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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4. Chapter 3

Two weeks have passed with Johnathon living with the Dew family. He has grown to tolerate Peter, even if he does still dislike him. Besides, Peter has school, Johnathon stays at home with Penny all day. It was the weekends that were the most annoying, when he was stuck with everybody.

30th September 1939

Johnathon ran down the stairs, keen to get to the breakfast table. In a family of five hungry people, three of which worked as farmers at times, you had to be quick to the mark if you wanted enough food to keep you full up until lunch. He got there before everyone else, and snatched a piece of toast, scoffing it in a few mere seconds, and going in for another. On his third snatch, his and Peter’s hands collided, both of them grabbing the same piece of toast. They played tug of war with the delicate bread, and it broke in two.

“You can both half one half each” Penny stepped in, keen to avoid an early morning argument. Johnathon did as he was told, managing to get a forth piece of toast afterwards.

“Well then, now we’re all fed” Adam addressed the table, “I thought I’d show Peter the farm today. I know Sally was planning to get the bus to the centre today to go shopping, and it sounds like a grand idea, we can all go” Sally mumbled something under her breath at this, but didn’t argue with her father, “I’ll go get my wellies, and Peter can do the same. You girls and Johnathon can stay here and get ready for when we head out”.

“I want to go to the farm too” Johnathon protested.

“The farm is no place for a toddler like you” Penny chuckled, “When you’re older I’m sure your parents can take you to one, once this war is all over and done with”. Johnathon scowled, annoyed at his grouping with the two ladies. He wanted to be a man, and go down on to the farm, like Peter and Adam.

“I’m strong” he added, desperate to see the farm.

“I’m sure you are” Adam smiled down at him, “Maybe another time though, eh?” Johnathon looked up at him, it becoming obvious that he was not going to be able to go with them, he gave in.

“Fine” he sighed.

So Adam and Peter went down to the farm, leaving Johnathon with Penny and Sally. Penny got to work with the dishes, and Sally went upstairs to change out of her pyjamas (she let Peter and Johnathon change before breakfast, then she did so afterwards). Johnathon sat back down at the table, annoyed at the lack of activity. He thought back to a time shortly before his father had left to fight, remembering all the attention he used to receive.

“Morning Mr Ignes” a cheerful postman handed over a small pile of letters, “Only a couple for you today”. Lenard sighed, it had been a long week, and what he wanted more than anything was to go back to bed, but instead, he had to face the day once again.

“Thank you James” he flicked through the pile, “Have a nice day”. He shut the door, and turned around to find his two year old son playing with the porcelain by the fireplace. He sighed once again, pulling him away, muttering as he did so. “Bloomin’ kid” he grunted, “Honey, the post is here!” A few seconds later Margret appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Oh don’t you ‘honey’ me” she fiddled with her earring as she clambered down the steps, “No doubt another tax notice is in that pile”.

“Give me a break Margret” he cried, “I’ve got enough to worry about already. Just now I had to get Johnathon’s grubby hands off my grandmother’s porcelain” Johnathon’s ears picked up at the sound of his name.

“Well you shouldn’t have left it by the fireplace then!” She defended her son. Lenard rolled his eyes at this, sitting down at the table in defeat.

“I don’t know why you’re so worried about money anyway, my pay will come in by the end of the week.” Lenard wasn’t one to panic, he took life as it came, even if it didn’t always work out for the better.

“And after that?” Margret sat down beside him, “We still need to eat Lenard! And pay the rent, all those bills won’t just disappear, and don’t even get me started on our ‘pension fund’” she rambled on. Johnathon, unhappy that he was no-longer the centre of attention, began tugging on his mother’s skirt. She just shoved him off, and turned back to her husband.

“We’ll get through this, we always do” he assured her, placing his hand on her shoulder.

“This isn’t like before, we have a child now Lenard. We need to take care of him.” Margret reminded him, shaking it off.

