. And I'm just about the worst, thought Kimu. Even with flippers. Now give me a hoverboard . . .
When Kimu could no longer see his mother, he turned and stared at the seaweed wrapped
squid on the counter. He hated squid.
And he hated living in the ocean. But since the ice caps started to melt, there was less land to
live on up there. His new neighborhood would soon be full of people.
Kimu zipped up his wet suit, snapped on his scuba mask and stuffed the squid and rice into a
pouch on his belt. As he shouldered the oxygen tank, he took a deep breath to make sure it
worked. All that gear felt suffocating.
aquarium; he was trapped inside while all the fish and sea creatures swam around free. Not that
he wanted to swim around out there.
Kimu stepped inside the portal and pressed the button that opened the hatch to the ocean
He unhooked his hydroboard from the dock and lay down on it. Kimu hated the powerless
feeling of lying on his stomach. Even though the controls had mirrors, you could never really
tell what might be swimming up behind you. He pushed the ignition, and the engine whirred to
Kimu cautiously maneuvered toward the kelp forest. It was only his third time out with the
board and he was still getting the feel of the controls.
He'd almost reached the forest's edge when something bumped him from beneath. The board
bobbled, nearly knocking him off balance.
He looked down and almost laughed with relief. It was just a school of harmless halfmoons
on their way into the forest to feed. One of them hung back and blinked curiously at Kimu. He
waved and the fish slashed back to the school.
Kimu steered the hydroboard east along a path cut out of the forest. It would take him right
through giant territory. But they didn't really worry him that much. The giants weren't as big as
he'd thought when he'd lived on land. He'd seen a couple of them at a distance, but never up
And they didn't attack people, either. That was all just science fiction. Although he did wish
he and Landis hadn't watched so many late night sci-fi flicks. Those are fun . . . if you live on
Off to his left, Kimu saw an enormous shadow in the dark expanse beyond the kelp. It
looked like a gray whale. Whales didn't worry him, either. They were no threat to humans.
Kimu looked forward . . . right into the amber eyes of a giant! He gasped, swallowing a great
gulp of oxygen. The surprised giant shot straight up, leaving Kimu in an inky blur.
Kimu revved the board, propelling himself out of the black cloud. The giant had gone back
into hiding. Kimu couldn't believe it--he'd been inked by an octopus! What would Landis say?
station was nowhere in sight. He sped up for a few minutes, then paused to scan the forest floor.
Red and purple urchins inched their way along the kelp roots. There would be no urchins near
the station; the harvesters gathered up the hungry kelp eaters and fed them to the sea otters. So
he must still--
Wham! Kimu came off the board with such force that he couldn't breathe. He whirled
around in the water, trying to see what he'd hit. An enormous bat ray lay just below him. It was
motionless, stunned from the impact. Kimu knew any impact he had with the ray would be
stunning. Those stingers could be lethal.
But he had to get his hydroboard. It had sunk to the ocean floor, and its motor was churning
up a cloud of rocks and sand not far from the ray.
Kimu's head was spinning, but he tried to think clearly. If he went for the board, he'd be
within stinging distance of the ray. Swimming was the only other option.
He'd try for the board.
The ray hadn't moved. Kimu dove slowly towards the board, never taking his eyes off the
ray. His heart pounded in his ears. As his hands scraped the sand, the ray flapped its wings and
flew straight at him.
Kimu grabbed the controls and flattened himself against the board. He opened up the throttle
and veered to the right of the ray and straight into a wall of kelp.
Kimu killed the engine, then tore at the kelp that clogged it. He kept watching for the ray, but
it had vanished. Finally, he settled back onto his board and headed east again.
After a few minutes, Kimu noticed the urchins thinning out along the ocean floor. He looked
up and saw the belly of a harvesting boat in the distance.
Kimu checked his watch. He was right on time