An interview with Blessed Guardian Hope

An interview with Blessed Guardian Hope, conducted by Dutiful Fass, junior gazetteer with the New Evening Gazette.

How to avoid being carried away by the Black Ox

Dutiful Fass: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Guardian Hope. My first question—

Guardian Hope: (interrupting) Did you bow?

Dutiful Fass: I beg your pardon?

Guardian Hope: I didn't see you bow, when you addressed me.

Dutiful Fass: Um—Sorry, Guardian. (she bows) Now, my first question—

Guardian Hope: (interrupting) I am a representative of the Seven Gods, after all.

Dutiful Fass: Yes, Guardian. (she bows again, just in case) That was what I wanted to talk to you about. The Seven Gods —or rather, their creature, the Black Ox, who carries people away in the middle of the night—

Guardian Hope: (interrupting) When will the artist be here?

Dutiful Fass: I— I beg your pardon?

Guardian Hope: Are you deaf? The artist. To make a likeness of me. There will be a likeness of me in the gazette, will there not?

Dutiful Fass: Um— Well, actually, I don't think—

Guardian Hope: (inspecting her fingernails) Did I mention that the House of Repentance is rather empty at the moment? I do hate it when there are vacant cells. I am always tempted to fill them with whoever is nearby...

Dutiful Fass: (going very white) Ah— A likeness. Yes! Yes, of course there will be a likeness! I expect the artist is just running a little late. I'll send my assistant to remind him how important this appointment is!

She talks frantically to her assistant, who dashes off.

Dutiful Fass: (nervously) Now, if you wouldn't mind, Guardian. Perhaps you can tell us about the Black Ox?

Guardian Hope: Ah, yes, the Black Ox. (she sits back in her chair) I want you to imagine that you are lying in bed in the middle of the night. You are warm and comfortable, and everything is peaceful. Your parents are in the next room. You are safe. You believe that no one knows about the wicked things you have done, or the wicked thoughts that have passed through your head. (her voice grows sinister) But then you hear, somewhere in the distance, a snorting sound. The whole world begins to shake—

Dutiful Fass: (interrupting) Um— Sorry, sorry, Guardian, please forgive me for stopping you. But this interview is for children, remember. We don't want to scare them too much!

Guardian Hope: The brats will read it? Good. They deserve to be scared! Write this down. (she smiles horribly) The whole world begins to shake! Are you afraid yet? You should be! You should be trembling in your nasty little bed! Because the Black Ox has come for you! And not in a kindly way, oh no. Not to carry you away to glory. No, those frightful hooves have come to trample your soul to smithereens! Because you have been bad! You have been a wicked, nasty little—

Dutiful Fass: (deliberately dropping her pen) Oops! Sorry! Sorry, Guardian! I think I missed some of that. Never mind, I'll write it down later. Now, perhaps you could tell the children how they can avoid this dreadful fate. How do we stop the Black Ox?

Guardian Hope: Stop it? Impossible, once the Seven Gods have sent it after you.

Dutiful Fass: But there must be some way to stop the Seven Gods sending it in the first place.

Guardian Hope: Presents.

Dutiful Fass: I beg your pardon?

Guardian Hope: Chocolates are good.

Dutiful Fass: (puzzled) The Black Ox likes chocolates?

Guardian Hope: No, fool! Presents for me!

Dutiful Fass: Ah. Right. Of course! Thank you, Blessed Guardian Hope—

Guardian Hope: (interrupting) And money.

Dutiful Fass: —thank you so much for that valuable information—

Guardian Hope: And I'm rather fond of jewellery.

Dutiful Fass: —I'm sure all our readers will take note. The interview is now at an end.

She tries to leave, but Guardian Hope won't let her.

Guardian Hope: Expensive jewellery. I won't accept any rubbish. And the chocolates must be soft-centred. Come on, write it down! Where's the artist? Tell him to hurry up, I haven't got all day. Which do you think is my better profile, right or left...

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Blessed Guardian Hope