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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15. Chapter 14

29th November 1953:

“I just don’t understand it,” Erebus groaned, throwing his damp coat down on the table, “We’ve asked everyone, been everywhere…and yet, nothing. Not one sign of any ‘Eloise’ within 50 miles of here, or at least no Eloise worth our trouble. Do you remember that idiotic waitress down south? She’s better off dead if you ask me…” Johnathon began to ignore the exact words that came out of Erebus’s mouth, too tired to listen. The two had been on a non-stop hunt for Eloise since she left them the note, and it was exhausting. It were as though they were hunting a ghost who was only haunting them. Eloise had indulged in no other social interactions, every Eloise they’d met and questioned had barely been able to count to one hundred, let alone break into their house and write a message on one of Johnathon’s most prize possessions.

“She’s the one on top” Johnathon agreed with Erebus, “She’s playing us”.

“She’s in charge…” Erebus bit his lip, “I don’t like it”.

“Neither do I.” Johnathon grumbled. For a few seconds there was silence, as the two boys thought about their situation…

“She’s taking her time too!” Erebus exclaimed suddenly, “It’s the 29th today, and she said she’d see us by the end of the month.”

“It’s a tactic, it has to be.” Johnathon decided, “She’s taking longer to let the fear build up inside us.”

“What does she want with us anyway?” Erebus suddenly thought, “The note didn’t say anything about what she wants, did it?”

“No” Johnathon sighed, “It just said she was going to ‘explain and aid us’, and that she’d like to meet us both”.

“It sounds too good to be true” Erebus mumbled. Johnathon nodded, getting himself a drink.

“The amount of people we’ve tracked down and tortured…all the hearts we’ve stopped. After the sixth girl it stopped being fun” Johnathon reminisced, “How about we pause the hunt for one night? How about we go out for a drink and wind down?”

“That sounds…incredible” Erebus grinned, “I could do with a break…and a new girlfriend”.

“That explains the bloodstain on your shirt” Johnathon indicated to pile of laundry that grew filthier day by day, waiting to be attended to.

“I was in a bad mood” Erebus justified, flashing upstairs to freshen up before going out. Alone in the room, Johnathon took out the picture from his pocket, looking at the message on the back.

My name is Eloise, and I would very much like to meet you both.

Why give a name? Of all things, what was special about a name? And why stop there? If she wanted to introduce herself she could have given more information. According to the note, all she wanted was to meet them, so why not just do it? Why build up the tension, if not to intimate them into submission?

You shall hear from me by the end of the month, that is a promise.

Why wait so long? Was she even going to meet her own deadline? Was she simply dragging it out? Or was she like Johnathon and Erebus, and didn’t care about breaking her promises?

Do not be alarmed, I only wish to explain and aid you both, believe me when I say there is a lot you do not know.

Did she expect them not to be alarmed? She broke into their house! And what was it they didn’t know? Did they even need to know it? They were doing just fine as they were.

Erebus returned with a fresh shirt on and a smile on his lips. Like a wild animal, he was tired of being controlled and limited, and was exhilarated by the idea of freedom. The pair slammed the door shut behind them, ready for a night of fun and entertainment.

The club was buzzing by the time the two arrived, already filling up with other thrill seekers. The smell of cocktails, liquor, and sweat all merged into an addictive fragrance that added to the alive atmosphere. The noise was overpowering, the beat was heard over the chatter clear as day, but to an extent where you could still hear what people were saying if you listened hard enough. Erebus fit right in among the goofy drunks and smooth sleek flirters, and quickly got to work chatting up as many girls as possible. Johnathon went straight to the bar, ordering whatever seemed to have the highest alcohol content. Sipping at the golden glowing concoction he zoned out of the room, imagining few of the other places he’d rather be, there weren’t many, a night out at the club was actually a good evening, but the pub and the alleyways were just as good at entertaining him.

“Can I get you another drink” the barmaid offered Johnathon.

“No thank you” Johnathon declined, shoving his glass to one side.

“You sure?” She smiled at him, showing off her teeth and leaning in closer. She was a tall black-haired girl, around the age of 25, with brown eyes and a few freckles.

“Yes” Johnathon confirmed, not interested in the slightest. The girl straightened her back, put off slightly, and went to the other end of the bar to serve a different customer.

A clearly not sober, yet still not completely drunk man, leaning carelessly against the wooden surface, chucking for no reason. Erebus.

Unlike Johnathon, Erebus started flirting straight away, ordering drink after drink after drink. Johnathon didn’t mean to stare, but he did feel a small pang of jealousy at the fact that Erebus’s night out seemed to no longer include him. Slamming some change down onto the table, he stood up and walked over, waiting for the girl to leave first.

“Having fun?” He remarked, sitting down. Erebus turned to face him, smirking, his eyes alive with the spirit within him.

“Lots,” he laughed, “Especially with the barmaid.” Johnathon rolled his eyes, not impressed. “You’d like her Johnathon, she’s an artist apparently. Plus, she’s extremely fit. I’ll share her with you if you like, we’d have a lot of fun with her I assure you.”

“What’s her name then?” Johnathon quizzed him, asking for one simple detail in return for his submission

“Um…Sophie? No, Sarah. Actually it was Sal- no, that wasn’t it…” Erebus struggled, Johnathon chuckled, amused at his confusion. “Fine,” Erebus gave in, “You can stay all boring and single. I’d much rather have her all to myself anyway”. The barmaid returned shortly after, whose name label read ‘Suzanne’, and began chatting up Erebus once more. And when her shift ended, she joined him on the other side of the bar…much to Johnathon’s annoyance.

“Hey, do you want to dance?” Suzanne asked him, beginning to drag him towards the dance floor, not that any force was necessary. Erebus left willingly, and they left Johnathon with their belongings.

Bored, upset, and in desperate need of entertainment, Johnathon rummaged through Erebus’s coat. Finding only a few wrappers and a couple of notes (which he quickly pocketed), he moved on to Suzanne. Not worried over the consequences about looking through a stranger’s bag, Johnathon unzipped the top, hoping to find something he could laugh over, some spot cream for example.

Instead, he found two syringes. They contained some form of liquid, and seemed prepped to be administered. Underneath, there was a brief note.

To sedate simply inject the mixture directly into the bloodstream.

Looking out at Erebus and Suzanne on the dance floor, Johnathon pieced the puzzle together. Suzanne had targeted them both, out of everyone else in the club, they’d been the two people she’d tried to engage with.

Two syringes. Two targets.

Erebus and Johnathon.

Placing everything back in the bag as if it had never been touched, Johnathon acted as casual as possible when Erebus and Suzanne returned. He ordered a small cheap drink along with their extravagant cocktails, and even cracked a smile.

When the drinks came, he moved quickly, taking his drink from the tray he ‘slipped’ and spilt it down Suzanne’s top. Once she’d left to go clean up, he prepared confront Erebus, but Erebus got there first.

“What are you playing at? Suzanne may be stupid but I know that move was deliberate! Are you trying to ruin my fun?” Erebus snapped, agitated.

“She’s not who she says she is!” Johnathon stressed, “She has two syringes with sedatives in her bag, and I think they’re meant for us.” Erebus’s brow creased, but he wasn’t convinced.

“That’s ridiculous” he folded his arms across his chest.

“Is it really though? Think about it…” Johnathon paused mid-sentence, alerted by a movement in the corner of his eye. Turning slightly, he saw Suzanne, standing with a guilty and petrified expression on her face. Before the boys could react, she was running for the exit, leaving her bag behind her.

Johnathon and Erebus exchanged a look, before running after her, knowing they’d catch her with ease.

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