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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28. Chapter 27

After that night all Johnathon could think about was finding the girl again, though the reason why was vague to him. His killing sprees were replaced with hunts for her. He didn’t tell Erebus a thing about his mission, and lied about where he went at night. A week or so later he recognised a girl that he’d seen her with at the bar the first time they’d met, talking about a trip to the theatre. It was a long shot, but he took it, finding out the time and address, hoping he might see her there.

14th August 1972:

“Right, I’m off out. I’ll be back late, don’t bother waiting up…not that you ever do” Johnathon mumbled as he shoved his possessions into his pockets. Erebus looked up from the newspaper, his brow creased.

“You’re dressed up, where are you going?” Johnathon looked down at his outfit. It wasn’t that smart. Trousers, a plain shirt, and a black jacket, that was all.

“What do you mean?” Johnathon sighed, turning around to leave.

“And have you combed your hair?” Erebus noticed that the usually scruffy black locks were straight and styled. Johnathon ran his fingers through his hair, shrugging his shoulders.

“I might have, so what if I did? It’s none of your business what I do with my hair”.

“Alright, alright. Have fun…wherever it is you’re going” Erebus gave in, going to the fridge to fetch yet another beer. Johnathon left quickly after that, keen to get away before Erebus thought of another question to ask him.

It was fair to say that he had put more of an effort into his appearance than usual. His clothes were ironed well, his hair was styled, and he’d even tried to add some colour to his skin. Souls were still myths, but myths people believed in, and he didn’t want to scare her if she did turn out to be there. The amount Johnathon understood about his feelings was little, he knew he found her beautiful, and he wanted to see her again, but apart from that, he didn’t know much else about his emotions. He didn’t even know her name, or her age, or her job, or her dreams…he just knew she was stunning.

The walk to the theatre was brisk and cold, with no sun to heat the outdoors the wind chilled the temperature, but Johnathon was too caught up in his own thoughts to care. When he did arrive, he was quick to get into the heated indoors. Everyone was already taking their seats, so there was sadly no time to grab a drink or search for his mystery girl. He would have to wait for the interval. Handing his ticket in, Johnathon went into the main theatre. He took his seat glumly, already feeling as though this was a lost cause. To top it all off, there were a group of girls shrieking in the row behind him, annoyingly giggling and shouting to be heard over the rest. He turned around to tell them to shut up, and froze.

Among the group of rowdy women, smiling warmly, was his mystery girl. He couldn’t mistake her for anyone else. Her ginger curls, her brown eyes, her perfect freckles…it was definitely her. Still as enticing as the day he’d first seen her. He found himself smiling, grinning sheepishly.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the performance is about to begin” a voice sounded through the theatre. Johnathon turned around, still smiling. Slightly unable to believe he’d actually found her, he waiting impatiently for the interval to arrive. After forty minutes of finger twiddling and excited thoughts, the house lights came on, and people began to clear out of the seating area. Following the girl and her friends, Johnathon headed down to the bar. Two of them went to get drinks, and the other two, which included the mystery girl, sat down at a table.

“I’m just off to the loo” the other girl at the table told her, heading off to join the que. At last she was alone, Johnathon saw his chance, and he took it.

“Hello there” he came over to her. She looked up, slightly shocked by his arrival.

“Hello” she replied, obviously slightly confused. Johnathon had rehearsed this scene in his head many times, and knew exactly what to say next.

“Have we met before? I think I recognise you from somewhere” he sat down next to her, getting comfortable. She looked at him, as if she were trying to recall some form of meeting.

“Maybe we have,” her brow creased, “Ah! Now I remember, I accidentally pushed you over at the pub a few weeks ago. Sorry about that.”

“It’s quite alright,” Johnathon had already forgiven her, “I’m Johnathon” he finally introduced himself.

“Adele” she held out her hand, and he shook it. Adele. It was a lovely name. It flowed right off the tongue.

“Are you enjoying the show Adele?” Johnathon asked, trying to keep the conversation going.

“Yes, very much. I love this director, he’s so imaginative, don’t you think?” Adele’s enthusiasm make Johnathon feel light inside.

“Oh yes, it’s such a unique approach to the tale. I’ve read the book.” Johnathon agreed with her.

“So have I! I love reading. Do you go to the theatre often?” Adele was now asking questions, which was a good sign. Johnathon thought carefully about his answer, not wanting to ruin the mood.

“Not too often, but I saw this was on and thought I should go.” There. That was a positive way to word ‘no’.

“Me neither,” Adele winked, “But my friends always drag me out to these sort of things.” Johnathon was about to speak again, when someone got there first.

“Adele, who is this?” Adele and Johnathon both looked up, and saw two girls holding drinks. The one who had spoken bared a slight resemblance to Adele, she too had ginger hair and brown eyes, but hers were a lighter shade, and her hair was much shorter.

