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Episode Eighty Eight

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Monstrous Agonies E88S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Eighty Eight.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-Stormont won't be coming back-”, a voice saying “-yes!-” and a voice saying “-sixty at seventy-seven eighty-five-”before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-a ring silver thorns upon his finger, each one drawing blood.

Time now for our advice segment. Tonight's first letter is from a listener feeling tied down.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I’ve haunted my university’s library for the past, uh... 50 years, give or take a few. When I was alive I thought I’d want to live my life like this – alone, isolated, unattached, surrounded by books and knowledge. Well, being surrounded by books is still nice, but I grew tired of the rest pretty fast.

I tried to leave the first time about ten years into being dead. I hadn’t wanted to leave for good, just go to a concert a few streets away. The second I couldn’t see the school, though, I got this wave of hopelessness, my lungs filling with ice. It felt like I was dying all over again.

Next thing I knew, I was back in the library. I tried to leave a few more times that night, but the distance I was able to go got shorter and shorter, until eventually I-I gave up. Every time I try to leave, that awful feeling hits and I end up right back where I started.

Early last year, I met Esther and Lucas, both PhD students – constantly in the library, you know. At least, I thought they were in so often because of their studies... They're both so clever. And both so cute. [laughs]

We started chatting, and we hit it off immediately. I've never felt more connected to anyone as I do with them.

And I-I don’t know how, but with them I’ve been able to push past that awful feeling, a-at least a little. For our third... date... [laughs] Uh, they invited me to a pub quiz, not far from the library. I was so eager to spend time with them, I was able to stay out for three hours!

And then the feeling came back. That awful surge of cold horror. In moments, I was back to the library. So, [sighing] it's not foolproof, they can’t stop me from rubber-banding back to the library altogether, but their presence does seem to help a bit. It's the only thing I've found that does help.

They’re both set to graduate this year and I am so happy for them. I'm so proud of them! And yeah, I'm a little sad about it. A... a lot sad. I... I don't know, it's just... It's been really special, having them here.

But then, we were having a romantic, electric candle-lit dinner on the second floor and they surprised me. They asked if I wanted us to live together. I said yes right away! [laughs, then sighs] But now that I've had the time to think about it, I don’t know if I can.

I love them, and I want to be with them. But I already know that love and want aren't enough to break this thing. I don't know whether it's my genus or the circumstances of my death, but... [sighs] Honestly, a-at this point, I think it’s just me. I feel like I'm incapable of moving on, no matter how much I want to.

Is there anything I can do to help my situation? And if not, how do I break it to my partners?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I understand your frustration, listener. But I can't help feeling that you're asking the wrong questions here. I have spoken fairly recently about tethering and spectral relocation, and I strongly suspect that isn't what you're dealing with at all.

Spectral tethers are remarkably consistent. A tethered person can only remove themselves a certain distance from their tether in any direction, and that distance is often consistent down to a matter of millimetres.

Should they exceed that distance, they are returned to the site of their tether instantaneously, with no loss or break in awareness whatsoever – they are simply here one moment, and there the next.

That isn't the case for you. If we remove the “rubber-banding” from the situation, I think we can get a much clearer idea of what's actually happening.

When you try to leave the library, you feel a sense of profound dread. Your temperature dropped dramatically. As the feeling builds, you quite literally dissociate from your surroundings.

What's more, these symptoms diminish when you're in the company of people whom you love and trust, undertaking distracting, enjoyable activities.

This suggests to me that you are experiencing something more akin to a panic attack than anything else. And that is a quite different obstacle. However, I assure you, it can be overcome. There is nothing wrong with you as a person, and you are not “incapable” of moving on from this.

Your first instinct may be to pull away and handle this yourself. You say you always wanted to live not just a quiet life, but an “isolated” one, “alone” and “unattached”. It took you 50 years to build a meaningful relationship, despite occupying a highly trafficked building, after all.

But I urge you to resist that instinct towards self-isolation. This isn't something you can – or should – handle by yourself. Your partners care about you, and will want to help you through this. Let them.

With all of you on the same page about what it is you're actually dealing with, you'll be much better placed to find strategies to cope.

It will take a while to find what works for you. Apart from anything else, many grounding techniques, for example, tend to focus on physical sensations and may not necessarily be applicable to an incorporeal experience.

