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I made a deal with sharks. I don't swim near them and they don't play cricket. It may be a little unfair. I can swim, whereas they haven't got a hope of hitting a six. The arrangement worked well for many years. I never once saw a shark bowl a bouncer. And no one ever praised a wicket keeper for a safe pair of fins. But the whole deal fell apart when my family spent the summer holidays at Hazard River ...

It's just getting dark one night. My neighbour Lachlan Master is hunting rotten mangoes. He pokes around under the mango tree. There's a mission on his mind and splatter on his cricket bat.

‘There's one!’ my little brother Ben shouts. He shines the torch on a mango with really big black spots.


Lachlan smacks the mango for six. It whizzes straight past my nose, spraying me on the way past.

‘That's gross,’ I say.

‘They're rotten,’ Lachlan replies, swinging the bat over his shoulder. ‘It's our duty to get rid of them, so animals don't eat them and get sick.’

I thought he was just bashing mangoes around for fun. I didn't know he was saving the planet.

Thwack. Another mango astronaut heads into outer space. It drops into Hazard River with a splash.

‘Do rotten mangoes sink or float?’ my brother calls, running to the edge of the river.

‘Who cares!?’ Lachlan calls back.

Ben cares. He collects smelly things. We've been at Hazard River for a week and already he's got quite a stockpile going – three dead crabs, an old jelly fish (very pongy), a flat lizard that was squashed on the window and the remains of a dead bird (unbelievably pongy).

Ben's class will be in for a big surprise when he takes that lot in for show and tell. The smell will probably kill them.

‘I found something!’ Ben shouts from the riverbank. ‘Quick! Come down here!’

‘No one's interested in a splattered mango,’ I call back. ‘Just leave it alone, Ben.’

‘It's not a mango,’ Ben says. ‘It's ... it's ... treasure!’

Lachlan and I run to join Ben. We can all see it now. A great big lump of something is lying in the shallow water.

For a moment I let myself believe it is treasure. I start to plan how I'll spend my share of the fortune. Perhaps I could buy the complete set of footy player cards that I've been trading and praying for all year.

But my dreams vanish as we get closer. In the torchlight I can make out an eye, a long pointy nose and a massive gaping mouth with rows of sharp teeth.

This isn't a ticket to riches. This isn't a bag of treasure. It's a fish. And it's the worst kind.

‘A shark!’ I scream.

The water is lapping against the shark's big grey body. It doesn't move.

Is it still because it's dead? Or is it just waiting for an unsuspecting ten-year-old to come too close, then launch itself up the bank and attack? Ben and Lachlan move towards it.

I step back.

The shark's eyes seem to follow me. I step back further. The eyes are still on me.

I don't like the look of this.

I turn my back on the gaping mouth, the rows of sharp teeth and staring eye. I am ready to run.

Then ...


Something grabs my leg.

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