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Episode Fifty Five

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Monstrous Agonies E55S02 Transcript

H.R. Owen

Hello, friends. Hero here. We're due for some time off here at Monstrous HQ, so there'll be no episode next week, on January 27th, but we'll be back the week after on Thursday February 3rd. See you then, enjoy the episode, and look after yourselves.

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Fifty Five.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through country music, pop music, and a voice saying “-revisiting the dark-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-crocodile tears, crocodile spit, crocodile mucus, crocodile blood.

Next on the Nightfolk Network, it's time for our advice segment. We'll start things off tonight with a letter from a listener worried they're being undermined at work.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I'll keep this brief as I only have a short time before my translator wakes up. I work in diplomatic relations and things have taken a turn lately, so I want to see if there's something I can do before I take this further.

As I mentioned, I have a translator. They're a very well-reputed genus, very popular. One of them is even a bit of an icon after a film turn back in the 1980s.

Mine was implanted about six years ago. Everything was fine at first with perfect translations of dozens of languages. But recently, something seems to be... off. Certain... negotiations have not gone as planned and I've been accused of increasing hostilities, when I've only responded to the information provided by my translator.

I don't know what changed. I certainly haven't done anything out of my norm. I really haven't! I've gone through the notes and logs and I can see how they could have been accidents... But I don't think it's a coincidence that my translator seems hell-bent on disrupting any cross-genus discussions pertaining to--

(pause) Forgive me. I am being very paranoid. I will not take up any more of your time.

The Presenter (as themselves)

Um. Well, I... I think this is a first on the Nightfolk Network. We've never been involved in a potential diplomatic incident before! (laughs) If you discount that ugly business with the Holy Roman Empire, of course. Which I do, it being all their fault.

There are several symbiotic genuses that have historically found translation work to be a good fit for their skills and their physical requirements. Indeed, for some, diplomatic translation is one of the only industries they have historically been able to find acceptance and proper respect as workers.

However, no amount of cultural reputation is enough to wipe out individual differences of temperament. Some members of the genus your translator belongs to would balk at the idea of undermining their host's diplomatic efforts. But others will be more comfortable with the proposition – especially if it would benefit themselves or their wider community.

Please remember that you are dealing with an individual, and try not to let this colour your impression of all members of your translator's genus.

I think you're absolutely right to tread carefully and gather your evidence before taking action. Accusing your translator of intentional sabotage could be catastrophic, on the personal level as much as any other. You don't want to damage either your personal or professional relationship unnecessarily.

Also, if this individual is, for example, working to advance a specific political goal, I'm sure you'd want to be absolutely sure of the risks before you get embroiled.

Gather your evidence, and be sure of what you're dealing with. Now that you're aware of the possibility, you can take measures to counter it, but be careful – you don't want to show your hand too early. For now, concentrate on minimising the possible impact of this behaviour.

If it does transpire that things are afoot, then your first action will be to have your current translator removed. After that, it'll be up to you to decide how you want to pursue the issue. I wish I could be a little more tangible help, listener, but I wish you the best of luck.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network, on 131.3FM

[End background music.]

The Presenter

Our second letter this evening is from a listener feeling underappreciated.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I’ve been listening to your show for – gosh, feels like centuries! But this is the first time I’ve written in, and I kind of feel like I might be overreacting?

I work at one of the only preschools in the country specifically serving children of the creature community. I know it’s controversial - there are many people who feel that the children of our community should be in mainstream education, and some are strong supporters of homeschooling.

I think both of those approaches are great! But I also think it’s important to provide parents with the option of a safe space where their kids can be with people from their own community – people who understand them, and who won’t judge them if they don't mould to a sapio timeline for development.

So, I know you and all your listeners know this but it bears repeating: some creatures do have sapio parents. Most of those sapio parents whose children attend our school are lovely, if a bit shy sometimes. But there’s one who’s a bit… Um. Confrontationally supportive?

She drives a car with a bumper sticker that says “creature mum” and when she talks to me and the other staff about her child, it’s almost like she forgets that we're members of the community too? One of my co-workers is in a Facebook group with her and apparently she’s always sharing memes about how having a creature son taught her patience and the true meaning of acceptance. I get the sentiment, but it does feel a little... objectifying.