Similarly, you will need to practice letting your partners take care of you. Stick with it. In time, and with their support, I feel sure you will be able to embark on this new chapter of your existence with confidence, leaving your fear behind you.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

In association with Siren's Own – personal lubricants for aquatic adventures. Made with 100% organic hagfish slime! Siren's Own – for when wet's not wet enough. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Next tonight, a listener trying to handle rejection.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I suppose I’d better start like a bad date, with more about me. [laughs] I’m a member of a somatically-unstable psychoreactive genus - like those spooky types who pop out as whatever scares your pants off best, only I’ve got the other end of the stick. Or rather, I’ve got a different stick entirely.

I’m what you want most – your heart’s desire, plucked straight from the hindbrain and hormones. In a lot of ways, that’s made me very lucky. Privately I’ve often wondered if it’s because not too many people get hot and bothered about failures, do they? [laughs]

But regardless of how, I’m more than comfortable. I’m happy! I’ve got the dosh to keep me in isopod teddies and nail polish, and my clients are as nice a bunch of little rascals as were ever attracted to the anatomically improbable. [laughs]

But there’s one thing that does bother me, and that, I can’t really talk about – not even with other creatures like me. I don't just mean my genus. I mean, others who were... created.

I met a few other creations online. We get together sometimes and let our hair down. If we need an excuse, we say we’re making up for lost birthdays or celebrating knowing your purpose in life.

Nobody creates an entity without a reason, you see, whether that’s sorting the townsfolk out so The Doctor can get on with the bubbling liquids or as a live-in living embodiment of one's deepest desires. For example.

And that's wonderful. To know that you have a role and you fill it. I imagine that's wonderful. Because you see, I know exactly what I was made for. Who I was made for. But he... doesn’t want me! [laughs, then sniffs]

The practitioner who rustled me up thought he was getting a classical avatar of lust. Horns, a tail, a bosom from the dairy council’s wildest imaginings. Maybe a whip and a naughty glint in the eye to keep things interesting. But instead, he got what he actually wanted. The poor repressed sod.

I appeared with nary a bosom in sight, not a gender even, and thank God for that, they seem like trouble. Plus a bit of the old scale, frill and tendril – nothing new to you or me, but if you’re expecting a cheerleader painted red and you get the Old One’s pin-up, I can understand being a bit taken aback.

What I can’t understand is running. And never coming back. And he, he never has. I’ve tried to connect, get a drink and talk it over. But nothing doing. [sighing]

There’s one person in the world whose heart’s desire I ontologically am, and he won’t even look me in the eye. [laughs weakly] And, well. You start to wonder, don't you. If they don’t want me, who will?

Besides which, if I’ve been created out of someone's desire, if I'm so directly from someone in that way... What’s in me that’s me? And- and what’s... him?

I’m not one for bad breakups or long goodbyes, but this is different, it’s harder. I don’t- [sighs] I don't know what to do to feel like I’m not actually a failure after all. So please! Anything you can tell me, I’ll love you for it. [laughs and sighs]

The Presenter (as themselves)

You needn't go that far, listener. I'll tell you for free. Your creator is not capable of being the person you want him to be. Difficult as it is, you need to find a way to lay to rest your hopes and expectations around his behaviour, and move on with your life on your own terms.

You were brought into the world by a man too immature to understand his own desires and too selfish to take responsibility for his creation. You say you don't understand why he ran away. I'm afraid the answer is depressingly mundane. He ran away because he saw himself in you, and got scared.

I want to stress that this is his problem, not yours. His reaction says nothing at all about who you are, what you're capable of, or how much you deserve to be respected, loved, and cherished.

You ask how much of you is him and how much is you. Please, don't give that kind of sub-par pseudo-philosophical nonsense the time of day. It's all you, listener. You are your own person, utterly and entirely distinct from your creator.

By all means, take the time to acknowledge your feelings about your creator's behaviour. Talking to your friends would be a good step in that direction – you may be surprised how many of them can relate, whether they were created or not.

Your creator rejected you, and that's awful. That was awful of him. Fortunately, the world is simply brimming with people who will not only be very glad for the chance to love you, but who, unlike him, are actually able to do so, and do it well.

Put this man behind you, and try to move on. You deserve so much better.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – broadcasting all the time, for all time.

[End of background music]

The Presenter

That's all for our advice segment. Up next, with recent breakthroughs in our understanding of genetics, we discuss the magic of seventh sons...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-Michael Flatley-”, a voice saying “-sci-fi multiverse-” and a voice saying “-rubbish and disgusting material-” before fading out.

Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

Episode Eighty Eight of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

Tonight's first letter was submitted by The Original Tortuga, the second letter was from Architeuthisducks, and this week's advert came from Jan Caltrop. Thanks, friends.

If you're enjoying the programme, please consider signing up for a monthly pledge at, or make a one-off donation at You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.

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]


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