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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39. Chapter 38

Once Johnathon and Chloe were alone outside the back exit to the bar, Johnathon saw the opportunity to question her about the night she found Adele, and he seized it. Whilst she inspected the area, he leant against the wall, thinking of what to say.

“Chloe,” he called out to her.

“Yeah?” She replied, coming over to stand beside him.

“The night you found her…” he began, “You said you heard a scream and ran in the direction you heard it, and that you found her lying on the ground when you arrived.”

“That’s right, whoever attacked her was gone” Chloe nodded.

“And you took her to hospital after that? Simply because she vaguely resembled by generic description?” Johnathon tried to keep his tone from going harsh whilst he spoke.

“I saw a girl bleeding to death,” Chloe reworded the event, “I would have taken her to the hospital no matter what she looked like”.

“Really?” Johnathon wasn’t sure if he believed her or not. He knew that if it were Erebus then the body would have been left to die, and if it were him…well, he wasn’t sure what he would have done. It all came down to personality, but what sort of person was Chloe?  

“Yes,” Chloe snapped, offended by Johnathon’s questioning, “I care about human life”. Johnathon was quiet for a few moments, before speaking again.

“…Even hers?” Johnathon had not yet managed to say Adele’s name aloud, as if the word were cyanide to his tongue. Chloe sighed, lowering herself down to the floor. Johnathon sat down beside her, preparing himself for what she might say next.

“I know it looks suspicious, your girlfriend being attacked the same night I kissed you, but it wasn’t me. I wanted you two to be separated, but I didn’t want her dead. Those wounds were meant to be fatal, we both know that. But they were also sloppy at points, which is one of the reasons she survived. Whoever did attack her was angry, and in their rage they forgot how to do the job properly, a lifesaving mistake for Adele. I wasn’t angry with her…yes, I was a little annoyed at you, but she was innocent in my eyes. It wasn’t her fault you fell in love with her, and it wasn’t her fault you couldn’t see the downside to all of it. She wasn’t my enemy, if you believe me about anything, believe me about that.” Chloe explained. Johnathon didn’t react much to her words, his face was practically made of stone as he heard her words. Did he believe her? Was Chloe an honest person? She could lie with ease, he knew that. But did that mean she was lying about this? Was her sympathetic tone, her water rimmed eyes, and her soft voice nothing more than an act aimed to deceive and manipulate him?

“She,” Johnathon stopped, taking in a deep breath, “Adele, said her attacker had blue eyes. You have blue eyes.”

“And that makes me guilty?” Chloe was taken aback, “Lots of people have blue eyes Johnathon.”

“I know, but…”

“No.” Chloe interrupted him, “No more weak allegations and pathetic attempts to try and blame me. You need to stop handing on to loose ends Johnathon, you need to move on.”

Johnathon did move on, he moved on to the other side of the alleyway, turning his back on Chloe. Chloe let him walk away, and returned to examining the surroundings. She assumed the action was done out of hate, when it was in fact, done out of pride…Johnathon didn’t want Chloe to see him cry.

They kept apart after that, not engaging in conversation again. Johnathon spent the time looking up at the sky and counting the stars, doing his best to ignore the fire of anger inside him. It spat up sparks of fury that rose up his body, and he exhaled their heated arguments out along with his breath. Half an hour or so later, Erebus came stumbling out of the door, and two men followed after him.

Johnathon and Chloe immediately flashed to the side-lines, remaining in the stealthy shadows.

“Okay…okay,” Erebus stopped his chuckling, “Cut to the chase, why did you bring me out here?” Johnathon could smell the alcohol radiating off him as he spoke. Johnathon knew most of the drunken behaviour was false, he’d seen Erebus drunk. He didn’t get clumsy, he got emotional.

“We wanted to show you something” one of the men spoke, his voice was deep and articulate.

“Go on then” Erebus played along, though his eyes were slightly anxious. Johnathon looked at Chloe, who was still as a statue. What were they waiting for?

“If you insist” the second man spoke as the first retrieved a metal stake from his jacket.

“Ooh, shiny” Erebus giggled, still pretending.

“Yes, it would really compliment your chest” the first man grunted, as he lunged towards Erebus. Immediately Chloe was at their side, throwing the man across the alleyway. Johnathon flashed up behind the second one, and snapped his neck quickly.

“About time” Erebus rolled his eyes, “I thought I was dead for a second there.”

“I needed to wait for the perfect opportunity” Chloe justified her reluctance to act sooner.

“Yes well I think I’ve done quite enough for tonight, I’m off to the hotel. I’ll leave you two to both clean this up.” Erebus ran off, leaving Chloe and Johnathon alone.

Johnathon turned and began to walk away (at normal pace), not in the mood to tidy up a couple of corpses. He was just rounding the corner when he heard a cry come from Chloe. He looked back down into the alleyway, and saw Chloe hanging from the wall by her arm… which had a knife through it. Clearly being thrown around like a rag doll hadn’t killed the first hunter like they’d thought.

“Rotten little guiltless freak” he barked insults at her.

Johnathon knew, he knew, he could save her. It would be easy for him to run in there and end him. Yet, he also knew he didn’t want to. Chloe might have killed Adele, she might have killed the love of his life, and that was enough for him to turn his back on her. He didn’t look back, but he heard the scream.

“Christopher? Are you out here?” A new voice echoed through the stone walls.

“Yeah, it’s me” the hunter confirmed.

“What about Barry?”

“Dead” there wasn’t much grief in the hunter’s tone.

“I see…Come on, we need to get out of here” the other man urged him. Johnathon heard footsteps, and the slam of a door shutting, but then, silence.

He turned his head around the entrance to the alleyway once more, and saw Chloe’s lifeless body dangling from the wall, and he did the worst thing he’d done that evening…he smiled.

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