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Monstrous Agonies E08S01 Transcript
Hello, friends, Hero here. I just wanted to pop my head in before we get to this week's episode to let you know that this week's episode comes with a content warning.
The second letter and its answer deal with issues around disordered eating, specifically restrictive eating and bingeing. Take care of yourselves, and enjoy!
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Eight.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, a voice saying “-it could even be a jazz song!”, and classical music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-burrowed deep in the black, black earth.
You're listening to the Nightfolk Network, the UK's only dedicated radio service for people of the night. Next, I answer listener's questions about life in the creature community.
In our first letter this week, a listener asks how to deal with a difficult neighbour.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
I bought my house about this time last year. Bit of a fixer-upper. Run-down after being left empty a fair while. But I'm a hard worker and good with my hands. Bit by bit I've been doing the old place up, and it's coming on quite cosy.
There's a little road out in front, then the garden behind reaching down to the river. Bit of trees. No neighbours. Suits me down the ground.
I say no neighbours. There is one. Her name is- Can I tell you her name? Perhaps it's supposed to be anonymous.
Imagine something like falling water, a bouncing, bubbling sort of name. That's her.
She lives in the river – I think she might, in a manner of speaking, be the river? Or it's daughter, perhaps. I'm not well-read on these things.
Her emotions come out in the water. When she's happy, the river's happy – splashing at the banks, sparkling with sunlight and quick fish. And then, when she's sad, it's the opposite. Water goes thick and sluggish and grey. Can't see owt moving in there.
I don't mind. I find it hard to show how I feel, so it's almost a relief to know I can read her like this. Makes things easier.
Only, when she's angry... by God. The trees start blowing, arms shaking in a wind that wasn't there before. The current comes running faster and faster. The river starts to rise up, surge on surge, until it bursts its banks and spills out across the valley. Even the sky goes dark, but you can still see the blue out beyond the edges of her influence. God only knows what the weatherman makes of it.
I don't mind anger. It's just another emotion. But the floods are wreaking havoc with my vegetable garden! I should have been harvesting my sprouts about now, but I lost the whole crop when she found out that they were cutting funding to the community cinema in town. She likes the weepies. I'm more of a rom-com person myself.
I don't want to sound like I don't respect her feelings. I was angry too, the state of arts funding in this country puts shame on all of us. But, you know. My cabbages!
I don't want to get the council involved. I just don't want my garden to be inches deep in water every time she's feeling mardy. What's the best way to bring this up with her?
The Presenter (as themselves)
In this situation, listener, the direct approach will serve you best. When it comes to neighbour disputes it's always better to try and work something out between the two of you before getting the authorities involved.
You say you don't want to disrespect her feelings, but it doesn't sound like you're in much danger of that. You've been very clear that it's the effect of her behaviour that you object to, not the emotions themselves. You aren't even objecting to her expressing herself through the river – just her doing it in such a way that infringes on your property. As long as you're as clear with her as you have been with me, I think you'll be fine.
I recommend approaching your neighbour directly and sharing your concerns. It sounds as if you have a fairly positive relationship with each other, and it seems unlikely that she's doing this on purpose.
It may be she simply hasn't realised the impact her behaviour is having on your garden. You mentioned that your house was uninhabited for some time – she's likely not used to thinking of it as occupied.
Bring the issue to her attention, and hopefully you can find a solution that satisfies you both.
We'll get to tonight's second letter after this message from our sponsor.
[An acoustic guitar plays a blues riff]
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[Another, different blues riff plays]
Next, a listener asks how to improve their relationship with their body.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
Like a lot of people, I've always had a bit of a complicated relationship with food. I've tried all the diets and exercise trends – Atkin's, paleo, 5:2, keto, you name it. But nothing worked! I'd lose a little at first, though never as much as I needed to, and I could never keep the weight off.
Then, I heard about clean eating. No more counting calories or balancing my micros and macros, just real, nutritious food. I eat lots of yummy veggies and wholegrains, and have cut out all processed food. I know exactly what goes into my body, and I've never felt better.
