Prologue

Two Years Ago

The harsh blaring of an alarm propelled Jared from sleep to wakefulness in one abrupt, heart-pounding instant.

The screaming siren sent daggers of agony ricocheting through his skull. Pain throbbed behind his eyes in time to the adrenaline-laced beating of his heart.

Fucking bastards.

The sound stopped, giving him time to gain control of his physical responses.

He pressed his palms to his eye sockets in a vain attempt to reduce the pressure.

Deep breaths. Move through the pain. Let it flow out of the body. Deep breaths.

Any moment now it would be back. The horrific sound was calibrated to illicit fear and panic in the test subjects. And to make sure they couldn’t prepare, it went off at a different time each day.

Jared opened his eyes and looked around, verifying his location.

Cinder block walls? Check.

Bars across the front? Check.

Trapped in this fucking hell? Check.

The annoying sound returned, but this time he used the mental tricks the lab techs had taught him to block the effects.

He should be used to this shit by now. It happened every

Single.

Fucking.

Morning.

God damned fucking researchers and their tests.

Jared filled his lungs with cool air, eradicating the pain and calming his heart rate. He rubbed his sweating palms against the smooth cotton of his drawstring pants. The ubiquitous cotton scrubs they’d been given to wear.

He sat up on his cot, the thin cotton blanket pooled at his waist. He didn’t need the blanket. The temperature in the habitat block where he was located was strictly controlled. Seventy degrees at night and seventy eight degrees during the day.

The blanket provided psychological comfort that surpassed warmth, though he doubted the researchers knew that.

Jared stood and stretched, seeing the others across the hall doing the same. Once his physiological responses were under control, he waited... and the animal within surged to the surface fighting for control of his body.

Run! Flee! Danger! Hide!

No! I will _not_ flee. I will _not_ hide.

Survive! Hide!

NO!

A brief struggle and the animal retreated to the back of his mind, waiting for the next opportunity to take control; to escape.

It wasn’t getting easier like the techs promised. The approaching full moon made it hard to push the animal back.

The key was to keep calm.

Think calming thoughts.

An image popped into Jared’s mind. Dr. David Glendale, the Director of Experimental Research for Elaine Pharmaceuticals, the company behind the cancer study, hanging by his wrists from a tall oak, while Jared beat him like a piñata. That’s an image to bring a smile to a man’s face. Ah… revenge.

His regulated his breathing to match. Re… breathe in… venge… breathe out… Re… breathe in… venge… breathe out.

No fucking good deed ever goes unpunished. This was what he got for volunteering for that cancer research study.

Think calming thoughts. Think… of the bloody husk of the Director swinging in the breeze. Destroyed. Broken. A fitting end to the horror being perpetrated on the subjects of the study.

Jared paced the confines of his cell and watched the subtle lighting increase in brightness, signifying day. With no windows, the test subjects had to rely on this artificial ‘sun’. He’d lost track of the days. Had weeks passed? Months? Hard to tell.

Another day; another round of testing.

It sucked being a fucking lab experiment.

If he didn’t remain calm, he’d be dead. It happened to many others in the group. Part of the testing they underwent every day to control the animal. Researchers warned that if the subject didn’t get control of the animal upon waking, the animal instincts overwhelmed the human mind and the subject died.

Scared to death.

All in the name of fucking science.