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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29. Chapter 28

15th August 1972:

“You came”, was the first thing Adele remarked when she opened the door. Her tone surprised, as if she had experienced doubts.

“That I did.” Johnathon nodded. He’d been with Erebus all morning, helping him cover his tracks after a recent robbery. He’d spent the entire time looking at his watch, wondering things like if 12pm counted as the ‘afternoon’ or not. He wanted to come, not just because he liked Adele, but because she made him curious. She’d witnessed him kill a man, and responded by inviting him round to her house. It was an unusual reaction to say the least. “Can I come in?” Johnathon checked, feeling uncomfortable just standing in the doorway.

“Oh yes, of course,” Adele flustered, moving aside so he could enter, “Come on in”. Adele’s house was most definitely a home. There were fresh flowers in the hallway, a smell of fragrance in the air, old family photos scattered around, and shoes everywhere on the floor…it was exactly how you’d imagine a home to look like. As they walked through to the living room, this conclusion was further confirmed by a pile of letters on the table, and a couple of pillows on the sofa. “Take a seat” Adele offered, gesturing to the sofa. Johnathon sat down, and she joined him, positioning herself so they were facing one another.

“So, shall we start with you telling me why I’m here?” Johnathon suggested, eager to receive some answers.

“I can tell you why you’re invited, but no why you’re here” Adele reminded him, “But the reason I asked you to come is simple. Last night you said I make you want to be good because you want me to like you, which gave me an idea. You may not feel guilt Johnathon, but there are other ways of feeling emotional consequences for your actions. What I want you to do is easy. I want you to pick a few of the times you killed people, and I want you to tell me all about it. Don’t leave out any details, any emotions, any reasoning…and don’t stop until the story is over. Watch my reaction, watch my horror and my shock, and hopefully that will help you feel some form of motive for change.” Adele explained her idea. Johnathon listened carefully, taking it all in. It was a good plan, Johnathon had to admit that. Would it work? Maybe, maybe not, but it was worth a try.

“Okay, let’s do it.” Johnathon agreed. “Zach Blue was the second man I ever killed. One night I was out drinking, and I got very drunk. He was the bartender, and refused to serve me another drink, he said I’d had enough. I got angry, so I left the bar, and went to his house. I broke in, and his wife and daughter were home. I tied them both down to chairs, and waited for him to arrive, helping myself to his beer stash whilst I did. When he stepped through the door, I jumped him, and restrained him also. I then made him watch as I…” Johnathon paused, looking up to check Adele’s expression. As of yet, it was understanding and calm, but he knew that was about to change. “I made him watch as I strangled the life out of his daughter.” He heard Adele take a sharp breath in, but knew he had to continue, “I then took my dagger and stabbed him wife in the stomach. Making him watch her bleed to death.” Adele was trying to hide her face, but it was evident she had started to cry. “I took two shot glasses from the cupboard, and filled them with his wife’s blood. I said to him ‘one more drink’ as I drank my shot, then I forced his down his throat. Then I got him another, and another, and another. I forced him to drink his dying wife’s blood. Then, once she was dead, I slit his throat.” Johnathon finished his story, and looked at Adele. Her cheeks were red and her eyes were bulging with tears. It was almost as if she felt guilty for Johnathon’s actions…and Johnathon didn’t like that at all. “Adele, stop crying. This was a bad idea, we shouldn’t do this again. If this tale makes you cry this much, I can’t imagine how you’d react to some of my other stories.”

“That’s just the thing Johnathon, we can’t stop. Can’t you see? You’re already upset. You’re already ashamed. If this is the impact after just one story, can you even begin to imagine how much you’ll change over a month or so?” Adele dried her eyes, somehow pleased by the result. “Tell me another” she instructed him.

“Adele…”

“Tell me” she repeated herself. Johnathon sighed, then did as she said.

“Harry Peterson was a student. He had a crush on a barmaid called Tia Sanders. Unfortunately for him, another man had eyes for her, not me, my friend, Erebus. We forged a note telling Harry to come along to the back entrance of the pub, claiming it was from Tia. The lovesick fool was quick to come, and when he did, we were waiting. We taped him to the wall, and cut the name ‘Tia’ into his body multiple times, one his arms, on his legs, on his forehead…everywhere. Whist one was writing, the other was beating him harshly. When he was close to death, I let Erebus finish him off. They barely recognised the body through the scars and bruises. In the end we killed Tia too, on my birthday of all days…but that’s another tale entirely.” When Johnathon looked up at Adele it came as no surprise to him to see her face was tear-stained, and a tiny part of him hated himself for it.

“Thank you for sharing Johnathon” Adele murmured, wiping away her tears.

“I think that’s enough for one day” Johnathon decided, “I should probably head home now”.

“Yes, you do that,” Adele agreed, “I’ll see you soon though”. Johnathon nodded, getting up and leaving.

When he arrived home Erebus was waiting.

“Where have you been?” Erebus barked at him as soon as he entered the room.

“Out” Johnathon shrugged.

“I know that!” Erebus snapped, “Never mind. Come on, I’ve got a bone to pick with one of our neighbours…bring your dagger” Erebus rushed to the front door. Johnathon retrieved it from the draw, and turned to follow him, but then he stopped. A vision of Adele’s expression whilst he’d told her his stories flashed in his mind. Would this end up being another tale to tell? How would she react to the information that he’d killed again? He put the dagger back, deciding to prevent any future shame.

“Erebus…why do you need me? Can’t you do it by yourself?” He sighed.

“I thought you’d enjoy a little murder, it’ll be fun” Erebus couldn’t understand Johnathon’s reluctant attitude.

“I’m just a little tired,” Johnathon lied, “Another day perhaps”.

“Alright, suit yourself” Erebus shook his head. Johnathon smiled, relieved.

Once Erebus was gone, Johnathon went up to his room, lying on his bed and looking up at his ceiling. He was happy in the knowledge that Adele would be proud.

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