The girl appeared to be totally relaxed as she lounged back in the straight backed wooden chair. Absently she twirled a strand of her long blonde hair around the little finger of her right hand. The girl’s right foot tapped on the chair leg in time with the beat of the pop tune which she hummed quietly to herself. Inspector Ruth Jones was puzzled. In her lenghthy career in London’s Metropolitan Police she had come across many victims of paedophilia. Ruth had witnessed varied reactions but the behaviour of this 14-year-old girl was bizarre in the extreme. Looking into the girl’s face Ruth perceived only tranquillity. Louisa Jenkins appeared totally at ease with herself. Ruth wondered what the psychologist would make of the girl.
“Louisa I’m Inspector Ruth Jenkins but you can call me Ruth and this is Sergeant Mary O’connor but just call her Mary. Would you like a drink or something to eat?”
“No thanks, I don’t need anything”.
“Louisa do you know why you are here?”
“No” Louisa said with a beautiful smile.
Louisa’s smile unnerved the two policewomen. They exchanged covert glances. Something was very wrong here.
“Louisa I need to ask you some questions about Michael Johnson, the man we found you with”.
“We want to understand about your relationship with Michael. Can you tell us about that?”
Louisa looked perplexed.
“What do you mean? I don’t understand”.
The Inspector spoke very gently
“Louisa when we broke into Michael’s house we found the two of you in bed together. Michael is 50 and you are only 14-years-old. It isn’t allowed for adults to have sex with children. You are a little girl and we want to protect you from harm. Can you tell us how you came to know Michael and how long you have known him for?”
“Always. I have always been his”.
The girl’s words sent a shiver down the spines of the two police women.
“What do you mean Louisa?”
“I have only ever known Michael. He is my love, my world”.
The Inspector tried a change of tack.
“When did you first meet Michael?”
“I told you, I have always known him”.
“Do you mean that you can’t remember when you first met him?”
“I am Michael’s. I have always been his Louisa”.
“What do you mean Louisa?”
“I am Michael’s girlfriend. His only love it has always been so. It is unalterable”.
“Louisa where did you live before you met Michael?”
“I have always been his. He is my only love” Louisa repeated patiently.
The Inspector’s head was spinning. Desperately she tried another line of enquiry.
“Can you tell me about your parents Louisa?”
“Yes, where do they live? What are their names?”
“Michael is my everything. He is my dad, my lover, my reason for existing”.
Ruth opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted in her intention by a knock on the door.
Constable Maureen Sykes entered.
“Sorry to interrupt but there is a Professor Mills asking for you” she said addressing Ruth.
“Maureen I told you that I was, under no circumstances to be disturbed” Ruth said her face clouding over.
“I’m very sorry but he was very insistent. He said that it is regarding the current case” the constable said glancing in the direction of Louisa.
The Inspector sighed.
“Louisa I need to leave the room for a few minutes. Mary will look after you”.
“Where is he?” Ruth said as she closed the door of the interview room behind her.
“I put him in your office Mam” Maureen replied.
Ruth strode into her office. An elderly white haired man, a pair of reading glasses precariously balanced on his nose rose stretching out his hand.
“I’m sorry to disturb you but there has been a terrible misunderstanding. I understand that you have one of my patients, Michael and his therapist with you?”
“I lead the Paedophile Management Unit. We are responsible for managing child sex offenders when they are released back into the community”.
“I know what the unit does and quite frankly Professor you are doing a lousy job. Michael was found in bed with a 14-year-old girl earlier today. We where alerted by a tip off from a concerned neighbour and when we broke down the door there he was, not a care in the world in bed with the kid”.
The Professor put his head into his hands.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen. We deliberately chose the property due to it being so isolated and some nosy neighbour wrecks the experiment!”
“Are you saying that you deliberately placed a 14-year-old girl in the company of a known paedophile? If so you should be arrested! Christ I’ve never heard anything like it in all my born days!”
“Let me explain. This must go no further, you understand?”
“I’ll be the judge of that” Ruth said.
“Look Inspector this work has the backing of the Home Secretary. The clearances go right to the very top”.
“Go on Ruth said.
“The problem with paedophilia is that most (if not all) offenders have a compulsion to reoffend when they are released into the community. Drugs and monitoring are of limited success”.
“I know all this” Ruth said impatiently.
The Professor continued seemingly unperturbed by Ruth’s interruption.
“Do you know anything about the science of robotics Inspector?”
“What the hell is this Professor? I don’t have the time to play silly buggers!”
“Have you heard of the Turing Test?”
“Yes the idea that if a machine could fool a human being into believing that they are communicating with a person rather than a computer then artificial intelligence would have been achieved, but what has this got to do with the matter in hand?”
“Well for some time now I have had the idea of producing an artificial child so that paedophiles can indulge their behaviour without endangering the community and, in particular children. Louisa is the prototype of a machine which will, I hope revolutionise the management of paedophiles in the community”.
Ruth stood gaping at the Professor with her mouth open. Surely it wasn’t possible. However the robotic answers of Louisa coupled with her apparent lack of trauma served to convince her of the veracity of the professor’s words.
“Surely the science isn’t advanced enough to produce child substitutes convincing enough to satisfy the average pervert?”
“Tell me how does Louisa come across?”
“Now I know the facts she comes across as what she is, a robot. Her answers where somewhat wooden”.
“Yes indeed. However Louisa is only a prototype. As the science develops we will produce ever more convincing child substitutes. It’s brilliant. It prevents harm to real children and from the perspective of the Treasury it saves money. As you know keeping offenders locked up is very expensive while a robot lasts for years and once they go into mass production the cost of manufacturing will decrease dramatically”.
“But what if some paedophiles want the real thing? What if they get bored with the substitute?”
“I hope that won’t happen but who knows” the professor said shrugging his shoulders. “Now can I have Michael and Louisa back please?”