In December 23, 1997, Derek Almond enters his wife’s bedroom carrying a gun. Rosemary wakes up and finds Derek pointing a gun at her—she begs him to stop. Derek pulls the trigger and says “bang”—it’s not loaded. He smirks and leaves the room.
Derek’s cruelty to his wife has an unmistakably sexual side: he won’t have sex with her, but he’ll point a gun (surely a phallic symbol) at her and pull the trigger. Moore makes a point of mentioning the unloaded gun, which will be a plot point later—and it also foreshadows Rosemary’s own connection to a gun later.
At the Nose, Dominic and Finch are still researching the guards at Larkhill. The vast majority are dead. Finch begins to realize the truth: V has been killing off Larkhill guards for the last four years—it’s only now that the police have started to take notice. Dominic objects that many of the Larkhill guards have died of natural causes, or died in accidents. Finch doesn’t know what to say. He remembers giving one of V’s roses to Delia—a colleague of his who worked as a doctor at Larkhill. Panicked, he goes to call Delia immediately. Finding the line engaged, he sends Derek Almond to Delia’s house in Plaiston.
We learn that the woman whom V has come to kill is Delia, a former doctor at Larkhill Camp. We’re also reminded of the strange incompetence of the Norsefire surveillance—somehow, a criminal has been eliminating Larkhill guards for four years without anyone batting an eye. This reminds us that Norsefire England is a heavily elitist society: the police have only become involved in the Larkhill killings because important people have started to die. V’s less powerful, less wealthy victims hadn’t attracted any attention before.
In Plaiston, V is standing over Delia’s bed. V asks Delia if she’s afraid of death, and she replies that she isn’t. On the contrary, she’s been expecting death for many years. After the “fire,” she explains, she saw V looking directly at her, and she knew that he’d take his revenge sooner or later. She mentions a famous psychological experiment, where subjects were asked to shock patients who got the wrong answers on a test. Amazingly, 80% of the subjects calmly continued to administer lethal shocks to their patients, simply because an authority figure told them to do so. Delia has long since concluded that there is something evil and horrible about the human race—she’s ashamed to be a member of it, and welcomes death.
The experiment Delia mentions is real—it was conducted in California in the 1970s. Moore likes to allude to real-life examples of man’s inhumanity to man in his graphic novels (in Watchmen, there’s a long, painful discussion of the Kitty Genovese rape case, in which a woman was raped for hours while her neighbors did nothing). Delia seems to have come to a conclusion about humanity that doesn’t fit with Norsefire’s Fascist perfectionism at all: there is no “perfect race,” because humanity itself is evil.
Mr. Finch calls Derek Almond and sends him to Delia’s home. Almond leaves, carrying his gun.
Almond’s cruel prank on his wife will now “backfire” on him, when he needs a loaded gun against someone other than his helpless wife.
Back in Plaiston, Delia tells V that Eric Finch gave her one of V’s roses that morning—he’s trying to track V down. V says nothing, but holds up a syringe—he says he already killed Delia “ten minutes ago,” while she was sleeping. He adds that there’s no pain. Delia nods peacefully, and asks to see V’s face one more time before her death. V obliges, removing his mask. Delia stares at V’s face (which we don’t see), unafraid, and whispers, “It’s beautiful.” With these words, she collapses.
Delia’s death is strange and oddly moving: unlike the other victims of V’s aggression, Delia isn’t afraid of V in the slightest, and even welcomes his presence as “beautiful.” V, for his part, seems to recognize that Delia regrets what she’s done to V, and has already punished herself enough with her own guilt and self-hatred. Thus, he lets her die in peace.
V leaves Delia’s bedroom. Before he’s gotten far, a voice tells him to stop—it is Derek Almond, holding a gun. Almond tries to shoot V—but because he forgot to reload his gun after threatening his wife, no shot is fired. V attacks Almond, overpowering him easily. Almond falls to the floor, seemingly dead.
Derek Almond—much like Prothero and Lilliman—is a victim of his own evil. Just as Lilliman dies by poisoned communion, Almond gets his ironic comeuppance when his sadistic prank on his wife backfires.
The next day, Finch and Dominic talk about V’s murders. Derek Almond is dead, along with Delia Surridge. Finch is furious about Delia’s death: he insists that she was a good woman, devoted to helping people using her medical knowledge. Dominic notes that the police found Delia’s diary next to her body. Noting that the diary covers Delia’s time working at Larkhill, Finch takes it.
We end with the possibility that Delia’s diary will answer some of our questions about Larkhill, V, and the Norsefire state. This section is also important because Eric Finch shows genuine sympathy for one of V’s victims for the first time—it’s as if he despised Prothero and Lilliman as much as V did.