"Doctor, quickly, come look at this! This one survived! There's hope!"
And from then on, that's what they called her. Hope.
Her first memory was waking up to the face of three beings, all in white. One, who had very sharp features, bent down to look at her. "Hm. She'll do."
Another, with a softer voice, nodded and said, "A lycanthrope. Think of what this means. A giant leap in scientific understanding. Hello there, Hope."
The third shook his head. "She's a tool. Nothing more. Do not get attached to her."
More people bustled around her. Every so often, they would move her around, allowing her to test her legs and strength. She sometimes saw her reflection in a bit of stainless steel laboratory equipment. She had violet eyes. None of the other People in White had violet eyes.
She was different.
One day, the People in White brought her to a large open room. They put a small brown creature in front of her. "Rabbit," one of the Doctors, the one the People in White called Koyev, said, pointing at it. "This is a rabbit. Kill it."
Hope shook her head. She didn't want to kill the rabbit. "Kill it!" the other Doctor, Fuller, commanded. "Kill the rabbit! Your purpose is to kill! Kill the rabbit!"
Again, Hope shook her head. Whisps of dark hair fell over her eyes as she looked away from the Doctors, away from the People in White. Koyev glanced at one of the People. "Shock her. Make her obey."
One of them jabbed a rod at Hope. She felt pain, everywhere. Her back arched, and she howled. Her nails sharpened to claws, and she felt her teeth shift in her mouth. The next thing she knew, the rabbit was gone, a bloody heap on the ground before her.
Hope began to cry.
Koyev shook his head. "Inadequate. Take her away."
They brought her to her cage. She lived in a concrete cell, with one wall composed of iron bars. She slept on a bed of rags. She curled up and cried, and cried, until she fell asleep.
Later, a tap at the bars roused her. Hope crept over, and saw the woman doctor, the one called Sawyer, standing nearby. "Hope?" the woman asked.
The girl, the lycanthrope, crept closer. Sawyer smiled. "Yes, that's it. I don't want to hurt you. Come here." She spoke kindly, and Hope did. Sawyer reached through the bars. "You're not just a weapon, like the others say. You're a girl, and they have no right to treat you like this."
Hope didn't really understand what she was saying, so used to being addressed in commands. Sawyer reached into her pocket, and pulled out a small… something. She gave it to Hope. "Here. Eat this. It's butterscotch. You'll like it."
Hope sniffed it, and then popped it into her mouth. It was like nothing she had ever tasted before. She looked up at Sawyer. "Can you say thank you?" Sawyer asked. "Can you even talk? God, I never even realized you couldn't talk! Say… Hello."
Sawyer smiled. "Try again. Hello."
"Can you say your name? Hello, Hope."
"How about me? Sawyer. Say 'Hello Sawyer.'"
For a long time following, Sawyer came back to Hope's cell every night. She taught the girl how to speak, and how to read and write. She read her stories, about other children and forests and fields and cities. Hope had never seen a forest, but some of the books had pictures.
Sometimes Sawyer brought her candy.
"Hello Sawyer," Hope said one night.
The doctor shook her head. "No. Call me Analise. That's my name. Like yours is Hope."
"But you're Sawyer."
"I'm Analise Sawyer."
Hope shook her head. "You're Sawyer. And Analise? You're both?"
"Yes, I'm Analise Sawyer."
Hope chewed her lip. "I had to kill a rabbit again today. I don't like killing rabbits."
"I know. But you were made to kill, Hope. And rabbits should be easy to kill. You have wolf DNA. Wolves eat rabbits, remember?"
"Wolves are bad."
"Only in some stories. In others they're good. They're wise." Sawyer sat down outside the bars. "You're a wolf that is good. You will help us."
"I don't like killing rabbits. And the claws and teeth hurt."
"If you practice, it'll be easier. And if you get better, they won't shock you."
"I don't like it."
"It's what you have to do, Hope." Sawyer reached into her bag and pulled out a large book. "How about a story?"
Hope nodded, and sat down with her legs crossed. Sawyer inclined her head to Hope, and began. "This book is called the Bible. It is made up of many books. I'll read you the good stories from it."
After many nights, Hope learned about God, and angels, and demons, and Commandments, and friends, and duty, and purpose. "But it says not to kill," Hope protested one night.
Analise Sawyer shook her head. "That only applies to humans. You don't have to worry about it."
"If I'm not human, than do I have a soul?" Hope asked.
"Of course you have a soul."
"Then how am I not human?"
"I… I don't know, Hope."
Was Sawyer Hope's friend? She thought so.
Analise was her friend.
After many days of stories, after many days of killing rabbits in the Large Room before the People in White, who Analise called the laboratory aides, Hope was brought in front of the three Doctors again. Koyev and Fuller glared down at her. Analise gave a tiny smile.
"Kill the rabbit," Fuller commanded.
"Thou shall not kill," Hope recited. She took the brown rabbit into her arms.
"You can speak? Who taught her to speak?" Koyev demanded.
"I did," Analise said. "I thought that if you treated Hope with compassion and respect, she would get better at using her power. Kill the rabbit, Hope. You practiced."
"Hope, it's okay. You don't have to worry."
