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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9. Chapter 8

Johnathon had gotten increasingly better at numerous different things since he’d met Erebus. Lying, scheming, and sneaking out. They often met in alleyways to hang out, they most smashed walls or ran around, thus letting off the steam they had kept buried throughout the day. It was simple really, the Dews weren’t exactly intelligent, and if you provided the right distraction, then slipping out of the house unnoticed was almost too easy.

So when the clock chimed at 5 o’clock, Johnathon began to make his move. He snuck upstairs after dinner, whilst everyone else was occupied with chores. Once inside the bedroom, he went over to the sofa where Peter slept. He knelt down, careful not to make too much noise, and removed Peter’s suitcase from underneath. He opened it up, clearing a space on the left. After that he crept over to Sally’s bed, carefully sliding open her desk draw, and retrieving her diary from inside. He took the padlock she’d recently added, placing it between his thumb and index finger, applying gentle pressure until he heard a small ‘crack’ and the lock was broken. He opened the diary up wide, and placed it inside Peter’s suitcase, before shoving it back down under the sofa, leaving only a small corner of it out in the open. He checked the time, quarter past five, in a few minutes Sally would come upstairs to add a daily instalment to her diary. Johnathon made his way back downstairs, picking up a damp cloth and wiping the table (so to exclude himself from the scene of the crime).

Sure enough, five or so minutes later, a cry emitted from the bedroom.

“Mum! Dad! Someone’s taken my diary” Sally called down the stairs, her cheeks a deep, alarming, and slightly amusing shade of red. Penny and Adam rushed back up the stairs, Peter following after them, Johnathon went up too, a small smile curving his lips.

“What’s wrong Sally?” Adam tried to address the issue.

“Someone…took…my…diary!” Sally panted as she rumbled through her belongings.

“Maybe you just lost it…?” Penny suggested cautiously.

“I never move it” Sally screeched, frantic.

Johnathon moved casually to the other side of the room, when he neared the sofa he pretended to lose his footing, tripping over, knocking the left side of Peter’s suitcase out from under as he did so.

“I’m so sorry…” he began to pretend to apologise, stopping when ‘his gaze fell onto the open diary inside’. Everyone else followed his eyes, and froze. “Peter, what is…why did you…what’s going on?” Johnathon broke the silence, acting confused.

“He stole my diary” Sally murmured, her eyes wide open in disbelief, “He stole my diary!” She repeated, louder than the last time, “Peter stole my diary, he took it from my draw and hid it in his suitcase…”

“We can all see that Sally” Adam cut her off. Sally shut her lips, and Adam turned to Peter, who had his back against the wall, gobsmacked. “Peter, why did you take Sally’s diary?” Adam kept his tone calm, but it was clear he wanted an answer.

“But I didn’t! I…I, I don’t know how that got into my suitcase, I never put it there…I swear” Peter fumbled, Johnathon couldn’t help but smile a bit at his reaction.

After Peter’s denial the entire room seemed to vibrate with all the voices. Adam was repeating the question over and over. Penny kept on saying things like be honest Peter and just admit it and we won’t be as angry. Sally was exclaiming accusation at him at full speed, whilst Peter just stood there, backing away into a corner. Johnathon used the activity to his advantage. He focused on moving quickly, and in a flash found himself outside the door, his left hand holding Sally’s diary, which he had picked up before he’d left. He checked the time, it was quarter to six. He kept on running at his supernatural speed, until a great force suddenly knocked him backwards.

“Hey! Get off me” he squirmed, pushing against the figure who held him down.

“Shh” the figure spoke, placing his hand over Johnathon’s mouth, “You’ll alert the whole neighbourhood”. Johnathon relaxed when he realised who’d pushed him. “Last time I try to play a joke on you” Erebus sighed, chuckling slightly as he exhaled.

“You scared me” Johnathon justified, giving Erebus a light shove.

“I can tell,” Erebus and Johnathon walked into an alleyway, “Anyway, how did you get away this time?”

“I stole Sally’s diary and framed Peter, they’re probably still arguing” Johnathon shrugged.

“Nice,” Erebus complimented him, “Shame you didn’t keep the diary, then we’d have some entertainment”. Johnathon reached inside his jacket and pulled the fragile book out, raising one eyebrow. Erebus took it, impressed. He flicked through it, stopping once or twice and giggling.

“What is it?” Johnathon asked as he snatched the diary, greedy for more gossip.

“It seems Miss Sally has developed a little crush” Erebus flashed his teeth, telling Johnathon before he could read it for himself. Johnathon’s jaw dropped with pleasurable and mischievous surprise.

“No way” he began to laugh like a drunk.

“Well, who can blame her,” Erebus stood tall, “I’m just so irresistible”. Both boys erupted into laughter after that, hooting uncontrollably at the situation. “I might just have some fun with her” Erebus decided, “But tonight is about you.” Johnathon stopped snickering then, eager for what he knew would come next.

“What are we going to do?” He inquired, his eyes bright with excitement.

“Do you remember Mrs Blake?” Erebus checked. Johnathon recalled the large lady he had barged past years ago on Halloween.

“Yes” he grimaced, disgust leaking into his voice. Erebus leaned down to Johnathon’s level, so he could whisper something in his ear.

“We’re going to rob her” he announced.

At the news of their plans, Johnathon didn’t bother asking ‘why’, knowing the only response would be ‘why not’, plus he didn’t care. So instead a valley of butterflies grew in his stomach, as he grew hopeful and excited.

“How?” He dived deeper into their schemes.

“She and Mr Blake are out for dinner tonight. We’ll break in, and rob them blind. Sound good?” Erebus explained.

“It sounds…fun” Johnathon agreed.

So the two children ran along, ecstatic in their jittering nerves. Johnathon couldn’t wait to get one over on Mrs Blake, the lady who’d ruined his Halloween years ago. He kept on picturing her chubby face extend even further when she realised what had happened, maybe she’d even fall backwards and flatten Mr Blake! Johnathon kept daydreaming and soon they came to the house, and stood in front of the door.

“I’ve got this” Erebus told Johnathon, lifting up his leg to kick. Johnathon stood back, letting him take the lead. The second Erebus’s foot came into contact with the door, it detached completely from its hinges, dropping backwards into the house.

“Good job” Johnathon commented as they both stepped inside.

“I’ll take upstairs, you do down” Erebus instructed, getting to work. In a blur, he was gone.

Johnathon set off thieving the Blake’s. He started small, unsure of what to take. He pocketed their small sweet ration, filling his pockets. He found some coins on the side and took those too. Looking around, he wondered what to do next. His eyes fell on a necklace. It was long, and ugly, but it looked extremely expensive. As he examined it closely, he found a gem in the centre, it was a deep shade of red, and though small, it was precious. It was obviously polished regularly, and never worn, but always showed off. Johnathon raised it up into the moonlight, a curve on his lips, before pocketing the necklace too.

“Yes” Erebus stressed the ‘s’ as he came back down the stairs, “This is at least one thousand pounds in cash”.

“I’ve got rations, a few spare coins, and some fancy necklace” Johnathon added.

“Sweet! I’d say this was a very successful evening” Erebus seemed pleased. Johnathon was about to reply, when he suddenly heard a noise coming from outside. Erebus looked in that direction too, and they both startled when they saw Mr and Mrs Blake heading towards the house.

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