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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64. Chapter 63

“You?” Felicity seemed genuinely shocked, “You are the last person anyone would want to be deputy, rebels and non-rebels alike.”

“Well I think the rebels would appreciate a little variety.” Erebus argued, adding lemon to his tone.

“Felicity is right,” Leo backed her up, “After what you did in 1975 there’s no chance you can ever be given a position of power.”

“Not necessarily,” Erebus stood up, walking over to him, “After all, it wouldn’t be the first time Eloise let bygones be bygones...your uncle had quite the wondering eye, didn’t he?” Leo stepped forward to make a move, his eyes bitter limes of anger, but Felicity placed a hand on his shoulder, drawing him back. Erebus simply smiled, taking a tiny and mocking step backwards. “I’m just saying...it wouldn’t be fair to have double-standards-”

“Enough, Erebus.” Eloise cut him off, “Stop wasting your breath. There is nothing you could say to convince any of us to make you the deputy. As much as we appreciate all you’ve done over the past year you’re still, well, it’s still…” Eloise trailed off, finding herself speechless in some odd turn of events.

“...it’s still not enough.” Erebus finished the sentence for her, shaking his head disheartedly. He seemed to stumble back after he spoke, fumbling backwards to lean against the wall, before tumbling around the room, walking like a drunk man. “I can turn over a new leaf, side with my old enemy, forget all my grudges...I can pull off a full on personality change, and it’s still not enough for you all. When will it be enough? When will I be accepted?” Silence took over the room again after that, and Erebus fell back into the nearby chair, his eyes absent from the room, and his posture slumped and empty. Johnathon, who was yet to speak, looked towards the wall, avoiding all the eyes that were staring at him, expecting him to make the next move. Truth be told, he had no idea what to do next. Erebus may have seemed to be in an exhausted mood, like a deflated balloon, but Johnathon knew better than anyone that his mood could change in a flash. All it would take would be one wrong word, and then boom, half the people in the room would be dead, and that fifty percent might include Johnathon himself. So he just started at the wall, trying to send an unspoken message of surrender to all the other leaders in the room. Soon later, Eloise sighed, stepping forward.

“I’ll tell you when,” she decided, “When your image changes.”

When I look deeply into someone’s Soul get a feel of its nature, and I also see an image to go with it.

Eloise’s words rang softly in Johnathon’s ears.

The moments that shaped Erebus’s black hole of a Soul were the moments he spent alone with no love from his parents.

The moments that turned him attention-seeking. The moments that turned him selfish. The moments that turned him evil. If Erebus’s image hadn’t change, then that meant that he hadn’t changed.

“Are you sure you don’t just need to get your eyes tested?” Erebus’s humour was so misplaced it even seemed to unnerve him. “After all, you’re getting old, I know you don’t age as fast as some, but still…”

“Don’t play games with me Erebus,” Eloise shook her head, “We both know you haven’t changed, not really.” Erebus looked up at her, his eyes dark and electric, for a second Johnathon believed he might attack her, but instead, Erebus turned to look at Johnathon. In a flash, he was in front of him, cutting Johnathon’s breath short in a small unexpected gasp. The corner of Erebus’s lips curved up, and he leaned in closer, judging Johnathon’s expression.

“Did I startle you, Johnny boy?” He mocked him, kneeling down on the floor in front of him. “Did you really think you could just sit here in the corner and act like nothing was going on? How very lazy of you…”

“Leave him alone Erebus.” Eloise tried to stop his antics, but Erebus just inched closer.

“Still not speaking? Not even one word?” Erebus chuckled in between his words, enjoying the gradual build of tension, “You must have something to say?” Johnathon rolled his eyes, not letting Erebus get to him.

“Get out.” He told Erebus, standing up to loom over him. Erebus sighed, muttering something incomprehensible under his breath and standing up. He turned, and for a moment it seemed like me might actually leave, but instead, he spun around again, colliding the harsh palm of his right hand with Johnathon’s left cheek in a cold hard slap.

The sound of the gesture echoed through the room, assisted by the deafening silence. Everyone seemed to breath in and out at the same time, their hearts beating in a fast uncontrolled rhythm. No-one knew what would come next, that is, except for Johnathon. Having maintained a polite and patient facade up to that point, all the anger that had built up inside him was suddenly let loose. He took a firm hold of the cuff of Erebus’s sleeve, and threw him across the room in one swift sharp action. Erebus recovered quickly, but before he could make his counterattack, Johnathon was on top of him once more, punching his face over and over and over. After a good ten seconds of punching, Erebus finally regained the upperhand, catching Johnathon’s wrist mid-punch and sending his body flying. The next thing Johnathon knew he was up against the wall, pinned there by his throat, which was being held in a frozen fist.

“Don’t forget who taught you how to fight.” Erebus warned him, his eyes showing only madness, “Maybe I should kill you, Johnathon. Maybe I should tighten this hold until your body lies dead and I can finally take your place as leader? After all, that’s how it works in this position right? You kill your predecessor. That’s what you did, all those years ago back in Dustwood. You were so consumed in hate and paranoia that you left her there to be slaughtered by the hunters. You’re responsible for the death of Chloe, not them. Right now, I’m full of hate and paranoia too, does that give me the right to kill you?” Erebus looked around the room, enjoying the shocked and anxious expressions that everyone else was wearing. Eloise was looking down at her feet, stunned by the news, Johnathon wanted to cry out, to try and explain to her that Erebus had manipulated him into hating Chloe, but he couldn’t breathe, let alone speak. Maybe he deserved this...maybe he deserved to die, maybe he’d even be rejoined with Adele…

Then, suddenly he could breathe again.

His body collapsed on the ground, and he began to cough and inhale violently, stumbling around on the floor.

“I’m not you Johnny boy, and I’m not going to kill you today.” He heard Erebus speak from above him, “You’re all wrong, I have changed. I’m not going to kill you, because I’m not the same person I was years ago. I have maturity enough to spare you, and so therefore, I must surely have maturity enough to lead.” After saying this, Erebus left, not wanting to stay any longer. Once he’d recovered, Johnathon too ran off into the night, not wanting to face any of Eloise’s unavoidable questions until the morning.

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