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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36. Chapter 35

Hospitals were miserable places, and worst of all, they tried to hide it. Behind the pristine white walls and donated artwork there were people dying minute by minute. Behind the assurance of the doctors and the smiles of the nurses there were people who’d seen things they never wanted to see again, but knew they probably would. Everything was always so clean, so tidy, so perfect upon first look, but beneath the heavenly décor, there were hellish activities. Waiting rooms were one of the worst places for this, because everyone was so anxious. People tapped their feet on the floor, drummed their fingers, looked up at the clock…no-one was still. That is, except for Johnathon, who sat there as stiff as a plank, lost in thoughts and worries. Eloise had gone in first, to chat to the doctors as well as Adele. That matter hadn’t been up for discussion, Eloise had been scarily firm. Maybe she thought Johnathon needed longer to recover, or maybe she just felt like going first, it didn’t really matter why. As soon as Eloise came out from the ward, Johnathon broke his statue position, and marched up to her.

“How is she? Is she going to be okay? Did she say anything?” He had never asked so many questions at once in his lifetime.

“Johnathon calm down,” Eloise tried to soothe him, placing a hand on his shoulder, “She’s going to be just fine. The doctors say he wounds looked worse than they were, none of the cuts are infected, and her bruises and scratches will heal with time. They’ll let her leave in a couple of days, and by the end of the month she’ll be back to normal.”

“That’s…reassuring” Johnathon nodded, moving to head into the ward.

“Johnathon,” Eloise stopped him, “Before you go in, I need to tell you something.” Johnathon walked back to where she stood. “The doctors may think Adele will be fine soon, but I have a different opinion. Whoever attacked her won’t stop just because she survived the first time, as soon as she’s out of here, I have no doubt they’ll strike again. And again, and again, and…well, you get the picture. They won’t stop until she’s gone.”

“Then I’ll protect her” Johnathon decided.

“Don’t you see? That will only provoke them. Any well trained eye can see these injuries were caused by a Soul. Think about it: A few hours after you announce you’re in love with a normal to a whole party of Souls that same girl ends up close to death in an alleyway, with wounds obviously inflicted by a Soul.” Eloise spoke slowly and clearly, “The two events are linked. As long as you and Adele are together, the attacks will never end.” Johnathon took a step back, looking away from Eloise.

“Why can’t they just leave her alone?” He asked rhetorically, not wanting or expecting an answer, but Eloise gave him one anyway.

“Why can’t you?”

Johnathon met Eloise’s eye, defeated. He turned around to head into the ward, feeling as though his heart were a 100kg weight. He knew what he had to do, he knew what the right thing was…and for once in his life, he was actually going to do it.

Is this how Eloise feels every day of her life? He thought to himself, wondering if doing the right thing was always so awful.

The Ward was even more miserable than the waiting room, though, once again the nurses tried desperately to hide it. Johnathon noticed Adele lying in one of the beds, and walked over, drawing the curtain around them so they had some privacy. She was resting when he sat down beside her, but his intrusion woke her up. She smiled when she saw him, as if she hadn’t smiled a lot recently.

“I was wondering when you’d show up” she murmured, sitting up slightly.

“I came as soon as I heard” he assured her, “Adele, I…”

“Don’t” she interrupted, “Don’t blame yourself for this.”

“I was going to say I hope you’re recovering well” Johnathon corrected her, his brow creased.

“Oh” Adele bit her lip, embarrassed for some reason.

“No guilt, remember?” Johnathon reminded her, letting out a half-hearted chuckle at the end in a pathetic attempt to lighten the mood.

“Of course” Adele looked down at her grazed purple hands, “And yes, I am recovering excellently.”

“Do you remember who attacked you?” Johnathon asked her, moving the conversation along. If Adele could remember who hurt her, maybe he could go after them? He could make them pay.

“Not really, I didn’t get a good look at them. It was just one person though, and they were really strong.” Adele tried to describe the attacker.

“Do you remember anything about them? Any physical features?” Johnathon pried further.

“I remember being shoved against the wall, and just for a second, I was met with these electric blue eyes…but that was the only time I saw them” Adele recalled one piece of information, but it wasn’t much use, lots of people had blue eyes. Obviously the attacker had made an attempt to keep themselves hidden from her eyes, they wanted their identity to remain a secret. Johnathon shifted in his seat, trying to think of more things to say to prolong the inevitable. “Johnathon? What’s wrong? You seem so on edge?” Adele picked up on his discomfort. Johnathon looked up at her, tears brimming in his eyes. She was so pure…yet so scarred. The mere sight of her so hurt was motivation enough for him.

“Adele, we can’t do this anymore” he stated.

“Do what?” Adele wasn’t sure what he meant.

“We can’t be together anymore,” Johnathon clarified, “It’s not safe for you. Last night, before you were attacked, I made an announcement at the party, I told them about us. Whoever did this, they did this because of that. They want us separated, they want us to break up, to stop seeing each other. As long as you’re by my side, you will never be safe. I have to let you go, it’s for your own good”.

“You’re my boyfriend not my father!” Adele raised her voice, “You don’t get to decide what I do with my life”.

“Don’t you understand?” Johnathon leaned forward, taking her hand, “If we continue dating then you won’t have a life.”

“I won’t have much of a life if we stop.” Adele argued dramatically, “I love you Johnathon, and I know you love me too.”

“Of course I love you, that’s why I’m doing this” Johnathon tried to explain it.

“Aren’t you just giving in? The Johnathon I know would never give in to these people, they’re nothing more than bullies.” Adele tried a different tactic.

“I’m not giving in, once I know you’re safe I’ll go after them, but for now we have to do what is best for you” Johnathon was desperately trying to persuade her, whilst also trying to keep himself together.

“What about what’s best for you? How do I know that without me you’ll resort back to your old ways? You’re a better person when you’re with me” Adele wasn’t giving in. Johnathon dropped his hand from hers, leaning back in his seat. His eyes darted around as he tried to think of what to say or do next. His gaze fell onto the table beside her bed. An idea popped into his head, and like a virus, it infiltrated him suddenly, and wouldn’t go away easily. He stood up, and opened one of the drawers. His heart weighed 101kg when he saw he had been right to assume. He removed the sedative injection from the draw, and before Adele had a chance to move an inch, the sharp was inside her arm.

“What are you…?” Adele trailed off.

“When you wake up, I’ll be gone. I’ll still be in Cantumville, and I’ll still keep an eye on you, but you’ll never see me. I won’t talk to you, I won’t interact with you, I promise. In time you’ll forget me, and even though I’ll never forget you, knowing you’re alive and out there somewhere will be enough for me. This is my gift to you Adele; that I shall leave you behind, and let you have a life without me. I’ll let you have a normal life.” Johnathon promised her, meaning every single word.

“No, Johnathon…” Adele’s eyelids fluttered.

“Goodbye Adele” Johnathon sighed. Adele’s eyes closed, and her body fell limp. Johnathon leaned over her, kissing her forehead. He ran his fingers through her vibrant colours, grinning in the recollection of the colour he’d brought to his life. Then he turned around, and walked away, determined not to turn back, and to just keep walking.

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