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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13. Chapter 12

After Johnathon missed his train to London, Erebus took him in. They left the peaceful countryside for the slightly crowded city of Cantumville. Johnathon grew up into a teenager, and Erebus aged into his mid-twenties. They went from father and son, to brothers, and they never once looked back.

1st November 1953:

“We’re out of milk” Johnathon called up the stairs, still in his tattered pyjamas which hadn’t been washed in weeks. His squinted eyes could just about see Erebus reclining against the wall on the landing, smoking his morning cigarette.

“Use the brandy” Erebus carelessly shrugged, not bothered.

“I have a hangover,” Johnathon moaned, “I highly doubt more alcohol will help”.

“If you’re that bothered about it, go out and get your own” Erebus suggested, slowly trudging down the staircase. Johnathon turned his head so his eyes could see out of the window, and squirmed as the sunlight stung his eyes.

“You know what? I’m not that hungry. In fact, I feel a little…” Johnathon didn’t finish, because a small pool of vomit escalated from his mouth, halting his words. Once done, he straightened his back, taking some deep breaths to slow his heartbeat.

“You’ll be the one cleaning that up” Erebus informed Johnathon, stepping around the thick brown and green puddle.

“I won’t just yet, more might be coming” Johnathon grimaced, heading back into the kitchen. He found Erebus…drinking. “Beer? Are you serious? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to even smell the stuff for at least the next decade” he grumbled.

“You say that every time, but you’re always drunk again by two thirty in the afternoon” Erebus reminded him.

“At least I’m still sober at nine in the morning” Johnathon replied, snatching the bottle from Erebus’s hand (quickly taking a small sip) and chucking it in the bin opposite. He walked over to the empty chair beside Erebus, and sat down, placing his head in his hands.

“Headache?” Erebus guessed, Johnathon just groaned in response, using his arms to make a pillow for his head.

He gradually began to drift off back to sleep, a wave of tiredness overtaking him. This was rudely interrupted when a packet of pain killers collided with his forehead, waking him up. Johnathon’s head shot up, his green eyes searching the room for a culprit, they focused on Erebus, who was leaning against the wall with a smirk on his face.

“What was that for?” He asked, anger peaking inside him.

“You need them for your hangover,” Erebus shrugged, “Wake up and get dressed, we’re out of milk, remember?”

“I thought you didn’t care about the milk…” Johnathon trailed off, gradually rising from his seat.

“That was before I wanted cereal for breakfast.” Johnathon rolled his eyes at this, and headed back up the stairs to get dressed.

Looking at himself in the bathroom mirror, he grimaced. He had a sweaty brow, messy hair, dark bags under his eyes, and a weighed down face. He scoffed two pills down, impatiently waiting for them to take action. He shoved on the same un-ironed outfit he’d been wearing for days, unbothered about his appearance, and descended back down the stairs.

“That’s better” Erebus grinned, patting Johnathon on the back, leading him out of the cramped and dirty hallway and through the front door.

The streets of Cantumville weren’t exactly flawless. The stone tiling was cracked, the litter was never picked up, and no one ever cleaned up after their dogs. It was, however, still cleaner than the inside of Johnathon and Erebus’s small semi-detached house. As they walked Erebus chucked his cigarette butt onto the pavement, not bothering to aim slightly in the direction of the nearby bin.

The local corner shop wasn’t far, and it was never busy around nine am. All the early risers had done their shopping, and the later risers were yet to get out of bed. Johnathon and Erebus were the only two people in the store. Erebus fetched carton of milk from the fridge, and placed it down on the counter with a thud.

“One pound ninety” the shop assistant held out her hand for the money. Erebus reached into his empty pockets, and a small smile curved his lips.

“Do you have any cash Johnathon?” He cried out to the other side of the store where Johnathon was waiting.

“No” Johnathon walked over to the till, keeping his reply simple and to the point. The shop assistant took the milk off the counter.

“Sorry boys, no money, no milk” she signalled for them to exit the store.

“How about I make you a deal?”  Erebus offered, “You give us the milk, and you can live to see tomorrow”.

“Was that a threat?” The woman took a step back, more in disgust than alarm.

“Look Emma” Johnathon read her name label, “My friend here likes his milk a lot, and he would do anything to get it. So how about you hand it over?”

“Nice try,” Emma shook her head, “But I know you two don’t have the guts”.

“Rhys Plumer” Erebus stated.

“What about him?” Emma inquired.

“We’re the ones who killed him” Erebus confessed darkly.

“Yeah right” Emma refused to believe them, “Move along boys”.

“Fiona Adriens” Johnathon copied Erebus’s style.

“Now see here…”

“Zach Blue” Erebus cut her off.

“Harry Peterson”

“Emily Gregs”

“Clara Waters”

“Emma Franks”

“But that’s my name!” Emma finally got a word in.

“I know” Erebus chuckled, and with that he shoved her head down on to the counter, holding it in place. Johnathon retrieved his pocket knife, and used it to swiftly slit her throat. Once no pulse remained, Erebus released her, and picked up the milk.

“We did warn her” Johnathon justified, using a bottle of water to wash the blood from his hands. He could still remember the first time he took a life, and how exhilarating it felt.

Johnathon and Erebus were walking down some random alleyway somewhere, trying to entertain themselves. Johnathon was twelve at the time, and Erebus 23. They were throwing beer caps at a chalk target they’d drawn on to a wall, competing against one another over who had the best aim.

“Yes!” Erebus exclaimed, “Right in the centre”.

“No, it was too far to the left when it made contact” Johnathon argued.

“Liar” Erebus scolded him.

“Am not! You’re the one lying” Johnathon stropped, though he was not really angry, and actually enjoyed the entertainment that came from their conflict. Then some stranger pushed past Johnathon, despite the open space around them both, and interrupted his fun.

“Hey” Erebus stopped him, “What was that for? You just pushed my friend”.

“Sorry” the man grunted half-heartedly.

“You don’t sound it” Johnathon turned so he was now behind the man, and he was stuck between Johnathon and Erebus. 

“I don’t want any trouble” the man began to jitter. Erebus took a step forward, looking him in the eye…then he took a step back, clearing the way.

“Okay then, off you go” he spoke cheerfully, the man contemplated for a moment, before walking on. Erebus moved over to Johnathon side, and began to whisper in his ear. “Now’s your chance to get your own back on him” he paused for effect, before continuing, “Sprint over…and stab him”.

“Kill him you mean?” Johnathon checked, not completely repulsed by the idea.

“Yeah, why not? You’re not going to feel guilty for it” Erebus confirmed, placing a small, yet sharp, knife in Johnathon’s hand.

Johnathon curved his fingers around the handle, and flashed over, stabbing the man in the back. He stood back as he watched the man squirm and cry out, feeling oddly excited. At last the man fell still, dead. Johnathon turned back and ran over to Erebus, who was grinning wildly.

“Well done Johnathon, you’re finally growing up” he cheered.

From that moment on Johnathon’s solution to any problem was to slaughter the cause, and he enjoyed doing so. Erebus was slightly different, in the fact that he didn’t need a problem to kill, but Johnathon sort of admired that about him.

With the milk retrieved, the two began to walk back home, leaving the body of Emma Franks to be discovered by the next customer who came along.

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