They walked all night yet the sun was already high and hot when they came to another cave, not much more than a scoop out of a rock in the sand. By the time they reached it Ch’Voga could barely stand, much less walk. He groaned deeply when he found it was just another hidey-hole and again there was no water.
“I am…sorry dear friend. I know I am slowing you down. Too many… days on a boat have …have not been good…preparation for a forced march…I’m afraid,” Ch’Voga gasped between phrases. Talking much like he traveled. The Monotooth, hardly even listened to the words. It was twitchy and distracted and crawled into a tight ball as far from him as the hole would allow.
“Do we move again…later?”
“Will there be water in …this new place?”
“Then, I will rest …in hope.”
The Monotooth uncoiled a bit at those words. It grabbed his jaw and waggled it.
“You want me to …speak?” Ch’Voga croaked.
“Oh. About resting?”
“No? Damn. I had hoped…”
“What? Hoped? Hope? Alright. Hope. Unfortunately the only verse that comes to mind is, “Whoever is joined to all the living has hope. After all, even a live dog is better than a dead lion!” Ch’Voga wheezed a laugh. “Sorry. I guess imminent death dampens my memory and my normally sunny disposition. Let me see if I can find you a more ‘hopeful’ verse.” He pulled his copy of the Scriptures from his bag.
The Monotooth became very excited. It leapt forward and nearly snatched the precious book from his paws. It bent back the pages so it could see the words on them.
“Please Friend! You may have it when I’m gone but for now, treat it with care! It is life to me! Nearly broke the spine, devil’s…Life to me. Oh, Psalm 119! You have jostled it loose!” Ch’Voga turned to the appropriate page and read,
““And do not snatch the word of truth utterly from my mouth,” (“or my hands,” he winked at the Monotooth.)
”For I hope in your ordinances.
So I will heed your law continually,
forever and ever.
And I will go about freely,
for I have sought your precepts.
And I will speak of your testimonies before kings, (I’ve done that you know! Poor child.)
and will not be ashamed.
And I will take delight in your commands,
which I love.
And I will lift up my hands to your commands, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.
Remember your word to your servant,
upon which you have caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my misery:
that your word preserves my life.”
My comfort in my misery…Never have I wished so hard that I could drink in the Word.” He was shaken awake by the Monotooth, “What? Had I fallen asleep?” The creature grabbed his jaw again and worked it. “Ow! I shall not be able to speak if you dislocate my jaw! I’m sorry. That’s twice I’ve lost my temper with you. I do not mean to get angry, friend but I’m very tired and my head is throbbing. You ask for words of hope from one who has lost much of the store he had. I came to this desert because of hope. To carry the hope of the Gospel to new lands, to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the captive and sight to the blind. To speak the Truth to anyone who would listen. And I have found the only two who would listen were an overwhelmed child and an undead, predatory, cyborg, vampire, devil who for some reason or another has not killed me yet. The only prisoner I freed, died of fever and now instead, I’m a prisoner, though without chains, thank you. I’m afraid however my hopes, like my patience and my charity are waxing low just now.” He tried to stuff the book back in his bag and it wouldn’t go. “What the..? Why won’t it…? Damn and damn and damn again! What the devil is in here?!” He turned the bag over and two, bruised and battered fruit fell out.
“Oh. Oh my. Dear Lord forgive me! In my anger you still provide! I put these in there so long ago I’d quite forgotten them! Here, friend, one for each of us. We should try and con-” The Monotooth extended its tooth, a long, needle-like fang protruding from a powerful tongue and punched it through the skin of the fruit. With a deep pull the gourd drained down to a wrinkled knuckle a quarter of its former size. “-serve them. I hope you won’t mind my saying so, but I do not want to get used to that; it’s uncanny!” The Monotooth looked at him with its large, globular, shuttered eyes. Without thinking, he reached out and gently touched the face of the creature. “What was done to you, child?”