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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51. Chapter 50

“Hello, Johnny boy”.

There was only one person in the entire universe who called him that. Johnathon swung around to look his surprise in the eye.

“Erebus, what are you doing here?” Johnathon’s tone was colder than the wind, and his eyes glared at Erebus like lasers. He was not pleased about his arrival. Erebus, not put off by Johnathon’s attitude, casually dug around in his pockets for something. He pulled out a crinkled piece of paper, and handed it to Johnathon.

You could barely read what was said through the creases, but it was evident to Johnathon what it was. He’d posted so many of them in the last month to recognise one when he saw it. It was an invitation. An invitation to his wedding.

“I was invited,” Erebus’s white teeth gleamed when he grinned, “I didn’t turn up to the ceremony, but I figured there would be free food and drink at the reception so I might as well show my face.” Johnathon just stood there, dumbfounded. “Well...aren’t you going to invite me inside?” Johnathon at last looked up from the invitation, to meet Erebus’s eyes once more.

“I didn’t invite you.” He shook his head slowly, “Whoever sent this invitation, it wasn’t me.”

“Then who…? Oh.” Erebus pieced the pieces together, “That girl...I can hate her all I like, but I have to admit, she’s got style. Such a clever little bird…”

“Wait. You think Adele sent this?” Johnathon couldn’t understand why she would do such a thing.

“Who else had access to the invitations? Who else knew my address? Who else would even consider inviting me?” Erebus threw rhetorical questions at a very muddled Johnathon.

“But...why?” Johnathon failed to see any motive. Erebus let out a small chuckle, rolling his eyes.

“How did such a clever little bird end up with you?” Erebus stretched out the moment, enjoying Johnathon’s disposition, “It’s obvious, isn’t it? She wants us to have a little heart-to-heart, a nice little catch up. After all, this marriage is sort of like our divorce, isn’t it? The age of Erebus and Johnathon is over…” Johnathon thought about he was saying, and knew he was correct. Adele had always believed that Johnathon needed Erebus, and she clearly wanted them both to have proper closure. “Come sit with me.” Erebus offered, sitting up on the nearby wall. They sat so they faced the sunset, watching it slowly drown into the horizon. Then Erebus went and ruined the moment, by lighting a cigarette and polluting the nearby air.

“This isn’t really the end of us, is it?” Johnathon asked, his brow creased with heavy thoughts.

“No,” Erebus sighed, and Johnathon smiled, “The end of us came a while ago. I don’t really know when, and there are numerous reasons why, but it has come and gone I’m afraid. Somewhere along the path of you meeting your wife, me attacking her, you getting the leadership, and you moving to that small town with her we just...split.” Johnathon frowned. He didn’t agree.

“We made up all those times though.” Johnathon reminded him.

“No, we made do all those times.” Erebus corrected him, giving him a light shove for the fun of it. “We patched thing up loosely and hoped for the best, but we never really sorted anything out.” Johnathon didn’t know how to contradict Erebus’s point, mainly because it was so honest. “Do you regret it? Meeting me?” Erebus broke the awkward silence.

“I don’t regret anything, remember? I couldn’t if I wanted to…”

“No. But if you could go back and stop us ever meeting, would you?” Erebus clarified, the pace of his voice quickening with impatience. Johnathon looked at him, his electric blue eyes searching for answers, his blonde hair swaying in the evening breeze. He didn’t see the murderous monster, he saw the attention-seeking boy. He thought to himself, what would Eloise do? And he decided what his answer had to be.

“No.” Johnathon lied through his teeth, “We had some fun times.”

“Yeah, we did…” Erebus turned to face the sunset once more, and Johnathon’s chest sunk. The truth was, he would go back if he could. Though no guilt resigned in him over his actions, there was a burning curiosity and desperate longing inside him over his humanity if he had never met Erebus. He knew he’d have been a better man without him. In that moment,  Johnathon pitied Erebus. The boy who’d been neglected, the father who’d been disrespected, the brother who’d been left behind, and the friend who’d never really been a friend. Whenever Erebus asked that question, no matter who he asked it to, the honest answer would always be yes. Everyone was better off without Erebus McKoy, including Johnathon Ignes.

The sun set, it’s light disappearing into the horizon, and the atmosphere began to cool. The sky darkened, and Erebus left Johnathon, walking off into the black scenery. As one last gesture, Johnathon watched him go until he could no longer distinguish him from the shadows, making sure that that time he would not be the first to leave.

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