Chapter One

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Mickey stretched through the slight opening in the side of his transport crate until he thought he'd scrape the hair off his arm

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Mickey stretched through the slight opening in the side of his transport crate until he thought he'd scrape the hair off his arm. Thankfully he was small, even for a bonobo, and, after what felt like an eternity of effort, his fingers touched the shaft of sunlight angling in through a hole in the roof of the trailer.   

Just as his fingers began to warm from the thin shaft of light, a thump from behind him caught his attention. He twisted his head to look back. 

'Trapped!' Duke, the grizzled chimpanzee male housed beside him communicated with a quick sequence of grunts and gestures, the movements visible through the door to his crate. 'You no go.' He followed that with slapping the side of his container, and produced a second thump. 'Don't listen,' this from Gertie, the old female directly across from him, using slow human sign language instead of traditional vocalizations and gestures. 'Mad because can't reach.'

Mickey knew that she meant Duke, and gave an ear-flapping nod and returned to the shaft of light

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Mickey knew that she meant Duke, and gave an ear-flapping nod and returned to the shaft of light. He felt happy that he had finally reached the light, an emotion he hadn't experienced much recently. 

He was happy when he was just an infant, hanging onto his mother's back as she knuckle-walked through the forest. Then, the humans came and took him away. Mickey remembered being cold, hungry and frightened, just like he was now. But the humans in white came and made him warm. They gave him food and a comfortable place to sleep. It was almost enough to make him forget the forest and his mother. They taught him in that place--taught him how to count and how to talk to them with his hands, like Gertie just did. He remembered how nice they all were, those humans, giving him hugs and lots of tasty food. 

Mickey had grown up there, learning and playing, getting bigger and adopting the humans as his community. He even learned to recognize their names and some of their words, like 'Southwestern Primate Language Center', the name of the place where he lived. 

Then, after tens of tens of days spent living there, strange humans came to put him and the other chimpanzees like him, some orangutans and a couple of gorillas, into transport crates again and loaded them into trucks

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Then, after tens of tens of days spent living there, strange humans came to put him and the other chimpanzees like him, some orangutans and a couple of gorillas, into transport crates again and loaded them into trucks. As they were being loaded, he remembered the humans in white, called 'scientists,' coming out to say sorry to them that they had to leave. 

 Mickey recognized other words they said, too, like 'funding lost', and 'sending apes to wildlife preserve'. The Southwestern Primate Language Center was being closed, and they were being sent away, to this place, this 'wildlife preserve'. 

 At least most of his community was going with him this time. The only ones that weren't coming were the scientists from the Center. That made him sad; they had treated him the best out of all of them. They were his friends, his family. 


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