There ended up being thirteen of us inside that box. With nowhere else to go it turned into a cramped, smelly, acrid mess. My fur had gotten matted to my skin, making my bones stick out even further. We’d received a little more food, but only of the human variety and it made most of us vomit.
Thirteen soon became twelve. The difference? Me. After nearly two weeks of sheer misery, I was gifted an escape from the market. Or so I thought. No I wasn’t thrown out, nor did I become a meal, but I was handed over to another man. He didn’t look like the ones I recognised. He dressed differently too. I think I heard him referred to as ‘Middleman.’
I didn’t know what to think. My face still throbbed, I was dirty, starving and I hadn’t seen a tree in a fortnight. By now I’d stopped pinching myself, trying to wake up. I saw some paper changing hands then Middleman picked me up by the scruff of the neck, the stretched skin sending fresh pulses of pain through my face. He smiled. I began to cry again.
I was thrown into another bag. This time there was only one other loris, from another island. We had a little more room but she just laid there in a fetal position and whimpering. Maybe she knew what was going to happen. The bag was zipped up and suddenly I was flying though the air before hitting a hard surface with a thud. A strange rumbling vibrated around me before we began to move again, tossing the bag against the surrounding walls. That was the first but unfortunately not the last time I was taken somewhere in a car.
About an hour we stopped. The boot opened and the bag was picked up, Middleman revealing himself leering at us soon after. The other loris whose name I can’t remember had stopped whimpering by now. Though I’m sure she was also in pain, she appeared numb, her face a picture of utter defeat.
Suddenly Middleman thrust his hand up and grasped my neck, shoving me downwards and crushing me into one of his trouser pockets. With no way out and no air, I went into shock. Us lorises do that a lot when so scared. You can’t move or cry, or do anything. This way they know you won’t try to get out or attract attention. You’re forced to huddle there motionless and silent as though drugged, whilst they push their bag into the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detector like they don’t have one of the world’s most endangered primates lining their pockets. Yes, this really does happen.
No one likes flying, do they? Try being a loris on a twelve hour flight and not knowing where you are, what the noise is, why you’re moving so fast or when the nightmare’s going to end. The scream of the engines alone I will never forget. A lot of lorises die in transit and I almost, almost wished that I was back in the market. I’m pretty sure my face would have been showing the same look as the other loris’s, who’d been forced into Middleman’s other pocket. Still, at least he’d looked happy.
I’d heard the names of some strange places like Russia and Japan and Germany when the rumours had been going around the market. I guessed it was one of these I was heading to. I’d heard another word as well, something I should never have heard in my life: ‘pet.’ The idea of this is perhaps the most horrifying of them all…