“And we will” he took her hand in his, “I promise. I’ll work longer hours…I’ll get a promotion! I’ll do anything and everything I can, you have my word”. Johnathon made his way back to the porcelain, hoping to catch his father’s eye.

“Well you can start by heading off to work, you’ll never be promoted if you’re not punctual” Margret’s tone was firm, but the look in her eyes told him he was forgiven, for a while at least. Johnathon picked up one of the delicate antiques, raising it high above his shoulders…

“I love you” Lenard placed a kiss on his wife’s cheek.

“I love you too” Margret smiled.

SMASH                                                               

The antique fell to the floor, and Johnathon looked up expectantly. His parent’s eyes darted off each other, and on to where the sound had come from.

“Johnathon! You naughty boy” Margret exclaimed.

“Do you know how valuable that was?” Lenard boomed.

Johnathon just grinned, pleased to be in the spotlight. Margret knelt down, and began to pick up the scattered pieces.

“That stupid boy” Lenard groaned, “I knew he’d be trouble from the day he was born…he has this glint in his eye…there! Look! Don’t you see it?”

“Oh be quite!” Margret snapped, then she turned to her son, “That was a very naughty thing to do Johnathon. Do not do it again. It was naughty, and naughty is bad.” Johnathon just beamed up at here, lavishing in the attention.

“It’s not like he’ll take any notice of what you’re saying” Lenard muttered, “It doesn’t matter how many times you tell him off, he never learns his lesson. He never even speaks, unless it’s to his benefit, he just sits there all day, causing havoc”. As if on cue, Johnathon spoke.

“Nau-tee” he repeated the word he heard all too often, “I am nau-tee”.

“Yes, yes you are” Lenard grumbled. Margret smacked his arm, and he stopped his gabbling.

“It’s not a good thing to be naughty Johnathon, it’s a very bad thing” Margret tried to get her point across, though it was all in vain.

“Bad. I am bad” Johnathon’s tone was pleased and joyful, the exact opposite of his mother’s. He had enjoyed the reaction his intervention had gotten him the first time so much, he’d decided to use it again.

“That child will be the death of me” Lenard picked up his coat, getting ready to leave.

“You head off” Margret instructed him, “I’ll make sure our son doesn’t break anything else while you’re gone.” Lenard did as his wife told him, already late as it was. Once he was gone, Margret looked down to meet her young boy in the eye. For a millisecond, she understood what her husband had meant about the sinister glint, but then maternal love took over once more.

“You’re not bad Johnathon” she shook her head, “Not really. One day, I hope you realise that”.

Johnathon’s heart dropped as he replayed the memory, even if he wasn’t bad, he sure felt bad at that moment. He felt depressed, and lonely, and bad. There was a ring of the doorbell, and Sally sprinted down the steps to answer it, obviously wanting to get there before her mother for some reason.

When she opened the door, Johnathon got a good look at who the caller was. He was a tall boy, around Sally’s age, maybe a little older, dressed plainly, holding a rolled up newspaper. He had white blonde hair, and vibrant blue eyes, and a light flush on his cheeks.

“Good morning Sally, here you go” he handed her the paper.

“Good morning to you too” she smiled, playing with her hair. Johnathon’s brow creased, he had never seen Sally act in such a ‘girly’ sort of way before, “How are you?”

“I’m absolutely brilliant, it’s a beautiful day” the boy grinned back, though there was something about his cheerful words that seemed…false, “And you?”

“I’m fine, though a little tired, I’m sharing my room with two evacuees at the moment, and one of them snores” she groaned, putting on an act of tiredness.

“Oh yes, the evacuees! How are they?” The boy moved the topic along, either out of curiosity, or more likely out of a need to move on from the house to the next.

“They’re settling in okay, actually, one of them is here right now” Sally told him, beckoning for Johnathon to come up to the doorway, “This is Johnathon”.

“It’s nice to meet you Johnathon” the paperboy knelt down to his level to look him in the eye, “My name’s Erebus”.

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