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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23. Chapter 22

As the 1950’s drew to a close so did the worry over the hunters. Like the Souls, they became a myth. That didn’t stop Eloise however, who knew not to be lured into a false sense of security. Johnathon and Kris sided with her to research the Souls, rarely discovering anything new, but remaining optimistic. Johnathon and Erebus would go on errands to find other Souls as well, and sometimes Chloe would assist them, which made Johnathon uncomfortable. It wasn’t until late August in 1964 when they made a breakthrough.

26th August 1964:

“Come on boys, you don’t want to keep Eloise waiting now, do you?” Chloe called up the stairs. Johnathon rolled his eyes, tired of her moaning.

“I’ll rip her tongue out if she doesn’t shut up” Erebus threatened, keeping his volume low so she didn’t hear him.

“I’ll help” Johnathon nodded. He zipped up his suitcase and headed downstairs. He hadn’t been to Kris’s house since the first ASNM, mainly because he’d tried his best to avoid going. He hadn’t attended any meetings, communicated with Kris over the phone, and made plans when he was invited, but there was no avoiding it this time. Kris had called for a meeting in person, to get full updates, and Eloise had sent Chloe to ensure both Erebus and Johnathon attended.

“Finally” Chloe sighed when she saw them both appear. Johnathon noticed Erebus glare at her when she wasn’t looking, and supressed a laugh. They loaded there bags into the car, and Johnathon moved around to the driver’s side of the car. “I’m driving” Chloe stopped him.

“I’m not drunk, don’t worry” Johnathon assured her.

“I’m not worried about your units, I’m worried about your parking” Chloe informed him.

“That was Erebus” Johnathon defended himself.

“Still, I’m driving” Chloe insisted. Johnathon got in the back, giving in, he didn’t feel like starting the day with an argument. Chloe was the most annoyingly persistent person he’d ever met. On the surface she seemed careless, but beneath her relaxed act, she was a proud and stubborn woman.

The journey was long, tiresome, loud, and awkward, but it did at last come to an end. Chloe parked far away from the camp, then the three ran up to the entrance, using their extra speed to shorten the walk.

“Welcome Chloe, Erebus, and Johnathon” Kris greeted them, his smile wide, “Please, come and sit, we have much to discuss”.

“Where is Eloise?” Chloe inquired, noticing she wasn’t in the main room.

“She’s just in the kitchen, lending Tao and Hannah a hand with in the dishes” Kris informed her. They all sat down, making themselves as comfortable as possible. “I have something to tell you” Kris smiled, “Rebecca, come here my love”. Rebecca got up from the flowerbed, walking over. “A few days ago I discovered that I am to be a father,” Kris announced, Rebecca moved her hand to her stomach, and the three’s eyes widened.

“Please tell me you didn’t drag us all out here just to tell us that your wife is pregnant” Erebus groaned.

“Um...well, it wasn’t just that, but I thought you might like to know…” Kris was put off by Erebus’s reaction.

“Its lovely news” Chloe rescued the conversation, “We’re all very happy for you”. Erebus mumbled something and Chloe elbowed him in the ribs harshly, trying to be subtle and failing.

“I see Kris has told you the good news,” Eloise came bursting into the room, “It’s so warming to witness the growth of a family…” She paused mid-flow, her eyes meeting with Erebus’s, and her mouth wide open.

“What is it?” Erebus broke eye contact, uncomfortable.

“How old are you now?” Eloise asked him.

“That’s a bit of a personal question…”

“How old Erebus?” Eloise interrupted him.

“Thirty-eight” Erebus shrugged.

“Is something wrong?” Chloe stood up, concerned at Eloise’s sudden change in mood.

“There’s something about your face…” Eloise trailed off.

“What?” Erebus was getting anxious. Eloise shook her head as if she couldn’t quite understand the vibes she was receiving.

“You’re so pale,” she observed, “You weren’t that pale the last time I saw you”. Johnathon looked at Erebus, and indeed his skin was ghost white, how had he not noticed it up to that point? Had it been a gradual change? The more he looked, the more shocked he became. Erebus was looking too, and he also shared the same expression.