Unfortunately, not everything in my body has been so enthusiastic about the switch. The secret mouth that opens at the back of my head at the stroke of midnight, only to fuse shut again at the break of dawn, has not taken kindly to the change in diet.
Every night it uses its unearthly powers to turn my hair into two serpentine lengths that writhe as if on a breeze only they can feel and sends them creeping through the house to gather up food and bring it to the second mouth to eat.
I am usually in something of fugue state while this is happening, but when I come to in the small hours of the morning, I'm left facing the consequences of my other mouth's actions.
Previously, my second, secret mouth was content with leftovers it found in the fridge or, occasionally, to cook for itself – usually just stuff from the freezer, though it does seem partial to scrambled eggs.
Since I took up clean eating, though, I've been waking up in the morning to find it's been stuffing itself with all sorts of junk food – the floor in my room is covered in chocolate bar wrappers, crisp packets, empty milkshake cups and cans of pop, pizza boxes, take-away containers, whatever garbage it can get delivered.
I suppose it places the orders online and pays with my card, though I can't imagine what the delivery guys think when the door opens and a sentient rope of human hair comes out to bring the food in.
I've tried everything I can think of to get it to stop – leaving out healthy snacks for it before I go to bed, staying up past midnight to try and keep my other mouth from waking up. I even phoned the take-aways it tends to buy from and asked them to stop delivering to my address, but I think they thought I was joking.
None of it worked. And on the nights when I tried it, I spent the rest of the day hearing these... things. Like the other mouth... was talking to me.
I'd check and check over and over again but whenever I touched the place where it grows, it would be smooth and intact like normal.
But I could hear it, inside my head, this grinding, whispering voice, telling me... Saying I was...
It doesn't matter. It wasn't happy, let's leave it at that. And I don't understand! I just want the best for us, for us to have clean, healthy food instead of filling up on empty calories. I'm so angry, every time I wake up and see the rubbish it's been eating I want to cry. I do, sometimes. Most times.
I wish I could just plug that stupid hole in the back of my head and make it so it never eats anything ever again. That would serve it right. That's what it deserves, since it can't be trusted to eat the right thing.
I know most of your advice boils down to, [mimicking the Presenter] 'Talk it over,' but that's not really an option here. I'm never awake when it is, and I can't leave a note for it because it doesn't have any eyes. Just teeth. And a throat. I'm at my wit's end. Please help!
The Presenter (as themselves)
Listener, I hope you can hear this with the kindness with which it is meant. I'm afraid I don't think that your relationship with food is being improved by your new diet.
There's no such thing as clean food. There is no such thing as unclean food. There is no such thing as junk food. There is just food.
The food your other mouth eats at night is full of things your body needs – calories for energy, fats and proteins, sodium and iron and potassium and all manner of other things. That isn't empty. That isn't junk. It isn't worthless, and your body doesn't deserve to be punished for consuming it.
It sounds like your body is desperate for all those things you're not allowing yourself to eat while you're awake. I'm not saying you need to eat things you don't want to. In fact, I mean rather the opposite – you absolutely need to be eating what you want, and to understand that wanting it is enough.
You don't have justify your food in terms of nutritional value or adherence to an arbitrary set of restrictions. Your body is telling you what it wants to eat. You need to listen to that.
Think of this as the first step on a journey to a more balanced relationship with food. You will need support. Look for groups online or in your local area where people making a similar journey can come together and share their experiences. If possible, consider reaching out to a trusted professional who can help you on your way in a safe, non-judgemental setting.
I strongly suspect that, if you loosen the restriction on your eating habits while awake, your second mouth will quickly return to its usual habits while you are asleep. I wish you all the best, listener, and please – be kind to yourself.
It's two o'clock on Thursday morning. Up next – to home school, or not to home school? We hear from both sides of the debate about whether or not mainstream education is able to support a multi-genus student body...
[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through inaudible speech and music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Eight of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Remember, you can submit your own monstrous agonies online at MonstrousAgonies.co.uk, by email at email@example.com, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.
You can support Monstrous Agonies by leaving a review on iTunes, sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, or supporting us on Patreon at patreon.com/MonstrousAgonies.
This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
[Fade to silence]