Originally written Friday 20 January 2012
‘I asked my father, when I was ten,’ she started, ‘if I could join him on the hunt.’
‘And what did he say to that, Rose?’ Doctor Phillips asked his newest patient.
‘Well, of course, he was terribly shocked that his little girl wanted to join such brutality. But I think, secretly, he was delighted. It was something that my mother never would have allowed, and so he agreed.’
A wry smile spread across her face. She was taking great pleasure in the telling of the story. It was, Doctor Phillips thought, how she lured each of her victims to their demise. She drew them in with intrigue and mystery, and then slew them violently, savouring each blow as it landed on their unprotected flesh. He tried his utmost not to display any discomfort, any repulsion towards her. The smallest indication that he was rejecting Rose would set her off on another enraged outburst, and he wasn’t about to let that happen again. With three staff members already in the infirmary due to her earlier break, he couldn’t afford to lose any more.
‘Are you implying, Rose, that it was because your father allowed you on the hunt that set you on this path?’ Carefully selected words that didn’t entirely place the blame at her feet were best if he wanted Rose to talk. She tilted her head and squinted her eyes, analysing Phillips as he sat opposite her. She drew her lips back in a leer that exposed two jaws of perfectly white teeth. He half expected them to grow into points, but they remained as two jaws of perfectly white, ordinary sized and shaped teeth.
‘Well, I certainly don’t believe that it’s all entirely my fault. What sort of man allows his youngest daughter to join a hunt? Little girls should play with dolls and teddy bears, and should ride horses for fun, not to chase down helpless prey that ultimately ends up horribly slaughtered by so-called civilised men in the name of sport.’ She was withholding just enough information to get Phillips to continue with his questioning.
He briefly looked away from Rose as he wrote some notes in her file. The police had not managed to get Rose to open up to anything, and therefore his notes would be entered into evidence at her trial. They had to be extensive and objective if the prosecution were to make the charges stick and have Rose convicted. She moved forward in her chair, startling the doctor when the legs scraped along the floor. Her movement visibly shook him, and he gasped for breath. Rose laughed at his obvious terror.
‘That look that’s on your face now, that’s what I like best about my job,’ she spoke in almost a whisper.
‘So you went on a number of hunts with your father?’ he asked. She nodded slowly in reply.
‘Do you think there’s any chance of having these restraints removed, Doctor Phillips?’ Rose tried to lift her left arm up to illustrate her point, but couldn’t raise it more than a centimetre or so. She was firmly restrained to both the chair and the table. The authorities had intended for her not to move anywhere unless escorted.
‘No,’ he replied, ‘not a chance.’
An awkward silence fell between them. They were two adversaries facing off without actually having any sort of conflict between them. It was simply that their roles in the current scenario positioned Phillips and Rose on opposite sides of the fence. Had they met in another place and time, things might have been different. She was, Phillips thought, an intelligent and beautiful woman. Homicidal, but intelligent and beautiful none-the-less.
‘Tell me, Rose, what did you and your father, and the other members of the party hunt for? Fox?’ He knew little of the hunting culture having been raised on an estate in the outer suburbs of London. It was a rough place to grow up in, and there was only a small chance that anyone from that estate would actually get out of its grip. She laughed at his questions.
‘What’s so funny, Rose? What have I said that amuses you so?’ Phillips was beginning to feel that Rose was mocking him.
‘You know nothing about me, do you, Doctor Phillips?’ she snapped.
‘No, I don’t. It’s what I’ve been sent here to do – find out about the awful Rose Allison. So why don’t you tell me what I’m missing?’ He no longer wished to indulge her, and hoped that his rising anger was enough to push her to confess.
‘Well, if you really want to know, Doctor Phillips . . . we hunted animals a little larger than foxes. No, we preferred to hunt small animals with only two legs. Children can run so fast, and they are so creative in finding hiding places. But in the end, the dogs find them, flush them out, and a bullet stops them regardless of their speed or creativity.’
Phillips couldn’t hide his shock at her words. He was physically repulsed, running to a corner of the room and vomiting up his breakfast. At ten years of age, Rose Allison participated in hunting children, and as an adult, she had murdered and disposed of countless more people.
‘There is no fun, nor sport in hunting foxes, Doctor Phillips. A good hunter needs worthy prey, not some dumb animal.’ She spoke deliberately, coldly, truthfully and it terrified him. Never before had he sat face to face with a killer who had been cultivated from such an early age. But what shocked him more was yet to fall from her lips.
‘And as any good hunter does, Doctor Phillips, the prey should be skinned,’ she paused to analyse the horrified expression on his face. She knew that the image of skinned children would be something that he couldn’t fathom, but that her next two words would send him over the edge into the realm of the incomprehensible, ‘And eaten.’
. . . The end . . .