Leo snapped the buckle closed, cinched down the belt, Dobo's brown eyes looking up at him, forehead wrinkled.
Dobo knew something was up.
Eleven months ago and more, back when Lucy took sick and had to be replaced, Dobo was her brother, brought in holding the trainer's hand, Leo could see the monkey wanted to reach out and grab at the shiny knobs, his trainer holding him firm, whispering in his ear, monkey eyes throwing back the light bouncing off thousands of surfaces in the lab.
"Don't call him a monkey," said the trainer. "Dobo is a chimpanzee."
First day, Leo hated the trainer. But he and Dobo got along fine, Dobo got the import, right away, reining in his urges, gravely going through the tasks Leo assigned, flip this switch, release this lever, Dobo would see things, go places no human being has, and he knew, Dobo wrinkling up his forehead before hopping into the simulator capsule, looking up at Leo while he strapped him in, like he looked at Leo now.
Leo squatted down and nodded one last time at Dobo, swallowing back a trickle of bile, it should have been Leo, it should have been him, nobody at the lab knew that Leo was short for Leonid, this was his destiny, he should be hurtling through the dark, farther than even his parents imagined, sending back data to move in the deep subconscious of every human walking on the thin crust of this planet, in their dreams they would be Leo, Leo among the stars, Leo never to see the earth again, flaming out at the end of the mission, the capsule never designed to return, a martyr to his science, a saint taking his place in the only heaven he knew.
Leo swung the hatch closed.
God speed, hairy little fella.
Hat tip to monkey 0