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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37. Chapter 36

Johnathon kept his promise to Adele. For the first half of the year he would check up on her, and make sure she was okay, but he made sure she never saw him. She did look for him, but he stayed hidden. Eventually she gave in, and settled back down into normal life, though anyone could tell a part of her was missing. Eloise was right, and no attacks followed the first, Adele was safe. Johnathon however, turned sour and stern. He stayed in his room all day, reading mostly. He had no fun, and was no fun. He barely left the house. He became a shadow, a creature that stuck to the past, and had to be forced into the future.

12/12/1973:

Johnathon sat with his back against his headboard on his bed, his legs crossed, his posture closed, and his eyes focused on the words of a book he’d already red twenty-something times. His curtains were drawn shut, and his door was closed, the room was dimly lit by a yellow-tinted lamp beside his bed, which would occasionally flicker on and off. This didn’t bother Johnathon, for her was not really reading, he was trying to fill time. The book was tiresome to him by that point, the full plot already laid out in his mind. He spent most of his days like this, just wasting time. Almost two full years had passed since he left Adele, but it felt like two hours. Two long, miserable hours, but hours none the less. The repetition of his days turned them into minutes. There were visible signs of his struggle, bags hung under his eyes similar to the way he hung to his humanity. He’d become thinner too, not dangerously skinny, but he had clearly not been eating as much as he used to.

Erebus had tried at first to lighten his mood. He’d taken him out drinking, partying, and clubbing…but none of it had helped. Johnathon would put on a smile, he might even genuinely laugh, but the moment he got home he just went back to his room. Eventually Erebus gave up, and let him be alone with the darkness. Johnathon ate when he was hungry, he slept when he was tired, and moved when he felt stiff. He couldn’t tell if it was day or night, or breakfast or dinner time, he just went with what he felt. He put himself into a solitary prison, which was equally as depressing as he felt. People didn’t visit, they steered well clear of him, afraid that he could blow at any moment. Everyone assumed his silence was just a faze, and that he’d suddenly fill with anger and crush everything in his path. Maybe they were right…? Perhaps they were wrong…? Not even Johnathon himself knew, and neither did her care. He wasn’t simply guiltless, he was careless too.

On that particular day however, people did come to visit. They had not been invited, nor where they expected. They just turned up his the doorstep, wanting only one thing, his help. This request began with knocking. From downstairs Johnathon heard two knocks at the door, and trusted Erebus to get it, not interested in who it was or why they were there. Then, Erebus knocked on his bedroom door.

“It’s not like you to be polite, just come on in” Johnathon called out to him, putting his book down. A few seconds later Erebus entered the room, and sat down on the end of Johnathon’s bed.

“We have guests,” he informed him, “Eloise, and our oh so lovely leader Chloe have turned up seeking our assistance”.

“What is it they want?” Johnathon asked not because he wanted to help, but because he was curious as to what it was they wanted.

“There are a few hunters gathering up near here, a little town called Dustwood. Eloise wants us to try and take them out with Chloe, before they become a large threat to our safety.” Erebus kept the brief short and simple, knowing Johnathon wouldn’t want him to go on and on about the task. Johnathon looked towards his shut curtains, his expression tired.

“Dustwood was Adele’s hometown…” he trailed off, not bothering to finish the sentence.

“I see,” Erebus nodded, “I’ll tell them no then, shall I?”

Johnathon didn’t reply, he just picked up his book and began to read again, acting as though Erebus were not in the room with him. Erebus muttered something Johnathon couldn’t quite hear, and got up to leave. Before he did so, he turned back around.

“Although,” he spoke again, “It would be a good opportunity to question Chloe.” Johnathon’s eyes moved off the book and onto Erebus.

“Question her about what?” He inquired, his attention peaked. Erebus walked back over to him.

“About the night she found Adele of course.” Erebus spoke as if the fact were obvious from his prior words, “Listen, I’m just going on a hunch here but I think she’s holding out on us. I mean, she saw a girl who matched your description partially, who was badly injured, and took her to the hospital.”

“…And?” Johnathon failed to see what was suspicious about her story.

“This is Chloe we’re talking about. She’s not exactly one to go to a special effort for anybody, least of all you or I. Plus, she wanted you and Adele to split up, why would she save her?” Erebus expanded upon his point, “I think she wanted you two to end it, but she knew if she killed her you’d do something rash or violent in your grief. She’s spent enough time with Eloise to get to know her thought patterns, she would be able to guess that she’d advise you to end it to avoid further attacks. That way you’d be apart from Adele, but still use her as an incentive to be good.”

“Are you saying you think Chloe was the one who hurt Adele?” Johnathon checked, getting up off his bed.

“Yes I am,” Erebus confirmed, his face serious. Johnathon took a few steps backwards, turning around and running his hands through his hair. “Of course I could be wrong,” Erebus pointed out, “But if you tag along with her to Dustwood, you’ll be able to check.” Johnathon still stood with his back to him, he had to admit, it was a tempting proposition. “I don’t know…it’s your call” Erebus patted him on the back, then he left him to his thoughts.

“Johnathon! You absolute idiot. You can’t date a normal, not now. It’s not safe, for her, for us, for anyone. She’ll get dragged into all this mess, and our security will be compromised. You need to end your relationship.” Johnathon recalled Chloe’s words to him at the party. She had wanted him to break up with Adele. That was clear. She had a strong motive. Plus, she’d kissed him, he must have hurt her feelings a little bit when he turned her down for Adele. Adele said her attacker had blue eyes, Chloe had blue eyes. Chloe was the one who’d discovered Adele, could it be she was the one who put her there? Yes. That was the immediate answer, for it was possible. Would Chloe do such a thing? Yes. Again, that was the logical reply, she was guiltless, she would do it in the blink of an eye.

Johnathon walked up to the door of his bedroom, and placed his hand on the handle. Turning it, and applying the slightest amount of pressure, he stepped outside. The light hurt his eyes a bit, but it was more irritating than painful. He made his way down the steps, and found Erebus with Eloise and Chloe sat at the kitchen table. They all turned around when they saw him come down the stairs.

“Johnathon,” Eloise beamed, her tone warm and kind, “How are...?”

“Stop.” Johnathon interrupted her, “I’m coming, and that’s all you need to know”.

“Very well.” Eloise accepted his bitter statement, bowing her head slightly.

“Let’s not waste any time then, shall we?” Chloe hurried them along, “Let’s go”. Johnathon slowly followed after the three of them, and for the first time in months, he stepped outside the house.

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