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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25. Chapter 24

Kris and Rebecca continued to pretend, and shut out anyone who wasn’t direct family from their home, laying down excuse after excuse to try and sway them. When the baby was born, they opened up the doors as if nothing had happened. Rebecca did indeed raise the child as her own, and even chose the name Gael which was given to the boy. Hannah followed in her footsteps soon after, announcing her pregnancy in mid-1969. In the meantime Johnathon and Erebus got to grips with the idea of immortality, still not fully understanding why Eloise saw it as such a curse. Chloe was the next to turn thirty. For weeks her skin gradually lost its colour until it was the same shade as Erebus’s, when her birthday came, she was thrilled. At last Johnathon too turned pale, and was glad to finally be similar to Erebus once more. The next time the two groups met was on the 14th of October 1970, Gael’s fifth Birthday.

14th October 1970:

Kid’s birthday parties were not the sort of place you’d expect to find Johnathon and Erebus on a sunny day mid-week, and they wouldn’t expect to be there either, yet there they stood, real as day.

“Happy Birthday Gael!” Everyone cheered as he blew out his candles. The young boy had grown up a lot in five years. He had Kris’s wavy brown hair, but unlike his father he cut it instead of letting it grow out, and his personality was childlike and playful, there was a glint in his eye that radiated mischief. Johnathon quite liked the troublesome aroma that clung to him. As Rebecca lifted him up and spun him around Johnathon shook his head, confused by the love she gave to the bastard child. The ease with which Rebecca forgave Kris was mind blowing to Johnathon, and her ability to see Gael as her own son muddled him even more. As everyone took their cake and scattered Johnathon watched Hannah in particular. Hannah and Tao’s relationship had grown greatly over five years, and they’d enjoyed a beautiful spring wedding in 1968, or so Johnathon had heard, since he didn’t actually receive and invite. The pregnancy had come as no surprise, Wild Souls were competitive, and Tao envied his brother’s parental status. Hannah now took two slices of cake, eating for not just herself, but her foetus too. Her stomach was well curved and elongated, the baby was due mid-November, and there was around one month to go until the birth. By now they knew the gender of the child was, like Kris’s, male, and names were already flying around. There were three finalists, Adrien, Harry, and Leo (all of which seemed stupid to Johnathon).

“Interesting, isn’t it? The coming of new life” Eloise came up behind Johnathon, noticing his attention towards Hannah.

“I’d say it’s more confusing than interesting” Johnathon argued.

“Perhaps it is both.” Eloise suggested, “I have often wondered what it would be like to be a mother”.

“You are immortal Eloise,” Johnathon reminded her, “You are not short of time to bare a child”.

“I am immortal yes,” Eloise nodded, “But that prohibits me from giving birth rather than making it more likely”.

“How so?” Johnathon didn’t follow her trail of thought.

“If I were to have a child of my own, I would raise it until the day I died. Then I would be reborn, and it would be the one raising me. I would have to leave my baby behind, and watch it die…just like everyone else” Eloise explained.

“I see…” Johnathon didn’t quite know what to say.

“Which reminds me. I went to see my family recently” Eloise changed the topic slightly.

“I though you didn’t allow yourself to be with them” Johnathon didn’t understand her actions.

“I don’t. I only saw them from afar, I spied on them and kept my distance. My younger sister Amelia is pregnant, she’s not very far gone, but she’s still very excited. She’s already thought up names. Willow for a girl, Peter for a boy.” Eloise told him, smiling as she spoke, “I’m happy for her, I know she’ll be a good mother”.

 A few minutes or so later Eloise went to speak to someone else, and Johnathon too decided to attempt to be sociable. On his way to find someone to talk to he walked past the singers booked to perform for the party, who seemed to be having some form of disagreement. Curious, Johnathon lingered and listened in to their conversation.

“I don’t want to do it” a hoarse female voice was arguing with the others.

“You never used to be so shy” another voice sympathised with her.

“It’s not stage fright! I’m fine with people hearing me sing, it’s what it does to them that’s the problem. Do you remember last time?” The female seemed on edge.

“That was a one off…

“Was it? Or was it only the beginning?” The female cut the other voice off.

“Enough! You’re singing and that’s the end of it. Just think positive thoughts and everything will be fine” a firm, more authoritative voice boomed out, and that seemed to be the end of the matter.

Johnathon went to stand at the back of the room beside Erebus as they waited for the music to start. Erebus had mainly been trying to stir up trouble, teasing Chloe and drinking massively, which was no surprise to Johnathon.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a treat for you all. Please welcome to the stage… the sharps!” There was half-hearted applause around the room as the group took to the stage. One girl in particular stood out, her rich blonde hair seemed to hide her face as she nervously took her position.

“Thank you for inviting us to play to you all this afternoon. We all love music so much, and it is our pleasure to spread that love. Happy Birthday Gael!” The ringleader of the group, a tall male drummer addressed the small crowd. Moments later the music started, and the girl opened her mouth to sing.

 As soon as she did, something changed.

It felt like an itch on his skin, or a tingle over his body, it was as if something was trying to get in but couldn’t. His vision blurred slightly, but he could still see well enough, and the sound in his ears rang slightly. All he could feel was her voice attacking him, trying to take control. There was no sense of time or environment, only a sense of music. Though this musical force had no aim behind it, it had power, but nothing to use it against. It just rested on him, like a second skin. Looking around other people seemed to be feeling its effects also, some a lot worse than Johnathon. All the Souls were similar to Johnathon in their expressions. Other people however, were not so lucky, they all dropped to the floor, no longer in control of their own bodies, lying still and limb. Even the other bandmates were hazy, drooping over their instruments and no longer playing. This only lasted a few seconds before the girl stopped, stepping away from the microphone as if it scared her. Immediately Johnathon recovered, completely back to normal. All the fallen bodies still lay still though, needing longer to recover. In seeing their recovery, the girl turned to run, frightened. Johnathon quickly ran after her, halting her quickly with his extra speed.

“I’m so sorry!” The girl sobbed, tears sprawling from her eyes, “I didn’t mean to do any of this, I promise”. Johnathon recognised the voice from earlier as the females who had been complaining about having to perform.

“I’m not very good at accepting apologies” Johnathon smirked, bashing her head against the nearby wall and knocking her out cold. Picking her up and slinging her over his shoulder, her turned to the other Souls. “Let’s head back to Kris’s place and get to the bottom of this, shall we?”

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