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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20. Chapter 19

Johnathon and Erebus were not used to staying in a shared building. Back in Cantumville, they lived alone with just one another for company. So when they were awoken by the sounds of life and morning in the early hours of day, they were upset to say the least. Their wake up, though not deliberate, was extremely annoying.

“What are they doing down there? It sounds like they’re drilling a hole in the floor” Erebus groaned, rolling over in his bed.

“I can’t wait to get out of here…” Johnathon sighed, sitting up.

“Let’s just leave now” Erebus suggested.

“No, I think Eloise is holding out on us with information, and I want to know everything before we go” Johnathon decided, getting out of bed. Erebus soon followed his example, leaving the sheets. They threw on yesterday’s clothes and ran downstairs, eager to get down to business.

“Ah! Erebus and Johnathon, how are you both?” Kris quickly addressed them, playing the host.

“Tired” Erebus replied simply, storming off in the direction of food.

“He’s a little grumpy this morning,” Johnathon justified Erebus’s actions in his absence, “We’re not used to sharing a house”.

“Here everything is shared,” Kris nodded as if he understood the struggle, “We are a family, no, a pack”.

“I see” Johnathon was not interested in the least. Kris guessed this, and moved to talk to Rebecca. Johnathon took an apple from a nearby basket, and sat on the stairs whilst he ate it. Looking around the room, he could see the sort of people he was dealing with. Everyone was smiling whilst they ate or worked, and the community was booming and friendly. Everyone was doing something, whether it be eating, cooking, cleaning, lending a helping hand, or playing, no one was still. Except for one person, who like Johnathon and Erebus, seemed separate from everyone else. Tao. He leant against the sink, breakfast in hand, gazing out of the window longingly, not socialising with anyone else.

“Having fun?” Eloise sat down beside Johnathon, breaking his trail of thought. Johnathon just raised his eyebrows, knowing she already knew the answer.

“What’s wrong with Tao?” Johnathon gestured towards where he stood, wondering if Eloise knew the answer.

“You noticed that? Most people don’t” Eloise’s brow creased.

“That doesn’t answer my question” Johnathon pointed out. Eloise bit her lip, torn.

“Do you remember how I told you there are generally two types of Wild Souls? Ones who like living in packs, and ones who prefer to go it alone?” Eloise began.

“Yes.”

“Tao doesn’t like being in a pack like Kris does, he only stays because Kris needs his help running the place” Eloise confessed.

“Tao told you that?” Johnathon was doubtful.

“He didn’t have to, I can see it” Eloise reminded him. Silence invaded their conversation, neither one of them knowing what to say or do next. Johnathon rolled his eyes, hating the awkwardness.

“What about you then?” He broke the silence, “Are there camps like this for other Just Souls?” Eloise looked down at her feet, hiding her face.

“Um, no actually, it’s just me” she murmured.

“What?” Johnathon was not only confused by her words, but also had not heard them clearly due to her low volume.

“I’m the only Just Soul” Eloise stated, speaking louder than before.

“Do you think there could be others…?”

“No.” Eloise cut him off, “No, I know it’s just me. I’ve known that ever since I was born.”

“When was that then? 1940?” Johnathon joked, making an obvious reference to her young age.

“No,” Eloise contradicted him, her tone completely serious, “It was the 3rd of May 1920”.

“Funny, you don’t look thirty-five” Johnathon refused to take her seriously.

“It’s true, though I may not look it, my first birth was in 1920. I was born in New York, to a fairly well off family, we had money, food, shelter, anything we needed. However, on the 15th of March 1929, I forgot to look both ways before crossing the road…and I paid the price, I died.”

“You don’t look like a ghost either” Johnathon smirked.

“I didn’t stay dead,” Eloise glared at him, “Because on the 3rd of May 1929 I was reborn. Same birthday, same name, same gifts…different parent of course, and this time I was born in London, not New York. Each time I am born I develop the same skills, I am always the Just Soul, and I know things automatically. I know what I am, what other people are, and that there is no-one else like me on the planet.”

“So you’re never going to properly die are you?” Johnathon realised.

“No, never.” Eloise looked away, “And believe me immortality is no fun what so ever. I know the right thing to do is to not get attached to people and things, because sooner or later they’ll go and I’ll be left alone, so when I turned thirteen I ran away from home…I haven’t seen my family since, I don’t allow myself to. You see Johnathon, I am compelled to do the right thing, even if I don’t want to.”

“That sounds like no fun whatsoever” Johnathon remarked, chucking his apple core to one side.

“It’s who I am” Eloise shrugged. Johnathon looked at her then, and though Eloise’s eyes did not meet his, she still knew he was watching. He was watching with an interested confusion. He did not understand how such a proud statement could sound so sad, as though Eloise had given up. Johnathon knew from that moment on that Eloise had given in to her true self, rather than accepting it, and this small fact somehow caused him to cry.

This time, it was Johnathon’s turn to hide his face. Keen for Eloise not to see his tears, he looked away, but it was useless, Eloise knew all.

“Tissue?” She offered, pulling one out from her pocket.

“No thanks” Johnathon grunted, wiping the tears away. “What’s happening to me? I can’t remember the last time I cried.”

“You were born without guilt Johnathon, not without empathy,” Eloise reminded him, “Or has your time with Erebus made you forget that?”

“Erebus was the best thing to ever happen to me, we’re the same” Johnathon argued, his tone bitter.

“You may think like that now, but I have a feeling better things are on their way for you” Eloise said before getting up and walking away. Johnathon leaned back against the stairs, and began to observe the strange wild creatures once more.

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