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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40. Chapter 39

The police were the people who found Chloe’s body in the end. No-one replaced her as leader of the Dark Souls, Eloise couldn’t decide who should, and Erebus secretly hoped it would be him. Eloise questioned both Erebus and Johnathon about the night of course, to try and figure out what happened. Erebus spoke only the truth, and Johnathon half-lied. He admitted he left Chloe alone to tidy up, but he left out the part where he heard her scream and let her die anyway. He did, however, take her final piece of advice. He tried to move on. He left his bedroom, and began going out more. He became a person again.

5th February 1974:

“We need more food,” Erebus grumbled, “The fridge is practically empty.”

“We have milk” Johnathon shrugged.

“Oh great! I’ll have milk on toast then, shall I?” Erebus continued to moan, “We can’t live off milk”.

“Then go to the store and buy some more food” Johnathon stated the obvious solution.

“Why can’t you go?” Erebus asked.

“Why can’t you go?” Johnathon used his own words against him.

“Well…well how about we both go?” Erebus suggested.

“Fine” Johnathon gave in, getting up from the table and fetching his coat. He was secretly glad to get out of the small house, he longed for some fresh air in his lungs, but admitting than to Erebus would be like confessing to your teacher that you hated their subject, or telling a judge in court you found the legal system unjust.

The walk was short, as always. The shop was almost absent, as always. And the prices were high, as always. As the two men wandered around the store, looking casually for supplies, their minds track of all other observations. They saw and focused on only the job in hand. It was, for that reason, that Johnathon didn’t notice a new arrival to the store.

“…Johnathon?” A soft, female voice spoke from behind him. The voice was surprised, but happy, as if the owner was in some form of blissful disbelief. Johnathon turned around, curious, and when he saw who had spoken, he nearly fell backwards. Adele stood there, clear as day (and twice as beautiful), holding a shopping bag, a shocked expression plastered all over her face. “Johnathon! Oh it is you” she leaned in and hugged him, forgetting all else for one moment, overwhelmed by the joy of seeing him. A few seconds later she at last let go, and stood back, grinning ear to ear, tears brimming in her eyes. Johnathon straightened his back, recovering from the outburst, and contemplating what to do next. On one hand, he desperately longed to force Adele into a corner and kiss her until they needed to come up for air, but on the other, he knew doing so would only put her in danger. He looked at her, falling into her eyes, and knew what he had to do.

“Goodbye Adele” he went to move past her, but she grabbed his wrist and pulled him back.

“No,” she shook her head, “Not again. I won’t lose you again. Do you not get away to walk away this time.”

“Let go or else I’ll make you let go” Johnathon threatened her, keeping his volume down to avoid detection from the other customers.

“Go on then.” Adele challenged him, one hundred percent confident in her reply, “Force my hand off, shove me to one side, and run off again. Do it. I promise you I will not stop until I find you again. Whether by chance or on purpose, there will always be meetings between us, we both know that. So do it. Push me away. I will never not come running back.”

“Adele…”

“No,” she cut him off, “Don’t tell me this is for my own good, don’t tell me that you have to do this, and don’t you dare tell me you love me. I woke up in that hospital ward and I cried for ages. I looked for you, but you were gone. It was like we never even met. A part of me was gone, I felt half-dead. So don’t you dare tell me that you love me Johnathon, you killed me inside.”

“I’m trying to save your life!” Johnathon snapped, glaring at her. “As long as we’re together you’ll never be safe”.

“What if I told you I wouldn’t be safe anyway? Do you know what I almost did the day I got back from the hospital? I nearly attempted suicide! Thankfully my sister was there to stop me, but I was so close.” Tears escaped the corners of Adele’s eyes as she spoke, “Maybe I’ll actually do it this time” she shrugged, turning to march away. Johnathon grabbed her and pulled her back towards him.

“No you won’t.” He growled at her, “I won’t let you”.

