Guiltless

On the 11th of January 1937 Johnathon Ignes is born. He is a suitable weight, in good health...but different from all the other babies in the ward, because he is born immune to guilt. 2 years and 235 days later, worldwide war breaks out.
Sent away as an evacuee, Johnathon grows up away from his mother, and meets Erebus, a cheeky paperboy. Erebus too, has no guilt, and under his influence, Johnathon grows up into a monster.
This is the story of how that monster, became a leader.
- The prequel to 'Souls' (but will make sense if you haven't read it) -

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11. Chapter 10

Two more years of war passed in England. Johnathon and Erebus’s bond kept on growing, to an extent where they spent the majority of their days together. Johnathon received letters from his mother on the 11th of January each year, wishing him a happy birthday, and after a while Johnathon missed her less. Sally and Erebus even dated briefly, though it was purely for entertainment in Erebus’s eyes. At eight years old, Johnathon was becoming his own person, and that felt amazing to him.

3rd September 1945:

“I can’t believe it” Peter boomed, “I actually can’t believe it…Johnathon, we can go home!” Johnathon winced at the loudness of Peter’s tone. It was the day after the war had been declared as over, and Peter just wouldn’t shut up about it.

“It is quite a special day, isn’t it? I’ve seen both of you grow up so much while you’ve been here, I’m definitely going to miss you both” Penny placed the toast down on the table.

“I’m going to miss you too Penny, and Adam, and Sally!” Peter hugged her tightly, knocking her back a bit as he did so. Soon after he said this, Sally descended down the stairs, a grim expression weighing down her face.

“Morning Sally” Adam smiled at her, Sally just grumbled back, sitting down and avoiding eye contact. Since turning eighteen, Sally had become more and more distant from her family, she worked on the farm purely to earn money, and everyone knew she wanted more than anything to travel abroad far away. Erebus hadn’t exactly helped with her mood change however, Johnathon could still remember the night they broke up, right on the doorstep.

“I had a lovely night tonight Erebus” Sally said whilst curling her hair around her finger. Johnathon watched the event from a corner where he remained out of sight, but maintained a good view of what was going on.

“It sure was interesting” Erebus replied, obviously keen to get away.

“Thanks for walking me home too, it was so sweet” Sally lengthened out the conversation.

“No problem” Erebus quickly responded, “Now if you excuse me…”

“Why are you so keen to go?” Sally asked him, her tone changing, “You could stay for a cup of tea if you like”.

“No thank you” Erebus took a step backwards.

“Don’t you want to spend time with me?” Sally quizzed him, leaning forward.

“We just went out on a date!” Erebus reminded her, his volume raised, “Isn’t that enough?” He turned abruptly and began to pace away.

“Don’t you love me?” Sally called out after him, wearing desperation as if it were a second skin. Erebus stopped, turned around, and flashed up to the door. Sally screamed. She began to walk backwards into the house, alarmed by his supernatural speed. Erebus entered the house, stepping slowly closer and closer to her. He lifted his arm up above his right shoulder and slapped her cheek, leaving a red rash afterwards.

“No” he answered her honestly, “But I did enjoy the show tonight”. Sally stroked her injured cheek, whimpering slightly.

“Get out of my house” she demanded, her voice firm and angry. Erebus did as she said, grinning as he did so. “Did you ever love me?” Sally asked one final question before he left, speaking in a murmur.

“No” Erebus repeated himself, shutting the door behind him as he left.

After that evening Sally had avoided Erebus completely, and though she had not told her parents of the slap or the heartbreak, they still knew he was not welcome. As well as the avoidance, Sally had also shrunk down in confidence and general happiness. There were dark purple rims outlining the bottom of her eyes, dragging her expression down with them. She never made any effort with her outfit, and her hygiene was of minimum satisfaction. Sally was a mess, inside and out, and it was all Erebus’s fault.

“Are you excited to go home Johnathon?” Penny caught Sally’s vibe, and decided to change the topic. Johnathon just shrugged, taking his plate to the sink.

“Come on! You must be excited about seeing your mum again” Adam patted his back encouragingly.

“I don’t really remember her…” Johnathon trailed off. It was true, he had been only two years old when he left London as an evacuee, the memories he did have of his mother were vague and unclear. He could just about recall her face, she had green eyes like him, but dark brown hair rather than black, he got his hair colour from his…father. Except his father, Lenard Ignes, was dead, so it didn’t really matter whether or not Johnathon remembered him, did it?

“Well it will be nice for you two to both be reacquainted at last” Adam gave him a playful shove, “Though I will miss all the help you gave me down on the farm, I’ve never had a helped quite as strong as you.”

“Well I can’t wait to see my family” Peter spoke up, turning himself into the conversation topic once more, “I got a letter from my mum a week or so ago, apparently my sister Danielle will be at the station to welcome me home as well. She’ll be nearly thirty by now, a proper adult.”

“That will be nice for you, won’t it?” Penny beamed, “I know both of you boys will be just fine”. 

“Thanks Penny I’m really going to miss y…” Peter didn’t get a chance to finish, because the sound of three clear cut knocks cut him off. At first nobody thought nothing of it, until Adam got up to answer it, and opened the door.

“Hello everybody, I just came over to say goodbye to Johnathon” Erebus put a grin on his face. Sally immediately shrunk backwards into the shadows, turning her back to him.

“How about we talk outside?” Johnathon cut in, breaking the awkward atmosphere. Erebus gave a slight nod, and Johnathon walked out of the house. Once outside, they turned to face each other.

“So…you’re going home today huh?” Erebus spoke first, odd aspects leaking into his tone.

“Yes, the train leaves just after midday” Johnathon confirmed.

“I’m going to miss having you around, it has been nice hanging around with someone who is…like me” Erebus confessed, looking away, it was almost as if he was actually upset over Johnathon’s departure.

“Me too, back home there’s no one who knows what it’s like” Johnathon sympathised. There was silence for a few seconds, neither one of them knew what to say.

“Why don’t you stay?” Erebus suddenly suggested, “That way we can carry on having fun”.

“Stay with the Dews? Are you serious? I’m amazed I lasted six years” Johnathon exclaimed, “There’s no way I’m staying another day in this place”.

“That doesn’t mean you have to go home” Erebus pointed out.

“What does that mean?” Johnathon inquired, confused.

“If you want the third option enough, you’ll soon figure it out” Erebus teased him. Johnathon blinked, and he was gone. Heading back indoors, Johnathon got packing, soon he’d be home.

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