“Why am I this colour?” Erebus murmured, gazing down on his hands as though they were not his own.

“I don’t know” Eloise confessed.

“You’re supposed to know everything” Erebus raised his volume, on the verge of losing his temper.

“No, I see everything, there’s a difference” Eloise exclaimed.

“Then see why I’m this colour!” Erebus roared, his eyes glaring like laser guns, and his voice shaking like an earthquake. Eloise stepped back and Chloe stepped forward, ready to intervene if necessary. Johnathon just sat there, still slightly in shock. After three long seconds of everyone just standing or sitting in position, not daring to move an inch, Eloise moved around Chloe to look at Erebus.

Johnathon could instantly tell she was looking into his Soul, she was giving him ‘the look’. The look that was more than a look. The look that looked past your look, and into the depths of your mind and spirit. She looked at him, yet not at him, but the him no one else saw. Her eyes had no focus, yet she was concentrating hard. It sent shivers down Johnathon’s spine just to witness it, he remembered when she’d given him that look, and how invaded he had felt. At last Eloise’s eyes darted off Erebus, and she blinked herself back into the room. Looking up, her face was worried.

“I am so sorry,” she began, “When I look into Erebus’s Soul everything is frozen, still, as if his development as stopped. Everything is alive, but halted. It has…stopped.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Erebus was still confused. Eloise sighed, addressing Erebus, Chloe, and Johnathon.

“You have all been burdened with immortality” she announced, her tone full of pity.

Immortality. A life with no end. Never dying, always living. Watching the whole world go by as you continue untouched…
and Eloise thought this was a bad thing?

“What’s so bad about that?” Johnathon failed to see what Eloise found so awful about it.

“Yeah, I think living forever sounds amazing” Erebus shared Johnathon’s optimistic view.

“Watching everyone you meet grow and die, never being able to get to close to someone because you know one day you’ll have to leave them behind, knowing you’ll always have tomorrow to do something so never doing it today…immortality is a curse” Eloise argued.

When I turned thirteen I ran away from home…I haven’t seen my family since, I don’t allow myself to.

Johnathon recalled Eloise’s words to him years ago when he’d first came to Kris’s home. Her longing eyes, her delicate spirit, her lost hope. Eloise saw her endless life as the cause of all her misery. Could it be she was correct? Could it be that immortality was a never-ending tunnel of losing everything and everyone, but never yourself?

“What next?” Chloe tried to move things along.

“Next we try and get to the bottom of this. Erebus is the first Dark Soul, as far as we’re aware at least, meaning these changes will happen to him first. We can run a few tests and try and find out how this occurred, we might even figure out how to reverse it” Eloise decided.

“I have a microscope in my study,” Kris told her, “We could use that to inspect his cells”.

“Good idea” Eloise nodded, “Chloe, you collect some samples, and I’ll help Kris set up”. Chloe nodded obediently. She reached inside her bag and pulled out a small black box, unlocked it, and opened it up. She removed a cotton bud first.

“Open your mouth” she ordered Erebus, who did as he was told. She placed the sample on to a rectangular plastic disk, and took an empty syringe and sharp out of the box.

“Um…I’m not good with, uh, needles” Erebus flinched when she saw Chloe begin to prep it, she turned and raised one eyebrow.

“Deal with it” she said, approaching him with the needle.

“Well, erm, couldn’t we just…? Um…” Johnathon had never seen Erebus so nervous, “Ouch!” He squealed when Chloe jabbed him, drawing out the blood.

“That wasn’t so bad now, was it?” She babied him sarcastically as he placed a plaster over the tiny hole.

“Don’t ever do that again, or else” Erebus was back to his usual cool and threatening self. Chloe rolled her eyes, finding is threat pitiful. Eloise re-appeared and collected the samples, leaving Erebus, Chloe, and Johnathon who could only wait.

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