“How will you stop me? How can you stay away and guard me at the same time?” Adele interrogated him, putting him in an impossible situation. Johnathon just stood there, stuck, he had no clue what to do next.

“Listen love, Adele, isn’t it?” Erebus came up to them, standing beside Johnathon, “He doesn’t want to see you, so how about you hurry along back home and try to keep yourself safe?” Adele turned her gaze off Johnathon, and onto Erebus. All of a sudden her expression changed. Her eyes widened, her mouth dropped, and her breathing quickened. It was obvious to anyone that he was terrifying her, yet all he was doing was looking at her.

“You…” she trailed off.

“What?” Johnathon was confused. What was going on? Why was Adele so afraid of Erebus?

“It was dark that night, but I still saw,” she mumbled on, “Just for a moment, I saw you. Well, your eyes at least. They were so enraged. Like little blue lightning bolts.”

“Sorry darling, I don’t quite follow” Erebus too, wasn’t finding much sense in her words.

“You’re the one who attacked me” Adele announced, clinging closer to Johnathon, who was as stiff as a plank. Erebus stepped back, whether this was done out of shock or defense was unclear. Both Erebus and Adele waited for Johnathon to react, to say or do something, both hoping it would be in their favour. After three long, awkward seconds of silence, Johnathon at last spoke.

“Adele, this is Erebus.” Johnathon revealed, realising she did not actually yet know who he was, “He’s my housemate”.

“Erebus…the paperboy?” Adele checked.

“I haven’t been a paperboy in a long time love” Erebus didn’t like the label she gave him. Adele moved in closer to Johnathon when he spoke to her, keeping her distance out of pure terror.

“Johnathon, he’s the one who attacked me.” Adele was certain, “It was definitely him.”

Johnathon knew honesty when he heard it. He’d spent long enough with Eloise to pick up on a few of the same things she did. When Adele spoke she spoke in a hushed tone, the reason? Erebus was intimidating her. When Erebus spoke he added words like ‘darling’, or ‘love’ on the end of his sentences, the reason? To talk down to Adele…to discredit her.

Adele was telling the truth.

Erebus was her attacker.

“Why did you do it?” Johnathon asked him, not questioning whether or not he was guilty. Erebus opened his mouth, about to try and claim innocence, when he changed his mind. He let out a frustrated sigh, rolling his eyes.

“Well mainly because I was drunk!” he admitted, “But yes, there was a little anger in there too.”

“Were you worried about the hunters?” Johnathon tried to guess his motive.

“I don’t give a damn about those hunters, or the security risk she poses.” Erebus shook his head firmly, “I only care about myself. You know that. You’ve lived with me long enough to have realised that by now. The night of the party, after you confessed your love for her in front of everyone, you left. You left without me. You left me behind, and I knew from that moment onwards that I would forever be getting left behind. As long as she was by your side, you wouldn’t need me. I followed you and Chloe down that corridor, and I listened outside the door. I heard the confusion, but more importantly, I heard the description. When Chloe dropped me off I began to walk home. There was a cluster of girls behind me, I was trying to ignore them, but I couldn’t help listen in. One of them said a name, Adele, so I turned around and there she was. A redhead with brown eyes. I knew there was a chance she wasn’t your Adele, but that didn’t stop me. She and her friends called it a night, and I saw my chance. I dragged her into an alleyway, and I beat her to a pulp. Unfortunately she screamed before I could finish the job, I ran before I could get caught, and…well you know the rest.” Erebus told his story, not bothering to sugar-coat any of the details.

“You…you wanted to hurt her?” Johnathon’s voice shook as he spoke.

“I wanted to kill her” Erebus corrected him.

“But you didn’t.” Johnathon pointed out.

“Like I said, I was drunk” Erebus shrugged.

That was when Johnathon punched him.

He knocked him out cold on the shop floor. Before anyone could react, he took Adele’s hand in his, and then ran, using his extra speed to make a better getaway. He didn’t really know where they were heading, but he knew they were heading there together.

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