It's not unusual for first-time parents to be a bit... argh! [laughs] But usually we – my colleagues and I – are able to sort of gently push back? We explain what we are doing to support their kids and why – thing like getting in new equipment for outdoor water play, or children’s books by adults of their genus.

With this woman, though, it's like talking to a brick wall. She just refuses to listen! And God forbid we try to suggest strategies we could collaborate on and try and have some kind of continuity of care between home and school.

We try to remind her that, as creatures ourselves, we can relate to her son's experiences. But when we do, she replies that we’re “not like her son” and so all of our information and training and lived experiences are irrelevant.

Every time she tells me I'm not like her child, I feel like shaking her. Of course I'm not like her child – I'm an adult! But doesn't she see, I might have been a lot like her child back when I was a child?

I got into this line of work because I wanted to support the children in my community. But it’s hard not to get frustrated when it feels like everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve been through is all for nothing because I can’t use it to prevent the next generation from struggling with inadequate care. Am I making too big a deal out of this? And if not, what can I do?

The Presenter (as themselves)

The problem here, listener, is that there's a hard limit to how much you can do to effect the situation. I worry that you're taking too much responsibility for this woman's world view.

I hear your frustrations. She is being thoroughly dismissive, and wilfully ignorant in the face of your expertise. All the same, it does seem rather a leap to determine that all your learning and lived experience is “for nothing”, or that you're personally dooming the next generation of our children to a lifetime of inadequate care, just because you can't get through to one rather block-headed woman.

You have a responsibility of care to the children at your school. I understand and appreciate that. You also feel a very reasonable sense of obligation to the children of the wider creature community. Yours is a valuable voice in the conversation about caring for young creatures, both because of your lived experience and your professional qualifications.

But you aren't single-handedly responsible for protecting all young creatures from the difficulties of living in a sapio-centric society. And you aren't letting them down when your efforts are hampered by somebody else's inability to listen.

Keep doing your job. Work hard to make your school that haven of understanding and support that you perhaps didn't have when you were young. And by all means, keep working to help this mother understand her child and the decisions you make on his behalf.

Hopefully, in time, she'll come to understand the value of your voice, and be able to engage with your methods without feeling her own parenting is under attack. And you'll be there, if she does. If she doesn't, though, please take heart. You've still provided her son with invaluable care, support and understanding.

That's all we have time for tonight. Next, are you confused--

[A door opens and closes, and footsteps approach.]

The Presenter

Get out! I'm on air!


Tough. This is too big for a post-it and you never talk to me outside so--

The Presenter

I talk to you.


You are barely civil. But I didn't come in here to discuss your manners, and the sooner you let me finish, the sooner I'll be gone. So...?

The Presenter

Fine. [a creak] Don't sit on that!


It's this or your lap, dearest. [pause] That's what I thought. I've got an idea about these adverts – a-- a way we don't have to take adverts from any old Tom, Dick or Harry who pays us, but we'll still stay nice and wet.

The Presenter

[pause] Liquid.



The Presenter

You mean we'll stay liquid. Financially. Not... wet.


[laughing] No, no! Because it's the station's finances, not ours. And we're in the station. So we're in where it's liquid, so... we're wet!

The Presenter

[trying not to laugh] I see.


Are you laughing at me?

The Presenter



Shame. I haven't seen you laugh for a long time. Anyway, you don't want this whole conversation broadcast, do you? Pop an old segment on, there's a dear, and I'll tell you all about it.

The Presenter

Right. Up next, uh.... This.

[The sound typing and a mouse being clicked.]

The Presenter

Next up, regular listeners will be well-acquainted with our history series, where we delve into the past and ask what life was like for our liminal forebears. But what does it mean to investigate the history of the creature community?

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-what does that even mean-”, a voice saying “-it was broken-”, a voice saying “-but I know different-”, pop music, a voice saying “-that is how I sound-” and piano music before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode Fifty Four of Monstrous Agonies was written by H.R. Owen and performed by H.R. Owen and Elizabeth Plant.

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Fyre, and the second was submitted by Matty OK Smith. Thanks, friends!

Matty OK Smith is the creator of Neighbourly, an indie horror podcast that asks how well do we really know our neighbours? It's a personal favourite of mine, and I can't recommend it enough. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Hello and thank you to our most recent Patreon supporter, Lucy! Join them at or make a one-off donation at

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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