"You failed, Sawyer." Fuller was smirking. "She's a weapon. Nothing more. An animal. Treat her as such."
Analise nodded curtly, all trace of warmth gone. She was just an icy visage now. She wouldn't even look at Hope. "It was an experiment. It failed. I'll terminate it now before we compromise the Lycanthrope. Kill the rabbit now, Hope."
They shocked her, and she changed. The rabbit died.
Analise never came to Hope's cell again.
Analise wasn't Hope's friend.
Hope hated Sawyer.
Hope waited until they brought her into the Large Room again. To kill another rabbit. When they gave her the creature, she transformed like they asked. This time, it didn't hurt.
But she didn't kill the rabbit. She leapt at Sawyer, crying out in rage and pain. Her claws drew deep rents in Sawyer's face, and she relished the blood that dripped onto her claws. Hope snarled like a wolf was supposed to.
If she was a weapon, a weapon she would be. But a sword can cut both ways. So she turned on her creators. They forged her, made her what she was. And now she would strike.
She finished with Sawyer, the woman falling to the floor, alive and in terrible pain. Hope wanted her to suffer. She howled, and cut down Fuller, snapping at his throat and making him cry out in fear.
"Sedate her, sedate her!" Koyev cried.
Hope leapt at him, meaning to kill, finally kill, the man who had been so mean to her. Cruel. And then a sudden force, and she fell, darkness closing in.
She awoke, but kept her eyes closed. Her eyes opened to slits, so no one would know she was awake. She was suspended in orange fluid that bubbled around her. She could breathe it like air.
Little needles jabbed into her from all over. Outside the tube, she could see hazy shapes moving around. The People in White. Snatches of conversation came to her.
"… Out of control."
"We've gone too far…"
"…Failed. We should terminate."
Hope knew what terminate meant. End. Destroy. Kill. She didn't want to die. She wouldn't go to Heaven, because she wasn't human. She probably wouldn't go to Hell, either. She would just go. And she didn't want to.
Perhaps Sawyer had thought she would gain the upper hand by teaching the lycanthrope, but she had only given Hope an edge in the end. Before, Hope had been a tool. An animal. But now, she had the power of thought. She had a mind. She had a will. She was more than a sword. She was more than a weapon. She was a living thing, and she would live.
In all the stories, heroes did great things. They lived life under blue skies, in fields and forests. They saw oceans and lakes and rivers and horses and lions and dragons and wolves. Hope wanted to do that. She wasn't going to die here.
One of the laboratory assistants was monitoring Hope's meters on a monitor. Aside from a small spike in heart rate a few moments ago, everything was normal. Then, all of them went up.
Brain waves, heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension all went up. The lycanthrope's unnerving violet eyes snapped open. The woman saw her pupils dilate to slits. Then, she slammed against the wall of her containment tube, reducing it to iridescent shards.
Hope slashed through the woman's throat, killing her instantly. Doctors and researches all around started screaming and running away. Hope darted around, hissing and howling. If the Doctors wanted an animal, they had one. She cut open the throats and abdomens of any human foolish enough to cross her path. Hope destroyed any equipment she saw, lapping at the rivulets of blood that trickled down her fingers.
Koyev, Fuller and Sawyer burst into the room. Koyev waved a gun, and there was a loud bang as it went off. The bullet ripped through Hope's right shoulder, and she howled in pain.
The lycanthrope leapt at Koyev, pinning him to the ground. She drew long slashes of blood, enjoying his agony. "Help me," Koyev rasped at the other two. The help did not come. Sawyer and Fuller turned their backs on him.
They tried to run. Hope dispatched Koyev with a flick of her hand. She tackled Fuller, and ripped his windpipe out with her fangs. Sawyer grabbed a laboratory aide, and hissed, "Destroy the facility. The lycanthrope must not escape."
The terrified young man nodded and sprinted away.
Hope then tore out the tendons in Sawyer's right leg, hamstringing her. "You were my friend," she hissed in the Doctor's ear.
"You were a creature I created," Sawyer rasped back. "I could never care for a monster like you."
"You're nothing but a Frankenstein," Hope replied. She had liked it when Sawyer read her that story; she had pictured herself as the monster and Koyev as the Doctor. But now she saw Sawyer was the true Doctor Frankenstein. And she would meet with the same fate as him in the end.
Slain by his own ambition.
As she looked up from Sawyer's bloody corpse, Hope saw the red lights flashing on the walls above her. A voice over a loudspeaker told her that the self-destruct of the facility was imminent.
The lycanthrope glanced down at Analise Sawyer's broken, bloody body one last time. In the end, she was no different from the sacrificial rabbits Hope had been forced to kill. She turned on her heel and stalked away, following the glowing red exit signs that she had never paid any mind before.
Hope had no exit before.
But then, Hope knew. No matter what came next, she would not die here. She would die in the forests, the hills, the fields, the rivers, the oceans, and under the wide blue sky. And no pathetic human could stop her.
A/N: This piece was written for the Review Game forum's August Writing Contest Challenge. The prompt for the month was "Hope is a cruel beast." Obviously, I took this rather literally. If you enjoyed this piece, please go to the Writing Contest Challenge in the Review Game to vote for it.