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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22. Chapter 21

25th December 1955 (Christmas Day):

“Welcome, one and all, to the first ever Annual Soul Negotiation Meeting, or ASNM for short” Eloise began the meeting. It was late afternoon, and after a morning full of excited people opening presents, Johnathon and Erebus were glad for some quiet. “I like to think that this is a historic occasion, and that more of these meetings will follow into the future, as we Souls develop and flourish among society. I know that for a lot of you this is the first time you’ve been so close to those like you, and that loneliness has been big issue this year for a lot of us. The majority of us were parented by homo sapiens, who don’t fully understand and empathise with our gifts. Now, however, we are together, and stand as one united force. I would like to thank Kris Maines, for hosting the meeting this year, and inviting us all into his beautiful home. We shall start the event by first getting to know one another. Please, socialise and interact with both those of your kind, and those who are different to you. Let us first become a family, before we become a government.” After saying this, Eloise was applauded by the vast majority of listeners to her mini-speech, and people began to do exactly what she said, talk.

“I do not believe we have met” a tall woman approached Johnathon, she had curly brown hair that fell an inch below her shoulders, and walked with a confident and sleek manner.

“I’m not local” Johnathon told her.

“Neither am I,” she raised an eyebrow mischievously, “I’m Chloe” she introduced herself.

“Johnathon Ignes” Johnathon tried to keep it formal, slightly put off by her relaxed and easy mood.

The Johnathon Ignes? The man who went on a killing spree for his eighteenth birthday?” Chloe seemed to know a lot about him.

“So you’ve heard of me,” Johnathon noted, “Who from?”

“Eloise likes to tell stories” Chloe explained.

“She told you about me?” Johnathon checked, slightly agitated by the fact.

“We spend a lot of time together, if she didn’t tell me about the people she meets then we’d both be bored to death,” Chloe justified, “You see, I’m like her muscle, her bodyguard of sorts…Kris’s idea, he thought she needed protection.”

“You're a Dark Soul.” Johnathon realised, “Why do you bother helping her? You could have so much more fun elsewhere.”

“It’s an excuse to beat people up,” Chloe shrugged, “Consequence free violence”.

“All violence is consequence free for us” Johnathon reminded her.

“Not always” Chloe shook her head. Johnathon stared at her blankly, not understanding what she meant.

“Ladies and gentlemen, could I have your attention please,” Eloise requested, obviously wanting to move on from mingling, “Thank you for all getting into the spirits of things. Next I would like to open up the discussion. If anyone has anything to report, please do so now”.

“I have something to say,” Hannah spoke up almost immediately, “I would like to thank Kris and Tao for keeping this place up and running, but also remind people of why Wild Souls settle here. You see, we hate cities and industrial areas, we long for grassland and nature. Kris took this yearning and turned it into a wonderful home, and Tao helped him every single step of the way. I know a lot of you are only staying here as guests, but on behalf of Kris, Tao, Rebecca, and myself, I would like to invite any other Wild Souls to join us here. There is plenty of room, and even if we run out, we can expand and build. We need to stick together, we are a pack.”

“What a wonderful offer Hannah,” Eloise commended her, “And one I’m sure a lot of your guests will take you up on. Anyone else?”

“I would like to clarify something,” Chloe spoke up from beside Johnathon, “I know the vast majority of the people in the room are Wild Souls, and there are two main reasons for that. One being that Eloise is the only Just Soul, and the other being that most Dark Souls chose not to come tonight. As one myself, I can understand why these Souls in particular chose to stay away. Dark Souls love to rebel and cause trouble, after all, why not? We do not feel bad for it afterwards. It is guilt-free mischief. I also know that a lot of you fear us, we could kill everyone in this room and just move on to the next, but know this, you stand in a room containing two men who have killed multiple times and never once been punished, and yet, you breathe still. I would like to urge you all to see Dark Souls not as unstoppable monsters, but as people just like you, if you do not provoke us we will not harm you. Just because we can kill, doesn’t mean we will. We must be a united force of humanity if we are to have a bright future, we must treat each other as equals... including normal people too.” There were murmurs of agreement from the group, everyone seemed to share Chloe’s view.

“What about the hunters?” A muffled voice rose up from the crowd. Everyone fell silent, as if his words were like a gag around their mouths.

“Hunters?” Eloise kept her tone neutral.

“Yeah, hunters, people who hunt Souls” the same man who had spoken before stood up.

“Why would anyone want to hunt Souls?” Eloise spoke as though she found his point ridiculous, whether this was a genuine reaction or not was unclear to Johnathon.

“Well were a result of evolution right? So, eventually, we’ll be the only ones left. They feel threatened and want us gone before we wipe them out” the man answered her question.

“That’s preposterous!” Eloise exclaimed, “We shall live in peace and harmony with the normals. This isn’t like before, there are different types of Souls, no single race will reign supreme, we will all live as one community of human beings.”

“Oh yeah? What if one type of Souls wipes out the rest?” Erebus suggested, joining the debate, which Johnathon knew would not end well.

“That would never happen…”

“Are you sure about that?” Erebus interrupted Eloise.

“You can talk,” Tao stood up to him, “It’s because of the Dark Soul attacks that people are seeing us as a threat”.

“We’re myths” Erebus spat, “Whispers in the night. Like vampires or werewolves, barely anyone believes we actually exist”.

“We don’t want to hide though, we want to live alongside them. If they see as evil creatures that will never happen” Tao argued.

“Will you two please be quiet!” Eloise shrieked, losing her temper for the first time since she’d met Johnathon and Erebus, “The hunter threat is non-existent, and this is the last time I want to hear about it, do you understand?” The entire room muttered ‘yes’ in response. “Good. Now I think we should take a break from the discussions.” Everyone got back to mingling after that, trying to pretend like the last two minutes never happened. Johnathon noticed Eloise seemed to have a nauseated expression on her face.

“Are you okay?” He asked her.

“I’m not too sure actually,” Eloise sighed, “I know I did the right thing, but it’s my first time you see and…”

“Wait. What are you talking about?” Johnathon was lost in her words.

“What I said about the hunter threat being non-existent…was a lie. I’ve never told a lie before, normally it’s not the right thing to do. I just feel a little uneasy, that’s all”.

“So there really are people hunting us?” Johnathon could hardly believe people were that stupid.

“Yes, and there getting good at it too. We need to start fighting back” Eloise clarified.

“Attack them? It would be my pleasure” Johnathon offered his assistance.

“No thank you, the last thing we need is to start a war. We need to hide in plain sight, and find out more about ourselves, carry out research, find more Souls…that sort of thing” Eloise decided.

“I could still help you know,” Johnathon suggested, “Not all my skills are murder based”. Eloise looked up at him, and for the first time since they’d met, she smiled.

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