“Bethany, this is Johnathon. I, um, I pushed him over by accident a few weeks ago. He recognised me tonight, and we got talking. Johnathon, this is my younger sister Bethany.” Adele introduced them.

“Oh, hello” Bethany’s tone changed, turning more cheerful.

“Hello” Johnathon forced a smile. He had wanted more time alone with Adele, and was irritated greatly by the intrusion. The two girls sat down next to Adele, and soon got chatting. Johnathon tried to include himself where possible, but he was outnumbered. Once the other friend got back from the bathroom any hope of him an Adele having a useful conversation was gone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the show is about to restart” a voice sounded. The girls got up, ready to go back inside. Johnathon too rose from his seat, slightly deflated. He’d been off to such a good start, but Adele’s sister and friends had ruined it all.

“Oh, Johnathon” Adele suddenly turned around to address him again. He looked up at her, hopeful. “There’s an empty seat next to me, you could move there if you like, and join us” she offered. Johnathon grinned.

“I would like that very much, thank you”. So he followed them back to their seats, and sat down next to Adele. He spent the majority of the second half watching Adele instead of watching the play. Gazing at her facial expressions, examining her reactions, listening to her laughter. She was more interesting than any play to him. The performance whizzed by, going in a blur compared to the tedious first half. When the house lights came on, Adele’s smile lit up the room further.

“That was amazing,” Adele sighed, “I’m slightly sad it’s over”.

“It was good” Johnathon nodded, though he hadn’t really been watching. Adele turned to look at him, and for a second there was a slight glint in her eye that pleased Johnathon. A small change in her expression, as if she saw him and liked him, as if she accepted him.

The group headed back downstairs and out the door into the cold evening.

“Adele, we’re heading down to the club, do you want to come?” Bethany offered. Adele groaned.

“You know I hate the club Beth, you go ahead and have fun, I’ll see you tomorrow” Johnathon liked Adele even more now he knew she shared his opinion on loud sweaty nightclubs.

“Suit yourself” Bethany sighed, joining the other girls. Johnathon stepped forward to offer to walk her home, but before he could ask, a man pushed past him rudely.

Locking his jaw, Johnathon turned around, angry. He was tired, and his good mood had been ruined. Flashing after him, Johnathon shoved him into an alleyway, kicking him to the ground. Retrieving his dagger, he pinned him up against the wall whilst covering his mouth so he couldn’t scream.

“Look where you’re going” Johnathon spat. Then, in one swift movement he slit his throat, and killed him. The body dropped to the floor, and Johnathon smirked, placing the dagger back into his pocket. He heard a slight whimper, and realised he wasn’t alone. Turning around to look in the direction the noise had come from, he looked and saw…Adele. Adele’s eyes widened when they met his, and she turned to run. Catching up with her easily, Johnathon blocked her path.

“Adele, please, don’t be afraid,” Johnathon urged her, “I promise I won’t hurt you”.

“Y…you, you just killed him,” Adele stammered, “And you’re fast…too fast. What are you?” Placing one hand on her shoulder, meeting her eyes, Johnathon took a deep breath in.

“I’m a Soul” he confessed. Adele looked away, a few tears escaping her eyes.

“How could you do something like that? How could you kill someone so easily?” Adele shook her head.

“Well…I’m a lot stronger than normal people” Johnathon told her.

“That’s not what I meant!” Adele snapped, tears streaming down her face, “What sort of man can kill with no remorse?”

“A man with no guilt.” Johnathon stated honestly. Adele looked up at him, sobbing, it was almost as though she pitied him slightly. “Adele, listen to me. I’m not a good man, I’ve killed more times than I can count and I’ve done horrible things in my lifetime. But it has always been like that for me, I’ve never needed to be good before. But you make me want to be good. When I met you a few weeks ago…”

“What did you just say?” Adele cut him off.

“I said that I’ve never been good.”

“No. Recite your exact words.” Adele instructed him.

“Why?”

“Because when we rant we often say the truest things that we would otherwise hid, now do it” Adele explained.

“But it has always been like that for me, I’ve never needed to be good before. But you make me want to be good.” Johnathon did as she said. Adele smiled slightly, shaking her head and looking down at the ground.

“I make you want to be good?” She checked with him.

“Yes, you do,” Johnathon admitted, “I want you to like me”.

“I do like you Johnathon,” Adele’s words set of fireworks in his stomach, “Which I why I’m going to help you, if you’ll let me.”

“How?” Adele wrote down something on a small piece of paper, and handed it to him.

“That’s my address. Come by sometime tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll talk”.

“What are we going to talk about?” Johnathon inquired, not one to accept vague answers.

“I told you I like books, you’re going to tell me some stories” Adele announced, before walking away, and leaving Johnathon feeling absolutely exhausted.

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